After this group member’s father died she sent me a note. There were several passages that even today, 2 years later, struck me as important. One has to do with the importance of a support group, exercising your voice in a group and how a good facility can make a family feel that the care they provide is reliable and good.
This is what she wrote (with some edits to maintain privacy):
“Yes, you can let the group know about my father's death. I feel 100% percent supported by the group and feel I can share anything. I really enjoy coming.
I'm not good at expressing myself when it's something serious. Whenever I have to write a heartfelt sympathy note I always have my husband write it for me. He's very talented at expressing sadness.
You want something funny? Ask me.
I almost sent an email to let you know that my father had passed away, but I could not type the words. And I didn't bring up his decline at the last meeting because it seemed to me that other people were going through more immediate situations that needed more help than mine.
In my mind I've had an easier situation with my Dad than 90% of the group.
1) He is in a safe place
2) He is well taken care of at the facility.
3) I could sleep at night knowing that there was 24 hour care and a hospital 10 min. away.
4) In January I realized there was nothing I could do to help him.
By late December he continued to refuse solid food and was hardly drinking any water. He was being carefully monitored and on my visits I stayed uplifted with hopes of recovery, but with that news, I knew I had to get a grip and have a serious talk with my sister.
Growing up she and I had had experience with our pets when it was time for them to leave this earth. They all exhibited the same symptoms and it made me sad realizing that the same thing was happening to our father.
My next worry was if he was going to heaven or hell but felt reassured when the head nurse and his next-door neighbor told me what a great guy he was. So I figured it would be heaven - a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders.
I have not grieved for him yet. How could I when I’ve been pressed into work mode like estate business and cleaning out his room ASAP so he wouldn't be charged extra. No lingering at the old homestead going through mementos for me. It was throw it in a box and store it in the garage for now.
Back to the group - I was going to tell them but then M told us that his mother had just died. He said he was sad but content that at 96 she’d died peacefully. He told us a little about her life story that was so riveting I wanted to hear the whole thing.
So please know that you are doing an outstanding job as our leader, I just didn't know how to bring it up, simple as that.
Thank you for checking up on me. I’ll see you at the next group meeting – after all, my sister and I still have our mother in a different facility to care for.”