You may recall my blog from February this year that described a personal journey that I embarked on, to manage my family connections and misunderstood emotions. As an only child, I have a great deal of responsibility towards my parents. When my 77 year old father had major back surgery in January, I flew to Western Australia to support him and my elderly stepmother. I knew it would require patience, perseverance and modified behaviours. From previous holidays, living with my Dad and stepmother for more than 5 day was extremely frustrating. Now 7 months later, my journey continues. On 31 August at 12.20pm, my stepmother passed away peacefully and I was with my Dad in her hospital room.
Her cancer was diagnosed as terminal in late June and it was a shock to all of her family, especially my Dad. My step-mum Wendie had been a part of his life for 30 years and he was facing a new stage of life without her beside him. Leaving my work and home in an instant so I could be there to support him was an easy decision. What I did not expect was how difficult the experience actually was for me on many levels. Having not dealt with death in such a direct manner was confronting, sad, overwhelming and tiring. I had to muster every ounce of focus and energy to remain composed and alert. Dad could not make decisions clearly, so he turned to me for advice and guidance. My husband flew over a day later to help us out and without his support, I would have crumbled.
What I have discovered in the past two weeks, is that people who lose a loved one can be resilient. Dad gained strength from a Pastor, the amazing Nurses and from Wendie’s immediate family, children and grandchildren. He could ask for a hug at any time, he was cared for and listened to and talked a lot about general things. Dad will be on a rollercoaster of emotions and I know he will rely on me for many things. That is OK, because that is what family is all about. Taking a step back from being a coach, I understand that loss and death are inevitable. However, I have chosen to celebrate Wendie’s life. She loved my Dad and she was a great step-mum. In sadness comes memories, with memories you can smile and when you smile you can be at peace.