A patients grief for her dad

I was reviewing her medical history and when we went over her family history, she told me that her father had died last year.

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” I replied.

She told me how his birthday just passed and the anniversary of his death was coming up. I asked if she did anything for the birthday or was planning anything for the anniversary. She peered at me with a look of surprise- like she never thought about doing something in remembrance.

“It’s just been so hard, losing my dad…” she started. She was young- younger than me by ten years at least, which meant her dad died young. She mentioned how her live-in-boyfriend didn’t quite understand, especially now that it’s been so long. She shrugged her shoulders, brushing it off a bit.

I looked at her in the eyes, trying to drum up all the compassion I could. “There is no timeline on grief,” I spoke the words I have read over and over again on blogs and articles and have tried to convince myself are true. “You will be sad forever. He was your dad. It’ll change over time, but you can always be sad. I’ve learned a lot about grief over the last year and one thing I know is that you grieve how and for as long as you need to.”

Her eyes got a little wet and she gave a small smile.

“Thank you.”

Have you been able to comfort someone in their grief?

8 thoughts on “A patients grief for her dad

  1. Your patients are lucky to have you listening to them, and validating their feelings and what they are going through.

    I find that as time passes and i feel “better”, i still haven’t found any words that i am confident will be comforting, but i try as much as i can to validate the pain that comes with grieving and to insist on the fact that there is no time limit to grief — and especially not the one that western society seems to have deemed acceptable.

    • yes! how weird it is, that we’ve been through this and still struggle for the right words!! I do the same thing- listen and validate. sometimes its all we can.

  2. I try to comfort the new people on the Sands forum, those that have just lost their babies. I’ve been able to talk frankly to other women who have lost loved ones. I’m not sure if I’m doing enough though, not when I’m in the throes of grief and can’t articulate myself well.

    • you are so sweet to wonder if you’re doing enough! The fact that you’re there and reading and responding is huge! When I first posted on the online boards I belonged to, just simply getting a response and knowing people were reading was so so helpful.

  3. It’s for a sad reason, but I think you are a better provider for what you’ve learned. For the record, I don’t think I have done anything particular on the birthdays or anniversaries of my mom’s death. It’s just overwhelmingly sad, and I guess I’m not a public griever.
    The mother of a high school classmate died after a short but intense battle with cancer. I reached out, writing her a card. This happened to be when I was still pregnant with the twins. She then heard about our loss through a mutual friend and sent me a card. I think we both appreciated the fact that someone tried to relate, and wasn’t too shy or intimidated to reach out.

    • yes- I’ve done a lot more reaching out too! I had a dream about my friend Paul who I wrote about earlier and it was totally nonsensical, but I wrote a quick email to his wife about it and she seemed really pleased I shared. Something I totally wouldnt have done in the before.

  4. Meghan,

    I wanted you to know that you and Mabel gave me the courage to speak to my mother-in-law about the daughter she lost forty years ago when the subject came up. To say her name out loud and ask what her birthday was so I can remember it. I’ve handled the topic awkwardly in the past, so i wanted to thank you for giving me the words.

    • I am so happy to hear that, Carol- happy that you gave your mother in law voice and helped the memory of her baby live on. (though of course, sad to hear of her loss). WHat a beautiful thing you did for her. ❤

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