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.

@trider7140

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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Hello @trider7140 I am Scott and I lost my wife of 41 years after a 14+ year war with brain cancer. I still grieve her loss and I, too, have strange dreams about her, which often have no bearing on my real feelings for her and/or anything that actually happened in life. I have been told the same by our adult children from time to time as well.

That said, I experience the same type of thing with dreams about almost anything I dream about I actually cannot think of a dream I had that mimicked some portion of my actual life. They always have some proportion of jumble in them!

When we are grieving and our brains are trying to make sense of our different reality it works overtime, even when we are sleeping.

Our subconscious works in mysterious ways, which I believe our conscious selves cannot always comprehend.

Just my thoughts on this complex topic.

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@trider7140

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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@trider7140 I am so sorry you are going through this, it sounds very strange. I have some very odd dreams also, but none that would be as upsetting as that. I hope your therapist or grief group can help you with what may be causing them.

Despite having an unusual relationship with your mother, you are very lucky to have had her for so many years. She must have been such a good person to have fostered so many children. My own mother passed away when I was 27, my father when I was a teen, so I miss that I never had a real adult relationship with them.
JK

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@hopeful33250
Hi!
I am new to this group. Things popped up on my email, but I really didn't know if I wanted to participate. Then, I saw a posting and realized that I think I still have a lot of feelings I need to share.

My mother was a non smoiker who was surrounded by lots of smokers most of her life. She always had this cough that we attributed to "having a fog in her throat." I cannot remember how or under what circumstances, but our PCP heard something he didn't like. Again, I cannot remember the procedure, but I do remember getting a call from my father that my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. I fell apart on the phone. I was told that if I was going to react that way, information would NOT be shared with me. Wasn't I allowed to react? This is my mother, the non-smoker, the person who always took care of herself, the person who came from a family of longevity. She was about 64 at the time.

It took time, but we were able to get he an appointment at Sloane Kettering Hospital in NYC. It was decided she would have chemo. We were also told that she was terminal because they could not find a tumor, just cells. It was believed that the lungs were NOT the primary site, but they didn't know what was. My mother would not let me come over to her house when she was recouping from the chemo. Secretly, in my heart, I was happy. I know it sounds HORRIBLE and I am SO ASHAMED OF MYSELF. I NEVER shared this before. I couldn't bare to see her sick!!! I did not think I would be able to clean her up, is she needed it. The SHAME IS DISGUSTING and I THINK OF IT OFTEN WHEN I THINK OF HER.

We were told that IF the chemo worked, she would have 2-4 years. Mom developed neuropathy and had a hard time walking. She was always an active person! It was taking her longer and longer to recoup from the chemo. At some point, it was decided to stop the chemo. I do not know who decided or why. I wll never forget when I got the call to come down to the hospital. I walked into the room and Dad was there holding her hand. Her eyes were closed and she did not talk when we were there. Her belly was distended and her eyes were sunken. It did not look like my mom! It was difficult, but I kissed her good-bye and told her I loved her. My brother told her it was OK to go.

I went home. I no longer lived in NYC, so I was staying with my in-laws. As soon as I walked in the door, we got the call that she was gone. She wouldn't die in front of me or my brother. Because of us, she lingered. I don't know if she was in pain or not. My mother was 66 years old when she passed. I was 31, about the age she was when she had me. I thank God she got to have a relationship with her grands and to see that her children were on there way professionally and as good adults and parents.

It's been 35 years. It was very rough. I developed intestinal issues which the doctor said would last about 2 years, once my body was out of shock. I would drive to and from work and sometimes I would know how I got there. I physically felt like I had a hole in my heart that would never be filled again. To this day, I still miss her terribly!!!!!! In the beginning, I would see her as she was when she passed, rather than how beautiful she was. After years, that changed. I'd dream more pleasant dreams. I still dream of her, looking healthy, young and beautiul. However, she NEVER talks in my dreams. I want to talk to her so badly and tell her about me, her grands and her great-grands.

You know the question about 'If you had an opportunity to speak with just one person, who would it be?' It would be her for sure! I do have to say that I did grow up with my dad. Until the day he died, I was his baby girl. He went on to live about 20 years after my mom died. He never remarried but he did have 2 long term relationships, which I was fine with. I have regrets about him, too, but I really don't want to bore you any more.

Thank you for letting me go on and on!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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@grandmar

@hopeful33250
Hi!
I am new to this group. Things popped up on my email, but I really didn't know if I wanted to participate. Then, I saw a posting and realized that I think I still have a lot of feelings I need to share.

My mother was a non smoiker who was surrounded by lots of smokers most of her life. She always had this cough that we attributed to "having a fog in her throat." I cannot remember how or under what circumstances, but our PCP heard something he didn't like. Again, I cannot remember the procedure, but I do remember getting a call from my father that my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. I fell apart on the phone. I was told that if I was going to react that way, information would NOT be shared with me. Wasn't I allowed to react? This is my mother, the non-smoker, the person who always took care of herself, the person who came from a family of longevity. She was about 64 at the time.

It took time, but we were able to get he an appointment at Sloane Kettering Hospital in NYC. It was decided she would have chemo. We were also told that she was terminal because they could not find a tumor, just cells. It was believed that the lungs were NOT the primary site, but they didn't know what was. My mother would not let me come over to her house when she was recouping from the chemo. Secretly, in my heart, I was happy. I know it sounds HORRIBLE and I am SO ASHAMED OF MYSELF. I NEVER shared this before. I couldn't bare to see her sick!!! I did not think I would be able to clean her up, is she needed it. The SHAME IS DISGUSTING and I THINK OF IT OFTEN WHEN I THINK OF HER.

We were told that IF the chemo worked, she would have 2-4 years. Mom developed neuropathy and had a hard time walking. She was always an active person! It was taking her longer and longer to recoup from the chemo. At some point, it was decided to stop the chemo. I do not know who decided or why. I wll never forget when I got the call to come down to the hospital. I walked into the room and Dad was there holding her hand. Her eyes were closed and she did not talk when we were there. Her belly was distended and her eyes were sunken. It did not look like my mom! It was difficult, but I kissed her good-bye and told her I loved her. My brother told her it was OK to go.

I went home. I no longer lived in NYC, so I was staying with my in-laws. As soon as I walked in the door, we got the call that she was gone. She wouldn't die in front of me or my brother. Because of us, she lingered. I don't know if she was in pain or not. My mother was 66 years old when she passed. I was 31, about the age she was when she had me. I thank God she got to have a relationship with her grands and to see that her children were on there way professionally and as good adults and parents.

It's been 35 years. It was very rough. I developed intestinal issues which the doctor said would last about 2 years, once my body was out of shock. I would drive to and from work and sometimes I would know how I got there. I physically felt like I had a hole in my heart that would never be filled again. To this day, I still miss her terribly!!!!!! In the beginning, I would see her as she was when she passed, rather than how beautiful she was. After years, that changed. I'd dream more pleasant dreams. I still dream of her, looking healthy, young and beautiul. However, she NEVER talks in my dreams. I want to talk to her so badly and tell her about me, her grands and her great-grands.

You know the question about 'If you had an opportunity to speak with just one person, who would it be?' It would be her for sure! I do have to say that I did grow up with my dad. Until the day he died, I was his baby girl. He went on to live about 20 years after my mom died. He never remarried but he did have 2 long term relationships, which I was fine with. I have regrets about him, too, but I really don't want to bore you any more.

Thank you for letting me go on and on!
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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@grandmar Your post brings tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for the feelings you have about not being there enough when she was sick.
I have a few regrets about both of my parents too, I think they would have resolved if they had lived longer. I will always feel guilty about certain things with my mother though, that I didn't do and that was simply being a self-centered young person. As I said in a prior post, I was only 27 when she passed, 15 when my father did.
Our son and daughter are so good, but they are in their 30s. They will have no reason to ever feel guilty at how they treated us, whereas had either of us passed when they younger they may have. Maturity does a lot for people.
JK

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@contentandwell

@grandmar Your post brings tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for the feelings you have about not being there enough when she was sick.
I have a few regrets about both of my parents too, I think they would have resolved if they had lived longer. I will always feel guilty about certain things with my mother though, that I didn't do and that was simply being a self-centered young person. As I said in a prior post, I was only 27 when she passed, 15 when my father did.
Our son and daughter are so good, but they are in their 30s. They will have no reason to ever feel guilty at how they treated us, whereas had either of us passed when they younger they may have. Maturity does a lot for people.
JK

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@contentandwell
Hi JK!
Age might have something to do with, but I'm not sure. I was a little older than you when I lost my mom.
I think part of it might be that if I did help or be with her during her recoup time, I'd have to face the reality that my mom was sick and that she was at the point that she needed me, her youngest, to take care of her. She wouldn't allow it! As a matter of fact, when she was recouping, she WOULDN'T ALLOW us to visit and she wouldn't tale to us on the phone until he voice got stronger. She was a proud woman!

My kids are great, too! Both are in the medical field. My son is a nuclear med technician. He took lots of science in college thinking he would become a doctor. My daughter is a social worker. Her career has been split between working with hospice patients and their families and now, with patients on dialysis. She has gotten to know the insurance route pretty well.

They decided that if we lose our minds (as if we haven't already, lol), my daughter will take us. If we are physically ill, my son will take us. Of course, we wouldn't want either one to take us, we rather be in a facility.

Let's hope we won't have to worry about who will do what and how they will react for a long time (I'm 64, my hubby is 68).

TaTa…..
Ronnie (GRANDMAr)

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@contentandwell

@grandmar Your post brings tears to my eyes. I am so sorry for the feelings you have about not being there enough when she was sick.
I have a few regrets about both of my parents too, I think they would have resolved if they had lived longer. I will always feel guilty about certain things with my mother though, that I didn't do and that was simply being a self-centered young person. As I said in a prior post, I was only 27 when she passed, 15 when my father did.
Our son and daughter are so good, but they are in their 30s. They will have no reason to ever feel guilty at how they treated us, whereas had either of us passed when they younger they may have. Maturity does a lot for people.
JK

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@contentandwell My Dad died when I was 6 A couple things I remember but not A lot Mom held down 2jobs before she remarried .I remember when was upset when my older brother went of to the Navy this was before she remarried I didn't get along with my step dad so I would go out to the cemetery and talk to his grave being out there somehow was comforting.I don't know if this would help,@ trider7140 but it might get the anger out

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@trider7140

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.

Jump to this post

@trider7140 Hi I'm Linda, lioness My Dad died when I was 6 my Mom lived till 90 died from Alzheimer's But I was angry at my Dad for leaving me what helped was going out to the cemetery and just tell him all your feelings it helped maybe do that going to your Mom,s would act as a release from some feelings you had from growing up so quickly might help

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I appreciate the suggestions of going to the cemetery and talking to my mom about some of my feelings that might be coming out in dreams. I'm not able to do this, since she donated her entire body as an anatomical bequest to the U of M medical school, as did her mother before her. We are not having her ashes returned to us, instead they will be held in a joint colombarium or something when the school is finished with them.

I have been trying to talk to her out loud a bit lately to just try to recognize her ongoing presence in my life, which is very hard for me to feel. I'm a deeply spiritual, empathetic person, a Presbyterian minister, and I've been surprised that she feels so far away from me. No signs, no meaningful dreams, no "presence." Just absence. It's incredibly painful.

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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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So true.

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@trider7140

I appreciate the suggestions of going to the cemetery and talking to my mom about some of my feelings that might be coming out in dreams. I'm not able to do this, since she donated her entire body as an anatomical bequest to the U of M medical school, as did her mother before her. We are not having her ashes returned to us, instead they will be held in a joint colombarium or something when the school is finished with them.

I have been trying to talk to her out loud a bit lately to just try to recognize her ongoing presence in my life, which is very hard for me to feel. I'm a deeply spiritual, empathetic person, a Presbyterian minister, and I've been surprised that she feels so far away from me. No signs, no meaningful dreams, no "presence." Just absence. It's incredibly painful.

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@trider7140 If you have something of your mother's, or some physical thing that reminds you of her, you could use that for your meditation focus to call up the good memories of your mother and the love you shared. Aloud or not and what you use is irrelevant, the end result is the aim, right? I assume your mother lead you to your spiritual life and ministry, so perhaps your bible or one of your spiritual books may be something you shared that can help your focus. For me the first are always the worst after a loss. The first time anything happens that you would have shared with your mother may be a huge trigger. It gets easier for me as time passes, but that first event was tough each time. You have the best resources at hand, which puts you far ahead of many. God Bless.

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@trider7140

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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@trider7140 I have just made my way back to your original post. I wonder if you had a chance to say goodbye to your mother or if it was too quick and she was gone before you got to her. If so, it may be that you are angry that you were robbed of that last healing conversation. Anger can be suffocating, which is a close association to your dream in my opinion. She actually may also be angry that she was unable to have that last "blessing" goodbye discussion. If you and she ever talked about her death and after death wishes, remembering that conversation might help you now. I know it helped me when my father died and will also help when mother passes. The time was right for him and is right for mother whenever it happens. They lived hard, difficult lives providing and caring for many people in many ways. They had nothing to regret, even though they did regret any time anything happened that they wished they could have changed. In my chain of thinking they "earned" their death. They were faithful and true and I will always remember them that way. It is not easy, but it is "right" that they should go before me and not have to live through my death.
I have been angry at someone's death when teenagers I mentored lost their lives driving recklessly after drinking and driving carelessly. That was tougher for me but I was able to get past it my remembering that they took the risks knowing the possibility of the consequences they received. It would have been worse for me if they had taken those risks without knowing that there was another way, because that would have meant that they really had no one in their lives to teach or show them better choices.
I do believe that if you can find a way to focus more on the good memories with your mother it will help you heal, but these coming months will be tough. Thankfully you have resources on board to help you make it through. And, we are all here for you. Blessings.

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The value of tears. Just wanted to share with you a short video from Dr. Amit Sood about how tears are healing to our body and our spirits.

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