A month ago today....

by Vicki

My dad died on September 6th, 2012, after me, my sister, and my two brothers made the decision to have him removed from ventilatory support after spending 6 days on a ventilator. He was not conscious so we could ask him what he wanted us to do. He had suffered from COPD for several years and was oxygen dependent. He was hospitalized for acute respiratory failure on Sept 1 and my younger sister and brother were with him in the emergency room when they decided to intubate him and put him on the ventilator. My sister's last words to him before he was put into a drug induced coma were "I love you, dad". If those were indeed the last words he heard, I"m so happy she got to say them. Ironically, those were also the last words I spoke to my father, about 3 days before he went into the hospital.

I live in Tennessee, and he lived in NY. My sister called from the E.R. to tell me what was happening. I stayed in constant contact with my sister until finally on Monday, labor day, I took my husband and kids and went to NY to be with him. We knew things weren't looking good. My brother from GA, my brother who lived with my dad, my sister and I all stayed at the hospital most of the time, watching that machine breathe for our dad. Watching him lay there, wishing this wasn't what was happening. Having to make the decision to keep our dad on 100% ventilator support and moving forward with a tracheotomy or turning off the machines was the hardest decision any child has to make for their parent. Watching him die for 6 hours after the ventilator was turned off was traumatic. Seeing what a person experiences in that situation, surreal. I don't know how we did it. Watching, waiting, for that last, tiny breath, before everything stopped... impossible.

Afterwards, doing your duty, planning the funeral, visiting with the family members, making sure things get done, all happened without too many tears. Shock and denial were firmly in control. Everything was done without a hitch. Then you leave and go home, to real life, P.D. (post dad). Little by little the shock subsides, and the reality starts to reveal itself. Your life is changed forever. I think about that day, I"m positively traumatized by what we saw. I think about my dad, and wish I could see him again. I don't want to go back to everyday life. I watch everyone around me, going about their business, normal. I don't feel normal at all. I miss my dad. I used to call him every day on my way home from work. I can't call him now. I look at his facebook page, and his last posts, telling his granddaughter he was feeling a little better, I have a "poke" from him on my facebook page, waiting for a poke back. I post an I love you message to him, just because I want so despearately to just have him see it, to be sure he knew how much I love him, and what a great man I thought he was. Wishing I'd see that facebook reply, saying that he loves me too, but knowing I wouldn't.

I don't know what is "normal" a month into this process, but I don't feel any closer to getting over it than I did the first week. He was only 67 years old. He didn't deserve to suffer or have it all end that soon. He was loving, fun, and valued family above all else in his life. My husband doesn't seem to understand. My kids don't need to see me like this. I don't know where it goes from here. All I know is how much I miss him, and how sad I am.

Comments for A month ago today....

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Oct 09, 2012
A month ago today....
by: Doreen U.K.

Hi Vicki,
If you are finding it hard to go on life with your grief then Please see a Grief Counsellor for support. This will enable you to work through your feelings of grief better than prolonging it. It is very hard carrying on in daily life be it trying to be a "NORMAL" Wife and mother, IT IS HARD. Somehow the atmosphere surrounding you will change. Your immediate family won't understand. All the talking won't make anyone understand better how you feel. DEATH CHANGED THIS. We become more fractured after we lose a loved one that was so close to us as your Dad was to you. I ALSO like you have those last traumatic days intrude into my mind and it does break me down. it is rather like a giant tape unwinding and we have no control over what is in our mind. it is just there. There is no NORMAL NOW. Normality is lost for a very long time. We don't Plan to think of those last moments. They are frozen in time in our minds. You spent years with your father. You cannot overlook this input in your life in days or weeks. I get a wave of PANIC. When I see my husbands face and then realise HE IS GONE FOREVER. You will probably wake in the night and think. "Did this REALLY HAPPEN." "Did I dream this up." Then the SADNESS, EMPTINESS, LONLINESS. Follow you and you just want someone in your corner to say I UNDERSTAND.
You could also keep a DAD JOURNAL. Write down anything you want. Even if it be a conversation with your dad or constant letters. It does help. You will have these Dad memories FOREVER. Best wishes Doreen.

Oct 08, 2012
A reply for Doreen...
by: Vicki

Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and your understanding of what I'm going through. I sooo needed to hear something from someone who understands what this feels like. I hope you get to read this post to know how nice it was to have you comment on my post. I do feel so all alone most of the time, this process is not anything I ever spent any time thinking about before last month. I had no idea how tremendously this pain affects everything I am, everything I do, and just keeps coming in waves that bring new pain over and over again. I feel for you and the time you've spent going through this process, losing your husband and watching his illness take him away from you. I am so sorry for your loss and your pain and I know how you feel. I truly hope you find the light and keep allowing this process to work and accepting it for what it is, a long, slow, painful process, but one that you must yield to, as I will as well. Thank you and god bless you.

Oct 08, 2012
Feeling the pain as well

When I read your post I starting crying, it was a very similar experience I had losing my dad a little over six months ago. He was 63, and I was 29 at the time of his death. Being listed as the "go to" on his advanced medical directive was heavy. Last year we spent Christmas together, a week after he admitted himself to the E.R., 3 days after that he was in ICU, a day after that he was intubated. Two weeks I sat in the hospital while the doctors couldn't give me any real clear cut answers other than "it could be this, or it could be that". The frustration alone was enough to drive me insane. But having the doctors tell you that after two weeks "We don't think it's fair to continue" was about the hardest sentence I've heard anyone ever tell me. We decided to cease life sustaining equipment the next day. Luckily for me, it was in his written wishes. He died after being off the machine within half an hour. I know you are only a month into this treacherous path, and I wish I could tell you that it gets easier, but it doesn't. After that day I have an emptiness inside me, and nobody will be able to fill that void, ever. And anyone who hasn't lost their father doesn't understand what we feel; it's an experience one has to have to understand. I'm sorry for your loss. I truly truly am.

Oct 07, 2012
A month ago today.....
by: Doreen U.K.

Vicki, I am sorry for your loss of your Dad. It is one of the worst experiences to be put in a place where you have to make a quick decision to end the life of someone you love because some machine dictates a question that needs an answer. I feel your pain and the place you are in. It is also extremely painful to watch the one you love die slowly slipping away.
I had to watch my husband slowly die of cancer over a 3yr.39days. He suffered a painful death. I had to look into his face every day and grieve. My husband died 5 months ago. My heart is still very broken over my loss.
We can't function as we used to. I don't know if we will ever get back to being normal. I didn't know a death could be this painful. At least for Pain we can take medication, but for this sorrow and grief the pain goes on and on without any relief. I know what you mean about everyone going about their business untouched by our tragedy and pain. We feel our loss by our days of grief ongoing. I can't think about the good times because all I feel is the death and the days of dying, the days of pain my husband was in. I don't force myself to think of this. It is just there. Vicki I don't know how we go on even one day at a time. Each day is so painfull. The PAIN is just there just like a headache or toothache. It just happens. Even if I think of anything good. The Pain is still there. I feel so LOST. You are not alone in what you are going through. But even surrounded by people you will FEEL ALL ALONE. I am told that TIME is what will make it better for us in grief. As the days go by I am feeling worse perhaps because I have still been in FROZEN GRIEF and now I AM THAWING OUT and so FEEL my grief more. I don't see that as bad. If I can feel the grief then it will only get less over TIME. I hope that you will be well supported by family and friends and us all on this site.

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