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Grief before the loss of a loved one

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  • #16390
    amanda83
    Participant

    Hi all,

    Im glad I have found a forum to express how I feel and find ways to try to deal with this better.

    My dad is in stage 4 cancer that is metastatic through his body, he is at the 5th round of chemo out of 10 but test show that it is not working. The dr told me 6 months ago that if the chemo didnt work he may have 6-12 months left before he passes. He is having a lot more pain now and Im feeling very anxious and upset all the time thinking about what is yet to come. Im working fulltime and have a great partner and children but is effecting my motivation to get on with life and I feel like im just waiting for my dad to die.

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  • #18661
    onlinecommunity
    Keymaster

    Dear @amanda83,

    Welcome to the forums, we are glad you’ve found us too and we’re sorry it’s taken a while for a response. Please know that your grief experience is valued here (it might also help to know that in the coming days our ‘Volunpeers’ will be joining the forums to share their lived experience and empathy, making sure that our new community members feel held and supported).

    Our hearts go out to you as you face such a heart-wrenching battle to support your dad through aggressive cancer treatment. It sounds like you might be experiencing anticipatory grief… where you experience all the painful thoughts and emotions that come after the loss of a loved one but added to this is the constant stress of seeing them in their suffering, along with dread for what might come.

    This type of grief has three themes; ‘traumatic distress’ which can include thoughts that you’re not qualified to deal with this, or about the disruption to your life; ‘separation distress’ for the anticipated loss; and ‘emotional dysregulation’ where you might swing from concealing your emotions (to protect your loved ones) – to panic attacks. It can be overwhelming, and confusion is common. Erica Sirrine (a renowned grief therapist) relates C.S. Lewis’ phrase the “laziness of grief” to anticipatory grief – the brain ‘freezes’ until the concept of losing the loved one is processed.

    So, you see there are many valid reasons for a lack of motivation, so it might be time to practice some self-compassion and give yourself a break. Perhaps there is a way for you to ease back on your workload to give yourself the mental and emotional space needed to cope with this? Talk therapy is also good…you’ve already taken the first step by expressing yourself here on the forums. You can also call the Griefline Helpline any day on 1800 845 745, or seek professional grief and loss counselling.

    Mindfulness is another coping tool, especially good for anxiety. Our Mindfulness for Grief webpage has some helpful tips for you.



    @amanda83
    we are so glad that you have a loving and supportive husband and children who you can turn to for support. Please keep reaching out to us here too, we are here for you. 🌸

    #20115
    Machok
    Participant

    Hi @Amanda83
    I too had a Dad who was diagnosed with a terminal illness in April last year. After getting over the shock of knowing he had maybe 8 days, 8 weeks but not 8 months, it was a very long 10 months of love and care and making everyday count. He passed away 2 weeks ago. I really struggled especially before christmas as that was the 8 months time. We knew he could go anytime but boy it was really tough waiting, wondering and supporting him all that time especially as he got weaker. I started counselling in October because I was having panic attacks, had mild depression and was diagnosed with adjustment disorder (adjusting before the actual event) so don’t feel alone. Seek help if you need to.
    My only advice to you is be kind to yourself. Its ok to be struggling. It was hard to struggle but be brave to my dad. I got as much help as I needed like services in to help him but also to take some pressure of me and my sister (meals on wheels, cleaning lady, visiting nurse to change dressings etc). We tried to call/visit someone each couple of weeks, like saying goodbye but boosting his happiness by touching base with people that meant alot to him. I felt guilty that I thought it was so much hard slog but we kept on doing what we could on the days that we could. And some days I had to lie and say I was busy doing something because I just wasn’t feeling strong enough emotionally that day.
    My counsellor always says – You must eat (doesn’t matter what but you have to have food regularly throughout the day). You must exercise (walk to the letterbox or around the block. Just do something each day). And you must sleep (try and go to bed at the same time each night and I have stopped taking my devices, but will read my book which makes me tired, and you are tired from all the thinking and worry). I don’t do all these perfectly each day but I try. If I eat I don’t feel as sick. If I get up and do something I don’t think for that small amount of time. And now I have a whole new wave of feelings to deal with. He isn’t here anymore. I miss him so much. But I try to remember all the good times, all that I did for him, talk to my friends when I’m up to it and I have found this group which I’m hoping (I know) will help share the burden. Hoping you are ok as you posted a few months back. Big hugs no matter what. xK

    #20169
    Moon
    Participant

    Hello there, just holding out an empathetic hand as I too have lived a similar experience.
    I cared for my father at home, by myself throughout his end stages of cancer – thought we had at least 3 mths after metastizing, but only got 6 weeks .
    Looking back, I don’t know how I managed, with 4 kids under age of 5, separated from their father. I think I just ran on the stress adrenelin, which I definately do not recommend.
    I completely crashed and burned about 3 months after his passing, had to be hospitalized briefly.
    I’m so glad you are reaching out now to strengthen a support network, I wish I had of done so. I think it’s safe to say, that here in this forum, as long as respectful, it’s a safe place to share all of the emotions of approaching loss.
    I must admit I became a little resentful that my brother never helped out, or friends didn’t offer babysitting more often, but in hindsight I never actually asked for help.
    I’m not sure if I just naively presumed people would automatically offer, or if it just looked like I was coping fine on the outside.
    There’s a saying about fitting your own face mask first, so that you can actually help others, so I encourage you to do so. Sometimes it can be the simplist of things, but put your hand up now, so you can continue being the best of you for those you hold dear xx

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