When Death visits is my first blog since my father’s death.
By: Dawn Vallarta
On May 2, 2017 my life changed forever. My dad was having back problems and going to the chiropractor for over a year. On May 2nd he was hurting to bad he could barely walk but went in for an adjustment. Since it had gone on so long and nothing they did at the chiropractor gave him any relief but made it hurt worse they decided he should see an Orthopedic doctor. This doctor ordered an MRI. On May 4th he called him and told him to come back in. They found something on his spine.
It took from May 4th to May 7th to get him into the hospital. I don’t know why but they said they had to wait for a bed in the one that might be able to do something for him. It doesn’t matter it could have been the same day and the outcome would be the same.
May 7, 2017 they told my dad he had lung cancer. And it had spread to other parts of his body. The tumor on his spine was actually eating through his spine and it could snap at any second. They gave him two days of radiation to shrink it but since his cancer was so wide spread they could not save him.
My dad was put on inhalers and diagnosed with COPD three years ago. Three years. That is a long time to allow cancer to spread. I guess the chest xray did not show what was there or something.
My dad came home on May 9th and had to stay in bed most of the time. He was in to much pain to sit for long.
May 11, 2017 my dad was sitting on his bed watching Jeopardy with me and my step mom when he stopped answering questions and closed his eyes and left us.
I guess you can say I was angry. I had nine days to prepare for my father’s death. I was mad that he smoked when he was younger. I was mad that they could not fix him. I was mad that maybe the doctors made a mistake when they said he had COPD. I was mad that he was leaving me. I guess in some ways I am still mad.
You see I know people mean well but telling me it will get easier as time goes by is not helping me. My mother died when I was six years old and now my father is gone too. I love my grandparents and have lived with them most summers of my life but it is not the same. I know my dad wants me to be happy and go on with my life because he told me I had to keep going to not let him dying change me.
But it has changed me. Cancer might kill the person who has it but it slowly kills those affected by it a little each day.
When people tell you things and they will trust me. Don’t get mad at them and try to understand they just don’t know how to help you. But some suggestions I would like to make that I find truly annoying are the following:
When a Child or anyone is going through the death of a parent DO NOT:
1. Ask them did you see them die.
2. Tell them each day gets easier
3. Tell them if they talk about it they will feel better. When they want to talk about it they will.
4. Say you cant believe how fast they died. Believe me no one is in disbelief more than the child.
5. Tell them they have to eat. they have to drink something they have to go on living. They are living just not the way they did before. they are trying to survive. They don’t need anyone hovering over them. Don’t tell them they will make themselves sick because the truth is their body and mind is in shock and when they can eat they will.
6. Don’t dwell on what has happened. They know better than anyone what has happened.
What you can do is:
1. Say you are sorry. Don’t say for their loss just say you are sorry.
2. Tell them when they want to talk you will be there for them.
3. Tell happy memories of funny things the person they loved did. Make them remember the good times.
4. Offer to fix them something when they want it. Don’t fix it and assume they want it or even like what you fixed.
5. Just sit next to them and be there close by if they want to talk.
6. Give them time to come out of shock. Everyone deals on different levels and will be moving back toward normal when they feel they can. If Normal ever returns to them at all but don’t force them to forget what happened. It will never happen.
I am lucky to have such wonderful loving family and friends but some who did not know me well enough said some pretty cruel things to me like why didn’t he know he was this sick? Why did he wait so long to get help? How come they couldn’t do anything for him? Don’t you think those exact questions have been running through my mind over and over. And oh yes the one I hate most is he was so young to die like this and now the poor girl is an orphan. Never ever say that because that comment cuts your heart into a million pieces when you hear someone say it.
Just think before speaking and imagine how would you want others to act toward you if you had this happen or worse if it was your child this happened to. Just be kind people and remember no matter how sad you are for losing a friend his child is a zillion times sadder than you can ever imagine being.
It has been 11 years since my mother died and I still have memories of her. Yes, I was younger and yes I survived it. But that is because I had the best dad/mom on earth. Now I do not have him but I know where ever he is he loves me still and watches over me. I will continue my life to make both my parents proud watching over me. But I will have to do it on my own time not on textbook or others expectations of time.
So when someone you know goes through this just be there. Be patient and understanding, don’t get mad when they don’t snap out of it when you think they should. And most of all let them know they are never going to be alone.