Sunday, July 17, 2016

grieving and treatment

My father passed away a couple of weeks ago (the night before I started IT Herceptin, in fact). His service was last week. It was small and private. I was very impressed with the priest who had never met my father but listened to my mom and my sister and said some very thoughtful things.

The end of my father's life was not an easy one and, in his last days, I was unable to get to the hospital. I didn't (we didn't) want to put my treatment in jeopardy by exposing myself to hospital germs. 

It was the right call but it was hard and it made everything seem less real and further away. 

I have realized that grieving, or working through, a death is perhaps not so compatible with intense cancer treatment. I need to stay focused, informed, strong and clear as we go forward.

I need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and get to treatment every single week. I need to build a relationship with a new oncologist (who I had never met before starting the IT Herceptin). I need to figure out what I wish to do when it comes to increasing doses and deciding how to proceed (my new oncologist is very thoughtful but also consultative. He acknowledges that we are smart and well informed - and that there is a paucity of information out there). 

I need to walk that line between getting stuff done, having some fun, staying vigilant and getting enough rest.

It turns out that my regular oncologist, who has followed me since 2006, is unlikely to return for several months (I do not know the details as to why and don't feel that I am entitled to them. Something very hard must have happened and I hope that he is getting what he needs). What I didn't realize is that the other doctor, who convinced my oncologist to go the route of IT Herceptin, is finished at our hospital and is now in Boston. At least he is reachable via email by my medical staff but he's not here to question and to reassure.

All that to say that I want to grieve. I want to hold up my emotions to the light and and think about what this recent loss means. I don't cry easily and it has yet to really happen.

The service helped. And I have been thinking of the things that were important to my father that he passed on to me: intellect, honesty, respect for privacy, a love of literature and a curiosity about the world and it's differences. 

And despite all that he went through at the end, I know that he would want me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Two of my boys out for our meal after the service.

8 comments:

melanie said...

So sorry about your Father Laurie. ((((hugs))))

deb said...

Love you. Everywhere you go, you inspire an amazing team. Xo

Unknown said...

Thanks for this!!!
Sending Love!
Chrissy

JuliaR said...

I think we all/each need to find the way to grieve that works for us. And I think that how we grieve changes as time goes on. Dad's been gone 2 years and I think of him in different ways now. Mum had been slipping away for some years before she actually died (6 months before Dad) so I grieve her differently. I dream about them and while the dreams aren't always happy ones, I still am glad when I wake up and find out I was dreaming about them.

Recently, I was Googling Dad and came across a link I had not seen, even though I sort of knew about it. It was the Memory Project for Korean War vets. He'd written and got published a whole book about his experience but for the Project, he wrote a different reminiscence. Then I noticed there was a button that said "listen" and to my joy, it was his voice, reading what he had written. What a treat to be able to hear him 2 years after he died.

JoT said...

Focus your strength where you need it. I think you'll find that grieving is an evolutionary process - your grief will manifest itself in different ways under different circumstances. It will also change with time. So if you don't grieve the way people (or you) expect to right now, don't sweat it.

I got a card with the "Mourner's Bill of Rights" on it after Gill died. I keep it in my wallet. These are my faves but #4 especially:
#1 - You have the right to experience your own unique grief.
#4 - You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
#5 - You have the right to experience "griefbursts".

With love...

laurie said...

I have a big lump in my throat right now. Thanks to each one of you.

Nancy's Point said...

Hi Laurie,
I am so sorry for your loss. As you know, my dad recently died too. I have yet to truly begin grieving because I've been trying to hold it together til after my son's wedding, which is now over and it was lovely. My dad's service is later this week. I'm an emotional mess... It must've been so hard for you to stay away during your dad's last days. But of course, you and your dad both knew you had to. Sorry for my belated comment. I've been mostly offline of late. Please know I am thinking of you, Laurie. xx

ebg said...

Hi Laurie,

I check your blog regularly to see how you are doing. I very much hope that the fact you haven't been writing as much means that you're devoting your time to more restorative, joy filled things. I think of you often. Wishing you the best.

Elizabeth