How Do You Move Forward When You Have Lost so Much?

As I head back to Washington, D.C. and try and resume life a brief reflection on the hell that has been. The last 2.5 months have been one of death, loss, tears, fears, grief counseling, cleaning my parents belongings and more. How do you move forward when you have gone through such a loss? I will find out in the day to day experiences of life.

“The death of a beloved is an amputation.”

C.S. Lewis

“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; all that we deeply love becomes a part of us.”

Helen Keller

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Dr. Seuss

2018 was a hard year. It came after the death of my Mom in April of 2017. After Christmas in our grief and pain we heard news that we dreaded. My Dad’s brain tumor returned and was growing again. So we worked at following Dad’s wishes and took him places. I along with family worked with Dad to make sure he had the highest quality of life and that he traveled where he wanted to go. We took Dad to Montana, Hawaii, Canada, New Orleans, Kansas and Missouri. My sister and I took turns in helping Dad.

In 2018 I watched my Dad decline which was painful. Then came the news from Stanford in which my sister said I needed to come home. I dropped everything and headed to California. So as I am traveling back to Washington, D.C. what happened from November 15 until today?

I left Washington, D.C. with one parent and am returning an orphan.

I watched my Dad in the front room in the last week of his life. I helped bath, feed and spend time with him. I kissed him on the forehead and affirmed my love for him.

I watched Dad go into the hospital for the last time. The long waits at the ER, siting alongside Dad and the late night.

There was the news that Dad had an internal bleed and that due to his brain tumor surgery was not an option.

There was the weeping in the arms of a family friend in the hospital room. There was the friends that came by and said their goodbyes.

There was the phone call in the middle of the night and heading to the hospital at about 3:30 in the morning. There was the labored breathing and the pain Dad had.

There was the time I sat in the chapel at about 4:00 and sobbed and had someone reach out and called me.

There was the death of my Dad and holding his hand and feeling the warmth leaving his body.

There was the funeral planning and being numb to the entire process. Along the way I also had to face my fear of attending Dad’s funeral. It was a fear I dreaded my entire life.

There was the flood of food and phone calls, cards, and more.

There was attending a grief group and being numb to the process. Talking one on one with a grief counselor. There were tears and being told I was dealing with complicated grief due to the deaths of two parents back to back.

There was the feedback that 43 was too young to lose both parents. That in my early to mid 40’s I am where people in their 60’s are.

There was my Dad’s funeral. The flood of people and reading scripture and trying to keep myself together. There was the internment and burial.

There was the Thanksgiving a day after my Dad’s death. What was there too be thankful for I remembered?

There was the Christmas in San Francisco and the awkward moment when I realized how hard this holiday would be.

There was the museum that I visited which was fun. It was one of the few times I enjoyed the time out here.

There was the meeting with some friends here in California.

There was the business side of death. Cleaning the house, going through Dad’s belongings. And often crying. Finding information about Dad that I didn’t know that also made me smile or laugh.

There was the trip to the California State Railroad Museum and a hobby shop in Yuba City. The weird feelings of can I enjoy life after experiencing such a hard death?

There was the celebrating my sister’s birthday in late January in San Francisco. That was good and weird.

As I go back to Washington, D.C. I reflect on the loss, pain, tears and more. In my mind I am trying to think of what to look forward to. My sister is going to visit me  in D.C. and we have time planned in New York City as well later in 2019. But its going to be a long and painful haul. How do you let go of those who made and created you and showered you with love? How does life move forward? One step at a time. One tear at a time. And through the help of loved ones. Mom and Dad I will forever love you!

5 thoughts on “How Do You Move Forward When You Have Lost so Much?

  1. How do you move forward…?

    “You adapt and go on. Like the Jews after Rome destroyed their Temple and scattered them over the Empire. Like the Church after the last Apostle died without Christ returning and they realized they had to dig in for the long haul.”
    — from “Dyads”, by Ken Pick and C Alan Loewen in Infinite Space, Infinite God II

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  2. I’m so sorry for the loss you are struggling through. It hurts. It will. Just give each new day the opportunity to bring a fresh perspective. God has a plan for you and it will be a good plan. It just may not feel like it now.

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  3. Thinking of you. I hope you are able to find peace in the memories of the lives you shared, knowing that while you are separated they will always be a part of your life.

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  4. Gotta put in some comedy reliet:

    How Can You Be In Two Places at Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All?
    — Firesign Theater

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  5. 2018 was the year you got to spend a lot of special time with your dad. You got to take him to places he had wanted to go, and do things he had wanted to do, and share those memories with him. And now you’ll carry those memories as part of you, for always.

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