Learning Experience

There are a few things I have taken from my dad’s death that have been positive. One of which is that I have learned what NOT to say to someone else going through this kind of loss. People will say some stupid sh*t. Unfortunately I am sure I am guilty of saying some of these things at some point to people.

Here are some examples on what NOT to say/do based on my experience:

*I don’t want to hear about your dead aunts step cousin who died, and it was such a hard experience, but everyone was better for it and got over it.  “I DON’T CARE about your loss right now!” is all I could think when someone said that to me those 9 days sitting with dad waiting for him to die. (Because that is what we were doing, waiting. Horrible feeling, waiting.)

*A few months ago someone told me they would pray for my dad. I was like “What?” pray for my dad? He’s dead. He is the one that got the better end of this whole deal. Yeah, he was sick. It was miserable. But he is in heaven now with God. He is healthy. He isn’t here left behind without him. Pray for him??? Really? Maybe my religion has me believe differently than others about what happens after someone dies. I should be more open-minded I suppose. But I don’t believe my dad needs to be prayed for. I NEED TO BE PRAYED FOR. I’m the one that cries every day. I am the one that has a huge gaping hole in my life without my father. I am the one that is suppose to carry on as a mother, wife, employee, citizen and act like nothing has happened to me. Pray for me and my family. Not my dad….shesh. Maybe I am being selfish.

*Don’t tell me that I have spent long enough being sad and it is time to move on.  Really?  Do you think I have a switch and can pick and choose my level of grief/happiness.  If that were so I would have flipped that sucker a long time ago.  Grief is all-consuming.  It physically hurts sometimes.  I hate it. I am not consciously choosing to be sad.  So don’t tell me I can decide to be happy.  It doesn’t work that way.

*“At least you knew he was dying and had time to prepare.”  Ok, I am still undecided on whether that is a good thing or not.  It has its pros and cons.  I have mentioned them here and here.  You are NEVER prepared.  So many emotions come with death.  Especially from GBM, like I posted here.  So I have decided not to say that to anyone anymore.  It sounds logical and comforting.  But it isn’t.

*Don’t get frustrated with me if I don’t remember something you said to me in the first few months after my dad died.  I don’t remember really anything from that time frame.  There has been more than one occasion that my boss has told me “We talked about this a few months ago.”  I just stare at him for a minute and then he remembers.  “Oh yeah, that was during your Zombie mode.”  I’m surprised I made it to work with a bra on and the same shoes, let alone got any work done.

What you should say/do:

*Tell me you’re sorry, and you understand what I am going through (only if you really do though).  That it is hard.  That you love me.

*Let me cry.

*Let me talk about my dad.  Tell me funny stories that you remember.  Tell me what he means/meant to you.

*Let me go to my dark place once in a while.  Watching someone die for 9 days (10 months technically) is traumatic.  Sometimes it plays over and over in my head for hours.  Not because I want it to.  I can’t stop it.  I need to be alone.  I need to feel sorry for myself for a minute.

*Let me be angry.  It doesn’t mean I am angry at you.  Of course the anger may come about when you do something that pisses me off, but usually the underlying factor of it all is that I miss my dad.  The fact that you didn’t unload the dishwasher etc. just set me off.

*Remember that every holiday, every event, every minute feels like someone is missing.  It is ok to acknowledge that “It would be awesome if your dad was here.”  Or “I bet you miss your dad today.”

*Be more empathetic and sympathetic.  I have learned that grieving is a LONG process.  I have learned everyone does it differently.  Some (like me) need to and enjoy talking about their loved one.  Others (like my mom) don’t like to talk about it so much. They just try to move on in their own way.  You may not agree on how others choose to grieve, but you just have to deal with it and work on yourself.

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5 thoughts on “Learning Experience

  1. First off I am so incredibly sorry to hear about your father…. I just spent the last two hours reading your blog for start to finish. I find my situation to be a lot like yours. My father was diagnosed with GBM in February 2013. It has only been a couple of months but knowing that he is dying and watching it daily is making me a complete wreck. I’m not a very emotional person…. But lately I cry more than sleep. I too am on the fence about knowing the end is near… While I cherish the time that I have, the quality of life is terrible and he is a very different person now due to the meds. Hopefully things will be easier for you in time…. Thank you for taking the time to write this blog. As another daughter watching her father go through this… I can say I truly understand. -Jen Herrick

  2. I know how you both feel and it is hard. There is nothing easy about this disease. It robs you of your loved one long before they are gone. It is so hard to watch. But, yes there is a but, there were a few positive things that have come from it for me. If I could choose I would have my dad back for sure, but it did bring my family closer. Especially my mom and I. The experience of his actual dying was amazing and very spiritual for me and gave me peace. I’ve become more aware of others and their feelings, and I think I have become a better person from it all. But, another but, I HATE every minute of it. I miss my dad everyday, I still cry almost everyday. Not sob anymore, but get teary eyed a lot. My heart hurts for every person that contacts me. But I am glad that you do. It makes me feel not so alone and makes me feel a little less crazy and emotional knowing that it is “normal” to feel this way. It also makes me feel like I have done something with this whole experience by sharing it with others. Knowing what to expect or some of the “what ifs” in this situation is so helpful. I read so many blogs while my dad was sick. Thank you both for commenting. It gives me comfort. Much peace and comfort to you. ~Heather

  3. Heather,
    I am so sorry for the loss of your Dad. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that you were so open and honest with your journey by his side. My Dad was just diagnosed with GBM; he had surgery a few weeks ago to remove the majority of the tumor from his temporal lobe. We are just getting started on our journey with him. So much of what you have shared echoes what I have been feeling since this horrible cancer became a part of our lives. But it helps to know the reality we are faced with, even if its not what we want to hear and its not pretty. So thank you again.

    • Lynn I am so sorry you are having to go through all of this. It is such a hard thing to handle. So overwhelming. I don’t want to repeat myself over and over again in my comments and posts, but just remember to tell him you love him and make every moment count. There is no getting around how hard this is going to be, but having the knowledge that your dad knows how much you love and appreciate him will be a great comfort to you always. If you ever need a shoulder please email me. I will answer anything or am just here to listen. I wish you peace and comfort. ~Heather

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