Lynne, my wife of 31 years, battled glioblastoma for nearly four years. Glioblastoma is a stage 4 brain cancer and is recognized for its ability to recur and its fast-growth. While caring for someone with life-threatening illness, I learned about grief and some steps that help to ease the grief slightly by preparing for loss.
Preparation for grief was an important piece of the recovery from my loss. When I say, preparation, you might think that it started during Lynne’s illness. I believe that for me, it started much earlier and demonstrated itself in various ways. Because my dad served as a preacher, exposure to death occurred earlier and more often to me than for most young people. Like most, I lived life as if it were going to last forever; however, the exposure to death created an impression on me. The exposure to death helped me to realize that this life is temporary. This mindset helped me to share my appreciation of others before it was too late. Too many times, I heard others speak about their regrets concerning not sharing how much they loved someone or appreciated his or her example until after the death. I feel that is a pity. I decided to ensure that I tried to share my appreciation with those I cared about while they were still living.
Preparation for loss also included setting aside any grudges, anger, bad feelings, and other things that most of us would regret holding onto after the loss of someone close to us. This also includes apologizing to someone for some wrong that we caused. I discovered that stepping up and apologizing when I was wrong was much better than holding onto that wrong eventually causing a regret following the loss of that special person. Avoiding the apology for the wrong might cause regret eventually, following the loss of that special person. This type of preparation averts the regrets we often feel during a loss, whether the loss is sudden, or resulting from a long illness.
While nearly everyone faces grief at some point in their life, the grief experience is unique to each individual. The particular circumstances surrounding one’s loss mold the individual response to grief. I hope that sharing my experience will help someone else in their grief recovery. I believe preparing for grief can start long before a significant loss. Making the most from our relationships today helps prepare us for the loss of love ones. In other articles, I explain some of the methods that my family used to help with creating and maintaining the memories of the special person that we lost.
Suddenly a Caregiver
Sharing a family’s experience and lessons learned to help you through the unexpected responsibility of becoming a family caregiver.