Jump to content
Grief Healing Discussion Groups

I Miss My Dad So Much!

Recommended Posts

Hello, Everyone:
Sorry my first post is so long, but I have so many thoughts and feelings about my grief experience that I feel compelled to share. I lost my beloved father two days after Christmas, 2014. My mother died two months earlier in October, but I was much closer to my dad. I was raised by my father and grandmother after my parents divorced when I was five years old. I was my dad's caregiver. I also cared for my grandmother, my great aunt and my great uncle over the last 34 years.
On December 18, 2014, shortly after midnight, my dad was admitted to the hospital for shortness of breath, wheezing and low oxygen saturation. At first he semed to be getting better with oxygen therapy, but then later that day he suffered a massive heart attack. Ten days later he died of respiratory failure caused by Congestive Heart Failure, Acute Renal Failure and Pneumonia of Unknown Etiology. He was 86. I watched him die for 36 hours in "Comfort Care" at the hospital. It was the first death I had ever witnessed and the hardest thing I have ever had to do, aside from having to carry on without him. I am my father's only daughter with no husband or children. Most of my friends and relatives live far away so they could not be with me and my dad during this difficult time. When I looked out the hospital window as day turned into night, I felt detached -- like the world was foreign to me and as if I wasn't connected to it anymore. Through the night I listened to my father's labored breathing in the dark. I felt helpless because there was nothing I could do to save him. He was sedated on a morphine drip so he could not communicate with me. During the last twelve hours his respirations became agonal (Cheyne-Stokes). The nurses said he was not in pain, but the sound of his breathing and the mottling of his skin gave me the impression that he was suffering.
I loved my father more than anything in this world. I lived with him for 55 years so the loss of him is devastating to me We both grew up in the same house and we were both raised by my grandmother so that made us even more similar in our outlook. As long as my dad was around I was happy (most of the time) and could face anything, but now I have no one I can trust so completely. I am suffering from insomnia, anxiety, anhedonia and loneliness. For the first time in my life I am seeing a therapist who says I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I went once to a drop-in grief support meeting but it was cancelled because of low attendance. There were only four of us and they wanted a minimum of eight persons.
I am struggling with guilt, because I worry that it was something I did or something I failed to do which caused my father's death. My energy level was low during my dad's final weeks at home, because I had developed chronic bronchitis. I'm normally pretty healthy -- I haven't been bedridden since I caught a bad flu in 1979 (knock on wood). I feel bad that during this rare time that I got sick is when my father died. I wasn't bedridden -- I was well enough to still care for him, but one evening, to make preparing dinner easier and faster, I cooked him a steak, a small piece. He complained that it didn't have salt. I didn't normally cook steak for him or add salt, because of his salt restricted CHF diet. He didn't like the salt-free spices; I had tried so many of them. I didn't even keep salt around to avoid temptation, so I gave him some parmesan cheese to sprinkle on the last forkfuls of steak. I thought a small amount wouldn't hurt him. Later that night he had shortness of breath and was admitted to the hospital for the last time.
He had been briefly hospitalized two weeks earlier for the same symptoms which were diagnosed as pneumonia of unknown etiology. He was sent home with a prescription for the antibiotic cefpodoxime proxetil. However, the hospital lab failed to do a sputum culture, even though the samples had been collected twice and I had reminded both the doctor and the nurse that a culture should be done to know which pathogen was causing the pneumonia. I couldn't understand why I had to tell them. The last time he was in the hospital for pneumonia they did a sputum culture without my having to ask. The doctor said that it was "disconcerting" that the lab did not do the sputum culture, but he still sent my dad home with the antibiotic script after just three days in the hospital. By the way, a woman in the waiting room told me her father had also been sent home too soon with a perforated bowel!
Since pneumonia and congestive heart failure tend to look the same on x-rays, I think it was actually heart failure that caused his lung congestion but I didn't question the diagnosis, because my dad had had pneumonia (staph, non-MRSA) six months previously and had recovered with bipap therapy and antibiotics. They never figured out what caused his pneumonia this time, because nothing was cultured from his sputum during his last admission. He tested negative for TB as well after three days in isolation. I believe the powerful IV antibiotics he received in the hospital, both vancomycin and levaquin, may have caused his kidneys to fail, since he already had chronic kidney disease. Why would they give him such powerful antibiotics if the sputum didn't culture anything?
If it was heart failure, then I worry that it may have been the parmesan cheese that worsened it. I had let my guard down, because at his last doctor appointment his GP told him that my dad had beaten his diabetes through his good diet. So I occasionally let him have more of his favorite foods, like raviolis, veggie pizza, spaghetti and meatballs, and chocolate cake. If we kept the portions small enough he could get by without aggravating his CHF. Comfort foods made him feel better, but too much was dangerous. Sometimes I felt like a killjoy, warning him not to eat too much of his comfort foods. Early on we had learned that just a bologna sandwich could send him into heart failure. I was between a rock and a hard place.
Two years earlier, thanks to improving his diet, he had recovered from gangrene on his toes caused by peripheral arterial disease. His surgeon called his recovery a miracle -- she had previously thought he'd need to have his leg amputated below the knee. She said I was obviously taking very good care of my dad and that made me proud. My dad had multiple hospitalizations, but in between his quality of life was still relatively good for his age, considering all the health issues he had.
I also feel guilty that I wasn't with my dad the night he had his heart attack, because nobody told me he had suffered a heart attack until later. It was a silent heart attack. They just told me he was going to be given bipap therapy to help with his breathing. The bipap had helped him recover from pneumonia six months earlier, so I was optimistic. Since I had been up all night with him the night before, I decided I would get some sleep and see him in the morning. That morning the doctor called to tell me my dad was suffering too much from shortness of breath, that the bipap therapy had failed to help him, so he was going to be sedated and placed on a ventilator. Naturally, this came as a shock to me, but I didn't know enough about what being on a ventilator is like -- I just hoped and prayed it would save his life and be only a temporary intervention.
While my father was on the ventilator, the hospitalist first suggested Comfort Care. She said my dad had had multiple admissions and wasn't getting better. I told her that his quality of life between hospital admissions was still good. He could see, walk, hear, enjoy movies and music, converse, laugh, read, even do light chores on good days. He had recovered from other crises -- he just needed a chance. I started to worry that they weren't going to do their best to save him, because it would be more cost effective to terminate his life.
As if I weren't under enough stress, there was a nurse from hell in the ICU who kept talking down to me. She called me a five-year-old in terms of my medical knowledge, compared to the nurses and doctors. I'm not a trained RN, but in 34 years of caregiving for four relatives in succession, I have done a lot of research on their behalf. I've also taken some pre-nursing classes in college. Still. I didn't want to rattle her ego, so I said, "You certainly know what you're doing." She replied, "Yes, I know my s***!" At one point she told me, "What would you rather have, someone who knows what they're doing or someone who is "touchy-feely"? I replied I'd rather have both. She answered sharply, "Well, you can't have both!" I asked her if it would be contra-indicated to place an extra blanket on my father. The blankets were thin and the room was cold. Knowing how arrogant this nurse was, I was careful to phrase it as a question, not a demand. Still, she got flustered and said, "If you place too many blankets on him, his temperature will rise and then we'll have to give him more antibiotics." He didn't have a fever and he felt cool to the touch. The nurse lectured me with a sarcastic tone, "You may have taken care of your dad at home, and I'm sure he's a wonderful man and all, but he is in a different world now!" I replied that I was just trying to advocate for my father because he can't speak for himself. She reluctantly brought the blanket and proceeded to drape it over the top of his head. Since my father wasn't used to sleeping with his head covered, I asked a male nurse permission to move the blanket to cover his body. This nurse misunderstood me and brought more blankets, which further irritated the nurse from hell. I'm not Asian, but she mentioned Chinese families who demand six blankets on their loved ones, even when they have a fever,
One thing she told me that disturbed me more than anything else was that she said her religious beliefs didn't approve of keeping people alive artificially! My first impulse was to ask the Intensivist to have her reassigned, but he wasn't available. Then I remembered what my father had told me about not making waves, because he might be the one to pay for it. I was afraid the nurse would pull the plug on my dad, in accordance with her belief system or as revenge for my complaining about her So I kept quiet and even asked her permission to dim the lights, so she could enjoy her power trip. Later I saw her moaning in the hallway that people don't understand how much work a nurse has to do. An older nurse replied, "Sorry, that's part of the job!" Luckily, I only had to deal with the nurse from hell for two nights. This may sound paranoid, but I wonder if part of her job was to help convince me and others that Comfort Care is the only ethical alternative. Belittling my knowledge may have been a ploy to reinforce the argument in favor of Comfort Care.
During the period that my father was being weaned off the ventilator, I found him awake and alone in the ICU, looking distressed. He wrote a note on a piece of paper that read, "Help Me". He wanted the ventilator tubes removed from his throat. At first I thought he wanted to die, but he didn't want to die, he wanted the tubes out -- he didn't think he needed the vent anymore. I managed to convince him he had to wait until the doctor determined it was safe to remove the tubes. He settled down but I had never seen my normally stoic father looking so utterly forlorn. It was heartbreaking! He asked me to bring a handheld battery-operated fan from home to cool him off -- even though he had no fever and the room was cold, he felt unusually warm. He wanted me to direct the air flow to his face, because it helped him breathe. Using an eraser board he told me he loved me, and I told him I loved him, something we said to each other every day at home. I know my presence brought him comfort and that is a great consolation to me, but the images of his suffering still haunt me.

That night I stayed with him all night and I was glad that I was able to advocate for him. When he couldn't sleep I called a very nice nurse who gave him Fentanyl which put him to sleep right away. Twice he needed it to sleep. When he awoke, my dad asked me if I had slept, because I tend to suffer from insomnia. I had nodded off in the chair. I told him the nurse said we were both out like a light. Daddy always worried about me. He was so cute.

On Christmas Eve, he was off the ventilator and it looked like he was recovering. He told me, "You see how much I need you?" I replied, "I need you too! That's what love is all about." The ICU nurse told me my father was doing better than yesterday. He said I should go home and get some rest, that he would look after my father and call me about any changes. The nurse was compassionate and I trusted him to take good care of my dad, so I went to bed, hoping for a Christmas miracle.

I awoke with a feeling of dread. On Christmas morning, I found my father in respiratory distress, the oxygen cannula had fallen out of his nose and he was begging for air, water and God's mercy, over and over. His oxygen saturation had dropped into the low 80's. No one was helping him, and this was in the ICU! When my father saw me he thanked me over and over -- again it broke my heart to see him suffer so much! I got a nurse to put an oxy-vent mask on him and increase his oxygen. He shouldn't have been switched to the cannula, because he was breathing through his mouth. The nasal gastric tube was blocking his airway. After that I knew he could not be left alone. Thank God I had slept the night before, because that helped me stay awake with him for the next 36 hours.
A couple of days before, I had reassured my father that there was a closed-circuit tv camera watching him in the ICU. He waved his hand in a dismissive gesture as if to say, "They're not watching me." I should have taken that as a warning. Still, I needed to sleep and there was no one else to stay with him through the night.

I'm so grateful that my half brother, a Critical Care RN, and my niece arrived at the hospital on Christmas Day. The hospitalist told us my dad's kidneys were no longer responding to diuretics and his creatinine level was rising daily. When I asked about loop diuretic braking and suggested they try a different diuretic, nobody even knew what braking is. I had asked the nephrologist about aquapheresis and he said they didn't offer it and that he needed full dialysis. The hospitalist said my dad was too weak to be moved. She seemed more like a robot than a human being. She said there were only two options, a heart operation or Comfort Care. If he had the operation he would need to be put back on the ventilator and placed on dialysis, which might kill him because the volume fluctuations would stress his heart. The doctor said his heart was not able to perfuse his lungs and kidneys properly, because of mitral valve regurgitation, enlarged left atrium, arrythmia with a blood clot, and blocked vessels. He had been diagnosed with advanced heart disease several years earlier but wasn't considered a good candidate for surgery then; now at 86, after his massive heart attack, his chances were even worse. She said his heart's ejection fraction was 15%, barely enough to sustain life. Mercifully, his heart attack had been silent so he didn't have chest pain, but respiratory distress is bad enough.

My niece and I tried very hard to convince the doctor to consider other options to no avail. My brother the RN said Comfort Care would save Dad a lot of suffering. My brother and niece started crying. I was still in shock, but broke down over the phone to my best friend in Cincinnati.

I can't help but wonder what if he had received more aggressive treatment for CHF two weeks earlier instead of the doctor assuming it was pneumonia, and sending him home with just an antibiotic, would my father still be alive? Even if he had pneumonia, was giving him those nephrotoxic antibiotics warranted without knowing which bacteria was causing it?

The same doctor during my dad's previous hospital stay had encouraged him to select a DNR status. He said if my father wasn't going to have a heart operation, then he "should be consistent". I explained to him that my father was being consistent -- he didn't want chest compressions because they would break his ribs, and he didn't want surgery, because they would break his sternum. My father wanted to live, but the doctors at a different hospital had told him he was not a good candidate for heart bypass surgery. My dad didn't want stents, because he didn't want to take blood thinners -- he had a high risk for gastric bleeding. Several years ago, daily aspirin for his heart and H. pylori had triggered a slow bleed in his stomach which caused him to lose a third of his blood supply. His mother had died from internal hemorrhage from coumadin even though she had regular protime tests. My father was willing to try the ventilator, if necessary, to give him more time to recover. He had beaten the odds before. He was a fighter, literally -- he had boxed for the Golden Gloves in the Army during the Korean War.

I got the impression that the hospital wanted to phase my father out, because of his age. The lab not doing the sputum culture two weeks earlier, even after I had reminded the doctor and the nurse, is highly suspicious.

The hardest part was when my dad asked me if he was going (dying). I told him that the doctor said his heart wasn't doing too good and he needed an operation. I wanted so much to soften the truth, to give him some hope to cling to, but I needed to know his wishes. He didn't want to go back on the ventilator and he didn't want to stay weeks or months in the hospital recovering from open heart surgery. Two years earlier he had spent six weeks in the hospital just recovering from a botched toe amputation. When a follow-up surgery was scheduled, the surgeon postponed it from the morning to the afternoon -- my dad was not given anything to eat or drink for 22 hours! Thank God, the nurse cancelled the surgery when my dad started vomiting from low blood sugar. If he had had the surgery that day, he might have aspirated while under anesthesia. Naturally, this and other adverse hosptial experiences undermined my dad's confidence in having major heart surgery.
I hated the idea of giving up on my dad. My purpose in life had been to try to get him well, but I also didn't want him to suffer. A respiratory therapist told us that a lot of his patients were living vegetables on respirators because their families wouldn't let them go.

My father said good-bye and thanked everyone present, my half brother and his wife, and my niece. He said to tell his family and friends he loves them, thanks for everything and God bless them. Then he started praying. I told him he had nothing to worry about, that he was such a good, kind man all of his life that God would surely welcome him into Paradise. I reminded him that the priest had already given him the Anointing of the Sick while he was under sedation. His soul was pure and he would go straight to heaven. He thanked me. I had called two priests hoping one of them would comfort my father now that he was conscious, but one never returned my call and the other said he would send a different priest who works at the hospital, but he never showed up. More regret there.

For Comfort Care, my father was moved to a private room and placed on a morphine drip. I missed all the monitors, which I used to fixate upon, looking for the slightest sign of improvement. Thankfully, the morphine and removing the NG tube helped his breathing, and there was a brief time when he seemed his calm, adorable self once again, except he was very weak. Again he started praying for God's mercy until a male nurse told him, "God is good, my friend." That seemed to reassure him. I treasure his last peaceful moments, before he lost consciousness. I told him where there is life there is hope and that I couldn't wait to get him home so I could take care of him. He nodded. One of the last things he said to me was that Michael was going to get tired (taking care of him). Michael was the RN who had saved his life two years earlier by calling off his surgery after my dad had been starved for 22 hours. Unfortunately, Michael was working on a different floor. It really is the luck of the draw -- if you get good hospitalists and dedicated, compassionate nurses, your chances are much better.

As my father lay dying, my brother and I prayed and read passages from Scripture. I didn't know if he could hear me at this point, but I told him I loved him and thanked him for being such a wonderful father all of my life. I had told him these things before. I held his hand. People say that hearing is the last thing to go, but I hope to God that his soul was outside his body so he could view his physical suffering with detachment. The nurses told me he was not feeling pain, but how do we really know? One nurse noted that he was calm, compared to some patients who appear agitated even when on morphine. My brother had to go home to sleep so I was alone again for the last few hours. After 36 hours of keeping vigil with my father, I couldn't help but doze off for a few moments. That was when my father passed away. It was as if he had waited for me to fall asleep before he departed. A nurse said she saw him draw his last breath. One of the nurses was crying. I cried when the doctor confirmed his death. I had already cried several times before my father died, but quietly, so as not to upset him. I'm glad it was the nicer hospitalist who was on duty that early morning, and not the "robot".

My father was my best friend, my hero, the one person who cared about me as much as I cared about him. Almost every happiness in my life was linked to him in some way. We were so close we sometimes could read each other's thoughts. Our interests, values and opinions were so similar we were practically clones, but like all human beings we sometimes disagreed. There were unkind words I wish I had never said in anger or just because I was tired. I always asked forgiveness right away, but I wish I hadn't taken his forgiveness for granted. He wasn't perfect either, but he was the kindest person I ever knew. I wish I had complained less about my problems and just been happy he was with me. I loved him so much and I did a lot for him. I know I made him happy most of the time, but I'm still tormented by guilt feelings. I also feel so sorry for every sad thing that ever happened to him, even things that happened before I was born. I have to remind myself that he had lots of happy memories. He felt lucky to live during the Golden Age of movies and music. He enriched other people's lives by broadening their cinematic and musical horizons.

Since my dad died seven weeks ago, I haven't even been able to watch tv, because it makes me miss him too much. I can't listen to the music we both loved without feeling sad and anxious. Movies and music used to be our refuge -- now even thinking about all the things we enjoyed together makes me impossibly sad.

Right now my life feels pointless without him. I'm afraid of spending the rest of my life alone. People tell me I'm free now and on the brink of an exciting new era. But I would gladly give up my freedom for the rest of my life, if I could only have my beloved father back. People tell me he led a full life -- but how do they know that? For most of his life he was blessed with good health, good looks, strength and character, but he never travelled much or had as much fun as he deserved. He was happiest at home, but I wish he could have had a fuller life. I feel guilty that I never learned to drive -- I might have been able to give my father a more full life, if I had bought a car. My dad stopped driving when I was 9 years old, because he accidentally hit a dog which had run in front of his car from between two parked cars. When relatives used to call and tell me about all their fun road trips, it made me envious. I sometimes complained to my father that I wished we had something fun to look forward to. He replied, "Is fun so important? When I'm gone you'll be able to have all the fun you want." I answered, "But it won't be fun without you." Now I get invitations from friends and relatives to do fun things, but it's not fun for me without my dad. I wonder where were these people when my dad was alive? He could have used a little fun, too, once in a while.

I know this post is way too long, but it helps me to write about my loss and talk about it. Unfortunately, the therapy sessions seem too short and I can't keep burdening my friends and relatives with my grief, because they have their own lives to deal with. Few people can understand how hard it is for me to lose my father after living with him for 55 years. My heart goes out to all of you who have lost loved ones. I hope you are healing as I hope to heal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 64
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I have read your story and am so glad that you were able to put your thoughts on paper. Please accept my deepest sympathy for the loss of your father. How very good that you had his love and he yours. I am sorry that you had to face so many challenges as you cared for your father.

It is important that you spend some time caring for you now. You deserve gentle, loving care and I hope you give yourself that permission.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gigi, my dear, I too have read your story, and I'm so sorry that your dad has died ~ but I think that anyone reading your post would agree that you gave everything you possibly could and more as the primary caregiver for your father. From what you have described, it sounds as if his poor body just couldn't go on living anymore, regardless of your heroic efforts to fix him and to save him.

Given your close relationship and the way you've devoted your entire life to caring for and looking after your dad, it's understandable that you are feeling this loss so deeply now. I can sit here and tell you that you have nothing to feel guilty about, but I know that no matter how irrational or unjustified your feelings of guilt may be, such feelings are very real. They must be acknowledged, examined in the light of day, and evaluated objectively. That takes time ~ and I hope your therapist will listen to you with an open heart and support you as you work your way through all of this. Coming here to unpack some of those feelings will help as well, and we're certainly here to listen too.

I hope you will take Anne's wise words to heart, and use this time to refocus the loving care you gave to your father back onto yourself. You are worth it, and you certainly do deserve it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you very much, enna, MaryT and maria53577, for your kind expressions of sympathy and support. I'm trying to take care of myself. For the first time in 14 years, I have booked an appointment with a Primary Care Physician. I am looking forward to attending a grief support group at a church next week. It's been a challenge trying to find the help I need. You'd think there would be more grief support groups for such a natural yet devastating human experience. I am currently seeing two therapists, a younger female social worker and an older male minister. I read that many psychiatrists don't do talk therapy anymore, because it doesn't pay as well as drug therapy. Hopefully, the MD I will be seeing on Friday can give me a referral to a good psychologist.

The house is quiet and lonely this cold, gray day. My.father's absence is sad and strange. Since my family moved into this house in 1935, this is the first time there has been only one occupant. It is better that I am the one who has to endure the loneliness and not my dear father. He used to like to say, "A family that stays together, stays together." The only time I wasn't by his side was when I was doing chores, running errands or using my computer in the next room. Still I wonder if I had spent even more time with him, especially at the hospital, would he still be alive? The guilt is the hardest part to work through. The older therapist told me that I need to have the same compassion for myself that I would have for my father if he were wracked with guilt.
I wish my father would give me a sign that he is well. My cousin had a dream about my dad on the night he died. He was in a beautiful forest He looked younger and healthy. He smiled and told her he is ok. He asked her to take care of me. I don't know if it was just a dream or a message, but my cousin has dreamed about other family members on the night they passed away.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You and your father were certainly deeply connected, and loss is always felt the greatest when that is the case. I think your cousin's dream was his way of letting you all know that he is well now...it also shows how concerned he is about YOU.

I'm sorry you went through so much in the hospital with the nurse from hell and just the bureaucracy we have to deal with in medical personnel. No one seems to give quite the same care as family, as we tune in to each other and know the other's thoughts and wishes. You have certainly given to your family and been there for them, the same way they were for you when you were growing up. I hope and pray you find some peace in the days to come, I know they will always be in your heart.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you so much, KayC, for your comforting message. My father took good care of me, and even when he could no longer physically defend me, he still made me feel safe and protected.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's no one can take the place of a girl's daddy...it's just a special role.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's so true, KayC. I'm crying again. I was so lucky to have such a wonderful father, but losing him is all the harder. Because he was so good, I feel he deserved a perfect daughter, which I wasn't. I feel so sorry that he married such a difficult woman -- my mother had bipolar illness and was a narcissist. My father fell in love with her because she was a beautiful and talented pianist and violinist. He knew nothing about mental illness in those days. He would have stayed with her forever but she divorced him.

My father was so burned by his brief marriage to my mother, that he never married again. My mother left him in debt from her compulsive spending. He paid child support for his stepson, my half brother, even though he wasn't required to by the court. My mother was such a narcissist that it wasn't until she was 89 years old that she finally admitted to my father that he was a good man and she never should have divorced him. Days after she confessed that a stroke robbed her of the ability to speak. I feel sorry for my mother, too, because she had problems with her own mother. She was sent to live with a wealthy aunt who could afford to give her music lessons. By the time she returned to live with her mother as a teenager, they were almost like strangers. They were both attractive and competed with each other over men like in the movie "Mildred Pierce" with Joan Crawford.
I need to see a psychologist, but I don't know if even Sigmund Freud himself could help me.

If only I could sleep better I think I could cope better. I was dependent on Ambien for chronic insomnia before my father died. Now I can't sleep without Ativan 1 mg. I hope my new doctor will help me wean off the sleep medications.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd give a counselor a chance, it can't hurt.

I can relate...my mom had mental illness and nearly every personality disorder, she wasn't Bipolar (she never had ups), she was extremely paranoid, schizoid, narcissistic, to name a few. Believe it or not, when she got advanced dementia, she was actually easier to deal with, it softened some of her imagined wrongs she'd held as grudges all her life because she forgot them. :) My dad was a sweetheart...he was alcoholic but that paled in comparison to my mom's mental problems and abusiveness towards us and somewhat to him. When I was about five, I knew my mom wasn't normal and I thought if my parents ever divorced, I'd want to live with my dad. I don't think most five year olds have thoughts like that. They never did divorce, my dad loved her clear up to the day he died, when I was 29, and she never dated or married again.

I'm glad your mom was able to acknowledge to your dad that he was a good man and she shouldn't have divorced him, particularly since if she'd have put it off much longer she wouldn't have had the chance to tell him. Love is a funny thing. My parents were madly and passionately in love but the pendulum could swing...they could also fight just as hard, which I have to fault my mom for. My dad was not a fighter, more the recipient of her wrath, for which he'd have another drink. They were not a good combination, I think they were codependent, they didn't help each other become the best they could be. Back in those days people didn't admit to anything, let alone get help.

My doctor prescribed Trazodone for sleep but I don't take it very often, just when I need it. He assured me it was safe, it's what he uses himself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many thanks for your kind reply. I'm sorry to hear what a turbulent marriage your parents had, but it is touching that your dad never stopped loving your mom . I don't think my dad still carried a torch for my mother, but he said he could never hate her because she gave him me. I'm glad that I was my father's consolation, but it's sad that he never found a woman who could love him unconditionally. It's funny how when he was an old man he got hit on by more pretty young girls than when he was in his prime. He had a longtime girlfriend he met at work whom he had considered marrying when they were younger, but he didn't like the games she played to make him jealous, plus her dystunctional family from her first marriage scared him off. He preferred the quiet life.

I'm already seeing two therapists. This morning I caught the younger female therapist stifling a yawn. She's probably tired of listening to my lamentations. I just read an article called, "Tired or Bored: When Your Therapist Yawns" by Daniel Jay Sonkin, PhD which explains that your therapist might yawn because he's "feeling" your exhaustion and showing you in his behavior. Hmmm......

My older male therapist is more engaging. He doesn't want to talk about my grief so much as he wants to convince me to go back to school at age 55. The way I feel right now, I don't think I could handle it. I'm so exhausted I can hardly do housework, let alone homework.

I recently signed up for an online counseling service called BetterHelp but they haven't found a counselor to match my needs yet.

Thank you for the tip about Trazodone. I'll mention it to my doctor on Friday.

My half brother took me to the cemetery to place flowers on my dad's grave. I cried when I got home. The older my dad got the more I loved him, because he became more like my child than my father. Now that he's gone I keep thinking about how much he suffered, not just when he was dying, but the various aches and pains of old age, side effects from medications, the pain of his foot operation (until it healed), that time he lost a third of his blood supply from occult bleeding. dizziness from an inner ear problem, and yet he bounced back every time. I was overly optimistic -- I thought he would overcome this recent pneumonia or whatever it really was. I think I was in denial. I thought his fatique was just lack of sleep. I didn't know he was dying. I'm crying again....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm so sorry, I know how hard it is. I lost my mom in August and it's still hitting me. I knew she needed to go because her dementia was so far advanced and they weren't treating her Leukemia and she was starving to death (wouldn't eat), but all the same, when it's final it really hits.

I've read that yawns don't necessarily indicate boredom but a need for oxygen, it's done without thinking as a body's natural way of replenishment.

I agree that going to school, although it might be beneficial if you were able to handle it, would likely be overwhelming and exhausting at this point in your life. When you're already going through so much, you don't add on something else major! He sounds like someone who is a fixer and clueless about what you're going through.

I'm sorry your dad suffered from so many things, it's really hard to watch them suffer. I know what you mean about them becoming like a child, my mom did too. She actually got sweet after advanced dementia. I would have liked to have known her without her mental illness. I've often said, if it sucks to be around her, can you imagine how much it sucks to BE her! She couldn't get away from herself or her constructed world as she believed it.

I hope you get a good hit with a counselor from BetterHelp!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm so very sorry about your mother. I also wish I could have known my mother without the mental illness.
I got to know my mother better as an adult, but by then I was so busy being a caregiver for several relatives in succession, I didn't get to see her much until she was already institutionalized which limited our ability to spend private time together. When she became hard of hearing, she refused to wear a hearing aid, so that made even phone conversations impossible. When she was on her meds she was sweet and witty, but she hated taking them. When she didn't she was a totally different person -- hostile, paranoid and sometimes nasty. My mother also became easier to deal with when her Alzheimer's started to get worse. Even after her stroke she remained amazingly sweet and cheerful. The patients and the staff at the nursing home liked her so much they held a memorial service for the patients who couldn't attend her funeral.
When my mother was well enough to work and raise my half brother, it hurt that she didn't want to spend time with me beyond a monthly phone call. She was a piano and violin teacher yet never gave me music lessons, and it's not like she lived far away. She stayed in the same city as me most of her life. I'm sure my father and I were spared a lot of pain by not having to deal with her as much as my brother had to growing up. Luckily, I can play the piano by ear like my father, but I wonder if I'll ever be able to play the piano again, because my dad isn't here to listen and appreciate it. Now I wish we had played our keyboards together more often. Why did time have to pass so quickly! I have an online friend in Europe who lost both his parents. They were both professional singers. Years later he still can't play the piano anymore, because it makes him miss them too much. I have another friend who lost her brother seven years ago and she still cries every day because she misses him. They used to talk on the phone every day.
I'm so lonely, I recently invited my neighbors to dinner at a nice upscale restaurant. One said she couldn't make it because she's writing her thesis and her dog has an ulcer. Another neighbor who had accepted my invitation cancelled last night. She has a reputation for being flaky but it still hurts. She had promised to attend my dad's funeral, but didn't, even though she liked him very much and has known us all her life.
Yet another neighbor keeps comparing the loss of my dad to how he felt when he retired. He lost his own dad a couple of years ago, but he accepts it because his dad was suffering and he just wants to remember him the way he was when he was well -- the one who is still suffering is his mother because she spent a lifetime with her husband .
They still haven't found a counselor for me on BetterHelp and it's been over 24 hours already. The male therapist called this morning asking to reschedule my appointment today for two hours later. Between all that and the yawning therapist, I feel like no one understands how bad I'm feeling, except the good people on this forum.
My isolation makes me appreciate all the more how my dad was always there for me, even when no one else was, which of course makes me miss him all the more. I feel so guilty the way I sometimes took his love for granted. It depresses me to know that I'll never be as happy as when my dad was alive. All the movie and musical memories we shared together, which used to make me happy, now make me sad, because they remind me of my great loss. I find it difficult to even read a book. Yesterday, I had to ask my brother to turn off the car radio, because they were playing movie themes on our local classical radio station. I'm feeling anxious just thinking about it. Both therapists tell me these feelings will fade over time. So far it seems they are just being paid to listen to me. I haven't heard a lot of advice on how to cope with my grief. The younger therapist told me to treat myself to three gifts, but I already have enough stuff and nothing gives me pleasure anymore, except going to a nice Peruvian restaurant I discovered after my dad's death. Since it doesn't have any associations with my father, I don't get haunted by feelings of nostalgia there. I used to like nostalgia, now it's too painful. I've been to that restaurant seven times already, because the food is very tasty and the Pisco Sours dull my pain. I'm running out of people to invite. Dining alone would make me feel more lonely and awkward.
I envy how my brother doesn't seem to be grieving the loss of our mother or my father, who was his stepfather. He was talking excitedly about his upcoming trip to Europe. He and other relatives have invited me to go with them on various trips, but I know I wouldn't enjoy it the way I feel right now. Even if I weren't in mourning, it's no fun being a third wheel, plus I need to conserve my money, because I'm living off savings right now. I worry about being able to find a job, because of my age and lack of work experience.
I don't have any close friends who live close, because I was so focused on my dad, and the few I had moved away, drifted away or have died. I inherited a friend from my dad, but he doesn't understand about grief -- his mother died at 96. He was a dutiful son, but she was very unsentimental. She used to tell her sons when they visited her in the nursing home -- "Why are you here? You're wasting your time." She was very ornery, but she did like seeing her grandchildren. My dad's friend just comes over so I can order things for him online without his wife finding out. She's another ornery, unsentimental person who puts down his interests. He said he envies the close relationship I had with my dad.
I want to make new friends, but haven't figured out how to do that yet. I'm even tempted to try Craigslist Strictly Platonic, but it's scary. A few years ago an acquaintance from a "good family" tried to hook me up with her nephew. I did a little research on him online and found out he is a Satanist. I recently considered attending a local evangelical church, just because it's close, and discovered it has ties to a mafia cult in Mexico. I recently have started going back to the Catholic church, but most of the people who attend are immigrants with large families and not a lot of time to socialize. I'm not the type of person that needs a lot of friends. Like other bereaved persons have said, I have people to do something with, but I want to find someone I can do nothing with and still be happy. I was happy with my father even when we were just sitting on the couch dozing together. I regret so much that I ever complained to my dad that I wished we could go out somewhere fun. Our friends and relatives had pretty much abandoned us towards the end. They were too busy having fun with their own families. Without a car it wasn't easy to get around and cabs aren't dependable. My dad replied, "Is fun so important?" Now I know that fun isn't so important -- it's being with someone you love that is most important. I'm crying, so I'll close.....
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You might consider being a caregiver for a while, you've already done it and I'd list it on your resume! You don't say how old you are, but it sounds like you're still pretty young.

You might consider playing the piano TO your dad, who knows, maybe he CAN hear! You could try it and see how it feels...tell him "This is for you, Dad".

Isn't it funny that the mothers who were so difficult all our lives were so dearly loved by their caretakers at the end? The dementia really did seem to soften them, made me wonder what it would have been like had she not had the mental illness and personality disorders. It made it easier to accept her and her life once I quit trying to affix blame and just accept what was...it doesn't mean I liked it any better or thought it was okay, it wasn't. But I couldn't change it and I really don't know to what extent she was or wasn't responsible...it seemed she could have tried to be better, but who knows, maybe she was a victim of herself as much as the rest of us. The important thing was, all of her kids turned out okay, affected, yes, but okay. And that is amazing, no credit to her. I think she loved us as much as she was capable, but it fell way short of acceptable, she wasn't a good parent.

I hope you find some friends...I need more too, it's hard to make new ones especially when you're not in the workforce. My last job, everyone was young but me and I had to commute a long ways so wasn't able to socialize with them outside of work, so I never made friendships there. Before that, when my husband died, all my friends walked, so did his family. I've made some new ones since but they've moved away now.

I think the best way to get new friends is to get involved in things, join a club, take a class, get into a group...not Craigslist, that could be dangerous, but like a bookclub, a grief support group, stuff like that, anything where you can relate to others or have common interests. Even things like birdwatching, hiking clubs, volunteering and a dog shelter, just think what your interests might be and go from there.

Maybe try different churches until you find one that feels like a fit...you'll know when you walk in the door. Years ago I was looking for a new church and it took me a year...I remember crying out to God that I needed a church NOW!. I left the office and heard some singing, I walked around the corner and there was a church...I entered the door and immediately felt at home, even though it was a denomination I'd never been in. I attended there over a year until I moved away.

Your dad was an important part of your life, it's no wonder you're missing him so much. Stay away from the Satanists and Mafia connections! :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for your good advice, KayC. I wish you the best. I'm 55 years old, but have a youthful attitude (when I'm not grieving) because I've led a sheltered life.
I also wrestled with the thoughts about how much was my mother responsible for her behavior. There were clearly times when she couldn't help it, but when she acted normal, you would never think she had a problem, but she'd still say something hurtful or insensitive now and then.
That is amazing the way you found that church in answer to your prayer. On Ash Wednesday I was walking home from the therapist when I was compelled to turn from my path and walk by a local church. I hadn't planned to and hadn't been inside this church for many years. That's when I saw the parishioners receiving their ashes, so I got in line. I was the last in line to receive the ashes and then the priest said he would be hearing confessions. I stopped in my tracks thinking he was talking to me. People in a caregiver forum had advised me to go to confession to alleviate my caregiver guilt, so I decided to take the opportunity. The timing that I passed the church was so perfect that I felt it was meant to be. As the Ash Wednesday service is very short, had I arrived just two minutes later, I would have missed it.
Since it had been 35 years since my last confession, I let other parishioners go before me into the confessional -- I wanted to be the last one for some privacy. I told one lady to go ahead of me, because I have a lot to confess. She replied, "So do I and I'm nervous." When my turn came, I started crying and the priest was very understanding. He said I should go to church at 9 am on Sunday, receive communion and offer a prayer of thanks for my daddy. As I left the confessional, I saw the lady who had gone before me crying, too. It's good that now I can pray in a state of grace. I had tried attending two other churches before this one -- I hope the third time's the charm.
It is hard to find grief support groups in my city. Most of them are out of town and without a car that makes it difficult for me. However, I found one at a cathedral downtown which meets once a month. I plan to go to it next Wednesday. I wish they would meet more often.
Of all the things you mentioned, I think bird watching appeals to me the most. My older therapist has a canary which was warbling away during our session. I was reminded of the many pet birds I had as a child. My father built a large indoor aviary for them. We had canaries, finches and a pair of Chinese nightingales. We also had parakeets and a cockatiel in those happy days. The therapist suggested I get a bird, but these days I prefer observing birds in their natural habitat. We have hummingbirds outside which my dad and I enjoyed watching. Now going into the garden without my father is sad. Life without him seems unbearable. I've never felt such anguish before.
I like Felix Mendelssohn's quote in which he described death as a place "where it is to be hoped there is still music, but no more sorrow or partings".
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I used to have a pair of parakeets, I enjoyed interacting with them, you can get very attached. I also raised pigeons (a lifetime ago) and really enjoyed watching them. I'd look out my kitchen window, which looked into their pen, and watch them. We had a "Don Juan" in the bunch, but most of them were monogamous and devoted to their partner. It's amazing how they all have their own personalities if you take the time to get to know them!

I'm glad you found that church when you did. Sometimes, it seems, God orders things, just when we need them most. :)

Perhaps you can make it a goal to find and try joining in with a bird watching group then? Perhaps you'll make some friends with like interests.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Birds are fascinating creatures. My great uncle used to raise ringneck doves.

I'm already subscribed to a bird-watching forum online but haven't checked it out in a long while. I will look into it, thanks.

Yesterday I discovered that my new doctor has gone bird-watching in Thailand and Ecuador. I told him how I'm having a hard time with intense grief over my father's death.

He quoted the line from Shakespeare's "Hamlet":

"But you must know your father lost a father,
That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
In filial obligation for some term
To do obsequious sorrow. But to persever
In obstinate condolement is a course

Of impious stubbornness."

(Of course, that line was uttered by the villain Claudius who had murdered Hamlet's father.)

The doctor said that his own father would have been better off in Comfort Care, because his heart operation and painful recovery only extended his life by six months.

Three days have passed and still no counselor has been assigned to me by BetterHelp. I guess my grief is too complicated for them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sure they haven't forgotten you and want to ensure you get the best possible care for you. It's great that your doctor is so understanding. My doctor of 33 years retired a few years ago, I miss him.

When your doctor said that about his doctor, all our situations are different and hindsight is so much clearer than when we can only see what's right in front of us. I had someone tell me I should have taken my mom in instead of her going to a Dementia Care Facility. The decision was all of us kids and her doctors combined and was not made lightly. The courts said she needed 24 hour lockdown, she could be a danger to herself or someone else. My brother thought briefly of taking her into his home but I'm glad he didn't, it would have been dangerous and hard on their kids and their marriage. They wanted us to have two people to get her in/out of her wheelchair, assist with her bath, toilet, etc. If my husband was still alive, perhaps we could have done it together, but I'm sure we made the right decision for everyone. What we hadn't anticipated was that she would be happier there than she'd been at home all these years! She was no longer isolated or struggling, she had someone doing for her, and she could just relax for the first time! We worried when she was living at home that she'd burn the house down or get hit by a car. 911 was called several times as she tried to cross a busy street at the wrong place and other situations. She reached the point where she just didn't understand anything and wouldn't cooperate with us kids or let us help her. I feel my mom got the best possible care she could have, as long as one of us kids was staying in close contact with the staff, making suggestions, etc. They need an advocate.

I hope you'll be able to find a group of bird watchers you can go out with and view together, they have them here, but it should be easy enough to google, Audubon Society or others.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also thought that my mother was much better off at the nursing home, and she was lucky to get into one of the better ones which has a very long waiting list. She hadn't lived with me since I was three years old, so I don't have any guilt about that decision. She did ask me at one point if I was willing to take her in, but that would not have been fair to my father. It was her mistake to divorce him after all, but in the end it worked out to everyone's benefit, because she received very good care and had access to medical facilities on the premises. My father and I went to visit her when we could. She appreciated our visits and it was good to show the staff somebody cared about her. She complained sometimes about having to take her meds, but never about the service she received.

Still no word from BetterHelp -- so I just cancelled my subscription -- the seven day free trial ends tomorrow -- I didn't want to forget and get billed. Instead I gave a donation to this site which has offered "better help" to me. Just coming here to post, helped distract me from some painfully nostalgic thoughts about my father. Even the good memories are still sad for me at this point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gigi, I'm sorry you BetterHelp left you hanging. If that was the free trial that was supposed to impress you, they failed miserably!

Your mom and my mom both were lucky that we came through for them. My mom was very abusive when I was growing up, it's amazing her kids were there for her when she needed it, but we took into consideration that she "wasn't right" in the head and left it to God to judge her, glad we didn't have to figure it all out. We forgave her, even though we've all had our struggles with the things that were done to us not only growing up, but as adults. It took us a long time to figure out how to not let her control or manipulate us, to stand firm and yet be loving. It's been a life long lesson, but we learned it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just got back from my favorite Peruvian restaurant. I had three Pisco Sours, my favorite cocktail with Peruvian brandy -- that's my record. I know it's not right to medicate with alcohol, especially when taking Ativan, but it's the only thing that lessens the pain of my grief. Not to worry, I have a liquor cabinet full of boozed which I don't touch, I'm just a social drinker. My neighbor across the street insisted on picking up the tab. She has lost her mother, and three brothers over the last thirty years, so she also medicates herself with alcohol, while remaining functional.

Earlier today I went to a grief support group at a large cathedral downtown. It was sad to see so many people struggling with grief, some facing their own mortality, people with cancer whose faith remains strong. The meetings are held once a month. I plan to go to the next one. Before my father's death, I never knew there was so much sadness in the world. I've always known about poverty, wars and illness, but there is this silent world of grief that no one enters until they've experienced a devastating grief of their own.

In the meantime, I've developed a crush on my new doctor. I just met him on Friday -- he's older than me, so I guess I'm looking for a father figure. I haven't had a crush on anyone in ages, so It's the only happiness I've known since my father died, aside from the Pisco Sours. His friendliness is probably just his bedside manner, but it's what I need right now. Some kindness to ease the aching loneliness I feel. He's lonely, too, he's been divorced three times. Probably nothing will come of my attraction, but one can dream....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just remember that alcohol is a depressant...not what you need right now, and doesn't solve anything. "Mixing Ativan and alcohol can impact your mood, memory and induce self-harming behaviors". It also increases the effects of alcohol.

Yes, one can dream, thank heavens! I hope you are able to find some solace in your grief support groups, knowing you are not alone in what you are experiencing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I waited eight hours after drinking the alcohol before taking the Ativan, to minimize the harmful effects. To hopefully minimize benzo withdrawal, I am going to try to wean myself off the Ativan by tapering down the dosages very slowly. I want my brain to get used to making its own GABA again -- that's the neurotransmitter that helps calm the brain so you can sleep. Ativan mimics GABA so the brain says: "I guess I don't need to make so much GABA because this Ativan stuff is here, so I'll only make 20% of what I usually make." I keep putting off starting the tapering schedule, because I have to expect some rebound insomnia and other withdrawal symptoms, until my brain adjusts to the lower dosages.

Since the grief support group I attended is at a Catholic church, the emphasis was on embracing our suffering. The deacon recommened reading the 2015 Magnificat Lenten Companion for inspiration and comfort. Another coping mechanism is to imagine the day when we will be reunited with our loved ones.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Knowing we'll be together again is what keeps half of us sane!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is so hard to be alone. I've never lived alone before and there are so few places to meet people in my immediate neighborhood besides bars and churches. I would try to find a group or club related to movies or music, but I still can't enjoy these things because they make me miss my father too much. I didn't even watch the Academy Awards for the first time ever, because I always watched them with my dad.

I've tried going to church, and even though I was asked to bring up the host to the altar at mass, I still feel like an outsider. I'm too young for the seniors and too old for the young married people with families. Most church activities are geared towards children or young singles.

I've never been to a local bar by myself before and only a handful of times with friends when I was much younger. My father, grandmother and great uncle didn't approve much of drinking, aside from wine with meals, champagne on special occasions, and a little brandy or rum in eggnog. I've thought about going to a local bar that has a trivia night on Tuesdays, but going alone is intimidating. I know my father wouldn't be pleased to see me in a bar, but there's not much else to do around here except eat, drink and dance. I don't feel like dancing when I'm grieving. The only cousin I know who would go with me to a bar is an alcoholic, and I'm afraid he might drink too much.

This same cousin has started doing odd jobs around the house for me. We've been going to lunch at restaurants and that has helped me feel a little less sad and lonely. However, I still find myself wishing my dad could have joined us or view the home improvements which would have pleased him. It's a pity my cousin wasn't available when my father was still alive. My cousin knows about loneliness firsthand -- his wife divorced him after 16 years of marriage. He didn't pine for his ex, but loneliness and money troubles caused him to cut his wrists in front of a casino after losing all his money -- it was a call for help which he got. Now he's living with a nice Buddhist lady. I still plan on joining a bird watching group eventually, but for now I'd rather try to find activities closer to home since I don't drive. The closest bird watching location is on the other side of town.

One glimmer of hope on the horizon is that I have an appointment with a psychologist for next Tuesday. He is 82 and has over 40 years of experience with psychotherapy, including grief counseling. He also treats PTSD, depression, anxiety and anhedonia. On the phone he sounded more professional and compassionate than the two therapists I was seeing before. He also charges more than the others, because he's a PhD, but if he can help me feel better, it will be worth it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...