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Accustomed to Normality.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by ex Animo, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. ex Animo

    ex Animo
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    It's too early for me to write this, but I posted in the Rant and Rave thread earlier about only having a few days left with my father. To kind of reiterate - I am very close with my father and I have a great father-son relationship with him. He's the man I look up to the most and I can only hope to be a fraction of the man that he is. I was a little reluctant to post about this here - I mean, this place (and the community) has provided me with a lot laughs and good reads, I am a little embarrassed to talk about something so serious.

    Here's the thing that I'm trying to wrestle with: I turn 23 in about 4 months. I will no longer have a father. The last conversation I had with my dad involved me telling him that I just don't feel ready to march into the world without him. He was always there for me when I needed him. I mean, just a month ago, we were having breakfast together talking about my insecurities -

    Me: It's just going to be so weird to not have you around. I don't know what I'm going to do. It's just so normal for you to be around, I mean, I'm just used to having you there.

    He responded with -

    Dad: Well, son, there's going to be a void. There's going to be a void that you can never fill.

    He was admitted into the hospital for a staph infection around the area of his hip prosthesis, August 9'th. Less than two weeks later, he's pretty much on his death bed. It's just mind boggling how quickly your health can decline. To be fair, he's an old man, so naturally his body is just going to fall apart at his age. [I was told a few days ago, by my mother, that he was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure last year. Probably opted to tell me now rather than a year ago, so I would not have to worry.]

    I apologize. I'm running on 4 hours of sleep. The past couple of nights have been rough for me. I'm simply not ready to say goodbye. I focused my efforts on the past week of trying to get accustomed to not having him there, but my silly self forgot to think about getting ready to say farewell.

    I guess what I'm looking for, TiB is this:

    Focus:

    For those of you who have ever lost a loved one - family member, best friend, significant other - how did you manage your loss?

    I'm just in need of some guidance. To be honest, the only other person I've lost was my grandmother and that was when I was 9 years old or so. Death isn't a big part of my life, so I'm looking for ways to cope and not lose myself after such a significant event.

    Again - thanks for your support and input. It's greatly appreciated, even from a community of strangers.
     
  2. DrFrylock

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    EDIT: Aw goddamnit I didn't see the update.

    Sorry to hear about this, Animo.

    I lost my father at almost exactly the same age. It was not sudden.

    Everyone deals with losses like this in a different way. There's no one "right" strategy, although some are healthier than others. Time marches on, and many things that happen are things far out of our control. One thing you realize more and more as an adult is that "normalcy" is a fluid but punctuated phenomenon. You establish one set of norms in your life, and those can last for days, weeks, months, or years, and then something happens. There's a period of transition, and then you re-establish new norms.

    It doesn't come all at once. It sneaks up on you. For a while, during the transition period, it seems like things will never be normal again. And then life happens and sometime later you find you can laugh at funny movies again or go to the store again or whatever.

    The point is, your life is going to be weird for a while - months, probably - and then there will be a new normal. The new normal won't be the same as the old one, but it will 'feel' normal, for whatever that's worth.

    I wouldn't worry too much about "saying goodbye" as an event. I'm not sure if you did or not. I've scrupulously avoided it. I have walked half a dozen close friends and relatives out of this world without needing to have the "grand farewell conversation" that you see in movies or whatever. Although you see it a lot in movies, it's a real phenomenon for people with a lot of unresolved issues in their relationships. You said you had a good relationship with your Dad, and so I would hope that means that you've already told each other everything you wanted each other know at some point or other. That's really, really good.

    The benefit of having a good, open relationship with your Dad (or anyone else in your life) is that after they're gone, you won't find yourself saying in years to come "wow, I wish I had (done/said/talked about) X with Dad." What will happen is that, over the course of years, you will gain new insights and new perspectives on your Dad as a person and the relationship you had with him. Gaining that understanding is frustrating, because there's so little you can do with it (except to use it to understand yourself better, which is no small thing). But the fact that you can't use that wisdom to improve your relationship with your Dad - that's the real void that you can't fill.

    Most people find their own ways to cope, and you'll find your own. I find that coping skills are OK as long as you only rely on them temporarily - just as a bridge to the next 'normal' phase of your life - and you don't do anything drastic. Most people do not lose themselves after they lose someone else. If you find that six, twelve months down the road you're still relying on coping skills as much (or more) than you are right now, it's time to seek a little help. This is not something to worry about right now.

    Some people will talk about "closure" or "moving on," and remember that those are kind of fabricated concepts. As full of shit as James Ellroy is, I find his perspective on closure illuminating. He believes that "closure" is a myth. Instead, he thinks that people go through something he calls an "arc of reconciliation," where your relationship with lost loved ones evolves and changes forever throughout your life. I don't know about the "reconciliation" part except in the most abstract sense, but the rest of it seems right. So don't get hung up waiting for closure or the right time to 'move on.' Take it as it comes.

    A coda:

    My father would have turned 65 last weekend, the customary retirement age. It was occasion for me to recall, as a child, being at his father's 65th birthday/retirement party. Coincidentally, another relative recently gave me a picture of me with my maternal grandfather at his retirement party also. All three are gone now; I helped take care of all three of them and did all of their eulogies. I am, more or less, my father's age when my grandfathers retired. Dad and I probably have/had some similar joys, and some similar worries. Differences, too - he was married with kids (including me!), at a different point in a different career. It would be interesting and enlightening for thirtysomething me to compare notes with my thirtysomething father (or even my sixtysomething father's recollection of his thirtysomething self).

    And that is a conversation I will never get to have, except in my own head. That is the true void, and only the most recent point on my long arc.
     
  3. AlmostGaunt

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    Listen to DrFrylock if you want good advice. Me, I went round to a friend's place and drank a bottle of bourbon. Then I ended up sobbing into her lap for a few hours while she petted me and told me comforting lies. Spent the rest of the next fortnight in a Jack Daniels coma, listening to Tears in Heaven and No Woman No Cry on repeat, then eventually snapped out of it.

    Coping skills, I have them.

    This next part might not apply to you, depends whether you get the same rage/despair combo that I did. Your mileage may vary.

    Anyway, the reason it's a cliche is because it's true: time is the only thing that will actually help, and it will - eventually. My best advice to you is this: even if everything (going to work, not relapsing, saving money, whatever) seems pointless, act as if you still care. Don't let the rest of your life fall in a hole because you are fucked up over this. One day, in your own time, you will realize you do still care about the trivialities of life, and you will feel less self indulgent and retarded if you have handled your shit despite adversity.

    Now, listen to the smart people with more life (death) experience than me.
     
  4. shimmered

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    This.
    The void will never go away. It's just something that eventually IS, and you become okay with it.
    Eventually, you can see something you would have shared, and you'll be comfortable in the knowledge that you know him so well that you know what he'd say in the situation.

    If it becomes overwhelming, please don't rule out grief counseling. It sounds like your relationship with your dad was fantastic, which is great. I hope that means that the grieving process will be something you can handle...I think it will, I'm sure he's given you (even if you don't know it yet) the tools to cope.
     
  5. suapyg

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    I've lost a lot of people. Disease, crime, stupidity, drugs, sex. Lost my childhood sweetheart. Lost my best friend, twice. Spent a year at the bedside of a close friend who seemed to have no chance at all, and has miraculously survived. I can only offer one piece of advice:

    Your memories will try to carry you while you're trying to stay in the present and keep on living.

    Let them.

    They are what will keep that person with you for the rest of your life.
     
  6. fleafly

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    I lost my mom to cancer back in 95. I think my way of coping was just trudging along. Taking each day as it came and move on to the next. It sucked, I cried a lot for many years. I usually visit her grave a half dozen times a year to talk. It was really weird and very sad when I realized I had lived more of my life without her than I had with her.

    If there is any advice I can give it's that life is a bitch. Sometimes the cards you are dealt in life suck. You just have to make the best of it because dwelling on it and stressing over it won't help. Remember him, honor him, but don't stop living your life. "Life is about change, nothing ever stays the same"
     
  7. vex

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    My family showed me this little book called "How to survive the loss of love" (<a class="postlink" href="http://www.amazon.com/Survive-Loss-Love-Peter-McWilliams/dp/0931580439" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.amazon.com/Survive-Loss-Love ... 0931580439</a>). One of the major lessons is that your body knows how to heal itself emotionally the same way it knows how to close up a physical wound. The authors urge the reader to trust in that healing process. To trust that you will get through this and trust that your body knows how to get through this. Then came the best advice: surrender to the healing process. This meant letting go of any expectations of what you should do or where you should be and just experiencing your loss. Cry your eyes dry if you need to. Watch 5 hours of TV. Take as many naps as you need to. Don't fight the loss.

    There will be ups and downs. Days where you feel more independent and healthy. Others where you feel like you've made no progress at all. Things will change. Mood, appetite, sex drive, memory... Don't worry about it. Just go with it.

    Go be with your family.
     
  8. whathasbeenseen

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    I've come back to this thread 10 times already trying to write something adequate that may help. Some super powerful shit in this thread that I can add maybe one thing to.

    I'm not going to patronize you and say that you'll get to this magic space where its all okay. You won't. We don't. We always have something missing. Always some part that feels undone. It doesn't get easier so much as it becomes the norm and you learn to adjust.

    For me it was the loss of a Grandfather who was a stand in for his absent son. He smoked a pipe and oddly enough I found one that was an exact replica of his. So when I missed him most, I'd grab the pipe, pack it like I used to for him and just revisit old conversations, have new conversations with him in my head. Its funny that when he was alive I never knew what he'd say about the questions I'd have for him but some sort of way I almost always know now. Its in these tight little spaces that I feel close to him. Telling stories with my family, laughing about things he said, rifling through old pictures, wearing this coat of his that still smells like him... whatever you have to do to remember fondly and grieve and live and embrace whatever gets you through.
     
  9. D26

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    My wife's family and I lost her brother to cancer about six months before we got married. This was four years ago. Even four years later, we're still dealing with it, and mentioning certain things will still cause her to cry. That being said, we've progressed. It used to be that we couldn't even mention his name without her (my wife) or my mother-in-law breaking down in tears. Now, we can talk about him and remember the happy memories, and laugh without crying. That void is still there, but it does become 'normalized,' as they say.

    I went back to work, and talked to a lot of my friends about it. I was fortunate enough to work in the mental health field, so I could easily talk to a lot of people who helped me deal with it. I know that after it happened, my wife coped by focusing all of her energy on school and our wedding, and began to go out with her friends a lot more, and used them as a support system. My mother-in-law got even more heavily involved in her church and volunteered for absolutely everything she could, and used the church for an extra support system. My father-in-law (who is a fucking rock) went back to and seemed to find comfort in his daily routine. It was hardest on my youngest brother-in-law, who was only 15, just really starting high school, and trying to deal with his older brother being gone. He was helped out by his brother's friends, who all rallied around him and took him under their collective wings, and they became his extra support system.

    What I learned from it all is that yes, people cope differently, but one thing seemed to be common in these stories: they all found support systems to help them through it, besides just their family. Yes, the family grew closer after that, but at the same time, everyone branched out a little more and found support in other places. My wife has said that when she was around her family, her life was consumed by the thoughts of her brother and death, and she found that really depressing. Meanwhile, when she was with friends at school, it reminded her that life goes on and that death doesn't have to always be the central theme to life. Her friends were extra supportive and helpful, and kept her spirits up (as much as they could anyway), and I know she'll always be eternally grateful to them for helping her.

    My advice is to remember him, be supportive of your family, but also find a support system outside of your family. Find people who aren't completely consumed by death and grief, as they can help to remind you that the pain you're feeling will eventually fade, and they can help remind you of that sense of normalcy that you feel like you might've lost forever.
     
  10. Nom Chompsky

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    I posted about this a while back, I think.

    My brother was killed by a reckless driver a couple years ago. On my mother's birthday. With my entire immediate family there, as well as a lot of extended family and a few friends. Suffice to say it was a transformative experience for a lot of people.

    Anyway, my mother is the type of strange person who insists on "dealing with things" and "not being dead inside", so for a while now I've gone to a group for bereaved parents/siblings. Mostly parents go, which makes a certain sort of sense, but I've been going long enough that I went through the facilitator training and such. I happen to be going to one tonight, which is a pretty big coincidence, since I'm not normally in the city.

    Some things that I think are universal: People are going to say stupid or insensitive things at some point. I have countless stories of my own and others about the thoughtless things that people say. What you decide to say to them is your choice, just don't be surprised when it happens. People are going to forget well before you do -- everybody is going to be supportive for a week, most for a month, and then it's going to die down significantly. You might be surprised who still checks in on you after a while; I have a friend with whom I've had an...up and down relationship, but the fact that she called me on the day it happened, two years later, even while we weren't really speaking, means a lot. The fact that other friends wouldn't have thought to also means a lot.

    It's never going to get any less heavy. He'll always be gone. You do learn to manage though -- I like to compare it to carrying a huge backpack. It will always be there, but after a while you learn to manage the weight a little bit better, learn to shift it so you can walk somewhat normally. Little things will stop tripping you up: something tells me you're going to notice how many people ask about your parents as a matter of small talk, and how you have no idea what to say that isn't a lie or unnecessarily emotional. You'll figure it out.

    I'm sorry for your loss. The fact that you're even posting this means that he must have been something special.
     
  11. TX.

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    I lost my grandmother and my best friend almost 11 years ago. Both were ill for a very long time, but their deaths were still shocking to me. I was young and in denial; I pretended that they would both get better and be healthy for years. Part of my coping was putting away all of the pictures or anything else that reminded me of them. A few years ago I noticed that I couldn't really remember how their voices or laughter sounded. Their faces and expressions started to fade from my memory. So, I brought back the pictures of them. I feel sad when I see their faces, but it's important to me to remember them.
     
  12. Kubla Kahn

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    I was going to post similar to this. Leading up to my dads death when I was 17 turning 18 I don't think I talked with anyone about it. He fought cancer for a year and a half. The one time I did was out camping and drinking where alcohol and play fighting with friends took a sudden turn into sobbing for hours. After he passed away my friends gave me the common condolences but none of them knew or had any idea how to approach it in any meaningful manner.

    My mom took my little brother and I to a grief center and talking with those people and kids around my age that went through the same thing seemed to take a lot of weight off. My little brothers group had to hold hands and chant shit and he was wholly uncomfortable with his experience with it. But as a family that doesn't talk out their feeling with each other very often I found getting them off my chest to someone was a great relief. People that have been through it seem to have much more insight and can give better than standard advice. If someone I know is going through it and I hear about it I always make an effort now to just talk to them about it, even if they don't want to and just want to shoot the shit about what ever.

    It creeps up still from time to time when something little reminds you of it. I listened to Pink Floyd's Animals album a few months ago and sobbed the whole time as it was the first album I listened to that day he died. It took me right back. Sometimes going through our gun room, which is the only room left basically untouched since his passing is weird. But as time goes on the most painful part of actually losing them is put further and further back and you mainly just remember what you guys did when they were around.
     
  13. Rush-O-Matic

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    eA, I am sorry for your loss. Folks have said some good things here, and time is the best manager of loss. My father actually died about 2 months ago, but he was dying for almost 10 years, diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. Several years into that, I sat down and wrote about why my father was so awesome.

    I'm not much of a writer, but I did it anyway. I added things here and there over the next few years, little memories that became part of the narrative. Most of it was essay type, but then I just started adding some of his favorite sayings, things he like to do, or special event memories. A friend of his ended up reading much of what I had written at his funeral. I had shared it with my sisters, and they also took the time to write stuff, that they said helped them.

    I imagine I'll pull it out every now and then for the rest of my life, and share it with family members.
     
  14. ex Animo

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    Everyone, I appreciate everything you guys have contributed on here. It really has me thinking about how life is going to be without him. I'm quoting Rush here, because even though it's only been a few days, I'm doing pretty okay right now. My dad was dying for several years, beginning with his diagnosis of Prostate Cancer back in 2004. His health just got progressively worse as his got older - his body just deteriorated.

    For several years, from when I was 15 until about last year, I always knew he was sick, but it never really hit me that he would be gone. I just didn't really dwell on it and I helped him out and talked to him as much as I could. It was, coincidentally, a year ago when he had his first major accident - a broken hip. It was then, where I realized that my time with my dad was coming to a close. At the same time, I didn't really talk to him about it. He became a lot more open, emotional, and outspoken about his personal feelings and concerns. It was refreshing - my dad, and to be honest, my whole family is not really vocal about how they really feel, so my dad's sudden change has really impacted me.

    It was only a month ago, I was having the conversation of "the void". It was 13 days ago, exact, where I had my last heart-to-heart with my father. It was very emotional - I cried my eyes out - but he assured me that I would be okay. I told him that I'm going to be 23 and I would be marching into the world without a father, whereas most people have their parents until they are about 50 and 60. Not once did I ever say it was "unfair" - he's lived a long life, but it was just the idea that he wouldn't be around that I had to get used to. But as I said, he assured me that I would be okay - a few days after his passing, I'm holding up pretty well. Looking at his pictures from when he was my age, to his military pictures, to his pictures of him and his friends just smiling and laughing - it's all really helped. My dad was awesome and I'm very proud of him and the fight that he put up. I think that's how I've been able to get out of bed lately. I'm obviously sad that he's gone, but I'm more so sad to see him go. I'm sad that I'll never have a chance to sit down and listen to oldies with him and that I'll never get to hear him sing opera (he could sing, damn well. His voice could tear down walls) again. I'm sad to see his story end, but I realize that everyone's story has to end someday. The past few weeks have really changed my view on people and life in general. I'm a lot more open and receptive to people - I think it's kind of odd that it took my father's passing to create a positive change within myself. I guess that was the last thing my dad gave me - an incentive to change for the better. He was an awesome person. I'll forever cling to that.

    I'm still kind of gathering all my thoughts. It's all still swirling around in my head, so I apologize for the lengthy post. I didn't mean to vent so much, but everyone's words really got me thinking. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all of you. I never expected such kindness and support from a bunch of strangers. Really. Thank you all very much. I hope I get to meet some of you someday.
     
  15. audreymonroe

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    My mom died when I was 7, my stepmom died when I was 12, I lost my stepbrother shortly after that (he didn't die, but he's not in my life anymore and it hurts just as bad, if not sometimes worse), then both of my grandparents died within the next couple of years after that, and then I found out my aunt had died months after the fact a year after that. Most of how I dealt with that wasn't the best way to cope (especially after my stepmom, when it coincided with hormones and teen angst... woof...), but these are a couple of things that I've found really help:

    -Know that family isn't (always/only) defined by who you're related to by blood. I've basically been adopted into my best friend's family, and I couldn't be more grateful for that. I don't blink when I refer to her grandma as my grandma, or when I call her mom on Mother's Day. I have (and have had) many mother figures, some more constant and more serious than others, that I turn to when I need that particularly motherly type relationship or guidance that my dad just can't provide, as much as he has tried. I have some really strong friendships that I consider family. It used to really upset me that it was just my dad and I (my mom's family had more or less fallen out of touch until very recently when I've gotten back in touch with a couple of cousins, and we aren't all that close with his sister and her family) but in the past couple of years I've come to really appreciate the twisted sort of luck in being able to form my own family by choice and how much support I get from so many nontraditional sources. It might be difficult or different for you, since you had a much better/more developed relationship with your dad than I did with my mom, so it might not be the easiest to view people as an opportunity to, essentially, replace him. But when you're ready I think it would be really helpful to think of some other male father figures in your life, and work on your relationships with them for the future when you'll be feeling the pangs of not having your dad around.

    -It was slightly mentioned before, but: write. I started writing because I was an only child with a single parent and it was an easy way to entertain myself, and because I quickly figured out it was extremely therapeutic. Start a journal. Write your dad letters. Write down your memories with him like the other post suggested. Write full-on personal essays/nonfiction short stories. Write thinly veiled fictional stories. It helps. I don't know why, but it helps.

    -Don't feel like you owe anyone this story. It's yours, and if you don't want anyone to know, or you don't want to talk about, then don't. This is a bit difficult when it's a parent - people usually find out about my mom pretty quickly just because people's parents tend to be subjects of conversations and I feel weird lying about it. But you can lie about it, to most people, if you don't want to have the uncomfortable "Actually, my dad died" conversation. My dad and I recently discovered that we both have basically not told any new people in our lives since my stepmom died about her. We both kind of gloss over it because, as far as we're concerned, all people need to know if anything is about my mom. It just gets too weird. Sometimes I feel guilty about this, but you know what, it also helps a lot to not talk about it sometimes. If that's the case with you too, then don't feel bad about it.
     
  16. scotchcrotch

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    One of my friends died the night before the first day of junior high school due to autoerotic asphyxiation aka The David Carradine.

    I remember multiple counselors coming into class, glazing over the details. My parents didn't do much better elaborating.
     
  17. Angel_1756

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    The timing of this thread is both fitting and upsetting. I found out today that a very dear friend who has been battling cancer for several years has opted to try an "alternative therapy" in Mexico as a last ditch effort to prolong her life. Not save, prolong. There's an exceptionally high chance that this therapy won't work, and her husband is basically resigned to the fact that she's gone down there to die. She's got a few days, maybe weeks at most.

    I've had a few friends and relatives pass away in the last couple years and the advice here is all pertinent and absolutely on the money. Lean on people when you need them, cry together, share together, maybe even laugh together if the moment seems right. Everyone's grief is different and don't let anyone try to tell you that you're doing any of it wrong.

    ex Animo, I am so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
     
  18. dense

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    Last November my Mom passed after a three year battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). Dealing with her death was certainly different than what ex Animo is experiencing because I had three years to come to grips with what was happening to her. During the first year I was totally convinced that there was going to be a medical breakthrough that would save her, partially due to being naive, partially because that's what the doctors wanted us to believe. During the second year I gradually began to accept the inevitable, I would try to visit two or three times a month, and when I did that I wasn't able to notice any decline in her health, but if I went a month without seeing her, when I'd see her again it would take me a few hours before I could figure out what she was saying, since her ability to speak had deteriorated markedly. Beyond that, in her second year with ALS she was totally dependent on her wheelchair to move around, whereas she had used a walker before, and towards the end of the second year she had a feeding tube inserted and was unable to eat food conventionally.

    The third year of her disease, while she was still alive, is when I really began to be at peace with her eventual passing. She had lost nearly all movement, except for being able to subtly move her feet/fingers/head. She was desperately unhappy and went to bed every night expecting to die. I could only imagine how it ripped her up inside, with her mind being fully functional but unable to communicate. When she finally passed, I was struck with the realization that I would never be able to see her again, and that hurt a lot, but that hurt was tempered by the realization that my mother was in extreme physical and emotional pain and at the very least, that has been relieved.
     
  19. Disgustipated

    Disgustipated
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    Emotionally Jaded

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    Gold Coast, Australia
    My mum died last year from cancer, and it's less than three weeks to her birthday. She had lung cancer that metastasised, went to her brain and caused four separate tumours. While it was quick (in terms of several months), it hit the personality centres of her brain and she regressed to a point where she was almost unrecognisable as the person she once was.

    As a family, we all took it differently. Dad's first wife had died of cancer, and he took it very personally to the point where it was all about him (nothing unusual there). My brother was not particularly close with her as she was his adopted mother and had had a strained relationship for a few years. I took it pretty hard and didn't show it, not least of all because I'm not blood related to my father or brother.

    Everyone else is right - you'll find a void and you'll never fill it. But, you'll learn not to keep falling in it. Time doesn't heal all wounds, it just gives you an opportunity to live peacefully with them. Until then, grin and bear the platitudes you'll get from all comers because there is no comfortable or easy way to relate.

    The best advice I can give you is to be there for all of it. Don't shy away. There's two major reasons for this:

    - For him: as scared as you are to lose him, he will be scared of dying. Not perhaps for himself, but for everyone he leaves behind. He will need to know you accept it as much as he has himself. Besides that, he will want to live every bit of life he has left to the fullest. If there's something he doesn't want you to see, he'll let you know.

    - For you: a major part of the grieving process is acceptance. It's only a short term fix to deny there's a problem and avoidance is a subconscious method of denial. Acceptance has to happen sooner or later, so get it over with. By being there with him through everything, you're already starting the healing process. I like to tell my students at training - don't close your eyes when the punch is coming, it doesn't make it hurt any less.

    I was with my mum all that I could be when she was in palliative care, whether she was awake or not. Unfortunately I wasn't there when she died, but that's only a minor hurt that I can reconcile against the rest of my time spent with her.
     
  20. Dcc001

    Dcc001
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    New Bitch On Top

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    Sarnia, Ontario
    I've posted about this several times before, but in late 2007 my beautiful, healthy cousin went to the emergency room with what she thought was the flu. They sent her home and she was dead hours later thanks to a missed diagnosis of Addisons Disease.

    I've spoken with my aunt (her mother) many times about it. My own sense of loss is one thing; Jess was my cousin and although we weren't close she was part of my family. Her mother's take on it is more valid, I feel:

    - My aunt told me to imagine it like this: You wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and you don't bother to turn on any of the lights. However, you soon realize that while you were asleep someone has come in and rearranged everything in the room. Every object is itself familiar, but you cannot find a context or get your bearings no matter what you do. You just have to grope from one moment to the next, hoping that ultimately you'll get to where you wanted to be.

    - She also likened it to losing a limb. "You don't recover...you adapt." As others have said, you will not "get over" this loss but you will learn to live with it and over time it will become less acute.

    Whatever you have to do to get through it, do it. There is no right or wrong and if that ordeal taught me anything it's that there is no way to predict how everyone will react.