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Old 02-12-2018, 01:49 PM   #21
VeryGoodAdvice
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Jen, I've only been hopping on the site here and there to see how you're doing. I'm glad to hear that things are, generally, going well and look forward to continuing to read about your adventures. Take care and thank you again for sharing your experiences with us.
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Old 02-12-2018, 03:37 PM   #22
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Iím here, listening.


Hope you slept well.
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Old 02-12-2018, 08:45 PM   #23
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I am so sorry Jenn. I find myself migrating down to the community hole to "read" that you are all right. I am glad you are having moments of some respite and also that you have your faith, family and friends to help you with the low's.
I know it is strange to offer love and support to a complete stranger, but please know that prayers and virtual love are being sent to you everyday.

Peace and love,
stacy
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Old 02-12-2018, 11:53 PM   #24
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Reading along. I can only imagine how difficult it is and I am sure it is harder than I imagine. Hang in there, sounds like you have a great attitude, even if there are times you are low. Keep writing, I enjoy reading and I hope it helps you in some small way.

I hope the card brought a smile...even if a meek one.
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Old 02-13-2018, 11:25 AM   #25
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I read every word you wrote. Keep writing. We are following along . Probably far more readers than you realize care about your life .
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Old 02-13-2018, 01:04 PM   #26
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Jen, I'm glad you are keeping us updated. Loss is so hard to navigate. Thinking of you.
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Old 02-17-2018, 06:39 AM   #27
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Hey everyone,

I haven't written in a while because the hard part hit. Everyone thinks the sickness, death and funeral of a person they love is the "hard part". That's the crisis period. You have all this adrenaline running through your system keeping you going. The loss doesn't feel real. It's like one long nightmare when you expect to wake up any moment. You smile. Tell funny stories, share memories. Assure everyone and yourself that you're going to be fine. You're grateful for the person you lost. You cry but they are happy tears for all the love you were blessed with.

Then normal life begins. All the people around you slip back into their regular lives. They get busy with work and school. Oh they still care and they'll check in on you, but they're not beside you going through the loss anymore. They aren't distracting you anymore.

When my mom died in 2004, it was after a long painful battle with cancer. Dad was never alone with that grief. I vowed to be right beside him.. for mom. We felt relieved that her suffering was over and had a purpose in going on without her. I've told people many times that Dad and I started traveling because my mom told us to. I know if I hadn't been here for my dad, we would have lost him 13 years ago. Instead he rebuilt a life and became even more important to our family and others. I loved that life.

My dad died so quickly he didn't get a chance to think about his death much less give us any last words or direction. We think he tried to tell us something before they put him on a respirator. He called out for my nephew (the one living with us). He told my siblings something they didn't understand. My sister said it was like a game of charades and he was frustrated because we were too dumb to understand. He called my name. I think I know what was on his mind. He wanted them to look after me. He was my dad, after all. Yeah he leaned on me like a partner. Sometimes I'd nag him and mother him. Strangers thought we were married. I looked after him, but he helped me finish growing up.

He financed my first adapted van so I could learn how to drive. He enlisted my help in work until I found my own position there. He was proud of me. He depended on me. He admired my strength and determination, but he also knew how much I hated being alone with my thoughts.

We did all this estate planning years ago. Properties and investments. We weren't done, however. You know how you don't want to finish every final arrangement because it means you might be "ready to die"? My dad was not ready to die. He was far too busy living... with me. God had other plans.

When my dad was in the ICU, I told him I'd be ok. I assured him I'd figure the rest of it out. That he didn't need to worry about me because I was strong and determined. I always make lemonade out of lemons. I didn't want him holding on in suffering for me. Mom had been waiting for him a long time.

So I took all that determination and put it into getting on with things. But then "normal life" resumed. My siblings went back to work. My coworkers went on with business. My nephew went back to school. Life resumed for them. I guess people were tired of grieving. I had no choice. Grief is my unwanted guest. It clouded almost everything I did. I tried every day to hang on and not lose it. I don't mean crying. I mean screaming and bitching about everything or becoming paralyzed with depression.

My nephew had a grueling first week. He was in class all day and working all evening. When he came home, he stayed in his basement apartment. I was left alone in the rest of the house. I resented my nephew for avoiding me. We fought over dirty dishes in the sink and household chores. Even our cats hid in their own world. (Most of the time sleeping in Dad's bedroom.) It made me feel more alone. More abandoned.

So that was the hardest week. I'd go from strong and determined to a weeping basket case visiting my parents' graves. I tried everything I could think of to hang on. I called up old friends and new ones just to talk. I wrote letters to Dad. I kept an audio diary. I buried myself in work and figuring out all that estate stuff. I admit when that Demon of Despair hit me (usually around 4am), I found myself wishing I would die.

My BA in Psych said that was normal for a grieving partner. When you lose the person you spent every day with, the one you shared finances and plans with, you lose half of yourself. You feel so empty.

When people would ask how I was doing, I'd say I was hanging on. I found myself going crazy when I couldn't make progress on anything. I called my dad's life insurance company to file a claim and was told they were backed up two weeks. I'm still waiting for the papers. My dad's income stopped rolling in and the estate lawyer says the whole process to settlement will take 10-12 months.

It's rough but I'm not in the worst shape. There's no mortgage to pay. Dad paid the property taxes on Christmas Day. He left some money in the bank. Only loans we had were for my new adaptive van. We bought that in 2015 with 7 yr loans. Dad financed half and I financed the other. I'm joint owner on all his accounts. I've been able to take over paying the bills, organizing the mail, etc. But there are still so many things to work out financially. We have to go from a wage-based economy to an investment-based one. There's his business interest to sell. I'm obsessing over how to make it all work so I can continue with the lifestyle I love. That means going on trips and treating family and friends when needed.

We've had some problems working the estate stuff out. My brothers are not happy to learn my dad made my sister and I the Trustees of his estate. My dad loved all of us and we are a close family, but my dad also knew all our weaknesses. The men in my family overcommit and can become easily distracted. They all procrastinate. My sister and I were the ones who pushed to get everything done. We'd drop everything until it was all settled and even then we worried until all the lose ends were done. Old rivalries threatened to stick their heads up. Competing interests and different views on how to handle finances. The challenge is to settle all that in a way our family remains close and strong. My dad once told me even good families can destroy themselves over inheritances. He'd seen his mom's sister fight when their dad died.

I love my family. We all do. So even though my sister & I are the ones legally in charge, we've been calling meetings together with the brothers. We have a private text chat to update each other every day. Meetings with advisers are recorded so siblings who can't be there can listen.

So I've got a lot on my plate. I worry about the finances. I worry about my family's closeness. I worried about my position with work. Am I still needed? Does this world still want me? What is my place now?

My clients have been great, actually. I get requests for help daily, but it's always with that little tentative "I hate to bother you..." You know, a grieving person does need that. For the world to keep prompting them to participate. 14 years ago I was doing that for my dad. He had to keep going for me.

So this week was better. I started getting used to my dad not being here. Our cats have started looking to me for attention.

Oh and I finally got my van back today. It had developed a fault with the driving controls the week of the funeral. (Just what I needed... not!) My mechanic told me it was unsafe to drive so I had to get it towed to his shop. (Thank you AAA!) He kept it for a week, ran all sorts of tests before he could finally figure out the problem. In the meantime I had to go back to using the old van. The one my dad bought so I could learn how to drive. Over the last 18 months it became his car. It still had all his stuff inside it. Driving it was a little awkward. I'm not used to it. But it was also comforting. A living reminder of how much my dad believed in me and helped me.

I don't know if you can comprehend this. Able-bodied people usually don't have a frame of reference. When you grow up with a physical disability, independence is the great, impossible dream. I live in the country. The closest house is 3 acres away. The closest store is 2 miles away. Driving is a necessity if you don't want to be a shut in. My mom always wanted to protect her baby. She feared my driving because it meant I'd go where she wasn't. What happened when I was off at the store... alone. After dark somewhere miles away... alone. My dad worried too but he also knew how important it was. They say mommas want to keep their baby birds close and daddies push them out of the nest. By helping me find my independence, my dad actually helped himself.

In the last 6 weeks before he got sick, my dad had me driving him everywhere. He'd had an accident on the way home one night. Ran over a curb and lost control for a second. Messed up the wheel and had a $2000 fix. He didn't ask me to drive him but merely told me what happened. So I jumped in to be his chauffeur. Made Christmas prep a bitch and a half, but I'm glad I was able to be there for him. I helped keep him active and productive until his remaining days.

I sent my nephew in with him one day. On the way back my dad started reminiscing about his youth and young adulthood. One of those "grandfather speaks wisdom" talks. My nephew hit the record button on his phone and now we have an audio of my dad... Imparting wisdom to a young man.

I'm still not sleeping regularly. It's hard to go to bed at night. And I keep getting woken up in the morning. I'll go with 3-4 hrs a sleep a night then crash and sleep for 10 hours on weekends.

My nephew is coming out of his basement more. He told me he's having a hard time sleeping too. Ever since I woke him up that morning because Grandpa fell. It's hard to find a new normal. He's worried about his dad. On top of losing our father, my brother is also going through a divorce.

I decided to keep that March trip to Disney so to help me get there and back I invited my brother and his sons. My brother will fly down with me. My nephew will fly home. As a treat for him (the nephew), I invited his girlfriend to join me for a few days in Disney. I really do like the girl and she's been a good friend to my nephew. I have the finances to afford a couple plane tickets and park tickets. My nephew is saving all his pay for the trip. Plus he will be there to make sure I get home ok. A helper when I need it. And my brother has enjoyed being "kidnapped" to Disney for years. He's funny. He cracks jokes. He allows himself to be a kid just like my dad did. We're hoping he's able to bring his youngest daughter with him as well.

Making lemonade out of lemons.

Still there's that Grief Demon. I was booking FastPasses for us last night. Right in the middle of the second day I found myself envisioning going from ride to ride. Then it hit me. Dad won't be there. I'll never get to enjoy Disney with Grandpa Mohawk again. I felt sick, like I was betraying him. That put me in a bad mood the rest of the night.

I know. My dad would want me to go on. His spirit's around me. All those platitudes. It still feels wrong.

Ok that's where I am. There's a snowstorm coming this weekend. My nephew is going to spend it with his dad. My sister is coming over. We've got two years worth of taxes to worth thru for my dad. He's been paying estimated taxes and overpayments, but we're not sure what the final balance is. And I got a couple bottles of wine.

One thing has become clear to me. I've got a great big sister. She's been helping me and checking in on me. She sent me flowers for Valentine's Day because she knew my dad would have given me flowers. And her husband came back the next day to give me a dozen white roses. I am their little sister.

It's things like that make you want to keep going.
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Old 02-17-2018, 06:52 AM   #28
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Thank you for continuing to post through your grief. Wishing you much strength as you adjust to your "new normal."
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Old 02-17-2018, 07:03 AM   #29
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Oh BTW, during my long lonely nights I find myself binge watching all the shows I've missed. I'm currently watching Young Sheldon and loving it. It's the right mix of serious and funny.

I just finished the episode where Young Sheldon braves the germs to hold his father's hand during evening prayer around the dinner table. He does it because earlier his father told him a story about his life, his mistakes, and that gave Young Sheldon some advice about how to handle life. It was one of those moments when a little boy realizes his dad is a person doing the best he could.

Oh and the grandmother reminds me of my own. Smoking, drinking, gambling playmate with a heart.
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Old 02-17-2018, 04:56 PM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by broganmc View Post
Oh BTW, during my long lonely nights I find myself binge watching all the shows I've missed. I'm currently watching Young Sheldon and loving it. It's the right mix of serious and funny.

I just finished the episode where Young Sheldon braves the germs to hold his father's hand during evening prayer around the dinner table. He does it because earlier his father told him a story about his life, his mistakes, and that gave Young Sheldon some advice about how to handle life. It was one of those moments when a little boy realizes his dad is a person doing the best he could.

Oh and the grandmother reminds me of my own. Smoking, drinking, gambling playmate with a heart.
Wishing you continued strength as well. I loved that moment at the dinner table too--touched my heart.
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