What are some therapeutic ways to deal with some emotions and feelings that I am having a hard time coping with?

Those of you who know me from funadvice know that my father has been batteling cancer for over 8 years now and he is one of the most important people in my life.

My dad came by last night to tell me in person that he has decided to stop going to chemotherapy and stop recieving treatment. It’s been a very long road and after 8 years of weekly chemotherapy and being sick, he’s hit his breaking point and has decided he can’t continue that way anymore. The doctors are predicting that a year….two years at the most is how long my dad has now that he has stopped treatment.

Its 5:30am and i still haven’t been to sleep. I can’t shut the thought of my dad actually dying out of my head. He’s been sick for a long time and we knew eventually the cancer would win - but it doesn’t make knowing that i only have a year left with him any easier. The thought of how heartbroken my son will be when he loses his pawpaw has me in tears every time i look at him.

I can’t physically talk about it because evertime i even mention my dad or try and talk i break down. What can i do thats therapeutic and can help me regain some peace and stability for now?

Answer #1

This is a really tough thing to go through, Mandy, and you have all my sympathy. You’re having a difficult time because it’s practically impossible to see the glass as half full in a situation like this … but even these kinds of things have a positive side. Your dad has had a long, trying battle, and he’s tired. He’s tired enough to admit that he’s finished fighting. Once it’s all over, he won’t be in pain anymore … he won’t be tired anymore. Unfortunately, this is one of those times when people are always eager to tell you that he’s going to Heaven, but knowing you don’t believe that makes it harder for you to see that this is a good thing. Your father needs rest now. You have about a year left with him. Make it a year full of good memories for you and for your son. Don’t think about the future … you can deal with that when it comes. This is all about today, and - today - your father is still here for you.

Answer #2

My brother’s friend was battleing cancer, she had it in her lungs and throat…She was told how long she had, and she left recently, it was hard. The whole reality of death is just an unbelieveable force, because you just don’t get how someone could be there all the time, but now they aren’t… I think it was a mistake to of had them tell your father how long he has left….because now you will all be counting down the days, instead of making what you have left important. I can imagine you have a lot of stress dealing with the thought of your dad, and your new born. What you should do, and you should get your father to do this too, but write down what you love most about him, what memories you remember with him…then get him to write what he will always remember about you, and the memories with you. A close family member like that isn’t something you will lose in your heart, you know that, but whenever you feel sad about it, you always should look at what he wrote…I wish you and your family the best.

Answer #3

Hey Mandy, I’m super sorry about your dad. Any illness is a hard thing on families.

It’s hard as of right now for you since you’re looking at the dark end of this situation, what a doctor says is only an opinion, yes they are of higher “authority” and intelligence in the field of health - but in my opinion, no one has the right in telling how long one can live. My daddy was born with Hepatitis B and the doctors told my grandma he wouldn’t live up to his high school years - my grandma was devastated, but that didn’t stop her from loving and looking at him less! In a few years… He made it past high school and got married to my mum :) Doctors that ran tests on him were amazed… My parents wanted to have a baby, the doctors said it wouldn’t be a smart idea since I’d have Hepatitis for sure. To hell with them doctors, my parents didn’t care, they wanted me and wated the experience of having a child, and believed that however many years I’d have they’d love and care for me to the core! Well I’m here now, I’m 20 and don’t have Hep. B and my daddy’s 44… and the doctor that told him he wouldn’t live and can’t conceive a child! HA! He passed first!

I’ve been told constantly that laughter is the best medicine :) As hard as it may be, try to be thankful and happy for the moment since he’s still here. Spend all the time you can with him, talk of old memories and make new ones… don’t think of where the path will end, just be thankful for everyday you have with him - for memories will always last <3

My heart goes out to you and your family!

Answer #4

I am truly sorry you are going through this. Some hospice centers here in MA have consueling for the family and friends and patient on how to coupe. Maybe they have them where you live too. Another thing is write down your emotions and thoughts in a book. I did that when my mom died and I would say ok tonight I will allow myself one hour of grieving then I have to stop crying or whatever I decided to do and I would try to do somthing fun like my friends took me to six flags and it took my mind off of it and it felt really good. My mother’s death was sudden so I didn’t have time to let go or start to. Show him everyday how much he means to you and if possible go see him as much as possible don’t think about him passing away think about the memories you can make. He put up a big fight and now his body wants to rest so when time comes you can think that his suffering is over. I am not really good with death because I become disattached so I don’t really know how you feel. My friend told me when her grandma died it is the watching and waiting that hurt her the most. When it happened she was happy her grandma was no longer in any pain. Again sorry about the situation you face.

Answer #5

I’m sorry to hear. I don’t really know what to say. I know when my grandmother was very ill and dying I used to write poetry to help me cope with the situation. Maybe you could do something similar. Also I would suggest discussing it with a professional when you’re ready or even a close friend. Sometimes it helps getting a more independent viewpoint.

Answer #6

This is definitely a very tough thing to have to go through. My thoughts are with you, Mandy.

As Colleen has mentioned, times like these are very difficult to cope with. There’s nothing more heartbreaking then knowing that you’re going to be losing someone you love so much, in such a short time. I don’t think anything can truly prepare you for it, even if you understand that this time will come at some point.

When my grandma was sick and passing I also found it incredibly hard to cope with. I cried at the thought of her not being around anymore in months to come. I couldn’t talk about it. Any mention of it upset me to every extent. One thing I did find comfort in, though, was writing about how I felt and what I thought. I’m not sure if you blog or write, but if you can’t find a way to physically talk right now, writing about it in a private space could help you to release some of the thoughts and feelings you’re having inside. It’s very important that you not bottle things up. If you need to cry at any time, cry. Most people don’t want to, but it’s an extremely healthy way to let out what you can’t verbalize. If you have the time, go for walks or maybe a jog every now and then too. Staying active even if you don’t feel like it can help.

As for what to do otherwise – spend time with those you love. Play with Noah and Stella when you can to keep your mind busy a little. When your father is available to spend time with, spend time with him too. I’m sure it would mean a lot to him. Sharing special and happy moments together is something that you’ll be able to keep close to your heart as well. If you need some time to yourself, go for a hot bath and try to clear your mind. If you haven’t tried it before, perhaps you could also try meditation or yoga as well? I have found great comfort and peace in it myself.

Through it all, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes. Just keep in mind that there are tons of people who care about you – both in person and on FA – and that you’re not alone. Any time you need us, just let us know.

Answer #7

I Use My Journal. And Music.. I Write Lots Of Poetry My Brother Died Of Alchoholism 3 Yrs Ago.. My Dad Died Of Heart Failure In 2004.. My Mom Died When I Was 18. For Me Writing Is Very Cathartic. It Helps To Get It Down On Paper… How You Feel .. I Wrote How I Felt About My Brother In A Poem .. Then I Read It At His Funeral.. People Said.. That’s How I Feel Too! Bless You.. They Cried.. I Will Pray For You To Have Peace… Have Him Write All About You .. On Paper. The Memories Will Be Comforting Later

Answer #8

Therapy doesn’t have an easy or a best way to deal with grief. Unless there’s a complicating issue (we call it complicated grief, say someone has major depression, or is in denial for a long period of time and things are dysfunctional, etc), grief is just something that needs to take it’s own path. There’s journaling that may help with things that are not easy to speak about. There’s relaxation exercises that sometimes help one gain stability. But honestly, when it comes to grief, you gotta feel it, and sometimes it’s ok to break down and not be ok. There are cancer centers that have counselors you can talk to about this stuff. I would request information. Sometimes it just helps to have someone.

Answer #9

Thats a really rough thing. I lost my mother to cancer about a year & a half ago. She had fought it for 11yrs years but finally her body couldn’t take it any more.

Personally for me, my brother and I went back to my place, cranked Metallica until it rattled our brains, and beat the hell out of each other in Street Fight & Soul Caliber then went outside and spared for several hours. Next day I visited by best friend - more video games, loud music and we spared and beat the hell outa each other until neither of use could stand. We did a similar thing when his dad passed away 3 months later (it was a tough year for parents :P). I think after that I went home and cried for several hours.

So I guess its whatever makes you feel better (within reason :P). For me Metallica’s Black album has always been my therapy. Takes me back to when I was younger and life was easier. Less worries.

Answer #10

I’m sorry I didn’t see this sooner, Mandy, but mostly I’m awed by the quality of caring and advice that has been shared here.

The fact that you are breaking down into tears whenever you try to talk about your dad is itself therapeutic. Keep seeking out those opportunities and setting aside time like Stasha suggested, an hour every day if you can, to let your grief flow without inhibition. The tears may feel overwhelmingly endless now, but the tide will become a river will become a quiet spring of happy-sad memories. You may also find that the way you think and feel about your own mortality changes.

When you (and sometimes your son) are with your dad, I’m sure more of your focus will be on what he needs as he tries to make meaningful sense of his life in its closing chapter. This, too, can include an emotionally full range of sharing old memories; creating new ones; being present to each other’s emotional and physical pain; cheerful distraction; laughter; expressions of love, regrets, and forgiveness; transmission of your father’s wisdom to you and your son; and more, also therapeutic for all of you.

You wrote: “I can’t shut the thought of my dad actually dying out of my head.” Try choosing another thought to replace that one with whenever it intrudes. Maybe images of a particularly happy memory of your dad, the way you want him to live in your heart forever.

Love and blessings, -Hayyim

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