Learning How To Grieve

It is coming up on one year since my father passed away so I’m thinking of him a lot lately.   His death hit me very hard and it took me several months to get back on course and now I feel like I just want to get through this without getting caught up in it again.

He had a pulmonary embolism on March 17, 2008 while he was sitting at the breakfast table.  I called 911 and they came and did the whole thing with the paddles and they were able to revive him but he never regained consciousness and he died in the hospital on March 22, 2008.

He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s and had really declined terribly in the months before his death.  I couldn’t prevent him from pulling his hearing aids out and destroying them so it became very difficult to communicate with him.  He had become incontinent and extremely argumentative.  He was increasingly disoriented and frightened and agitated.  I felt that could barely take care of him and I was starting to think that perhaps he would be better off in a nursing home.

But when I think of him now I remember the happy years when he first came to live with us.  He was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s then and his impairment was barely noticeable.  He enjoyed everything around him and delighted in every little detail of daily life.  He spent his days reading the newspaper at the dining room table right outside my office so I could keep an eye on him while I worked.  I had bought him a collection of big band CDs and he listened to them over and over (driving my children crazy.)  He enjoyed the pets and he loved sitting out on the porch.  After dinner he liked to watch TV, especially America’s Funniest Home Videos, I guess because he didn’t need to follow any plot.  While he was here the Cubs and Bears both had some good seasons and I loved watching the games with him.  I cannot tell you what a joy it was to share those years with him.

So now it has been a year without him and I am back on track with my life…  But every mention of St. Patrick’s Day reminds me of his death and how bad things had gotten right before he died.   I am trying to find a way to stay focused on the good times and to grieve without feeling overwhelmed by grief.

Meghan O’Rourke is blogging very movingly at Slate.com about her experience with grief following the death of her mother.   Reading her posts makes me cry but then I feel much better.

Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project Blog has also been very helpful to me recently.  There is a lot of very practical, down to eath advice about what it actually means to be happy and how to maximize your own experience of happiness.

One of the (many) things that amazed and delighted my dad was the transformation that occurred when I took my dog in to be clipped in the spring.  Here are “before and after” pictures that I took of the two of them.  My dad loved these pictures…



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One Response to Learning How To Grieve

  1. Julie Etta says:

    I know how you feel , my father died 3yrs ago this June and I miss him so much. Watching him waste away was so painful for me. I wrote several blogs about him on my Tagg page and Yahoo360. The one good thing was he was able to remember all of us and his mind was sharp till the very end. Keep in touch

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