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When Does It Get Better

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Hello all

I would like to start by saying that I have been reading these forums for the last couple of nights. The sensitive, compassionate, realistic and educated responses from moderators, admin and members was so touching, it convinced me to post myself. The fact that there is such a large group experiencing the same things, word for word, as i am already helps. My heart goes out to anyone grieving. I had no idea what it would be like i just knew I wasn't ready.

A little background...

My dad passed away at home on Aug 29 of this year. He was an alcoholic but had been sober for a little more that 4 years. 3 years ago, he was diagnosed with esophagus cancer. Chemo, surgery, chemo and life went on (not to make light of the battle but....life did go on with relatively few complications). Through this, my 6' father went from a healthy 180lbs to 145lbs or so. In May of this year, he began having problems eating again. 3 scopes and no answers later, my mom finally got upset enough and took him to another hospital in another town 1.5 hrs away where they admitted him and began actually doing something for him. Keep in mind he had been unable to keep any food in his system and had dropped another 30lbs that he could not afford to lose. After tests and IV, they sent him home. Unfortunately we got results back at the beginning of August of stomach cancer. On August 22 he was given 3-6 months. Due to his condition (109lbs), chemo was not an option and the surgeons would not touch him even though the cancer had not spread. He was admitted to hospital again for more tests and to get his pain under control. We brought him home on a Tuesday and on Friday August 29, he was gone.

I live and work 1200 km away from mom and dad's home. I got to spend time with mom and dad in June and we travelled to meet my boyfriend, Erick, parents and family. I went back to work and then Erick and I returned on my days off in August. We spent a day or two with dad before he was admitted to hospital. My uncle and aunt were there as well and between them, Erick, my half-brother and myself, we were able to finish all the projects around the house that dad had been struggling to finish for the last 3 months (vinyl siding, soffit, etc). My dad is very particular so mom would go see him in the morning, then in the evening i would go and show him pictures of our progress on my phone and get instructions for the next steps. When he came home, you could almost see the tension leave him when he saw that the house had finally been finished and all his tools were put away. There was literally nothing left to do.

Hospice where my mom lives provides home care nurses that come every day to assist with care and whatever else. Wednesday, she suggested a hospital bed (also provided by hospice) as dad would be more comfortable and safer. By this time, he was bedridden and somewhat out of it with the morphine and poor condition. Erick and I went to town and bought a single bed that day so mom could still stay in the room with dad beside the hospital bed. It is a very vivid memory that sticks with me as much as i don't want it to....we had to move dad to take apart the old bed and he couldn't get up so Erick had to lift him. There was nothing left of him at 100lbs or so. It was a very painful moment and I had a hard time reconciling the way he was then to how he used to be not that long ago.

I have a half brother and half sister from dad's first marriage, 12/14 years older than me, and raised with their mom so I am essentially an only child. They were never that close to dad. My half-sister had alienated my dad 8-10 years ago because of his drinking and my half-brother was closer but not overly close. Although my sister had never visited dad during his first surgery (even though she worked at that hospital i might add) she and her granddaughter visited him the hospital shortly before he passed. My brother had seen dad shortly before he went to hospital and he would not come see him (says he does't handle it well) but his oldest daughter came with us one evening. I called them both when dad came home from the hospital and told them they should come because he didn't have long. They were planning on coming on the Saturday.


I have good days and bad days. Well, good moments and bad moments. I went back to work Sept 29 (my birthday on Sept 10 was hard). My aunt promised dad that she wouldn't let mom go through it alone so she is staying with her when I am not there. Mom keeps saying she has to learn to stand on her own 2 feet sometime and i keep telling her there's no rush. I seem to be better at handling her hurt than mine. I stayed ultra busy the week after dad passed making a dvd for the service and programs and cancelling credit cards and all the other stuff and I kind of put off the emotional things until they would overwhelm me. I am eating better now but I am still not sleeping all that great. I have a tough time getting to sleep even though I am super tired now and I have some rough dreams (mostly that dad is hurt and helpless and i can't do anything for him...the worst one being that he's fallen off the bed and I can't lift him). So as much as I try to remember him healthy during the day, I dream of him the way he was at the end.

I am finding it really hard to talk to anyone about how I feel. Erick has been super supportive through everything but even though it seems to be all i think about, i find the thought of talking about it exhausting. Thats also why I decided to post here. Uninterrupted, however long it takes to say what I want to say. It's not so much that I don't want to burden anyone else, I just don't want to have to talk and cry. I'll write and cry instead.

Mom told me she was pretty sure he was in a lot more pain then he was letting on. I appreciate the fact that its good that the battle is over...he's no longer in pain and mom no longer has the pain of having to care for him. I know his pain was under control at the end even if it meant he wasn't always lucid. I know and feel this is good.

Mom told me she told him Thursday night that it was ok to go, she would be fine, and he didn't have to stay any more. She told me he smiled. This is the greatest kindness she could have done him and I know it will be integral to her healing. I know this. I feel angry with myself that I didn't do the same thing. I am angry at myself for not spending time with him the hospital bed at home just to be with him and him know that i was there.

Erick and dad had a heart to heart the day we brought him from the hospital. I don't know all that was said and I haven't asked Erick to tell me. I know the gist was that he would be proud to call him a son-in-law and he basically welcomed him to the family (Erick and I have been together 5 1/2 years). I know that dad got peace of mind for doing this and it was his way of giving his blessing (Erick and I haven't even talked about marriage). I feel jealous because dad didn't have a heart to heart with me.

We all put a lot of work into finishing the house for dad. The day he came home, he asked me to tell my brother that he was very proud of him and he had done an excellent job on the house, just like he wanted. I know it was important to dad for my brother to know this. I feel angry because he never told me the same thing. For the record, I did tell my brother. Erick and mom both told me that dad said he was proud of me and I know he was. But I feel hurt he didn't say it. I feel petty and immature for feeling like I do. Does that make sense?

My mind conflicts with my heart and I am left hurt and confused and lonely and upset. I am upset with him for things unsaid. I am upset at myself for things unsaid. I am upset that there is nothing I can do about it now. I hope that actions do speak louder than words and he saw how I felt in how I made sure everyone working on the house maintained HIS level of precision. And how we got the beds set up right away so he and mom could at least still be together. Because that is how I meant everything...with only love for him in my mind and heart. And I said "I love you" every night we left the hospital. I just didn't say it enough.

And so, more than a month later, I find myself wallowing day to day....i focus at work but when i have a few free moments of quiet, i find myself sinking. I get home from work and i feel so tired that I don't want to talk and I feel myself kind of shutting Erick out. He falls asleep and the grief really sets in and I find myself sobbing.

And now I am here...thanks for "listening".

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I am sorry you lost your dad...I lost my mom Aug. 21 and can relate to much of what you wrote. I, too, had siblings that weren't around for my mom in the latter years (she had Dementia and was in a care facility). My mom also dwindled down to nothing and was so frail. She could no longer walk because of the falls and at the end was unable to talk. It's very hard watching them in this form. I felt a little anger when I'd hear my sisters talk about how she was, like they knew! They visited only once every six months and that at my pushing. But be that as it may, I also realize that people handle things differently and just as your dad had had his years of drinking that affected his kids, so my mom had mental issues all her life that affected her kids. I have to withhold judgment of my sisters and not let it come between us. But all of our feelings are valid, even our anger and hurt. My mom left everything to my brother, none of us girls even got a memento of hers, so that's another thing to get past. And my brother didn't give us anything. Most of her funds were gone by then but there was all her furniture and family heirlooms, silver, china, etc., things my dad gave her...he got it all. I don't want it to come between my brother and I, it's not like we were ever close anyway, he being 15 years younger than me, but it's hard to understand how my mom could not value her girls and how my brother could not care about us either. (Six of us altogether).

It's hard for me to understand how someone can work for a hospital and not visit their own dad that is in it.

So your dad told you to tell your brother and told your mom how he felt about you, but didn't tell either of you directly? Sounds like intimate communication was difficult for him. That doesn't mean, however, that he didn't feel it and mean it.

I hope you try to open up and share some of your feelings with Erick...there is a "loss of love relationship" section here where so many have been broken up with by their grieving partner...it starts with them shutting them out. I would hate to see that happen with a 5 1/2 year relationship. I hope you will consider talking with a grief counselor, they would be able to help guide you through the grieving process, which can be hard to do alone.

Your mom may feel it's time for her to begin trying to make it on her own, it could be she doesn't want someone around 24/7, but would welcome frequent checks and visits instead. It might be part of what she needs to know she can and will make it on her own.

It's understandable that you feel tired and sinking...you are going through a lot. Try to take one day at a time, eat healthy, take walks, and I hope you will continue to come here and post. It really helps to feel "heard" and understood. It helps to express yourself. When I lost my husband I felt like my power had been stripped from me, after all, no one asked ME if I wanted this to happen! Expressing myself helped restore some of that power.

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I hope you will continue to come here. There are quite a few with fresh losses and I think it helps knowing those with a similar time frame as you can relate as you're going through the grief and learning to adjust together.

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