Friend who refers to her several-years deceased father in the present tense

I have a good friend who is very outgoing and happy most of the time, but has recently confided in me about some struggles she’s had with a relative passing away this summer. As we’ve talked, it’s emerged that she still has trouble coming to terms with her own father having passed away several years ago, while she was in her mid-twenties.

She never really talked about her dad except in passing, until this past week when she opened up for the first time with me on the subject and talked about his personality, the things he liked, etc. All throughout her tone was happy and she seemed glad to talk about him . . . except I noticed that she would frequently slip into the present tense. "My dad likes . . . " "My dad says . . . " But other times she’d revert back into past tense, and she’s never seemed to imagine that he’s still alive or anything.

I was just curious how common this might be, and whether it’s a sign of something to be concerned about.

I think it’s pretty common. You spend your whole life talking about someone in the present tense - it’s a habit that can be hard to break.

I’ll sometimes do that- I’ll say to my kids “you know what grandpa always says…” even though he died a few years ago.

To me it suggests that her father was good for her, and her relationship with him remains an active force in her life, though she naturally misses his physical presence.

Given the dysfunctional or worse relationships many seem to have with their parents, living or dead, I reckon hers is cause for envy, more than concern.

It’s not anything to be concerned about. A few years ago I was telling someone about how my dad “loves” woodworking, but he had been dead a decade at that point. It’s a familiar habit, nothing more.