Author Topic: Struggling with grief  (Read 94 times)

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Offline Limefime

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Struggling with grief
« on: January 05, 2019, 10:51:35 AM »

I am a nearly 60 year old woman, living in the UK. I am struggling to deal with my grief over losing my dad and mum fairly recently. They both lived to a lovely age of 92 and we had a wonderful relationship and our final farewells were as good as it could be under the circumstances. I miss them terribly.

Some background...

I am originally from Southern Africa but have been living in England for 13 years.

Six months after we relocated, my youngest brother was shot dead in a break-in at his house. He left his wife and two gorgeous girls, aged 4 and 6. It was very difficult for me to deal with, being separated from my family while having to create a new life in the UK. My husband has been a great support during the time it took me to come to terms with my loss. My son was only 8 years old and I had an irrational fear that he (or my husband) might die. My son is now 20 and, though the fear is not so strong anymore, it is still there...

For the last 13 years, I have been phoning my parents every day - sometimes twice a day. We shared and worked through our grief over the phone and strengthened our own relationship. The phone calls meant a lot to them, but also to me. As they were both entering their 80s, I checked on them this way too to make sure they got support when they needed it. I visited them every year as well.

In July 2017 my mum fell and broke her hip. She became bedridden. At the end of August my elderly dad finally agreed that he can't be her full-time carer and they moved into an old age home. My dad had been fit ("jogging" around the yard every morning) but he went downhill very quickly and it was a relief when they got into a carehome quickly. I fully expected my dad to start feeling better soon and still enjoy a new life in the old age home. But he died suddenly and unexpectedly at the good age of 92, a month later. I was too late going back to say goodbye in person but we did speak on the phone and told each other how much we love each other. He passed peacefully.

My mum didn't want to live anymore. She had lost her husband of 61 years, was bedridden, fully dependent on others for everything, including eating. She had lost all her teeth and was on a very unappetising soft food diet. She had cancer and a painful dislocated shoulder. Yet she lived for another 13 months, bravely trying to stay positive. We still phoned each other every day. On her last day I was still able to speak to her and tell her how much she meant to me but she could no longer respond. My sister-in-law, who looked after her needs in the most loving way, was able to tell me how my mum reacted when I talked to her and I know she was ready to go. She passed peacefully early in November 2018.

It has been 2 months. Christmas. And now the grief seems to really hit me, bringing up some of the emotions around my brother's death too.

I have asked for counselling but there is a waiting list... I hope that by "talking" through my emotions with others on this forum, it may help me come to terms with everything.

Offline Sandra61

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Re: Struggling with grief
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2019, 12:20:12 AM »

I'm so sorry to hear of your losses. It is still very early days for you in this horrible time. I am around the same age as you and also came here after losing my mum on October 2017. I lost my dad in 1985. I know how difficult it is to lose your mum and dad. It's unlike any other loss really, as you suddenly find yourself to be the older generation and lose that lifetime link you've always relied on to anchor and support you in life. It must have been even harder for you being so far away from your mum and dad. So awful to have lost a brother in such a terrible way too. I am so sorry.

I hope you get the counselling you have requested. In the meantime, all I can do is tell you what kind of things have helped me. I think you have to do whatever helps you. In my case, it was just little things at first, like taking walks in the park, putting flowers round the house as I found they cheered me up a little bit, they are so pretty to look at. I found it easy to forget to eat and drink properly so you should make sure you do that. Sleep is a problem too, so try reading before you go to sleep or taking a relaxing bath, having a milky drink, just whatever works for you. Cry when you need to and just do whatever helps.

Take it one day at a time and don't push yourself to 'move on'. Grief takes forever to come to terms with. You don't really get over it as you probably already know, you just learn to live with it in time and gradually the bad memories lessen and the good ones become clearer.

It sounds like you had as good a farewell to your mum and dad as you could have done in the circumstances, and you clearly did whatever you could to help them as they got older, so take comfort in that. Hopefully, your husband will help you through this too.

I found it helped to try to do something each week that would take me out of myself, got me out of the house and made me think about something else for a few hours, so you might try to find something that will help you to do that. Grief is exhausting and drains you, so its good to have something that distracts you from it a little for a spell.

In the early days I also found it helpful to put together an album of favourite photos of my mum and to keep a diary, so I could write down how I was feeling and what I was thinking. It was a kind of release to do that and then later you can look back and see what progress you've made as time has passed.

Other than that, use this forum to write down how you feel and you will always find someone to listen. The Facebook forum is always active with someone ready to respond with some sympathy or helpful suggestions. You might also try the chat room in the evenings. All useful to help you find support and help you feel you are not alone in struggling through this difficult time. I am sure you will get a few more answers from people with better suggestions and experiences to relate and recommend than me, but hope some of this helps.

Thinking of you and sending much love and hugs...Take care, Hun. Join in any chat whenever you like, whether here or on the Facebook Group. You'll always find someone around to respond. All best wishes...xx

Offline Karena

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Re: Struggling with grief
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2019, 11:29:15 AM »
Hi - i am just behind you in age and found this forum after losing my husband - my parents died before that were not together so i didnt know my dad until towards the end of his life - i always felt a bit cheated that we never got chance to make memorys and in a way that made it more difficult than people might imagine.
 My mum died much later and after the first time i was widowed i dont think i really appreciated, until the second time how much she had helped me hold it together because i didnt hold it together at all the second time - grief for one does often re- trigger grief for the ones who we lost before .

 Your story resonates with me particularly as my daughter and son in law live in south africa , so the positions are swapped - it is difficult to overcome the distance sometimes - its fine on the phone or whats app most of the time, but sometimes you need a proper cuddle.I always told her if you look at the moon then we are both looking at the same thing so somehow closer together.

For me that fear you speak of is something i think which is common too everyone here, i think and a result of the simple realisation that we dont know just how short life can be and whether we lose some-one in their twenties or nineties it isnt ever long enough really, so in that way age doesnt make it different because we lose the foundations under our feet and are afraid that more will be lost as we cling on to whats left  - its a natural reaction and although it isnt pleasant to be fearful perhaps if something good can come out of that it is that we no longer take anyones presence for granted and are more able to treasure every moment we do get to spend together.

 So as a parent with a child (grown up) living across the other side of the world The time we do have - on the phone becomes even more precious and i think your parents would have felt the same when speaking to you on the phone.
My son in law has said several times he feels guilty about taking her away - but my reply is that is better she is happy there than unhappy here without you - and i do mean it i am not just saying it -so again if distance is something we have to live with for our children to be happy then their happiness comes first because if they are unhappy then we are as well.

As Sandra says it is a long process during which we heal ourselves of the more acute pain but never of all the pain and during that process learn ways in which we can keep them with us in our hearts and through our memorys of them.Being kind too yourself is a key too that healing and being kind to yourself means allowing yourself to grieve and not trying to speed it up or  thinking there is a time limit or a staged process too it  -  and  also taking care of yourself both physically and mentally.