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Pain Over Not Be Able To Enjoy Experiences With Lost Loved One?


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My daddy and I had planned a trip to a place we had been talking about since I was a child. During my childhood and teenhood, he said we'd go one day (he spoke the language, but he hadn't been there in 20+ years). But before we went, he said I had to learn the language, which always seemed silly to me. He didn't mean learn a few phrases...he meant become fluent. I never became fluent in the language.

Anyway, last year during his first hospital emergency, after he was recovering in the hospital, he told me and my mother, "Let's go. We should just go." After he got out, we didn't travel right away. Though he suggested I should take a semester off, I didn't. He said, "Take one semester off so we can all go as a family. It'll be great." I didn't, thinking there would be time in the summer. I was also working on a project that required his help, so he and I worked on it together instead of my taking time off. I was thinking of going through with the next semester (it was an important one for me, with unusual classes that provided me with some good opportunities), THEN we'd go to the place in the summer, and then perhaps I'd take the semester after that off to be with my family more. I just wanted to get this semester out of the way. Which I did. After which, he decided to travel to his home country for two weeks, where he was hospitalized and never came home. He wasn't in good shape to travel, but he did anyway, and became angry when we protested. I packed him his medicines, had his family over there on alert on his condition, and thought, "Well, it's only two weeks." He'd been back to his home lots of times, and two weeks always flew by.

When he came home, he was supposed to go in full recuperation mode to really take care of his health problems more, after which we'd travel as a family to the place we always talked about (after all, I'd be on extended leave from school, so my time would be open).

He never came back. And I'm looking at all the travel sites for the place, the list of fancy restaurants we had planned to eat at, the stores and tourist spots we had planned to see. It is SO PAINFUL that we can't go. I look at the pictures of these places: Daddy and I will never eat there together. Daddy and I will never see this spot, or that spot. I had been keeping a list of all the places we wanted to see together. I've had that list since I was a child, adding to it over the years. Growing up, hearing my daddy speak the language, talk about his experiences there years ago...that country is inextricably tied to him. And I keep looking at the pictures of the places online. I don't want to go anymore. But I keep looking at the pics because it seems IMPOSSIBLE we will never go, my childhood dreams dashed. What will happen to my list? I have all this pent-up excitement planted and nurtured since childhood. You know how you get excited about going on a trip? Imagine that excitement brewing for so many years, only to have it canceled at the last minute.

I keep crying and crying at these pictures. HE ASKED ME TO TAKE A LEAVE AND GO ON THE TRIP, BUT I DIDN'T because I had stupid "important" classes and a project at work he was helping with, since it was his field. I figured there'd be time in the summer after he came home from his own trip to his home country. WHY was I so STUPID, thinking there'd be more time? Why didn't his first hospital trip alert me about mortality, how little time we have, how we have to experience things when we have time? WHY DID I PUT IT OFF? There's this famous restaurant we wanted to go to. We went into such detail I even know what we wanted to order from the menu. This is torture. Pure torture.

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Dear Em,

Yes, right now it must feel like torture to look at the dreams that cannot be for you and your dad. We all had hopes and plans and never considered that we wouldn't be together to see them come true. I would suggest having a good cry and then putting the list away for now. There may be a time that you will want to go...alone or with a friend or even your children. My husband and I always talked of taking the kids to Colorado for our 25th anniversary. It was a place he dearly loved and there were so many places he wanted to show us. He wanted to go sooner, but I thought we should wait. (I get angry with myself now, knowing what I know, but at the time, I made the best decision I could with the information I had. He wasn't supposed to die. It wasn't in our plans.) While, it is hard to imagine going without him, I have it in my heart to bring the kids and show them the places their dad loved. His time there was such a big part of who he was and why he loved mountains and trees and communing with nature. I can't help but think that I will find some comfort there as well. It won't be the same as having him there, but being in a place that was near and dear to him surely will make us feel like he is near and dear to us.

Be patient, Em. You are still new on this path, and there will come a time when it is not as painful to look back at what was or what could have been, and you will have some hope for happiness looking ahead. It takes a long while to get to that point, but you will, and we'll be here to cheer you on.



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You put it off because you are human. Just like a teenager that feels pregnancy, a wreck, a loss of first love, you always feel it won't happen to you. Most of us, especially at your younger age ever think about the people we love dying. We all feel that we and they will live forever.

By your own admission, your dad was still recovering even when you were still going to school. It is NORMAL to think if you give them a little more time that they will grow stronger and be able to enjoy the trip more. You especially want to be more careful when you are leaving the country because of all the red tape and insecurities of health care in a foreign country. When my Tom first got sick he said there were only 2 things h wanted to do in case things didn't turn out well. One was to return to Las Vegas one last time. When we knew that things were going south I had him in Vegas within 2 weeks but was scared to death because he had gotten so much weaker. What was I going to do if he died half a country away from where we lived? What if something happened on the plane? I was lucky and he did make it through the trip but within a month was gone forever.

There is just nothing we can do to stop God's plan. Your dad wanted and still wants you to go on with your life. He knows it is hard for you but wants you to keep taking those baby steps until you can take a full step. (I am a year out and have fallen back to baby steps right now. I wish they would remove Feb. from the calendar and maybe things would be better).

There are peaks and valleys in this grief journey, just as there is in "normal" life. We've just hit some jagged edges and have to climb a little more carefully, but God has that safety line on us and will protect us if we fall. We just have to trust Him no matter how hard it is at times.

Keep your list. Someday maybe you can share it with a spouse, children or good friend. Show them the dreams you had and let them know how glad you are to be sharing them and a part of your dad with them. That would be a special gift for all of you.

I lost my dad almost 19 years ago and miss him greatly but I will say the years had taken the sting out of it. I think about him more in certain situations, especially when my grandkids do something that I know he would have laughed at or something that he would have egged them just to be ornery. I only hope that some day these will be the type memories I have of Tom instead of all the hurt of the things he is missing.

I'll say an extra prayer for you today.

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What will happen to my list?

That's up to you. It is your choice to go and visit those places. And if you do indeed go.. ask your Dad along.

Yes I agree what you are choosing to think, see & do is pure torture.

I think you might feel a bit better if you began to choose to think about, see and do different things than you have been doing.

Like maybe choosing to think about all the good times you were able experience with your Dad.

Or thinking about all the places you were blessed to be able to see together.

Or thinking of all of the things you were able to do with your Dad instead of focusing just on what you won't be able to do.

Or thinking maybe about how fortunate you were to have him as a Dad.

Or choosing to be grateful for the wonderful relationship you enjoyed.

Perhaps choosing to see all of the the things that your Dad had taught you that have served you so very well.

Or choosing to see all of the gifts.. material and otherwise he shared with you.

Or choosing to look for and see the things in nature that he & you loved.

Or choosing to see how your pain is also within your other family members and many of us here as well.

Perhaps choosing to do some things for others. I find I always feel better and less sad when I reach out to others with compassion.

Choosing to do life & conducting yourself in a way that would make your Dad even more proud of you in honor of him and to stretch your own character.

I find if I only focus on what I don't have and who is no longer physically here with me... I'm miserable.

I must continue my life here. My "job" here isn't finished apparently. So I must do the best I can to move through my grief and live despite my losses. I have learned I can do an awful lot and accomplish much.. despite the pain of loss I feel. I can work .. in pain. I can help others.. in pain.

I have learned I can do almost anything .. in pain. In other words... I can still walk on.. even if I'm limping.. and continue my life's journey.

I must find a balance between feeling my sadness, expressing it and walking the journey here in life that is mine to walk despite what happens along the way. I must move forward. There is nothing else I can do.. is there? I must live life on life's terms.


I have a multitude of choices. (And so you do you.. dear Em)

I choose how I think. I choose how I grieve. I choose what to look at and ponder and what not to look at and ponder and when I do that.

I choose when I want to cry and when I don't.

I choose to be grateful for what I have and have had.

All of those choices don't necessarily make me miss them any less. And of course I still have the pain of missing them.. and will always to some extent.

But.. I choose to go on and do the very best I can with the life that has been given to me. And I try real hard to be grateful.

I choose to remember that ALL humans experience loss and I choose to accept that it is simply a part of life.

Em.. you have many choices in front of you as well. And I hope you choose not to torture yourself any longer.

I seriously doubt your Dad would want that for you.



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Dear Em,

Do keep that list. That list is a piece of your dad that you can hang onto. Keep it, and don't feel bad about having to look at it sometimes. I look at a letter my dad wrote early last year, making plans for his healing center (which never happened). It hurts to see his dreams, and know he didn't complete them, didn't do the healing center. I still know, at least though, that he healed many people. :D That was very evident at the memorial!

I can relate to this pain you are feeling. I am wondering, too, how I am going to go certain places. How can I hike at certain spots that my dad and I cherished? How can I have a picnic without him there? A one-man picnic. Great. It sounds ridiculous. How can I walk through the redwood forests without him?

And plans, oh...me and my dad were going to go to England one day, to Glastonbury, to look for Avalon. ^_^ And we wanted to visit Scotland together, too, because that's where his family ancestry comes from. I imagined my dad sitting down and reading my stories...but, stupidly, I decided to "not share until they're done or less rough-drafty," and what do I get? Now, my dad never got to read a particular story of mine I would have loved for him to read...he would have loved it, too...and laughed at all the right parts, and cried, and smiled...

I feel similarly to you and kath - angry with myself. I should have taken the semester off as soon as my dad fell ill. Or at least, I should have gone to visit him every weekend! Forget school, school's not important when your dad is bedridden and can't even walk! For some reason, I thought I'd wait till he was out of the hospital and settled at home...and then I didn't visit more, because of school. Now I so wish, in retrospect, that I had just faced my fear, faced the very worst possibility - my dad passing away - and decided to DO something about it, and take time for it. Instead though I got scared and thought, "He'll have time, he'll have time..."

All that, the dreams, shattered in one day. I think though, Leann has good points. It's just hard.




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Hi Em,

I know that it does not seem like life will go on without him, but you will go on... I was that the first year that my mom died my sister wanted me to go back to Las Vegas where my mom loved so very much and she died there too... I told her that I could not face Las Vegas ever again and so she went and had a good time... I was again approached three years later by the same sister and asked again if I would like to go to Las Vegas with her and a few friends and I said I would think about it... As the time came closer I did decide on going and even though It was difficult I still managed to get on that plane and go... I did not have as good of time as the others did but I did go and visit some of my mom's favorites places down there... I had a little cry sometimes but I did manage to make it through the four days and with some memories of my own... I toasted her at a favorite resturant and had one of her favorite dinners... But all in all I was glad I went and now that I have I can move on and with my grief journey... I will honestly never go back but I am glad I went Shelley

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