We lost my mother on July 15 after a long battle with lung disease and everything that comes with it. Pulmonary Fibrosis lead to a lung transplant in 2014 which lead to a host of auto-immune issues, which lead to very aggressive end stage colon cancer that took her very quickly. I'll write more about the transplant process another time, but my sister found the following on my mom's iPad. It was likely written some time after my dad passed and It's rather eloquent.
By Wanda Campbell
I seem to have been “called” to reach out to those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. I try to pass on some things I have learned. So, I'll share with you a few things I've learned and hope they will be helpful to you.
Rest! As difficult as it may be, rest. Body, mind and spirit are exhausted afterwards and cannot heal without rest.
Be patient with yourself! Take the time to grieve rather than pushing your grief away. (Grief seems to demand to be heard and will find your heart, mind and spirit whether you want to allow it or not. Pushing it aside only delays everything.) Take all the time you need!! There’s no time table on grief.
Focus on the good memories and don't allow unpleasant ones to overtake your memories. (For me, this required a great deal of effort, but I knew I had to erase or control certain images and memories of those last days with Bill in the ICU. Disconnecting him from life support was excruciating. I was actually comforted by the fact that he was gone within fifteen minutes. I knew then I has made the right decision.)While I have never been able to erase many of the unpleasant memories,, they are no longer foremost in my mind and do not haunt me as they did during the first days and weeks after Bill’s death.
Expect some friends, family and acquaintances to feel your time for grieving has lasted too long. (They simply do not have the capacity or experience to understand.) Take all the time you need.
Expect some friends, family and acquaintances to be uncomfortable around you. You may feel abandoned. It is their inability to cope with their own grief and to observe your grief. They choose to distance themselves from you because the task of standing with you is too difficult for them. It can be painful, but try to be understanding. Most likely, there will only be a few who stand with you through it all. Try not to be resentful. Be grateful for the few who stand by you.
I was caught off guard by my children’s and grandchildren’s struggles to deal with their grief. I eventually realized they had never experienced a great loss and had no coping skills. Fortunately, my children communicated their difficulties and we were able to help one another. If nothing else, pray. I firmly believe prayer helps us process difficult times in our lives.
Try to recognize when and if you need help. It was five months before I realized I wasn't doing as well as I thought. I am thankful I had the good sense to seek help. In my area, Hospice has an excellent grief counseling program. Consider participating in a program if it is available.
Work hard to not get “stuck” in one of the stages of grief. It can be very difficult to move forward if this happens. Many people stay in the anger stage or denial stage and cannot move forward.
If you ask “Why me?” remember that many must ask this question. I have and the answer always comes back as “Why not me?". We must acknowledge that none of us is granted immunity to the harshness of loss, illness, tragedy or death. We must find a way to continue living our lives with a grateful spirit. Those who don't accept this usually remain angry and become self pitying.
Continue to do and increase the things that bring you pleasure. Focus on those things that are your personal endeavors. For me, it's music, church, family, friends, reading, crochet and knitting. I continue to sing semi-professionally and in local choral groups and my church choir because singing is so much a part of the essential me.
I am a musician, teacher, non-profit program director, transplanted southerner, cancer survivor and college football fan. And will probably write about all of it.