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Reflections on Loss -- There is Hope Here Too (long)


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I haven't posted much for months now. I intended to leave this site awhile ago, but find myself checking in from time to time because I just care about a lot of folks here and want to know how they're doing -- not so sure that's helped much....every loss or personal crisis of someone here tends to just hit me like it happened to my own family and me. What can I say....everyone here did become my second family because all of you did or are living through the same major life event as me. Maybe it seems so major to me since I don't have any family left now -- losing my mom to LC was my last blood relative that ever was in my life (and the few that are left that I know of....well, they might as well be strangers on the street -- I don't even know how to contact them and really don't care to: all of you literally know me better than them).

Anyway, this might ramble, but I thought I'd share some reflections/insights of what has happened since I lost mom....who knows, it might help someone else. I'm into my 17th month after losing mom -- and my journey with mom on the LC dx happened only 7 months after I had unexpectedly lost my dad (in eight weeks from dx to passing) to a different cancer.

Initially there was sheer shock for many months after mom passed. Quite frankly, that helped me deal with what I had to -- the world quickly demands much of a widow or family member who is the executor of their "estate"....the shock sort of numbed me emotionally so I could effectively deal with had to be done and that was a lot -- all those medical bills to boot. The real emotional boom didn't hit until the world didn't demand so much "official business" out of me.

Grief counseling didn't personally fit me -- I tried, but what I found was that all I was doing was consoling and supporting everyone else, rather than doing any real healing on me -- spend enough time as a caretaker and it's as if all I did was habitually go into caretaker mode....maybe that's just me. If it's appropriate to you, absolutely pursue it....you absolutely need to find what will nuture and support you best.

Having to deal with the "estate issues" put off my ability to even deal with personal items of my parents. To this day, I still have much sorting of personal items to go through. When I first began going through personal stuff, I couldn't do it for more than 5 minutes at a time without breaking down into tears. Then there's the issue of when you find something really personal, like my dad's counseling homework notes that included just how unhappy he was in his marriage.....things I didn't know about....well, that stops one in their tracks for a bit too.

For a long time now I've gone through the feelings of "they are just on a long vacation." And yes, there's the dreaded comments from friends who wonder why you're not done with all that estate stuff and want to occupy you with things that just are empty, unfulfilling activities right now -- they have no clue just how long it physically takes to deal with loss. And....those sorrowful thoughts of everything you change is something your loved one isn't part of.....many, many threads in this forum on those things....absolutely true.

A few insights though:

1. Don't be afraid to just be alone and let the racking sobs come for as long as they need to and as many times as they need to -- they seem to help, so I've found. Filling up time being busy just avoids the inevitable and makes things worse from what I can tell. Never have broken down with friends like I needed to.....it only happened when I was alone and let it happen. This goes for busy activities like "keeping house" too: you have no idea how bad my personal housekeeping has gotten at times -- pretty embarrassing to even think if someone had visited me or needed to stay overnight during some of our crazy weather.....many basics got left unattended for periods of time, like vacuuming all the cat hair out of my carpets/furniture or cleaning the shower -- the time I spent reflecting and "processing" my grief was more important than looking good for anyone else (of course, the minute it bothered me for me I tended to it....nurture self as self needs it).

2. To move forward with hope: reflect on all the qualities your loved one instilled in you -- you know....all those long conversations you had together; their experiences and wisdom on life; even their qualities that you admired so much in them.....recognize that you carry that in you too and can apply what they taught you in your life going forward. That's way cool in my book.

3. Form a new life for you: maybe this is more for children with parental loss but, as I sort through all the "stuff" around here.....many things really belonged as a part of my parents' life, not mine -- things they admired and collected, but have no meaning to me.....at first, I was going to hang on to that sort of stuff....now, I'm not. I need to make room for me and the new that my life will be. If a thing brings me pleasure or is truly sentimental to me then I'll keep it, otherwise it's outta' there -- otherwise I have no "room" to accept my future life. I'm finding this occurs in waves -- i.e. some stuff I was gonna' hang onto several months ago is now OK to get rid of....it's a process....just let it be that: a process.

Anyway, this was sort of an update on me in a round-about way -- I'm doing fine and just found I needed to find a way to cultivate peace in my life after loss. I literally can't stay in the pain: I haven't even told everyone here the host of physical difficulties that occured as a result of this journey on me: in a nutshell, I'm not willing to die or have my quality of life compromised for something that is over for me, no matter how intense it was. This is a start at what I've learned so far....

Best Wishes,

Linda :)

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Just glad to hear that you are still putting one foot in fronnt of the other. Seems sometimes like that is all you can do. I'm glad to hear of the idea of having my own life, independent of all of the cancer hangovers. Can't imagine it yet, but glad to know it is out there.

Be gentle with yourself, and thanks for stopping in to help us along the way.


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Thanks for putting all that down in a post. It helps to read how others are dealing with all this. For myself, all the social security mix ups (they marked my 9 year old as deceased instead of my husband) were a nightmare but certainly kept my mind off the sadness. I hope there are better days ahead-- right now it doesn't feel that way.

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Many thanks for sharing these thoughts. Having just lost my dad 9 weeks ago, I am still in a fog. The roller coaster of emotions pretty overwhelming.

Thank you for giving me hope that there may be some light in the months ahead....



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