Brutally Honest: Preparing to let go

Denny Patterson, Senior Editor

Experiencing the death of a loved one is devastating. It’s as if all sense of protection and security has vanished and your entire world suddenly crashed. Although it is unknown when death will strike, how can you prepare to let someone go? Unfortunately, I am currently going through this process – my grandfather has cancer, and it is uncertain how much time he will have left.

I’m sure many of you have had a run in with cancer. It’s an ugly beast that claims the lives of millions every year. At 88 years old, my grandfather has developed cancer of the esophagus that is already at a stage three or four. Due to his age, doctors said that performing an operation would most likely kill him and chemo therapy might be more harmful than effective. The only safe option was radiation treatment. Although the radiation will shrink the tumor, it will not be completely gone. The cancer will eventually come back. In addition, the cancer is already spreading to his lymph nodes and lungs.

To hear this unimaginable news when I came home for fall break was surreal. How did this happen? Why did this happen? Is cancer hereditary? These were just a few of the numerous questions racing through my mind.

After thinking about it, I believe preparing for someone to die is worse than the aftermath. Fortunately, there are many ways to cope with the pain and suffering. Being surrounded by family and friends is commonly at the top of the list. For me, being with my family is therapeutic in its own way. Yes, we might be a traveling circus at times, but it’s filled with strong-willed individuals who love each other. My family is truly one of a kind.

I wouldn’t say that I am in total denial, but the fact that I will probably lose my grandfather within the next few months hasn’t really sunk in yet. This is the only grandfather I have ever known – I’m not ready for this. Then again, I don’t think anyone is truly ever ready for death.

However, I will be eternally grateful for my grandfather. Not only is he a wise and caring man, he is the core inspiration for my career field. Although not a journalism writer, his focus was mainly on short stories and fiction.

For those of you who have reached out to me, I appreciate your thoughts and prayers. This is not an easy time for my family or me. It’s peculiar that at moments like these, you really begin to think and ponder about life. The only advice I can give is to make the most of it.