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ErinArg, February 1 in Anticipatory Grief and Mourning
Sometimes it's hard putting your feelings out there, but we can't be here for you if you don't.
Thank you kayc. I had posted yesterday but was disappointed at the lack of response. 19 people had viewed my post and no one had commented so I deleted my post. My story is very complicated and I just don't have time to wait. I need help now.
Can you be more specific as to what sort of "help" you are seeking, Erin?
I have never heard of anticipatory grief but I now know that is what I'm experiencing and I'm having trouble with it. All people keep saying is "stay strong" and "take care of yourself". I just want to cry or sleep. How do I handle this:
I'm facing the death of my father. My dad is 102 years old and has always been incredibly strong but the past 6 months have been difficult on him: x2 rounds of pneumonia, a bad fall and a heart attack. His health is in a rapid decline but he does not want to die. And, my mother has breast cancer that has metastasized. She had a double mastectomy and just finished chemo. We do not know the results yet.
No one can tell you how to "handle" the approaching death of your father or the serious illness of your mother, my dear, because you are a unique individual and your relationship with your parents is unique to you alone. As you travel this unfamiliar path, we are here to offer guidance in the form of reliable information, along with our companionship, compassion, comfort and support ~ but this is your journey and you will find your own way through it as you go along: one moment, one hour, one day at a time. You know yourself better than anyone else does. Pay attention to your body, and give yourself permission to do whatever you feel a need to do, including finding time for crying and for sleeping. (See, for example, Finding Crying Time in Grief and Physical Reactions to Loss.)
I thought of you and your dad, Erin, when I read this just now: Grief During the Last Stages of His Life by hospice nurse Barbara Karnes, RN:
". . . From the moment of a diagnosis of a life threatening illness we begin grieving. We grieve not just the eventual losses that come with serious illness but the approaching death itself. We grieve our losses before they ever happen and while we are doing this pre-grieving (for lack of a better word) we are looking for the miracle.
There are no words that can really make anyone feel better when life seems out of control and we are faced with an inevitable and unacceptable future. I can only suggest you love your son, be there for him. Spend time with him, talk to him about everything - good and difficult. Make some memories. Use this gift of time with him wisely. Treasure what you have together now. Although you would like life to be different for the two of you, it isn’t. Right now is probably the best it is going to be so live through it, make it special . . ."
I am sorry for what you are going through. I am going through anticipatory grief right now with my sister. It is a journey I traveled with my MIL for nearly three years, she was not only my best friend, but I was her caregiver and we were very close.
I'm sorry you deleted your post and even more sorry I wasn't there to respond earlier. I come on here first thing every morning and read the unread posts that present. Some people read but don't post, not everyone reading is a member and some who may not have had that experience may not know what to say. You will find in any forum that there are a hugely greater number of "reads" than responses.
It is so hard to lose someone we love and uniquely difficult to grieve them while they are still here with us. I like that Marty pointed out to treasure what you have together now. I've learned this in my own grief journey, that it is so important to embrace what IS rather than merely lament what ISN'T. We can't control or change everything in life (or death), only how we respond to it. I've learned to allow myself to experience my grief (such as having lost my husband), feel the pain of it, and go through it rather than try to avoid it with continual distraction. Distraction can be good on occasion because it gives you a momentary break from your grief, Lord knows we could all use that if it works, but to do so continually would be to avoid it and that doesn't work...grief has a way of haunting us, finding us, hunting us down. We can't run from it.
Your sharing here was good, even though you deleted it, because it allowed you to express your feelings. So important! Even better to express your feelings and know you are heard and understood, it has a way of validating them, of validating what we are going through. So often we feel all alone in what we are experiencing, it helps to know we aren't losing our minds, that others have felt the same way and many are going through similar experiences. We are all unique in ourselves, in our relationships, and in our grief as we are unique individuals. But we also have some similarities we'll find.
This is a journey that does not stay the same. I found comfort in that realization because the intensity of pain in the beginning can be scary if we think it'll continue like that the rest of our lives. It won't. We will continue missing the ones we've lost, yes, but our bodies have a built in way of adjusting, amazing and as disbelieving as that may seem. It's a way that enables us to survive. Many fight it when it begins to lessen, thinking mistakenly that they aren't caring about the person as much as they should, but that's not true. The truth is it is not our grief that binds us to them, it is our love and it continues still, long after they've passed.
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