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Hilary Swank reveals father’s 'devastating' death in emotional letter

Swank's father, Stephen Michael Swank, was a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant who served 27 years in the United States Air Force.
Hilary Swank of 'I Am Mother' attends The IMDb Studio at Acura Festival Village on location at The 2019 Sundance Film Festival - Day 2  on January 26, 2019 in Park City, Utah.
Hilary Swank at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.Rich Polk / Getty Images for IMDb

Hilary Swank is opening up about a personal loss she suffered in 2021.

In a New Year's Eve post reflecting on the year as a whole, Swank penned an emotional message about the death of her father, retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Stephen Michael Swank, in October 2021.

“This past year was a big one for me and I know for so many of us,” Swank began her post. “I have been off my phone and social media for a couple months due to a tremendous personal loss. In October, my Dear Dad, made his transition to the other side.”

Swank’s relationship with her father was, as she described, atypical due to his health conditions. The two-time Oscar-winner took three years off of acting between 2015 and 2018 to care for her father after he underwent a medical procedure. 

“I had a rather unique relationship with him as I was his sole caretaker after a lung transplant seven years ago,” she wrote. “I grew incredibly close to him during this time, deepening our relationship and savoring every moment we had together. He will always remain one of my most favorite persons and not a day goes by that I don’t miss him.”

“But in this physical loss, as devastating as it is, I was awakened to the truest sense of living again,” she said. “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. 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.”

The 47-year-old acknowledged that while 2021 wasn’t necessarily the easiest year for many, it did provide the opportunity for growth and to learn new lessons in life.

“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,” she said. “We are all in this together. I love you all and am grateful for this community. Peace and Many Blessings to you, in all the forms they may come.”

On Veteran’s Day last November, Swank honored her father with a touching post on Instagram that celebrated his service. She shared a black and white photo when he was younger and serving in the United States Air Force. In the caption, she penned a sweet message to pay tribute to him, writing, “Here’s to my favorite veteran, my Dad.”

“He served 27 years in the Air Force. He was a Senior Master Sergeant who served this country with the greatest pride and joy,” she continued. “He loved it and showed up with his heart. Just like all his endeavors and relationships. I love you, Dad. A deep and sincere thank you to all our veterans for your service.”

In June, Swank was able to celebrate Father’s Day with her dad, sharing a sweet snap on Instagram to commemorate the occasion. She posted a photo of her father posing right in the middle of his family, smiling for the camera. 

“It was a #FathersDay bonanza,” she wrote. “My heart is so full. I am so grateful.”

Swank prioritized her father before everything else during that three year period of her life, but she considered it “an honor” when she talked to Entertainment Tonight in 2015.

“There’s been job opportunities that I’ve passed on ... But I mean, really, what we’re here for is our family, right?” Swank said. “There’s been a couple projects that are beautiful, but in the end, there’s nothing I want to do more other than being with my dad in his time of need. You can’t get this time back.”

During that time, Swank and her father shared an especially sentimental moment years before his passing: He was able to walk Swank down the aisle in 2018 when she tied the knot with her husband, Philip Schneider, in a secret ceremony.