Saturday, May 03, 2014

Grief in Morning

The obituary of my father.
My experience is that the stages of grief, as much as they exist, aren't linear. And it's not necessarily true that you re-go through them if you'd started grieving early -- something I know I did when my mom was dying and I've certainly been doing now. At least the way I experience them.
The trick is from minute-to-minute or hour-to-hour, week-to-week, you never know what's going to hit you. I went to get his personal effects today with my sister. We drove to the physical rehab place thinking it wouldn't be such a hard job to pick up his stuff.
We were way wrong. Nurses came in to tell us how much they liked my dad and how he told them he was dying and they cried and that he was at peace now. So then of course we cried and everyone started crying and it was much harder than we thought it was going to be.
And to make mourning more difficult -- maybe -- there's the part of it which is dragged out. If someone's been sick and then getting better you might find yourself dealing with grief or what we might call "potential grief" for a while.
For my dad, 5 years ago was cancer. Which he beat. The chemo sucked. It was really awful. I remember him asking me if I could get some marijuana. This is my Dad we're talking about. I was stunned That's how much he hurt. Of the four of us kids I was actually the least likely to know where to score some (and I worked in theater -- what a dork I am -- I've since got much better connections).
And although eight months before he broke not just one but two vertebrae in his back and in the meantime became legally blind he was able to function (primarily with the day-to-day care my eldest brother was able to give him). He was, for most all that time, able to go to dinner, tell us all how much he hated computers (yet still answer emails), and read (his new historical interest was the period between the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 and the writing of the Constitution).
When the time came, my father died without a long and drawn-out horrible time. Just four days ago I'd picked him up and sat him in a nice chair in the "lounge" of the rehab center. He wasn't in chronic pain. He was just tired. We sat and talked about stuff. He was very animated when he was asking about my business and what I was up to. Pretty much the way I remember my dad all the time.
I spoke to my dad about 12 hours before he passed away. I suspect I was the last of us kids to talk to him. Mostly he said the same thing to each of us. He said he was "done".
To me, though he sounded what I might actually call cheery. I asked him if he wanted me to come to visit him that night and he said "No, no, no" -- he'd see me that weekend and it would be fine. But he didn't, he passed away in his sleep instead. No long painful goodbye. That would have probably hurt him more than anything I suppose.
The nurses told my sister and me how kind "Mr. Dan" was. They told us that he was in a better place -- like it was their medically professional and informed prognosis -- they knew he was.
He trusted his nurses so I see no reason we shouldn't either.

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