Navigating the murky waters of grief and loss is no easy task. We’ve all been there – muddling our way through those dark days, feeling like we’re lost in a sea of sorrow. But it’s crucial to remember that you are not alone. We’re on this journey together, each of us grappling with our unique experiences of loss, yet joined by the universal language of grief.
I am grieving. Like so many people, I am grieving. My parents passed away within nine months of each other just over a year ago from health issues. I am still struggling. I’m not sure it is ever easy to be without parents. To have someone help guide you through life. I may be 40 but I still struggle making decisions without my parents. I miss sharing my daily life with them. I miss their laugh and their smell and the way they loved life. I hope my experience with grief and loss can help you through yours.
I found it so helpful to write about what was happening, and I still do. I like having an outlet for my emotions and thoughts. I have come to appreciate my life and my family with such fervor because I know what it’s like to have someone literally slip through your fingers. I watched both of my parents pass in front of my eyes, while I was holding them, telling them it was okay.
It was absolutely NOT okay, but they needed to hear that. My mom’s brain tumor had snaked its way into her verbal and ocular sections of her brain at the end, so she barely opened her eyes and could not speak at the end. She was silent but I knew she was in there. I remember sitting with her and holding her hand and telling her stories about the kids. It’s the only thing I could do. I knew she could hear me. I will always regret not doing more for her but I really didn’t understand what was going on inside and at the nursing home they were more focused on making her comfortable than diagnosing her current state.
I remember that last day. I arrived at the nursing home around 7:00 in the morning to find out she had a fever and the nurses had increased her morphine. My mom had not wanted any morphine up until that weekend and she had a glioblastoma brain tumor! She always was a warrior with a crazy high threshold for pain. So I knew that it wasn’t good that she was nodding her head to the nurses questions about morphine.
My sister-in-law and I were there with her all morning. We knew it was bad. We took turns holding my mom’s hand and telling her my dad would be okay and that her grandchildren would be okay and she needed to finally let go of the pain. Finally, she opened her eyes so wide like she hadn’t in months, seeming to actually look past us, and smiled her “This sucks I can’t believe this is happening I feel so bad for my family” smile. She always thought more about others than herself.
Then she passed.
I was literally hugging her when she passed away. I feel blessed that I was able to be with her during that momentous life event of my mother’s life. I know she waited until she had seen all of her family and friends. That weekend she was surrounded by family and friends. I think she must have felt safe and secure and able to slip away knowing that her loved ones were with her.
My dad tried to go on without her. He visited my house almost every week. I took my kids to his house every other weekend. But when my mom’s birthday and my dad’s birthday rolled around one week apart, he kind of lost it. We all went for brunch at my parents favorite restaurant and afterward, my dad sat in my car vomiting. The emotions of it all were just too much for him.
After that, it was like he was struggling to keep his head above water. But my birthday arrived a few weeks later and he could barely recognize it. After that it was mother’s day and I couldn’t bear to go anywhere, it was just too hard for me, but I think he really needed company then but couldn’t bring himself to ask for it.
The next time I saw him there was a physical change in his health and I knew it wasn’t good. When he finally agreed to go see the doctor – if I took him – he never left. As soon as his test results came back, they admitted him to the hospital right away and he was never released until he refused dialysis and went home with hospice.
My dad was only home for 12 hours when he passed away with my brother, my dad’s sister and me by his side. He was so irritable and jittery that last night. My dad was always a loud person and that night his eyes were closed but he talked the whole night very loudly. None of it was coherent, except at one time during the night he said totally clearly, “How do I get up there?” Then he went back to incoherent babbling.
My dad just couldn’t bear to be on this earth without my mom. He loved her so very much he couldn’t fight to stay with us. In the end, we held his hand and reassured him what an amazing dad he was and how much we loved him and that it was okay to be with mom. It was what he wanted.
Grief can deplete you to such an extent that the slightest tasks become monumental, and what previously was easily achievable now may seem insurmountable.Therese Rando, Ph.D