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As a lot of you fellow ciao-er's are aware I lost my sister last November. The fact that it has nearly been a year since she passed away has surprised me. In a way it feels like yesterday that she would just ring me up for a good old gossip but also it seems like forever ago too. It's really strange how time has this effect. I thought seeing as it's been a year I would try to give my advice on how I have survived the past 12 months.
We knew my sister was going to die but that hasn't made these last 12 months any easier. I don't think whether you are prepared or not helps at all. I lost my father 2 years ago to a heart attack which was completely out of the blue and now I've lost my sister to cancer which was a very long process and have decided both ways are just as bad as the other. They both result in the same outcome- grief.
My sister battled her way through her 8 months of cancer treatment and still remained postive even when we knew it was palliative. She still got up every morning and took her son to nursery and spent the afternoons with our younger sister who was pregnant at the time and would offer her advice and try to help her out. When my sister did pass away the first reaction that I had was shock.
Shock and disbelief
Even though I had been aware that my sister's health was deteriorating it didn't help the initial shock. I always knew that one day I would get the call which would deliver the bad news but when it came I just remember staring at my phone in my hands and wondering was this actually for real. My sister had been so strong and stubborn throughout the illness that I had always questioned would it really actually happen. Could someone who still smiled and danced around the kitchen with a 3 year old actually really be critically ill? I kept thinking that this couldn't be real, just two days ago I had been watching X Factor with my sister and now she was no longer with us.
This time last year...
I have found the main thing that I have done throughout these 12 months is to think every day 'this time last year...' no matter what the day. This time last year my sister was on holiday, this time last year my sister got the diagnosis, this time last year I sat and held my sister's hand as she underwent ABVD chemotherapy. Thinking like this always upset me. It hurt to think that time was passing by and with each day that I looked back was another day taking me further away from the last time I saw my sister.
The reaction of others
How other people reacted to the news of my sister's death really affected me. Some people would be open and ask me questions about it but the majority avoided the subject and me entirely. People would cross the road to avoid having to talk to me and many friends just didn't contact me at all. Friends who did talk about my sister would do so very carefully as though afraid of what I'd say or if I'd get upset. I longed to tell my friends to just talk about her normally, that pussy footing around the subject wasn't helping anyone.
Ways of coping
I have taken on my sister's son and raising him myself along with my own daughter. I find that I have to get through each day with as positve an outlook as possible just to make it alright for him but it has been very hard. I have had to find ways to cope with every day occurences. When my nephew learns something new, like this year he has started school, it makes me feel immensly sad. I am absoloutely devastated that my sister wasn't the one to drop him off on his first day and watch him in his uniform but I have taught myself to get through these devastating moments and be as positive as I can. I try to turn it around as though I am living for my sister now so I have to be the one to feel proud, I have to feel doubly proud as I have to feel it for both of us.
I think talking about my sister helps. Some people don't like to talk about her and avoid the subject and look awkward when her name gets brought up into conversation but I yearn to talk about her. I feel that if people don't acknowledge her and talk about her it's almost denying she ever existed and it's almost like peopl ejust want to forget and I know that my sister would never want to be forgotten.
I've learnt to be open with my emotions. It is so easy to shut down and ignore what happened and just plod on with life but I have to be open especially with my nephew. Sometimes he will ask me awkward questions and I've learnt to just be honest with him. I tell him that I get upset too, I let him see that I'm sad sometimes but that it's okay. I found when I wasn't open and I couldn't speak to anyone about what happened I became very selfish and self-minded. I couldn't think about anyone but myself and wondered why nobody was talking to me about how I felt, it was only when I started to open up that I realised I could feel beter if I did just talk.
That special person helps. I find it difficult to talk to my partner mainly because I know that it will upset him if he knows some of the things that go round in my head. I also think it would upset my mother too so I have learnt to have my heart-to-hearts with a good friend who was also a friend of my sister's. I find that having that one person to really open up with has helped. If I hear a song that reminds me of her I now text my friend and inform him about it instead of just listening to it and feeling glum. Sharing this feeling has definitely helped me.
Everyone deals with grief differently. I read a book by Elizabeth Kubler Ross on Death and Dying and it spoke about different stages we all pass through when grieving and even that book suggested that some people don't go through all stages and some don't go through them in a particular order so as far as I could see it just means everyone is different. Nobody can tell you how to deal with grief, you may find it easier to write your feelings down or to see a counsellor or confide in your partner whatever way is best for you may not be best for someone else. My main advice I can give you is to try to turn your grief into a positive energy instead of let it zap all your motivation and energy. I still get very down and upset and think about my sister more than anything but I am trying to not let it get in the way of my life and am trying to live for the two of us now. It's difficult and I still have a long way to go but with the help of my good friends and my 4 year old nephew who absoloutely adores school and is doing more than well I am managing every day.
I know how difficult it was to lose mom and dad recently and they were both in theri 80's! I cannot imagine the pain that you must feel but well done for coping and helping your nephew, God bless you, Susan
danielleg1989 12.11.2009 07:56
Sorry to hear that, you are brave writing it all and I hope this has maybe helped you a bit writing it down as well. x