Thursday, May 01, 2008


The wikipedia article on grief starts out:

Grief is a single-faceted response to loss. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social and philosophical dimensions. Common to human experience is the death of a loved one, whether it be a friend, family, or other close companion. While the terms are often used interchangeably, bereavement often refers to the state of loss, and grief to the reaction to loss

My lovely mom is at the final stage of terminal ovarian cancer. No food goes through her GIT, because it's blocked by cancer, and so she gets hardly any nutrition. She's lost another 20 pounds in the last 3 weeks or so. I've never seen her so skinny--I can see the shape of her facial bones more distinctly than ever in my life.

She called me up Wednesday morning to say "This morning when I woke up I felt like God had grabbed hold of my big toe and was pulling on it saying 'Time to come home, Sue.' So I just wanted to say good bye, and I love you, and I'll see you in heaven, and I hope you find a good church so that your lovely amazing little girls will grow up to love the Lord. In case I don't get to talk to you again."

In response to that I cried.

So we went out to hang out with her on Wednesday afternoon. And my lovely Nana Kay was there. Nana Kay is my mom's mom. She must be 80 something years old. She looks a lot healthier than my mom. It must be really hard to have to watch your child die.

I think I'm experiencing grief. I never really had this experience before, so I'm having to feel it out as I go. I'm not functioning nearly as well as I normally do (not that my "normal" is all that brilliant, actually). I'm in my last quarter at school, and I can feel myself seriously screwing up in terms of my grades this quarter, and I can't really seem to care that much (which is no doubt partially a function of the fact that it's my last quarter).

About 5 days ago I texted a good friend of mine "My mom is dying, therefore I hate God. QED."

Today I asked Megan

B: "Do you have to believe in life after death to be a Christian?" She said

M: "No".

B: "But isn't it in the Apostles Creed?"

M: "Oh--yeah, that 'resurrection of the body' bit. But you don't have to believe the whole Apostles Creed to be a Christian. You just have to believe that if you want to work for World Vision or IJM."

B: "Oh. Do you think one could get a job with them if one only believed it very occasionally?"

M: "Well, that would be very honest, to tell them that, wouldn't it?"

My poor dad is very sad, I think. My best objective guess is that this whole thing is not only harder on him than it is on anyone else, but that it's *much* harder on him than on anyone else. How shall I encourage him? I don't know. I'm such a mess myself I'm not really in any postion to encourage him. Alas. They've been married since ... '72, I think. Or maybe '71. Right in there somewhere.


Pam Hogeweide said...

ben, i kept meaning to ask how your mom is holding up. on my last morning at your house your dad had called...

i'm so sorry to hear that her final days are upon you and your family.

i lost my dad almost a year ago. he had been sick for a very, very long time. it was a mixture of relief and grief when he finally passed.

grief is a unique process for each person.

for me, the loss of my dad and then my best friend and her toddler within days of his funeral (she and her little one were killed in a head-on collision) did not bring crisis of faith. i did, however, find myself erupting at well-maining people who say fatalistic things like, God had a plan, or God has a purpose in this, or, my favorite, Everything happens for a reason.

I startled some of my would-be comforters when I responded to their words with "Bullshit." I do not think it is accurate to place the credit with God for cruel diseases or tragic car accidents. I do not for a moment think that God has a script in his hand and plans for the untimely deaths of some...I do find comfort, then and even now, that the loving presence of Jesus is with us who mourn. He mourns with us, and somehow, like when friends brought over cards and meals and companionship, there is a comfort in that.

I wrote about it last year. Go to my July 07 archives and scroll through from the beginning of the month to the end. I wrote a few things about death. That was the month i went to four funerals.

I'm thinking of enrolling in a 6-week grief recovery class that begins this month. I miss my friend and her little one so much. Everyday. Every effin day.

I cannot believe she is gone.

But my dad, I have faith and hope that he is in that place of freedom from pain and disease. I believe in an afterlife and that one day all shall be reunited. I have trust that my relationship with him in the hereafter will be free from the bs that damaged it, and damaged me, in this life. These are the hopes of faith.

I like what Megan said to you. She is wise, that woman of yours. Lean hard into her these days. Lean into each other.

I'll be thinking of you and your family. Keep me posted.....

D said...

Never gone through what you are describing, so I don't know what to say in regard to comforting your dad. My best guess is just to be present with him, even if it is in miserable silence?

This post twisted my insides.

I think hating God is an appropriate response right now. I think I probably would have the same reaction.

And, no you don't have to believe the Apostles Creed. Hell, I go to a church where we say it every week. I only say the bits I like. That whole Jesus is God thing, I skip it every time. The Creed was the church's big power grab to snuff out the heretics and unify everybody so that Constantine could duly subjugate the faith to the state.

Joe said...

I'm not sure I can say the creed either, if it helps any (probably not).

I dunno if your Dad is the huggable type, but maybe that is something you can do. Seems that touch is really important to grieving people a lot of the time.

Peace to you and yours

Fishpimp said...

I wish I had some wisdom for you, brother. But I don't want to sound trite or cliche. I'm sorry your family is going through this. Just knkow I'm supporting you all up here in Edmonds.

Your sis, Kat said...

My darling brother. This is definitly the hardest thing I have ever been through in my life as well. I am not in school but I know that it has definitly affected my work. I dont know how to handle it. Its the worst type of mental and emotional roller coaster. It hurts so bad just knowing that soon there will no longer be that comfort of having my mom around, the loving person who has been there unconditionally for me my whole life. The only comort I can offer is the knowledge that there are those still here who greatly care for and love us. Love you my brother.