Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Blessed Man

Solitude . Sad (La Punition)
Originally uploaded by

Last night, like the same night 6 months ago, my son Remy came in asking if he could sleep with me. I said that was fine, and made room for him on my bed. This occurred as I was finishing my work on last nights post. Once I was finished writing, I put my laptop away, and turned back toward the bed. I remembered that he had slept right next to Michael on that last night. At that point Michael's breathing was heavy,and labored. In the middle of the night, around 3 am, his breathing suddenly changed. It became very short, and hollow sounding. Remy woke up crying, and saying he didn't want to be in the room anymore. I walked him upstairs, and woke Michael's mother up, telling her I thought he would be leaving us soon.

Last night Remy once again woke up in the middle of the night. This time it was around 4:30 am, and I told him he needed to stay in bed and sleep some more. At 5 am he once again sat up and asked if he could go back up to his room. I said that would be fine. I then looked at the clock, and made a mental note to only sleep briefly, as I wanted to do some meditating at 6:05 am. I laid around in bed, but never went back to sleep. At 6am I got up, lit a few tea lights, and placed them around Michael's urn. I then got out my meditation pillow, sat in front of the urn, and began the exercise of mindful meditation. I initially thanked God for the gift of Michael, and the loving support of Remy and the other kids. I then stopped actively thinking, and allowed by mind to relax. I let go of any mind control, and I just became aware of the various thoughts and feelings that moved through me.

After meditating I did some remembering of the morning that Michael died, September 13, 2009, at 6:05 am. I thanked God for giving me the gift of being present with Michael as he took his last breath. I then turned my focus back to me, and made myself aware of how different I feel today as opposed to that day 6 months ago. I wanted to mark my awareness as a reminder of the journey I have been on during these past 6 months, and I wanted to be mindful of the progress I have made along the way.

My grieving has changed since those early days. At 6 months out, I now have better control over my emotions, and I am beginning to re-experience more emotions besides sadness and loneliness. I still miss Michael enormously, and I still mourn my loss, meaning there are still daily tears. But the painful, and gut wrenching sobbing, has decreased significantly.

Yesterday I was asking myself why the 6 month mark had been so difficult for me as it approached. I came to realize that it wasn't necessarily because it was six months from the day, it was 6 months from the period of time when Michael was actively dying. I needed to grieve all those moments from a year ago, when I didn't have the luxury to cry because Michael needed me to be the strong one. He needed me to care for him, and to help him depart with a sense of calm and peace.

I can now look back and know that I provided him with all he needed during those last days. I was blessed to have all that I needed to take care of Michael, in so far as medical supplies and medication. I was blessed to have so much medical advice and social support. I am grateful that Michael was able to die here at home, in our bedroom, and in my arms. I am grateful that I was able to give him loves last kiss as his last breathe moved from his body to mine.

In these ways, I am a blessed man.


  1. it is amazing where meditation can take the mind. it is a comfort and a release. i am so glad you honor yourself and all you have been through this way. i have done it a very long time and when my Dragon died, the need for it was as great as the tears i needed to cry.

    i feel a sense of peace for you with this post. you are seeing all you can see and need to with regards to your loving care for Michael. the intimacy of watching someone die is like no other. i am sad you lost your Michael. i am glad you were allowed to be beside him.

    i, along with all who read your postings, are with you on this road. peace to you tonight. you and your children are in my prayers.

  2. I sense your peace. I love how you meditated by candlelight as 6:05. I'm going to use this great idea next Saturday at 11:45am. I pray your serenity continues today.

    Love Debbie

  3. Yes, there is much to feel grateful or thankful for. I'm sorry that Don could not have died at home as that was actually his wish, but who was to know that the trip to ER for what we thought was a lung infection, would put him in ICU, and that he would die there. That said, he had wonderful care by a compassionate team of nurses. Maybe things worked out for the best. I will never know, but that's okay. It's good to make peace with ourselves, knowing that we did all that we could for our spouses. It's also good to remember that nothing remains constant. The intense feelings of grief we have at first will change over time, to something we can more easily live with.

  4. Hello Dan,

    First, thanks so much for your comment in my blog about my absence. It was very thoughtful and helpful to guide me back here, a place I need to be.

    I can strongly relate to this post of yours, in particular. I am so glad to hear that the pain of loss is becoming "less gut-wrenching", as it is so difficult trying to function when our emotions are raw and cause us to feel "out of control".

    When I've thought about your circumstances and mine, I have sometimes felt envious of the fact that you have children to help keep you grounded. But then (for me) my envy turns to "dread", that "what would I do if there were kids to care for when Chuck died".

    The envy and dread always balance out to just feeling glad for you. Glad that you are not alone, and that you have love around you to draw strength from.

    Thanks for this post (and all your posts). Yours was the first one I read back when I was searching for support on line. Yours are what "reeled me in". I'll always be especially thankful for that.
    Bill in NH

  5. All of you really got where I am at. I am trying to understand this next phase of my journey, which at times feels like checks and balances. Because the time around Michael's death was so overwhelming, yet my focus was solely on him. I need to understand all that went on during those days, and come to peace with it all. I also need to allow myself to continue healing, and be open to the changes that develop.

    Thanks again for each of your presence here.