Dealing with death when you are borderline

Death is hard for everyone. No matter what you believe, whether it be god and heaven and that you will see that person again, whether it is re-incarnation or whether it is just that what we are gone we are gone – nothing makes death any easier to bear.

The concept of someone you love no longer being there is a concept I am really struggling to wrap my head around. I spent some time yesterday thinking about life, and I figured I would try to work out and put down what I actually believe, and then go from there.

I have never really given much thought to what actually happens to us after we die. I went to a Church of England school, but I never really believed in god. I suppose I accept “heaven” as a real place because I was brought up believing in it, but as I began to know my own mind I decided that I didn’t believe in god, and so I also don’t believe in heaven. In my teens I had a brief period of dabbling with paganism and wicca which refers to the “summerland” and re-incarnation, but to be honest, I’m not sure I believe in that either. I fancy myself as a scientist, and I have a science based university degree (albeit in horses!). I like to see scientific evidence for things before I believe them although I do accept that when it comes to religion, that just isn’t going to happen, and that you are expected to have faith – that is the whole basis of religion.

I hope this does not offend anyone, but I often wonder if religion was something that many years ago a group of people sat down and decided to create in order to not only control people, but to give them a purpose in life and to give them the strength to carry on when their loved ones passed on (knowing that they would see them again).

Often I think I do believe in ghosts, but then I think if I do, that means I must believe that our spirit/soul is different to our physical brain/mind (I have a vague recollection of doing something about that separation in GCSE psychology.) I’m not sure whether I believe that we have a “soul” that is separate from our physical body and moves on after we die, or whether when we die, everything stops and our soul is just something created by the chemical processes occurring inside our brain. I suppose this is the vital decision I need to make as it has a huge impact on how I need to think about death.

Image sourced from google images.

The reason why this has been in the front of my mind recently is that my father, who has been suffering with secondary bone cancer (initially prostate cancer) has had chemo which failed. He then managed to get a new-to-the-market miracle drug which is working for now (it really IS a miracle drug) but we are not sure for how long. The future is uncertain but he admits that if he could not get this drug, he would probably be dead by now.

My relationship with my parents has been a rocky one; a situation caused by a combination of factors including their attitudes and parenting, and my borderline and individual personality. I feel an awful lot of guilt for the stress and anxiety my behaviour has put them through (although I know most of it was a symptom of my condition) combined with hurt and anger at how I feel I have been treated. It’s pretty much a whole heap of confusing feelings, but the strongest feeling I have is the pain of what I know is coming. I love my dad so, so much and I cannot imagine my life without him in it. He does so much for me and our relationship has improved as I have grown older and become a mother myself; it is at the point now where I feel I can actually talk to him on an emotional level (and survive the conversation with all of my emotions in tact!). If I ever have a problem, I ring my dad. My house is full of “projects” such as our front gate, the garden bench, the coat rack in the hall, the cupboard under the fridge – all hand built by my dad. Everywhere I look I am reminded of him – and of course this is a good thing for the future, but for now it just makes me think of the situation we are in.

For a borderline, losing someone they love is extraordinarily painful, regardless of the circumstances. Of course, in my recovery, I can think about the situation logically and I understand that this is not my fault, and that I cannot do anything to change the situation – everyone will die at some point and the normal pattern of life is for a child to lose their parents rather than it being the other way around. I understand that I must make the most of the time we have left with my dad, and make as many memories as possible. All of these thoughts are what I would call “normal” thoughts and feelings and I am glad I am able to have them. This would not have been the case several years ago, so, small mercies and all that!

What I am having trouble processing is the fact that he won’t be here. I won’t be able to call him and tell him what a hard time I am having with him not being here. For him, life will be over. I know that death happens to everyone, and as I said before, most people, if the normal order of life is followed, will lose their parents at some point in their life, but the thought of it is just too hard to bear.

I am trying to use the DBT skill “accepting reality” otherwise known as radical acceptance and I am hoping in time that this helps me to process my feelings. In the meantime, if anyone has any input or advice on how I can improve this situation, I would be grateful to hear from you.

Image taken from google images.


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