After – 2 Years, 11 Months, 3 Days

Someone posted this on my Facebook today in our GBM grief group.  I am taking no credit for it.  I did not write it.  It was written by a RSnow on Reddit about 4 years ago.  It is probably the best description of grief I have ever read so I wanted to share.

The question was “My friend just died, I don’t know what to do.”
Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

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4 thoughts on “After – 2 Years, 11 Months, 3 Days

  1. Hi.

    I’ve just read your blog.. my dad is just been diagnosed with a grade IV giloblastoma. I guess I’m contacting you because your experience and journey could be similar to mine. Me and my sister are 5 weeks into our journey…I don’t know what to expect..

  2. Chris, I am very sorry that your father was diagnosed with GBM. It is hard getting the diagnoses and not knowing what to expect. My suggestion is to read as much as you can and be very involved with your dad’s doctors. One website that I strongly support is brainhospice.com. It was like a bible for me throughout my father’s battle with cancer. It has so much good information and can give you a basic idea of what you could expect and when. My blog has a lot of information on it, but tends to be more of the emotional side of it from a caregivers point of view. If you ever have any specific questions or need to talk I am always willing to give my best answers. Please feel free to email me. hswenson2@juno.com. I wish you and your family much comfort and peace in the days to come.

  3. Thanks for this post! The person who wrote that was right on point with his description of love and grief. The more blessed we are in a loving relationship the more it hurts and stays with us. I lost my mom to GBM in June of 2014. I was her only child and she was helping me raise my daughter who has special needs. I miss her every day still, and know it’s because we were so close and so lucky to have one another for the time we did. I am so grateful for people like you who help others specifically when they are going through brain cancer with someone they love. It’s a difficult journey, but my advice is to enjoy the time you have with them, make the most of it, the best of it and provide that person the best care possible. Blessings to you and all those who reach out to you.

    • Kathy I really appreciate you taking the time to write your comment. I think your words are wise. Enjoy the time we have and especially provide the best care possible. You sound like you have found peace in your experience. I wish that for everyone.

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