Grief….It’s a Process

I’m writing this the morning of my father’s passing.  I wanted to use this as a part of my own process of grief.  And I will post it immediately.

Most of you know my father has not been well.  He suffered a heart attack over seven years ago, and most of the doctors he saw told him he was a high risk and would not do any surgery.  He also did not want to do anything invasive.  He walked around for the past seven years with 30% of his heart working.  During the last years he worked through some issues he’s had his whole life and seemed to process a lot of his own grief.  About three months ago he found a doctor at the VA Hospital in Florida that seemed to give him hope;  that bypass surgery would give him a better quality of life.  I remember the call from my father after he spoke with this surgeon.  He really made a “connection” with him.  And he was going to go ahead with the surgery. 

The doctor advised him to get a flu shot.  My father has never believed in the flu shot and I don’t think he has ever gotten one.  But he did, and he got the flu.  A very bad case of the flu.  He was in the hospital for a bit during this time and he wasn’t interested in eating and he was having trouble with his kidneys.  I believe now, that his body was starting to shut down.  Please know that none of my brothers and sisters (there are 9 of us), could convince him not to have the surgery.  After he recovered from the flu, the surgery was scheduled very fast.  I was with him and my mom during this time.

Why am I writing this?  Because you know I’m all about “feeling the feelings“.  My dad ate healthy and was very physically fit.  His heart was not healed though.  And eventually his heart could not handle the stress of the emotion he had, but was not taking the time to feel.  After the surgery, he seemed to be getting better.  Right on track.  However the doctors told him although the arteries were now good, his heart was not functioning any better.  Prior to the surgery, his heart was operating at 13%.  That was very hard for him to hear and at that time, only two days after surgery, he started his decline.  On the third night, he was given something to help him sleep.  That med made him anxious and he was given something to help with the anxiety.  That didn’t help and he was subsequently given three more meds.  He became psychotic and it took many days to turn that around.  Now it’s over a week and he is still in ICU.  His lungs had fluid and his kidneys were suffering.  He was finally transferred out of ICU and as the doctor was taking out his stitches, he told my dad that he should be swinging a softball bat in two months or so. 

That didn’t happen.  He was again given the wrong meds one night that set him back.  During his time in ICU, he spoke with me about the pain he felt about not being there for his kids.  About this part of him that he kept hidden from everyone.  I tried, and so did my brother, to help him forgive himself.  But these emotions, the ones he ran from his whole life, where finally catching up with him.  And sitting in a hospital for two months didn’t help that.  Yes, he had psychiatrists come in, priests come in, therapists come in.  But his mind wouldn’t let go and his body was continuing to let go.  He was tired of holding on.

He was transferred to another VA closer to my mom.  One week actually going into the rehab portion of the hospital, but that was short lived.  His body could not process the fluids because his heart was not functioning.  After a conversation with the doctor (I still don’t know what was said.  I can only imagine), he made the choice to move to a Hospice Facility.  This was last week.  After a few days there, his body started shutting down.  He stopped eating and everything started to swell with fluid.   Another doctor came in a couple of days ago and stated that “he should have never had the surgery”.  The doctors convinced my mom to go home last night, that this is what patients need to let go.  And let go he did.  Peacefully, in the middle of the night. 

Has the grieving started?  For me it started years ago.  Grieving for the life I thought I was going to have.  I’ve made my peace with my parents.  I’ve thanked them for making me who I am today.  I’ve tried to help them through their own grief.  But each of us processes this differently.  We all have different filters.  Did they accept my process and believe me when I said I’d forgiven them?  I doubt it.  That’s the sad part.  Most of the time we grieve only for ourselves.  This process is for us, not for those around us.

All this talk of 2012…has anyone seen the movie yet?  What’s it about?  My belief is it’s about making peace with yourself, your loved ones, your friends.  Our earth can only hold so much negative emotion.  Do your work.  The denial, the blame, the guilt and the anger, don’t work anymore.  We need to heal as a planet. 

Is today the day you will make that appointment with your therapist?  Today the day you will hug your child and not put your expectations on them?  Is today the day you will start that yoga or meditation class or start eating healthier?  Will you grieve today?  Will you cry for the pain, for the life you thought you were going to live?  Will you let go of all you are holding onto?  All that is making you unhealthy?  I pray you do not wait. 

I wish you peace during this season and always.  Thank you for your prayers and thoughts.

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