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#518: Pondering Lessons Learned From Losing Relatives

Friday, November 11, 2011

Last November 11 I wrote of losing my dad, a career Naval officer who died on Veteran's Day:

www.sparkpeople.com/mypa
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As I thought of him again today, especially today, and then thought of Mom, I realized I had learned several lessons from their passings.

One was that grief knows no time limit.

We all react to such losses differently and manifest our feelings in a variety of ways. Our feelings are not necessarily strongest immediately after a loss. The overwhelming feelings of sadness over no longer having them with me hit hardest years after losing them.

Another is that memories are stored in our minds, not in things relatives leave behind, as we discussed earlier this week.

Items, even photographs, can definitely trigger memories and thoughts of fond times, but in themselves are not our memories. Hanging onto all of their things can be counter-productive, causing us to store things that could be better off sold or given away to others who can use them rather than allowing them to languish packed away out of sight. As so many of you wisely counseled me this week, hoarding may not be healthy.

A third lesson is that we should not rush ourselves or others who have suffered a loss to make immediate changes, to move, for example.

I didn't understand this when Dad died, only knowing that the time I could spend with Mom was limited -- she lived In Florida, I lived in Illinois and had to get back home to work. Because I could not stay indefinitely, I felt Mom and I and my sisters needed to handle all of the details of Dad's passing quickly. Since his was the first death we kids had experienced except for when we were very little, we did not appreciate that Mom needed time to come to grips with our loss.

These are some lessons I am pondering today as I remember Dad and Mom and all the other loved ones who have passed on. Dealing with death is never easy and is not a subject many want to talk about, but knowing we can express our feelings here and ask for your thoughts, helps us deal with aspects of life that are not bright and cheery.

Thank you for your kind expressions of friendship and understanding as I deal with the emotions of this week and of this special day.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • CHATTIEGIRL
    Hi Lou;

    I've had to dealt with so many losses in the last 8 years and 1 was my husband till I didn't want to go to another funeral. I continue on and I have dealt with my grief. I remember all the good times I had with everyone and I miss them terribly but life does go on. Grief is part of life and we have to face it in the best way we can. I put my life in God's hands to give me the strength to carry on. Continue you and stay the nice person you are. God bless you always.

    Joyce
    3371 days ago
  • no profile photo CD4114015
    Lou, you always blog so wisely and with such great comfort. I remember when my father left us, my dh took me to Frankenmuth, MI to try to cheer me, it was a favorite place of mine. While there, I became so depressed and told him we must leave immediately. With all the hustle and bustle at Bronner's Christmas Shoppe, I just wanted to SHOUT: "STOP, don't you all realize that my father JUST DIED?" It was 12 years ago, I was 51, and I still feel it today because that was the first time I truly realized that life GOES ON, whether we want it to or not. I will never really be the same inside again. Without the Lord to back me I don't know what I would have done it hurt so bad, and yes, I still miss him!
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    3374 days ago
  • JMARIES51
    Having lost my Dad just 4 weeks ago I can really relate to everything you wrote in your blog. I feel pretty numb and closed off from my feelings, which has always been my way of coping. So I am just waiting for the flood gates to open. I know it will happen one day when I least expect it. For now I am glad that I do have wonderful memories to cling to. Thanks, Lou, and I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Joann
    3385 days ago
  • no profile photo CD11035818
    Peace be with you. Paulette
    3390 days ago
  • CINDYHOUGHTON
    My daddy's birthday was the 7th. How true your words, Lou. My husband refuses to get rid of the smallest of things and I do not have room enough in my house for them all! It is surprising when they come to mind.
    3392 days ago
  • WALKINGSPARK
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    3393 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5178852
    Grief is so personal and it can change with each loss. Thank you for sharing your progress and this process with us.

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    3394 days ago
  • MOMMA_LITTLE
    Lou, you have a very wise outlook on this subject, and I honor that about you. My day is soon approaching when I'll have to deal with the passing of my parents, and I have to say, I really and truly dread it. I hope the Lord gives me the strength I need (and the parent left behind) to get through it ok. emoticon for your blog and good thoughts about this subject. I hope your weekend went well. emoticon emoticon
    3395 days ago
  • ROCHELLE62
    Thank you for your post. I have come to realize that trying to hold on to things after having suffered overwhelming loss is at the core of most clutter/hoarding issues. It isn't rational, but I think it reflects the blow to your core of losing loved ones.
    3395 days ago
  • TEMPEST272002
    Your memories triggered some of my own. Spent some time thinking about those I've lost. Good memories. You're right about grief coming in waves & things unexpectedly hitting you years later. Hugs.
    3396 days ago
  • NANHBH
    Thinking about you, Lou, and holding you in prayer.
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    3396 days ago
  • NOTFATCAT
    Lou, I am sorry for your loss and for the sadness it brings you.
    It doesn't matter what anyone says, being experts or friends, we all grieve how we grieve.
    It took me five years before I finally realized I was carrying my dads death with me like an albatross. It was then that I finally was able to let go and enjoy the memories without letting them consume me.
    You will find your path and you will know.
    Until then, stay healthy.
    3396 days ago
  • YATMAMA
    *hugs*
    3396 days ago
  • JUSTDUCKY1405
    I struggle with this very topic for my own reasons... like, am I saving enough memories for my children... and what I do save... are they going to love them or let them clutter up an area of their home too, add to feelings of guilt, and collect dust! 20 years my mom kept things for me. Some in perfect shape... toys, crafts, dolls. And than she finally decided it was time I take them home. I remember feeling actually angry about it. Mostly bc it was just MORE I had to do.

    I went through some of it. A few good memories, some sad... and left them for a bit.. piled up in my garage... :S

    Well, my kids decided it would be fun to go through my things and destroyed half my stuff. One a really cool barbie bicycle, my old brownies hat with lots of cool crafts, and so on.

    I remember feeling upset at first... and then free. They enjoyed them more in that couple of hours than I did in 20 years.

    It felt okay to remember and let go.

    Great couple of blogs Lou.

    In loving memory of your parents!
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    3397 days ago
  • SLIMMERJESSE
    Whew, do I ever understand what you are saying here. Grief has tidal waved me in the past few years. Although I have learned to live with my myriad losses, I have changed so much.
    3397 days ago
  • TEDYBEAR2838
    emoticon I know what you mean. I don't really have anything left of my parents. BUT, I do have the memories and often, when something happens, like the birth of a grandchild, I'll think "Wow, mom would have loved being here".

    I missed my mom so bad for quite a few years, but it does get easier.

    Have a good weekend, my friend, emoticon
    3397 days ago
  • DEBRITA01
    Love and memories live on...God bless you, Lou... emoticon
    3397 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6035648
    I understand completely where you're coming from. Sometimes I think I'm in denial. When my mom died, I was so busy taking care of my dad, I didn't have time to think. When my dad died this June, I jumped head first into nursing school, keeping myself so busy.. The only thing is handling his estate keeps slapping me in the face. I've been putting off doing things that I should be doing regarding this issue. I honestly don't want to deal with it yet, and when I do meet with attorneys, the bank, insurance agents, filling out the endless amounts of paperwork that needs to be dealt with, I get so exhausted, all I want to do is hide in my bed and sleep. But, time is of the essence because the taxes need to be filed....
    I have my good days and my bad. When I think of them, I can't allow the thoughts to linger too long because then the tears come. I keep telling myself they're having the time of their life now in heaven with the Lord, but.. I want them here! Yes, at 48 years old I still want my mommy and my daddy!
    Praying that God gives you comfort as you remember and celebrate the lives of your loved ones..
    3397 days ago
  • MALEXANDER4
    Truly God bless. Sometimes when we remember a loved one the pain of losing them is so very fresh even years later. It is truly so....they live in our hearts.
    3397 days ago
  • PUDLECRAZY
    It is hard to lose our parents. Honestly, Lou, I think those lessons keep on coming. I find new layers of things to sort through all of the time and have never stopped missing my parents.

    You are so right, there is no time limit, no rushing the process.

    As you know, I lost my dad, a WWll Veteran and POW, right around Veteran's Day and my mother 3 weeks later. Your blog today is especially touching.

    3397 days ago
  • GOODHEALTH4EVER
    I DON'T KNOW YOU, BUT I DO RELATE TO YOUR LOSS. I READ BOTH BLOGS. VERY MOVING WORDS. THEY REMINDED ME OF THE DAY I LEARNED OF MY FATHERS PASSING, SOON TO BE 26 YEARS AGO. THE MEMORIES AT TIMES ARE STILL THERE. YOU ARE RIGHT. THERE ARE STAGES I THINK WE GO THROUGH AS WE MORN OUR LOSSES. OUR LOVED ONES ARE PART OF US AND WE WILL ALWAYS MISS AND REMEMBER THEM, ONLY SOMETIMES YOU WILL SMILE OR LAUGH WHEN YOU THINK OF THEM. I STRUGGLE WITH KEEPING THINGS THAT REMIND ME OF MY DAD STILL.
    IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE MADE MUCH PROGRESS:)
    THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR DAD AND THOUGHTS WITH US.
    emoticon RETT
    3397 days ago
  • ERIKO1908
    Lou, you truly have a way with words that makes me consider experiences and surroundings a little differently. It is appreciated. You say so directly what many of us feel. Thank you for sharing on this difficult subject. Praying for you as you work through the emotions of this week. Hugs to you too!!
    3397 days ago
  • LESLIES537
    Life teaches us so many valuable lessons. Thank you for sharing your insight. Big emoticon - Leslie
    3397 days ago
  • BOVEY63
    Lots of hugs and prayers coming your way my friend. May you find peace in your memories and knowing that you have many who care about you.
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    3397 days ago
  • HIKETOHEIGHTS
    Great insight, I think I will share this with my friend who lost his folks. Glad you found comfort on Spark. We are a very unique virtual family.
    3397 days ago
  • FLGIRL1234
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    3397 days ago
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