smock on the death of her father

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dying is a very dull, dreary affair. and my advice to you is to have nothing whatever to do with it. ~ w. somerset maugham

my dad died last saturday. his death was the first one i've actually ever watched. practically speaking, it was a good death. the kind most of us probably pray for. he knew he was dying. he’d made his peace with God. he was at home when he finally decided to give up the ghost, and everyone he loved most was present. but i have to tell you, it wasn't pretty.

i'm not really sure what i was expecting. i think relief is what i thought i would most feel. he had his prostate removed about 15 years ago to get rid of the cancer and then was diagnosed with diabetes about ten years ago, but he kept it under control with his diet and pills. then a few years ago he fell while carrying one of my daughters on his shoulders (by the by, i don't recommend carrying small children on your shoulders when you're 70+). a few days later he fell in the shower and hurt his back badly enough to necessitate surgery. looking back, this is the point I can look at and declare this was the beginning of the end. while in the hospital, his electrolytes got all shot to hell and he was disoriented and confused. he had a hard time with his rehab and his kidneys started giving him fits. then he was finally diagnosed with senile dementia. . .a diagnosis that was actually long overdue according to my mom, but with all these delightful HIPAA laws, the senile and the demented are allowed to be so until they actually hurt somebody, but that's another blog. . .and given more pills. these were the pills he refused to take because the bottle read “alzheimer’s” and he didn’t have alzheimer’s, g*ddammit.

watching my dad the past few years was like watching a balloon slowly deflate. it happened slowly enough that there was time to almost adequately adjust, but quickly enough that it was frightening to witness. about six months ago, dad finally started dialysis, which he despised with a passion, and i kept wondering how much the doctors could put him through before they finally admitted that there is no cure for Old.

when did we decide that we absolutely have to keep our loved ones, or ourselves even, alive at any and all costs? i don’t understand it. is it that if we can keep the body alive, we must? is it science? is it an ego trip for medicine? is it fear of dying? is it selfishness? is it just to see how long the insurance holds out? i do not understand it, but i know i do not agree with it. and i pray to God that when it is my time, i will be able to go gentle – not clawing tooth and nail for a few more misery laden hours or days or weeks.

my dad had two massive heart attacks before Christmas. the doctors went into his body to see what they could do and came right back out, telling my mom that to operate on his heart would be like putting gasoline in a car without an engine. finally! i thought. a voice of reason. but then they admitted that he probably wouldn’t survive open heart-surgery, so they sent him home to die. but two weeks later, the home healthcare nurse discovered he had pneumonia and sent him back to the hospital where they pumped him full of more drugs. for some reason they did an MRI and found a brain aneurism. when they told my mom she asked, so? what do you plan to do? you said he wouldn’t survive open-heart surgery, you want to perform brain surgery? i was so proud of her.

God forgive me, at the end, i was fervently praying for my father’s death. i begged, yes begged, Mama Mary to take him into her arms. i couldn’t imagine that anything but relief would wash over me when he took his last breath, but i was wrong. wretchedly wrong. no matter what your head may tell you, your heart won’t give a crap. the protestant in me said, he’s finally at peace. this is the ultimate cure. he’s no longer suffering. and the catholic said, even purgatory has to be better than this. he deserves heaven after all this suffering, maybe he is already there … but my heart said, who cares? i don’t give a damn. this sucks. it sucks bad. it hurts. it hurts like hell. one misery has just been replaced by another. and I don’t care what anybody says, no matter how you slice it, death has one hell of a sting. i wasn’t prepared for the intensity of the pain.

now that a whole week has passed the pain is numbing. the sadness is like a tide. it comes and goes. when it’s far enough away, i can talk about my dad without the sadness and can even joke about him and laugh out loud. when it comes back in, and it always seems to choose very bizarre moments to make an appearance, if it’s low tide, it washes over me slowly and i can keep it in check; but when it’s high tide, it threatens to carry me away and i can hardly breathe. but here’s the rub, the worst part is worrying about my mom. if i feel this miserable when dad wasn’t even a part of my every day-to-dayness for the past 24 years, what unspeakable, horrible emptiness must she be dealing with?

and now, to speak of death makes me feel isolated. i don’t want to talk about it, so i keep it inside. perhaps this is why grief is so private. people want to tell me how great things are for my dad now, how i should rejoice and know things will get better for the living and, blah, blah, blah. i love them for their love, but hate them for not understanding. and so, i keep it in. and my mom, as the protective mother, keeps her grief inside, too. and so it is. and so we are. and life goes on.


I'm so, so sorry, smock. I truly am.

I pray he is with the Lord -- but when you're the one left behind, it's still hard.

I'm so sorry for your loss Smock.

We don't "do" grief well in this culture. I'm not sure why exactly except that grief takes time and the culture says we have to keep moving on. I don't think that's what God intended. After all the scriptures say there is a time for everything and that should include grief.

Perhaps the best thing you can do is talk to your mom. Part of grief is being able to talk about it and it seems you feel safe with her and she with you.

And of course - that's what a blog is for too.

God bless you.

I am so sorry. The living left behind are the ones who suffer. I detest trying to give any advice but I have to share the thing that really helped me when I lost my mother. Hope you don't mind hearing my thought. Here it is.

Write yourself a letter that comes from your father to you. You would know what he would say to you and with what words. Write from his point of view. Then, fold it up and take it out to read whenever you feel his loss deeply.

Blessings....and remember, he is always in your heart.

I am so sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you and your family.

Prayers and condolences.

"Blessed are those who mourn."

Bless you smock; words fail. Will pray for you and your family.

I'm sorry to hear of your loss. I'm grieving someone right now too, and everything you wrote rings so true to me. **hugs**

I'm so very sorry for your loss!!! It brought back to me memories of my own father when he died in 1997. Hugs to you and your family and we will pray for all!!

May his memory be eternal!

May you find comfort in your memories, in your family, and in our Heavenly Father.

God bless.
I'll keep you (and your Mom) in my prayers...

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord!

May God grant you peace and strengthen you.

I'm so sorry, you must feel so helpless against the tide and the details of grief, not just yours, but your mother's.

My father died in 1999, suddenly, and even now I think of a joke to call and tell him, but after this amount of time, it's an ache that has only a glow, not a slash. Took quite some time for that to happen, though.

Thank you for writing out your thoughts. I enjoyed them very much. I remember well my feelings after the death of a beloved friend who died of cancer at the age of 43. She left behind a husband and two teenage sons. She was one my best friends and I still cry when I think of her. To make matters worse 9-11, which happened six days after she died, swallowed up the attention and sorrow which should have been hers.

Scholars and commentators have said that Jesus snorted when Lazarus came out of the grave as a way of expressing his disgust and hatred of death. After 9-5 and 9-11 I know what that feels like and I will never forget my feelings of bitterness and anger. Yet I also learned to more closely follow my savior who conquered death and who even now prepares a place for me. Some day I will see him and with him, my friend.
Blessings and peace.



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This page contains a single entry by smockmomma published on January 27, 2007 9:24 PM.

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