If only I had a doula when my best friend died

Death is not easy. I think we all know that and can accept that. However, there are some losses that hit you much harder than others and your best friend dying is definitely one of those times.

As many of you know I’m young, actually my 23rd birthday was last week. So you might be thinking, “Wow, her best friend already died? They must have been young. That’s so tragic!” Well, you’d me mostly right, his death was tragic but no he was not young, at least not physically. You see, my grandpa was my best friend. We did everything together; he took me to practice as a child, taught me to parallel park, instilled in me a love of trivia, and was always there to support me even if I disappointed him. He was the best man you could have ever known. 

I could go in to great detail about his death and all that I experienced in the times surrounding his death. But that’s not the point of this blog. The point of this blog is to talk about the support I needed during this difficult time. However, I will give you a little background on my life at the time.

The year was 2012 and I was a freshman in college. At the end of March my grandpa suffered a stroke on the golf course, he was taken to the hospital and monitored very closely in the ICU; things were touch and go for almost a week. Eventually he began to get better and was transferred to a rehab facility to help him regain the skills he lost. The last time I saw him was on Easter Sunday that year. The family gathered in a conference room at the rehab center and spent the day plying music, singing songs, playing games, and enjoying each others company. Though my grandpas speech was impaired he participated the whole time. When I left the hospital that day I was set to be back home in just 7 weeks. 

However, just four days later my grandpa would suffer a major setback; he developed a deep brain bleed and passed away surrounded by family. My mother called me at 5:30 in the morning to tell me and I broke down. I could barely get out of bed but I didn’t want to wake my roommate so I crawled down the later, across our room, opened the door and collapsed in the hallway. 

***It is also worth noting at this point that I was struggling with my share of health issues at the time. I had recently been diagnosed with a degenerative back problem that was the cause of chronic pain. I was also losing weight for an unknown reason couples with terrible stomach pain, both of which would later be diagnosed as a food intolerance we didn’t know about.***

As I lay on the floor of the dorm hallway all I could do was sob. I had two midterms to take that day and didn’t know how I was even going to get myself off the floor. My “perfect” life had come crashing down around me and I was 6 hours away from the only person I knew who could fix the problem, but unfortunately he was gone. 

The rest of the time was honestly a blur. I spent the time ignoring the pain I was physically in while my heart aches at the thought of the future I had lost. My grandpa was the closest thing I had to a father; who was going to walk me down the aisle, who would my kids go to, who was going to be there when I graduated? I had no answers.

Now, almost four years later I realize just how helpful it would have been to have a non-judgemental support system. Of course I had my family and friends, but they were also all grieving and mourning in their own way. I need someone to rub my shoulders and hand me Kleenex all weekend long. I needed someone to remind me to eat and shower. I needed someone to tell me the way I felt was okay, and the way my family get was okay too; I was so angry that they weren’t doing things the same way I was. And most of all, I needed someone to listen to all my stories and rambling.

So if you wonder what a doula can do for you remember, our job is to provide non-judgmental and unconditional support in the way YOU need, not the way other people think you do.

Thank you to Randy from ProDoula for the blog challenge today. I love that you push us to step out of our comfort zones and write about more than birth, postpartum, and placentas. 

In loving memory of James R. Law

November 29, 1939 – April 13, 2012


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