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Grief

When you lose someone in your life that is close to you, there’s a part of you that dies as well.  As I was entering my 20’s, I knew that there would come a day when my parents weren’t with me anymore.  It still didn’t seem real.  It felt like if I just pushed that notion to the back of my mind, I could make the whole concept disappear. It isn’t as if I had never had any friends or relatives pass before, but I think I shielded myself from the true pain of it all.  As crazy as it may be, the first death in my life that brought me physically to my knees, was my dog Boscoe.  That was in 2005.  My mom died in 2008.  I often look back and think to myself, what if I had known in 2005 that she only had barely 3 more years to live.  Would I have called more?  Come over more?  Done anything, SOMETHING differently? 

I cried for weeks when Boscoe died.  Suddenly, every moment of every day I was talking to myself.  “Oh my God, what if Mom dies?”  “Oh my God, what will I do when Dad dies?”  I was overcome with fear.  In the past, death seemed distant and I felt untouchable.  Now, it was right here, present in my life and I was terrified.  I had nightmares, my depression became worse.  Most days I was lucky to take a shower, and I could no longer work.  My poor husband.  Stuck by me through all of it.  At one point, I had gone so long without leaving the house, that on the day that I finally decided to, the battery on my truck was dead. 

I wouldn’t allow myself to enjoy birthdays.  It meant getting older.  It meant getting closer to dying.  I worried every minute about my parents……my husband.  Why is he late?  Death now terrified me and there was no escaping it.  The idea of dying consumed me. 

Sometime in 2006, I can’t really recall when I began to feel like life was getting a little clearer.  Like maybe things were going to work out OK for us.  We had bought our first house, and things were really looking up.  It was then that my mom started to get sick a lot.  She always seemed to have the flu, trouble breathing.  January of 2007 she really felt ill, and I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t have a vehicle at that time, and I really didn’t think I could help. 

It was June of 2007 when my dad called me from the car.  He had my mom with him and they were rushing her to the hospital.  She had a doctor’s appointment, and was having so much trouble breathing, they put her on oxygen, and sent them straight to the ER.  How did I not know it was this bad?  Why didn’t we get her help sooner?  Dear God, please don’t take her…..that was all I could say.  Please don’t take her. 

When I look back on losing my mom, and everyone else that has passed, it really scares me how little I am able to cope with grief.  If I had one wish it would be to learn how to effectively process grief.  I know I am always going to feel an overwhelming sense of grief due to those that I have lost and will lose.  I just need to learn how to accept the fact that I am in pain, process it, and get through it. 

What are some ways you process grief?

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Comments

Almost a year ago, my mother fell ill very suddenly. I flew home, managed to speak to her with pen and paper, as she had an oxygen mask on. That night she became cyanotic and we rushed through, but she had recovered. She was sedated as she kept on trying to tear the - very uncomfortable - mask off. I sat with her the following morning and made the decision to end her sufferig. I sat with her after they had exchanged her mask for a smaller one and 20 minues later she passed away. I have memories of the event that I will never forget. After all this time has passed, I still cannot think about or talk about her without crying - I am crying as I type this. I have seen my psychologist so many times - at one stage I was seeing her every day. My psychiatrist has changed my medication as I was suicidal at one point. I know your question is about how you are processing grief. I don't think I am. And I often think I never will get over what happened. I went home a child and I returned an adult. My life has been changed forever.

Elizabeth, I don't know if you are reading this, but your comment really moved me. (As did this blog post - thank you Recbecca!) My Dad died five years ago and when he died I became suicidal, and I had to be hospitalized and I asked for ECT. I know how you've felt with your Mom's passing. I write about losing my father in my personal blog www.proudlybipolar.wordpresss.com

He comes up frequently in my posts as he also had bipolar disorder and we were best friends - he was an enormous influence upon me. I wish you both peace and Elizabeth, I hope you continue to see your psychologist frequently. Thanks to both of you for sharing about such a personal and heartbreaking experience.

I lost my mother on thanksgiving day in 2011. I had gotten a text from my brother on Wednesday morning (my wife and I were meant to leave that night to drive the 4 hours to get there for thanksgiving dinner, the first time I would have seen her in 2 years.) saying that mama was in the hospital with an ulcer, and I probably shouldn't bother coming up because we weren't going to have thanksgiving dinner. I was horrified at the thought that my family thought that because there wouldn't be thanksgiving dinner, I wouldn't want to come up. And also horrified at the fact that THAT was the reason I was told she was in the hospital to begin with. We left as soon as my wife got home, and managed to arrive Wednesday night around midnight. I was able to go to the hospital where my mother was in the ICU, and visit with her for a grand total of 10 minutes. I told her I loved her, and that we'd be back to see her at 12. When my wife and I went back up to the hospital at 12, the doctor asked me if I was the daughter, and had any one told me what was going on? I said no, they haven't. He said that they were taking her into surgery because they couldn't get the bleeding to stop, and to tell her I loved her, and they would do the best they could.

It's been the hardest 2 years of my life. I was diagnosed with bipolar this last year, and have only begun to accept what that means for me. But I still hate every day that I can't call mama and ask for her advice. She was an RN, spent her life helping people. It took me a long time to temper my resentment towards her, because I can look back at my life and realize that I have been dealing with the cycles probably since around age 12. I couldn't understand how she didn't KNOW. But I know logically that it was because she was too close to see it. Anyway. That's all a huge glut of whatever.

There's a book that really helped me called Motherless Daughters: A legacy of Loss (http://www.amazon.com/Motherless-Daughters-Legacy-Second-Edition/dp/0738...).

There's also a group on facebook called motherless daughters or something like that that is a group of women who have lost their mothers.

My wife lost her mother in 2009, and when I lost mine, she explained the grief process to me this way:

It's not something that ever goes away. You will carry the loss of your mother with you every day for the rest of your life. But it's like a piece of luggage that you're porting through the airport. It starts out as this overly-packed ridiculously heavy bag, and the longer you go on, the smaller and lighter the weight gets. There will still be days, several years in, that it feels like it's too heavy to carry on, but like my mama was fond of saying, "This, too, shall pass."

I think the best advice that anyone can give someone who has lost someone is allow yourself to feel it. Don't let it rule your life, but don't let yourself shut it out, either. It can be an easy thing to slap a bandaid on, but that's just going to fester until it explodes. Especially for those of us with mental illness issues, ignoring the problem will only make the problem worse in the long run. I still talk to mama, even though I know she's gone, and it helps to some extent. Remember the good, but don't forget that your mother was a person and made her mistakes. It will help you in the long run, when you inevitably compare yourself and your life to hers. And most of all, remember that she loves you. I don't believe that love dies with death.

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