Wednesday, April 24, 2013

He has left the Denial behind






In a recent post of mine (here) I talked about the stages of death and dying. I talked about how these stages affected me, not Richard. We made a big step this week towards Richard moving through the stages. And it has not been fun. Well, whoever thought death was fun. I have read my share of books and self-help crap that deals with death and dying and I am going to tell you that going through it yourself is NOT the same as reading about it.

Richard has been stuck in the first stage of the Kubler-Ross Model for some time. I think he has been there since his diagnosis with Parkinson's in 2006. I know he was in denial when he had a stroke in 2011. He has been in denial about all of this. And that is hard, when you cannot help someone to accept that this is what is going on in their life. According to Kubler-Ross it is this first stage, denial, that helps a person learn to cope with the fact that they are dying. And it helps them to survive. And it is really, really hard when everyone in the family is not on the same level. And that is where we have been.

This past week, however, I think that we hit the milestone. It was late in the evening (actually closer to midnight) when suddenly he started to cry. And cry. And cry. Finally I was able to understand what it was that he was crying about. He said, "I am not going to beat this, am I?" "I am not going to get better" and "I am dying."  It was very sad. It is always hard to watch a grown man cry. My husband, thank God, is not one of those macho men who would never dream of crying in front of people. Over the years he has unashamedly shed tears for a variety of reasons. He is very patriotic, so anything to do with the National Anthem or our American flag will bring a tear to his eye. A thoughtful, heartfelt deed by a loved one has brought a tear to his eye. The unexpected kiss and hug with an "I love you Papa" will always bring a tear to his eye. But this was deep, down in the chest sobbing. And all I could do was hold his hand and pat his leg. I felt so helpless.

After the crying was over and we were settled back into his chair for the night we talked for a long time about what was in the future. How we would take care of him here at home. I promised him he would stay with us until the end. That was one of his biggest fears. I reassured him we would keep him happy and comfortable. I tried to tell him that the kids and I will be okay. That we are strong. That we will miss him terribly but that we will be able to go one. He knows that he is loved. And that is what is most important at this time.


It is the denial of death that is partially responsible for people
living empty, purposeless lives; for when you live as if you'll live
forever, it becomes too easy to postpone the things you know that you must do.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross

16 comments:

  1. I'm one of those strong people that doesn't like to cry ... and I'm a woman... and this brought a tear to MY eye. :( I hate you're going through this...and all the thousands of people across the country going through this with you, too.

    I'm glad that he is accepting this journey... it's never fun to think about it... but man... that has to just break your heart...watching someone's heart break.

    :(

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    1. It is really hard, that's for sure. But we will get through it! Thanks April.

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  2. Oh Paula. What a journey. Thank you for your honest exposure of this difficult stage of your lives. I am glad that your husband knows he is loved. I pray that he will find peace as well. God bless, Maria at Delight Directed Living

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    1. You are so welcome Maria. Thank you for visiting me. I am wanting to document this for us to read down the road some. God Bless you

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  3. I'm glad he's moved forward. And I'm also glad for all of you that he will be with you to the end. I always feel so bad for our resident whose families admit them to the facility on hospice. I know everyone's story is different, but I wish they could have kept their loved ones at home...

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    1. This is Richard's biggest fear...that we will put him in a nursing home. It won't happen if I can at all help it. I am glad he is moving forward too. It really does help me. I think I am stuck in the anger phase however.

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  4. Paula,
    Bless you both really I mean that. I cannot tell you how very much I admire you for the love and caring you show your husband. You remind me so much of my sister in laws mother who has cared for her husband with MS at home and he is in the end stage as well. She like you has committed to keep him home until the end. And because I am so very familiar with this type of situation I hope that I'm not overstepping when I say that I do hope that you are taking care of yourself as well.

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    1. Thank you Jen for your kind words. No, you are not over-stepping. I appreciate the words. And to be honest, No I am not really taking care of myself. That is just too hard to do at this point. But I am working on it.

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  5. oh Paula, I really don't know what to say..God Bless both of you and your family.

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    1. Thank you Nina. That says enough! :)

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  6. Such a hard thing to go through. My mother has MS and my father was in denial for a while over it.He didn't want her to go to a rehab center. I finally had a shouting match with him over it when he finally broke down and realized that my mother was never going to be the same again. That weekend he drove her to the rehab center. She spent three weeks there. She went from being wheelchair bound to being about to walk short distances with a walker. She will never be 100% but it helped. Acceptance is hard. I think it is wonderful that you are going to try and make him as happy as possible till the end. You truly are a good person and the more I learn about you the more it becomes obvious.

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    1. That is so sweet of you to say Melissa. I do not always feel like such a good person. But I am doing my best.

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  7. Oh, Paula, I needed a tissue for this one. My heart goes out to you, but I'm glad he has finally come to face it. You made me realize that my mother-in-law never came out of her denial when she was dying of lung cancer, which made it really hard for my husband to let go, and he never really got to have that final goodbye. Nearly eight years later, he still struggles with that. I hope this will help you take a small burden off your shoulders now that you can really talk to him about it.

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    1. Well I wrote that yesterday and then last night he was talking about 'when I get better'. It is so hard to say if he is really through denial.

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  8. Along with everyone else above, I shed tears over this. My heart breaks for him and you and your family. You will be strong, but its okay to have moments of weakness. You have a good support system. I am praying for you all.

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    1. Thank you Cristy. I am finding that writing about it does help me.

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