Bereaved family and friends

For anyone who has lost a family member or friend to cancer to share their feelings and support one another.

12 weeks since Dad passed

Dios
Posted by

Hello all,

Just wanted to write something down. It seems like every hour/day/week/month is a milestone since my Dad passed away. Another moment where I can't talk to him or just be in his presence. I drove back home for the weekend to stay with Mum and it felt incredibly surreal. I still hope to see Dad there to greet me at the door as I pull into the driveway as he used to do or open the door when i ring the bell. 

I keep seeing him where he would be, where I took him for granted. Standing making some lunch or dinner in the kitchen, sitting in 'his' spot on the sofa or in his music room playing one of his many guitars. His voice plays over in my head every time i expect to see him, A simple 'hiya' or him calling my name. Something mundane like if i want a cup of tea or some toast in the morning. 

The room where he passed away still holds a sense of Dad in there. The fireplace has a particular smell that stays in that room. I walk in and talk to him, i still see him lying in the bed that we moved in there knowing that's where he would die. Those moments play back in my mind of when I had to move him, try get him to eat something or take medication. All he wanted to do was sleep and I understood. It was close. Medicinal drivers beeping at times, Dad suddenly becoming lucid for 5 minutes then back to his dreamland. 

It was like watching a movie, a very sad movie that you wanted to end. To walk away from back to the comfort of 'reality'. Where Dad wasn't sick and we all get on with life as normal. I like to think there is an alternate universe where life carries on as it was before Dad was diagnosed in September last year. That we were planning a big family holiday for Mum and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary. They met when they were 16/17 and married a few years later. Dad would be 70 in February next year. A double whammy celebration. I can only imagine the joy of those events, the laughter, the coming together of friends and families. How much Dad thrives around people. 

Instead these will be moments that we will sorely grieve for him. Thinking about how he should be there with us to celebrate. Cancer never gave him or us a chance.

I think about Dad all the time. It can be a little thing or a bad day at work, the match at the weekend, the news, maybe just mundane stuff like getting a new exhaust on the car. It seems like everything is significant now. The things we take for granted. The moments we would now cherish forever if we could live them again. I've never know a life without my Dad. This isn't right, it isn't real, it isn't my life. (denial much?!).

I feel constantly weak from the grief, i wear a mask every day to work, when i get home, when i am with my Mum or sister. I try to be strong for them all. Because i was in shock at the funeral and didn't cry, people were coming up to be and said my Dad would be proud because I was so strong. Eh?! I was broken, in pieces. A huge part of me was missing. Lying in a coffin that I had carried into the church and knew I had to carry out again and then lower into a grave. I was not strong. I was scared and I was numb.

As the numbness wore off I started to feel the huge loss and that feeling stays with me now 12 weeks since Dad left. Visiting the grave yesterday as I do every time I go home, left me feeling empty. I drove 400 miles home trying to remember everything about him, the details. I often wonder if i'll ever be in his presence again. As I've said before i'm not religious but I truly hope and wish it all to be true so that I can spend even just another moment with my Dad. 

To have 5 more minutes with him before cancer took hold would be like every amazing thing that has happened in my life rolled up into one moment. 

Dio x

movingtables
Posted by

I read your post today and thought your description was so well written about how you're feeling.

my dad also passed away just over 3 months ago and like you it's the little things like when we pull up to the house

and he isn't standing by the kitchen window pottering about in the sink etc.

 I also thought to myself about a parallel universe where he still exists. I thought only i could think of that so was pleased you did also lol.

how we are feeling about our dads is the price we pay for having such a great parent and it's then i try and tell myself some people don't get this experience so in a way (although it doesn't feel like it )  we are lucky.

long story short my dad had stomach cancer and it was this time last year he started having terrible pain in his back so he went the doctors and they told him he had shingles without the rash. can you believe that ?

this went on for months until he started throwing blood up which prompted a cam down his throat to be told it was a stomach ulcer.

again long story short a few months later had another cam only to be told cancer of the stomach. he died 4 months later.

it's still raw in our minds and replaying the last moments / breath that dad took is just our minds processing this tragedy. 

I'm not a religious person but when i look around at this world and realise it was created by " something/someone " i get a sense of comfort in the fact that it's not so far fetched that one day we may infact see our loved ones again.

i hope the pain will feel less intense for you as the days/weeks months progress.

i try and imagine if it was me who passed away and i was looking down on this earth seeing my family so distraught about losing me i'd want them to remember the nice memories and try and live their lives with more happiness rather constant sadness.

Just remember that feeling a bit better about it all doesn't mean we stop caring.

I miss my dad terribly also but i know he is with me, he is also in me as i am wearing his DNA.

be nice to yourself.

Dios
Posted by

Hi Movingtables,

We are so lucky to have had such amazing Dad's. I know several people who didn't have the same relationship with theirs for numerous reasons, divorce, traditional authoritarian father types, early death etc. To have had 41 years of my Dad in my life I am so grateful, so thankful for his kindness, advice, love and generosity. 

My Dad died from stomach cancer too. At first they put it down to bad indigestion. 7 months later he went for a endoscopy and they nearly missed the tumour growing in his upper stomach. It's a very similar image I have in my head as you do of my Dad taking his last breathe. We were all with him at home. It was a relief in a way, he was no longer suffering but that was it, he was gone. Such an intensely sad moment. I was in shock for about 4 weeks after. I've lost people in my life but Dad was special as i'm sure your's was too. 

It's really interesting that you imagine it's you who has passed away looking down on everyone. That's a really nice way to visualise what may be going on, getting an overview of everyone's life.

I know what you mean in regards to wearing your Dad's DNA. My Dad's Mother died of breast cancer as did his sister and then his Dad died of lung cancer. It's almost inevitable. On my Mum's side it's all heart attacks and heart disease. What can you do!?  I would prefer that, I've seen a couple of times now what cancer can do and it is nasty. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. Not suggesting I would want to die of a heart attack but if i had to choose you know what i mean. 

There isn't a day goes past I don't think about him, I was out at a concert last night and they were talking about a place my Dad loved going to to play his guitar and sing. Did not expect that and afterwards I wanted to tell him about it. How good the guitarists were and talk about the music in general. That's what we would do. Shared passion and all that. 

May our Dad's forever watch over us until we join them.

Dio x

KCTM2808
Posted by

Hi there Dio 

I came across your post and it mirrors exactly my thoughts and feelings right now. I lost my Dad only a week ago. So we haven’t yet even had the funeral. But the pain I’m feeling is beyond unbearable. 
Dad was diagnosed in January of this year with Lung cancer, and due to other health complications, was unable to attempt any form of treatment. We were told he’d likely see symptoms within 6-9 months. Dad was a fighter. And never let anything bother him, though it did slow him down. He had one or two short hospital stays but each time these were unrelated, until approx four weeks ago. That was when we found out the cancer had spread and doctors said we were looking at months not years. I was devastated. How could my Dad have been doing so well, but this disease was crippling his body. 
anyway, fast forward four weeks and Dad was doing great. Laughing, joking, eating drinking. Until last weekend, where he didn’t feel too great (we thought another infection perhaps) , and then almost instantly deteriorated until he passed with me by his side at home in his comfy chair on Tuesday. 
I try to be strong, and take comfort in knowing I kept him home, and that he didn’t have to suffer this disease for long. But the pain is excruciating. I’d do anything for five more minutes to sit and laugh with him. I’m at a very angry stage in my grief. I don’t think it’s fully hit me yet, and maybe it won’t until we’ve had the funeral, but I’m so so angry that my dad had to suffer this. I’m angry that everyone’s life just goes on when part of mine has been violently ripped away from me.

I just wanted to thank you for your post, as it’s helped knowing that how I feel is ok and normal.
sounds like we were very lucky to have such amazing Dads in our life.
take care!

K  

sarahlouise1973
Posted by

Hi Dio, 

Your latest post really resonated with me for a number of reasons. It's been 4 months for me since my Mum passed away. I seem to have long periods where I can hold it together and then suddenly I'll get that awful flashback where I'm back at the hospital and saying "Oh Mum, I'll see you sometime again, okay?" after she had passed. And then I'll just lose it for a few minutes. I also see her in the kitchen cooking or washing up whenever I go back home. It's where she hung out a lot of the time and where we chatted the most. When I went back home last time, my Dad waved me off at the door and it just didn't seem right without my Mum. She would always wave until the last minute until she was sure we had gone. Also knowing my Dad was walking back into the house alone cut me up. They managed to just about see in their 50th anniversary this year, but she was so sick she couldn't enjoy it. 

I also didn't cry at her funeral. I was also numb, also in shock, and expecting her to walk into the crematorium at any moment and say "What are you all doing? Who's in the box?" :D Silly, but that was her way. We gave her a great sendoff with her favourite music (Herb Alpert's Tijuana Taxi to come in and the theme from The Magnificent Seven to play her out) and that makes me smile. I know we did her proud. We have her ashes interred this Saturday. We've chosen a lovely tree as a memorial overlooking the forest near where she lived. But it just doesn't seem real. I think I've been in some kind of denial for the last few months. Perhaps it's been the whirlwind of arrangements and trying to be strong. I'm not sure. Christmas will be hard. That was her time. She would be busy planning it all now, asking us what we fancied doing, running recipes by me and asking what the kids wanted for Christmas. It's going to be hard. I think a lot of wine will be required. She would approve of that though. 

I'm not sure what happens now. My friends have stopped asking me how I am - I guess I put on the mask too and so they never really know how I am feeling. It's not their fault. I don't want to burden them and I hate fuss. I wonder if I should talk to somebody. I just don't know. I was looking through our old Facebook messages yesterday right back to 2010 and it struck me how she has been sick for so long, ten years pretty much. Many of my messages to her were asking how she was and her responding as positively as she could, but I can see how tired she was, how sick of being sick she was. I know we had to let her go and that she's at peace now. I'd also give anything just for another five minutes, just to say goodbye properly. 

I think things may just stay this way for a while for us newbies. I guess that's what we are. I hold onto some comfort that when the inevitable happens to my friends' parents that I will be able to offer some advice that comes from experience if they want it. 

Hope things get a bit better. Always here if you need a chat. It's just good to know there are others out there who understand. 

sarahlouise1973
Posted by

Hey Movingtables, 

I've also thought about the parallel universe where they are either still alive in some capacity and living a great life or they are on another plain where they can choose what they want when they want. I started thinking this really mad stuff like space is so inhospitable to humans, but allows spirits to move around freely. We're not supposed to be up there yet. :D 

I'm sorry to hear about your Dad too. Like you say, we were so lucky to have such great parents. It's not as common as we might think to have that. I know my Mum wouldn't want me to be too upset. She was tough to the end and she'd say "Oh don't be silly. Just get on with your life and enjoy it" if she could. The thing is, I'm not upset for me. I'm upset for her and that she didn't really know she was dying - she'd gone in with sepsis and went downhill so quickly. I'm upset knowing that she wasn't able to say goodbye or even really understand what was going on because she was dosed up on morphine. There was a moment at the end when she appeared to be lucid, but I'll never know. Did she know? Was she aware of how much love she was surrounded by? I hope one day that she can answer those questions. 

Take care of yourself. Let's all support each other. Always here for a chat, whether it's about how wonderful they were or a silly memory. x

Dios
Posted by

Hi K,

So sorry to hear about your Dad  Everything must feel so raw right now. All the organising and dealing with the funeral and telling people is so unreal. That pain you feel shows how much your Dad means to you. It's the kind of pain you never want to feel again but know that it is because you love your Dad to the core of your being. 

The last 9 months must have been a roller coaster, knowing what was going on inside your Dad, hoping that somehow something miraculous would happen. I hoped every day that it would either disappear on its own or some new treatment would suddenly become available. I knew that this wouldn't be the case but without hope, there were only tears.

You did right by your Dad from what you have written. He would wanted to have been home, with his loved ones. My Dad hated hospitals, was terrified of dying in one and didn't want to go near a hospice. He wanted to be in his little castle surrounded by his loved ones. We looked after him, the district nurses were great too. In my own way I wish my Dad couldn't have had treatment and it had been relatively quick in the end. The chemo destroyed him and he suffered greatly, but he was a trooper and dealt with it amazingly well. It sounds like your Dad got to enjoy the time he had although far too short. I'm sorry that your Dad had to suffer this and i'm sorry that you have been torn in two by what has happened. F@ck cancer and everything about it. It took away our Dad's and it deserves all the anger we can give it.

Here's to our amazing Dad's, may they be somewhere amazing sipping on a nice cold beer or the likes. 

Dio x

Dios
Posted by

Hi SarahLouise,

It's such a weird club to belong to, losing someone you love to cancer. Then there are those who are dealing with cancer and those who have beaten cancer. One day I hope we'll look back and see it in the distance as a disease of the past. We can stick two fingers up at it and know no-one will have to suffer it's wrath ever again. 

What you have written is exactly how i'm feeling. It hit me yesterday at lunch at work as I was telling someone that I had a dream about my Dad and out of nowhere i started to well up, my eyes started leaking and i had to leave. I was fine talking about it but it just smacked me in the face again. I know it will keep happening but I know it's because my Dad means so much to me and the way you talk about your Mum it's exactly the same. it just doesn't seem right does it?! This can't be the reality now.

This Christmas will be brutal, but I know we have to deal with it. So many firsts without Dad yet to come. I keep telling myself he's here with us all. It's the only thing that gets me through. I will have to close my eyes and picture him there with us, hear his voice in my head and feel his presence in the air. He asked that we carry on as normal after, how could that be possible? But i'm going to do my best to honour his wishes and try to lift everyone at what will be an incredibly tough time. 

I don't think people want to ask how we are doing either because they don't want to bring it up or because for them it's been a while now and they don't see that it would still be having an impact on us. For us on the other hand it's still so raw, still so unreal and still so sad. I want people to ask about my Dad, i want to talk about him and i want to remember him every day. 

As you have said, we are now somewhat equipped to understand those in a similar situation, to help friends who will go through the loss of a loved one. Although we all grieve in our own way, being there for someone is the most important thing. Even if it's to say nothing. 

Your parents sound like mine, they would always be waving until you were out of sight. Such a nice sweet thing to do, always big smiles on their faces. That sight when one of them is missing from the picture is heartbreaking every time. I phone my Mum everyday to check in on her, to tell her I love her and to ask how her day has been. It must be so lonely for her and it breaks my heart. I can only imagine your Dad is going through the same things as my Mum. I really worry about her but she is getting on and trying to keep herself busy seeing friends and family. My sister only lives a 2 minute drive away which helps me sleep at night.

Nice to know there are others out there who get it and feel the same. Losing a loved one must be one of the most painful things in life. I've never felt anything like this before.

Dio x

movingtables
Posted by

thanks for the reply  it was very kind.

i wish everyone calm and peace.

Lets be nice to ourselves for our loved ones sake