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 Support Group.

@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.

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@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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@hopeful33250 I have not a clue how to post a link. I recently watched a couple of youtube videos on complex trauma by Diane Langberg. This so describes how my world feels. Now finding a therapist that possibly help in restructuring my fractured mind. There are more than one of her talks. No wonder there are so many suffering needlessly or so it seems. Wondering if any of us can try to still have quality of life now that our stressed bodies of so many years are now showing the abuse. Her videos have gotten my wheels spinning and my mind reeling. It is scary what humans do to one another. Also sad to abuse the mind of a small child or even an adult. I try to believe that this was not the intent of the caregivers. I try to believe that man is still kind in some way.
I still am saddened by the suicide of my father. He is still my hero though. Aging brings with it so much dying. Trust my heart will not become hardened to the pain and suffering of others. I know my heart tries to not feel the pain. Tears cloud my vision but rarely fall.
To all of you grieving I hope you can find some comfort and peace in something.

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@parus

Thank you for sharing Diane Langberg's information. You are right in that she has several YouTube videos about complex trauma. Here is one of those.

If you view this video, will you share something that was helpful to you?

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