Saturday, 28 April 2012

Sharing our Grief.

Another Daily Om picked at random.

This OM looks at sharing our grief and opening ourselves up.  This post isn't exactly the same, but I think I need to share it all the same.

I have a friend, Sally, she lives a long way from me but we connect quite often to share joy and sometimes pain.  Last year when I was struggling to come to terms with my brother's death my Dad got rushed into hospital.  At the time I was leaning on Sally, from time to time, she let me talk.  I needed it and I am always grateful she was there.  But then the situation with my Dad got worse and I found I just couldn't talk about it with anyone outside of the family.  I don't know if this upset Sal, I really hope it didn't, but it wasn't anything she had said or done that made me withdraw, I really just couldn't discuss it.

The situation with my Dad seemed to improve at first, he was admitted to hospital and we believed he would get home.  But then things took a really drastic turn.  His kidneys began to fail and we were told he wouldn't get any better.  Just before this episode he had been his usual self and my mother had told him that we had to have a meeting with a social worker before he could come home.  He was worried, naturally, but I didn't think it was so bad.  Then my mother sat in the meeting and all but told the social worker she didn't want my Dad to come home.  She couldn't cope with him.  I had to tell the social worker that yes he could come home and yes there was room for him to have a bed downstairs and yes care could be set up for him.  So this was to be arranged, but first they might put him in respite care.  My mother agreed and I refused.  My mother told him and he was very upset.  I told him I would never allow them to put him in a home and eventually calmed him down.

After this he seemed to rapidly go down hill.  He got an infection - a UTI - which was really bad and thus affected his kidney function.  He withdrew from the world and visiting was always an awful experience.  He wouldn't speak to any of us - well, he actually would talk to me and my husband some of the time - and he was refusing food.  He was in a room on his own, then back on the main ward, then back in his own room.  There was one day, not long after they told us his kidneys were knackered and there wasn't anything they could do and he seemed particularly chatty with me and DH.  He had tears in his eyes all of the time and this stage lasted about a week.

My family became divided.  My mother was so grief stricken over the loss of her son that she refused to really have anything to do with my Dad.  I had to force her to visit.  She wanted him out of her life.  My brother P agreed with her, as did my cousin's wife.  In fact my cousin's wife had a huge influence over my mother back then.
I could understand their feelings - he wasn't a brilliant father to my brothers, he was slightly better with me.  When I was a teenager I hated him - I guess that's the norm during the teen years though.  I was the only one who would stand up to him when he was ranting at us as kids, I never took any of his crap.  When I had my own kids he loved having them.  But by the time brother P (only me and P have kids) he was too sick to look after them and I think this narked him and his wife.
There was some genetic problem that resulted in my younger brother being severely disabled and when he died my mother blamed my Dad for this.  She switched off from him, left him to fend for himself and this is how he ended up in hospital.  At one stage I wondered if she had tried to kill him, though I know she hadn't now.

It was like nobody wanted him anymore except me, my husband and my kids.  My mother visited because I forced her to.  Brother P and brother I visited because my husband had words with them over how unfair they were being and brother A did visit, but he has schizophrenia so it wasn't always easy getting him to go.

I fought for almost 12 weeks to get him home.  I felt as if I had failed.  Then I realised that I couldn't have done anymore and that was when I became angry.  Angry at my Dad for giving up on life.  Angry at my mother and brothers for not being better with him.  Angry with the hospital who caused his nasty infection that led to his death.  Angry with my brother who had died four months earlier.  Angry that my mother only seemed to care about that and nothing else.
I wanted to grieve, but I didn't want to go through the pain.  I cried once, for a couple of minutes and then I switched off from it all.  I had almost suffocated when my Aunty had died in 2005.  The pain was so bad I had switched myself off  from that too, but my mother's grief had almost floored me.  I didn't want to feel that again so anger was my only option.

My Dad taught me how to be a fighter.  How to be tough and fight for what I believed in.  How to take on the world and win.  When he died I felt my age - I was a few days off turning 40 - and it all came flooding back to me; my own baby dying in 1996, DH's illness that almost killed him, my Gran dying around the same time, my Aunty dying in 2005 and then my brother.  I thought about another Aunty who had died just before my Dad.  She was in her 80's and died from natural causes, but this just made me more depressed about getting older.

Ever since then I have remained angry.  Then my half-cousin's wife hung herself at the end of July last year.  She was the same age as me and I felt even worse.  My brother had been 29 when he died, my baby hadn't even been born.  Life was just too cruel and I was so mad at it, at them for not fighting.  I was unable to sleep, I needed to know that everyone was still alive in my house and so began my nightly ritual of struggling to get to sleep, then after only being asleep for a couple of hours I would wake up in a blind panic and I would have to get up to check everyone was still breathing.
I have driven myself mad with this crazy ritual and this is why I am seeking help.  I need to move on from this stage, from the anger and hurt and raw pain that eats at me everyday.  From the awful experience we went through when my Dad was still alive, in hospital and feeling like his wife no longer cared for him.  I need to accept it all and move on from it.

I know this post is very disjointed and probably doesn't make an awful lot of sense.  But I wanted to share my grief with some people who have been kind enough to be there for me over the past 16 months.  I have said time and again that I didn't want to talk about "it" because "it" hurt too much.  But getting "it" out into the open has helped me enormously and that is the purpose of this post.

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