We Skipped Hospice Remembrance Day | My Thoughts on Grief
As I mentioned in my November goals post, November is Lung Cancer Awareness month. I will be sharing a few posts during this month related to my experience of losing my dad to lung cancer in December of last year (2014).
My dad died almost 11 months ago. When I started the draft of this post I was going to count the exact number of days, but I decided not to do that to myself.
I am still mostly in shock. By that I mean that I can’t believe that it really happened (losing him to lung cancer), and when I am caught up in the mundane tasks of every day life I often forget that it did happen. This does not mean I don’t care or that I don’t miss my dad dearly, I think it is just my brain’s way of coping.
Our local hospice group does an event each year called remembrance day. It is usually held in a local church and is open to the public. There is music, prayer, and a list of names of the people who died during the past year is read aloud.
My mom and I attended this remembrance event many years ago, after my grandma (my mom’s mom) had passed away (also after receiving hospice care). It was a nice event, I was happy to attend in support of my mom after her loss, and of course it felt good to remember my grandmother and acknowledge her passing beyond the funeral.
My dad was in hospice care at this time last year for approximately six weeks after his diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer. He died at home on December 21st.
This years hospice remembrance day was just a few days ago on November 2nd. My mom said that she wanted to go and right away I said of course I would go too. My sister knew that she couldn’t handle it emotionally so I gave her an out by asking her to babysit her nephews. I marked the date on my calendar.
But as the date approached I started to get filled with a sense of dread. I felt sick.
I didn’t really want to go, but I would never tell my mom that or let her go alone. On the morning of the remembrance day event my mom confessed to my sister and I via text that she was not doing well emotionally. We gave her permission to skip the event, and she was relieved. I was relieved as well. I think she thought it was something she HAD to do. Something she was supposed to do. Instead, I picked her up (with her two grand-babies in tow) and we went to the local park.
In the car, while driving my mom back home I started up a conversation about grief. I remembered hearing about the stages of grief before, but couldn’t list them or tell you how many there were.
A quick google on her phone and we learned that there are five stages of grief. They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. (If you’re interested, read more about the stages of grief here on grief.com).
My mom decided she is firmly in the depression stage which is marked by deep grief that feels like it may never end. I feel like I am still stuck in denial. To quote grief.com the denial stage “helps us to survive the loss….Life makes no sense…We go numb. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible.” That rings very true for me. Life without my dad does not make sense. Although I have had periods of fierce anger and deep depression, I am clearly still experiencing denial.
The fresh air, and sunshine was a much better use of our time than the remembrance day would have been. And that’s not me taking a dis at our local hospice group. I’m sure the event was lovely and well attended. They are an amazing organization and they do such important work for our community. I’m glad they exist and I’m glad Remembrance day is a real thing that people can attend. I hope that it brings comfort to many.
But the loss of my dad is still too raw for me, and I can’t even imagine what it feels like for my mom every day (my parents were married for over 40 years). I am able to be distracted by my house, my husband, my two kids, my work, my blog, and so on. My mom still lives in the home where she shared life with my dad, and walks through the room where he passed away, so I’m sure distractions for her are hard to come by.
Standing in a room filled with other people who have suffered such losses would feel crushing. Having my dad’s name on a list of other dead people is horrible (I’m sorry for not having a more eloquent way of putting that). I’m glad I didn’t sit quietly in a room of strangers and wait for it to be read.
Grief is a funny thing. It’s personal. It’s individual.
Your grief might not fit into the five stages of grief perfectly. Maybe you’ll grieve out of order like me.
Or perhaps hospice remembrance day – with the flowers, the lighting of candles, the uplifting music, the prayers, public acknowledgement of your loved one, and the inevitable public crying – would do your soul some good.
Do what is right for you. I’m glad we encouraged my mom to.
If you suffered a great loss, how was your grieving process? Did you experience all five stages of grief?