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Limping Along Through Grief

It’s been nine months since my dad died. Judging by societal expectations, something we shouldn’t do of course, things should be back to normal. I should be back to normal. But I am not. I am still limping along through grief.

Grief has no timetable. And yet, there is often that subtle suggestion that perhaps it’s time to be done, it’s time to move on.

Just like with cancer.

If it appears to the world as if you’ve put grief behind you, it’s often assumed you’re doing a better job of handling things.

Just like with cancer.

The early days of grief are hard.

During those early days of raw grief, people ask how you’re doing. They send cards. They bring meals. They make phone calls or send you emails and text messages.

If you’re lucky after a month or two, your dear one continues to get mentioned. Some people keep asking how you’re doing. But by nine months, people have moved on. For the most part, they’ve stopped asking. They haven’t stopped caring, mind you, but most have stopped asking.

And this is as it should be.

I am not fishing for sympathy, comments or anything at all. I am just writing about this because maybe someone else will say, oh yeah. That’s how it is/was for me too. After all, most of us are limping along through something, are we not?

The first months of grief are hard.

After my mother died, dear hubby told me the first year would be the hardest. (He was an experienced griever; his dad had died fifteen years prior). There are all those firsts to get through. Once you’ve made it through the first year, you realize 365 days have passed without your loved one in it, and you’ve survived. So his words made sense.

The first 365 days of grief are hard.

But grief doesn’t end when that one year milestone has been reached and passed. Grief is for a lifetime because love is for a lifetime.

Life is just different now.

It’s an odd thing trying to figure out life without your parents in it anymore. I fully realize many people didn’t have their parents for the amount of time I had mine. I know I’m lucky in many ways. At the same time, having a long relationship with your parent(s) on into your own adulthood makes it hard to adjust when they’re gone. Having said this, losing your parents earlier in your life must be equally challenging, for different reasons.

I’ve discovered my dad’s death has had an even greater impact on me in some ways than my mother’s did. I hope that doesn’t sound callous or weird. My mother died after tremendous suffering from metastatic breast cancer. Even though we were all, of course, devastated, there was a certain amount of relief when her suffering ended.

The greater impact I feel after my dad’s death probably has more to do with the realization I no longer have living parents at all.

When your remaining parent dies, too, something else dies. Maybe it’s the real end of your childhood, the end of some sort of buoyancy that can no longer be yours. Mostly, it’s the end of a special kind of love you’ve received and will never receive again, that unconditional love only your parents can offer. And of course, the death of both your parents is a not-so-subtle reminder about the brevity of not only their lives, but your own life, too.

My dad’s death hit me hard.

Nine months later, I still cry at the smallest nudge. Like when I’m scrolling through photos or my contact list on my phone and see his face. Or when I watch a Twins baseball game and wistfully recall his love of the game and for his team. Or when I see the first blooms of spring. Or when I check the daily weather forecast. (He was a bit weather obsessed). When I see a bag of Circus Peanuts or jelly beans. The list of grief triggers is endless because the ordinariness of any given day without him in it, is the trigger.

So many things still jolt me back into intense grief.

In time, I know the memories will bring smiles more often than tears. But that time is not here. Not yet.

I have so much more to say about grief. And over time, I will say these things. Even if it makes some uncomfortable. Even if some turn away.

Just as with cancer, I will never be done with grief. I move forward, but I do not move on.

Grief will always be hard.

For the time being, I am still limping along through grief. Perhaps you are, too. Or perhaps you’re limping along through something else.

And that’s okay.

Limping along is moving forward, too.

Just like with cancer.

Perhaps we can limp along together.

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Do you feel like you are limping along through grief, cancer or something else?

What is one grief trigger for you?

Who do you grieve for?

 

 

Limping Along Through Grief

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Renee Durio

Saturday 3rd of June 2017

Nancy, I have been blessed to have my mother for 66 years. She is 84 and has alzheimer's. She's getting weaker and I am grieving. I am so scared. I am sadder than I have ever been. I have a great husband but don't feel I can do this mentally or physically. Please help.

Nancy

Monday 5th of June 2017

Renee, I understand. Perhaps you need another layer of support. There are Alzheimer support groups out there, for example. Your grief, fear and sadness are understandable. You are going through a lot and dealing with many emotions right now and it's all very taxing mentally and physically. At the same time, it's also a time that will mean a lot to you in the years ahead. It's a tremendous honor helping a loved one transition, although, it's also extremely challenging and gut-wrenchingly painful to witness at times as well. Do you have any siblings or friends to lean on or talk with? Take things day by day, take care of yourself and do your best. Nothing new there, but all are so important, nonetheless. Remember, you're not alone. Even though it feels like it at times. Thank you for sharing.

Jamie

Wednesday 24th of May 2017

It was with my Dad's passing Nov. 30,2016 that I also started grieving my Mom's death in Dec. 2012. I held off getting to the doctor for myself till January 2017. I was dx with Stage 2,grade 1, ER/PR+ ILC. I found that with every experience/issue we face and we deal with when the next "thing" happens we usually revisited what we thought we dealt with. My Mom's death was sudden and unexpected. The time immediately after her death was as it pertains to my Dad, my girls dealing with their first family death, my Dad having a girlfriend within two weeks, my brother, my own grief process which seemed stunted for 4 years. I started mourning my Dad before he died. I lost my job in Sept. started spending more and more time with him, to where in November I was own with him most of the time and was there when he took his last breath. Before my dx I feel I had this luxury almost of mourning thte loss of both my parents then it turned to mourning the old me and having to have yet another thing to tack survivor to the end of.

Nancy

Wednesday 24th of May 2017

Jamie, Gosh, you've been going through a lot. I am sorry about your dad. I know how hard it is to cope with the death of both your parents. And then you were diagnosed with cancer, too. You make an interesting point about when the next things happens we revisit what we thought we dealt with. Gotta mull that over a bit more. Now you not only mourn for your parents, as you said, you also mourn for the old you. It's important you give yourself permission to do exactly that. My best to you. Again, I'm sorry.

Sandra Leadbetter

Monday 22nd of May 2017

Hi Nancy,

thanks for the blog. Dad died almost 3 months ago and I'm pining desperately for him. He was my rock, even though I'm blessed with a great husband. My mum died almost 30 years ago (I was 18) and it took me years to adapt to the changes her sudden death brought about. Dad died suddenly too and I never ever thought I'd be so lost as I am now, thought that mams death was the ultimate. Now I find I'm grieving his loss so so much. He was 78 she only 53. Anyhow thanks for writing the blog, great to share.

Nancy

Monday 22nd of May 2017

Sandra, I am very sorry about your dad and your mom too. Your loss is very recent and your grief is so raw yet. There are days I still feel quite lost, so it's natural you are feeling that way. Allow yourself to grieve in your own way. It's a difficult thing coming to terms with having no parents. I'm not there yet. You're not alone, if that helps. Thank you for sharing and again, I'm sorry.

Rebecca

Thursday 11th of May 2017

Nancy, I am sorry about your pain. There are no words that can make this process easy but please know I am here to listen and to let you know that I understand.

I struggle with grief. And as I get older, it gets worse for me. Yes, this is about my grandmother. I think of her all the time and I miss her. I never received the same kind of love from anyone else. I was too young for her to leave me. I didn't even get the chance to thank her and I think this is the worst part. The fact that I didn't go through my different stages with her. When she left, I was a teen. And I did not really understand a lot of things I know today. I was still looking for my truth, my identify and for some answers. Today I realize the answer is simple: she was my mother and no one will ever replace her in my heart. I just wish I can say that to her. I hope she knew. It has been over 18 years since she left and grief is still very hard for me.

Thank you for writing this, my friend. Your love for your dad is reflected in every word you write about him. xoxo

Nancy

Friday 12th of May 2017

Rebeca, Your kind words are very special. Thank you. Your grandma holds such a special place in your heart. This in itself makes it pretty clear she knew exactly how you felt about her and needed no thank you. Missing her as you've grown older has to hurt because it's only natural you see things differently in each phase of your life and you grieve for that loss as well. She knew how much you loved her. I'm sure of it. Thank you for sharing and for always being there. xo

Paula

Tuesday 9th of May 2017

My mother died today. It was a long process and not totally unexpected, she was 78 and had liver cancer. I am feeling very emotional tonight, trying to come to terms with my feelings. I was adopted at birth. Sadly, my childhood was a tragic string of events, starting with moms alcoholism when I was a young child, which resulted in my parents imminent divorce. Dad remarried, however mom never found love again and became completely addicted to alcohol and prescription medication. There was a long period that I was estranged from her and tried to live a normal life, seeing her occasionally on holidays over the years. I am now a 50 year old mom of three young adults who I am very proud of. The grief I feel tonight after watching my mother pass away a terrible suffering death in a nursing home is a totally mixed bag of emotions. Not sure how to deal with this loss, it hurts a lot more than I thought it would! I said goodbye this afternoon, and held her hand as she cried out and begged me to end her pain. I guess its different for me because although I loved her, we never had a strong mother/daughter bond.

Nancy

Tuesday 9th of May 2017

Paula, I am very sorry for your loss. Even if your relationship with your mother wasn't stellar and even if your her death wasn't totally unexpected, it's still hard grappling with the death of a parent, and of course, you're feeling emotional. I'm glad you were there and held her hand. That's something I didn't get to do with either of my parents when they died. Every loss feels different because every situation is different. Be kind and gentle with yourself as you make your way through grief and try to figure things out. Again, I'm sorry. Thank you for sharing.

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