Friday, February 20, 2015

Grief Through The Eyes Of A Child

Recently, my stepdad, whom I am very close to has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Well, he was given a timeline, let's say it that way. Needless to say, blogging has fell by the wayside, as have many other responsibilities, as we grapple with this news. Receiving news like that is a huge blow that nobody is ever prepared to hear. But luckily, my stepdad is an inspiration, and a fighter, and he will go down fighting and won't give up until it really is over. I aspire to be as strong as him one day.

But I must say that I have quite a few things to say about this whole grieving process. Having gone through it once already, when I was 12 years old and I lost my dad, to put it mildly, it's a bitch. It hurts, bad. There are some days when that is all I think about. Well, shit. He's going to die. But, when? That's the whole thing about cancer, or any "terminal" illness, really.

Think about it, we're all going to die. It's a fact, it's a part of life. We know that it is going to happen to us all, but what we do not know is the when. Hell, I could walk in front of a bus tomorrow and get hit. I don't know that though. How many stories do you hear about people being given a timeline of six months or so to live, and they live well beyond that? But because of that timeline that was given by a medical professional, who really has only a small idea of what is going on in their patient's body, people start putting their "affairs in order," saying "goodbyes," and so on.

Don't get me wrong. We all should have our "affairs in order" to some extent. It's always been a good idea to have a living will, Cthulu forbid that anything should ever happen. It's just a good idea to be ready. But, you kind of see what I am getting at, right? Just because we're handed a timeline, it's an average. Take fifty people with the same illness, and 25 of them will die within the given timeline, and the other 25 are probably still kicking it somewhere. Stranger things have happened.

I'm not saying that I am not facing the reality of death. I am. I know that it will happen. It will happen for my stepdad in perhaps 12 months, or perhaps 7 years from now. Who knows. While I do find myself grappling with the emotional repercussions of that news, I also find myself enjoying moments that much more. Don't get me wrong, I have always had the mindset of this moment could be the last, make it count, but I try to focus more on these positive memories that we are making, rather than the prospect of death.

My child, of course, is the anchor in this tumultuous emotional storm. He keeps me grounded and gives me purpose. I know that he is the reason that I wake up each day, and will continue to do so. After my suicide attempt five years ago, I never want to be in that dark place again. But I know that the grieving process will happen. But I also know that in and of itself, grief is a very natural process. We've only recently started to explain to him what it will be like and what will likely happen at some point. He was very poignant in his response when he told me: "You might be sad, mommy. But you won't be sad forever."

Touche, Syrus, touche.


MrsMuffinTop said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your stepdad, Jennifer! I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer 12 days before my youngest was born, and my older two were what grounded me, too. Having to teach them about death: gut wrenching (for me).
If you want to chat, I'm more than happy to.

Dee Mauser said...

I'm sorry to hear that Jennifer. My stepdad raised me from the age of 4 since my biological father was worthless and him and I were very close when I was young. We still have a good relationship now that I am grown and just last year he had a heart attack. It freaked me out and I started thinking about the fact that my parents are in their 60's and one day, they won't be here anymore. It's SO upsetting. Blessings to you and your family!

CourtneyLynne said...

Omg I'm so sorry about your step dad :( thinking of you and your family during this time! My younger brother died 3 years ago this month. I know that's not a parent but it still sucks having to watch something like this happen. Keep positive & cherish Every moment you guys have ❤️

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