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Old 05-08-2009, 12:23 AM
 
Location: St. Louis Metro East
515 posts, read 1,363,652 times
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My father in law has cancer that has metasticized, meaning that it is spreading throughout his body. Things are not looking good. DH spent many years estranged from his father, and only reunited with him just before we got married 9 years ago. Since then, they've had a decent relationship.

He's not a very outwardly emotional guy, but I did accidentally walk in on him crying one afternoon after talking to his dad, because he sounded so bad. He feels guilty because we live 3 hours away, as does his sister. He has a hard time making himself call sometimes, because it's so hard to hear what his dad's going through. I think he's also realizing his own mortality, and that makes it even harder.

I feel so badly for him. This is the first that either of us has dealt with the potential loss of a parent. Does anyone who's been through this situation have any words of wisdom? Is there something I can do, or is just being here enough?

~D
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Old 05-08-2009, 12:42 AM
 
Location: Wherever women are
19,022 posts, read 24,702,156 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtjmom View Post
My father in law has cancer that has metasticized, meaning that it is spreading throughout his body. Things are not looking good. DH spent many years estranged from his father, and only reunited with him just before we got married 9 years ago. Since then, they've had a decent relationship.

He's not a very outwardly emotional guy, but I did accidentally walk in on him crying one afternoon after talking to his dad, because he sounded so bad. He feels guilty because we live 3 hours away, as does his sister. He has a hard time making himself call sometimes, because it's so hard to hear what his dad's going through. I think he's also realizing his own mortality, and that makes it even harder.

I feel so badly for him. This is the first that either of us has dealt with the potential loss of a parent. Does anyone who's been through this situation have any words of wisdom? Is there something I can do, or is just being here enough?

~D
My father passed away in 2006. Neither me nor my brother were at his side. We were oceans away.

He died on a Thursday. I spoke to him on the phone Wednesday for about an hour. Tragically, this was a call filled with total lecture - from God to every day life.

He was admitted to the hospital on grounds of bronchitis. He had been diabetic since my birth. He was nursed back to normalcy and was actually getting discharged on Thursday. My cousins and mom packed his stuff and left, thinking he would make his way home, like he usually does.

Nobody knows what happened between here and his death. He was found on his bed, fully dressed to leave, but probably fallen into sleep as he was reclining on the bed, moments before he thought he would leave. He died in his sleep. They say it was a heart attack.

It took 2 days for me to reach my house. When I tried to lift his hand from the coffin, it was like dry fish. The lowest ebb for fatherlessness.

I think your husband is passing through something similar. The only cure to this void would be to spend as much time with his father. Because post death, this will turn into guilt and self-pity. It happened to me.

On your part, you can always be in his presence. Not let him spend a lot of time in loneliness, this is when the train of thoughts kick in. Despite the green trees through the window, it will generate a feeling of some cloudy autumn.
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Old 05-08-2009, 12:55 AM
 
Location: St. Louis Metro East
515 posts, read 1,363,652 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colossus_Antonis View Post
Despite the green trees through the window, it will generate a feeling of some cloudy autumn.
What a powerful statement. Thank you so much for your story, and your advice. I am touched, and truly sorry for the manner in which you lost your father. I will take your words to heart.

God bless,

~D
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Old 05-08-2009, 01:22 AM
 
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always difficult to lose someone close to you.

Just remember the good times you had with the person and what they taught you.
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Old 05-08-2009, 03:05 AM
 
Location: Ohio
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My Dad died in 1996. He and my mother were married for over 50 years and I didn't leave home until I went in the Army. After I got out I always lived in the same area as my parents and we spent time together. Visiting, fishing, camping, and after he got older I helped him with a lot of projects around his house.
When his time was near I spent as much time with him as I could even though there were times I was so choked up I couldn't even speak but at least he knew I was there. He was in and out of a coma the last few days and sometimes he would wake up for a few minutes and talk about how he was going to get better and we could go fishing and ask me if the boat that he gave me when he first got real sick was ready to go. We all knew he would never go fishing again but I told him the boat was ready whenever he felt like going.
If he would have been hours or even states away I would have been there as often as possible after he got sick and would have stayed with him when I knew he was in his final hours.
It wasn't easy for me to see a once proud man who could do anything and who had survived the Battle of the Bulge in WW2 laying there in the shape he was in.
I'm glad I did though because it made him feel better having the family he loved around him. He needed that support and comfort knowing he would not be alone with strangers.
The grieving process can be different for different individuals.
I am one who has a tendency to hold things inside and not show a lot of outward emotion. But after the funeral I lost my composure. I needed the support of my wife and family at that time. And I needed to try to stay strong to help my mother. In the days following there were times that I just wanted to be alone. I wanted my wife and kids to be around but I didn't want them hovering over me. I just needed to know that they were there. And I also knew I needed to be there for my wife too but to let her have her moments of solitude. She was like another daughter to my Dad and she adored him. Her and I were his fishing buddies.
I would suggest that if there is anyway possible for your husband to spend time with his Dad, he should try to do that.
In the coming years he will not want to look back and feel guilty about what he thinks "He should have done".
It's a very hard thing to lose a parent but any feelings of guilt in later years lingers and just makes it worse.
Since your husband and his father were estranged for a time but now have a relationship I would think it would benefit both of them to know that any problems of the past did not prevent them letting each other know that all is forgiven and they are there for each other and can accept the bad times easier having that knowledge.
And yes, it does make a person think of their own mortality. I'm 62 and I know my generation is next in line to have to experience the end of our cycle. I know I could live another 20 years or so or be gone within a short time from something I'm not yet aware of. I'm hoping for the 20 years but you just never know. I know how when I was young I thought about the next forever years. Now I just hope for as many as I can get.
I started thinking that way when Dad died. My own mortality.
I am glad I was there with him when I needed to be as rough as it was at the time. I don't have to think about not having been there which would always have been a dark cloud hanging over me.
Dad was 83 when he died. I still miss him.
I still have the 12 ft Jon boat he gave me that me and him spent so many hours in over the years. He bought that boat back in the early 1970's.
I'll never sell it.
I'll give it to one of my sons.
I'm sorry for the long post and the probably too much personsal info that wasn't neccessary but I get carried away a little when I think about my Dad.
He was my hero.
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Old 05-08-2009, 06:56 AM
 
Location: Cumberland Co., TN
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Quote:
I feel so badly for him. This is the first that either of us has dealt with the potential loss of a parent. Does anyone who's been through this situation have any words of wisdom? Is there something I can do, or is just being here enough?
There is really nothing you can do except be there and take care of the little things. Everyone has to go thru the mourning.
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Old 05-08-2009, 07:06 AM
 
Location: St. Louis Metro East
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Robhu, thank you so much for the valuable insight. I'm so sorry for your loss. You sound like a wonderful son who had a pretty teriffic dad.

Compounding to the upset for DH is that he really doesn't get along wtih his stepmom. He says she makes him appreciate me more... He's afraid (and I think he's right) that when his dad is gone, she will liquidate everything he owns, let her kids pick through it, and he will see nothing. His dad builds those big model trains that you can ride on, creating the cars from scratch. He puts his heart and soul into every car, and since my DH works for a railroad, it's a key bonding point for them. They are also worth several thousand dollars apiece. Not to make her sound like an evil troll, she's been through a lot, she's just not the most gentle, compassionate person I've ever met. His dad asked DH if he would look in on her from time to time, and he said he would. He is a man of his word. I know he will.

He does go see him every chance he gets, and whenever possible, we go as a family. He asks to see all of us, and asks why when I don't come with him. I am touched by that.

Thanks for the replies. During such a critical time in his life, I just wante to make sure I was doing the right thing, and not missing some important coping mechanism. I really appreciate the stories. It's nice to know you're not alone out there...

~D

Last edited by jtjmom; 05-08-2009 at 07:07 AM.. Reason: clarification
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Old 05-08-2009, 07:19 AM
 
4,218 posts, read 7,859,367 times
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Not a personal story, but regarding how the death of a parent affects you. When a friend of mine was around 20, his father died at 45 from a heart attack. Apart from mourning, my friend became very keen of his own health. He boxed and ran to have a healthy heart. Now that he's passed his own 45th birthday, there is no yardstick for him to approximate what comes next. It's like a big black unknown in front of him. Still young with young children, but the sense of ambiguity is there.

You are doing everything right, I think.
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Old 05-08-2009, 07:33 AM
 
Location: Back in the gym...Yo Adrian!
9,371 posts, read 17,504,272 times
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My dad passed away of cancer in 1994 at the age of 49. We had a turbulent relationship but we always loved one another. I was just starting to get closer to him and he was diagnosed with cancer the year before he died. I was living 5 hours away during the last three years of his life, and I wanted to be around for him more towards the end but couldn't. I last saw him three weeks before he died. He went into the hospital. I helped the nurse move him from a stretcher to the bed. He was in pain. My last words to him were "I love you" as I left the room. He looked at me and said "I love you too", and that was it. I am greatful I had the opportunity to tell him one last time. It took me two years to finally get over his death and come to terms with his passing. Even today there are times I wish I had just ten minutes to sit beside him, tell him how much I miss him and how much he meant to me, and give him a hug. But we don't get ten minutes, so tell your husband to say all that he's ever wanted to say now, before it's too late.
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Old 05-08-2009, 07:36 AM
 
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You know, JT, losing a parent is devastating in so many ways. This is especially so when one is relatively young, and often it has nothing to do with the strength of one's relationship.

Like it or not, your parents are part of who you are in your genes, your attitudes, and your behavior. Even those who make a deliberate break with their parents in terms of their lives are really still dealing incompletely with the looming presence of a father or mother. In some ways, it's more so with someone who is estranged from a parent--for this remains a major unresolved issue in one's life.

A child lucky to have one's parents die only after growing old has an opportunity to reconcile themselves to an estranged parent. The child learns that many of the differences really were the shared fault of both parent and child. The child learns that the parent, once a godlike presence in one's life, is indeed fallible and has struggled at times. The child, becoming a parent himself, learns that raising children is a very difficult undertaking, and becomes more forgiving of whatever mistakes his parent has made. The parent, over time, becomes human. The child, over time, becomes more forgiving of the parent's humanity.

But when the parent dies when the child is relatively young, those opportunities to see the parent as an equal in life are lost irrevocably. My father died when I was 22. He was a cold and aloof man who was absorbed in his own problems, and saw his children as obstacles to his happiness. Now that I am 46 and raising three children of my own, I have insight--if not sympathy. For he did make mistakes that I, as a parent, have avoided. And I think that I am a better husband than he was to my mother.

The upshot of this rambling essay is that your husband is really grappling with a very complicated point in his life. For it is the loss of a huge presence in his life, it is the loss of a relationship that had not really reached full maturation and potential, and it is the cold revelation of one's own mortality. So you will find that your husband's grief will rise again and again in unexpected ways, and often at unwelcome times over the next several years. He will require your patience and your love.
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