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Grieving After A Year

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Hello to everyone and thank you for letting me join your community. I have been in a weird place for awhile now, and figured since I'm not a "go talk about my feelings" kinda person that maybe I could find help or answers with a group of people who have gone through similar experiences.

I'll start from the beginning so there is a better understanding. My biological Mother did not want to have kids at all, in fact, she cried when she found out she was pregnant and should have never even become pregnant as she was on two different forms of birth control. My Dad on the other hand prayed to God for me before my parents were even together. From the stories I have heard, my Mom got incredibly ill when I was not but maybe a few months old, to the point my Dad saved her life and then she was in the hospital for months, not knowing if she'd ever come out. They say she wasn't the same after that, ever. She left us when I was 6, didn't know exactly how until my Dad was dying and the story was told to me. She left a note on my Dad's truck windshield that said she couldn't do it anymore and she wanted me to stay with him. So, from 6 through the rest of my life with him (I was 38 when he passed) it was literally me and Dad. We weren't really close to the rest of the family, we visited from time to time, but holidays and such it was just the two of us.

Fast forward to the call that changed my life forever. My husband had just for a year long tour in Korea. I was roughly 35, 36 years old, and I got a call from my life long best friend who is now family, that my Dad was in the Hospital, he had a stroke. I loaded the kids and we were at the hospital. We had known that my Dad suffered from a blood condition called polycythemia for several years, but his treatments of "wasting blood" were working very well. Basically the condition causes the blood to clot abnormally fast. Long story short, the neurologist told me that he had so many strokes, it was completely impossible to pin point one place on either side of his brain as they were every where. I was with him at the hospital for a month. It was a struggle, as the right (his dominant side) was affected. The doctors told him that there was going to be mini strokes until one day the "big one" hit. They began Coumadin treatment to, as they said, HOPE that it would break up the existing clots in his body and hopefully they would reabsorb themselves. There were so many complications from all of this that I could write about, but I won't. He wasn't able to walk right which caused falls and numerous brain hemorrhages, the last of which we never will know if it stopped or not. He also ended up with hydrocephalus and had to have a shunt placed in his brain that ran the excess fluid to his stomach. There were numerous complications with this as well as the shunt never really completed relieved anything. HIs Coumadin levels were a nightmare to maintain, always too high or too low, and when you already have a clotting disorder and no idea where the clots are in your body. He was at different doctors every other day for years until finally he decided he was tired of literally just existing, he chose to have Hospice come in. One of the hardest days of my life, and weird because you always think of Hospice coming as a time when the patient literally doesn't even know what's going on, definitely not them choosing it. He was a very, very proud man, and refused a lot of the "extra" things they could provide like personal hygiene type care. I finally went down to stay until the end as I knew it wouldn't be long. He had called me in the middle of the afternoon one day and literally cried on the phone with me for an hour, talking about how he was tired of hurting and he missed people, I very hard conversation. The day I got there I thought there was no way he would live through the day. I have a Medic background so I have knowledge on medical things which sometimes is a curse. He did last for about another month, a month I'll cherish forever as we had some nice talks and he let me take care of him. The day he finally passed, I was there with my Step-Mom. I had just been at his side, holding his hand even though he was not conscious, and I told him "Thank you very being my Mom and my Dad, even it wasn't for you I wouldn't even be here today." Just as I finished, his breathing got worse, he was now actively dying. My Step-Mom and I help his hand through all of it and talked to him, we held him until the funeral home people came to take him. He passed on Friday the 13th, the day after my husband's birthday. I didn't know what to do with myself, for the last 3, 4 years I had to be the "adult" and my Dad's voice because my Step-Mom just didn't understand everything.

The first week was weird, we planned and planned and then said our final goodbye at the service. I came home for the first time in about 6 weeks. I had left my job before going to stay with him, which I never told him that as I didn't want him to worry about me, so I was job hunting. Finally got a job, and literally poured myself feet first into it, keeping myself busy all the time. When I get off work, I come home and find something to keep my mind busy. I cried myself to sleep for a long while, cried alone as I didn't want my husband and kids to feel down. I have only cried a handful of times in front of my family to this day. He will have been gone for a year on June 13th. I don't cry as much as I used to, but it seems like weird things hit me. For example, today being Memorial Day, he wasn't a Veteran, but the thought of people's loved ones dying made me miss him so much. I feel sometimes like my family thinks it's an excuse or I should be way better off than I am. That may not be how they feel, but that's how I picture them feeling.

I know everyone has their own way, and I think my loss is truly unique because I lost my Mom and my Dad at the same time. The one constant, my good advice, the one who loved me unconditionally always, is just gone. I can't call him any more. I haven't been to my home town by a few times since he passed, it's hard for me. When I am there we don't go to his house to see my Step-Mom, we always meet some where so it's like he's taking a nap or busy, it's a weird feeling, but not like he's gone. I have a hard time talking to the him where part of his ashes were buried because I don't feel like he is there, it feels wrong. On one hand it's a relief to feel like I'm not having to be the adult about everything but at times I feel like I still am. Time has been off since he passed, I think it may be getting a little better but for months it seemed as though time was passing but I didn't feel like it had. I don't know how else to explain it.

I'd like to know how others feel or felt about a year after their loss. Am I normal for these feelings? When will I feel somewhat whole again? I've never lost anyone close to me like this, and my oldest daughter's graduation and my husband's military retirement are both coming up, and I think it's stirring up emotions.

Thank you all in advance!

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Hi, welcome to this forum. I am sorry for your loss. I doubt anyone can answer when you'll feel whole again as each person's loss is unique and so is how they cope with it. My mom passed in August so I haven't hit the one year mark yet. My dad died over 34 years ago but I was soon busy taking care of my baby daughter so I'm sure that distracted me.

I can understand you and your stepmom getting together at a neutral place and see how that would make it easier.

I think it's always hard losing the second parent because they're your last connection to your heritage, to the person who cared about you from the beginning, at least in most situations. There is now no one to ask about family history, etc.

I'm sure there'll be others along shortly to hopefully better answer you. I just wanted to say I'm sorry, it's good that you are able to express how you're feeling, I think it helps to be heard.

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I am so sorry for your loss, my dear. You say that you're not a "go talk about my feelings kinda person," but it seems to me from what you've said that you do indeed have a need to talk about your father's death and how it has affected you ~ and you may have other matters that need to be discussed as well. Sharing with us here on a message board is fine, and of course you are most welcome to continue doing that ~ but the fact that this death is still affecting you (e.g., "time has been off since he passed") indicates to me that you have some unfinished business related to this loss, and a session or two with a qualified grief counselor may be quite helpful for you. I hope you will consider it.

You ask how others have felt a year into their grief ~ but the passage of time has nothing to do with grief. Rather, it is what we do with the time that matters. Grief must be acknowledged, processed and worked through in order for us to come to an understanding of how a death has affected us and what it may mean for us as we continue to live our own lives.

In these forums you'll find us sometimes referring to "doing our grief work," and I invite you to consider what that could mean for you. Toward that end, you might find this article useful: Bereavement: Doing The Work of Grief

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