Dealing with it in pieces.
by Katie z
My dad died nov 26th of 2013. It's been about four months now. He was only 54, I'm only 25. He passed away in the front seat of his car. I was driving him to a doctor appointment, but we didn't make it out of the driveway. His health had declined rapidly over the last year. About 4 years ago he had his leg amputated due to osteomyelitis and from then he lived with me on and off. In the last months before his death I became his primary care giver. His heart was failing and he suffered severe edema which had to be bandaged and treated. The day he died I sent my kids (2 and 4) to stay with great grandma and then arrived an hour early to help dad change bandages and get ready for his appt. Despite his constant pain and not being able to catch his breath we talked, even joked, made plans and I did what I could to make him more comfortable. I helped him into the car, not sure how I would ever get him out, he was so weak. I turned the car around behind the house but he asked me to stop for a minute. I thought maybe he forgot something. But he just took a puff from his inhaler and then looked at me and stopped breathing. I did everything I could to resuscitate him. Paramedics arrived. But he was gone. It was probably under a minute.
I've hidden the details of that day from myself. I buried it deep because I couldn't escape it playing over and over in my head. I've cried and grieved for my father but never allowed myself to revisit the emotions of watching him die. Until yesterday. I sold his car. In the middle of signing the title release papers I started having a panic attack. My heart was racing, I couldn't sit still or escape the feeling of panic that was overwhelming me. And i feel foolish to say, I couldn't understand WHY selling the car was affecting me so badly. I had buried that day so deep that I didn't see the connection with the car until my mother pointed it out. How obvious and natural that I would have anxiety related to the place where my father had died in my arms. After making the connection, I sobbed, and then felt calm. However I find that the loop of memories is wound up once again and it feel like every few minutes I'm seeing it all happen again. I don't know what the next step in rebuilding is, but I'm thankful for a place like this website to share my story. It's hard to keep talking about it with family that can't understand the trauma of being there with him an yet, I feel as though I have to talk about it if I'm ever going to process and rebuild.
I loved him more then I can ever explain in words. And I am eternally great flu that I was able to be with him that morning, even though it is a trauma that has rocked me emotionally and physically. I was with him. He was not alone. It was a beautiful morning. And I know exactly what happened, which provides a piece of mind that some people can never have. Now I just hope that sharing can help me accept this and maybe also help someone else who's struggling.