Sunday, October 22, 2017

It's Been a Hell of a Year

Sometimes, I don't know what day it is.  Heck, sometimes, I don't know what year it is.  So much has happened in the past year, well, really, 13 months, that it's hard to keep things straight sometimes.

It started in September of 2016.  In mid-September, we were given notice our dad had likely at most 2 months to live.  It ended up being about 6 weeks, mostly involving in-home hospice care, and he died in October.  The one-year anniversary is coming up this Wednesday.

After having been in the hospital a few times for various reasons since November 2016, our mother died in August of this year.  Even though doctors were still talking about tests and possible treatment, given what was happening, I had figured out about a week beforehand that there was really only going to be one outcome.

About a month ago, a friend of a friend died from a rare and aggressive form of cancer.  I'd only met him twice in the past year but had enjoyed my time with him when he'd visited with our mutual friend.  I'd hoped to see him a third time and was sad when it turned out that wasn't going to happen.

Last week, a friend's father died very suddenly and unexpectedly.  I'd never met him, but my friend had talked about him a lot, so I knew some things about him.

Of course, the last two things aren't directly related to me, but because of the situations, their deaths did have an effect on me.

And then yesterday morning, we had to put our cat down.  She had a kidney condition that we'd been managing for some time, but eventually, it was more than she could deal with.  She was to the point where she wouldn't eat or even drink water and could barely move, all of this happening in a period of a day or two, so we made the decision to let her go.

And being a student of pop psychology, one of the things I've noticed that's come out of all this is that there have been several times over the past 13 months when a switch has been flipped, when I've just tuned out to the point where I don't feel anything.  It's a really interesting sensation when it's something you've read about, and then you realize that it's happening to you right then and there.  There have been a few times when the pain, the hurt, the situations have just been so overwhelming that as a defense mechanism, my mind and my feelings just turn off because it can't handle it.  Sometimes it lasts for a few hours, sometimes it lasts for a few days.

There's so much there to process in each situation, much less having all of them happen in a relatively short period of time.  And this doesn't even take into account the normal stresses and anxiety and such associated with work and life's other happenings.

The weird thing is that I'm not entirely sure I understand what exactly death means.  I can't define it for myself.  It happened more than a year ago, in fact, it happened about 3 years ago, but one of my best friends died in August 2014, and to this day, it's like my mind thinks that he's on a business trip, and he's just too busy to talk to me right now.  That's happened before, when we wouldn't get a chance to talk for a while.  Granted, it never lasted 3 years, but it seems to be how my brain makes it ok that I don't see or hear from him.  And I think I've taken that approach to my dad and my mom as well, that they're on vacation, so that's why I haven't seen or talked to them.  Again, that's happened before, though not for this long a period of time, but at least it's a situation that makes sense to me.  I guess the mind does whatever it needs to when you need it.

There are charts that give stress points for various events that happen in your life.  I think it's pretty safe to say that my stress points are probably off the charts at the moment, so it's probably not a surprise that I'm not handling it entirely well.  More on that later.

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