As a Result

Stephanie Lancaster family photoAs a result of what my family has been through since my dad was diagnosed with the brain cancer that took his life only 10 weeks later, I’ve learned that in the face of tragedy people will surprise you.

I’ve been surprised by some of the things not done or not said by certain people while my dad was sick and while my family has been grieving, but I’ve also been surprised by things that were done and said by others.  It’s been the latter that has kept the former from causing even more pain and grief.

As a result of some of these relationships, many of which have changed as much as I have over the past months, I struggle with the question of whether the actions or lack thereof of others are due to ignorance (not knowing what to say or do), insensitivity (not realizing how badly their support was needed), or indifference (not giving a hoot, or at least being more interested in other things like having fun than in supporting me or my family), and I also struggle with the question of whether or not it even matters what the cause of lack of support from these people is.

Sometimes a bridge has been burned so badly that it is beyond repair, and what’s really surprising about that is that in some cases I don’t even have it in me anymore to care that I can’t cross the River.

After a few months, it seemed like almost everyone I know assumed that my time for grieving had expired and that I was back to living a normal life, “healed” from my grief.  They didn’t see my tears as I lay my head on my pillow at night or hear my one-sided conversations with Dad as I drove to and from work each day.  How could I ever go back to “normal”?  I don’t even know what that is anymore.

As a result of what happened to my dad, I’ve seen up close that bad things can happen to anyone at any time.  As a result of this blanket of grief, I have hurt physically and emotionally worse than if someone had stabbed or burned me.  I want something that I cannot get back, ever.  I have witnessed something tragic happening to one of the best people I know, and all I could do was stand by while it happened.

I’ve learned to speak the language of Tears.  I’ve learned that Shock is a shelter but that it’s not one I want to stand under for too long; it keeps me from feeling my dad’s spirit and makes me do crazy things that don’t help me or anyone else.

In much the same way it is a surprise to find your car with a flat tire, it has surprised me that some people with whom I’ve discussed so many things in the past have yet to say much or even anything at all to me about my dad’s death or how I have changed because of it.  I’m constantly surprised by the lack of support from some of these people – and shocked by the lack of acknowledgement.

As a result of what I’ve observed, I’ve learned that no matter how badly your heart is broken, the world doesn’t stop for grief.

I’ve learned that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

I’ve realized that I need to figure out how to watch the film from a few rows back so that I can see the whole screen before me.

I’ve learned that grief is a journey, not a destination, and that the only way to get through it is to focus on what’s in the headlights on the road directly ahead.

Our thanks to Stephanie Lancaster for sharing her story with us.


  1. Tracy Leyden said on July 23, 2013 at 2:06 pm ... #

    Well written and poignant article Stephanie. i am sorry for the loss of your beloved dad. I can relate to every word that you wrote, it is not easy being in the “grief club” and you are right it is down right disappointing and hurtful that our so called friends just turn their backs on us in our greatest times of need ~ when we are so lost and broken. I too don’t have the energy to cross that bridge either, so I don’t. One thing I do know is that grief takes turns, and it will be their hearts that are crushed one day and feel the desolation. I have ended friendships now, and like you, I will never be the same again either. Thank you for your article, helps to know that I am not alone in my thoughts, or actions. It is a lonely rough journey.

  2. Tamara said on July 23, 2013 at 10:37 pm ... #

    I can relate to your article in so many ways. I lost my dad 7 months ago after a 7 week battle with cancer. I had no idea how much loss can affect everything in your life. I realized that in the past I was the unsupportive one. I have friends that lost parents previously and I didn’t know what to say or how to support them. If you haven’t experienced loss I honestly believe you don’t know how. I was lucky enough to have a few people that were extremely supportive because they understood. Bridges burned can be rebuilt. If you truly valued those relationships there may come a time when you can be the supportive one. I now know that grief never ends. Life will never be the same. Loss is full of anger and hurt, but life doesn’t have to be. Forgiveness can be a healing part of the journey. I am truly sorry for your loss.

  3. Holly said on August 2, 2013 at 10:38 am ... #

    I also had a season of feeling this way. Looking back I realized that I needed to fill the hole left by my brothers passing. I needed my anger to get me through another day. In time and I needed lots of time…I was able to turn it around..turn my scars into stars so to speak and find peace in comforting others with losses in their lives. To give what I did not get was my healing and brought a peace to my soul…and another way to honor my brothers memory. Everything has its season. But after the winter comes spring…so hang on sisters and brothers. And it time I hope that you too can use your painful experiences to ease the pain of others. Truly that is the best and most satisfying revenge. Compassion sometimes must be taught. I am so sorry for your losses. May we all find peace.

  4. Debbie Ramsingh-Girhdarrie said on October 31, 2013 at 1:13 pm ... #

    Hi Stephanie,
    Thank you for writing this. My heart breaks for you and your family and I pray that God will give you the strength to face each day as it comes. I went through the same thing two years ago after losing my son Shane to cancer. It’s so difficult trying to understand why people behave the way they do and especially in our time of need they seem to disappear. I know and feel the pain you’re going through only to well. I have found peace in trying to forgive and understand those who I feel have failed us. My son was a gentle and loving person who never held any grudges and helped everyone so I have to find peace in that and try and learn how to forgive. May God continue to bless and keep your family in his grace and you face the difficult days especially during the holidays. God Bless!

  5. Ruth said on November 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm ... #

    Your words really resonate with me. It is 6 months since I lost my dad to cancer after a 4 month battle. Grief is indeed a journey and yet at times it feels as though others do not understand how that journey manifests….after a month or two most of the support just disappeared. The hardest part for me has been the complete avoidance of the subject by people whom I have known for many years and whom I speak to and see – it’s like it never happened and that lack of acknowledgment is so painful. Thank you for writing this…. it has helped and comforted me today a great deal. I am thankful I had a great relationship with my dad and I treasure that.

  6. Stephanie said on December 13, 2013 at 11:24 am ... #

    Thank you so much for sharing your words. I lost my dad to cancer and it seemed as if people expected my grief to last as long as their sympathy flowers. I think the worst part was that so many family members on his side lost touch and stopped “checking in” on us. He is no longer apart of their family, and they made the decision that now we aren’t, either.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me know that I don’t feel alone. Blessings to you.

  7. Carly said on May 6, 2014 at 8:17 am ... #

    My best friend just lost his one and a half year battle of stage 4 brain cancer yesterday afternoon. He had sweet and sour personality… Meaning he was really nice to me most of the time but he could be really mean to people sometimes and well that hurt people and made people not care about him. I just had so called friends text me saying that I shouldn’t be calling him my bet friend because he was mean to the both of us one time…. One time! I don’t understand why people pick times like (the day after they die) to go all out about hating people. It makes me feel a lot worse..

  8. Sharon said on August 8, 2014 at 11:30 am ... #

    Hi Stephanie, thanks so much for this article. I lost my beautiful mam in November and am so lost. She was my best friend, my soulmate and love of my life. We had a very unusual bond which people struggle to understand. All of those family members who swarmed around during mam’s time in the hospice have now disappeared, just when we need them the most. I know what hell is like because I’m in it. I struggle each day to put one foot in front of the other and am so very lonely without her. What I wouldn’t give for one of her hugs and kisses. God bless everyone on this page who have lost loved ones, i hope we get the strength from them to help us go on. x

  9. judith gelinas said on December 29, 2014 at 4:46 am ... #

    I expected to spend many years with my husband, he was my caregiver…Larry and I had 20 good years together…they in 2 weeks he was gone, husband died of cancer that the VA had told him was arthritis…I am not a survivor yet..I am barely hanging on…May 12, 2014 Larry died..he left me and I don’t know how to go on..I don’t want to go on..I need help and there is no one to help me…everyone thinks it is time to get over has not even bee 7 months..I need him back..I would rather me have died and he had lived as he would have survived better..cancer can come on so fast, he was in the non va hospital 1 day and i had to sign the DNR..I did not want to but did want him to suffer..I miss him all the time..morning, noon and night..I wish I was with him..I wish we had gone together..but that is not how life works..I had a terrible Christmas and am dreading the new year…I hope you are doing better than me…Love you so much Larry and always will….

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