The dreaded D word

Friday, October 24, 2014 Permalink

Two weeks before my father passed away his doctor took us aside to render his verdict. And to give us some options. Dad had been in hospital for nearly a month by then. Initially for something, then something else. It really all boiled down to the sudden discovery his body was riddled with cancer – exacerbated by drugs he was taking following his heart transplant almost 11 years earlier.

He moved into palliative care. We knew what was coming but didn’t know when. Fortunately he was unaware of what was happening and contented to be told he was in hospital. He asked few questions.

And although he didn’t wake for the last six days of his life we continued to talk to him during this time and included him and his sleeping mind in our conversations.

For reasons unknown I was particularly disturbed by the ‘D’ word and wouldn’t let anyone use it around him.

I even struggled with it after; when the future tense became the present tense and then the past tense. I couldn’t use it.

For a very long time.

Even now I still mostly talk about him ‘passing away’ but I thought I was over my dread of the ‘D’ word.

My father died.

Look, there I said it. Or at least I wrote it.

Never fear… I’m not in denial. There are no clothed skeletal remains on a rocking chair in my attic.

As it happens he’s been gone three years. Today.

I now remember he’s not here. I’ve stopped thinking of things I need to tell him. I’ve accepted I won’t see him again; that I won’t hear his voice or feel his touch.

And yet… yesterday I was explaining to a colleague that it was the anniversary of dad’s passing and I used the D word and it upset me. More than I expected.

I think it’s because the D word seems so final. And I don’t believe that’s the case. He’s not here, but he’s still with us. Always in our hearts and minds.

grief

How are you with the D word?
Did you think I meant Dieting?

Linking up With Some Grace.

36 Comments
  • Rebecca Mugridge
    October 24, 2014

    I am so sorry for your loss of your dad.
    We have had lots of the d word in our family the last 2 years so it has been a word we have had to also get our children used too, which has been a tricky area to cover for us.
    Hugs X

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      Oh yes, it’s definitely hard with little ones. And thanks.

  • Char
    October 24, 2014

    I really understand why you struggle with this word. I’m having problem with a particular S word – it really hurts to say it and it’s not getting any easier yet.

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      Oh, I can’t even imagine Char. xx

  • minsmash
    October 24, 2014

    I don’t like that D word either Deb. He IS still with you in so many ways and I do believe you will see him again. I can’t believe it has been 3 years already. Big hugs … Min xo

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      Thanks so much. And yes…. Time flies etc etc!

  • perkinsy
    October 24, 2014

    My father died suddenly years ago when I was in my early twenties and my brother still a teenager. I have had no problem ever with the word, probably because we had no period when he was alive when we were told that he might die. One moment he was there and the next he was gone. The bigger problem was truly understanding that he would never be back again. It seemed surreal for the first 24 hours or so.

    Reflecting: I’m wondering if another reason for being completely comfortable with using the term is the fact that my grandfathers died before I was born and our family being the youngest in a large extended family had a lot of family members; aunts, uncles, cousins of my mother, dying when I was quite young. Death happened when I grew up though fortunately not anyone I was close to.

    Having said that tears still come to my eyes sometimes when I remember and it was years before I could go to a wedding and not cry because the father of the bride was there… or he was not.

    I agree with you that death is not final. Be gentle with yourself. Death is part of life, not the end of it. Death helps you to understand life better.

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      Oh thank you for your lovely words and I’m sorry about your own loss.

      And yes, I’m sure we don’t actually get ‘over’ our loved ones dying. Rather we get better at living with the loss.

      xx

      • Lorraine
        October 24, 2014

        This is so true Deb. You just get more use to it as time goes by but you don’t forget them and no matter how much time goes by something can still set you off when you least expect it.

        • Debbish
          October 24, 2014

          Oh yes, and sometimes it’s surprising what does actually get to you! x

  • Jody at Six Little Hearts
    October 24, 2014

    I thought divorce was the word initially.
    My Dad died when I was 23. Similar situation to yours in the last months really, though not cancer – Pancreatitis (Still wondering what the hell a pancreas actually does and how it can kill you to this day mind you.)
    Death sucks. My Dad was 76 when he passed. (He Fathered me at 52.) I had accepted that his age meant that he wouldn’t live to see my kids years before he actually died and I am okay with that still. I think I was preparing from childhood.
    Hope you’re feeling better soon.

  • yinyangmother
    October 24, 2014

    Thinking of you on your Dad’s anniversary.

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      Thanks so much. Spending time with my mum so that will be nice.

  • Lisa@RandomActsOfZen
    October 24, 2014

    He’s definitely still with you, Deb. I lost my step-dad 3 years ago next month, and it’s a big gap in your life. All my family know that when we see a butterfly, he’s looking over us. It’s amazing when those little critters appear just at the right time.
    I’m sure there are those little triggers that let you know that your Dad’s there.
    Thinking of you xx

  • Vanessa
    October 24, 2014

    I sometimes wonder if the major drawcard of religions is to have that level of comfort that people will be seen again. It sounds like you and your dad had a wonderful relationship and I’m sure he heard you talking to him in his final days xox

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      I like to think so. He definitely hung in there – no food, water for six days and he just kept going.

  • Amy @ HandbagMafia
    October 24, 2014

    I’m the same when talking of my mum who passed in 2008. It’s hard. Grief is, in my experience, something that doesn’t go away but is something you learn to live with.

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      Yes, I think that’s what happens Amy. xx

  • Sanch @ Living my Imperfect Life
    October 24, 2014

    Death does have a finality to it and while I haven’t yet lost a parent, I can imagine going through something similar where you might think of things to tell them and then realise that they are in fact not around for you to do so. I am not really sure how I would react to using the word and how I will grieve…all I know is that like you, I will have loved ones who have passed still somewhere in my heart. I still believe my late grandfather is watching out for me and will occasionally ‘talk’ to him. Hugs to you and sorry for your loss Deb.

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      Thanks so much. I have some of my dad’s ashes and still apologise to them/him when I accidentally knock the container off my bench (which I do often!). He doesn’t seem to mind! 😉

  • Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)
    October 24, 2014

    My Dad turns eighty next year and I can’t bear the thought of losing him. I’m like you Deb. I don’t like the “D” word either xxx

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      Oh yes… It’s harder as they get older. Which surprises me a little.

  • Have A Laugh On Me
    October 24, 2014

    Yes I totally did think you meant dieting. I like you, don’t like the D or the C word and don’t like saying it, just in case… it’s so final, so scary. Hugs to you lovely x

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      Hmmmm had to think for a moment about the c word. Then I realised you weren’t referring to the swear word! 😉

  • crpsandme
    October 24, 2014

    Debbish I can understand your sentiment…..It is three years for my dad. He was 86 and had been told his body was failing and needed nursing home care. He told the Drs no that he would not be taking this option. he had been in hospital for about six weeks at that stage. We had some conversations where Dad actually used the D word, some funny, some poignant and others outrageously distressing. The Dr told us Dad could stay in hospital until we could organise a burning home bed and as I said he was not going there. The nursing home rang me at 4.30 to say a bed was available but at that stage I knew we would not need it because I knew the D word was imminent. Dad died that evening at 6.30….he did not go to a home. We,Mum, some of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and sons in law were there with him. It was a time of gentleness and I felt humbled to be there at the time of his passing. Passing to what we do not know but what i do know is he is always there with me. I see reminders of him in everyday life and feel his gentle presence as I move through the day as I am sure you feel the presence of your dad. Cheers Anne

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      I can’t imagine how dad would have been if he’d known, but his dementia took a very severe turn while he was in hospital. He knew us and everything but started seeing things and was really confused. Then he just stopped waking and six days later he was gone.

      Like you said… He’s always there.

      xx

  • Satu
    October 24, 2014

    I’m sorry for your loss, Deb! Take care of yourself.

    I have no trouble re the D word, but I think it might be different if it was question of my mom, dad, sisters or their children or my close friends. It was easy to accept that my grandparents died because they were so old – my only remorse was that I couldn’t be there for my grandmother. I had all the time in life but not the money to go to her.

    Personally, I still have more trouble withe the L word: life: My own life.

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      Oh yes…. And ‘living’ (especially if we worry we’re not doing it to the fullest!).

  • Jess
    October 24, 2014

    I struggle with it to, I think because I am not religious and don’t have some picture of what it really is in my mind. I am sorry for your loss, I am surehe is here with you all. My uni lecturer for chemistry always told us energy never disappears itjust changes form, I find comfort in that thought.

    • Debbish
      October 24, 2014

      Ah yes, I like that – thinking in terms of people (life) in terms of energy is an interesting & pragmatic idea!

  • NewLifeOnTheRoad (@NewLifeOnRoad)
    October 27, 2014

    I am so very sorry your Dad passed away, and yes I can’t say the D-word either….even as an aged care nurse I used to say “Passed Away” with regards to residents.
    I could never accept that my Aunty was gone….for years I used to search for her face in the crowds, or think of her when I saw someone who was dressed like her.
    And my Late Grandma – I still feel her with me.
    Good on you for taking the time to be with your Dad, he would have heard you xxx

  • Suzie
    November 5, 2014

    I spent four years working in a synagogue and many of the people I spoke with became friends, I’ve attended many, many funerals and have no problem saying the D word. I do tend to be more careful of other people’s feelings though and use many euphemisms as I have just now. I lost my Dad many years ago and my Step-dad only a few years ago, I still cry and think of things I could be saying to them. It does still feel like a loss hence my usage of the word.

    I still cry at funerals even when I’m attending for a friend or to give support to my Mum and don’t know anyone there. Actually, I cry when the funeral is in a movie and not real. Gee, I’m hopeless.

    I am sorry for your loss.

    • Debbish
      November 5, 2014

      Thanks Suzie – I’m sorry for your losses as well. I attended the funeral of a friend’s father recently and was a bit messy. I was there alone and the stranger next to me asked me if I was okay at one point!!!

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