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Losing my Dad

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I'm new here.  Thank you for accepting me.  
I've lived grief since my divorce.  I know it well.  
Grief has walked with me for nearly a decade.  He's been my traveling companion, as I have ambled down this fracture pathway which is my life.  Most days, I can ignore him.  I find the strength to look away from him, but he's always beside me.  Occasionally, he will reach across the path and nudge me... tears flow... heart breaks again.  I pull it together, and move along... alone.
On Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 10:50 p.m... Grief... who had only quietly strolled at my side these 7 years... lunged across the cracked pathway, and dove into me head first.  My breath was gone.  Life drained from me.  My father slipped from this life in the sterile, unfeeling CVICU of our local hospital.  There were so many feelings, I didn't know what to do... what to feel... how to move.  
My brain was misfiring.  Part of me was relieved.  Yet I mourned.  I wept.  I smiled, but there was so much guilt.  At the same time so much release.  
Doctors called us all in at 9 p.m.  His vitals were slipping.  They knew he would not make it through the night.  His Advanced Directive was clear that he only wanted comfort care.  No extraneous measures keeping him alive.  I stood by his bed as they extubated him.  As they stopped providing the medications that kept his heart beating.  I was there when he took his final breath.  I kissed the top of his bald head, and told him how sorry I was, as I told him goodbye for the last time. 
Why relief?  Why a smile?
Dad had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.  Atypical Alzheimer's.  He was becoming a different person.  He wasn't aggressive or mean.  He was suddenly effervescently happy.  He was telling corny jokes (completely contrary to his character).  At the same time, forgetting some.  He was losing his balance.  He was falling some.  He was having problems chewing and swallowing.  At the end of September, a grand mal seizure and subsequent fall sent him to the ER by ambulance.  He never left the hospital.  I didn't have to watch him slowly wither away.  His passing was just 5 months after his Alzheimer's diagnosis.  
11 days of tests, and observation.  Congestive heart failure.  Realization that his prior bypasses could be failing.  Heart Cath... he coded on the table... and somehow they managed to keep him alive.  I think his spirit (if one believes such things) left his body during the Heart Cath.  His body was being forced to live by medication and machines.  My dad already made his exit.  Keeping him alive seemed like a desecration.  
I regained some semblance of conscious thought about 10 minutes after he passed... but reality is, I was a walking corpse.  
"We have to call his sisters.  His sisters need to know."
My mom, through her tears, "No, it's too late."
"They will never understand if we don't let them know."
Robotically... my fingers numb... I searched for the numbers through eyes blurred with tears.  I called both Aunts to share the horrible news with them.  Their brother was gone.  My daddy was gone.  It didn't seem real yet.
I was taken aback, as Grief had remained so quiet... seemingly content to walk along with me for so long.  Not a word spoken.  The occasional tinge to know that he was there.  Always a reminder.  Always a distant sadness.  A melancholy shadow over a life which should seemingly be full and free and happy.
Now, I vacillate between being utterly numb, and bursting into tears - usually at the most inopportune moments.  And the regrets.  The things I told him we would do together.  (Even though he was 76, he was like a big kid at the end with the Alzheimer's.)  The Fish Fry I promised we would do.  The homemade peach ice cream I told him we would make together.  I kept telling him in the hospital that we were waiting to do his great granddaughter's birthday party till he got out of the hospital.  All of that washes over me daily.  
I think the worst of it is the fact that in his child-like mind, he went to sleep thinking he was going to be fine, and wake up.  But he didn't.  I think of rubbing his feet for him before they put him under.  Washing his face.  
With my whole being, I don't know how to process this.  I will never be 'right' again.  I will never heal.  I am irreparably broken.  Yet, reading here that I am not alone makes a huge difference for me.  Thank you for your stories.  Thank you for your heart.
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So beautifully written, my friend ~ and if putting your thoughts and feelings in writing helps you in any way, I hope you will continue to do so. Writing can be a very effective tool to help you process this significant loss, as you continue to find your way along your own grief journey (e.g., see Writing As a Healing Tool in Grief) ~ and clearly you have a gift for it. 

I just now read a piece by another man who is mourning the death of his father ~who died 24 years ago ~ and I invite you to read it, too: This Is Grief. This Is Life.

You are not alone, and we will be here for you just as long as you need us to be. ❤️

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Thank you, Marty.  I have been a writer for most of my life.  Journaling.  Storytelling.  Poetry.  I don't know how to NOT write, if that makes sense. 

I think the major difference is that it's all electronic for me now.  I don't write with pen on paper.  I journal in the cloud.  

When my dad died, I started my own private journal area called 'Dear Dad.'  I write him at least a short note every day.  I say the things I wish I had the courage to say.  Or the opportunity.  It is healing for me.  

Thank you for the links.  I will check them out. 💖

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You are welcome here, one writer to another, although I am sorry to hear what you went through.  I wrote copiously after Mark died 2.5 years ago, more than I had done in the previous decade, and like you, I don't do pen on paper (except to jot down rhymes as they come to me) and incorporate them into poetry, or turns of phrase that catch my ear or that pop into my mind spontaneously.  If I don't jot them, I lose them.  Now that's almost unbearable for a writer!  🙄  I hope you will continue to write, be it here or elsewhere in the cloud.

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I am so sorry for your loss.  You have expressed grief well, the emotions a roller coaster.  Nothing prepares us for this.  I lost my father when I was 29, and I was a daddy's girl.  I was pregnant with my first child and he never got to meet her.

It does help to journal.  I wrote these tips ten years after the loss of my husband, I hope something in here is of help to you, if not now, perhaps later, as our grief journey is ever evolving.  Remember to breathe.


There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.


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