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It does get easier, with time, to accept death


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My sister has been deceased of small cell lung cancer for a little while. At first, because of losing her and because of other circumstances in my life, I was more than willing to end my own life.

But time does help---not necessarily in the way that you expect, but it does help. For example, I've had time to reflect on my relationship with my sister and realized that much of my grief was not just for her, but for our relationship, what it wasn't, for what it might have been, what it could have been, and what I was hoping would happen.

She had a very domineering, controlling husband who hated me since he met me---and I never knew why, because I was just a child, and not a spoiled one, when they married. But at that point, my relationship with her changed forever. I was only allowed small slices of her life---a phone call here, a visit there. When he was at home, it was palpable how unwelcome I was. He was very jealous and intrusive, and she allowed it. When this attitude began to be extended to my own nuclear family, I stopped speaking to her. Then because of a family event, we began to speak again. The unspoken became so obvious during our conversations...she would ask me to call during the day, when he was at work. He came home for lunch, and when he arrived, the tenor of our conversation changed dramatically, or ended completely. But I was of the opinion that she was sick of this...she had other health problems which had limited the scope of her life, and she needed me.

Then, shortly after our reunification, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. I decided to focus all my attentions on being positive, not digging into the hurtful past. But he was always around then, having retired, so our conversations were brief and superficial, and I was discouraged from visiting.

At the end stages of her life, when hospice was called, even her own children were not included in the care process, and I was not allowed to come and see her until less than a week before her death. One could say he was being very noble, taking care of her by himself in her last days, but it was really selfishness---he could have used the help. On that last visit, the message was given to me that I should pretend it was just a social visit, to chat and talk around her--she was nonverbal at this point, and had always been the leader of conversations, so imagine how that was. He didn't want me to touch or hold her, even though it was obvious that I would never see her again---said it would hurt her. I used to work in a hospital so I know how to be gentle with and handle people in the last stages of terminal illness...also, she was so gorked on morphine, I knew I could not add to her pain. Fortunately, my husband distracted him for a brief minute so I could hold her, tell her I loved her. We looked into each other's eyes & she smiled at me.

After she died, I received several unexpected, unannounced packages in the mail. Some of it was some of her personal effects, some of her jewelry, but most of it was family photographs (by that I mean photographs from her/my side of the family) and all sorts of paper ephemera through the years--cards and notes that I had written for her as a child, drawings, postcards when I was older and traveled, notes from my children---she saved them all, so it was obvious she loved me. At first I thought he was extending an unexpected kindness...then I realized he wanted to get rid of anything that had to do with me.

I learned that he went their whole house & purged everything, including all their furniture---this was the furniture from his previous marriage, that he forced on her, not her taste, that she polished and took care of for years---but within months of her death, he tossed.

I went to visit her grave once--she had always talked of wanting to be cremated--and saw the headstone for their dual plot, with his name above hers--always on top, even in death. I drove by their/his house, which had been completely redone on the outside---it didn't look like her anymore---it looked like him---neutral colors, plain angles---cold.

My point is, if she had lived, probably nothing would have changed in our relationship. He would have been jealous, controlling, preventing us from seeing each other and talking to each other, excluding my family from family events, she would have let it continue status quo, and I would have been as hurt and bewildered as ever.

So, while I wish she was still on earth to enjoy life, as she died much too young, I know that much of my grief was for something I longed for and never would have had, anyway, and that has made it tolerable.

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Wow and Welcome aboard this Big ole boat of ours. That was a very moving post to read. I lost my wife 6 months this very Sunday. Circumstances were very different but end result of this disease is the Same. I am glad to hear you are doing ok now. Welcome and Sending Prayers.

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I don't know what your beliefs are, but maybe now you can talk to your sister as long as you want and whenever you want. Why would you have hurt your sister by touching her? Mom wasn't in pain so not on any pain med and I couldn't help but rub her arm and forhead in the final few moments and kept saying mom, mom. I hope I didn't hurt her as she was starting to go under and couldn't say anything if I was. But she did turn her head toward me. The hospice nurse nodded like I was doing the right thing. Your relationship with your sister will always be there.

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Welcome, and thank you so much for such an insightful post. I think it speaks volumes in saying that we as human beings really ARE conditioned to handle grief and loss, even though initally it may seem like things will never get any better. The emotions vary so often, everyone's circumstances are different, but all in all, most of the time the outcome is the same: we make it through, our thoughts become clearer over time and we are able to process the "whys" more and more clearly over TIME.

I guess, even though I am still in the throes of grief myself, I can admit that I really do believe that everything happens for a reason. I am so very sorry you missed such valuable time with your sister; thinking of all of those years when she was essentially alone, unable to really reach out to anyone, makes me so sad. Your last sentence is very revealing, and I can see that you are definitely a person who is in touch with her emotions. If you haven't already, I would suggest getting all of your thoughts together in a blog or another journal of some type.

My grandmother died in 1995, three weeks before I got married. I still don't quite understand the reasons for this. But, I HAVE COME TO ACCEPT IT. My mother just passed away in February, three weeks before my son was born. When I found out I was pregnant, I cried buckets. It was exactly the wrong time. My mom needed me, she was sick. I knew I would most likely be in for a high risk pregnancy with lots of bedrest. I was right. And my mom got sicker as the weeks went by. When she died, as the only child I was left to make all of the decisions myself. I swear I think I was on auto-pilot then, and up until Mother's Day. That day I believe something in me snapped, and I came out of the shock. Now I do think that God knew He was going to take her from me, and gave me Ian to soften the blow a bit. And although it is so hard, essentially trading one life for another in this house, since she lived with us, he is truly a miracle in every sense of the word...for more reasons than one.

In all honesty, I saw the title of your post, rolled my eyes and thought, "Oh, here we go again, someone telling me how they finally 'saw the light' and they feel so much better, their loved one is at peace and they are learning ot live with that, 'time heals all wounds' blah blah blah." I stand corrected...you have given me a lot to think about, and I'm sure you will do the same for a lot of people on this site.

I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you again for sharing with us.

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Your sister loved you very much, she kept all of your letters and cards. It is like the Color Purple no one can take that sister bond away. And in the end the controlling person has no one to control anymore. I admire you for not sounding bitter for the time lost. You were able to see her and able to hold her.

As for him I suppose he is not worth a second of your thoughts. He has his own demons to chase away....whatever that maybe.


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What a story. My heart aches for you. It does sound like even though your sister made some effort to rebell her life was dominated by this repulsive man.

A similar story occurs in our family.

And the similar emotion of helplessness.

Throw in her death, blind and alone in the nursing home...and we'd almost have the same post.

But love and understanding does heal us...your post gives hope for that.

Take care and thanks for telling this story.'

Much love,


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I want to thank all who replied, as I was not expecting a single reply, I just wanted to express my feelings, which I know are very raw and difficult for some to read. But everyone who replied, you helped me, very much....so much that I printed your replies to keep forever. anothersister

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Another Sister.

How much more tragic can life be than loves kept at arm's length?

You have been suffering in grief for practically your whole life. Tortured.

How much more cruel could this man have been.

I pray your sister is in heaven and that one day you will be holding hands and kissing each other's cheeks.


Thank you so much for sharing your profound pain and life with all of us. You are a very courageous woman.

Cindi o'h

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