Grief, what does it feel like?

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I will never forget the day when my dad was given an expiration date. We didn’t know how long we had, we were told 6 month to 5 years. At the very moment, I realize we were on a journey, which I call “the gift of time”. Every moment I had with my dad, was a gift. Time with spent with anyone you love is a gift but I think it becomes more apparent when someone is ill and given a prognosis. I spent as much time with my dad as I could.

I managed all my dads health care and would be at his side when he health would decline. We would make the 2 1/2 hour drive to go pick up him and drive him back to Denver. I wanted to ensure he received the best care and tended by the best doctors picked to care for my dad. He would go home and life would go back to normal. But as time went on you can tell he was declining and I knew in my heart time was running out and so did he.

I remember him grabbing my hand while were sitting one the couch about a month before he passed away and asking me to please take care of my mom when he is gone. He worried so much about my mom. I think my dad feared death because he feared leaving my mom alone. On his last medical trip to Denver, I think my dad knew he wouldn’t return home. I remember dad telling my husband, I don’t think I am going to make it back home this time; I am going to die here in Denver. He was right, he knew, because with a few days we were presented with the fact my dads worsening condition qualified him to began hospice. My dad’s 5 days in home hospice, he body was exhausted and he couldn’t fight anymore.

The beautiful thing about doing home hospice is being able to care for your loved one during those last moments of time. Dad went to my brother’s home for his last days here on earth. Home hospice allowed us to care for our dad during his final days, we had sleepless nights and the 24 hour case was exhausting but I would do again.

Personally, home hospice was a gift for me, to continue to care for my dad and tend to his needs. It gave me time to sit to in silence and hold his hand while everyone else was sleeping. As a nurse, caring for others is a gift but it’s a greater gift when it’s your own loved one. Dad finally was relieved of all his pain and left the earth on August 28th, 2017. I know my dad went to heaven and I hope he can hear me when I say, I miss you dad.

For the holidays, I know my siblings are all struggling with dad’s passing. I know for me, its a sudden emotion of anger or sadness. I have to take a moment to determine what is this feeling and what is triggering it, then I remember it’s called grief. Grief, hits you like a wave, it can come in big or small and sometimes it can just knock the breath out of you. From my understanding, you never get over grief but eventually learn to live without that person. I have no clue, this is new to me and all I can say is that it sucks!

I decided as a gift this year is to give something with dad. I recently seen these gorgeous memory lanterns on Pinterest and thought this would be a great gift. I started out with purchasing 12 inch lanterns, small doll house chairs, doll house size Christmas tree, Cricut permanent black vinyl, E6000 glue, tea lights, picture of my dad, and white felt to place on the bottom on the inside of the lantern. In Cricut Design Space, I typed the poem “Christmas in Heaven, What Do they Do? They all Come to Earth, to Spend it with You. So Save them a Place and one Empty Chair. You may not see them, but they will be there.” on the black vinyl. Inserted the picture into the back, glued the felt down, then chair and Christmas tree, placed the black vinyl lettering on the front, inserted the candle and voila, it was complete. If you go onto Pinterest and use the search words “memorial lantern DIY”, you can find many ideas regarding memorial lanterns and you can even find some great ideas not related to Christmas.

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