Surviving Death

Surviving Death

One of the harshest things about death is that you are forced to go on with your life. It doesn’t seem fair that something so utterly devastating can happen and the next day you have to wake up and go on with your life.

I have lost my grandparents and an amazing aunt, so I thought I knew what it was like to lose someone I loved, but it turns out, I had no clue.

I want to apologize to all those close to me who have lost a parent, mate or a child. I am sorry I couldn’t grasp the depths of your loss and to be honest, it’s such an uncomfortable place to be that unless you are forced to be there, you gloss over it. The truth is that unless it happens to you, you have no clue what it really feels like.

Everyone’s journey is very different; it’s weird the things that you think of; I remember wondering what would be better, watching someone slowly die or getting a phone call that your loved one had been hit by a truck and was gone, just like that. I actually though about that for a long time and weighing the pros and cons of each.

I was and am still a very lucky girl, I was blessed with a father that others wished they had. He was the absolute best with a personality that was beyond charming. He had a killer smile that lit up the room. Have you ever talked to someone who made you feel like you were the only one in the room? Some people have that gift to make you feel important and special. My dad had that quality, people were just drawn to him; and I was his favorite person; of all the people, I was the one.

I am just realizing now that not everyone has someone in their life who loves them like that; who loves them unconditionally. He was my greatest cheerleader, he encouraged all my hair brained ideas and adventures. So I know how fortunate I have been and I am truly thankful. Someone told me the bigger the love the bigger the loss, I believe that to be true.

He was the most positive person and had the best outlook on everything even death. He wasn’t afraid to die, which made it easier for us to let him go. He told me he had the best life and did everything he wanted to do. He had no regrets; how many of us will be able to say that when are time comes? I aspire to live a life with no regrets, but man, I am not certain I will be able to rise to that challenge?

When someone is sick you morn them while they are still alive so that by the time they pass, you are relieved that they don’t have to suffer anymore. I remember being angry near the end; I just figured that there would be more dignity in death. You live a great honorable life and then it ends so horribly; it didn’t and still doesn’t seem fair. But it is what it is and you have to accept and keep going.

Something really strange happened right before my dad passed, while I was making funeral plans, I was able to talk to him about what he wanted and that in of itself was a gift. That’s not the strange part, the strange part is that I told my mom, that I wanted to speak at his funeral.

That’s so strange because I am a huge crier and never would have imagined that I would have the strength to do that.  Buy something came over me that made me think I could get up in front of hundreds of people and eulogize my father, like wtf?? My mom, also super supportive and positive, told me to see how I felt the morning of the funeral; she gave me permission to change my mind at any point. But I told her I had things to say. I actually felt like he was giving me strength, and I think that is exactly what happened.

I had 5 bullet points written down on an old envelope, they were 5 examples of lessons he taught me. I felt I needed to speak and I wanted to make him proud. I know he would have been proud. Fast forward 5 weeks later, I can’t picture his face without bursting into tears, that’s why this post has no pictures of his handsome face. I know he was with me that day, giving me strength.

Because I am my fathers daughter, I am able to find positive things even in the face of such great loss. I feel that even though this is the most horrible thing that will ever happen to me, it has shown me how strong I am. That if I can survive this, I can survive anything. It also puts everything into perspective, things that I used to stress about now I could care less. It’s like, is anyone going to die if this doesn’t get done this very minute? No, ok then let’s chill out and move on.

This has also reminded me that I have the most amazing extended family, we were always close but this made us much closer and way more huggier and affectionate. I love them so much and can’t imagine how we would have gotten through this year without them.

I also have great friends, it’s funny how in the daze of death you remember every face that shows up to pay their respects. I was so touched by those who took the time to come pay their respects. You expect your close friends to show up, but there were a few people that I was so surprised to see and was so touched that they took the time to visit.

And if I am being honest; I was disappointed by some who didn’t come. Here’s a tip, if for some reason or another you are unable to show up for a friend, make that call or send that text saying thinking of you, but I will be working, I am out of town or just I am not a funeral person; trust me it will be so appreciated.

Thinking there will be so many people there that no one will notice your absence is apparently not how it works. Even now, I will be  talking to my mom and she will, out of the blue say, I was surprised that so and so wasn’t there. It’s like you have some sort of weird laser focused memory of every face that you saw. And at the most random time you will realize, gee that person wasn’t there. I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I can remember who showed at the funeral parlor and church. Ok enough of that, moving on.

I feel like I am now part of some twisted club, the loss club. There is something comforting about being around others who without saying anything know exactly what you have been through.

So 5 weeks in, it all still feels like a bad dream, like he’s just gone on a trip and will be back soon. The other day I picked up the phone to call him and for a full second I forgot he was gone. I am told that is very normal by my new club members.

I wish I had some magical formula for getting through the grieving process that I could share with you, but I don’t. I wake up, put a smile on my face and go about my day, I still cry a lot, mostly at night and usually only for a minute or so; I think that’s “normal” and it relieves stress.

My way of surviving death is to live my life in a way that honors my fathers spirit and joi de vivre. I know he would want me to live my happiest, best life and I am trying really hard to do that, it’s not always easy, but it is a choice I have to make everyday.

I want to thank everyone who has been so kind to my mom, Serge, Ginette and I! And if you know someone who has lost someone, check up on them every once in awhile, especially after the dust settles. And if you are part of the club, I hope you are able to find some comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Sadly everyone reading this will have their turn at some point.

 

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I love this pic of my dad and my nephew holding hands. I remember that day so well. Go out there and make memories with your people and take lots of pics!

muah!

Liette

 

 

 

 

Senior Living

Senior Living

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a senior citizen? Neither had I. My parents have been in a seniors apartment building for the past five years or so. I would visit and say hi to the “old” people in the halls, but I always seemed to be in a rush; rushing in and rushing out.

Then something happened, my dad go sick; at first, when I would travel back, I would spend a few nights with my parents; they set up a bed for me in my dad’s TV room, but I would eventually end up in a hotel or at a friends house.

This last time I was home, I could tell they really wanted and needed me to be here with them. So instead of rushing in and rushing out, I stayed.

Here are my observations; I don’t think we give “older” people that much thought because it scares us. It’s scary to have aging parents, so we don’t think about it. We deal with issues as they arrive, but we try not to think about it too much, plus we are busy, rushing in and rushing out.

Newsflash! We are all aging and one day, if we take good care of ourselves, we are going to be in our 80’s and maybe even in our 90’s too. Have you ever given any thought to what that will be like? Neither had I, until now.

At some point we stop rushing and have lots of time on our hands. I suspect their will be a lot of time for reflecting and thinking about the “good old” days. But guess what? If you aren’t 94 at this very moment, then the “good old” days are now! So maybe we should stop rushing through our time? Maybe we should slow down from time to time to take in the scenery?

My parents apartment is not an assisted living place; their fellow residents are independent, active and vibrant people; some seem to have better social lives than I do?? Mmm, I may need to work on a better balance?

There are lots of “younger” residents, in their early 70’s to mid 70’s, but the people that I am noticing more, since I have stopped rushing, are those in their 80’s and 90’s. I’ve been watching them and talking to them.

It’s at once heartbreaking to hear them talk about dying, and they do talk openly about it. And inspiring to see a calmness and acceptance they have on the cycle of life. We are all born to die, but we don’t think of it, we push it away. I guess when you are in your 80’s and older, it feels a lot closer. It must get harder to ignore? It looms over you in a way that a 40 year old doesn’t have the time to notice.

Being here has made me slow down, instead of walking past the gang that make puzzles on the third floor, I stop and talk to them. I am thankful that when my dad is feeling up to it and wants to go for a walk they greet him with a smile and give him the best chair.

Instead of thinking puzzles are lamo, I think, how nice it is that if you are feeling lonely you can walk down the hall and join a group of people.

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I stop on the second floor in the common area to say hi to my mom and her friends who play cards every night from 7 to 9; except for on Wednesday nights, when they play bingo. I pick up treats for them to share.

Today I made a point to walk three cars passed my spot to thank the man who has been dusting the snow off my parents car for the past week. I asked if he was the snow angel who’s been clearing off all the cars; he gave me the biggest smile. Turns out, this not rushing in and out is proving to be good for my soul.

And when I am feeling grief stricken with what is looming over me and my family; I find comfort in the faces of people who know how that loss feels, because they have lost husbands, wives and other loved ones.

So being here, living amongst a bunch of senior citizens has proven to be a gift. I will try to never be too busy to give someone a heartfelt smile as I rushed past them.

Full disclosure, the goal of this post was going to be funny and light hearted, because these old people are pretty sassy and funny as hell. But it quickly took a turn and I just went with it, lol. I hope that it makes you think a bit, even if it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, that’s ok too. Let’s be nicer humans!

muah!

Liette