Q: My wonderful father, who has never had any serious health concerns, recently learned that he has an inoperable brain tumor. He is falling into a depression, and I feel like I am, too. He is in his early 70s, and I expected to have him in my life for longer.
I'm torn between frequent crying and bitterness toward the world. I'm completely unprepared to say goodbye.
How can I deal with these emotions?
A: This kind of news is enough to throw anyone off balance. Coping is always a challenge, but you should aim to deal with your emotions. Many of us feel tempted to withdraw from others when we don't know how to process our feelings, but you don't want to miss out on the time you have left.
It's tempting to embrace denial and avoid thoughts of mortality, but you will eventually move toward acceptance. Try not to prolong this process (and put yourself through even more agony).
Your only choice is to accept it.
With your father succumbing to negativity, it's more important than ever for you to show him your love and compassion. Share as much time with him as possible.
Your father needs positive support and your acceptance that he will be going on to his next journey. Choose to share your positive memories and thoughts with him, rather than focusing on your impending grief when you are together. You can always work through these issues with others in your life.
Thank him for the important role he has played in your life, and tell him about how lucky you've been to be blessed with a wonderful father. Let him know that you'll be there for him.
Additionally, allow your father to maintain as much control over his life as possible.
Remember that our loving relationships in life never die and will live on through our memories. Cherish the good times, and create new memories with him while you still can. — Doug
Q: Now that I'm in my 60s, I'm noticing all of the missed opportunities I've had to share my life with others. Because of my fear of rejection and abandonment, I've created my own loneliness.
Now that I recognize the role my attitude has played in my relationships, is it too late to change?
A: It's never too late to change as long as you're willing to make the effort. We are social creatures and need people in our lives.
It's amazing to see how opening up to others will prompt them to open up to you as well. When we trust others, they naturally want to reciprocate.
Ask yourself: What kind of people do you find to be most trustworthy? Your answer is probably something along the lines of "people who trust me."
Start small, and share something personal with a friend. It doesn't need to be a deep, dark secret — just a thought you wouldn't usually share with others. It will give your friend insight into the way you see the world.
Give it a try, and see if you find any results! — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.