Hilary Swank Pens Tribute to Late Dad Stephen Michael, Who Died in October: ‘a Tremendous Personal Loss’ – PEOPLE

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"I grew incredibly close to him during this time," the actress wrote in an emotional Instagram post for her father on New Year's Eve

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The Oscar winner, 47, revealed in an emotional post shared to her Instagram page on New Year's Eve that her father Stephen Michael Swank died in October.

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"This past year was a big one for me and I know for so many of us," she began Friday's post. "I have been off my phone and social media for a couple months due to a tremendous personal loss."

Swank said she "had a rather unique relationship" with her father and became "his sole caretaker" after he underwent a lung transplant seven years ago. 

"I grew incredibly close to him during this time, deepening our relationship and savoring every moment we had together," she wrote. "He will always remain one of my most favorite persons and not a day goes by that I don't miss him."

Swank continued, noting that the "physical loss" of her dad awakened her "to the truest sense of living again." 

"It helped me better understand the circle of life and where we come from and where we go back to, which has connected me back to my truest self," the actress added. "It helped me forgive, to move past the things that hold me back, in whatever form that takes each day. As well as being deeply connected to the Ultimate Source and therefore, my Dad, always."

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She concluded, "This last year I hope whatever trials and tribulations you all have had on your life journey bring you closer to your truest essence and help guide you into this New Year with whatever blessings you most need. We are all in this together." 

Caring for her father post-lung transplant was no simple task. In August 2020, Swank told PEOPLE that she became Stephen Michael's "health advocate" after stepping away from Hollywood in 2014 to help him heal.

Originally, Swank planned to take a year off from acting, but she said her hiatus lasted longer than anticipated.

"A lung transplant is the most difficult of all, as it's an incredibly delicate organ," Swank said at the time. "One year quickly turned into two and then three. And, thank God, prayers were answered. He is healthy and doing really well five-plus years later."

"It takes a lot of energy, love and edifying yourself on the matter at hand. The ups and downs are so challenging and can be overwhelming," she added before offering advice to others who have opted to be a health advocate for a loved one: "Make sure that you're taking time for yourself and that you vocalize what your needs are to the people who are around you so they can help support you."

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