Has anyone lost a parent recently and is experiencing what I am ? Strange and skewed perspective and just need reassurance that it is normal really.

(9 Posts)
lisalisa Sun 18-Sep-11 21:58:09

I lost my darling dad about 3 months ago. The lead up to his death was very intense and he spent about 2 months in hospital. due to my mum not being able to cope , I ended up dad's sole carer in hospital - liaising with the doctors and there every day feeding him and hleping him drink, washing him etc. I mention this as it may help in analysing my strange feelings.

I spent on average 8 hours per day in the hospital as well as continuing to run my own business and be a mum to my own 6 children including 6 bmonth old baby who didnt ( an dstill doesn't ) sleep at night.

When dad died I spent the first week asleep most o fhte day. It was as if my body had finally given into thte need for rest.

I cried a lot the first week and then slipped into a contemplative sadness. But that is not what I am posting about.

From the day Dad was buried I thought what a peaceful place hte cemetry was. It is in beautiflly planted woodland with ponds and lots of benches under open skies and with wildlife around ( I saw a rabbit there last week). I actually enjoyed the subsequent visits spending time at Dad's grave and just sitting. The visits always exhausted me though even if I didn't cry just spent time there.

But my strange feelings are that I see everything differently now. Its as if I have seen too much. I've seen how the end of our lives could and probaly will be in many cases. Dependant on hospital staff and families - wtih our diginity stripped away and unable to make ourselves understood. My dad shed his possessions one by one as if preparing for death. First he took off his watch and asked mum to look after it as the area undreneath the watch face felt sore. Then he took off his glasses saying they hurt his nose ( he lost tons of weight so they probaly felt v heavy). The he took off his rings and gave them to me saying it was one less thing to worry about.

I saw how he had nothing in the end bu tme and my mum and our lvoe. Nothing else mattered - not work, politics ( he was a political animal), football ( a life long season ticket holder and footy additct). It waas scarey to see life stripped and reduced down to its bare elements as it would have been when he was a baby.

I see eveyrhting from the point of view of the end now. Preparing for hte end - counting down my years - I'm 43 so thinking well I've probably got about 30 years left - 10 good ones then start to go downhill. I see eveyrthing backeards - with my baby who's now 9 months I marvel at how her body is gearing ujp for life . My dad's body the doctors told me was dying so reducing need for drink and food whereas her body is preparing to live life so she is increasing her need for food and drnk. Whereas dad found it hard to breathe she breathes quickly an deasily.

I see everything from the point of view of death and dying. Is this normal? My dh aquoted me from a famous passage in our religion " there is a time for living and a time for dying" - comes from the famous passage that continujes " a time for war and a time for peace" etc. Perhaps some pople kjnow it? He says that just as therte is a time for dying that time is not now and I must try and focus on my time for living.

But I am so caught up with death and only wanting to sit in the cemetry in the peace. Is this nornal?

OP’s posts: |
Sleepyspaniel Sun 18-Sep-11 22:50:02

Hi, I am sorry for the passing of your dad. Three months is a very short time and I imagine you are feeling terribly raw right now.

I think it understandable that you would have this persepctive you describe above, having seen the extremes of beginning and end of life (new baby and parent dying), two incredibly life changing and emotional events, highlighted at the same time. You have been in the middle of the scale (or seesaw, as an analogy) physically, mentally and emotionally supporting both dependant parties, trying to make sure both sets of needs are met.

And now the pressure has lifted due to the sad passing of your dad, you no longer have to sit rigidly balanced in the middle of your own life and your parents'. Your mind is now trying to make sense of the two extremes of life, in your life. Yet, as we all know, you can either be at the middle of the seesaw, or at one of the ends only - not both ends at the same time. It's no wonder if you are feeling somewhat confused.

We are born naked, with no need for watches and other worldly goods, and we end life (if a natural passing) with the same lack of need for wordly goods. I like to view life as a rainbow shape. Starting small and low, rising, reaching our full height, then reducing back to the same level as we started with the same basic needs. It has a poetic symmetry, although that is probably something to consider and possibly draw comfort in time rather than the acute rawness of a new grief.

We know that everything has a beginning and everything has an end. Nothing stays the same forever. But knowing that an end exists, should not stop us from enjoying and living. If we go to a party, we do not spend our time sitting outside in the car, not going in, just because we know it will end in a few hours. If we buy a new book, we won't not read it just because we know it has an ending. Of course it does. Every story does, and what is life if not a collection of short stories?

I do also think that no matter how old we are it is tough to become our parents' carers, especially if it happens earlier than we imagined and especially if we are caring for our very young dependents at the same time. It's a role reversal and it's quite shocking.

You say you saw how he had "nothing in the end but me and my mum and our love. Nothing else mattered" - not work, politics... football". Basic physical needs being met, what else does really, really matter? Work, politics, football etc are very consuming, but as the saying goes, nobody on their death bed ever wished they had spent more time at the office (or the football pitch). In a way, where you say "It was scary to see life stripped and reduced down to its bare elements", the other side of the same coin is that it also has a beautiful simplicity. That is something perhaps you may be able to consider in time.

I hope that my reply, if not useful, has at least shown that you are not alone in your musings of the "bigger picture". All the best xxx

rubyrubyruby Mon 19-Sep-11 08:53:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

canistartagainplease Mon 19-Sep-11 09:18:25

Lisalisa- I think this is more than normal, when other people who are berieved and have distructive and unsupportive thoughts , you are in a place where we should all be after a death.

You are supported, and the people around you are able to put your thinking processes into contex, you gave all you could to your father (and mother)and was able to witness the stripping away of all your fathers cares, and you have discharged your daughterly duty by allowing him to rest in a beautiful place.

We should all be able to be in your position as we greive a loved one.

It has only been three months, you have a lot to accommodate and its good that you are able to place life and death together ,the more to appreciate the life you and your family will continue to have.

Dont feel thinking is a problem, (although you will meet people who try to mitigate their own pain by blanking out yours) use it as spur to enjoy all that life will bring you, the cemetary is not the only place where you can seethebeauty of life.x

Sleepyspaniel Mon 19-Sep-11 11:05:05

Ruby - noy sure how that's helpful on it's own really, it could be perceived as flippant rather than comforting (I presume you were aiming at comforting) without any personal words or message of condolence/comfort to the OP added.

snailoon Mon 19-Sep-11 11:28:02

OP, I'm so sorry about your dad. What you are describing is very familiar to me and very eloquently expressed. I cared for my mother for years and very intensively in the months before she died and I felt all of this. Part of the problem is that, in our culture, death and dying are unmentionable, the last forbidden topic. I think people have come to feel that death is almost unnatural, so caring for someone who is dying is very lonely and very shocking, as it isn't something seen as part of life.
We all know that we have to live in the moment and seize the day, but it is terribly hard sometimes. I hope you realise what a wonderful thing you did caring for him like that, even though other people may not fully appreciate it, and I hope your children will bring you lots of joy; they are great at living in the moment.
Sleepy-- I really like what you wrote

lisalisa Mon 19-Sep-11 11:40:51

sleepyspaniel - your post was outstanding and reduced me to tears. You are of course more than right especially your thoughts about me being on a seesaw of supporting new life begining and comforting an existing life ending. I suppose it has confused my mind somewhat.

I also drewa lot of comfort from your analogy about not sitting in the car during the party even though we know it will end in 3 hours. That is exatly right.

I am going about life " normally" on the exterior - its just on the inside that I am mentally comparing everything to death. I still find myself able to feel joy an djoin in - just that everything I do is compared to the end and to death. I am especially terrified of dying the way my dad did - in hospital, incontinent and unable to do anything for himself but terribly lucid to the end.

canistartagain - you are also very right too. The one thing I am so very thankful for is that I was able to care for dad for these 2 months and that during those 2 months he saw how very much he was loved and respected and that I took care of his every need - other than the most important one which was to get up and get out of there. My dad was so wise and kind though and he would have understood that this was out of my control to do - he wanted to come home and be at home ( not sure if he knew he was dying as he fought to the end ) but he wanted to be at home but this wasn't possible due to various factors .

I thkn if he had just collapsed and died i would forever had been tortured by teh fact that I didn't ssay goodbye or show him how very much I respected and admired him. He was one of life's fabulous dads.

snailoon - thank you too and your confirmation for what I am feeling is normal. I am so sorry for your loss too

OP’s posts: |
rubyrubyruby Mon 19-Sep-11 11:54:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

t0lk13n Fri 07-Oct-11 22:55:07

My dad died two months ago today x Feels surreal. Keep having moments. Mum is strong. I think my sister is ok. Haven`t seen or spoken to her since she went back after the funeral. It is tough and will be forever and a day I think xxxx

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