How Do You Grieve a Distant Father?

My Dad’s Traditional Chinese Upbringing and His Mental Illness Kept Me From Understanding Who He Was—Until the Very End

How Do You Grieve a Distant Father

My father was absent for most of my childhood and adult life. Not in the sense that he abandoned my mother and ran away. Absent in that he was unable to show emotion and could not initiate contact with me. My only glimpses of his inner thoughts came through a few sentences uttered casually over many years, and in one or two letters he wrote to me on aerograms, the lightweight paper for airmail.

The French have a word for it, le non-dit: the unsaid. It hovers around many families, …

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