My Father Passed Away Last Friday, And Our Lives Changed Forever

I might be the only one who would bare their emotions, and thoughts about a subject like this. But let’s face it, I’m not in therapy…writing is usually my best source. Especially when I think I can help someone else with my experiences.

My outlet is you, my listeners, my friends. Being in a sort of public spotlight, I don’t think it’s fair to keep people in the dark, especially when I try to connect with you all over social media and on the airwaves (thanks so much for listening, also don’t forget to download the free 103.1 The Wolf App).

On August 20th,2021 at 9:20 A.M., my father passed away in his home, by my mother. About 10 minutes after my sister and I left his bedside.

 He had such a rough few years. You see, both of my parents are complete total care. They need 24/7 care givers. My father developed depression when my mother got sick with Frontotemporal Dementia, at the age of 51 stemming from a car accident in her 40s. We took him to a Dr. who then overdosed him with anti-depressants, sending him into something called a ‘serotonin syndrome’. From what Drs have said in the past, he was already showing signs of Lewy Body Dementia…and this syndrome sped it up by 5 years. Next was throat cancer in his tonsils, thankfully he overcame that when they were removed. However, each time he was put under anesthesia, it was harder and harder for him to come out of it and stay awake longer.

A couple months ago…due to a careless caregiver, my father ended up with aspiration pneumonia, she was feeding him while he was laying down. I think we all know what happens when we do that. He ended up getting food in his lungs, and after a month in the hospital, his body was just not tolerating anything anymore. It was unfair. My sister and I have managed to keep my parents alive and well for years, and this seemed to happen overnight. So, all last week, we were by his side with Hospice care at home.

Emotions- There are several of them. No one can prepare you for this. No one will ever be prepared for this. Whether you lose a child, a parent, a friend, or anyone close to you. You will be sad, you will be angry, exhausted, guilty, all of it. Your body will be running, but time stops, and you start forgetting everything, including which day it is. Although I have forced myself to go to work all week, I still wasn’t even sure today was Friday. You’re going to be happy one second, and then feel guilty. Then you’re going to get mad at yourself for being happy and wondering if you’re forgetting the person too quickly because you’re allowing yourself to TRY to be ok, subconsciously. You won’t get much sleep, when you do, you won’t want to wake up. You’ll be in denial. When I tried to nap, I kept telling myself “He’s gone now” REPEATEDLY, because I still didn’t believe it. After caring for someone and worrying, and being anxious, and constantly living our lives around him, my sister and I both…. Feel useless. Her mostly. We don’t regret it one bit, but we feel lost with this newfound, sort of lack of responsibility. She doesn’t know how to function without having to worry about dad. Of course, we haven’t lacked giving mom the attention she deserves, but it’s a strange and unwanted kind of relief – that we would trade back in to have him back in a heartbeat. I’ve cried 3 times since. Her, she forces herself out of bed, for my mom, but she can’t stop crying, there’s no way she can even consider going into work right now. And she’s a nurse. She can’t function completely yet, and that’s ok. It’s going to take a very long time for her.

Friends and Family – This is where it can be beautiful, and awful. You will get a tremendous number of texts, emails, messages of condolences. My phone blew up for days. I was grateful. I found out who my real friends and family were. I had friends from out of state come for the funeral, and people I haven’t spoken to in years, or had fall outs with, contact me with their condolences. People care, people want to make sure you are alright. Let them. I’ve had beautiful flowers and care packages come in, with people offering to even cook for my family in this time, and it melts my heart. There are no ways to thank these angels in my life. But seriously, I’d eat you out of food and kitchen. My coworkers, they have been the most caring and understanding group of individuals that I now call family. I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am, working with the best of the best, especially in a time like this.

Grief – I think my work family thinks I’m crazy. Who would come back to work a few days after their father has passed? And come work the day of his funeral? I feel my best when I am distracted. I work my best when I’m trying to keep my mind off things, off of reality. It’s my escape. In the past 10 years, my sister and I have been grieving during the process of seeing our parents decline so very quickly. We’ve cried for years, we’ve prayed for years, we’ve had anxiety and every ‘this isn’t fair’ moment of weakness, that I can think of. I became completely numb to almost all my emotions, about 4-5 years ago. I used to think that it was crazy that I didn’t cry more than 2-3 times in 4-5 years. But seeing what both of my parents have gone through, was/is a literal hell on Earth for me, this was not the life they wanted to live, but I must keep going for them. They were the BEST parents, friends, and people. Why do these things happen to good people?  I harbored so much hate and resentfulness, that I also didn’t know how to react to other people’s issues and emotions. And I’ve been used to feeling like I need to be the strong one in my family, because if I crumble, that’s when everything crumbles, that’s when they know s^&t has hit the fan. I couldn’t let them down, not in my mind. So, I don’t show that things bother me, even when they do. My sister on the other hand, is a beautiful mess. I envy her for feeling so candidly as she does, even when she loses her mind. She feels guilt, anger, and sadness, daily…and cries openly. I know it will be like this for a long time. She never imagined having to live in a world without either one of them. So, my promise to dad, was to take care of mom, and most importantly my sister. We did everything under the sun that we could think of, to save him.

Services-I cannot begin to explain to you how loving Health First Hospice Crisis Care team was. We were provided with 24/7 care for dad before his passing. They walked us through everything, and every step and monitoring, even though we were here at my parent’s home too, when we weren’t sleeping. We knew he was in excellent hands. These are the most precious angels that walk the earth. And when dad passed, they were here for us emotionally, and logically. And stayed until they were sure that we were completely OK.

Funeral homes – The very first one we stopped at that we were referred to, was the only one we needed. Buggs Funeral Home in Melbourne, FL. Was a HUGE blessing. They welcomed us with open arms and offered their condolences. I mean, we had no idea where to even start and they were there for us every step of the way. They made things so easy, under all the pressure we were under. They were not only extremely professional, but compassionate, caring, and available to us 24/7 with any questions and concerns. They took the best care of dad. They were even able to transfer him to Apopka, where we had his funeral. I would recommend them ten times over for any of your loved ones, in that area.

Now it gets tricky.

I understand why everyone mostly goes with cremation now. OK OK so this could be taboo to talk about, but hear me out BECAUSE I pray you make your choices soon. Why? Listen. My father was not prepared financially for this to happen. He had dreams of going back to his homeland in Poland, with my mom and passing there. Not only was that a bit difficult for us to consider but add Covid life to that. My father would probably not be buried for months.

Did you ever check burial prices in Florida? Do yourself that favor because 2 cemeteries in Brevard tried robbing us 30 PLUS THOUSAND DOLLARS for both of my parent’s graves. But they’ll try to make you feel better about payment plans. WHO HAS THAT HANDY AND LAYING AROUND? I literally only come to Brevard to see mom and dad, and my sister and brother-in-law. WHY would I want to come back out of this way if I didn’t have them? I mean ok ok, so I would just for them, but that’s the price of a new home lot… in some areas. Thankfully we did more research and stumbled upon a few beautiful cemeteries in the Orlando area. We can’t thank Alex and Sandra from Orlando Memorial Garden’s enough. They were so kind and didn’t make it feel like it was a sales pitch, or highway robbery. We ended up paying about a quarter of the price in Brevard, for 2 places for mom and dad. Kicker? It’s 15 minutes away from my work. I can see dad every day. And now my sister plans to visit me more often too now. Also – when you buy the land, you also must factor in Open and Closing of the grave, monument/ headstone, and everything else you didn’t know. It’s extremely costly, especially last minute like this. So PLEASE…please make your arrangements so that your family knows. A living will, life insurance, savings, any of that. I have to tell you, it killed my insides for hours having to pick out my father’s casket, and then seeing it on the day he was laid to rest. Don’t leave this to be a burden on your family.

He lived a beautiful life until he got sick. But in all reality, he never wanted to live without my mother, and vice versa. My father’s been our hero since he lived in Poland. He, my mom and my sister were kicked out of Poland, after he was held as a political prisoner 3 times, beaten and suffering multiple injuries for standing against communists. He was an Independence activist, a member of the radical underground Szczecin group associated with the KOS. We are currently still waiting for a medal from the Polish government, for his sacrifices and suffering during that time. The 3 of them migrated to the US with only $5 in his pocket. He worked 2 jobs, barely slept just to be able to provide for my mom and sister, with me on the way only a few months later. He worked hard his whole life and missed out on many important times in our lives because of it. But he wanted to make sure we were always taken care of. However, his struggles didn’t end there. After they bought their dream home here in Florida and paid it off, he didn’t have much time to enjoy his life. My mother had then gotten sick with dementia. They have had an incredible journey in this life. And although they were the most opposite of people, they never wanted to be without the other. Which makes sense why my sister and I are the same. And now, we have her, until she decides to be with him, which we’d never blame her for. He was the best father and inspiration I could have asked for.

This is one of the hardest weeks in my entire life. But I also realized something the other day. My sister and I were in the car. She cried for a few minutes while driving, and then we started talking about dad, and for a moment, we laughed a bit, smiled, shared things he used to say and things he would say in certain situations. And this is what he’ll be now. He won’t hear us upset about him not getting proper care from drs, or nurses, or care givers. He won’t be in pain or anguish anymore. He won’t hear our frustration with life thing’s and think he’s the reason. Because I know deep down inside, he did. He was an amazing, but proud man.

They say the first year is the hardest. Birthdays, holidays, passing by places and remembering things. But as long as we have moments of remembrance, love and laughter, I am hopeful.