Challenging believers in Jesus to think and act based on Bible truth.

On My Mind #12: My dad died five years ago Thursday. Here’s what it means for me today.

If you’ve never lost a parent, or if you have, I hope you can learn something by reading this post.

Thursday, December 15 marks the five year anniversary of the sudden loss of my father, Roger Burkholder, to a massive heart attack.  For those of you not familiar with grief, please keep reading.  For those who are familiar with it, I hope you can relate and find some encouragement. Since it’s been five years, here are five things about this major life event that affect me today.

1. It STILL hurts.

Listen, it always will, and that’s okay.  But it’s a healthy hurt.  I’m not mad at God, I’m not bitter and angry.  I just miss him. This time of year always brings back memories of the many fun things we used to do.  We competed in sports like tennis and basketball, games like cards and monopoly, and shared a love of music.  When you love someone and they die, you just miss them.  And that’s okay. Tears from time to time don’t mean someone hasn’t moved on in a healthy way, it can just mean it hurts.

Tip: If you know someone who’s lost someone, just tell them you miss them too or tell them you’re sad they miss their loved one.  It’s a great part of grieving.

2. The hope of the resurrection of Jesus changes me.

This is why I’m not bitter and angry.  I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and that because my dad and I share belief in Jesus Christ I will see him again.  I can’t go on weeping and wallowing and being depressed.  I believe the truth of Scripture has changed me inside out and the power of Jesus Christ over death has replaced a lot of grief with hope.  Amen!

Tip: If you’re grieving, please ask God for the hope of the resurrection to nourish your soul.  Read I Corinthians 15 and the gospel accounts of the resurrection over and over and ask God to transform your grief into hope. He will.

3. Dad’s influence on my life #1: love of people.

As I reflect on it, my dad was pretty good at loving people and I learned a lot from him about how to tell the truth while generally trying to avoid putting people down.  My dad worked with a lot of young people (he taught public school orchestra for 33 years) and did an outstanding job of helping them grow in their abilities in the unique ways they had talent.  He was also involved in various ways in our church as we grew up and he always did an above board job of showing people respect.  This is something that still challenges me to this day.

4. Dad’s influence on my life #2: fuss about your money.

My dad was really good about fussing over money.  We did nice things as a family growing up but it didn’t mean he didn’t fuss over the dollars and cents in making purchases and tracking funds.  He also worked hard, worked extra, and fussed over money so my brother and I could get a leg up on life through education.  For this I will be grateful as long as I live.

Tip: Ask grieving friends or loved ones what the most lasting influences of their lost loved one are.  It’s a great, healthy way to reflect on how great someone was.

5.  I want to leave a legacy.

My dad left a legacy.  A strong one.  Lots of people were affected because he lived a life.  I want the same.  I want people to know who Jesus is and be passionate about the cause of Christ because I am living.  God has created me with unique gifts and abilities and I want to use them to the fullest and make the most of my life so that God’s name can be glorified in as many ways as possible.  I’m human and I fall short of that mark, but I pray that the legacy I leave one day can be half as deep as the one my dad left.

Tip: Don’t waste this life chasing after things.  Like my dad, we all too will die.  Live for Jesus and be satisfied in his death and resurrection for your forgiveness and hope today.  Serving and cherishing him now will only prepare you for eternity.


  1. Buddy Miller says:

    There will end to these troubles and until that glorious day comes…we will praise you! I met your dad a few times and thought very highly of him and am grateful for the wonderful son and friend he created in you. Blessings!

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