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

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Loss & Grief group.

@contentandwell

@dianajane I am sorry for what you are going through. I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you. Does he ever have moments of cognizance and know you?
JK

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@Volunteercontentandwell Thank you. yes he seems to know us. Only calls me by pet name. Seems to recognize family but not names.

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@dianajane

@lisalucier, my husband was diagnosed 5 yrs ago with PPA. And cannot find his words. Alzheimer's dementia is creeping right in. We no longer communicate. He is unable to tell the beautiful stories of growing up in Europe, coming to US at 15 with family and all the hardships and interesting stories that our grandchildren never tired of. I am grieving a loss of my love, my partner my friend. Retirement will not be as planned. I have made the most difficult decision of my life, in putting him in the care facility. I visir him daily but it's not working out. He needed care 24/7. He turns 80 this year and I am 77.

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I just want to tell you that I have worked in these wonderful care facilities for many years and have watched residents of the facilities become so very comfortable and even happy . I've seen people with your husband's challengers make friends with other residents. Honestly, it does happen that way with most folks.

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@georgette12

I just want to tell you that I have worked in these wonderful care facilities for many years and have watched residents of the facilities become so very comfortable and even happy . I've seen people with your husband's challengers make friends with other residents. Honestly, it does happen that way with most folks.

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@georgette12 ,That is reassuring. He seems to be slowly becoming accustomed at times. His good days are my good days. How long and how often to visit is stressful. I don't want to abandon him, but I'm hoping to eventually to get back to some sort of social life.

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@dianajane

@georgette12 ,That is reassuring. He seems to be slowly becoming accustomed at times. His good days are my good days. How long and how often to visit is stressful. I don't want to abandon him, but I'm hoping to eventually to get back to some sort of social life.

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How long to visit and how often? You can ask him when you are actually there if he would like you to stay at that particular time. You just take your cues from him. You can trust yourself to know. In my experience family really does have a harder time in adjusting. Residents begin to get familiar with where they are and usually make friends there. I used to work in Activities in a care facility so I know there are all kinds of things to occupy residents on all levels. Even sever memory loss and hospice .
About how often to visit, maybe don't plan in advance . You can call him and ask him each day. One last thing. I work s a caregiver and we are told TO TAKE CARE OF OURSELVES FIRST. Remember when you're on a plane, put YOUR OWN OXYGEN MASK ON FIRST. Then help the other person

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Hello All:

A new discussion group was recently started for those who might have had a friend and/or family member who took their own life. You can find this discussion, Suicide: Finding it hard to lose someone by suicide at, https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/suicide-1/?pg=1#comment-275838.

Here is a quote from the Survivors of Suicide website,

"When you have experienced the death of a family member or loved one by suicide you can feel overwhelmed, desperately sad, lonely, angry, confused, guilty and somehow responsible. You may also discover that friends, co-workers and other family members don’t always know what to say or how to be supportive and comforting. We know that the bereavement associated with a suicide death is different than other deaths; there is the suddenness of the death and there is often no easy – or clear – explanation as to why suicide was seen as a choice.

It is always important to get help in the aftermath of suicide death. That help might be from a therapist who specializes in grief and loss; it might be through a support group specifically designed for individuals who are dealing with the loss of a loved one to suicide. Survivor of Suicide (SOS) groups can help participants feel less alone and understood by others who have experienced a loss to suicide. “Being with understanding others helps me try to figure out where I am, where I was, and where I might be headed in this process.”

If you have lost someone to suicide will you share in what ways this type of loss was more difficult for you than a more natural death? Will you also share what was most helpful to you in the process of moving on?

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@shortshot80 Hello Nancy,

I was just thinking that you are nearing the anniversary of your husband's passing. How are you dealing with loneliness and grief?

I hope you will post again soon.

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@reibur1951

Thank you – its been a rough 2+ years – already lost his dad on June 28th and his mother on Dec 26th – she was in nursing home since Dec 3 2014 with right side stroke – a myriad of other problems left or right cartriod artery completely blocked with the one in the back of neck she had one Carotid artery surgery which ever side to save her right side as she was right handed, she was having seizures which the dr she had & Hospital ER was not diagnosing till to late – then badgered her into the surgery – the last she went in with a mild seizure & Acute Myocardial infraction with STEMI near 100 percent blockage, sepsis, c-diff, Stage 3 Acute onset Kidney disease her the heart dr on call and her regular hear dr said heart catheterization would either do more damage than good or he would die during it – plus she had DNR and directive for not advance life support to maintain life – recommendation was "comfort care" she never was fully alert or conscious the whole 8 days (I sat with her 24/7 those 8 days except maybe 3 hours) – for one brief period in ER she did tell the daughter she loved her. His father was diagnosed the not making enough red-blood cells .also tested JAK2 V617 positive – was not to have been cancer – had blood transfusion every 2 weeks – was on arasnep for 8 months but had 90-95 % of the side effects. so when medicare refused to pay for it found out fully he done a almost 100% turn around he had a — for a doctor – talked in analogies – would not talk side effects of medications – the small good outweighed all the side effects…

He is getting the best of care at IU Medical/Simon Cancer center – and what ever happens I know its God's will and I have survived and will I know I have done my best and am doing my best I have genealogy I do and I have a wesbsite on the history of the town i lived in and will go back to http://www.maxinkuckee.history.pasttracker.com/ I am trying to restore my 100+ year old home there which as been put on hold since 2017 ( http://www.maxinkuckee.history.pasttracker.com/lots_419_s_main/419_s_main.htm ) – but I will some how succeed at that –

Over the years I have lost loved ones – I know we are given only a limited time on earth – and when its our time God will take us Maybe this sounds insensitive but I have always believe our time on this earth was limited to God's will and that he will provide and take care of us.

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Hello @reibur1951

Just wanted to check in and say hello. I hope you are doing well. Post again when you have some time.

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@dd1931

You are strong enough. I suggest you may want to read a book I bought on Amazon called, I wasn't ready to say goodbye. I lost my brother three and half years ago fairly suddenly. I was out of the country when he was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with cancer through out his body. He was only given 6 weeks to live but I was never made aware of this. He always protected me, and once again the word was out that no one was to tell me of his life expectancy. I had to put on the bravest face I could because I felt it was time for me to protect him. For me to step up and take care of him. When he passed away I was devastated and in shock. I have never experienced grief as I experienced it then. I did not know something could hurt physically so much. I was angry, in denial, guilty and overcome with such a sadness I can't even begin to describe. Someone told me at the wake, it's hard but it softens in time. I honestly could not see this ever happening. After about a year, the pain and sobbing subsided but it is never far from my mind. I don't think you ever get over someone you love. I think "softening" is the right word. It's not as raw. My personal opinion is that crying is good. You have to let it out and this may sound strange, but I bought a bunch of paint by number sets because it was the only thing that made me relax and stop thinking about him for a few hours. It's tough but it will get better. Don't give up.

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Hello @dd1931
How are you doing? I hope all is going better for your and your family.

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@hopeful33250

@muppey
Hello Mark:

I hope you are doing well. It has been a while since you last posted. I see that when you last posted your divorce was going to be finalized in the near future. How are you doing with that as well as with the holiday season approaching? Any plans?

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@muppey Hello Mark:

How are you? Hope all is going better for you now.

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@georgette12

I think guilt is a part of grief for those of us whose loved one died suddenly as in my son’s suicide or those of us who have had complicated or estranged relationships with the person who died.

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@@georgette12. I agree.

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Hi everyone,
We now have a group dedicated to Loss & Grief on Connect. Feel free to browse the existing discussion or start a new discussion. Follow the group and explore the discussions here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/loss-grief/

Learn more about how to use Connect, including following groups, taking part in a discussion and starting a discussion: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/get-started-on-connect/

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I've been reading through so many of your posts. My mom died in November, at the age of 82, but unexpectedly. She had been a single parent, and raised not only me, but was a foster parent to 58 children over more than 40 years. She was my best friend and we talked every day for over 20 years, although we had an atypical relationship in which I grew up as a mini-adult, so she was more a friend to me than someone who was nurturing as a mother. Complicated relationship, and I'm grieving deeply.

My dad, who I had a relationship with, even though my parents were divorced, passed away the year before, after fighting Alzheimer's for five years. I was relieved for him that his struggle was over, and the grief journey hasn't been as painful.

What is bothering me the most is that I'm having nightmares and bad dreams about my mom — she's always very angry with me, and in the last one, tried to suffocate me. I have no idea what to do with such awful stuff. I spend my days crying for the mom I miss so much, and then this stuff comes out at night?

Yes, I do have a therapist to talk to, as well as a grief group which starts in a couple of weeks.

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