My brother was diagnosed with ALS 3 years ago and died after suffering physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. He lost the use of the muscles in his hands, arms, legs, neck, throat (swallowing muscles) and eventually lungs (breathing muscles) at the age of 41. Sometimes I get a mental flash of him sitting in his wheel chair with his head down and drooling. Or I'll picture him in the hospital bed, where I saw him last, with a tear coming down his cheek although he was not conscious. I just start thinking about what he had to go through to just make it through the day or what it must have been like to know that you are about to die. And of course I get depressed.
Then there's the thoughts of loss. The fact that I lost my brother. The fact that he left a wife and 3 young kids behind (ages 4, 7 and 11) - the loss they're suffering. The loss my parents have to deal with.
A few weekends ago I got really depressed about these thoughts and I ended up getting sick. It dawned on me then that I have to stop thinking about suffering and loss. What I do now is shift my thoughts to something positive. My question is how do I not think about his suffering and loss when I have these memories that continue to surface? Do I quickly move to another thought and if so how do I eventually deal with what my family has been through?
My son died of ALM a closely related disease, in 2007, at age 29, leaving behind a little boy and loving parents and siblings. It was much the same....loss of coordination, of speaking clearly, then use of limbs, then swallowing and so forth. And it was not a long progression really, just about 3 years. He also died in a bed unable to move anymore. I really sympathize and I do understand.
Less than a year later, my Father died. I say this....we don't "get over" losses; we learn to accept it and live with it. Along those lines, you also cannot push away the feelings you have especially if you are an empathetic person. You will think of happy memories often, but sometimes the bad ones too. You have to learn to "tail end" these thoughts with something positive. Example....thoughts come into your mind of the final weeks or worse yet of the loved one laid out in their casket...something like that. You go ahead and play through the thoughts or images without fighting it, but purposely then end it with a happy memory and perhaps an affirmation such as "Jimmy is feeling great now, beyond all this and I am so glad." You can personalize this however you like. ("He is with Dad now" or whatever your preferences are.....)
Tediously, you have to keep adding positive to negative, and before you know it, the negative thoughts are coming less and less often. The happy memories and positive thoughts will take the forefront in your mind, I promise....I have been through this. But you can't let up on it.
Even years later, from time to time you will have an unpleasant memory, and that is only natural, but again, just deal with it and don't be upset by it. Stay in the flow of positive thought and don't be de-railed.
answered 12 Nov '10, 20:44
First let me say that I am saddened by you and your families loss. Losing a loved one can be hard on a lot of people and that's OK. What you are doing here is part of the process and that is good. The thing is that we all deal with loss differently and on different time frames. Some find ways to work it out quickly and that does not mean they cared any less than those who take longer. As is it true that people that take longer don't necessarily care more. This is your own personal adventure (life is) and you will deal with it accordingly to how you feel comfortable.
It sounds like your brother lived a fulfilling life and by the way his loss is being felt, he was loved very much. That is great news because your brother shared so much joy with those he knew. Because of this I would say that every time you thought of him it should bring a smile. I don't even know him and I am smiling now.
I would say to always show that wonderful smile of yours whenever you think of him and more so around your family. No need to say anything, just your warm calming presence around your family will do miracles.
You might not be able to stop thinking about your incredible brother but you can choose to think of him fondly. Smile he loves you.
A strangers words might not mean much but know that I do care and love you.
Be well and be strong.
You will be fine.
Super Cyber Hug
answered 12 Nov '10, 20:23
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