Have you lost anyone?

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How did you deal with it?

-- Anonymous, September 20, 2000


My dad. 4 years ago in November. It seems like yesterday and I'm still in shock about it.

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2000

My father died when I was six (I'll be 19 on Friday). When I was young, I was always told he had a heart attack. He also had emphysema and I remember him lying down on his bed with an oxygen mask over his face. The big green tank was bigger than I was, and it scared me. When he laid like that, I was always afraid he was dying.

Then when I was in 6th grade a girl I've known for a long time (Jaime) started a rumor that my father had hanged himself in my garage. My best friend (Sunshine) at the time and I were ready to beat the shit out of her, and we brushed it off as her talking out of her ass. The next day (I remember this day like it was yesterday...it was the day of our English and Science finals) I came to school and my friend was in hysterics. I begged her to tell me what was wrong and after pleading with her for what seemed like hours, she told me that what Jaime had said about my father was true. My knees collapsed and I started crying. The tests had already started and the principal had to drag me down to the office where they called my mother. She told me that it was the truth, and it was very emotional. For a long time I was the only kid in my family that knew. Then my cousins and finally my sister found out.

I was very angry and bitter about it in high school but I'm over it. He left money for my sister and I for college, and trust funds for when we graduate with bachelor's degrees (He was a stockbroker and then vice-president of American Express). My rational is that he was going to die anyway, I couldn't have possibly done anything in my six years to drive him to suicide (I blamed myself for years), and I honestly can't even imagine what my life would be like if he were alive. I'm so used to living happily with my mother and sister that I never felt as though I was missing out on anything (although Father's Day is the worst day of the year for me). I don't like getting pity from people because I don't feel sorry for myself. My mom is awesome, she raised my sister and I to be good people. We never wanted for anything and she has been a great mother AND father to us for the past 13 years. I don't feel deprived or anything because I can hardly even remember what my life was like when he was alive. But it did take me a long time to get over feelings of hate, resentment, bitterness, anger, and guilt to feel this way.

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2000

I lost my paternal grandmother when I was 15, when I was finally really getting to know and respect her not just as a family member, but as a person, she'd been an interesting lady all this time and I was unaware of it. When she passed away, I think one of my greatest senses was one of regret, because of all the conversations we could never have and things she could never tell me, and because when I was younger I wasn't too close to her (she never was the type of grandmother to grab us and smooch us all over or call us cutesy names or compete for the "World's Best Grandma" title, I cringe now when I remember thinking as a kid that she wasn't "fun"). I think over the years I've had to replace that regret with respect, however belated, for who she was. she was

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2000


the dead list:

Barbara (Stepmom). 47 years old. lung cancer spread to the brain.

Marion (Great aunt). 70 years old. bowel cancer.

the dying list:

Amy (friend). 43 years old. breast cancer spread to the lymphatic system. May actually be dead as of this writing.

The living list (subject to change without notice):

Chris (best friend from highschool). 27 years old. Ewing's Sarcoma (bone cancer). 27 days cancer free.

Carol (aunt). 53 years old. breast cancer. 1 year ? days cancer free.

Terry (god mother) 57 years old. breast cancer. in treatment.

Betina (friend). 49 years old? breast cancer. in treatment

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2000

I lost my paternal grandmother when I was about 13. She died of pancreatic cancer at age 73. I remember after my father found out she was sick, he told me that nonni wasn't going to be with us much longer because she was sick. I have some very fond and vivid memories of being around her, going places with her, talking to her, cooking with her and doing all sorts of other fun 'grandparent-ish' things with her(my paternal grandfather passed on when I was all of just a few months old).

I guess what really hurts me moreso now than then is all that I was too young to get to know about her, all the things I couldn't ask her and all the stories and smiles and laughs and good times that she took to her resting place with her. And of course at age 13, watching a strong, stout little Italian lady with fire in her eyes go from a strong force and presence in your life, to a heavily medicated, barely-coherent frail and wasted shadow of a person. I didn't understand cancer all that well, but I knew death and I knew it was coming for her. And all the comfort and sanctimonious bullshit of the Catholic Church(of which she was a part, and I went to Catholic schools) didn't help one bit.

The tears and the real upset didn't hit me until a few months later while I was at school and some teacher was talking about how wonderful God is and how his plans are all perfect and yadda yadda...and I lost it. Between telling the teacher she was a liar and that there was no god and then just totally breaking down, the loss hit home. But then dad got to me...and then I had to be the stoic little man...which I have been about it for years and years. It's only really now in the last year or so, since my wife lost her maternal grandfather, that I've started to think more about it and deal with it. Just sitting here writing about it makes my eyes water up and I get that lump in my throat. But I fight with that Irish macho part of me that tries to just *rnnnnnggghhhh* and hold it in(apologies to Dennis L.).

You'll feel it now and you'll feel it in 10 years, maybe when your children are born, if you do have any, or maybe just randomly one day when you hear a baby cry or laugh. It gets better with time.

I am sorry that you face this inevitable loss. Your grandfather is a good man, at least as far as I know from the limited time that I knew him for. I know he loves you more than the world and I know that you will miss him. I wish I could give you a hug -- I know how it feels.

And as a minor aside: pancreatic cancer is one of the rarer(though not rare) cancers in this country -- or so they say. So I ask...*why* is it that I now know of 3 people(my grandmother, a close family friend that was like a father to my dad died from it about 6 years ago and now your grandpa) who have gotten it? Something just doesn't add up right...

-- Anonymous, September 21, 2000

8 days before my birthday, 1998... It's been over a year since I lost her... Yeah... I know you've heard it a million time... People tell you that you'll get over it... That's not the case... The fact is, that you don't get over it... In fact, if you think you do, you're either lying to yourself or are so disconnected from that person that it's not even funny... The best thing to do is cling to the good memories you have... Cling to them so hard and know that they'll never break because they're a part of you... Relish the experiences you had while they were alive... "It's better to forget, than to remember [them] and cry..." I'm sorry Marlove... It's very hard to lose someone when you were close to them... Remember, I'll always be here to listen if you need me.

The little brother you never had nor wanted, -Sean

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2000

Sean - Hey now... maybe never had... but I always wanted a little brother, and I could never have gotten one as sweet as you lovie.

Jess, Ed, Tom - You all know how much I appreciate your thoughts.

Stef, Alex - Be happy you had a relationship with your father at all. I never talk to mine... that's why losing grandpa is so hard... he is the closest thing to a father I have. *hugs* to both of you. Thank you.

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2000

i guess i should consider myself lucky: i am 30 and just over one year ago i lost my "first" close person, my grandma who was then over 80 y/o. of course it helped that i was/am older + very cynical about life & death, but still, i couldn't not put those thoughts on MY grandma who was the sweetest thing. it helped to know that she had wanted to die bc she was feeling too old and not enjoying life. it helped that she died in her own bed w her cat on her belly and grandpa holding her hand. but the funeral was awful: yes, it was a beautiful church and there were so much flowers, but i cried so hard i could barely breathe and i could hardly see the casked as we walked up to it to bid a last farewell (the way the swedes do it...) walking to the grave i could hardly see anything at all because of the snow in the air and my tears almost freezing to my face. i used to make fun of my mom for the way she talked to grandma at her grave (as if she were actually right there), but now i am starting to u-stand: hey grandma, what's up, today i bla bla bla and tomorrow bla bla bla and i love you and see you later. bc how could i not talk to the best grandma in the world, the one who was always smiling and sweet and loved everyone she ever met? i am just happy i ever got to know somebody so open and genuinely NICE. now, thinking about her makes me happy.

-- Anonymous, September 22, 2000

My dad died when I was in ninth grade, of cancer. Then my friend Cari died of spinal menengitis later that same year. When I was a freshman in college I lost my only female cousin to a brain tumor. Then my friend Gordon hanged himself from a tree when we were in college. His body wasn't found for three weeks.

It never really gets better, I just get better at dealing with it. I feel for you, I really do. I'm so sorry about your grandfather. :(

-- Anonymous, September 23, 2000

Heh...I know I don't need to answer this one, but for the sake of writing something, I will....

For the longest time, nothing happened in my life as it happened in the lives of seemingly anyone else. I remember asking my cousins what it was like when someone you know dies because their grandmother had died. "It's sad" was all I remember of their answer. No one I knew showed any likelihood of dying within the seeable future, aside from my great-grandmother who died when I was 8 or something...but no one really knew her anymore, she was just a little old lady who wasn't aware of anything as long as I could remember....so it wasn't a bad thing when she died. The worst thing about her death was the family squabbling over her possessions. I was very curious about death because it was unfamiliar, just as I was very curious about what it would be like to live anywhere else because I never had. I wasn't close to my dad when I was small, so I was able to ask my mom what it would be like if he died. I think part of me hoped he would just so life could be different, as I also wished the farm would burn down. It was easy to see that my dad would die before long just because he worked so hard....no one could possibly work like he did for long before it killed him. At any rate though, until I was 14, there was no sign that life would ever, ever change. My brother and I were very close and very adversarial, probably because we were the only two kids either of us saw on a regular basis. I actually think school was what taught us that we shouldn't get along. School was also most to blame for my hideous adolescence. I didn't like my peers, and they didn't like me. Since I was in the 3rd grade everyone thought I was suicidal, and not to let them down, I spent most of the time acting and feeling depressed and falling in love with strange, mopey music. Suicide was one of my favorite phantasies, probably still because I didn't think life would ever change. Anyway. One morning in the ninth grade, I woke up as usual while it was still dark and turned on the radio. It was "Fly on the Windscreen". I loved that song, so I listened and went back to sleep. All day I thought about that song. When my mom was making dinner and I was doing homework, my mom sang the words to the MASH theme. I went out to water the cats, and as I filled the bucket I gazed at the changing spring sky, the words to "Fly on the Windscreen" went through my heads still. I don't want to go into the story of my dad coming to tell us that my brother had hanged himself in the barn or any of that, but I had a lot of disbelief. That's my usual coping mechanism. Anyway, not only did I lose my brother that night, but I lost both my parents, my youth, and everything about my former life. I think I can blame my brother for everything that's been fucked in my life since then. The best example is my father. He and my brother spent most of their time working together, and I'd say that my brother was my dad's main reason for existing. No wonder soon after I turned 16 my dad was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma. By the time I was 18, and after endless torture, malpractice, mutilation and disrespect, my dad was dead. The last time I was able to talk to him, as he rolled what was probably his last cigarrette, he said, "Wouldn't it be nice if Vincent (my brother) could visit?" The next time I saw him, his eyes were open and he was breathing but he was already dead. That was the hardest thing that ever happened in my life, worse than when my brother died or when I found out a couple days later that my father was actually dead. It was hard because I didn't know where my dad was. People treat a body like it is a life, but the life is only in the mind. My father was the smartest, cleverest, most honest and honorable person I've ever met, and the indignity he was put through was worse than if he had just died instantly when I was 16 at the start of it all. To the person whose father committed suicide, consider that it was perhaps a better death than the one he probably thought was coming. I don't think I've actually dealt with my father's death yet. I've been pretty busy since then. My marriage of the time literally started getting really bad at my dad's funeral. I feel at this point in my life that everyone I get close to either dies or disappears. I've never actually been actually dumped, but I'm paranoid about my boyfriend Mark leaving....he says I think that all the men in my life want to leave me. I think about my dad all the time, and I dream at night where I'm visiting him and talking with him about what's currently going on in my life. They are the most real dreams I've had, so I feel like I actually get to see him in my dreams. It should be added that for a long time after my brother died, I had reoccuring dreams that his suicide attempt had failed and that I needed to keep him from doing it again, and I never succeeded. Anyway, I wish more than anything that I could talk to my dad again and that he could meet Mark because I know he would really like him. Mark is amazingly similar to my dad...that should tell you something about how I deal with death. James (my former legal slavemaster or "husband") from the word go reminded me a lot of my brother (they even knew eachother in school)...NOT the sort of relationship you want to have with your life partner. I just learned that my mother's father has emphysema. Mark smokes all the time and just showed me a little unusual piece of skin he's had for a month or so. Death is everywhere.....reminding us we could be torn apart tonight! If you know me well, you know I believe that everything happens for a reason. I now appreciate my experiences with losing loved ones because I can now feel how precious life and our human connections are....It should never be taken for granted.

-- Anonymous, October 05, 2000

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