My dad's death
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21-08-2012, 05:04 AM
My dad's death
I haven't been around a lot recently, but I needed somewhere to get this out.

My dad died exactly a month ago. He had a massive heart attack, and even after two hours (!) of CPR and attempts at resuscitation by determined doctors, he did not survive. Even though it was a tremendous shock and tragedy, it took me surprisingly little time to come to grips with it. (Dealing with my mother and the situation in which he left her, though, has been another story.) One of the strangest things to deal with has been the outpouring of religious sentiment that comes along with it.

I'm sure you're all familiar with the cliche "I'll pray for you" or "he's in a better place." It's shockingly hollow to be on the receiving end of it. And what I didn't expect was how soon it started. Shortly after he died, they set his body aside in a room for me, and I went to see him. I was his only family in town at the time, so I was all alone with him. I had decided I would say a few words--for me, since, of course, I would be the only person there to hear them. Even though I'd mentally prepared myself for that, it was still a surprise to realize just how creepy death is. People like to say a dead person looks like they're sleeping, but dad didn't seem like he was sleeping--he seemed like he was gone. Now, fresh from that experience the social worker assigned to me took me aside and (not shockingly) recommended I go to grief counseling. Then she asked if I'd said anything to him, and I said something along the lines of "Yes, I did...but it was for my sake, since it's not like he could hear me." "Oh, I think they can still hear us," she says. That bit caught me a bit off guard...especially with that experience of seeing him there lifeless so fresh in my mind. The last thing I really wanted was for someone to contradict my conclusions, especially while I was trying to cope.

Among the truly wonderful response of support I've gotten from friends and family the last month, there have been sprinkled those little moments of dissonance where I don't really know how to respond to a friend's/family member's assurance that my dad is in heaven, or is listening to me, or is watching me in some way. Mostly I just gloss over those moments. Well, tonight I got another one of those moments in the form of a card with an enclosed poem. It comes from my dad's (in my opinion haughtily pious) estranged sister, whom I honestly haven't seen in years. She included the following, which, the card explains, was attached to the announcement of their own mother's death:

Quote:I am home in Heaven, dear ones;
Oh, so happy and so bright!
There is perfect joy and beauty
in this everlasting light.
All the pain and grief is over,
Every restless tossing passed;
I am now at peace forever,
Safely home in Heaven at last.
Did you wonder I so calmly
Trod the valley of the shade?
Oh! but Jesus' love illuminated
Every dark and fearful glade.
And he came Himself to meet me
In that way so hard to tread;
And with Jesus' arm to lean on,
Could I have one doubt or dread?
Then you must not grieve so sorely,
For I love you dearly still;
Try to look beyond earth's shadows,
Pray to trust our Father's Will.
There is work still waiting for you,
So you must not idly stand;
Do it now, while life remaineth -
You shall rest in Jesus' land.
When that work is all completed,
He will gently call you Home;
Oh, the rapture of that meeting,
Oh, the joy to see you come!

I felt the need to express a counterpoint to this unapologetic sap and get out a bit of how I've been feeling about this whole situation. I wrote my own poem, which I have decided to inflict upon you as follows:

The day death comes for me
will be an ordinary day,
a day like any other
not distinct in any way.
And I will pray no special blessing
to god, deity or saint.
I will but fall to silence
as my heart and breath grow faint.
I will not ask for Jesus's hand
to guide me into bliss;
I won't await my loved ones' lips
to greet me with a kiss.
I will not look for pearly gates
or bright streets paved with gold,
or listen for the music
from the stories we've been told.
I will not fear the flames of hell
or pure white judgment seat,
I will not wear a crown
as a reward for undefeat.
The promises that in my youth
they swore would keep me good
Will be made useless to me
having done all that they could.
Oblivion awaits me there
across that gaping rift.
But today I hold life precious,
for I cannot take it with.


Thanks for reading.
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21-08-2012, 06:03 AM
RE: My dad's death
Rook, I'm sorry to hear about your loss. What I've observed about death is that it leads many people to say or do stupid or thoughtless things, even if they are well intentioned. But it's important for you and your grieving to take the good from it, and "translate" their sentiments, no matter how inappropriate or cringe-worthy, into something along the lines of "this person is trying to help me and support me, and must care about me/and/or my dad, even though the only tool they've got in their bag is some religious twaddle."

And I really like your poem.
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21-08-2012, 08:39 AM
My dad's death
Hey, Rook, long time no see. It's sad news you share with us, but I'm glad you decided to come back and vent. Jeff is right about needing to see the religious twaddle you're hearing as people's attempts to share in your grief and comfort you. (With the possible exception of your dad's sister).

If you have the ability to express yourself through poetry, it seems to me you're on a good path to dealing with your sorrow. Plus, you can say whatever you need to say here and not have to worry about hearing empty religious platitudes.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of Calvinism is that good Atheists do nothing." ~Eric Oh My
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21-08-2012, 10:01 AM
RE: My dad's death
I'm sorry for your loss. Your poem is lovely. Thank you for sharing it.

My Year Of the Bible - A blog on reading the Bible

Fear is strange soil. Mainly it grows obedience like corn, which grows in rows and makes weeding easy. But sometimes it grows the potatoes of defiance, which flourish underground.
- Terry Pratchett
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21-08-2012, 10:53 AM
RE: My dad's death
I should just avoid threads like this. I cry far too easily.

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That's relativity.

You cannot successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to butter.
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21-08-2012, 11:22 AM
RE: My dad's death
I am certanly with you in your sentiments. It's all the religious dribble people bestowed upon me when my husband died that brought me to this place. I needed to hear some reasonable people.

As far as hearing you after death - there are arguments for a very short window before the brain actually shuts down. If they tried to revive him for 2 hours, that window was long shut.

Most people mean well with their religious comments, and while some made me want to scream I tolerated it and just tried to avoid people for a while. They tend to shut up about if once a bit of time has passed.

It's not that hard top come to grips with the death of someone who was not a constant daily presence in your life anymore, although after just a month you don't actually know yet how you will react. These things take time to digest. There will be times when a situation triggers you and it will come back up to the surface. There is a void somewhere in your life (and your brain's conditioned thinking) and you will become aware of it periodically, even if you were not living together. For your mom it's a whole other thing and I hope you cut her a lot of slack, not just now, but a year from now when everyone thinks she should be back to normal. She won't be, she will be hiding it for the most part, but it will still be with her on a daily basis. That is actually when people need the most understanding.

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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21-08-2012, 12:21 PM
RE: My dad's death
I like the poem.

Stick it the Poets' Corner thread.

Also, impressed at the way you are dealing with this.

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21-08-2012, 01:55 PM
RE: My dad's death
Wow Rook, loved the poem.

Sounds to me like you are coping pretty well. And what you're going through ain't that easy to cope with.

I sure hope letting some stuff out here helps you. You have my ear.

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21-08-2012, 02:43 PM
RE: My dad's death
Oh, Rook - I'm so sorry, man - what a horrible shock for everything to change so suddenly. Unfortunately, others do mean well, but some really have very little to work with in such circumstances. It's good for you to come here and get away from people who, let's face it… will never understand living if they have to make shit up about dying.

Your poem is beautifully life affirming! The last sentence is especially perfect - life is so precious, it's sometime astonishing how easy it can be to forget that. DLJ is right - you should copy it to the poet's corner thread. I think it's something many members will want to revisit.

Dom's right, your Mom will probably be dazed for quite a while - sounds like you've experience some of that, already. Don't hesitate to come to the forum to unload or just hang out - it might help pull your thoughts together a bit or just lighten your load. Also, eat well and get plenty of rest - it will help you stay clear headed and grounded.
Heart Take care.

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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21-08-2012, 03:30 PM
RE: My dad's death
Sorry to hear about your loss Rook, and what a lovely poem you wrote. if you ever need someone to talk to you can PM me or just post another thread, hang tight.

Bury me with my guns on, so when I reach the other side - I can show him what it feels like to die.
Bury me with my guns on, so when I'm cast out of the sky, I can shoot the devil right between the eyes.
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