Dealing with death of friends or loved ones.

This is quite a sensitive subject for me to cover. I was 22 the first time I was a member of this group in March 2009. I was fresh out of a job in the last recession, and no work to be found. Worse yet, my Grandma M just passed away a year earlier. I struggled with that because I was the one who stayed with her during the last 18 months we had her with us. February 2, 2008 began like any other. I went to work as Loss Prevention for JCPenney. My shift started at 8am. Every 2 hours I had a break unless something came up like I had to apprehend a shoplifter or watch someone who wasn’t acting right. I was on the cameras watching someone but I had my office phone next to me. I had a routine with Grandma. Whenever I was at work, I called the house periodically through the day to check in. February 2 came the moment that there was no answer, and no return call. I had a teammate take over the cameras for me after the second call. I made calls from my cellphone and no answer. I kept talking to an answering machine. I knew that day came decision time. I called my Aunt and sent her over. Called two more times. On the 7th time, my Aunt answered. I was sent immediately to Sutter Hospital. My Grandma arrived by Ambulance after I got there. I helped wheel her in. She opened one eye, her right side one last time. I was the last person she opened an eye for. She spoke but you could barely understand what she was saying. I took charge and did her admission to the Hospital. My Aunt came and was very thankful for my handling the situation. I left the Emergency Room into the Waiting Room on my way to my Car as the rest of the family came flowing in. Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, and one of my Sisters. I handed Uncle Rob the necklace and watch taken off of Grandma. I headed back to the House and had to clean up where she fell. Her breakfast tray meticulously put together and seemingly untouched, perfectly placed upon the kitchen counter. She’d come around to where the dining room was like a U-Turn. Right there was where she fell, her face coming in contact with the counter on the way down. I was able to tell this was exactly what happened based on what I observed when I got home. Grandma had just beat Cancer at 82 years old but the Chemo took a lot out of her. She was in and out of the Hospital sometimes for a month at a time.  Her 83rd Birthday was spent in the Hospital and she missed Thanksgiving 2007 with the family. We brought Thanksgiving to her because of that. She had no fight left in her and that morning she fell was because of a stroke. I left the Hospital, she went to sleep, and never woke back up. She passed away 9 days later on February 11, 2008 at the age of 83. Had I not followed through with making repeated calls home and just waited, I would’ve come home to find Grandma already gone. Instead we got more time to be with her. Everything that we as a family could’ve done for Grandma was done for her. It took me nearly 10 years to come to that conclusion. That and being laid off from work in January 2009 are factors as to why I was in here constantly being a complete moron. I’ll leave it at that. Being on the Autism Spectrum, my extended family never really took me seriously before Grandma got sick. Once Grandma got sick, only then did they start listening. When the day came to have to make a split second decision life or death decision, everything changed between my family and I. What happened that day also changed me forever along with how I do things. If someone I know calls me even by mistake, they’re going to get a call back, bottom line. I have to make sure they’re okay and I don’t need to drop everything I’m doing to get to them immediately. Even my Boss found that out recently. 

I’m very close to my Big Sister, Katie. I have my other Sister, Andi. My Nephew, Logan has Autism which makes him the 4th one in the family to be Diagnosed. He’s Moderate-Severe and will require lifelong care. He’s 11 now, His birthday just over 2 weeks ago. A day or two before his Birthday, his Aunt, my oldest Sister went back into the Hospital. Katie battled a very rare autoimmune disease, CIDP. Think of every Irish Stereotype out there at least here in the states, and she lived by them with a grin on her face. She was my protector growing up. I was bullied relentlessly as a kid until I topped out at over 6’ tall. Right after moving to California from San Antonio, Texas, they wanted her on the Varsity Football Team because she annihilated all the guys, including a friend or ours appropriately nicknamed “Big Dave” who at the time was 6’6” and 325lbs. She could beat the heck out of a person the size of Dave one day, then have a beer with that person the very next day. She always put everyone else before herself. Even when stricken with this horrible Autoimmune, living in constant pain, never once did she complain and never once did she talk about it. She fought and lived life at 100mph the same as she always did. September 17, 2021, she was rushed back to the Hospital. She’d been sick related to this Autoimmune and went into respiratory distress. Things didn’t improve, and she stopped responding. She passed away the morning of September 22, 2021 at just 37 years old. Today makes only 2 weeks since she left us. Unlike my Grandma, losing Katie is a much more devastating loss. She was my protector and partner in crime. The comical shenanigans we got into together and the roastings we dealt to each other. Today makes 4 weeks since flying back home to North Carolina from California. The day before I flew back, I had a one on one conversation with my big Sister for the very last time. I went on that visit knowing that the entertainment Katie once had was gone and this disease took that away from her. Something in me said it was now or never so I went to visit. I’m glad I did. In the 5 years of war against CIDP, she was constantly in and out of the Hospital, but never once did I ever have to see her in a facility of any kind when I was there visiting. I have my Fiancée and her Family that I’m with out here. We’ve been together 10 years. Her and Katie were close too. A week from today, we will be on a plane going back to California. We will be celebrating her life on October 17 which would’ve been her 38th Birthday. She was not the type to to want a Funeral. Funerals bring sadness, and with as much of a bada$$ that Katie was, she explicitly said no to that. I knew Katie touched a lot of lives since we were kids, but today I’m still finding out that I only thought I knew how many. I’m still being messaged constantly 2 weeks later by people whose lives she touched in some way. I owe much of where I am today to my Big Sister. My other older Sister, she’s struggling with this loss too. My Nephew keeps asking about Aunt Katie. He may be Moderate-Severe, but he’s a smart kid and definitely in tune with what surrounds him. I don’t think she’s explained the situation to him. Anyone here have any experience with that? I’m very concerned for Andi because she’s having to figure this out. I was mainstreamed growing up. Logan doesn’t have that luxury. He requires a different approach than a typical person or a mainstreamed person. If you’ve been in this position as a parent, how did you break the news to your son or daughter that a loved one has passed?

  • So, my son is in the moderate to severe range and we've had a few family members pass away in the last 10 years, though they were mostly older. I just describe their situation briefly using simple phrases like "was very old/ sick",  " had sickness in their _______ (body part)". Then I usually include something like, " the sickness got very bad and the doctors couldn't make _______ (person's name) all better any more. So, _____ died. He / she lives with Jesus, in heaven now........"  Just stick with the basics of what your family believes. A lot of repetition has been necessary, especially the first few times a family member passed away. But, I think he is basically understanding now (though it has been a few years).

    Best wishes as your family deals with this difficult situation.