I’ve been grappling with writing something about our family’s devastating loss. My Father-in-law passed away on May 24, 2013.

Dad was a strong, tough man. His motto was, “There’s no room in this world for wimps – you gotta be tough.”

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a man that loved working as much as he did. He lived for his job, construction was his playing field – literally. Operating the excavator, being the “main man” in his line of work gave him so much joy and satisfaction.

He loved his work so much that he looked forward to going to work. On the weekends even when he had family around, he anxiously waited for Monday morning to come.

He was a true family man, spending all his free time at home, sitting on the front porch or watching his favourite animal shows on television, or making homemade Italian fare like soppressata and salami. He could draw and sketch too although it was a talent of which not many were aware.

He adored his kids, his wife and his grandsons – gioia della vita mia. He would so look forward to our visits and wanted to talk to the boys every day on the phone.

When Nonno first became ill over a year ago, the doctors had misdiagnosed him. They said he had congestive heart failure, sleep apnea and a slew of other ailments including cirrhosis of the liver. But it wasn’t until a few more hospital visits that they discovered his liver was so damaged, it was irreparable. He had end stage liver disease. Because he had so many issues due to having Type 1 Diabetes, it would be too dangerous to even do a biopsy of his liver. A liver transplant was not even an option. It was too far gone. It was in October 2012 when we were told he would only have a few months to live.

But he fought. “You gotta be tough,” he would always say and tough he was. He was home for Christmas and New Year’s. In and out of the hospital with maybe a week at a time at home, he spent most of the past year in a hospital room. Watching such a strong man deteriorate before your eyes has to be one of the most difficult things to witness.

Even worse is when you can’t help. The most difficult of all is hearing someone you love beg for your help and being completely and utterly helpless.

Dad fought to live through another birthday, another Easter and another wedding anniversary, his 43rd. We celebrated with cake in his hospital room.

Visiting him at the hospital had become a way of life. My kids now understand what sugar levels are good, what oxygen levels we should have – things that we never thought they would learn so young.

We didn’t hide Nonno’s illness from them; they were aware that he would not have much longer to live and it was important to spend as much time with him as possible. But they had a lot of questions which provided us with a real opportunity to teach them what happens.

We went to visit Dad on Thursday night. We had taken yet another turn for the worse. This was it. How many times did we say this before but he did. But we knew. Even he knew. He wouldn’t come out of it this time. His final words to us – I love you.

Dad was home when he passed on Friday, May 24, his final breath taken in the presence of his wife and his sister. My husband had just stepped out for a few minutes when he died. Although everyone knew we would lose him, you can never be prepared to say goodbye to a loved one.

No more needles. No more IVs and puncture wounds. No more bruises and tubes and tapping. No more pain.

Trying to ease their pain, I explained to my kids that while their grandfather’s body is gone, his spirit lives on forever. I do believe in an afterlife, yes… our spirits do cross over into an everlasting realm and I know that loved ones will be reunited once again. Not only do I believe this because of my faith, but I have also experienced much in the paranormal to know that the body is just a temple and that the spirit/soul lives on after our bodies have perished.

Now that he passed, there is much sadness to go around but there is comfort in knowing that Dad is OK. He has already given us signs from the other side. We will miss him always – we miss him already – but we know he’ll be coming around to visit often.

So we’re not saying goodbye but see you later, Nonno.


God saw you getting tired

And a cure was not to be

So He put His arms around you

And whispered, “Come with Me”.

With tearful eyes

We watched you suffer

And saw you fade away

Although we loved you dearly

We could not make you stay

A golden heart stopped beating

Hard working hands at rest

God broke our hearts to prove

He only takes the best.


I asked permission to write something about Dad from my husband and my mother-in-law.

When We’re 100: Talking to Young Kids About Death

Grieving When You Have Kids

The Dog is Gone: How to Explain That Our Pet Passed Away


Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of amotherworld.com, a leading lifestyle blog for women.


  1. I am sorry for your loss. I understand the pain you are going through having lost my own father last August. To add to the pain of loss my father was also misdiagnosed with Tb when he actually had lung cancer. Of course by the time they figured it out it was too late for my dad. It is very hard to deal with the loss of someone you love but to add to it the anger you feel at the medical community and in fact how callous they are about misdxing a person can be overwhelming at times.

    For your family:

    May God bless you and keep you,
    May he shine his countenance upon you,
    May God grant you peace.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Elise. Lung cancer is horrible, I can’t imagine them misdiagnosing it. How could they miss that in the xrays? Thank you for your prayer, I so appreciate it.

  2. We lost Brent’s Dad last summer as well after months in the hospital… it was so terribly hard. It’s very good to let the kiddos in on as much as they can handle. Chelsea just turned 4 and she still talks about Grandpa a lot… each time she talks about him you can tell that more and more she understands a bit better.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, Heather. It is so very difficult and I thank you for sharing with me. Four is very young to understand about Grandpa, I’m sure you all miss him terribly.

  3. I am so sorry for your loss Maria. Living through this kind of experience is so very hard. My sympathies to you and your whole family.

    • Thank you Ann. I’m concerned about my MIL – losing a spouse is terrible, as you unfortunately know all about 🙁

  4. Oh Maria, I’m so sorry. You can feel the love, respect and admiration you have for this special man, in your words. xo

    • Thank you, Lisa. He was a special man, always made you feel so special.

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss, Maria. He sounds like such an amazing man. My sympathies to you and your family.

  6. You made me cry.

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Maria. Nobody can prepare themselves for the loss of a parent. Sending you virtual hugs and will keep you in my thoughts.

  7. Maria, how lovely to write something that shows how dignified your father-in-law was, and how special to his family. I am sorry for your loss of him. My father died of lung cancer thirteen years ago so I understand some of what you are feeling. Watching my mom carry on was as hard as losing him. Prayer and hope for healing grief to you and yours.

  8. Maria, my thoughts are with you and your family. My dad passed away from end stage liver disease (which turned into cancer) as well. You’re right, it’s so difficult to watch someone so strong deteriorate. You were so lucky to have such a special man in all of your lives. You’re right to celebrate that. Thank you for sharing. I can feel the love.

    • Oh Mara, I didn’t realize your father had the same illness, I’m so very sorry. Thank you for reading and commenting. It was great to see you at TBEX.

  9. Kim@MosaicGlobe Reply

    i am so sorry about your loss Maria..
    the poem you shared was sentimental.. thank you for that 🙂

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