Larry's Story

Grief didn't begin the day he died

My father died, there's a pandemic, and I'm overcome by my feeling of loss. He was 73 years old and had complications from c-diff, which led to pneumonia, then COVID. After a couple weeks of aggressive care and frequent procedures, we were told there was nothing more they could do. He was placed on palliative care. We didn't know whether it would be hours or days, but I wasn't expecting his death, and had no time to prepare in the time leading up to it. I didn't get to see him like I wanted to, so the day he died, we were not there to kiss his cheeks, to hold his hand, or say goodbye. The hospital staff and chaplain were at his bedside when he took his last breath, peacefully.

Nothing prepared me for his loss. I'm writing about my grief journey because I know this is something that affects everyone. You can't get through life without experiencing loss. The question is, how do we live with loss? In the months after my father died, I asked myself, how will I live without you?

My dad was an amazing husband, father, grandfather, and loyal friend to many. He cared deeply about others. He had quite the sense of humor, a hardy laugh, the ability to fix anything around the house or farm. Mostly though, he was known for his continuous shenanigans!

I was still overwhelmed with guilt. I couldn't see him in his last days because of COVID protocol. I was in denial, I couldn't tolerate the idea of him being gone, so I found a way to avoid confronting it.

This was all I thought about, how I wished I'd been with him and how I wished I could've said goodbye. Then I remembered something I told a coworker who was feeling the guilt about her Dad. Grief didn't begin the day he died. We experienced it while he was still alive, and because our energy was focused on how we could live without him, we weren't aware that we had already been grieving the loss of someone we loved! Our goal is to accept the loss into our lives and create an ongoing connection with the person who died, while also finding a way to continue living. #saytheirname

In loving memory of my Dad,

Larry D. Betts

11/24/46 - 06/09/20

#foreverinmyheart

- Tonia Rae Maciej