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Through The Winters: Losing Dad

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I remember the time my Mum told me that my Dad probably wouldn't be around in 10 years' time. I was certainly old enough to understand why: with Bronchiectasis in his lungs since his early 20s, I knew he'd never make it to 100. He made it to 67, dying early July, 2013.
He never coped well with winters. Mum and Dad would go on road trips over the winter months to warmer climates, wherever possible, because winters aggravated his lung condition. It was August (winter here in Australia) that his health first went downhill quickely and he ended up in hospital as we prepared for the worst. Spring came, and his health seemed to stabilise, giving us not quite a false sense of hope, perhaps just a second wind. A few more hospitalisations later, and he was on a permanent breathing machine and a pale, waif shadow of his former self. I lived in the family home, helping my mother to look after him, along with the assistance of home-based nursing care. This second wind lasted 10 months, and I experienced antipatory grief throughout. The day before winter 2013, his health tumbled one last time, and we lost him four days later. I required a viewing at the funeral home the day of his funeral, otherwise the last image I'd have of my father was him being taken away in a body bag the night he died.
I miss Dad terribly. There's a 'hole' where he once was, and - to me - the house has almost lost it's 'home' status. Dad built this home, poured his soul into it. Mum and I struggle on, existing as best we can; but we're both lonely, both shadows of our own former selves. In many ways, our paths have mirrored Dad's. We're heading closer and closer to winter 2014, and I know that this is going to be a very difficult time for us both.
I don't believe I have had the chance to truly grieve 'healthily', rather that the process was stalled. This is due to my having psychiatric issues of my own, so my doctor put me into a clinic as I wasn't coping with the stress of Dad being so sick then dying. A one month stay turned into seven long months. Upon returning home I went on to suffer from frequent panic attacks, barely able to leave the house on my own. I have a therapist who helps me with my psych issues, but no-one specifically for the grief. I'm eager to learn more about grief, and decided upon this website as it's 'open 24/7', so-to-speak, which is a comforting thought for me in that I can access it whenever I need to. Thank you for being here, I truly appreciate it.
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I am so sorry for the loss of your dad, it's hard to lose a dad so young, mine was just 62 when he passed and I very nearly lost him at 45.

It might be good if you would look into getting a grief counselor to help you through the maze of grief, as well as voice yourself here. I've found it really helped me to be able to express myself and feel heard. How is your mom doing?

Do you have a social outlet, someplace outside of home to go to and be with others? That can really be of help when it comes to perspective. Work, church, social activities, it all helps our frame of mind in awareness of life around us and not being completely inward, which is so easy to do when steeped in grief.

I'm sure there'll be some others that will come on here shortly that will have other things to add. I wish you well in your grief journey and your search for healing.

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My dear friend, if you are, as you say, "eager to learn more about grief," you've come to the right place. Here we believe that the more you understand what is normal in grief, the better prepared you are to deal with it and the more tools you'll have at your disposal to deal with your own reactions to it. Just being among others who are walking on the same path is helpful, and you might begin your journey by reading through the posts you'll find in this forum. In addition, you might find these articles helpful. Be sure to follow the links you'll find embedded in them and at their bases, too:

Common Myths and Misconceptions about Grief

How We Mourn: Understanding Our Differences

Parent Loss: Continuing Their Song

Bereavement: Doing the Work of Grief

Coping with Sorrow in Grief

Finding Grief Support That Is Right for You

Seeing a Specialist in Grief Counseling: Does It Matter?

Grief Support Groups: What Are the Benefits?

Voices of Experience: What I've Learned from Grief

Book: Fatherless Women: How We Change After We Lose Our Dads

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Wow, that's a lot of reading. I've dived right into it, extra links and all - thank you so much for such an impressive resource, Marty!

KayC, I'm pushing myself out into various social activities despite the anxiety surrounding it. Most days I cope with it fairly well, I'm getting better at it. I'm trying to acknowledge the achievements of getting out and about, and to accept that there's just going to be some days when I don't make it, and for whatever reason, that's okay. If there's something that's really been brought to the fore, it's the fact that I am on a healing journey, and how I see myself has changed considerably. I'm learning how to be kinder to myself as I take each step.

I keep finding myself thinking that I can't wait until things get 'back to normal', but are all too aware those days are gone and that it's about building upon what I have now. A daunting thought; I have so much work to do, to get myself back to a place where I feel that I'm fully functioning. Mum's the same - she takes it day by day, and I think she's doing a remarkable job. Some days all she can cope with is the basics, but no matter what she does, she's still a hero to me to get up in the morning and face the day. This whole experience has allowed me to see her in a whole new light. :-)

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That's good to hear! I know it's hard, it does take a while.

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