Five Years

Grief is a difficult and terrible emotion born from a tragic moment. Add another tragedy that reaches back and reminds someone of sorrow they have not yet healed from and this is called compounded grief. Compounded grief is also known as complicated grief and can delay the cycle of healing.

In February, 2006 I lost my grandfather, and my father lost his father.  The last time that I saw him was on December 30, 2005 as I wanted to visit my grandparents before flying back to San Diego on New Years Eve.  My grandmother was out playing cards so I wasn’t able to see her,  but Granddad and I sat and talked and joked for a few hours before I left for the night.  I shook his hand goodbye.  It was the last time I saw him.

In October, 2006 I lost my uncle, and my father lost a little brother.  Chris passed away because of a brain tumor that was never completely removed and kept coming back.  He fought the good fight but succumbed to it and was taken long before his time.  The last time I saw him was at my grandfather’s memorial service and he looked healthy and on the way back to recovery.  I think I am lucky to have not been around to see him fade the way he did.

In February, 2007 I lost my grandmother, and my father lost his mother.  I was only able to visit her once after my grandfather and uncle passed away and it was clear to me that the end wasn’t far away.  I can imagine that when you lose your husband and your youngest son only eight months apart that the grief is unbearable.

Grandma was the third death on my Dad’s side of the family that we had experienced in a year and none of us had really had a chance to recover from the first.  There was so much compounded grief that my Dad was losing his faith and nobody was able to figure out how to handle all of those deaths with any kind of comfort.  Their passings are still hard to deal with since their memories are so frequently brought up as if it had just happened.

A couple of weeks ago I drove to Inova Alexandria Hospital to see my aunt, my Dad’s oldest sister where she told me that she probably had cancer.  She had just found out herself and at the time it was believed to be ovarian cancer, and now it’s been confirmed to be peritoneal cancer (cancer of the lining of the stomach).  She is so weak that the prognosis is not good and I find myself bracing for yet another death on my Dad’s side of the family.

The one difference that sets this situation apart from the others is that this time I’m here to be part of the familial grieving process. In California I was so far removed from what was happening that I had to cope with things on my own, so being here may be helpful or it may be hurtful.  I really have no idea what to expect and my head is spinning from the possibilities.

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4 thoughts on “Five Years

  1. bart says:

    My wife’s little brother died a little less than 2 years ago. He was only 26. May 16 is a tough day for us – though he’s still with us every day.

    I also lost a friend to cancer a month ago. She had been in and out of remission for about 20 years, so I kind of knew it was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier when the day arrived.

    You have my sympathy.

  2. error404 says:

    Thanks, Bart. As sad as that blog was I’m still in god spirits. Well, as opposed to moping around and whatnot. When I was writing this last night I was looking up the obituaries and THAT got me down. I failed to mention that 6 months after one grandmother died my OTHER grandmother died, making it 4 relatives in 1.5 years.

    Thanks for the sympathy.

  3. bart says:

    Dusty Scott, of the Salami Tsunami blog, wrote a very heartfelt piece on the recent death of someone very close to him. It’s definitely worth a read.
    http://salamitsunami.com/archives/593

  4. error404 says:

    thanks, Bart. Reading his post he mentioned that we say all kinds of things to fool ourselves in to thinking that God has a plan and yada yada yada, and I’m one of those people. People get angry when they lose someone that is so good in such a seemingly trivial and unremarkable death, so it MUST be part of a bigger agenda.

    I choose to look at it this way: if the person who died wasn’t good, and they weren’t loved or looked up to, then the impact of their death wouldn’t be as great. For the “good” people who pass out of our lives too soon from cancer or a car crash or some accident, we miss them and create benefits and donations and scholarships and contribute to research and all kinds of good tings to remember them and honor them. We keep their memories alive. We help others in their name and memory. Whether or not that is the purpose of their death (to inspire others) I have no idea. But that’s how I come to grips with their deaths.

    (this response was hastily written by a very tired Tyler, so please try to make sense of it without asking me too many questions)

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