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Take Time to Grieve for a Family Member’s Loss to Mesothelioma

Several weeks ago Lisa Hyde-Barrett, thoracic nurse, offered her insight into grieving the loss of a loved one. Today, Jennifer Gelsick provides her first-hand account of her grieving process when her father, Don Smitley, passed away from mesothelioma.

Everyone grieves differently. Some people find it easier to deal with grief by jumping in to projects; others may need time to themselves. The most important thing to remember is that it’s okay to mourn and that there are people there to help you if you feel it too overwhelming to handle on your own.

For me, being around people helped me tremendously as I grieved Dad’s passing. My mind tends to wander, and being occupied with the company of my family and friends allowed me to think of something else other than the fact that I am now, in fact, without a father. I did have trouble returning phone calls though. It took me a while to be able to answer questions and come up with some sort of acceptable answer for the standard question, “How are you doing?” The truth is I didn’t know how I was doing; I was just going through the motions for quite some time.

Getting back into work was difficult. It was a sort of a double-edged sword; it was a much needed distraction, yet I wasn’t ready or capable to focus in on anything quite yet. There were a lot of oxymorons with me right after Dad passed. I wanted to be around people, but I had a really hard time with the looks of pity that people gave me. Answering questions about what happened was terrible for me, but a necessary evil, so to speak.

I don’t believe that time can heal all wounds like the old adage says. I do believe that it can help you find some sense of clarity and help you to find peace. The human spirit wants to survive, and somewhere deep inside ourselves, we all have a desire to carry on. It’s up to each of us as individuals to find that place of balance. Remember that no one can tell you how to grieve, just be true to yourself and reach out to others for anything you need.

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