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How on earth do you cope with possible bereavement at Christmas?

(21 Posts)
ClareMarriott Sat 20-Oct-12 09:55:07

If everyone is aware of how ill your father is then enjoy Christmas because he's not dead yet and there is the possibility that your father will see his grandchild. As the jews might say, you're born, you die , let's eat !

cowboylover Sat 20-Oct-12 06:52:33

Sorry you are going through this.

My dad was diagnosed with liver disease in May 2008 and told me it was serious but he was dealing with it and we should look forward to Christmas together.

We did, it was a strange and quieter day than usual but still fun as a family. He died 28th December. Try and enjoy what you can and I would echo the advise of the instant Christmas, do what you can, don't put to much pressure on yourself and spend the time with your family.

limetimemummy Wed 10-Oct-12 23:42:28

im sorry you are having to face this.

My grandfather died on Christmas day (quite a few years ago now) but my mum died on New Years day in 2010 after having had breast cancer (she was 58) I too felt (and still do) angry that I was deprived of more time with mum, that my DD (now aged 7) missed out on having an amazing Nanna and that my dad lost his lifelong love.

Being brutally honest, Christmas time isn't quite the same now, but by starting to remember the happy times, talking quite openly about mum (and raising a glass at the Christmas dinner table) it has started to get a little easier when December comes around. I have found that I'm never alone at Christmas and New year (unless I want to be) and that helps a lot.

Although I really feel for you having the heartbreaking task of telling the children the saying of "focusing on the children helps to get you through each day" is so very true, they have a unique way of being able to make you smile without realising it, even on the darkest of days.

The only advice I can give is to take each day as it comes, try not to focus on whether it is Christmas or not. Enjoy the time you have and lean on those family and friends as much as you can/need to - they will be the ones that help you through. I too am the eldest of my siblings but we each leaned on each other and on our friends. Keep making lots of good memories with your dad smile

redwhiteandblueeyedsusan Wed 10-Oct-12 23:08:24

my dad died on my daughter's birthday. she spent most of the day in the relatives room colouring. later I did about 20 laps of asda to buy her food for a party as she so desperately wanted a party on her birthday. i may as well have head in a bubble. my dad would have wanted her to have a party.

you sort of get on with it, in shock, as best as you can. the waiting is worst. mil is terminal. she may not live to christmas either. knowing it is coming, soon is worse. you can't just forget it. it is there all the time. your ha may be able to pretend it is not happening but it does not mean youcan, or should.

ivykaty44 Wed 10-Oct-12 21:03:55

my own grandmother died on 5 December, many many years ago.

We had a celebration of christams as that was what she wanted as she didn't want all the children (cousins and us etc) to suffer any more due to her death (they had lost a mother the year previous) than they had already done

magnolia74 Wed 10-Oct-12 21:00:17

Alfie, thank you. I'm an adult losing her dad so can imagine as a child it's even harder to deal with sad

AlfieBear87 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:57:32

My DF died on the 20th December, nearly 20 years ago now. My mum was widowed with a 10 year old, a 9 year old and a 5 year old.

I was the 5 year old so don't really remember a lot about that first Christmas but what I do know is that it gets easier over time. Every year, we place some flowers on his grave on or around the 20th but then we enjoy Christmas Day as normal.

I think it's important to not feel guilty about your feelings. If the worst happens and you do lose him before christmas then of course it will make Christmas day hard. But don't feel guilty if you find yourself enjoying small moments of the day - watching your kids open presents etc. Keep in mind what your father would want - he certainly wouldn't want you to have a miserable Christmas.

All the best, I hope things work out as best as possible in this horrible situation.

magnolia74 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:38:36

Unfortunately he had to have his voice box removed 3 years ago when the primary cancer was diagnosed, he was in remission but got secondary cancer in the bone ( lungs now too)

This makes it hard for the kids as he can't talk to them. He does ok at his make do signs and writing stuff down but it means heart to hearts are out sad

Inaflap, I expect it will be the same with him as in an illness catching him and taking him quickly as he has just got over pneumonia but the consultant did say it will probably come back. Thank you, an instant Xmas is a good idea ( well at least a reason to shop early grin )

Inaflap Wed 10-Oct-12 20:20:47

Hi. I was in a similar situation last year. I knew that dad was not going to see this Christmas. We did not have a diagnosis until february but it had been fairly obvious that it was going to happen. I dreaded telling the children the most. They knew that grandpa was ill but not that it was terminal.

Like you i had spent most of this year just dreading the inevitable. As it was, it wasn't as bad in a wierd sort of way that is really hard to explain.
Actually, he became suddenly very poorly in March on a sunday evening, was rushed to hospital. We had no clue that it was curtains, he was sat in bed bossing the nurses ariound but his heart gave out so it was all really quick. It was very odd and sudden which was much better for him and actually for me as well. He would have hated being incapaciated and for saying he was a doctor he was a crap patient. Telling the kids was the worst bit. My eldest took it very badly and it affected him a lot for several months. I would get your DC to ask him all the questions about his life and family. Get them to go through old photo albums with him. This sort of oral history is lost so easily and it gives them something to share but also shows them that losing people is something we all go through.

Whatever happens, your children will want some sort of christmas. It might be worth prepping ages ahead so you can produce 'instant christmas' with minimal effort. Alternatively, he passes before, would it be worth doing something completely different say renting a cottage or taking your mum away abroad so that its a different experience?

My mum is coping ok and it is remarkable how resiliant people are. Actually it hit her more a few weeks ago. One thing that really helped us was that pa has typed out a list of all his banking, direct debits, etc and who to contact. This really helped. Having the kids around and showing them that granny was fine gave my mother a purpose and she had been under a huge strain during his illness. I am also worrying a bit about Christmas this year.

Take care of yourselves. Stockpile some food so you dont have to shop and make sure the paper work is tickety boo.

magnolia74 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:20:11

Cases, I'm so sorry xx

Chrissamissis, dh is supportive but he is a real optimist and I'm a realist smile

magnolia74 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:16:18

We lost my nan 2 days before Xmas 7 years ago and as awful as it was, it was sudden and we just go on with it.
It's the knowing and waiting that's making life seem so 'pointless' which I know is not how it should be.
All relatives live close by. I only live 2 roads away which I am so grateful for as I can be here for my mum at the drop of a hat.

Him and mum went and booked his funeral itinery last week shock
I can't even start to I shine how my mum is managing to stay so strong.
I would want to die without my dh sad

It's just so fucking unfair!!! He is a good man, strong, kind, loyal. He has fought for so long and for what......

ChrissasMissis Wed 10-Oct-12 20:12:42

Oh Magnolia - I was in your position exactly last Christmas (my Mum). Loss of a parent at any time is crushing, but at a time that is so geared towards families, well, it's unbearable. I'm so sorry that you don't feel supported by your DH.

My Mum's last day at home before she went into hospital was Boxing Day. This was her choice, as she wanted to have a Christmas Day at home with us (she died in mid-January). Have you discussed this with your Father at all? Do you know what he would like? There is a tremendous amount of drive and power to be found in knowing that you're fulfilling someone's wishes.

I am also the oldest and it fell to me to keep everyone buoyed up. It's amazing how you find you can dig deep and carry on. No-one else was going to ask the difficult questions or address the unpalatable, so it fell to me. The only way I got through was to think only about the task was directly in front of me at the time - the next hospital visit, shopping for things Mum had asked for, taking DS to see her...there is time later to grieve. Perhaps this is when your DH will come into his own?

Supporting everyone else is tough, so I would urge you to make sure you get a bit of time and breathing space (perhaps not easy with five children?!) for yourself and this may sound obvious, but focus on your parents - help your Dad have all the things he wants, help your Mum to do the same, reassure him that you will look after those left behind. At the same time, don't denigrate your own need to "fall apart". When you've been forced to be "the strong one", you need to know that you can just let it all go later!

Trust in the resilience of your children - they will be a source of surprise and of comfort. My 1 yo DS has just learnt to say "Granny", which is amazing and sad all the same time!

I really, really hope that you can find something in my ramblings that might help. There are so many practical aspects to caring for a terminally ill person and then dealing with what comes after, you will find that this will occupy you and keep your mind busy. Focus on the now and try to fill every day that your Dad is with you, with fun and happiness. It will get you through later.

CaseyShraeger Wed 10-Oct-12 20:11:35

My grandmother died on Christmas Day - that was a very odd day. We'd known she had a few months tops to live, and she'd had to be resuscitated a couple of weeks previously, but in the end she deteriorated very rapidly with only a couple of hours' warning.

My other grandmother hung on for a good 4-5 months past the end date she'd been given in order to see my sister born, then quietly slipped away a few weeks later.

Sympathy for you all; hope your family gets another Christmas' worth of memories with your father and your new niece or nephew together.

mermaid101 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:08:03

Magnolia, I'm so sorry for your situation. It must be terrible for you.

My Grandmother died over the Christmas period a few years ago (New Year's Eve). She hadn't been ill for as long as your father, but it became apparent that she was going to pass away and it happened to be at Christmas.
For her, and my father (her son) I tried not to mention or allude to any sort of mention of a last Christmas, but spent lots of time talking about past Christmases, particularly ones which were quite far back in time when I had been quite young. I felt it might be comforting to them to have lots of memories to focus on and thought that might be less distressing than looking forward.

On a practical level, because her decline was quite rapid, family members had to be sent for quite suddenly. The most notable one was her other son, who lived abroad. It was very difficult for him to get booked on a flight because of the time of year (not to mention extremely expensive) As a result he wasn't there when she died.

Other people were away in the UK. However, because of the particular night, they couldn't get back to me as there was no public transport and everyone had been drinking and couldn't drive.

So if you were looking for practical advice, maybe try to think of proximity of relatives and travel plans.

My heart goes out to you. I wish you courage.

magnolia74 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:02:14

You're right, that's what dh says.... He is still here so let's enjoy that. I'm just so negative on the inside while positive in front of everyone else sad

bryonywhisker Wed 10-Oct-12 20:01:07

So sorry you are going through this - I was in similar position last year, lost my dad just before. I felt I was just going through the motions for the kids (6 &3) and looking back the whole thing was just a muggy haze of emotion.

All you can do is take each day as it comes and find your own way. Keep talking to friends, I distributed a lot of wine in return for their shoulders.
Huge love x

magnolia74 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:00:26

It's bloody horrible isn't it sad

He has written a letter to each of them and I have photos of them, it's hard as I don't get to take the youngest round much as he's a handful and my dad finds it stressful. But he does come over here every so often and gets to leave when ds1 acts like a loon!!

I keep wanting to get excited about Xmas but then feel awful for wishing the weeks away blush

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 10-Oct-12 19:59:17

Worrying about Christmas or how you'll cope or how other people will cope is understandable but it's not something you can change. With terminal illness it's easy to think only about the dying part and to forget that there is still a person with a life to be lived. Maybe not for as long as he'd like or you'd like but it's still living. Help him to live as well and as completely as possible and you and everyone else left behind will never regret that. Good luck

MsFlippingHeck Wed 10-Oct-12 19:55:27

Me too, my dad as well.

It's been 18 months for us after being told he had a few months. It's hard for everyone. Life is on hold as you never know when the worst will happen.

Hugs all round me thinks smile

I am in a similar position my mum has terminal cancer and is receiving palliativecare. It is very hard and you must remember to be kind to yourself. Be strong but take time out for yourself. Christmas will be bittersweet but maybe your elder dc may like to make a memory book of gd with little notes, photos, funny stories ect. Take care x

magnolia74 Wed 10-Oct-12 19:43:00

I can't talk like this in front of dh as he thinks I'm being negative, which only he sees!! I hide it from everyone else.

My dad has terminal cancer, he was given 7 months to live ( last December) but is still going and is such a strong wonderful man.

My sister is due to have her first baby in December and I know he is determined to be here smile

I am the eldest and keep it all together, support my mum, siblings and am there to do anything dad needs doing. BUT I am fucking dreading Christmas.
I just can't get my head around the fact that he might not be here or worse that he might die at Christmas sad

I've got five children and the older 3 know its terminal but the two youngest just know grandad is poorly. The thought of having to tell them is awful.....

Actually when it's written down I realise its not just about Christmas, I'm just so scared knowing I'm going to lose my dad and my mum will lose the love of her life (she has been with him since she was 16)

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