How Death Has Changed Me

I am not writing this post to get your sympathy and be all ‘woe is me’ but instead I am posting this today because I have a lot on my mind about death. I like to read blog posts by other bloggers when they are talking about how they feel and situations they have gone through. Their posts make me feel like I am not alone in how I feel or what I am going through. Hopefully my blog post today will help you.

Death, you come to close.

I have experienced death too much lately and it has changed me.  If you watch Once Upon a Time you will understand this analogy.  When Mary Margaret (Snow White) killed Cora she was overcome by guilt. Soon her pure heart developed a black spot on it and she carries that black spot with her everyday.

That is how I feel too.  While I didn’t kill anyone, I have an intense feeling of guilt that follows me around every day.  I feel guilty for not doing more for those in my life that have passed.  It is almost as if I have a little spot of death that hangs out with me, like I am tainted somehow.  Like I’ve seen what death does and now I am changed.

When death started

It has been two years since I lost my beloved Nona to nothing more than old age. She had a few health problems near the end of her 92 years on this earth, but nothing that required hospitalization during her last days. I visited her everyday, watched her slowly die and saw her just a few hours before she passed.

Nonas hands

She died peacefully in her nursing home bed with a nurse friend by her side. I wish I was with her when she died. My mom & dad took on the responsibility of ‘dealing’ with the logistics of her death and all the yucky stuff that goes along with that. Bringing her clothes to the funeral home, making sure the body is moved from one place to another and arranging the funeral.

Flowers for Nona

I touched her hand when she was in the coffin, that feeling of cold hard hands stay with me to this day. Months later the guilt of not being there enough for my Nona set in.

Almost a year ago my long time furry companion Roxy became sick and soon was diagnosed with Kidney failure. There was nothing to do to save her, I did all that I could. She spent her final days in our crazy house, starving. She refused to eat or drink water.

Roxy Cat - Last Days

I tried to get her to eat tuna and had her on an IV at the vet, but not at home. She sat in the same place for weeks slowly dying. Each night I sat with her and talked to her. One night she was on my lap and she started to purr, she looked up at me, reached her paw to me, meowed and took her last breath. She died in my arms. Days later I felt guilty that I could not save her and blamed myself for her decline in health.

This past April, my father passed from brain cancer. He was diagnosed just three weeks earlier after having beat bladder and then spine cancer just a few months before. The last time I spoke to him was three days before his death, he could barely talk, the brain cancer was a devil inside of him. He told me “thank you, I love you and I want to be home with my cats and family”. At the time my mom and I were arranging to get him Hospice care at home while the hospital was working on kicking him out.

Mary Prayer Necklace

I had seen him the day he died, but he was really out of it, and didn’t know who I was. I arrived at the nursing home and was a wreck. I went to the bathroom to throw up. I cried the entire time I was there and held his hand as much as I could but left after a 3 hour visit. That night I was cleaning up the kids play area, I felt a weird sensation behind me like someone was watching me from outside my house and I turned around but no one was there. A few moments later the phone rang and it was my mom. My dad died. He was alone in his nursing home bed with no one by his side and he died. I felt guilty the moment my mom told me he died.  I felt like wasn’t there enough or push the doctors enough to treat him.

My world stopped.

I had to help my mom with everything. It was surreal and the time to grieve was painful. There was so much to do, so many decisions to make.

The stages.

Tears Statue

I have gone through many of the stages of grief already and I am near the last one of acceptance.

1. Denial and Isolation – I didn’t want to believe what was happening, I hid my feelings inside and was ‘strong’ during my dads funeral. I tried so hard not to cry so I tried to deny what was really happening.
2. Anger – I didn’t talk to my mom for three weeks ( I am horrible, but I was so angry at her and I blamed her a lot – doesn’t really make sense now but at the time that is how I felt)
3. Bargaining – Oh this is a big one. I did this for about a month. I retraced my steps (and my moms and dads) of how he was treated medically, what else I could have done and why we {and the doctors} made the medical decisions we did. Were we right? Were we wrong? What could we have done differently?
4. Depression – I am here at this stage now but with the help of my husband and my girls I am trying to move past. My mind wonders a lot. I have problems being happy, finding the joy.
5. Acceptance – Even though I am depressed I have mixed emotions of calm. I am not as angry anymore and I have more support to give to my mom.

How death has changed me

Flowers for Nona 2
I cry almost every day.

I think of my own death a lot and of my husbands. I try not to think of my children’s death. It will happen someday and I hope to not be here when they die.

I cry at work, I try not to but it happens. I see a gray haired man at work, in line at the cafe and I think that he is someone’s dad and he is going to die. I’ve had to leave work early a few times because I can’t stop crying.

I look at the floor a lot…so people don’t see tears in my eyes.

I fake it. I fake being happy. I’ve been to several business events in the past few months and I pretend to be happy.

I quietly cry myself to sleep at night.

I don’t listen to music in the car anymore – unless the girls are with me then they want to hear something.

I don’t care – there are some things in my life that I don’t care about anymore.  I know that I need to get back to my hobbies of photography and drawing but for right now they are not of interest to me anymore.

I speak my mind even more now – what do I have to loose? Piss me off? You will more than likely hear about it.

“Moving on” – it’s such a dirty term.

I don’t want to move on, I don’t want to forget my Nona, Roxy or my dad but I know I need to for my own health.

I know that I probably need to see a therapist, but honesty I don’t have time. I can’t even talk about my dad’s death without crying – good thing you can’t see me as I type this.

What’s next?

I am going to write more blog posts about this topic because it makes me feel better and that is part of healing.  Through my blog posts I can still remember those that have passed as well as get my feelings out of my mind and into the internet.

I know it is going to take time to heal.

I hope that by reading this I have helped you too.

About Dawn

Dawn is a social influencer and has been writing about her nerdy side since 2004. She enjoys writing about Entertainment, Travel, Disney, Star Wars and life with two little girls. Her advice is to keep on dreaming, do what you love and life will lead you a path to your happiness. Dawn also writes for 5 Minutes for Mom.


  1. Bobbie Seacrist says:

    Dawn, my heart is breaking for you. I went through something similar a couple of years ago when my Uncle died. He wasn’t my Dad but was like one. We were very close. He would still be here but the hospital let him fall out of bed on his head and in the three months after that he slowly slipped away. I felt a lot of anger ( still do ) and a lot of the emotions you have and are feeling. My Mom does too. Every day she lives with the ” If I had pushed them to let me stay, would things have been different?” I guess we will never know. But death robs you. It robs you of time, making new memories, and moments in life. It robs you of a beating heart that you hold dear. People say it will get easier but I think you just learn to move on. I am better now but my Mom and Dad are both in their 70’s and fear grips my heart because I know one day death will rob me again. It’s not fair but my Dad says that death is a part of life. An unfair part, but a part. I pray that you will find just a little peace. You are wonderful person and your smile lights up the room. You are in my thoughts.

    • Thank you Bobbie – it is good to know I am not the only one who thinks about the ‘what if’ factor when it comes to the death of a loved one.

  2. Laura Chrisco says:

    Again you have pulled the words and feelings straight from my heart. I went thru all the stages. I was very angry with my dad. I cried all the time. Wore my sunglasses in class so people couldn’t see my need puffy eyes and tears. For the first year I could not & did not talk about my mom’s death. It just hurt too much. I blasted my Linkin Park in the car and that helped. But for years, my eyes didn’t sparkle when I smiled. Its visible in my pictures. But finally the sparkle came back. I was lost for a very long time. Love you. Keep writing. It helps.

  3. Oh Dawn, your heart is amazing. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Thank you for sharing your experience and your heart. We’ve only just become friends but it is through posts like these that bring us all closer. I encourage you to keep writing, it’s truly healing. I’ve experience my own times with death and I think writing is what gave me a lot of solace. Maybe I’ll email you my stories, I left them up online even though I am in a different place in life. My aunt was brutally murdered almost 8 years ago, I was nursing my youngest and I wasn’t eating. Needless to say, health went down the drain. I dropped over 20 pounds, went into deep depression and refused to talk about it. I can talk about my auntie now without bursting into tears. But it took A LONG time to get to that place. I was mad at everyone, guilty for not connecting with her more often. She was one of my biggest fans, always encouraging me towards my career and supporting me in life. She never got to see my youngest and it was hard to think that he will never know her…

    Time is the only thing that helps. You NEVER forget, you are truly changed when you experience death. Take your time my friend. You have so many supporting people thinking of and loving on you. If you ever want to grab some coffee, I’m more than happy to hop in the car and drive out to visit! <3 Hang in there. xo

    • Thank you SO much Camille – it is sharing stories with friends that will help us all to heal. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your Aunt I can totally relate to the not eating part too.

  4. Oh Dawn – I am so sorry. Prayers for you as you learn to walk in a ‘new normal’ – I worry about death too – I saw a quote the other day that said “We’re all just walking each other home.” and I think that is a beautiful thought. Life is an amazing journey, but it is so hard when someone is gone, it’s not fair to have someone not be there for the whole journey <3

  5. Hey Friend Dawn,

    I have lost both sets of grandparents, and I was there when my Grandpa passed away. To me, it’s not about moving on or anything like that. The way I see it, it’s about remembering them in their happy moments, remembering them the way they want you to remember them — which isn’t at the end.

    I remember when my Grandpa — my Dad’s dad — passed away. He was in his late 70s, and I was a teenager. I wasn’t all that close to him, I was more close with my Grandma Sophie (that’s who my Sophie is named after). When he passed, it was unexpected, and I remember not wanting to go to his funeral. I was one of those stupid kids who thought he knew better than his parents. Of course, I did go, and I remember when my Dad and I were walking in, I saw my Grandpa, and the guilt of what I had said earlier just hit me, and I started bawling like a baby. I felt like *thisbig*.

    I am so sorry that you are going through so much over these losses. The older I am, the more comfort I take in my faith, because I know that one day I’ll see all of my grandparents again, and I think you will see your loved ones again — even Roxy.

    If I may share with you two verses that I take extreme comfort in, they are these:

    John 16:33 (Jesus is speaking to His disciples) “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

    Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

    The John verse reminds me that when I am going through trouble, I can call on my Lord and He will remind me that He has taken on the world — and won! The Jeremiah verse is my favorite verse, because it speaks volumes of how God looks at us — with love, and wanting the absolute best for all of us.

    My dear friend, know that you have the support of all of your friends, those you see daily, those you don’t, and those that are thousands of miles away, and that at the very least, we will give you virtual hugs until that day when we can do so in person. If I can do anything else to help you, please let me know.

    Your friend,

    PS — Lean on your husband, lean on your kids. They know you are struggling, and just knowing they are there for you is medicine in and of itself.

  6. Huge virtual hug. I feel like this last year has been a rough one. Where before I knew little death it seems there is just so much of it now. I guess that is a part of aging but it is not something I want to become used to.

    I recognize these feelings and you are right they pull at you until you are forced to deal with them. I wish I could help you but know I am here to listen. Take care my friend.

  7. Dawn, there is something powerful about step 5 that most do not talk about. It is forgiveness. Forgive yourself for what you meant to do and what you never got to do. You’ve been through some of the worst life experiences possible and you did the best you could. After walking beside thousands of families and hearing their stories, you have no idea that it is so very common for a loved one to wait until the family leaves the room or goes for a walk or goes to finally get something to eat. They choose to wait until they are alone. It is nothing you did or did not do.

    • Yes @ChoosingLove:disqus – you are a great resource – thank you very much for mentioning forgiveness – it’s a tough one to gulp down. I am working on it. Today I felt a little bit better and I know that writing my blog post helped and seeing all of your wonderful words helped make me stronger.

  8. I wish I could hug you in person but know I am sending lots of virtual ones your way. You are so brave to write about these feeling honestly. I am sure there are lots of people that will read this and will come away feeling a little better because they know someone is in the same boat. I know one day soon I am going to come back to it because I will. Please let me know if I can help in any way.

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