Dad died Aug 9 2010 from colon cancer, Mom and I took care of him at home,up until Friday morning, the cancer has moved to his brain and we could no longer meet his needs, he died in the hospital the following Monday afternoon. I took FMLA in July to help Mom care for Dad, and because I needed to be there for my own sake. I am the oldest daughter and throughout my life the belief that family is first and foremost was shown to me daily growing up.Being responsible to help out at home with cooking, cleaning, caring for the younger members of the family was common place so from an early age it was always said I was very mature for my age. I have been a care giver all of my life, I have worked in nursing homes off and on for over 30 years which of course was helpful in knowing how to care for Dad and allowed me some insight into what was taking place during his last battle on earth. I am telling you this because it leads me to what I believe is part of my problem.
During that time when Dad was so ill and everyday was a new day for him some great others 22 hours of sleeping, loss of appetite, weakness, confusion, pain, grieving, interacting with others, being the sounding board for sisters, brothers, mom, friends relatives, clergy, everyone and anyone who needed to know what was going on or offer support. The point is this I needed to shut down that side of me that knew I was watching my Dad die, my Mom's heart break, my sisters and brothers bewilderment and hurt so that I could do what I needed to do, be the responsible one in all of this. I knew there was no changing the outcome, but I also knew that between Mom and I we could do everything in our power to keep him at home with his beloved dogs, surrounded by family and friends, to offer him emotional, and physical support, in other words to make it the best possible end stage we could. It was very important to mom to keep dad home with us for a long as was possible. I had a mental image in my head, that he would die at home surrounded by his loved ones, free of pain,and at ease. It didn't work out that way but we did what we could until we could until he needed more that we could give him.
I grieved him of course, countless tears were shed during the funeral, exhaustion physical and emotional were what I took back home with me. I know about anticipatory grief and we had plenty of time for that in the years prior as Dad fought non Hodgkins lymphoma, every remission was a victory, every new round a fearful time, while the disease itself was not as big a threat the treatment had to be upped with more toxic chemotherapy plans some of which almost took him.
He asked me one night when he was having a lot of pain and we had to increase his pain medication if I was playing with his life, I told him no I was trying to help him with his pain, I did feel like I was playing with his life, even though you know it was not true because if I had that kind of control over the situation he would be well and happy and laughing again, playing with his dogs, mowing grass and fishing, it still hit a heart chord for me.
I had a job to do, and I did it to the best of my ability, and still I feel as if I in some way failed him. Somehow it feels as if I am summing up what my Dad went through as I job I needed to do I don't feel like I have separated the job from the loss.While I was not a Daddy's girl I was his "Suzy girl" and whatever that meant to him.