Grief is Exhausting

flagdrappedMy Dad died a week ago. While he suffered from dementia, the time that a doctor first found a lesion on his tongue, to a diagnosis and his death was 4 weeks.

I’ve been mourning my Dad’s loss for several years as his short-term memory vanished and being able to have a conversation got more difficult. The loss of the car, the end to his racquetball and the changing dynamics of his independent life muted his humor. The sudden end due to cancer was a shock.

We have been mired implementing his burial plans and communicating the details and information about his death to our extended family, friends and his vast array of former colleagues. I cried so much the first two days, I was starting to worry about myself and wondered if my glum was preventing my children to feel like they could grieve. By Day 4 I could discuss that my Dad died without breaking into tears and each day has been getting better – until today.

They say it’s normal to feel the roller coaster of grief as you process your loss. We were asked to return to the funeral home to identify my Dad. My one brother stayed in town and is helping manage through the details.

When we arrived we are told we will be escorted to the parlor, I’m confused. I thought we were going to the basement cellar where they would roll out body in one of the morgue like storage units you see on TV and confirm that is our father. I even brought a sweater on this 85 degree day for fear I would get cold.

My Dad is laid out in an open casket in his “dress blues” with an American flag over the casket. He looks peaceful and I find myself rushing to touch him one more time. Loved.

13 thoughts on “Grief is Exhausting

  1. My thoughts are with you. Grief is the roller coaster that never seems to end, the hills and valleys just seem to get a little less steep as time goes on. Sending you peaceful thoughts.

  2. Agree, grief is exhausting, it saps both physical and emotional energy. My mom and I also went to view Dad at the funeral home. I wasn’t sure what to expect and whether it would give Mom the closure she was seeking. But similar to your experience, we found that Dad looked so peaceful, with death finally lifting that constant disorienting cloud of dementia. Peace to you and your family.

    1. Thanks for such a nice follow up note. My Dad was so sick, was in pain and has lost so much weight so quickly, it was nice to see him all “put together” even if it was for the last time.

  3. “They” say that it helps the healing process to touch the body. It is supposed to help you come to grips with the reality of death.

    1. Hi Martha – Thank you for your note. I hope you are doing well. I am doing a follow up on that idea — I never expected to want an open casket experience, but think it helps — at least in my case. It seems to have reopened the floodgate of tears however.

  4. Grief is indeed exhausting. I kept mine at bay with both my dad and mom until everyone had left and I was finally alone and then it poured over me in waves. Some of those waves still broadside me even now, more than a year after Mama’s death.

    I miss them both, but I miss the people they were before they got sick. I don’t want to fail them in continuing their legacies because both of them spent their lives helping others, both professionally and personally, and I continue to hear how much they impacted, in a positive way, the lives that intersected with theirs.

    I look at my own life and ask if I’ve done the same, and, if not, how I can change that.

    Grief is a complicated thing. It takes time. More time than the rest of life and people will respectfully give you and so it becomes a thing reserved for private time until the process at least loses the raw edge that it has now. Be kind to yourself. Be gentle with yourself. And be patient with yourself.

    Continued prayers for peace, comfort, and healing for you and your family as you moved forward.


  5. I am so sorry for your loss. I write momanddadcare. The anticipatory grief does make it easier, as does time. Take solace in the fact that you are a good daughter who has wanted the best for them.

    Norman M. Miller (917) 301-2114


  6. Those moments can come quickly. My mother passed away in April and almost every day something –mostly seemingly innocuous occurrences, like going to Costco and thinking I need to buy her favorite herring in a jar for her and then realizing that I no longer have to–can pull up a rush of emotion out of nowhere. My thoughts are with you.

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