What do you do when someone you love is dying? How do you deal with loss? How as a parent do you help your children deal with it?
I wish I knew. Pounding this question late at night in the arms of my husband as he sleeps watching a candle flame dance I am left remembering how I deal with Good Byes. I don’t deal well. Before I can help my children, I think I need to help myself.
There is someone I know that dying of cancer. I can’t get into it beyond that they do not live with me. I hope to share more soon but as not everyone who needs to know does yet, it is not my story to share.
I can share though how I have dealt with good byes before. This is something I know a bit about though this does not mean it is anything helpful to anyone. My husband is in the military and has been for a very long time. We eloped to get married when I was 18 and the plan was that we would have a days together and then he would leave for bootcamp. Only that morning he told me that he had to leave that afternoon. I was very very unhappy with him and took every moment I could to argue with him and cry. It was not his fault but I was a mess. The deployments came, I would distance myself from him and often argue and really I think he must have thought me a creature like Medusa as even looking in my direction could cause me to melt down. Poor guy. Over the years he has come to accept it, he jokes that it is how he knows I will be just fine.
I am not just this way with him though. When we had to give up a beloved pet, I distanced myself as well, I let others take care of her and didn’t even go to say good bye. The same when moving so often with friends. I would often skip the good bye in favor of a phone call or e-mail. I would distance myself as soon as I knew we where moving as I dreaded the first day without them and wanted to make that blow hurt less. I am not sure it ever helped though.
I try and distance myself from pain, I am a coward I suppose.
A very old friend of mine was very sick some years back. I had not lived close to her in a long time but we would chat online. She told me she was going to end her life. I didn’t believe her, I tried to tell her all those bright and happy things. I thought she was just having a hard time. She was telling me good bye and I was refusing to hear it. I had not heard from her in a bit and when checking on her I found out she had passed on. I wonder all these years later if not saying good bye to her made her ending harder on her some how.
Another older friend suddenly came down with Cancer, she too lived a ways away when it happened and I wanted to come visit but the situation was not permitting it but I had plans and the timing would soon work out. My friend told me I should see her sooner rather than later, I thought a month would be ok, my husband would be home from the war zone and my baby would be born and I would be able to travel. It was too late though by the time he came home. She passed a week after baby was in my arms. Her family gave me a quilt she had made my little girl at the memorial. I sang that day, I spoke, and to this day I cry thinking about her.
I remember thinking after she died that I would not be making any more friends with older people. Losing them hurt too much. How selfish is that? I have a neighbor that has cancer, I don’t know her because the first day I met her she told me she had cancer and I couldn’t bring myself to go over and make friends. Our children play together but I don’t go say hello. Yes, I must be a coward.
Someone close to my heart has been very very sick, I dread every e-mail thinking it must be bad news. I cry for them, for those that will be left behind and I try to push the thoughts from my mind.
Someone I adore now is terminal though I am not sure how long there is. Plans are being made, and I am left wondering what to tell the children. I am left wondering how I will handle this, how I will say good bye and how I will help my children do the same. Will I be a coward this time too? Is there even such a way to deal with death that isn’t as ugly as my own? This is someone so entwined in my heart that my chest hurts thinking about them not there. I know while someone is alive that the good bye is for them and when they are gone it is for me, for us left living.
Death is not something a lot of people talk about so please excuse my rambling. Emotions are not something I grew up being allowed to share so I might be very immature about loss. I just wish I knew what was right, if there is even such a thing.
What I do know is that I am blessed to have so many people I have loved, that I do love, and so many people to miss when they are gone or far away. Beyond that I feel rather child like myself, alone in the dark.