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Loss Of My Dad Due To Cancer A Month Ago


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Well, I am 37, I live in the Phx. I moved here 4 years ago to be closer to my dad. I wanted to be close to him and be around the other 50% of family I have. Last Dec he was diagnosed with severe cancer. He underplayed the whole thing. I was appointed total Med POA over him and learned the truth from his oncologist. The last 2 months were hell. I spoke to doctors, med staff, clinical study orgs, worked a stressful outside sales job, got into fights with my girlfriend, and the list goes on. The other 50% of my family, my brother, lives out of state, was here during the dire times and now has taken an active role helping sort things out via phone/cmptr.

My situation is I FEEL LIKE ABSOLUTE CRAP/SAD/TRAPPED/SEVERELY STRESSED DUE TO JOB AND ECONOMY/UNMOTIVATED/DEPRESSED/ANGRY/(ADD YOUR OWN NEGATIVE EMOTION HERE...) I hope this is normal. I talk to people who have gone through similar situations. My dad didn't smoke or drink accessively. I feel angry, and that he had been cheated-he was a young man. On the converse, I have no control and I guess that's the way it goes.

I have many choices....The choice I have opt'd for is to be happy! I just don't know how to start. I really take no joy in anything. At work, on a sales call, I have to put on my Fake smiley face and arise to the occasion.

I helped my dad for 8 months before the day he passed. I spent the night at the hospice that he died. I tell myself to take a vacation by myself....but then again...I would be with me. Not the best company!

So far, I have enrolled in grief counseling, I have always exercised, eat well, am in the best shape of my life, try to do things to take my mind off negative feelings. Some days are better than others. Some are horrible. I still have a house, a house full of stuff, my job, girlfriend, and so much stuff to deal with. Just thinking about dealing with it makes me feel someway negative. I wish 1 year could go by at the snap of a finger. I am frustrated and full of fear.

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Don't think that a year is a magic number because you will find from many here that a lot of us will still be grieving years from now.

You are the age of my oldest daughter so I am assuming your dad was probably in his early 60's ( the same as my husband). I cannot imagine my daughter having to deal with everything you are dealing with.

Maybe you need to just step back a minute and take a deep breath. Choice just one task and keep with it until it's completed and then go to the next. I have to make lists for the days I don't work and cross things off; otherwise I just kind of spin in circles.

Don't be so hard on yourself because most people on here will tell you we have all gone through this. You may want to look in the loss of spouse, and behaviiors in bereavment sections to. Some of it may not apply to you but grief is grief and just reading the posts may make you feel better.

Just like I came her and I started this group not because I lost my dad 18 years ago but because I lost the love of my life 8 mos ago. We all try to help each other.

Good luck in your quest for a new kind of happiness.

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Thank you for the reply. I have learning that there is no magic time line number. I am very impatient all the time. I want to do the right thing. Stepping back is hard sometimes. I have been told there is a great deal of hope! That's the good news. Even though it may seem difficult to believe. I have a lot of hope for happiness. It's gonna take work.

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So sorry about the loss of your Dad. It sounds like you pushed yourself so hard while your Dad was ill and dying.. and I know... most of us do that when our loved ones linger with illness before passing. I remember running myself ragged for the three weeks that my Dad had between his diagnosis and his death. And I also did it for months with another family member that I was extremely close to.

So I think for me at least.. I had to take some time just to recover from the intensity of helping someone die, once the funeral was over. Prior to the actual death everything was all about them. I put my own feelings on hold to literally help them pass as peacefully and as painlessly as I could.

It was like I was pushing and pushing, everything for them and all of a sudden.. it was over. It all came to a screeching stop. Made me lose my footing so to speak.

And then..there was nothing left to do but deal with all of those feelings I had put on hold. I had to "process" the loss into my life and express all of those feelings that go along with that.


Yup.. all of those feelings are super familiar and yes are definitely NORMAL... for sure.

I see you talked about "happiness" almost as if it were something you lost and must get back. Like it is the goal. I didn't/don't see it that way.

I accepted that there is a natural sadness at the loss of a loved one. It wasn't that I wasn't "happy". It was more that I didn't know how to "do" life without that loved one here with me.

I have trouble with the word "happiness" anyway. (But that's me) I usually shoot for contentment and inner peace. Happiness.. I don't know... I have trouble with the expectations that word conjures up for me. So I kinda try to keep it a bit more simple for myself so I don't expect unrealistic things of myself. I can feel content and sad at the same time. I can't feel happiness and sadness at the same time. But again.. that's just me.

The grief is overwhelming... in the beginning. And yes you are right.. I found also that there is no timetable.

We all grieve in our own way and in our own time.

While trying to learn to live without my loved ones here.. I too had to slap ye old smile on my face for the general public. And that is exhausting. When all one wants to do is curl up in a ball and either wish time ahead or back... and nope.. gotta be "presentable" for the public. It is just wearying to do that day in and day out.

I too found it very hard to take joy in anything for several months after a significant loss. Which is hard when you are raising kids. Again.. sometimes, even with them, I had to just try to be in the moment and that meant slapping that old smile on even when I really didn't feel like it at all.

Yes we all have many choices. And I think one of the smartest ones I made was not to judge my grief, feelings or tears. I just let them be what they were.

The world wants us to be "over" this in a flash. The world tells us you must "move on" or "get over it". Well.. that's not really healthy and I'm here to tell ya... the "world" is wrong.

I don't think one can ever 'get over it'. One just learns how to live life differently ..... without that loved one physically here. And I found that learning.. takes some time.. and loads of expressions of feelings.

I have consistenly found that the more I stuff my feelings in and not express them... the worse I feel. The more I try to adhere to how the "world" wants me to behave... the worse I feel. Sure smiles are needed .. like for you at work.. me with the kids.. at times... BUT as soon as I was able to grab a moment by myself.. I let my feelings be expressed.. in either tears or just allowing the feelings to come up within me... and really feel them, even though it was painful. Whenever I did/do that... I felt/feel better.

It sounds like you are doing some great things for yourself.. like eating right and exercising. And also using distraction sometimes is good too. Just as long as you don't do so much to take your mind off of it that you aren't giving yourself enough time to feel. And I'm sorry to say.... the feeling of it all... just hurts.. no two ways about it. It is just painful.

Like you, I have found some days are better than others. And some days are just awful. And that's the way it seems to go... eventually there are just more good days than bad. But that did take awhile for me.

Going to a grief group sounds like a great idea. I'm sure you will find some great support and understanding there. This site is wonderful... and it has helped me immensely... but I have wished there were more opportunities for in person support where I live. So, great that you have a group near you.

The estate stuff.... oh boy, I know the weight of that.

And the "stuff" ... yeah. My folks lived in that house for 50 years.

(I had a thread here I started about "stuff" that you may find helpful to read when or if you are up to it.

Just click here:

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?show...c=2903&hl=stuff )

All I can tell you is.. like mlg said.... I did it one teensy second and task at a time. I remember my atty told me to not do work on the estate for more than 15 minutes a day. Now.. that was a tad unrealistic for me. Somedays it was the majority of the day I worked on it. Others... just a bit less.. and other days.. I just couldn't do anything at all on it. But I see what he meant.. spread it out as much as you can. Task it down, plan out the tasks with a calendar.. etc.

I tried to do that.. but some days I just wasn't up to it. Frustrating at times... for sure. I found myself at one point trying to explain to some company rep that they couldn't speak to the owner of the house because they were d-e-a-d because for some reason the words "estate" and "probate" had no meaning for her. And yah.. I lost patience at times. LOL

But all the bills got paid... the house got prepped and listed for sale... and eventually it did sell..and eventually>>>> probate was finished.

I survived. lol And you will too.

Most people I dealt with for the estate were more than helpful and accomodating. If I didn't know something.. I would just call & ask someone. And again.. most people were more than willing to help me. I called town halls.. different utility, insurance etc companies... my atty... other family members or friends.. etc. I had no shame in asking for info I didn't know or have or for help.

But.. it is a load of work... so go easy on yourself. Pacing myself was key and not judging me was paramount.

Of course you want to do it right...and you will. Your brother can help you too. My sis was out of state too.. but we spoke alot during the whole process, emailed (even pics of "stuff") and she made several trips to help me.

It will all be ok and don't forget.. we're here. And we will help you anyway we can.

Everything you wrote is familiar and in my opinion.. definitely "normal". It just feels awful and that's normal too.

So c'mon back and keep us posted on how you are doing.

And go gentle with you... helping your dad die was an awesome thing. Be good to you as he would have been. Talk to him... he really isn't that far away because love really never dies.



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I thank you for your support. I have had some bad days and good days since I put this on the web. In addition, I find myself becoming hypersensitive to being around hospitals, hearing about sickness, cancer, and so on. In the past 1 month, in addition to my father I have known about 5 other people through connections that have had people die due to cancer. My stomache is in knots and it feels like an acid manufacturer. My girfriend lost her father when she was nine, due to cancer. She lost her favorite uncle last week due to his lifestyle choices. She hates being around me, being at our home and has made statements that I have been a different person for the past 8 months while tending to my father. Well "that's a no brainer". I am not the easiest person to be around. We have had 4 major fights in the last month. I can't take it. Being around her stresses me out and me the same. I am confused. I need to take care of myself and be emotionally available for my girlfriend. I just don't know how, when, where, or what to do! I am lost. I can't relax, and am waiting for counseling.

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Breathe.... Just breathe...take it a breath at a time.

Take some time.. just for you.

I can't be there emotionally for anyone else unless I am taking care of me and "being there" for me. This entails me accepting my feelings and.. most importantly... expressing them.

Of course you are a different person! That's kinda unavoidable. We are all different after losing someone so significant in our lives. Just the process of walking closely with them to the bitter end of their journey here... changes us. We are living life without them physically here with us for the very first time. We are new at it. It takes adjustments and ... time. And IMO it hasn't been that long for you. These are early days yet.

The hypersensitivity.. that is familiar for me too. And on occasion I still feel like I want to avoid hospitals, folks with serious illness etc.. Like my immediate initial response is aversion. I can get past those feelings now. But in the beginning.. no way. I just couldn't "go" to certain places, see certain people do certain things. It was all too much. And ya know what?? That's all normal.

In the beginning...everything seemed to overwhelm me. Even little stuff.

We walk on different ground after a loss. The ground is unfamiliar and we stumble and fall alot. That's ok, I discovered. I had to learn to be kind to me.. gentle with me. I learned to be stingy with my time and energy for awhile. I needed to take care of me. I said no to some social obligations and other volunteer opportunities and even simple get togethers if I wasn't feeling up to them. I gave myself permission to ... breathe.. feel... express. And yeah I had to make time and find energy to do that.. and yes.. I felt it was almost like "work". Something that one does as a means to an end not necessarily something I want to do ... but needed to do.

Course there was a balance I had to find. If I stayed in and did nothing with nayone ever.. I felt worse. So yes at times I had to almost force myself to get out with others. But I still had to make sure.. to make that time for me in a day.

When I did that work.. of taking care of me.. giving myself permission to take time.. breathe, feel and express, I was in a much better place to relate to the others in my family. I didn't feel as overwhelmed. If I didn't make the time.... I was short tempered, anxious.. impatient; with myself and them, stressed etc.

So I learned early on... I gotta make time for me. Wasn't necessarily a huge amount of time a day.. but SOME time. During a walk.. in the shower..etc. I used the shower alot. I would let the pain of the loss come up and wash over me and feel the feelings and express them and that would cleanse me too. Sure I could of just showered mindlessly.. but I chose to use that time to allow the pain to rise up. And the release of that.. helped me be more available emotionally to others throughout the day.

Feeling fragile and frazzled I learned was all normal. AND.. it does pass...

Just got be be patient with and responsive to my needs and then.. I can be somewhat more human to those aorund me.

Pman.. do what works for you.

I'm so sorry to hear of your girlfriend's loss of her dear Uncle. I think it is important to remember that even though someone's actions & choices may have led to their passing.. the pain of the loss of them isn't diminished one iota.

With both of you grieving simultaneously...it isn't any wonder you are having a bit of a rough patch. It isn't any wonder you may be having more arguments.

Unfortunately, both of you are in a fragile place at the same time. However.. this presents a unique opportunity for both of you to share your pain with each other. And also.. that may not work all the time. And that's ok too.

Your losses are different. Even IF you both were grieving the loss of the same person.. your grief would be different.. as each relationship is different.

So when you might want to share with each other.. perhaps come up with a way to let each other know if you or she are actually up for that, at that moment. Decide ahead of time how to tell each other.. "I'm having a bad day." Or I would like to share.. etc. And it kinda must be ok if the other person isn't up for that at that moment.

Ahead of time brainstorm other means to share those feelings you may be having when your partner isn't up for that. She maybe could call a friend.. or you could do that too. Or use writing to get it out. Or come here.. to post some stuff.

Going gently.. as gentle as I can with myself.. helps me walk through the day and not pound or drag through it.

So just be easy with you.. it sounds like you are expecting an awful lot of yourself. There's no need for that. Really!

I find accepting me.. whatever I am feeling.. is very healing and beneficial to me as I progress through this grief journey.

Cut yourself some slack.. you are so deserving of that.

Keep us posted on how you are doing.


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The responses I got were extremely helpful. Yesterday was my first day I felt some degree of normalcy. It was great! I still feel stressed about lots of things (especially the estate). My patience level on most subjects last for about half a second. My girlfriend of 3 years and change hates being around me. She moved in about 5 months ago and can't stand being in the same house with me. I don't blame her! Her father passed from cancer in 91 and my situation brought back a lot of feelings that she harbored. I have been told that I have become different for the worse. I try to pause, remember to pause when aggitated but at times it's hard. Time takes time I guess. Yesterday was great! I hope I can have another one soon.

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