Dealing with the death of a family member

Discussion in 'Community' started by dethl, Aug 15, 2004.

  1. dethl macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2002
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #1
    I'm just now posting this even though it has been a bit more than 3 months since it happened. I'm doing this to get some emotions out, and get some talking going on, so I can start the road to recovery.

    On May 9th, early morning, I was at college. I got a phone call from my older brother. He had told me that my mom had called him and told him that my father had a heart attack and had collapsed, and paramedics were doing CPR and whatnot. About an hour later, I get a phone call from my mother informing me that my father had died. I got a ride from some friends and travelled 5 hours straight home. Even after I had gotten home, I couldn't sleep. It wasn't until I took a couple benedryl that I got around 6 hours of sleep. We had him buried in Dallas, TX, and I've been recovering ever since then. We go by Jewish traditions, so I'll be returning to the gravesite to put a headstone there, but I'm in no rush to do that.

    Any macrumors members out there that have had a similar experience and have some advice for me? No offense, you guys don't have to tell me the usual "I'm sorry" and stuff. I've heard it so many times, I've become numb to it. When I do get back to college (a week from now), I'll be getting some psychological help.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    "Between the Hedges"
    #2
    I received a similar call about 17 years ago about my dad. He had a heart attack when he arrived at work. He was gone immediately, but they wouldn't say so on the phone, only to come to the hospital, about an hour away. We drove (my brother and I and our wives, mom went in a police car, she worked at the county courthouse) the whole way hoping that he would be OK. He wasn't... and it was devastating. From one moment to the next my life changed. He was 64 and one month away from retirement.

    Unfortunately, 6 weeks later we found out that mom had lung cancer. She lasted about 6 more months. She passed away at my brother's house in the middle of the night. We were able to be there with her. She was 58.

    There are no words to say to take the pain away. But there is a fellowship among those who have shared similar grief, so I do feel your pain.
     
  3. MacDawg macrumors P6

    MacDawg

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2004
    Location:
    "Between the Hedges"
    #3
    You asked for some advice too... so here goes...

    When you are able, start collecting pictures and other stuff and find something special to hold on to... I wear my dad's ring now, but you could find something to just use as a special remembrance

    Write down things that you remember... stories and things, so that later you won't forget some of the good memories... they are fresh now, but 20 years from now they will have faded... favorite sayings of your dad, special stories, memories you had, etc. Your children later won't have the opportunity to know your dad, so you can share with them this way by showing them some of the things you collect and some stories

    You could even ask those who were close to him to write down their favorite things and build a book of memories to share with your mom and family

    Try to use holidays, and special days (like his birthday, your parents anniversary, etc) as times to remember the good things and celebrate his life instead of mourning and grieving his loss

    Most of all... keep talking and try not to internalize your feelings, seek out a good friend or someone that you can share with, and then share, share, share your feelings

    I know how tough it is... and I still think about them all of the time, especially when my children did anything... graduate HS, graduate college, had sports events, etc. and it will be especially difficult when they both get married

    But you will get through it... sometimes you may think you won't, but you will

    Hang in there
     
  4. virividox macrumors 601

    virividox

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    Manila - Nottingham - Philadelphia - Santa Barbar
    #4
    this past year has been tough for me, last october my grandmother passed away; but about 2 weeks before that my childhood bestfriend died in a car accident; i dont know how i got over itl i think im still grieving now; but talking to people helps and just rememebring what was good about them
     
  5. Neserk macrumors 6502a

    Neserk

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    #5
    When I was in college my mom had breast cancer. She did survive but even when a parent does there is still considerable trauma. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me. Then I discovered that many things are grieved.

    My parents didn't tell me until after I got home. I had about 3 days to mentally prepare for it -- she had a masectomy which brings up a lot of other issues. Her having cancer also means that my 3 sisters and I each have a 25% chance of getting breast cancer.

    Last week I found out that my grandmother (her mother) also has breast cancer. She is 85 so they just removed the lump and do to her declining health won't do chemo or anything. That is bad enough but I believe my risk factor just went up.

    Hereditary cancer is a double whammy because it not only affects the person who gets it but those who possibly inherited it.

    So, not exactlly the same but similar. It sucks. I hate it. I feel for you.
     
  6. Neserk macrumors 6502a

    Neserk

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    #6
    Advice: check out your support system. I had to go outside of my family for it. There is nothing wrong with that. Some people find joining grief groups helpful. Others find one on one help useful. Whatever you feel is normal, anger, depression, numbness, whatever. Don't feel guilty for your feelings, they are yours. How you feel will change over time and that is normal too.
    Make sure while you are giving support to other members of your family that you are getting support for yourself, too.

    This is going to sound funny but I think it will make sense when I'm done. When my cat died last year (he was 9, so young for an indoor cat) I was devastated. I went through all my pictures of him and made a collage as kind of a memorial. It took me over a year to put it up. Everytime I saw it I felt terribly sad again so I didn't want it greeting me every morning. Now I see his picture and I miss him and some of his oddities (keep in mind it has been a year) but it doesn't hurt to see the pictures anymore so I have it hanging up.

    Now, if I feel this way about my cat you can imagine how intense your feelings might be about your father. So do what helps you and stop when it ceases to help and come back to it later if you choose to.
     
  7. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2004
    Location:
    Andover, MA
    #7
    Last December, a few weeks before Christmas, I found my father-in-law dead in bed; he'd died after my mother-in-law got up. He'd been sick, but his death was a complete surprise. He'd been like a second father to me, and I was devastated. He was also the first person I'd ever seen dead but not in a funeral home. I had to keep my 3-year-old in the dark while letting my wife and mother-in-law know.

    I deal with it by watching videos of him, remembering him in other ways as well. It sounds dumb, but, to me, he isn't dead. I mean, of course I know that he is dead, but as long as I remember him, he isn't, to me. So far, I've dealt with it pretty well. My wife has been much worse, but is getting better. My 3 (now almost 4) year old has had varied degrees of success dealing with it. She certainly didn't move on as well as I would have expected for her age.

    Time is the best thing for any pain, it seems. But that only makes sense to someone who's already realized it themselves after enough time has passed for them. In the midst of a loss, it seems as thought there will never be a time when it doesn't hurt. But that time will come.
     
  8. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #8
    I understand, having lost my Dad 12 years ago. I had called him up the night before since it had been a couple weeks or so since I last talked with him. He did not sound well, groggy if you will. Got the call from my sister the next morning with the bad news. Come to find out that he had been failing health for a week. Won't get into the details why no one bothered to tell me.

    The solace that I found at that point was that my Dad seemed to have held out till at least my call.

    Peace for me came further in trying to remember and live by the lessons that he gave me through my growing up. And trying to share those lessons with any that will listen (when the time is right).

    For me it was also helpful to be involved in things that meant much to my Dad. The Heart Association, St. Judes Children's Hospital, stopping and helping those in need. And once you start, you'll find that it is a tradition that is easy to keep up.

    More recently on 9/11 living close to Dulles Airport, my lover and I brought some of the stranded travelers home for dinner and a shower. Allowing them to send emails and make phone calls when ever the phones worked. This is somewhat a tradition that my folks did when we went "home" to CT for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The family home was just miles from the rest stop on the CT Turnpike (AKA I395 now). The men folk would go out there and find families that were a long way from being home, and bring them to our home for a warm dinner.

    My Dad was in law enforcement since 17 (as an MP during WWII) till retirement. In retirement he never forgot those that serve in blue. In my youth we had a neighbor a few streets away that held his family hostage for almost a day. My dad brought them coffee and sandwiches every few hours. I honored his actions back when we had the snipper shootings in the DC area. I kept a cooler of iced water and a box filled with snacks in my car. Anytime I saw an officer on duty at a school and such, I stopped and made sure that they were taken care of.

    Sorry for being so long winded. But I hope that by sharing, you will see some ways that you can keep busy (which helps), and that you can honor everything good that your own father has shown you through the years.
     
  9. dethl thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2002
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #9
    I talked to my father on the phone 3 hours before he died (10 pm, died officially past 1 am). In fact, I was the only one of his kids (I have an older brother and younger sister) who got to talk to him. I'm very glad my mother asked him if he wanted to talk to me.
     
  10. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040

    gwuMACaddict

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2003
    Location:
    washington dc
    #10
    my ex-gf lost her father to lung cancer when she was in middle school, she's now entering her first year of med school. she still has breakdowns when she misses his so badly that she doesnt know what to do. it's always made her feel better to remember the really amazing times that they shared together, and to concentrate on her faith as a religious individual. best wishes for you and your fam.
     
  11. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    #11
    My father died 30 years ago due to cancer, I was in the Air Force at the time on Active Duty. In his case it was expected. It is still never easy.

    My mother died March 25th of this year, Alzheimer's.

    I think that you are doing the correct thing, which is to talk about the loss. Like others have said is to remember the good times that you had. You will always remember and they will occupy a special place in you heart.

    If you are having trouble dealing with the situation, then counseling is a good option. Its the talking about your feelings that really helps.
     
  12. mymemory macrumors 68020

    mymemory

    Joined:
    May 9, 2001
    Location:
    Miami
    #12
    Just one answer:

    "The only pain we should be affraid of is the love we hold"

    I'm here in New York, my father has leukemia back in Venezuela. When I got here I didn't call that much because I was in a process of "making my own life" and every time I called him he was all exited. Now I am calling him 3 times a week, good phone bills (around $100) but he is not missing me. I am sharing with him more things every time and he is giving me his advices.

    When my grandfather died my father took my grandfathers hat and is the only thing he has from him.

    The best thing we can do is to recognize what we learned from them, to recognize their legacy. I have many behaviour from my father even I was closer to my mother.

    We are part of them, with good and some bad things we heritage. For sure what we can do is to give them what we can and think a lot from them.

    My loves ones still close but I just want to give them a nice good bye when the times comes.
     
  13. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #13
    If you are like me, that call means so much than any ring, mug, or certificate.
     
  14. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #14
    Good for you. Sometimes we don't know what we have lost until it is gone...
     
  15. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2003
    Location:
    Northern Virginia
    #15
    one thing that I want to mention. I did peer counseling for many years. It is easier to make peace now than later. As loving as I speak of my Dad here, it was not a bed of roses. There was good and bad. I have chosen to to look at the good.

    I grew up thinking families should be more like the Brady's and the Partridges's; rather than the Bunkers. Or even going back further, like what the "Beever" went through.

    I know from talking with others, that it can be more like Dante's Hell. So one size does not fit all. There are some sins that are hard to forgive. Many more are easier if one opens one heart.
     
  16. vniow macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    I accidentally my whole location.
    #16
    It looks like I'm going to be dealing with this sometime later this year as well, one of my aunts is dying from lung cancer and she doesn't have all that long to live, my parents and my sister are going over back to Oklahoma next week to visit but they didn't invite me because since I'm queer, that would just stir up the family even more than it is now so they said so it looks like I'm not going to be able to see her before she passes on...

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Neserk macrumors 6502a

    Neserk

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    #17

    that sucks... how old are you? Are you able to just go on your own?
     
  18. vniow macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    I accidentally my whole location.
    #18
    I'm 20 and quite broke. Plus last time I told any extended family I was queer, I was assaulted by one of them so I'm a bit wary...
     
  19. Neserk macrumors 6502a

    Neserk

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    #19

    Geesh... I would strongly recommend that you find some way to get closure with her. Can you call or write?
     
  20. vniow macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2002
    Location:
    I accidentally my whole location.
    #20
    Looks like I'm going to be able to go out there, but only for a day. I'll only get to see her pretty much, no one else. Apparently I'd stir the **** too much if I showed up to the actual reunion where everyone else is there.

    *sigh*
     
  21. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2003
    Location:
    UK
    #21
    my mother died when i was 10 (15 now) it was from bowel cancer and i we knew she was going to die for about 6 months.

    i went to a therapist as my dad made me but i hated it the person was patronizing and treated me like i was a two year old i went three times got angry and told her to f*** off, i ran out of the building and went home.

    it may be different for some people but i found therapy horrible. the way i did get over it was one of my friends at school's dad died a week latter he went rock climbing in the alps and fell off a cliff face. it was completely out of the blue for him as he opened the door to two police men that told him the news. to have a friend that is going through the same thing made it allot easier for me to get over as we didn't have to continuously feel awkward and sorry for each other as we were in similar situations.
     
  22. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    Jul 19, 2002
    Location:
    キャンプスワ&#
    #22
    My mother died of cancer when I was 10. Her situation took a bit longer but was expected. Difficult times needless to say.

    After her death, I moved to another state to live with an aunt and uncle (mother's brother). My aunt's father was living with us. He died when I was 12. He was old, but pneumonia finally caught up with him.

    And then my uncle died of a heart attack when I was 14.

    I don't think that you ever get over it. You just learn to deal with it. For me, I try to remember as much as I can about them during the holidays and their birthdays. I also find that sometimes talking about it/sharing with others helps.

    Sushi
     
  23. Neserk macrumors 6502a

    Neserk

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    #23

    That is good. Remember this is for *you.* Not to be crass but when she is gone it isn't going to matter to her one way or the other. It is the survivors who suffer the loss...
     
  24. James L macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2004
    #24

    Hey,

    First off, as a fellow man and as a paramedic who has been at countless scenes like you described I am sorry. I know it isn't all you want to hear, but it is from the heart.

    Are you familiar with the 5 stages of grieving? It is a model used to describe the grieving process many people go through. it is generic, and not always truly accurate, but it is a pretty common thing. A short version of it is:

    1) Disbelief / Denial.

    2) Anger.

    3) Bargaining.

    4) Depression.

    5) Acceptance.

    I know when I lost a relative I went through this process very much. I was initially shocked when I heard about her death, and had a short period of time completely denying to myself that it could have happened. I got mad, chewed out others around me, punched a wall or two, etc. I found for me the bargaining phase was a real "what if period". I knew she was sick and needed help and had tried to talk to her often about it, as well as talked with other family members about it. The long and short of it was that no matter what we did she wouldn't get help, which was her choice. This didn't matter though, I blamed myself for not trying harder. I was very depressed for a period of time, which affected my diet, sleep, moods, etc. I don't know when I entered the acceptance phase, but one day I just realized that I was at peace with her death, and did many of the things people have already mentioned (organized thoughts, personal belongings, visited a place we shared often, etc). I know have good thoughts of my time with her on this earth and smile when I think of her.

    Allow yourself to grieve. If you need to walk, do it. If you need to talk to someone, do it. Counselling can work wonders for some people, not so much for others. I highly recommend it to people. Crying is ok, do it when you need to. Remember that there is nothing wrong with grieving.

    Take good care of yourself, though this may not be a time when you really care about it. Try to eat a good diet, even if forced. Take your vitamins, and exercise often. Get as much sleep as you feel you need, and lots of fresh air. The more you attempt to keep your body well the more it will help your mind deal with things.

    Finally, is there something you can do in your father's honor? Was he a part of an organization you could volunteer with, or could you volunteer to help others with something in his name? Could you buy him a bench in a park you could visit from time to time, or work with a charity in his honor? Spending time helping others can be a great thing for you, you may find it very rewarding to help others right now.

    I wish you the best in a difficult time, and we are always here to talk.

    Cheers,

    James
     
  25. dethl thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2002
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    #25
    Yeah, I've heard of this before. I think I'm still at stage 1. I'm still very emotionally numb, although I do understand that my father is dead. I will be seeking therapy as soon as I get back into college (this Friday to be exact), so I hope I'll be able to get through the rest of the steps with a guiding hand. I'm tired of being emotionally exhausted. My girlfriend dumped me after my father died because I became a zombie. Then again, I didn't talk to very many people after he died, though I ready now.

    My father was so involved in my town, so many memorials popped up from other people. At the temple, there are already 2 or 3 memorials in honor of him. The Lions Club honored him, he got a ceremony held for him by the Masons. I'll look into memorials in honor of him. Right now I don't exactly have any money (will change with going back to college though :) ) And I don't have the time to help others until I get settled back. I really hope college helps the healing process. Being there with more friends will help. Not to mention, I can play Dance Dance Revolution till I collapse (I really won't do that, but I'll play a bit more).
     

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