Nothing Can Prepare You For Grief

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My father was gravely ill for the last 7 years of his life, he was terminal for the last four years of his life and on hospice the last 4 months of his life. He spent those 4 years housebound, surviving on a peg tube inserted in his stomach. Not an ounce of liquid or a morsel of food passed his lips for the last 4 years of his life. He lost his ability to swallow thanks to aggressive radiation treatments. For the last 4 months of his life, he was given a shiny red walker that he refused to use in the beginning and eventually he couldn’t even walk to the bathroom without it. The final weeks his life he wasn’t even able to press the button on the television remote control to change the channel. My father’s strong voice became gurgly and sometimes it was unrecognizable. He had a special suction machine that I had to stick down his throat and pull out phlegm because he was just too weak to do it himself and if we didn’t use that machine he would have choked to death on phlegm. Thanks radiation.

I was given front row seats to watch cancer rip apart my father piece by piece.

I couldn’t give my father a tight bear hug because his feeding tube was in the way. I couldn’t take my father out to dinner like other people my age because he was unable to eat. When I’m around someone on a trendy diet I can feel my blood begin to boil. My father’s ability to eat was ripped away from him without a choice, I cannot wrap my brain around someone deliberately depriving themselves of food for the sake of vanity. Maybe someday, but not today. The last few weeks of my father’s life he had so many wires and tubes sticking out of his body it was terrifying for him and our family.

My father was 69 years old when he died. He spent the last 7 years of his life suffering unlike anything I have ever witnesses in my life. Even the movies were more merciful than what I witnessed my heroic father endure. I thought I was prepared for my father’s death, I mean after watching a person you love and adore suffer for so long you THINK you are ready to say good bye. You tell yourself they are going to a better place, free of pain and suffering and if you are a good person, someday you will meet again. You tell this to yourself over and over and you think you are prepared.

But…

Nothing can prepare you for the gut wrenching pain of grief.  But I can tell you, it is a pain unlike anything I have ever endured. There are times the pain is so horrific you are positive your heart is shattered in a million pieces and nothing can put it back together. And if you are like me and you spent 7 years watching someone you love suffer you also feel selfish because you are sometimes so incredibly sad that your person is gone and you need them because they are your person. Nothing can prepare you for the pain of grief. Not sickness, not pain, not suffering because when someone is gone, they are gone.

When you lose a parent, you lose a piece of yourself. You lose your past, your history. I lost not just my father, but my best friend, my protector, my advisor and the guy who taught me how to dance while standing on top of his feet.

Not a day goes by that I do not miss my father. Not a day goes by that I do not think of my father.

Your family members are your first squad goals.  And when you lose a member of your squad you lose a tremendous piece of yourself.

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