Friday, June 15, 2012

Grief: Sitting At A Death Bed

Sometimes I feel like I'm sitting at my own death bed.  Then I remember, it's my husband who died, not me.  I have to get up and do things.  It's been difficult this week which is why I haven't written in too long.  I don't like to go more than a week without writing.  Some people ask if I will stop writing completely.  Some people do.  I think this blog is part of my life.  I will always be sad that Artie died, I will always miss him.  I will always have something to say about that.  Also, unfortunately, so many people have new and old grief they need to learn how to handle so they can live their real, full life.  I want you to find whatever solace my words can give you as I stumble through this difficult territory.  With so many people dead over the course of history, you would think there was a better path mapped out for grief.  There doesn't seem to be.

The reason I haven't written and that I'm not going to proofread this - so forgive any errors - is that my daughter's best friend is dying.  He is ICU and I spent the first three days of the week in hospital with her to take care of my grandbaby so she could sit with him and to support her and his family and friends.  I don't know if I am supportive - they are still clinging to hope and I know there is none. Before he was sedated and hooked up to machines he asked to say goodbye to me.  He knew he could and I wouldn't freak out.  It has made me feel exhausted. Emotionally and physically. I didn't know how much. 

The only deathbed I have ever sat at is my husband's.  He was allowed to die at home and at the end was assisted by a hospice nurse so he didn't suffer.  It was the saddest thing I ever did - letting him go.  I told him that.  I said, "If you have found somewhere you need to be that is more beautiful and healing for you than here on earth I want you to go."  His last words to me were, "I love you."  and I turned away for a moment because I didn't want any tears in my voice when I said, "I love you too." It took my husband 2 or three hours - the death rattle lasted a long time - but I left the room for a moment - and it gave him the freedome to graduate life and go on to whereever his there is now.  For me, choosing to let him die naturally was what needed to happen because of how full of cancer his body was and how unable he was to fight it.

This death is different.  Erin's friend is much younger, and he is in a hospital attached to many machines.  Cancer is eating away his body but the machines are keeping him alive.  He is sedated and not conscious.  I find this very difficult to be around. I always say there is no wrong way to grieve.  Each family has to decide for their family member the best way for them to die. I know that. I respect that -  but it makes me feel trapped.  My daughter is angry at me because I told her that I felt her friend is ready to be released.  I have always hated hospitals. I spent three days in the ICU waiting room - and then yesterday I took the day off.  I want to support her and his family and friends - but I find myself falling apart.

Artie's death anniversary is July 17th.  This experience for some reason is bringing back the old terror.  I'm always frightened in the morning but I get up and start doing things and feel better.  Now...that terror is creeping in again.  The sense of paralysis.  I don't think I can give up my exercise, and the things I do to take care of myself to sit in a hospital waiting room all day.  If I don't stay in the ICU waiting room with Gwendy I'm not supporting my daughter.  I wouldn't mind if her friend was conscious - but my daughter feels that she needs to be with him anyway.  So one of those no win situations.

I guess the bottom line is that I hate death.  Not for the dead, but for the suffering of the living. 

I hope to write sooner next time.  I hope to have some cheery words.  I did get out yesterday and go on a walking history tour class.  It was good to get fresh air.  That's good.  That I still want to do things.  I'm going to exercise this morning.  That's good.  That I care about exercising and am sorry I cancelled two sessions.

I guess there is no easy way to watch a young person die.  There is no easy way to watch families choose what they choose.  There is no easy way to grieve.  However if I fall apart which I do quite nicely - I can put myself back together again.  That's my task today.  Repairing things.  Figuring out how.  Not giving up.  The kind of showing up we have to do every day when we are grief warriors.  I have had some support from some lovely people.  Life sucks.  Life is wonderful.  We can hold opposites.  With extra love and hugs and strength.  xo

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