Losing Family/Friends

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  • #1
Drakkith
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I was talking to my Dad a few minutes ago, and I realized that he is getting on up there in years. The thought of losing him is...terrible, even though I know it is going to happen sooner or later. (Hopefully later as opposed to sooner!) I've never had to deal with the loss of someone close to me, as most of my family is still alive and we've never had any accidents or anything happen to people that are close to me. The same with my friends.

I don't know if I really have a question, as asking "how do you deal with it" doesn't seem like a question that can be answered by anyone but yourself. But still, how have you all dealt with the loss of those close to you? Can you ever really be "prepared" for it?
 

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  • #2
lisab
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By coincidence, I learned yesterday my mother was very sick and in the hospital. Years ago she got a parasite while visiting India and the thing has almost killed her several times. The docs say there's not much they can do about it.

Luckily, this incident was relatively minor, and it looks like she'll be released tomorrow.

But it brought to mind that I'm completely unprepared, emotionally, to lose her :frown:.
 
  • #3
Ivan Seeking
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I was talking to my Dad a few minutes ago, and I realized that he is getting on up there in years. The thought of losing him is...terrible, even though I know it is going to happen sooner or later. (Hopefully later as opposed to sooner!) I've never had to deal with the loss of someone close to me, as most of my family is still alive and we've never had any accidents or anything happen to people that are close to me. The same with my friends.

I don't know if I really have a question, as asking "how do you deal with it" doesn't seem like a question that can be answered by anyone but yourself. But still, how have you all dealt with the loss of those close to you? Can you ever really be "prepared" for it?

You just have to accept what has happened, let go, and move on. Sometimes it comes down to just getting through the day. Then you get through the next day. Then the next... and eventually life starts to return to normal - a new normal.
 
  • #4
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Sometimes at night I've thought about an immediate family member dying to the point of tearing up. I've always thought it was important to think about and not just let it hit you like a brick wall. Buddhists do this as a form of preemptive coping. However I know that no matter how hard I pretend, when the time really comes it will be paradigm shifting. It's not even my grief I worry most about, but the grief of others (say my dad dies, I'd feel so bad for my mom) or for the actual person if it was painful and long. Then again, live life to the fullest, because it may be you who goes next!
 
  • #5
When the time comes, you will be ready. Trust in yourself; you are and will be everything you need to be.
 
  • #6
turbo
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My father is is his mid-80s and he still hangs in there. I never was one to read obituaries, but at 60+, watching my class-mates dropping like flies, I'm starting to pay attention.
 
  • #7
Evo
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When the time comes, you will be ready. Trust in yourself; you are and will be everything you need to be.
Not true. I was never ready for the death of anyone I knew. How can you be ready for the unexpected death of someone you know, even a pet? I don't think anyone is.
 
  • #8
Pythagorean
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I don't know how I'm going to deal with it; all that paperwork, having to fly home to sell and/or manage the house, handling mid-contract business, interacting with grieving relatives. It's going to be a pain in the donkey.
 
  • #9
zoobyshoe
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My mother died when I was 14. I'm 57 now and still in shock over it. I think what you get used to is being in shock, not to the fact they died.
 
  • #10
Drakkith
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Thanks guys. Hopefully it will be many long years before someone close to me goes. And here's to everyone's friends and families! *holds up a glass of mountain dew* Cheers!
 
  • #11
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Giving advice doesn't make much sense, as to a large extent everyone is different and reacts differently. At the same time we are similar enough that there are known standard techniques that help - google for a grief therapy.

I have already lost my both parents - it is never easy. Especially as the general tendency these days is to pretend such thing as death never happens, and we are forever young and healthy. BS, the sooner we get to think about the death as a normal stage of life, the better.
 
  • #12
turbo
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Thanks guys. Hopefully it will be many long years before someone close to me goes. And here's to everyone's friends and families! *holds up a glass of mountain dew* Cheers!
Thanks. My mother died suddenly when my little brother was just 5. My father did the best that he could, though my wife and I had to help my little brother through some rough spots. We had him come to our house with our nieces and nephews to spend weekends playing outside, watching movies (when the weather was crappy), listening to my music collection, etc. I have lost some family and friends, but the death of my mother still hurts. Even worse, my supervisor at the mill felt that it was his responsibility to enforce the company's policy for a 3-day bereavement-leave in the case of a death of a close relative. What a creep. 3 days to mourn the death of someone so pivotal to one's life?

My mother taught me how to garden and how to cook and how to can preserves. We were joined at the hip. When I was a little tyke, she and my aunt took me to a berry-field in Ripley, and the owner said "no kids"! My mother and aunt asked him to let me pick strawberries for a while and keep an eye on me. After realizing that I was picking all the ripe berries and not leaving any, I was welcome there any time. Picking those huge cultivated berries was WAY easier than gathering the tiny wild berries. I had nimble little fingers, and could pick more berries than my mother or my aunt, and pick them clean, at the same time. My sisters and my cousins could hang out at the station wagon eating sandwiches and drinking Kool-Aid, but I had work to do. My mother was a child of the Depression. She was never harsh or demanding, but she set an example in almost every aspect of life. I still miss her.
 
  • #13
mishrashubham
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I was really close to my grandma. When she entered her 80's she developed Alzheimer's. I actually cared for her for a few months, before she died nearly two years ago. Seeing her however in that state really got me thinking about the harsh reality that everyone has to face someday. Like Borek said, most of us live life as if it'll go on forever (I know everyone plans for insurance and such but I'm not talking about objective or practical planning). The fact that I, my family and everyone else on this planet will someday become nothing (no, no afterlife for me thank you), that I or anyone else will not be able to think or feel a thing is really scary. This makes life seem all the more precious; that this life is the one and only chance anyone ever gets to do anything; so I'd better not screw it up.
 
  • #14
Kholdstare
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I used to think about the deaths of close members and even myself in the childhood. Those were very nightmarish thoughts. The things that annoyed me most were that "you never get a second chance" and "Elders are going to die sooner". However, as I grew up and encountered "life's problems", I realized that death is a kind of gift. Without it life loses every purpose and action.

Just like Borek said, I repeat "death really happens and also frequently than we come to know". In childhood there is little encounter with death incidents. Thus we lived in a delusion and when for a moment we realized the reality and it saddened our hearts. Nowadays in modern life and in mid-age you're too busy to be interested in hearing death news. Thus you never think about it or do it in a vague manner.

However, the thought that, "you only have one chance, do not screw it up" is the worst thought ever. From the childhood I wanted to be many things. I never became one of those. Even now I am in a position which I did not actually want or planned for 1-2 yrs back. I also had a few wishes. Only 10% of those had come true and not the ones which would have been very helpful for me. To sum it up I mostly screwed up my entire life. I chased my desires and still chase for the first part of my life. However, the most important thing is to learn to give up after some defeat. All those about "if you do not give up, you will get it" seems like BS after some long period. You have to just ask yourself "Is the effort worth the output?". Well the answer is, "life is more beautiful and enjoyable without extra stress". Its true that those who live a simple life are far more happier than the richer people. Its miracle of advertisement that deludes people into thinking that their life sucks.

Anyway, the greatest achievement of my life is to discover physicsforums.
 
  • #15
chiro
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My advice is to just do the best you can to make their life as good as it can be: that way you won't have regrets and you'll be able to say that you did your part to make the other person have a better life.

The worse thing someone can do is do the opposite and have some kind of guilt trip about the whole thing wondering why you didn't do this or why you did that.

Death may not be able to be stopped, but the thing that can be controlled is how you aid lifes experiences in a positive way rather than a negative one.
 
  • #16
Astronuc
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I don't know if I really have a question, as asking "how do you deal with it" doesn't seem like a question that can be answered by anyone but yourself. But still, how have you all dealt with the loss of those close to you? Can you ever really be "prepared" for it?
One grieves, one weeps, one remembers, and one moves on in life. My youngest brother died from an aggressive leukemia. I was with him five days before he died, a the day that he slipped into unconsciousness because of the toxins building up in his body as his organs began to fail. That day was my father's birthday. My birthday was the next day. I had to return home in a different state. We came back the following weekend for the funeral.

It was hard for us, particularly my parents who had to watch their youngest son die. He left behind a wife and 3 year old son. The funeral was nice. We met many people who knew my brother as a friend and as a professional colleague.

My brother had just started a medical practice as an OB/BYN surgeon. He was a few months into his practice when he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML5). We thought he might have 3 to 5 years, but he only survived 11 months from time he was diagnosed. It was a slow and painful process.

Prior to that, our family had been very fortunate to lose someone in an accident or premature death, with the exception of my maternal grandmother who died in her 60s. My maternal grandfather died suddenly of a heart attack in his late 70s. My paternal granmother died in her early 80s. My paternal grandfather lived to 103.

My father survived colon cancer a few years ago, but the treatment took its toll on his health. But he still hanging and will turn 83 soon. My mom is slowing down though. She'll probably go a few more years.

My father was a chaplain in various hospitals including the main trauma center in a large metropolitan area, and my mom was a critical care nurse. The both had stories of people and tragedies, so I've know of a lot of people who have died early in life from accident or illness. But that was somewhat removed from me until my brother died.

My dad specialized in grief counseling, but it did not prepare him for the loss of his youngest son.

Yet - life goes on - and we can't stop living because others die.
 
  • #17
Constantinos
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Sometimes at night I've thought about an immediate family member dying to the point of tearing up. I've always thought it was important to think about and not just let it hit you like a brick wall. Buddhists do this as a form of preemptive coping. However I know that no matter how hard I pretend, when the time really comes it will be paradigm shifting. It's not even my grief I worry most about, but the grief of others (say my dad dies, I'd feel so bad for my mom) or for the actual person if it was painful and long. Then again, live life to the fullest, because it may be you who goes next!

Heh I do that too. Thought it was just me.

I tend to view death as a disease we haven't found a cure for yet. When I lose a loved one, I never really heal, "return back to normal" it kind of stays with me always, like falling into a new equilibrium. The first days are sad, but then I just go on with my life somewhat different.

I don't think I could ever accept death like a normal part of life. It isn't! At least that's what I think, viewing it as a disease. It's mostly a thing we humans should gang up against to annihilate it.
 
  • #18
johnqwertyful
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I think it's best to let whatever happens happen. Some people get depressed and cry for days. I think it's best just to let it all out. I don't really believe there is a right or a wrong way to react. You need to just react how you do.

I've lost many family members. It does get easier in some ways. Harder in others. When my parents go, I'm going to be an absolute wreck.
 
  • #19
Rooted
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I've never lost anyone suddenly, that must be pretty hard to prepare for. I try to treat each goodbye like it will be the last, and almost expect myself or someone I love to die any day. It may sound like a really morbid way of thinking, but it keeps me trying to make each day count.
 
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  • #20
chiro
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I've never lost anyone suddenly, that must be pretty hard to prepare for. I try to treat each goodbye like it will be the last, and almost expect myself or someone I love to to die any day. It may sound like a really morbid way of thinking, but it keeps me trying to make each day count.

Doesn't sound that morbid: sounds like an approach where you can hold your head up high knowing that you treated the other person with respect so that you don't have to worry about all the things that a lot of people worry about when someone goes and some of this usually involves the fights, the disregard, and all the stuff that people do when they think that someone is going to be around forever.
 
  • #21
Andre
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I lost my favorite uncle (mother side) and neighbor at age 15. He was a great intelligent guy and decided to be my mentor, maybe since he had no son. So we spent a lot of time together with serious talks. And then this traffic accident brought sheer horror. There is no way to prepare for that and the pain never goes away.

On another note, the siblings on my father side are all four still alive and all with their first spouses. The oldest just had their diamond jubilee wedding aniversity and my parents hope to follow with that in next December. The others are just a few years behind.
 
  • #22
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I was around 6 when I lost a 2.5 yr old brother to illness, and in the same year, I lost 3 grandparents. Over the next 10 years, I lost 3 aunts and uncles. Next 10 years, I lost another aunt, uncle, cousin, and great aunt. Next 10 years, I lost another uncle. My parents are on the back side of 80s and in fair health. IMO, the key is to have as few regrets as possible. Spend as much time with them now as you reasonably can, before they go! You will miss family that passes, but you won't punish yourself for what you should have done and kept pushing off unil later, only to find out later is too late.
 
  • #23
Kholdstare
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I had lost one of my aunt, when I was quite young. She was a very cheerful person and loved by all. Awkwardly, I did not fell too sad the day she died. (probably because I was too young to understand the depth of the incident or something else.) However, later I felt very guilty that I did not remorse enough for the person who used to love me so much and cared for me. Every-time I remember this incident it reminds me what an emotionless j**k I am.
 
  • #24
turbo
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Emotions sometime take time to be expressed. Don't beat yourself up about being a jerk when you have to have time to process them. I was a kid when my paternal grandfather died. It took a long time to come to terms with that. He was the product of Irish immigrants that came here during late blight infestations (Potato Famine). My paternal family (Orrs and Baileys, mostly) were poor, and they were dropping like flies when I was a child. It's hard to deal with, sometimes, but that's the way it is.
 
  • #25
nitsuj
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I hope this doesn't demean the topic, it looks like my first big loss will be losing my dog.

Only people I know that have past are an old grade school friend whom had lost contact with a number of years before his passing. And a fairly distant uncle.

My uncles passing was tough mostly because of the pain it caused my mother (losing her brother). The grade school friend passing I never really thought of much, I can keep ignoring it as being a fact. It's more just a "story" i heard through the grape vine...

But losing my only daily companion, that will suck. Seeing my dog age & "slow down" is even difficult, can't imagine what a shi-t day it will be when that hurdle is front and centre.

Somewhat on topic, read in the paper this past spring of a gentleman who was run over & trapped under a dump truck. He was dieing there, and apparently a female bystander laid on the ground under the truck held the mans hand while he passed away. IMO that's a heroic gesture, the death of anybody is traumatic based on proximity alone.
 
  • #26
lisab
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I was around 6 when I lost a 2.5 yr old brother to illness, and in the same year, I lost 3 grandparents. Over the next 10 years, I lost 3 aunts and uncles. Next 10 years, I lost another aunt, uncle, cousin, and great aunt. Next 10 years, I lost another uncle. My parents are on the back side of 80s and in fair health. IMO, the key is to have as few regrets as possible. Spend as much time with them now as you reasonably can, before they go! You will miss family that passes, but you won't punish yourself for what you should have done and kept pushing off unil later, only to find out later is too late.

Bold text: I agree, problem is there are two kinds of regrets - things you regret doing, and things you regret not doing. So often in life, you must choose between them.
 
  • #27
Drakkith
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Bold text: I agree, problem is there are two kinds of regrets - things you regret doing, and things you regret not doing. So often in life, you must choose between them.

The problem I have is that I feel I regret things even when I probably shouldn't. Like no matter how much I can make the drive to see my family it just isn't enough. (I live about 4 hours away from any of my family) In the past few years my ability to just get up and drive there for a weekend has fallen off dramatically. (Hard to explain) So I've seeing them less and less. My dad says he understands, that it is just "life", but I always feel that I SHOULD go see them more. Not for my sake, but for theirs. It bothers me more that my family wants to see me and doesn't get to than me not seeing my family. If that makes any sense. I tend to do things for people just because they want me to instead of me wanting to. The funny thing is I don't regret that at all.
 
  • #28
czelaya
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My grandmother is in her last moments.

She is 87 with moderate Alzheimers. One thing I've realized is that the woman who raised me for the first 4 years of my life isn't there anymore. My grandmother has literally become a child as her health has degenerated.

The biggest regret I have now is when she was of sound mind I could of spent much more time with her but school and life have a way of taken up time. However it's still not an excuse. The only comfort I can take is that the woman I remember, in many instances, isn't here anymore. It's been very depressing and stressful realizing this.

When she passes away, who knows how much more grief this will entail. One thing I know about my life is the way you think you will feel is NEVER what you expect.

This has really fortified my belief in expressing love for family and friends daily.
 
  • #29
turbo
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My mother-in-law has severe dementia and needs round-the-clock care. In that sense, we have already lost her, though she is physically OK. When I first met my (future) wife, her mother and I could spend hours discussing local politics, state politics, current affairs, etc. At that time, she was the town's treasurer and town clerk. Now, she doesn't recognize her own children, except in rare moments of clarity. Sad.
 
  • #30
PKDfan
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My maternal grandfather died recently, and I wasn't particularly sad. That probably sounds horrible, but the way I see it is this: He had an extremely long, fulfilling, and successful life. He raised a great family, served his country with honor in WWII, and had many professional successes as well. His was a life well lived, and the fact that it eventually came to an end (as all lives do) doesn't change that one bit.

Of course, that's not to say losing a family member isn't painful. My mother died of cancer when I was younger, and obviously I was devastated for quite a while afterwards. But I choose to focus on the fact that she, like my grandad, led a good life and was a wonderful parent while she was alive. In the grand scheme of things, what you do with your life matters a lot more than when you die.
 
  • #31
lisab
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My maternal grandfather died recently, and I wasn't particularly sad. That probably sounds horrible, but the way I see it is this: He had an extremely long, fulfilling, and successful life. He raised a great family, served his country with honor in WWII, and had many professional successes as well. His was a life well lived, and the fact that it eventually came to an end (as all lives do) doesn't change that one bit.

Of course, that's not to say losing a family member isn't painful. My mother died of cancer when I was younger, and obviously I was devastated for quite a while afterwards. But I choose to focus on the fact that she, like my grandad, led a good life and was a wonderful parent while she was alive. In the grand scheme of things, what you do with your life matters a lot more than when you die.

When an old person dies - one who has had a long, fulfilling life, like your grandfather - it's a sad thing, but not tragic. In fact it can be a reminder to live a good life.

Losing young people is truly tragic :frown:.
 
  • #32
Evo
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I started losing friends when I was 14. Accidental deaths, drug overdoses, suicides, accidents caused by drunk/drugged driving & murder. It seems there was always a funeral.

My maternal grandfather died on myn 14th birthday, my pateranl grandmother right after, then the death of 2 cousins, 12 aunts and uncles, my father. My neighbor, the gas pedal in her car floored itself and she slammed into a tree in her front yard and killed her. Friends at work. My secretary's husband. She was 3 months pregnant. Her husband had picked up some hitch-hikers because he was a good person, they murdered him.
 
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  • #33
Aero51
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Death is not the only source for feelings of loss. My mom has sever multiple sclerosis. She cannot go to the bathroom on her own and has developed moderate dementia. If she takes her medication off schedule she has the cognitive abilities of a 3 year old. Sometimes I like to mess with her- its funny and she thinks so too. There are times though when I am sitting doing my work and I ask myself how did I end up as such a bright kid with a mom who can't even work a TV remote at her worst. That's when depression consumes me. Its also sad that I didn't get along with her since I was about 11 - am 22 now. We spent a lot more time fighting than being a mother and son. To this day we still argue. I cannot tell if it's the dementia.

Another loss, my father. I watch him lose control over his life because he has to take care of my mom. We fight sometimes but get along quite well other times. I resent a lot of things he's done, but given his position I don't have the heart to confront him. I cannot do anything to help him. In a sense I am losing both my parents at the same time.

You see, loss is not always in death and don't be so naive to think its the only way to lose a loved one. I have a feeling that I will regret being so angry at my parents for some of their stupid decisions when they pass on.

My advice, if you could call it that, is don't let these negative feelings own you. It's ok to feel upset and grief. Do not let these feelings ruin your life though. Personally, what I've been doing is holding on to two dreams I've had since I was a child. I believe in myself and I will use what I've learned to seize everything I've wanted and make my life the best it could possible be. That's my story, hope it provided you the insight you were seeking.
 
  • #34
chiro
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I am reminded of the following situation:

Think about the kids that are diagnosed with cancer and are basically given x days/months to live.

Now think about the volunteers who do whatever they can do to make those kids lives the best that they can when they are with them, even though knowingly in their mind, those kids are going to die and die at a very young age.

To me the thing is how these volunteers especially the ones with a bit more expertise handle the situation: the focus is not on the kids dying, but instead on how they can make those last days as enjoyable as they can be.

At the very least the volunteers can say truthfully and proudly that they did what they could to help those kids enjoy their life rather than to help them think about their death: they too are helping those kids live as prosperous of a life as they can.

I think really its an element of what people focus on: if they focus too much on the death aspect then it's all going to miserable but if they focus on how they actually lived and how you helped someone live their life then the focus and the perspective becomes a lot different.
 
  • #35
It seems to me that everyone has experienced loss of some kind that has made them stronger in some way. The power within each of us is often underestimated; we are our source of courage, comfort and acceptance--something, I found at least, that can take a long time to realize, even with the assurance of others.
I certainly agree that loss can come in many forms. When I was a child, my Dad was my hero. He got me out of an abusive situation and was the strength that I needed to break the silence. Then, about nine years ago, he fell into drugs (prescriptions mainly but also crack cocaine). We lost everything until I was eventually forced to go back to living with my mom as the house became unsafe (people breaking in and other concerns) and we had no water, heat or food as all the money went to drugs. For the past nine years I've watched him slowly kill himself, distancing myself as much as I can without completely cutting him out of my life.
Accepting the loss of my father was the hardest thing I've ever had to do, and it taught me a lot about myself. Pain is always in the mind--both physically and mentally--and, I've found at least, the only way to go on is to accept the pain as a part of who you are. But be gentle with yourself--everything in time.
 

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