Loss and Grief: How are you doing?

Posted by Teresa, Volunteer Mentor @hopeful33250, Jan 16, 2018

When my dad passed away several years ago I lost my keys 4 times in one month, I would wake up at 3 a.m. several days every week feeling startled. Sound familiar? These are reactions to grief. Grief is a very personal experience – everyone grieves differently – even in the same family because the relationship of a father is different than that of a wife or a granddaughter. Unfortunately, often we grieve alone. Sometimes we don’t want to “bother others” with our grief, and sometimes friends and family tell us that we should be over it by now. After all the person we lost was ill for a long time or was very old and “it was their time” or “they are in a better place now.” Sound familiar?

Grieving is often described as the “work of grief.” It does feel like hard work doesn’t it? Grief can be difficult because of the many factors related to the loss. If the loss followed a prolonged, serious illness you undoubtedly did some “anticipatory grief work” prior to the actual death of the loved one. If the loss, however, was sudden, i.e., accident related, suicide, a result of crime, etc. the sense of grief is coupled with shock.

The relationship that you had with the loved one also affects your grief experience, i.e. was your relationship close or had it been strained? Do you feel guilt that you were not closer or do you feel guilty because you don’t feel you did enough to help while your loved one was ill?

Sometimes anger plays a part in the grief process. Did your loved one get poor medical treatment or a wrong and/or late diagnosis? Did your loved one not follow your doctor’s orders with regard to their health (diet, smoking, attention to meds or exercise)? All of these factors contribute to your experience of grief.

Also, some losses are not so evident to others. These would include a miscarriage or a stillborn. Sometimes these losses are not considered as relevant to others as the loss of a person who has lived a longer life. In the case of a miscarriage, others might not even be aware of your loss.

You may think of that person on anniversary dates (their birthday, date of their death) or you might think of them constantly. Unfortunately, sometime people say things that can multiply grief. Have you ever heard someone say, “you should be over this by now?” or “I had a similar experience and I’m OK.” Well, most likely their similar experience was not the same as yours. Thinking you should be over it might compound your grief with feelings of guilt or frustration.

Whether a recent loss, or a loss you experienced a long time ago, let’s talk about it. Whatever your experience, I’d like to hear your stories and together find a way to relocate that loved one so that we can experience peace in our lifetime.

Together let us support each other in our grief journey.

Teresa

I just read all of these posts and am grateful for such honest and words of hope to give to each other. I was raised Catholic and studied eastern religions and read everything I could on life, loss, death, life after death. My conclusion is that everything I read and all of these differing views are valid. And helpful to one degree or another. I go to a Christian bible church, and a unitarian univeralist fellowship and a Catholic church depending on how I feel. Some days I use the idea of karma to get through the day. Somedays I lean on more Christian beliefs. No human being knows anything for sure because we are still in a body. I think, anyway.

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Oh, I do want to say that I have had a psychiatrist and therapist most of my life. An assortment of different belief systems. My new psychiatrist lives in Israel. I see him through Skype. He actually discusses eastern religions such as karma with me and he has had some experiences. He was educated in the U.S but lives in Tele Vive. Did I spell that city right?

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How very interesting that must be…has he helped you with whatever issues you are dealing with?
I know that is one of the hardest things in therapy is connecting with the therapist.. as far as spelling not entirely sure the first part looks right 🙂

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@georgette12

I just read all of these posts and am grateful for such honest and words of hope to give to each other. I was raised Catholic and studied eastern religions and read everything I could on life, loss, death, life after death. My conclusion is that everything I read and all of these differing views are valid. And helpful to one degree or another. I go to a Christian bible church, and a unitarian univeralist fellowship and a Catholic church depending on how I feel. Some days I use the idea of karma to get through the day. Somedays I lean on more Christian beliefs. No human being knows anything for sure because we are still in a body. I think, anyway.

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I agree with you 100% and thing they are all part of the whole. I did the same thing when i was younger and certain things just didnt fit completely so i went on a “spiritual quest” so to speak thru books and anything i could get my hands on to find truth and what felt like it could be and a part of all seemed to be the answer.. as you said we are still in body and cant be 100% sure what is except for what feels right to you..

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@vthatch

I think that my life has more grief than anything else. I list my Dad to ALS when I was a child, my Mother told me she didn’t want to have me and my Dad wouldn’t let her get an abortion. (I am the youngest of 8 Children.). She too be from Missouri to Michigan to live with my sister who was 17 years older than me and had 3 young children. I actually didn’t know her very well when I moved there. I lost all my friends and everything that I knew as safe.
I was sexually abused by my brother in law but was able to stop it, I just lived in fear a lot. With that family we moved three times. I went to 3 different high schools. As an adult I had one miscarriage, lost 2 of my brothers who were in their 40 s, and just continue to loose people. A little over a year ago I lost my daughter to Cancer. I also List most of my life to a medical disability that had me quit my job early and loose any sense of purpose. I keep moving forward but am a bit tired of trying to be better.

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@Liebchen50 Yes, as you say, “the memories that would make us smile and feel peaceful are a little deeper all we need to do is to remember to dig a little deeper when we are hurting and go to a to place where we were happy or at least peaceful,” are very important words.

Might we all spend time today, “digging deeper.”

Teresa

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I think caregivers need to be aware of anticipatory grief, a feeling of loss before a death or dreaded event occurs. If you’re caring for a loved one who has dementia you’re going to feel anticipatory grief. If you’re caring for a grandchild who has a faulty heart valve you’re going to feel anticipatory grief. Anticipatory grief is powerful and can take over your life. A health/wellness writer, I’ve written grief reconciliation/recovery resources, including a book on this form of grief.

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You are so right @harriethodgson1

Anticipatory grief can go on for years before the actual date of death. I appreciate your contribution to this discussion, please continue to contribute as you feel led to do so.

Teresa

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Thanks for the insight on anticipated grief. My son planned his suicide for a year and discussed his plans with me constantly. I sent a mobile crisis team to his home in another state. They went to see him and did not take him to the hospital . he called me and screamed at me cause I sent them. He was dead two days later.

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I have been trying to write about grief and loss . my actual profession is as a writer. But I mixed that with working in health care for a long time. So I am stuck in my writing on this. My grief counselor encourages me to write. I joined a writers group online and maybe that will help. I don’t know.

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@georgette12

Yes, I was thinking about anticipatory grief just now, the thought occurred to me that the family members and friends of chronically depressed individuals do suffer a lot of grief beforehand. I know that your attempts to help your son showed that you cared. His anger cannot be understood, but you did try and that was important. I appreciate your sharing that thought with us, Georgette.

Teresa

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Brian L. Weiss, MD. Many LIves, Many Masters. Writer is a highly esteemed psychiatrist. This is the author who changed my own psychiatrist’s life. I had read all of Weiss’s books back in the 1970s already but I reread this book. Yes, once again it helped. But I already have had the background in using hypnosis and regression therapy. I think I really have to strongly add that I personally accept all different viewpoints on this discussion. I , for myself only, believe a human mind is way too limited to know anything for sure. I have genuine support for other people and respect what they believe.

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@hopeful33250

@georgette12

Yes, I was thinking about anticipatory grief just now, the thought occurred to me that the family members and friends of chronically depressed individuals do suffer a lot of grief beforehand. I know that your attempts to help your son showed that you cared. His anger cannot be understood, but you did try and that was important. I appreciate your sharing that thought with us, Georgette.

Teresa

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The only way to write is to do it. The more you write, the better you get.

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