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Losing My Dad

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Hello all,

I just joined this forum. I lost my dad 4 weeks ago, his 66th birthday would have been on the 25th of this month. He has always been my rock, my biggest fan, my hero, I'm sure that sounds odd from a 39 year old, but it's what he has always been for me. I have been an RN for 18 years and in 9 months will graduate as a Nurse Practitioner. I have always been the "go to" person in the family, but find that role right now very overwhelming and next to impossible to fulfill.

My dad was diagnosed last february with pulmonary fibrosis, the diagnosis came out of nowhere, he was an active business owner who golfed 36 holes a golf a week. When he ended up in the hospital my family and dad were all so excited that it wasn't cancer, but I knew this diagnosis was just as bad if not worse as it is progressive and without treatment. My dad lived the last 10 months on oxygen and large doses of steroids, but he LIVED, still golfing, teaching my boys to hunt etc... He got sick on New Year's day and was admitted to the hospital, and while my mom and sisters felt that this was a set back, my gut knew it was the beginning of the end. On the 11th my mom called me to the hospital as my dad had a "bad episode". I knew he was dying. No one had talked to my dad about his wishes, the dr's talked about putting him on a ventilator as though this would cure him, when in reality if he went on, he would never come off and would end up living/dying on it. My dad is someone who would NEVER want to live his life confined to a chair or on a machine. So, I talked to my dad about his wishes, discussed the options that the dr's had given him and he chose to make himself a do not resuscitate and under no circumstances was he to be put on a vent. While everyone says I gave my dad a gift by having this conversation with him, it is not something as a daughter I ever wanted to do, how do you make it ok in your head that basically I told my dad he was going to die. The next day when my mom was not in the room my dad took my hand and looked me in the eye with a pleading look and made me promise that he wouldn't suffer...my heart broke into a million pieces. I made that promise to my dad with a shaky tearful voice but I made it and he died peacefully about 10 hours later. My parents have been together since they were 15 (50 years) and this loss for my mom is enormous.

I have dealt with death so often in my career and life (my 17 year old niece was killed 2 years ago and I lost my grandma 8 months ago on my birthday), but nothing could prepare me for this, I am shocked with the depth of my grief and how very out of control I feel with me emotions. I am normally a very low key rational person, but the waves of grief that come at me are something I have no control over. I am sure everyone around me is tired of hearing about it, tired of seeing me cry and shocked at my inability to "get it together", so I thought maybe this forum would give me an avenue to hear and read about others that are feeling the same. Thank you for the avenue to express myself. Beth

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Hi, Beth. I just posted for the first time on this forum yesterday, looking for a way to express myself too.. I lost my Dad as well, also to a long illness where we knew the end was coming. The responses to my post were very helpful, and I'd like to share them with you.

I was basically assured that there is no "right way" to grieve. There is no set period of time, after which you are supposed to just go back to the way you were before. No one should be telling you how you should react. For me, it's been the opposite. I am not as emotional as other people think I should be, so it seems like I don't care. The important thing is that you were able to be there for your dad in a way no one else in the family was. You were strong for him when he needed you to be, and you have earned the right to release all those emotions now.

There seems to be a fallacy about the stages of grief. People expect anyone grieving to experience each stage, in order, and then move on with their lives. Well, everyone is different and no one should feel guilty about the way they are feeling.

I'm so sorry that you lost your father. There are no words to make the pain easier, but I hope it helps a little knowing that you are not alone. My father passed away three months ago, and it's still very surreal. Please don't let anyone make you feel like you should "get it together" and move on. Only you know the best way for you to mourn.

I hope you find this site as helpful as I did. Welcome.

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Hi Beth.

I respect you for the tough decision you made about your father's end-of-life care. Please don't beat yourself up over these things; many of us have had to make very difficult decisions; we get it.

You write:

"I am shocked with the depth of my grief and how very out of control I feel with m[y] emotions."

Before my mom died 2 years ago, I had absolutely no idea of how crushing grief could be. It was like discovering a new plane of reality; I could barely function day to day, and I was upset almost all the time. Everybody in this forum knows how wrenching grief can be; you are not alone in your feelings. The collective wisdom here seems to be that we can't control the grief, nor should we try. Rather we learn how to pass through grief, and let it flow through us. Eventually most of us find things to do on a daily basis that help us cope. In the first weeks I felt compelled to get outside and air my thoughts; I'd take bike rides for an hour each night, even when it was raining. I didn't care; the fresh air and rain on my face helped pull me out of my looping and grieving thoughts. When I was able to be in public, I started swimming at a city pool, and the exercise was helpful. I also kept a diary in the first weeks. I finally went in for psychological counseling at about month 4; I should have started sooner. I'm just suggesting that you can find regular activities of some kind that will help you through your grief. People here do a gazillion different things to cope; I'm sure you will get ideas by reading other people's posts.

Glad you found our community; it has helped me greatly over the last two years.

Ron B.

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long goodbye,

Thank you for your kind words, I too am sorry for the loss of your father, not a "club" anyone wants to be a part of. I keep my emotions close to my heart as well, but get the response that "you're just not yourself"...of course I'm not, it's like a piece of me is missing. I think people can make this process harder by putting their expectations of how we should grieve on us, I was a hospice nurse for 5 years at the beginning of my nursing career and know that everyone walks the path of grief differently, but with losing my dad it no longer feels like a path but an obstacle course that takes all of my energy to survive. I know it is early on, I guess I just thought I would handle this differently. Maybe I am putting to much pressure on myself... LOL wouldn't that be something...

I am sorry for your loss, and I appreciate you taking the time to answer my post, I have only been on here a day, and I feel better just knowing others are going through the same kind of emotions. Thank you.

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Thank you very much for your insight and kind words, it is helpful and healing to know that I am not alone in this and that others feel the same. I am very sorry for the loss of your mom, and the word crushing is a great adjective to define the emotions that go with losing a parent. I know that being there for my dad and helping him make those final decisions was what I was supposed to do and that it was right for him, there are just times that I close my eyes and I see that pleading look in his making me promise not to let him suffer and the little girl in me who placed her daddy up on a pedestal just kind of collapses into pool of sorrow. I have tried to journal, because in the past this has helped, but right now it's just too big, that's why I thought this forum would be helpful and it has been. I am in grad school, work fulltime as an RN, teach nursing school, have 3 boys and an extended family that turns to me to "fix" things for them and I simply just want the world to stop for a minute so I can breathe...unfortunately, life doesn't work that way. I am going today to buy a stationary bike to try and use exercise time to clear my mind. Thank you for taking the time to respond, it's greatly appreciated. Beth

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