My dad's death- how long am I going to be like this?

I posted a thread a couple of months ago about my father’s cancer diagnosis. He died last week, peacefully in his sleep in his own bed (we should all be so lucky). He was 79. My parents’ home is 500 miles away, but I was able to get up and see him 3 times- good, long visits- before he died. The last time was less than 2 weeks before his death, and I was stunned at how much he’d deteriorated in the 2 weeks since I’d seen him last. He had his sense of humor 'till the end, though- when I asked him how he was feeling, he replied, “Not buying any green bananas”. He made it clear that he was ready to go.

 He died last Monday, and I went up for the visitation and funeral and to help my mom pack up the stuff that my sibs and I didn't want.  It was a busy week, and while it was a sad time, my family enjoyed being together and telling Dad stories.

 I drove back Sunday and went to work Monday.  I have been weepy and depressed, and bursting into tears unexpectedly, especially when someone tells me how sorry they are or asks me how I'm doing.   I haven't really taken any time off to just be alone or be still- so I'm taking sort of a mental health day off work today in hopes that I'll be able to function fairly normally tomorrow.  

 I know a lot of you have lost loved ones who were ill and had lived a fill life, and whose passing was something of a relief.  How long did it take you before you quit feeling crappy?  Is it normal for me to feel like this?

It is absolutely normal to feel this way. Even when death comes as a “blessed release”, it still hurts. The grieving process takes time. My father died of cancer twenty four years ago. In his case, it was two months from diagnosis to death. I was a wreck for a couple of weeks, and it took about a year before I quit having the odd bust into tears, especially, as you say, if someone asked me about it. I still have a tendency to get a little sniffly when I hear Taps, and around the anniversay.

“Normal” covers a whole range of behaviors, really. I was “the strong one” when my then-early-50s dad died, handling matters that my mother couldn’t due to her grief. It took me a few weeks at least to get out of numb and into weepy.

I can tell you that it’ll fade with time. Anniversaries of various stuff (his birthday, his death) will bring some pain for a while, as will stuff that you’d wished your dad could have been around to see. There will be times that you’ll reflexively think how you should call up your dad to tell him something, and a few moments will pass before you remember he died. But, with time, this will recede. It helps me to remember that people continue on after they die by the memories they leave with those whose lives they touched. You carry on part of your dad with you.

Dad died in 1972 and I teared up reading your post.
I can’t remember how long it took to quit hurting all the time.
A year at most, months at the least.

Regards and sympathy.

Katie in 1982, when I was a freshman in college, Dad died in a head-on collision, it was 1 month before his 42nd birthday. Be glad for the time you had with your Dad, be grateful that you got to say good-bye and that he is no longer in pain. After a while you won’t feel so crappy but you’ll think of him often. On June 23 I lost my wife of 15 years, I’ve been keeping busy and the loneliness is not as oppressive anymore. I believe that you feel quite normal and I am sorry for your loss. Howard

Katie, you can expect it to get better. But you’ll occasionally miss your dad very much, even years on. This is perfectly normal.

This happens with my wife from time to time, and she lost her mom close to twenty years ago. It happens with my mom as well, and her mother died in 1964, when my mom was just nineteen.

I was very close to my grandfather growing up, and would sometimes stay with him and my grandmother for weeks at a time. I still miss him terribly, and we lost him in 1991. The constant hurt has long faded, though, and the happy memories of him are primarily what come to mind.

Not buying any green bananas Now, that is simply outstanding! Anyone who can crack jokes when everything around them is rapidly crumbling is aok with me.

Your loss is very real. You don’t have to be strong all the time. At work you will have your diversions to take your mind off of things. At home, during quiet times, it will loom that the rock that has been in your life is now gone.

Give into the tears, cry your little heart out. When the weeping subsides, and you fell empty, spent and strangely better, think of it as your father reaching down from the beyond to comfort you.

Then, one day, down the road, you will be having a really nice day and passing something in your car or on a walk and you will find yourself going. " There goes a guy dressed in a tutu…or that was a funny bumper sticker…Dad would have found that funny." and you don’t feel bad any more. Because his message of laughter and love continues on and he his there with you peeking in when you least expect it.

Time heals all wounds. It’s true. It varies for everyone. I know I was still pretty wierded out three years after my mom died. Not every day, but often enough that it was clear what was troubling me. It’s been six years now, and I’m much better. I still get sad sometimes, but not the way I was before. When someone has such a profound effect on your family, you have to learn to do lots of things differently. I wish you the best.

When I was little and trying to learn to be a man, I can remember my great aunt dying and me telling my grandmother “I’m sad that Aunt Edna’s gone, but I’m not going to cry…well, maybe inside.” My grandmother held me and said “Tears that fall on the inside stay, and stay, and stay. Tears tha fall on the outside, dry and fade away.”

Give yourself permission to grieve. Cry all you need to. It will ease up, but it won’t ever leave you. My brother died in 1990 and not a week goes by that I don’t think of him and say, “Damn, I wish you were here.”

I lost my dad several years ago after a long illness, the day after Christmas. I still cry. Not as often, but I still do.

I’m sorry, katie, email me if you want to talk about it. Sending hugs to ya…

After my new born son died my doctor gave me a certificate for time off work with no end date on it. He said to fill it in when I felt ready to return to work. I asked when he thought that may be and he just shrugged and said “Who cares, it’s only a job. No-one will give you a hard time about a death in the family” I was off for 4 or 5 weeks and in retrospect that wasn’t enough.

I lost my mom to cancer, eight years ago. Watching her get ill and die was the ugliest thing I expect to ever see, and it was traumatic in ways that I can’t describe in words, or any other way, really. By the time she passed away, we were all relieved that she was out of her misery at last. I felt lost and alone for months and months, but you have to keep living, so you do. Eventually it becomes less intense, and you start to remember the nice things and the funny things, and they kind of overtake the ugliness. How long it takes is different with everyone. While it isn’t accurate to say that you’ll get over it, it will cease to be the first thing you think about every day, which then makes you sad all day. You never get over it, but you will deal with it and carry on. It’s completely normal for you to feel awful, and you will, for awhile. I’m sorry you lost your dad, and I wish you the best in coming to grips with it.

An odd result for me is that my brain will not let me remember what day it was when my mom died. I have to ask my brother if I want to know, and then I promptly forget. I know it was in June. I can’t remember what day of the week or the date it was. Weird, huh?

katie1341 I am so sorry for your loss. Your family and you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

I lost my father in April due to alzheimer’s. It still hurts. It hurts less than it did 4 months ago but it still hurts. Cry all you want. You are grieving and that’s natural. Everybody should understand that.

I lost my younger brother in January 2002. It was sudden and a big shock. The pain from that lasted a while but it has subsided. Like plnnr I still wish he were here. Of course I still wish dad were here too.

In time it gets better. It will always be a loss but like so many others have said you have wonderful, warm and loving memories of your father and that will make him live on inside you.

I wish you peace and strength.

Katie, can you take a week off from work to bawl your eyes out?

Grief manifests itself in many ways. When my Mom died, we were expecting it, and my sister and I had pretty much done our grieving as she was dying. However, the stress of terminal illness remained bottled up, and it didn’t release in me until the day after the funeral. I quite literally freaked out that day. It would have been much better if I was just relaxing and doing nothing, but I was trying to get caught up in all of the household duties that had slipped over the months, and I ended up making everything worse.

Bought the wrong groceries
Almost had a wreck coming home with the screwy groceries
Mega fight with the wife.
Dropped nearly everything I tried to handle

and on and on

When I described it to the doctor, he said that it was a common stress reaction.

My dad died very suddenly eleven years ago. I still miss him, and rarely I even cry. But most of the time if I think about him it’s more of “I bet he’d have loved that.” DVDs, for example. He’d have loved them. He’d have had a player the minute they hit the market. In a way, they remind me of him, even though they hadn’t been invented yet when he died.

None of us can tell you how long you’ll take to start feeling better, unfortunately. It really varies. Don’t let people, no matter how well-meaning they are, tell you that you ought to be doing better or differently than they think you should. I think it took me the better part of a year to really get back to something resembling normal, but I was functioning well enough to go back to school after about about three weeks.

For everybody in this thread who’s lost a parent, I’m sorry. It’s rough. Hang in there.

Wow. Everyone has written such beautiful and truthful things here. Beautiful.

I can only reinforce what has already been written. I also want to add that he will never be forgotten. That seemed to be something that saddened me most when my dad died. I worried that he’d be forgotten, or that he’d fade away somehow from our lives and our memories. But it didn’t happen. He’s always there, in our hearts.

There was some rather average TV-movie that I saw a few years after my dad died. There was a scene where a nice older lady is talking to a young girl who had just recently lost her dad, and was wondering how long she’d grieve. The older lady—who had also lost her dad years before—comforted the little girl and told her how it would be. “One day,” she said, “Missing him will become bittersweet.”

What the woman meant by that was that the day would come where the tears shed for the loss will have a sweetness to them, because it would mean that he was still alive in her heart. The awful sadness would eventually fade, as it does and should, but that bittersweet, aching love and those memories will always be there, through the whole rest your life. You’ll be able to shed a tear for him years from now, but it’ll have a sweet edge to it. Because it means that his memory and his impact on your life is forever alive. Does that make any sense? I hope so.

I also wanted to tell you something I always tell everyone who has had such a sad loss: take care of yourself. Take it easy, pamper yourself sometimes. This cannot be understated. Too often when we lose someone we want to “move on” and force ourselves to be “normal” again, far too soon. Don’t do this before it’s right. You’ll know when that is, and nobody else can decide for you.

Also don’t let anyone else try to bully you or pressure you into “snapping out of it.” I know, I know, it probably doesn’t happen all that often—we like to hope that most people treat the grieving with some sensitivity. But it doesn’t always happen that way, so just in case, somewhere down the line, you find someone who is always harping on you, telling you to “snap out of it” and stop crying or having sad moods or showing any signs of grieving, tell them where to shove it.

They might also tell you that “life moves on” so you should “get over it.” What utter rubbish. When people pressure the grieving to “snap out of it,” they don’t do it for the grieving, they do it for themselves—they are uncomfortable being confronted with that aspect of life (loss) and they don’t want to see someone else dealing with it. So they will try to pressure the grieving to stop showing signs of grieving.

I hope that you will not have to utilize this last bit of advice, because with luck, you won’t have to deal with any such inappropriate pressure. But just in case someone ever does pull anything on you, you will know to tell them to shove it where the sun don’t shine.

I am so sorry to hear your news. Losing a loved one is a very deep sadness. Nothing that I say here will make your pain go away, but know that you are in my thoughts.

Dad passed last December. Last week I was out with a friend and telling her of his passing and still teared up. But the pain will lessen with time and you will begin to heal.

Our friends here helped me a lot, they all shared funny and touching memories of their fathers. They made me smile and made me tear up at the same time…

Sending warm thoughts your way.

katie1341, if it’s any consolation, you are a part of one of the best MBs when it comes to stuff like talking about grieving. I was just thinking as I was rereading this thread about the threads I started when I lost my brother and my father. I had so many wonderful dopers offer kind words and it felt so good. Hopefully you are getting the same kinds of feelings.

So many of us have experienced the loss of a parent, child, spouse, other dear close relative or friend and shared it. Everytime there seems to be an outporing of sympathy and caring. Again I know that from personal experience through the threads I started and from the emails I received from dopers that just wanted to know how I was holding up. People I’ve never met but feel so close to did that for me.

Ok, let me put this rambling into something coherent. Just know that this wonderful community is behind you and cares how you are doing. If it would help, my email’s in my profile.

Again, I wish you strength and peace.

Howdy there Katie1341, I am sorry for your loss. I think, with the utmost respect and love, that you should try and educate yourself on the grieving process.
Here is a site with lots of links to various places on grieving:
Coping with Grieving
Also, I see you are in the fine City-County of Athens-Clarke. I lived there for 8 years during school/dropping out/being a towny. If you are apart of UGA, might I suggest going to the Counseling Center. They have lots of people to help out with just such things. If you are a student, faculty or staff it is cheap or free. If you are not though, it might be offered for a reasonable price. Also, I am sure there are support groups or communities of people that can help you. I would think the Flagpole might have something in there.

You are not alone. You are perfectly correct in your grief. You do not need permission from anyone to grieve. Do not apologize for your grief. If you need help, many people, on the SDMB or the local community, will be glad to help.

We all are here for you. Be good to yourself. Take care.

I’m going to echo what’s been said already, but with a little detail. A wise woman I work with lost her husband to an industrial accident years ago. She said that the first year was the hardest, because at annual events, she remembered that he wasn’t with her. The next year was easier, because she could remember the previous year and think, “yeah, I made it through this without him last year.” Each year it will get easier, but you can always carry him in your heart and memories. Just remember that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, and you have another day in which your life must go forward, even if it is only one step per day.

Vlad/Igor