What just does not make any sense to me: is how my mind will try and regulate my feelings based on some ill-conceived logic. Sure the psychology textbooks will parrot out that it’s a coping mechanism all designed to protect my ego blah, blah, blah…
Is it really that helpful to disregard feelings of loss due to some bogus self-protection concept that there is some hierarchical response to grief?
I have tried largely to ignore my emotional response to the death of my best friend’s father based on the notion that he wasn’t my Dad, that I hadn’t seen him for two years. But here’s the thing- loss has no hierarchical structure. It is not dependent on how recent you have seen someone. Loss is what you feel irrespective of the rules and guidelines you try to apply to the situation.
When my Aunty passed away five years ago I set up all these little explanations about why her death shouldn’t really affect me. After all she wasn’t my mother. This I have now understood with time completely diminished my relationship with her. I was not allowing myself to grieve the loss of a much loved Aunt.
Here I am again, this time talking myself out of managing the loss of my best friend’s father, based on the fact that we were not related. Again overlooking what the relationship meant to me. I had known this man almost all of my life. I was at his house several times a week all throughout the nineties making mixed cassette tapes with his daughter. He represented constancy.
It was his house that I would come back to visit when I lived in Queensland. I valued the walls of 147 it was there that I could tap into memories of my adolescent years, because the house that I grew up in was sold while I was on a student exchange year in Germany. I think in some ways when I first came back to Lismore I didn’t understand the sadness that can come from the sale of a house.
See loss will spring up in all shapes and sizes it doesn’t have to be death, although death will usually trump all other kinds of loss. I have seen men grieve the loss of a grand-final. See in that instant I want to yell ‘Get some perspective!’
But, loss is loss.
Watching a man struggle to die for sixteen days with his two daughters vigilant by his side has got to make an indentation on the psyche even for a nurse who has seen patients die. I understand the language of dying. I was part nurse part family friend. I visited my best friend’s father after work, during my lunch breaks just quick check-ins. I didn’t cry I was there to support my best friend and her family.
There was a familiarity to the process for me as they all came to visit their father, brother, uncle and friend in the hospital room. It could just as easily been a birthday or a wedding, with the one big exception: the man lying in the bed.
Gentle tears fell as I sat there visiting for the first time in civilian clothes on a Saturday evening in room twenty three. I thought of all the other times in my career I might have cried if not for my uniform. Who knew that my hospital scrubs had protective powers?
Observing the end of someone’s life- stirs questions- sometimes with no immediate answers.
I was questioning the end of life care that we provide for our loved ones. I am not sure how we as health professionals are doing on that score. I kept asking myself the question in the broader community sense: why in this absolute-end-stage of life we can’t bring forward the process of release by the use of pharmacological means sooner? But that is a question for another time.
With Mr Busch’s passing I have been thinking of the strangest memories… like the Copper Grill that was almost on the corner of Molesworth Street. It was there that I had my first ever lime spider, it was a place so posh that the ham and cheese toasted sandwiches were cut into triangles, served standing up on their crusts. There is no connection only that I have known the two since I was five.
So to the only man I know who could truly rock a white bonds singlet, I never thanked you for your gift to me: your daughter’s friendship. May you rest in peace.