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letter received regarding Loss - #1 (long!)

This is an email I received from someone on the brain tumor listserve who also lost her daughter. I had posted an email as follows:

I read all of these emails of the loss of many of our people. I pray for all of us to be able to deal with our loss.

I am just having such a hard time of it. We lost Lori on July 5, 2005. This is more of a roller coaster than the 22 months she lived with the diagnosis. Most of the time I am just so sad I can not stand it. I am working, I think most people would say I am doing ok outwardly. I just cannot handle life. My husband told me yesterday, I am a shell of myself. Nothing makes me happy. I mean, I do laugh at times & I enjoy life sometimes - but not often. I went to the cemetery on Wednesday - it was the 3 month anniversary of Lori's death, & I have been overly depressed ever since. I know it takes time but what do I do in the meantime???

I miss her so much & cannot stand the fact that I will never see her again.

Linda m/o Lori 35 gmb iv - 12/1/69 to 7/5/05

Dearest Linda,
You are still so close to the time of Lori's death, that part of what is happening is you're passing through the "numb" phase and exhaustion that follows the intensity of the last phases of this disease into the "awareness" of the finality of what has happened. It does not matter what kind of preparation you have done to get to this place the reality of being without our child's presence the rest of our life is a penetrating and constant pain -- and in the early part of this time it is so close to the surface that it often dominates everything else.

My husband said something very similar to me and just about the same time as your husband has said to you. Spouses often process this grief differently and I know for my husband he was very frightened that he and the boys would lose me as well. These are some of the things I know...

You need to process and feel your grief and move through those stages as you are ready...

If you let the tears flow and have a safe place to acknowledge your feelings and thoughts you will be able to live again beyond this dark and sad time...sometimes this means even feelings you and I were taught aren't "nice". There were moments I felt sorry for myself...what I had lost. There were moments I felt anger that it had happened to us. There were moments I felt jealousy as friends and family experienced life events that would never be a part of our lives. There are moments you feel that what has happened to Lori and all of you is so profound that laughter and other activities are trivial and somehow not appropriate...but that will pass and we participating in them are not a betrayal to the loss we feel. We want them back with us because we do...but logically we know that they needed to be released from their suffering and it is so difficult to reconcile our aching heart to the logic in our head.

If you remember, and I don't mean this tritely or lightly, that several people have gone before you in this process and survived, you will be able to keep the faith that you will get to that place as well....and most of the people that I spoke with told me it was a good five years before they really felt they were back in the mainstream of a so-called normal life. I can tell you at 4 1/2 yrs moving towards that five year anniversary I am seeing that for myself.

Each of us make very personal decisions about how to cope. For me I got to the place that I knew I needed medication...and even when I tried to do without a few times I realized that I did much better with the medication. The lows weren't so low and the tears weren't so close to the surface and it helped me to function. It's important to have people you can talk to "unvarnished"....plainly...who can listen to your words and your tears. A time will come that sadness will not dominate your day and the first thought in your mind on waking will not be that your daughter has died. Often, when I teach I try to give a visual example for a concept I want to convey...several years ago we were in Yosemite the year after a terrible forest fire and the devastation and starkness of the land with just naked and burnt tree trunks went on a far as I could see....but I knew the force of life was strong and at a point further out in time small blades of grass would begin to emerge to be followed by all kinds of signs of new growth and life. I felt burnt out and consumed after Jenny died...barren....void....just so terribly sad -- but I knew logically that no one can stay at that place and survive and that time would bring the change. You will come to a time that you will remember more of Lori's life without the tumor...without the progression -- the death and sadness will always be there because it has become a fact in our lives that cannot be denied...and it will always be a fact that until we die we will be without our daughters -- but that always brings me back to a question I asked myself in the very beginning -- would I have rather not had Jen in my life at all to not have to deal with this pain....and that is truly unacceptable and I suspect that's how you will feel about Lori being such an important part of your life as well.

I wish I could give you a mom to mom hug and take away your pain -- but in the absence of that please know that we all join to uphold you and cry with you...

Denise Turek, mom to Jen, 8/7/1973-4/27/01

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