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My big sister died last Tuesday and I can't face work.

(21 Posts)
shewhoneverdusts Mon 08-Sep-08 11:03:02

The op says it all really. My sister was 54 and had been doing really well fighting kidney cancer for 8 years, so we were very lucky to have had her as long as we did. However, I work at the hospital she came to for treatment and unfortunately, they did mess up the procedure and she deteriorated over the next 3 days. The last day I saw her properly she was very confused and had gone into liver failure. She kept opening her eyes and saying "help me". I was crap and didn't know what to do. I left a few hours later and she was put into intensive care. She was there for a week. I visited once but am ashamed to say I couldn't cope with seeing her like that, and so I didn't go back. I did stupidly walk up and down the corridor where intensive care is, but just couldn't do it. Last Tuesday the doctors told my BIL, Dad and nieces, they could do no more and they turned off her life support.
I was due back at work today, but I can't go, I just can't face anyone. I cry at the stupidest times, when I'm least expecting it, like bent over the bath washing my hair or at the supermarket. The funeral is this Friday and I can't bring myself to order any flowers because it seems so pointless. My dh and dds have been great but I feel like they think I should be OK now and I'm not, so I spend most of my time feeling like I have a huge lump in my throat, and trying not to fall apart. Thankyou for listening and letting me talk to you.

fourlittlefeet Mon 08-Sep-08 11:06:31

Don't be too hard on yourself, you need lots of time and rest. Do you have to go back to work already?

Jacaranda Mon 08-Sep-08 11:07:08

Oh hun I'm nearly in tears here for you sad I am so sorry.

I think going back to work today i far too early, you are still grieving. You can't get over something like this in a week. I would suggest you let work know you are not coming back until at least after the funeral.

As for not being able to cope - normal reaction but maybe it would help to talk to someone about your feelings. How about you GP? Or some counselling?

Once again I am so sorry your family has experienced this loss, so very sorry sad

OneLieIn Mon 08-Sep-08 11:08:36

I am really sorry to hear your bad news.

Big hugs to you and your family.

for work, can you not talk to HR and explain that this is all too hard at the moment and that you need a little more time before coming back. I am sure they would understand.

Sorry again

goblinvalley Mon 08-Sep-08 11:11:08

Sending big {{hugs}}

So sorry for your loss. I have no real advice, but i don't think that there is a set route for grieving, you need time sad

I'm sure that your family don't think that, but are probably just worried about you and don't know what to do for the best.

Thinking of you at this sad time

RubyRioja Mon 08-Sep-08 11:13:07

You poor thing. This must be an appalling blow and I agree you are probably still in shock right now, and in no fit state to go to work.

Could you or DH call your manager and see what compassionate leave you might be entitled to, holiday you could use, or even unpaid leave.

You will no doubt grieve for a long time, but it might help to know how much time you have to withdraw from society a bit, and really let your shock and grief out. IMO this is terribly important to your health too - physical and mental.

If you cannot face ordering flowers, could DH or a friend do it on your behalf, as you may hate not to have anything there at the funeral.

FWIW my experience of losing my parents, it was about 6 weeks before I stopped crying in public (did not really worry me though - I did not care who saw).

The first year took some coping with. 3 years down the line, I am pretty much myself again.

Do talk as much as you can to sympathetic listeners, I found it very helpful to let it out.

MaryAnnSingleton Mon 08-Sep-08 11:13:50

sad shewhoneverdusts for your very sad loss - you do need more time to grieve and just to come to terms with your loss,really you do. Dh just lost his dad and took a week off - we just needed time to assimilate the fact that his dad had died and to take care of one another. Is there something you can prepare for the funeral - like a reading,poem,music that your sister would have liked ? As soon as dh got involved with this part it really helped him and we made the funeral an amazingly personal and lovely tribute to a much loved and wonderful man - it was very healing for us all to be involved - ds wrote a poem too. Be kind to yourself,thinking of you.

Sycamoretree Mon 08-Sep-08 11:14:45

I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost my dad to cancer in February. I'd been on maternity leave so it was a little different, but i took two weeks additional compassionate leave - my work were very understanding - normally workplaces have some sort of compassionate leave policy - if you can't face calling could you get your DP/DH or another friend/relative to call in and find out what the situation is? You may find out there's no need for you to rush back. I could have taken long, but decided that leaving it longer than two weeks might start to put too much significance on going back - make it a bigger hurdle if you like. I couldn't bear all the kind words from those who knew I'd lost dad, and couldn't bear the ignorance/having to tell those that didn't. I thought it would be like having a terrible barely clotted scab picked at. But you know what - it wasn't as bad as I thought - and the distraction was welcome once I'd settled in. But it's still so soon and raw for you - you will be on such a roller coaster. I will lurk on this post in case there's anything I can help with. My only advice is to let it go when you feel it, and don't beat yourself up when you inevitably go through a period of numbness and not really feeling anything - it's all part of the grieving process. My thoughts are really with you, and your family. This disease is the most terrifying thing I've ever seen - I know how you feel - I could barely look at my father at the end, he was skin and bone and in a drug induced coma.

3littlefrogs Mon 08-Sep-08 11:14:50

Oh you poor thing. sad

Go and see your GP, get signed off for a couple of weeks. Then you will have a breathing space.

The compassionate friends is an organisation for breaved parents, but they have a siblings group too. They have local support groups, and local contacts who will write to you/phone you if you want. I think it is www.tcf.org.uk. I have not been in touch with them recently.

So sorry you are going through this.

BandofMothers Mon 08-Sep-08 11:15:50

If you can't order flowers then do something that would have meant something to her. Something that is a special thing between the 2 of you. Frame your favourite picture of the 2 of you and put it with her in the coffin, or make her something that you might have given her for her birthday or christmas. This is will even be somewhat therapeutic for you as it will mean something.

Your DH needs to be more patient with you, it has not even been a week yet. FGS she has been with you your whole life, or nearly, and you need time to heal. Don't push yourself, cry if you want to, think about her if you want to, go and pace up and down the corridor again if you want to. Just do anything that helps you deal with it.

I have not lost a close family member, but 2 of my best friends, one of whom may as well have been a family member, and it takes a long time to be able to think of them, or see a picture without being upset, and even crying. I always found a good heartfelt sob actually made me feel better in a small way.
Of course you will be devastated for some good length of time, you lost your sister, how can you suddenly be ok again. Take time, because time is the only thing that can make it feel any better, but try to do things you would normally do as well, just do it with red eyes and a runny nose and sod what anyone thinks.

MaryAnnSingleton Mon 08-Sep-08 11:17:29

tcf sibling support here as suggested by 3littlefrogs

shewhoneverdusts Mon 08-Sep-08 11:19:12

I spoke with the HR department last week and they said I am allowed up to 6 days but that is at the discretion of my manager. How do they come up with these timescales? My other sister is flying down from Scotland tomorrow, so that will be good for my Dad. Poor thing he is devastated. My brother and his family are on holiday and they come home Thursday night so at least we will all be there for each other.
Thank you all so much for taking the time to talk to me.

RubyRioja Mon 08-Sep-08 11:22:10

Agree being signed off sick might be a good idea - maybe just enough to get past the funeral and maybe manage to get some sleep (are you sleeping? My sleep was affected terribly, making me useless)

I found speakign to my sisters, endlessly, rehashing things and so on was a tremendous help.

Sycamoretree Mon 08-Sep-08 11:24:07

I should say we didn't do flowers either, but that was more because that just wouldn't have been what dad wanted. Instead, we put a pile of donation envelopes for dad's hospice at the crematorium. Also sent them out to those that couldn't attend. I decided to do something to honour dad, and ran the Race For Life 5K in June. Training for that was theraputic (spelt wrong I know, sorry). It forced me out of the house and away from the demands of the kids for a couple of evenings a week and I could just let my mind be free. I used to really feel my dad running next to me - spurring me on to do yet another lap of the park with each session. He was fit as a fiddle before the cancer struck, a keen cyclist and walker - he also coached me as a kid to cross country run, so this was appropriate for me - you may feel you want to do something different. I managed to raise £2K for cancer research. It's a small thing, but I figured I'd do what I could to avoid other people having to go through what Dad did.
I'll be thinking of you on Friday. I only decided the night before that I absolutely had to read something or I'd totally regret it - so I wrote a poem at midnight, all about what he meant to me. My sister and I read it together at the funeral - it hardly made any sense to anyone but us and our mum, but it was very fitting and it was our way to let dad know how he'll always be in our hearts. You might want to do something similar - you can decide in the moment if you have the strength to read it - or you can just write it and put it in the coffin if you would like it to be more private.

Sidge Mon 08-Sep-08 11:25:21

I'm so sorry that your sister has died sad

Work is the last thing you need to worry about now. You have lost your sister and need some time off work to grieve, reflect and remember. This may take some time but I think the early days can be the hardest.

You sound guilty that you weren't with her more, but please don't feel ashamed or bad. You need to know that you wouldn't have been able to help her even when she asked, as her disease was obviously too advanced, so please don't feel bad for not "doing something".

Do you feel like you want to talk to someone about her and how you feel? The hospital will have chaplains if you have a faith, or maybe the ICU can give you details of a bereavement counsellor. Otherwise there are organisations like Cruse that offer bereavement support.

Wishing you peace.

shewhoneverdusts Mon 08-Sep-08 11:32:08

Ruby - no, sleep is a very disturbed thing at the moment. Last night I was dreaming and in the dream I had to remember a particular sequence and if I didn't my sister couldn't move on, I kept waking up panicking and then falling asleep straight back into it again, it was horrid.
I think, for me there are two aspects to my grief, my mum died when I was 20, so that's 20 years ago this year, and so my sister sort of became my mum/sister/friend and to be honest even though I was so upset when my mum died, this just feels enormous, if that makes any sense, almost like I'm dealing with both at the same time even though I'm not. I'm probably just rambling now and making excuses for myself being so crumbly and wet.

Kewcumber Mon 08-Sep-08 11:42:17

"I feel like they think I should be OK now and I'm not" - I would be devastated if anything happened to my sister and it would take significantly longer than a week to be "OK".

The death of your sister is worth buckets of tears - I owuld be most disgruntled with my sister if she didn't cry and mourn for my death.

I'm so soryr your're going through this, check if your work have compassionate leave provisions which may cover siblings.

Kewcumber Mon 08-Sep-08 11:44:16

flowers aren't important - do what feels right for you.

OrmIrian Mon 08-Sep-08 11:46:56

SO sorry sad. I'm not surprised you can't face work. 6 days is nothing. If you aren't able to function at work what good are you going to be to anyone there?

If my DB died I think it would take me significantly longer than that to get back to full-functioning.

ajandjjmum Mon 08-Sep-08 11:52:47

It must be particularly hard for you working where your sister was treated.

Do take time to get through this properly.

mashedbanana Mon 08-Sep-08 19:41:59

i am really sorry to hear of your loss xx

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