Sunday, December 13, 2009

A sudden loss...

Today was Hannah's 16th birthday! It should have been a good day. But it wasn't. We found out that Mike's mom died in her sleep overnight. We are in shock – it is all so unreal. I'm not sure Mike entirely grasps this fact but we have been talking about it and trying to process it. We did not break the news to Hannah until this evening although she said that all day she felt as if something was wrong. I think she felt Martha's passing as she has the ability to tune into such spiritual things. Death seems to be all around us. I have been chasing death away every day yet here it is permeating our lives. This is the third death we've been informed of this weekend-my friend and colleague Deb learned of her grandson's maternal grandmother's passing and Hannah's friend learned of her great-grandmother's passing. Each of us must travel on our own unique journey in experiencing the loss. Each person's experience of loss will have subtle nuances that will make it unlike any other loss, but the commonality--the grief response--with the intense feelings of loss, anger, depression, loneliness, fear, frustration, desperation, these are emotions that others will have also felt, endured and survived.
Sudden loss or death creates special problems for the survivors. Many of
these problems compound the grief response. The grief response following sudden loss is often intensified since there is little to no opportunity to prepare for the loss, say good-bye, finish unfinished business or prepare for bereavement. Families and friends are suddenly forced to face the loss of a loved one instantaneously and without warning. This type of loss can generate intense grief responses such as shock, anger, guilt, sudden depression, despair and hopelessness.
I take some comfort in the fact that Martha had recently come over for a visit. If this cancer has done anything, it has brought the family closer together. I stopped harboring all the negative feelings toward several family members on both sides of the family. I knew I could not battle cancer while holding all those grudges, so I let them go. I have forgiven all the family members who I felt had "wronged" me in some way, no matter how big or how small. I am also grateful that Hannah had a chance to know her grandmother. They used to be quite close when Martha lived in the area several years back. I am sorry that we will probably not be able to attend her memorial service down in Missouri as I have chemo on Wednesday and the family is hoping to have the service by the end of the week. Unfortunately, I will not be able to travel that far right after chemo. We will have to say goodbye in our own way, right here at home. I have to believe that Martha is at peace and no longer in any sort of pain.

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