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I lost my sister twice! 
Started by highlanddancermom40
24 Nov 2011, 4:23 AM

I lost my sister on April 2,2011 at the young age of 53 to a rare and agrressive form of cancer. She told the family of her diagnosis in around October/November 2010. Although we were saddened and spent countless hours of endless worry for her, all of us did our best to remain optimistic.
In January, she received news that she had not responded to treatment of chemotherapy and that her diagnosis was then determined to be terminal.
As sick as she was, she decided to fly out to be with family and friends to make certain to say her goodbyes.
My dear sister helped celebrate my 40th Birthday...a bittersweet moment. We shared many laughs and many tears in the few days that she was here with us. I dreaded the day that she was leaving and wanted so bad to freeze time. When we hugged goodbye and I turned to leave her, I knew that would be the last time we'd see each other. I lost her that day as well as the day she died. It's been 7 months now and I would have to say that although it was hard on everyone to have lost her, I think I was better able to cope then, more so than now. Although I am able to function with my daily activities, I do find that the loss of her has consumed my everyday. Anyone else feel like this?

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Reply by moderator | modératrice
26 Nov 2011, 3:25 PM

Hi highlanddancermom40,

I think many people feel like this.

I came across this blog post today. The title "Are you still sad?" made me think of you right away. How could someone ask that question? Can the sadness go away? How does it change?

Moderator of Canadian Virtual Hospice

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Reply by Serena_1
08 Dec 2011, 10:07 PM

Dear highlanddancermom40,

I am truly sorry for your loss. Your story brought back memories of a very difficult year I lived a long time ago and I would like to share my story with you.

It has now been 23 years since I lost my 62 years old mother, three months later, my 66 years old father, 5 weeks after that, my father-in-law and after 4 months from the third loss, a pregnancy. I adored my parents and I was close to my father-in-law even though he lived in a different city. I lost both my parents and my father in law all to cancer.

The part of your loss that brought back my memories is when you hugged your sister goodbye, knowing it would be the last time.

After my mom's passing, my dad found the empty house unbearable and after a short stay with me and my family, he decided to go back to Italy to spend some time with relatives he was still very close to, in spite of the distance. He wanted to go back so badly, not to confront his empty house, that his oncologist agreed to prescribe his chemo ahead of time and made arrangements for him to have it administered there, so that he could fulfill his wish.

The day he left, it was my birthday and my daughter's kinder garden’s graduation, so he booked a late flight, to spend that day with us. He left for the airport from the kinder garden, but because the ceremony wasn't quite over yet, I could not go with him. I said my goodbyes at the door of the school, and even though he seemed ok at the time, I had a strong feeling that it was the last time I was seeing him and hugging him. He passed away 6 weeks later, in Italy, and I, too, felt I lost him again, for a second time.

After these four devastating losses I found myself "functioning quite well" having a great deal of "things" to tend to, and I refocused my attention on my daughter and husband who, I felt, I had neglected to tend to my parents and their needs. Very soon after the miscarriage, I got pregnant again, had a somewhat stressful pregnancy but with the happy outcome of a healthy beautiful second daughter, and all seemed to be going back to normal and quite smoothly.

Several months went by and one morning, close to Mother's day, reading in the paper the “post-mortem”letter of a daughter who never had a chance to tell her mother how much she loved her, before her untimely death, I found myself crying and sobbing like I never did before, and nothing I could do or think, could stop this ocean of tears, grief and emotion that was pouring out of me. I didn't, on the spot, quite understand why that letter triggered such a response. I, in fact, felt that I had plenty of time to tell my mother how I felt, I had time to give her and show her all my love, and had the same with both my father and father in law; yet, here I was, a couple of years later, crying for all of them at once, missing all three of them all over again, and filled with tremendous sadness, wishing they were all still there with me.

I was caught totally off guard and unaware of what was going on. It took a while for me to understand that I had never really grieved for any of them, trying to grieve for all of them. The losses, at the time they happened, were just too much for me, so I had just delayed the entire grieving process by keeping "busy" and my "functioning well" was just my own defence mechanism.

Maybe the similarities between our stories end at the hug we gave our loved ones knowing it would be the last, but maybe reading my story, you will realize that there are no set rules for grief and that we all live losses in different ways and at different times, and that grieving, whenever we are ready for it, is a very big part of the healing process.

The sadness does change, and one day all that you will remeber, when thinking of your sister will be the happy moments you shared  and the happy memories you built together. Until that time comes, I hope you will continue to write on this forum. I look forward to sharing with you, Serena 

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Reply by highlanddancermom40
19 Jan 2012, 3:41 PM

Hi Serena;

Thank you for reading my story. I would like to express how truly sorry I am to hear of the loss of your three very dear loved ones.

I know the feeling of trying to keep my mind occupied by staying busy and I did this for a couple of months until one day the waterworks started and I found that the majority of my day was consumed by tears and a vision of my sister fighting for her last breath. I found myself unable to look at her photo montage or read words of sympathy to the family on her facebook page. Other times I was able to look at her and laugh and joke with others about the silly stuff she did. Just recently, I found that my tears had stopped and I had moved to yet the next stage of acceptance. I was able to look at her pictures without crying and talk to others about good memories and I was fine in my everyday and not consumed by constant thoughts of her.

I have found that you do in fact flip back and forth in the grief stage for sure...just when you feel you are moving ahead, something sets you back again. I was looking forward to my parents coming this way for Christmas, but I was informed by my Dad that my Mom had suffered a heart attack and wouldn't be making the trip. Instead I went to their place and spent a week to help them out while my mother recovered and rested. She was fortunate she lives around the corner from the hospital and went when she did, as she suffered no damage to the heart. While there, my Mom spoke of my sister alot and would often show me or her sisters how her last breath was (I suppose her way of dealing with it ). My parents and other sister were there with her when she died. Although I had moved on to the acceptance stage of grief, I did find it difficult to listen to my Mom speak of her last breath or other memories...I didn't say anything to her, but I could feel myself choked up each time my Mom brought it up.

Tomorrow...Jan 20th, I will celebrate my 41st Birthday. I thought I would be fine, but feel myself thinking alot about her and how she made last year the best Birthday ever! I will do what I can to recall the fun we had together and at the same time, try not to think of the bittersweet moments.

Thanks again for listening!  

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Reply by GirlWithTheBlackBeret
19 Jan 2012, 6:58 PM

Hi there,

My Mom died of terminal breast cancer in September 2006. Initially, I was accepting of it, after all she was very sick and struggled so much.

After she died I took a month off work and cleaned out her house so that it could be sold. Each day I was exhausted after sorting and packing things up, basically dismantling her life, years’ worth of experiences and memories. Busy with these tasks I did not have time for grieving.  By the time I was back at work I was full into the anger stage and remained there for about 8 months.  

I clearly remember the day in June 2007 when I’d made peace with her death. I was driving to my Dad’s the day after my sister’s first baby was born. The sun came out and I felt joyful happiness for the first time since my Mom had died.  I was also thinking of Mom and how proud she would have been of my sister.

The sad feelings do still come especially during the holidays but I can tell you that with time at some point your grief will not be so raw.

Hope this helpsSmile

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Reply by Serena_1
20 Jan 2012, 5:26 AM

Dear highlanddancermom40,

I am really glad you are back. 

I am sorry about your mom's health problems, but happy to hear of the positive outcome.

Tomorrow will be a mixed emotions’ day and it is ok to feel any which way that you will. Your sister was a very courageous and generous person and you obviously had an amazing relationship and this is what will get you through tomorrow and all other milestones after that.

Follow her lead and cherish every day and all the people around you that love you, the way she did, by coming to celebrate your 40th with you.

She will be in your heart and thoughts tomorrow and in all the days to follow and slowly but surely, the laughter, happiness and joy you shared will replace the bad times you all lived during her illness.

Until then, honour her memory by celebrating life, in every which way you feel like it.....and don’t forget that as of tomorrow, you will be highlanddancermom41!

My wishes to you, for this birthday, are peace and tranquillity


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Reply by Plum1
24 Jan 2012, 3:53 PM

Dear Highlandancermom40 (or 41?),
Like Serena, I am very happy to have an update from you. So much of what you say brngs such lived wisdom about grief. What a mystery it is! So full of different emotional moments. You mention that just when you feel you are moving ahead, something sets you back again. I wonder whether it is not so much about being "set back" as simply being in a different moment.  I know I do not like to be in pain, and I just want it to be over. And so with grief. It is not easy to accept the varying journey of it all, and the unpredictability of it all. If you are like me, you would prefer to feel in control with a more orderly process. 

You do seem to feel that the journey is moving towards healing. At the same time, you are realizing that sadness will always be there - but without the same ache and rawness. How did your birthday unfold?

I am very happy that you had such a sacred last visit with your sister, and that your relationship had always held such gifts. Those are treasures to hold in your heart.

It is wonderful that your Mom had such rapid help at the time of her heart attack. It sounds as though you will have some more years to enjoy the love of your parents. Each day is a gift, isn't it?! So easy to forget that. You are helping me to be more conscious of the gift of the day, and even the moment, and to experience gratitude. That is what will give me the strength to face times of loss and darkness. Does it seem that way for you? 

Thanks again for sharing, and I look forward to the next moments with you.


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Reply by highlanddancermom40
27 Feb 2012, 5:16 AM

Hello Everyone,

Thank you all for your kind words! I must say, that though uneventful, I did enjoy my Birthday. Of course it wasn't the same without my sister, but I also handled it better than I had anticipated. I thought of her off and on throughout, but was able to focus on the fun and special alone time that we shared last year, instead of the tearful moments. She's my angel!
She will watch over me in the coming weeks as I endure unpleasant tests. I came down with pneumonia on Jan 22 and have been pretty sick with it since. I was in and out of clinics and hospital as I was coughing and throwing up blood, among other symptoms that are affecting my health. I am scheduled Feb 29th for a bronchoscopy (lung scope) to determine the cause of my bleeding. After enough chest xrays, they have discovered nodule mass on my right lung...hmm, cancer maybe? Who knows. I am doing ok though. I will then have an MRI of my head in another couple of weeks to determine the cause of my persistent dizziness.
Please everyone, cherish your family and friends always! You just never know! :)
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Reply by Serena_1
01 Mar 2012, 6:03 AM

Dear Highlanddancermom40,

as glad as I was to see you back, I was upset by your illness and feel for you. How did the  bronchoscopy go today? When will you have your results? The wait for answers is, at times, one of the hardest part of an illness. I do hope it will be resolved quickly and with a positive outcome. I found you very brave and I am sure you feel somewhat "watched over" by your sister,  and that must be quite comforting.

It also sounds like you are starting to replace tears with warm memories of your sister and that is wonderful. You are so right about enjoying family and friends and I would add....life, as well.  We truly never know what is in store for us, so making every day count and make the best of it is not only wise, but one way to honour the memory of our loved ones that can no longer do so. 

I will be thinking of you,  sending you good vibes and will keep checking the forum, looking forward to your next post, be well.
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Reply by highlanddancermom40
01 Mar 2012, 4:18 PM

The bronchoscopy went ok...biopsies taken and just taking it as easy as I can. My throat and chest are sore. Not sure if it's from the procedure itself or the awful gargle and antiseptic spray they make you swallow to freeze you throat before the scope goes in. Just wish it had more of an enjoyable coffee or even rum and coke flavour maybe to make it more tolerable! lol!
The wait for the results is a killer, but thankfully not to long. I am scheduled to see him again on March 9th, but for now feels like an eternity! Especially when you have a sense of your own...my instincts are telling me that something is definitely not right...I don't feel right at all. I've lost about 15 lbs in a month.
I've been on an emotional up/down. I had a gastroscopy last year on April 1 and was diagnosed with Barrets Esophagus (pre cancer) and it was the following day, that my dear sweet Carol died. That thought surfaced a few days ago and although probably and hopefully unrealistic, I found myself wondering who I would lose after the bronchoscopy...so far no one!
I thank everyone. It's nice to be able to talk to others who actually care! If anyone would like to add me on facebook...it's Jennifer Cross (Profile pic is me in purple/black top with my beautiful Carol in a black sleeve/grey top!
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