Father’s Day Since My Son Died

My situation may be a bit different than that of some other people writing about Father’s Day grief, because my father is still alive at 92 and my son Alexander died when he was 23.

Alex was a YouTuber who played Minecraft under the name “Technoblade.” As he first started getting popular online, I used to wonder if it was his sense of humor or his skill at the game that brought people to his videos. But neither of those things are what people mention most often. Since his death, I have heard from so, so many people some variation on “watching his videos helped me get through a difficult time in my life.” My son was broadly supportive and accepting, and that seems to be what people remember.

Technoblade pic

Alex (the author’s son) known as “Technoblade,” was an American YouTuber known for his Minecraft videos.

Having a father while I lost a son

Still having a father while I’ve lost a son feels off balance, and Father’s Day just heightens my perception of that imbalance. My son died shortly before Father’s Day in 2022, and it’s safe to say we didn’t even notice the holiday going by that year. Another Father’s Day is coming up, and more holidays after that.

My first experience with loss was when my mother died a few days before Christmas, 1990. That experience put me off Christmas for many years. I didn’t get back any Christmas joy until I started having kids and could experience the holiday through their eyes. These last two Christmases since Alex died, the joy has been muted somewhat. We set a stocking on the fireplace for him along with everyone else in the family. Stockings are perhaps the most fun and frivolous part of Christmas and it feels good to have him be a part of that. My kids get into it as well.

The challenge of staying present for my kids

For me there is a challenge in finding a balance between honoring the grief I am still carrying for my son, and being a fully present father for my other kids. One child has passed, but I have two kids out in the world and two kids still living at home, and they are very important to me.

There is this idea (I don’t know where it comes from) that parents are not supposed to cry in front of their children. We’re supposed to show strength or something. That idea was probably the first thing that went out the window even before Alex had passed. Grief shows up on its own timetable, and in my case, sometimes suddenly and without warning. I have been overcome with grief many times in the last two years and not exclusively when I am alone. That means my kids have seen me cry many times.

And why shouldn’t they? Sure, sometimes when I am feeling painful emotions I don’t want anyone to see me and I don’t want my kids to see in particular. But isolating myself isn’t good for me. I don’t think trying to make the situation into some kind of emotionally sterile workspace is good for anyone, either. Emotions work best when they are moving and flowing, not when they are bottled up or hidden away.

Maintaining family rituals

And my kids have their own grief to deal with. Knowing this it feels more important than ever to maintain the familial rituals we have, like Christmas stockings or watching TV together over dinner. On occasion I still tell my kids bedtime stories even though they are well past the age for it. We have a family grief that is separate from our individual grief. We grieve because we loved our Alexander and now his story has ended.

When my son spoke about his illness, he mostly made jokes about it. He never faltered or despaired, even at the end. I wish I could take his death as well as he did, but I cannot. I am wounded and I will never be the same.

But that’s ok. Life goes on. And even without him, there is still joy and happiness in the world.

Mr Technodad has recently become a YouTuber and is the steward of his son’s legacy.