Bereaved family and friends

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

Lost my dad and feel like I’m drowning

bl84
Posted by

My dad passed away on 26th sept after a six year battle with oesophageal cancer which eventually spread to lymph nodes, lungs and liver. He had a hell of a battle, had his entire stomach removed, this op went wrong and then he had to have corrective surgery a year later, he was fed by a tube for months and months, he had so much chemo/radiotherapy I can’t even remember.

Dad died 4 days before I was due to give birth to my second child.

On the night he died I decided not to go back to his house to visit (I had been in the morning), deciding to go back the next morning as I was feeling extremely distressed and couldn’t stop crying, also had a cold and feeling exhausted in general being so heavily pregnant. He died at 11.45 pm, by the time I got back to his house at 1am he was already cold.

I can’t stop obsessing about why I didn’t go back, and why I denied myself the last chance to see him alive. I feel I let him down and cannot forgive myself. Throughout his illness he spent many months in hospital, I visited him every single day without fail - walking miles to the hospital after work every day for six months straight. Knowing I had visited every day I can not comprehend what stopped me from going to his house that last night. I feel so guilty, like he might have felt I didn’t care. Deep down I know that isn’t true but I can’t get past it.

I am also obsessing and having dreadful thoughts over cremating him, I keep imagining his body being burnt and it’s so awful I’m making myself feel sick. He wanted to be cremated, but I can’t stop thinking about it. I went to see him twice in the funeral directors, he looked absolutely terrible as he had already been dead more than three weeks by the time I visited (because of giving birth) and I keep picturing him laying there. I am glad I went, I talked to him and kissed his head etc, but I still can’t comprehend that he is actually dead. Even when I was standing there looking at his body I still couldn’t believe it, I could have sworn I could see his chest moving like he was breathing and I had to ask my husband if he could see it too. I feel like I’m going mad sometimes.

I just don’t know how I am ever going to be ok again, I feel so sad and if I was able to (without the kids needing me constantly) I feel I would be in bed crying all day. I just can’t believe this has happened and I will never be able to see, speak to or touch him again. I knew he was ill all these years but I never really expected him to actually die. Although he went through so much he was always positive and never let things get him down, he got on with his life and still went out / to work etc. He wasn’t sitting at home sick, so when people say at least he is out of pain now that feels weird because he was still enjoying his life, he wasn’t ready to die.

I have two kids and a great husband, so I’m not in the position, but I can totally see why some people feel they can’t go on after losing someone they love, it’s like a living hell.

SH27
Posted by

Hi bl84,

First of all I want to say I’m sorry for your loss and also congratulations on your baby. I’m sending you lots of strength and hugs at what I’m sure is a bittersweet time. I felt compelled to respond to you as I can relate to what you are saying. My mum passed away on 22nd September after being diagnosed with anal cancer in July. I can relate to your feelings of guilt, although I was with mum when she passed I feel guilty that she Passed away in hospital when she didn’t want to go there (she was only there just over an hour and we thought she was going to have some iv fluids for an infection and come home). I also feel guilty that maybe if we had sent her in to hospital sooner maybe she would have been around a little bit longer. I also relate to what you said about your dad not being ready to die, my mum was the same she desperately wanted to live and each piece of devastating news after her diagnosis hit her harder.

I think there will always be feelings of wishing we could have done something different or wishing we could have done more for our loved ones and that’s a normal part of the grief process. 

I have read a lot about grief in the past few weeks as like you I didn’t feel like I would be ok again. I read somewhere that although the grief doesn’t get any less, it consumes less of your energy over time. I’m starting to believe now that whilst I’ll never be the same again without mum that I will be ok and make her as proud as I can. 

I really hope that you can find some comfort knowing that you’re not alone in this. Take it one day at a time and look after yourself xxx

GBear
Posted by

Hello , I send my condolences for your loss of your Dad and congratulations for the birth of your child.

When we lose someone we love it kinda feels like we are drowning and an expression some here have used is rubber boats and arms bands are available to ride the wave. Because our emotional loss is like a giant wave about to drown us. From what you saying here you loved and dedicated your love to your Dad maybe in a way your mind was trying to protect you from watching him die so you only remember the good, the things you loved about your Dad. I lost a very good friend to cancer who was like a brother and I have at times tormented myself about not seeing him just before he died, then I think would he want me to see him this way, to him being weak and vulnerable. I like to think he feels better that I can remember the good and the respect I gave him.

Funerals are hard and him being cremated may be difficult and also so final that he has gone, but its also a time for remembering them and keeping the good alive. Loads of people here totally understand and what ever you decide there will be loads of support here.

Sending a gentle hug

  GBear Xxxx 

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1in1500
Posted by

The sentence ‘i feel I let him down and cannot forgive myself’ really stands out in your email. From the rest of your post this doesn’t seem to be the case at all. Ok, so you didn’t go to see him on what would be his last evening. You weren’t to know that it was his last evening. Plus you were not well &  heavily pregnant & I don’t think for one minute your Dad would have wanted anything other than for you to take yourself home & look after yourself & his grand child.  My Dad passed away in 2010. We left the hospital around 8-9 pm -no one warned us he may pass away in the night. At around midnight we got the call to say he had gone. We rushed back to the hospital to see him & spent time with him. It was surreal. The fact he was gone didn’t sink in for probably 6 months. Even though he was ill, he’d had bowel cancer spread to lungs and liver, I didn’t believe he was gone.  It does get easier, it’s very early days for you & you will still be in shock to a degree.  In relation to how you feel about cremation, the ‘person’ ie spirit has left & what remains is a shell. That’s how I processed my Dad being cremated. Please just hold onto the fact that you won’t always feel as bad as you do right now. X

1in1500