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Posted by: Tyson Dunn (not logged in) ( )
Date: January 03, 2020 08:18AM

This past summer after a long hospitalization, my father died. We had expected the worst for a long time when complication after complication made it impossible for him to leave the hospital. When he finally died, they had to restart his heart multiple times as my mother and brother and I raced to the hospital to be with him.

I watched them pump him full of epinephrine and do chest compressions twice, as his heart stopped more and more frequently. A tube in his throat and glassy-eyed, he couldn’t speak. In the end, I had to make the call to let him go.

At the time, it hurt but I was fine with it. He was unquestionably suffering. They couldn’t do anything to fix him. But since his birthday a few months back, I haven’t been able to get past how awful it all was, how he’s no longer there, and how I as his older son was left tasked to try to discern whether this is how he’d want to continue.

My mother cries about his death daily. She blames the hospitals for all their errors in his care. She longs to have him back. Meanwhile I flinch any time her health gets worse, fearing having to repeat all this.

I don’t know what I’m asking - mostly just ideas on how to come to terms with things. I neither believe in an afterlife nor any religion, so please consider that in your responses.



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Posted by: macaRomney ( )
Date: January 03, 2020 09:00AM

This is a traumatic experience you've had. We are never prepared to go through these difficult things. And for me when a loved one goes it takes a long time to get over the mourning to the point where life is back to some sort of reasonable state like it was before. If your employed definitely look into LOA leave of Absence. Your guaranteed time off without penalty by the Government for spouses, children and parents.

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Posted by: CrispingPin ( )
Date: January 03, 2020 09:00AM

I want to deal with a couple of issues here:

First, the decision you had to make at the end of your father’s life. You absolutely, unquestionably did the right thing. Unfortunately, doing the right thing doesn’t always feel good. You probably (at least at times) feel bitter or resentful that you had to make the decision. You weren’t given the option of making a “good” decision (i.e. a decision were nobody has to suffer), you only were able to make the best decision that was available to you.

When it comes to your mother-I understand how you are worried that you may have to go through the same horrible emotions again. It’s not 100% possible, but try not connect any health issues she has with your experience with your father. Every health (and grief) experience is unique. I’ve learn to never say “I know how you feel,” because I really don’t know. I’ve had to say goodbye to both my parents, a brother, and a couple of very close friends. Some died suddenly, some suffered for a long time. Every time someone who is important dies, I react in different ways. Your mother may live a long time. She may die suddenly or she may suffer. Depending on what happens, you may or may not be involved in crucial care decisions. In any case, try not to worry about things that may not happen.

Finally, when it comes to grief, I not a big believer in the concept of “closure.” If we live long enough, we are going to face some very unhappy realities, and some of those are powerful enough that they never really go away. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be happy-I’ve suffered a lot of loss, and I’m happy most of the time. I often feel very happy when I think about the people I have lost. What I’m saying about the traumatic events of our lives is that they never really go away, but they do have a way of weaving into the fabric of our life story.

You can’t make grief go away, but you can (little by little) make peace with it.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: January 04, 2020 04:43PM

CrispingPin Wrote:
> ...when it comes to grief, I not a big
> believer in the concept of “closure.” If we
> live long enough, we are going to face some very
> unhappy realities, and some of those are powerful
> enough that they never really go away. That
> doesn’t mean that you won’t be happy-I’ve
> suffered a lot of loss, and I’m happy most of
> the time. I often feel very happy when I think
> about the people I have lost. What I’m saying
> about the traumatic events of our lives is that
> they never really go away, but they do have a way
> of weaving into the fabric of our life story.
> You can’t make grief go away, but you can
> (little by little) make peace with it.

I appreciated these thoughts. Agree entirely.

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Posted by: Mother Who Knows ( )
Date: January 03, 2020 09:46AM

I'm sorry for your loss. I wish I had an answer for how to get over disturbing emotions and memories, but I really don't.

You and your mother have been through a major trauma! Professional therapy would help. I recommend it.

Cognitively, it might help you to break down your "mourning" into smaller pieces, that would be easier to handle, one at a time, short-term, then long-term.

For example, information helps a great deal. You might want to find out more of the facts of the hospital treatment. It isn't very probable that the hospital made mistakes. No one could have saved your father. It would alleviate your mother's anguish, for her to stop blaming. (Or, if there really was negligence, you need to sue, and get it over with.) The facts might show you that your father was probably already brain dead, and that might be reassuring to you. My own father fell and died of a brain hemorrhage, but his heart kept on beating. It all might seem cold and clinical to you, and especially to your mother, and this was a horrible experience, but facing the facts really does help.

See if you can get rid of any uncertainty you have that it was time to let your father go. The facts can reinforce your good (but painful) decision. I think you probably know, in your own mind, that your father wanted to go. His body wanted to go.

The problem of mourning the death of a loved one is shared by all human beings, who will tell you that healing takes time, and this, too, shall pass, and that life goes on, which is all true. I don't think you ever stop missing a loved one--but the crying needs to stop. You live on, and focus on the loved ones who are still in your life, and you can be quite happy. Even the good memories of my father make me happy, now.

Your mother is making this harder for you, by crying about his death daily. You are a wonderful son to be there to comfort her and manage things, but you need a break. Do you and your mother live together? Can you each take a short vacation, separately? Even a weekend away would help. It might do your mother good for her to have to concentrate on something else, such as different surroundings (she can't cry in public), her hobbies, friends and family, and especially exercise. Make sure you both eat right, and take vitamins. Vitamin D and light therapy helps with mood, during these short, dark winter days. Take care of yourself. There is good advice and support for care-givers, online and in the community.

Please do this, as the oldest son, in charge: Have your mother write a living will, in which she can legally request the level of artificial medical intervention to keep her alive. Then you won't have to worry about the same thing happening to your mother. This will relieve a lot of the angst you are feeling.

Separate sorrow from depression. You and/or your mother could be clinically depressed. You might even have PTSD resulting from your bad time. Get help from your MD and maybe a psychiatrist. Medication can help these symptoms, if you have them.

Sorrow is normal and natural and inevitable, and so is death. These are part of the price we pay for the joy of living on this planet. Remember the good times with your father, and the whole of his life, and don't dwell on his last hours.

As for religion--honestly--I fear death LESS than I did when I was a good temple Mormon and CK-bound. Be glad that you know that the Mormon temple stuff, "forever families" and all the silly regulations of the CK are not true. At least, you don't have to worry about all that, on top of your Earthly problems at this difficult time.

((((hugs to you and your Mom))))

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Posted by: Tyson Dunn (not logged in) ( )
Date: January 03, 2020 10:44AM

My mother has a not-yet-terminal cancer and is a stroke victim. Her crying isn’t ceaseless just regular and can’t be helped. My brother takes care of her now.

She herself had been in medical care for almost a year prior to my father’s hospitalization. The doctors had written her off, but she improved as soon as they followed the family’s (read: my) requests. Unfortunately, my parents only had about 10 days together between the medical stays (hers and his).

We know from years of experience that the local hospitals and care facilities do make mistakes, but they fall on the side of not being actionable: infections acquired in one of various facilities, inadequate care, inattention to cleanliness, etc.

My parents gave me power of attorney financial and medical, for when they no longer could make those decisions themselves, so that’s where I am.


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Posted by: Pooped ( )
Date: January 04, 2020 07:28PM

>>>>> ....infections acquired in one of various facilities, inadequate care, inattention to cleanliness, etc.<<<<<<<

I'm dealing with these things also as I watch my mother weaken with age. We haven't had to deal with all you've gone through but I'm anticipating the day Mom is gone and knowing it will be difficult. Mom is so stoic and rational, unlike the rest of our family.

When Mom gets ignored after pushing her call light, catches a serious eye infection at her care facility (she's now blind because of it) and I fight with staff to clean her room appropriately and treat her respectfully, it gets too much sometimes. Then I talk with the families of other patients and they ALL say that they have been in other care facilities and this one is the best on in our county. This is all very disheartening.

Thanks for posting. Reading the comments is helping me anticipate the future for my mom. I hope they are helping you. It all does get to be too much some days.

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Posted by: kathleen ( )
Date: January 03, 2020 10:09AM

After my mom died, I didn’t care if I lived or died myself, the grief was so intense, even though I had young children and a husband to care for.

The sorrow was unbearable for months. Then one morning I woke up and thought, I think I’ll be ok. I remember the surprise of that vividly. It’s not that the grief gets better—-it suddenly becomes bearable.

Get lots of rest.

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Posted by: cl2 ( )
Date: January 03, 2020 01:02PM

I said, "It just gets different." And I've found that it is different each year that passes. This year, the 11th, has been a bit harder than it has been for a while. I've had other things going on and when they happen, I wish my parents were there to at least go talk to. I try to remember the things they would have told me.

My mother died December 3, 2008, and my father followed close behind on February 1, 2009. My mother had a short stay in the hospital and then to the nursing home for a few days. She died alone. She was lucid all day and had visitors, my disabled brother being the last one there to visit her. My older brother, also disabled, went by to see that she got her dinner as they forgot the night before. He walked in the room and she was dead. It was a significant day that she died. That day is what helped me the most and always will. My dad was devastated.

When he died 2 months later, we were relieved because he no longer had to suffer without her even though the strongest human being I've ever known left that day and we could all FEEL it.

We have the house and brothers we have to watch out for. I can go to their home and I feel them there.

I don't believe you EVER get over it. It just changes. My dad died at home in bed. My other disabled brother found him. I feel they left alone for a reason as my long disabled brother couldn't have handled a bedside vigil. I got to say good-bye to both of them and I didn't know that is what was happening. It has helped.

I type medical records and I type these reports. Right now I work for a hospital in Canada and I do palliative care reports. Personally, I am very glad my parents chose to go alone and I'm glad that even with all their health problems, they were still very lucid when they died. I wouldn't want to have to deal with how they handle the deaths in the hospital.

I'm so sorry for your loss. My therapist old me, when I couldn't seem to get past a death, to take time each day to mourn the death, so each evening I'd think about them and I had a song for each of them that I sing to myself. It really helped to take that time each day to mourn them. I was also driving back and forth to Colorado to live at my boyfrie4nd's and my brother had given me a CD of Glen Campbell. The songs reminded me of my childhood. That time alone in the car for all those hours for a year once a month, playing the music and being able to think of them.

You might want to write some things down about your father. Remember the good times. As Dr. Phil says, they lived a lot more than just the time of their death. Celebrate their lives. I'm amazed at how much more I understand why they were like they were. Most people would never believe I say that my mom is my hero, but I've been able to examine things now and she is my hero. I was going to say my dad is my hero, but without her, so many of us would have never made it as far as we did. She gave us so much and so did our dad. I will forever miss them. I hate the idea of leaving my own children now that I'm 62 and my parents both died at 76. I know what it is like to live without my parents and I hate the idea that they will be without me.

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Posted by: thedesertrat1 ( )
Date: January 03, 2020 01:10PM

I understand
My wife died in 2017 and I am still a long way from getting over it.
I haven't grieved with tears but their are many ways to grieve

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/03/2020 02:32PM by thedesertrat1.

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Posted by: Lethbridge Reprobate ( )
Date: January 03, 2020 08:08PM

My grief journey has been an education unlike anything I've ever lived through before since my wife died in October 2017. Just when I think I'm past it, a memory..or a piece of music...or an image I see, especially a couple in a loving embrace will bring on the tears. I am not embarrassed to be seen crying either. It all helps heal.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: January 04, 2020 04:56PM

LR: You are wise. And sharing your loss is undoubtedly helpful to many. I agree with you about tears being healing. As well as a tribute to your lost beloved one. Chin up. And I hope you get through the winter weather in your neck of the woods.

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Posted by: Lethbridge Reprobate ( )
Date: January 04, 2020 09:28PM

I will persevere Nightingale...I endure winter...because I know it will worries...I will be on a beach next month with my family...that will help. Thanks for your kind words.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: January 04, 2020 09:45PM

Lethbridge Reprobate Wrote:
> ...I endure winter...because I know it will end...

See - wise. Poetic too.

> ...I will be on a beach next month with my
> family...that will help.

Beach sounds great. We are being deluged here - worst downpour all through New Year. But that is better than what is happening in other areas of this country and elsewhere. Very much better. I quite like the rain. Fortunately - living here on the Wet Coast...

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Posted by: Lethbridge Reprobate ( )
Date: January 04, 2020 10:26PM

A dear friend lives at Nanaimo and keep me abreast of weather doings out are getting deluged and we are having a Chinook. Winds this afternoon topped 100kph!

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Posted by: ptbarnum ( )
Date: January 03, 2020 08:59PM

I'm so sorry for everyone's losses.

In August of 2013, my mother had a catastrophic series of strokes after a heart surgery. My sister was the designated contact person on Mom's admission paperwork, so she had to be the one to sign the authorization to stop intervention. On top of everything, she had to be "that person".

I know that action created more trauma for her than for me, the one who didn't have to sign off on what was going on. I just had to watch. She felt by signing the papers that she had to take a part in a way, and it was much harder for her. Not that I didn't grieve hard then and don't miss Mom still, but there was something in the responsibility of it that I can tell is a weight on my sister, a complicating factor. It is very, very painful to have to be the "responsible party" in situations like this.

Counseling and being evaluated for depression and anxiety by a doctor is what I recommend. The best thing you can do for everyone is be very diligent about self care. Diet, rest, hydration, vitamins, exercise...all the things. You are fighting a battle, so you need to keep your body in fighting shape. The same goes with mind. Your brain under stress can become depleted of essential transmitters and your hormones can go off kilter...talking through things with a professional can help you feel better, plan better, and help you manage the strain. Medication can be a great help in dealing with fatigue, anxiety and fortifying your ability to recover quickly and rest well.

Lastly, consider what has already been said about PTSD, for yourself and your Mom. What you describe certainly was a traumatic event and it can really mess with your biology. There is a good treatment plan for helping reboot the body's stress response that can improve your life quality and take away that awful edge rather quickly.

I hear you, and I feel for you. Please keep updating us. This board really does care.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: January 04, 2020 04:38PM

Tyson: I'm sorry for what you are going through. Grief is often a complex and solitary condition. Sadly, we each eventually find this out on our journey through life. Even if a death is expected, or welcomed, grief can be overwhelming and prolonged. Sudden death especially is in its own category of hell for those left behind.

My family has gone through two major losses in the past four months, the latest one just three days before Christmas. I was still massively hurting from the first one, especially as it was the first Christmas after the loss. I felt numb in a way over Christmas after news came of the second loss, not having much energy to react strongly then in the way I would have done otherwise, although it is hugely painful.

I find it difficult to express how I feel to anyone in my world, especially as, despite "knowing better", I think after four months I "should" move on, or whatever. I would never tell someone else to do so but expect it of myself, or think that others would say that so I avoid expressing to them how I feel. Four months can be like yesterday though. I'm solitary in that way, keeping emotions and feelings largely to myself. As if it matters what others think. As if I have to measure up to some imagined standard they may have.

It helps me to read "how-to" material, although that's not everybody's preference I know. I prefer the solitary nature of that. I've attended a grief group in the past as well as a few sessions with a counsellor after multiple losses but for me neither was that helpful for various reasons, although still I would recommend that people try those avenues if they feel they could benefit from it or that they need help in their situation.

Several articles about grief that I've come across recently have been of some help to me, especially the thoughts excerpted below. (I know it's long - just goes to show there's no easy quick-fix).

The bottom lines are that every loss is unique, explaining why grief can be so lonely; recovery is a process and takes time; but time can indeed heal, at least to some extent; and we can eventually find joy again in life at some point but meanwhile should find ways to look after ourselves. The latter part can be alien to us as many of us are not socialized to think of ourselves first, if at all. But recognizing that we need to care for our own needs first in order to continue functioning effectively and to heal to the greatest extent possible is a crucial piece of regaining or maintaining our physical and mental health and some measure, hopefully a large one, of happiness going forward.

I hope the following links and excerpts are of some benefit to you and to others experiencing grief and in times of mourning. There is a lot of material out there. It can help to hear from others about what has been helpful to them. It also helps for us to acknowledge each other's pain from the many losses we experience as we journey through life. It turns out to be a bittersweet experience but hopefully more sweet and less bitter overall, despite the major bumps in the road along the way, as well as the frank derailments that occur.

I read somewhere recently that “grief can sometimes be overwhelming” and that “each person grieves in his or her unique way”. The latter is what can make a bereavement so lonely. Truly, nobody knows how you feel.

I found this recent magazine article re one man’s grief experiences intriguing:

The writer meanders in an unexpected direction but I found it a worthwhile read.


“We are never finished with grief. It is part of the fabric of living. It is always waiting to happen. Love makes memories and life precious; the grief that comes to us is proportionate to that love and is inescapable.”

I found this thought helpful in stating a major reason for the pain of grief, and permission, so to speak, to feel grief-stricken – there is a good reason for it in the face of painful loss.

The article goes on - following the death of their brother: “I said to Kamla, expecting some solace from her, “And now we have nothing.” She said, “And now we have nothing.”

Of course, it is unlikely to “have nothing” following a bereavement but it can feel that way – like nothing else matters now and it never will.

The writer states: “My sorrow lasted for two years. For two years I mentally dated everything, even the purchase of a book, by its distance from Shiva’s death.”

I find myself doing this also re my own departed loved ones - marking time passing to exhort myself to “feel better”, as if grief has a time-limit after which you should “feel better”.

I found some articles on a memorial home’s web site useful, as follows:

Article #1:

Helping Yourself at Your Time of Loss (by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.)

“I seem to be falling apart. My attention span can be measured in seconds. My patience in minutes. I cry at the drop of a hat. Feelings of anxiety and restlessness are my constant companions. Rainy days seem extra dreary. Sunny days seem an outrage. Other people’s pain and frustration seem insignificant. Laughing, happy people seem out of place in my world. It has become routine to feel half crazy. I am normal I am told. I am a newly grieving person. – Anonymous”

“Feelings of shock, denial, numbness and disbelief are nature’s way of temporarily protecting you from the full reality of the loss. Especially if you had little or no opportunity to anticipate the death, you may feel dazed and stunned now and in the coming days.

“Trust that these feelings are normal and necessary. They serve as psychological “shock absorbers,” giving your emotions time to catch up with what your mind has been told. You may also find yourself crying (or laughing) hysterically, having angry outbursts or simply feeling foggy and unable to think.

“These are common feelings… Continue to ask others to help.”

[After the funeral] “Feelings of sadness and despair may grow stronger.”

“Believe in your capacity to heal.”

“… early in your grief journey, it may be hard for you to believe that you’ll get through this. You will. Over time and with the support of others, you can and will learn to reconcile this loss. Although your pain may get worse before it gets better, in the coming months and years the intense feelings of grief will soften.”

Article #2:

12 Insights into Grieving After the Death of Your Loved One (by Therese A. Rando, Ph.D., BCETS, BCBT)

“The journey through grief is different for all of us … we all take our own path.”

“Someone you love has died. This presents you with one of the most challenging experiences any human being can face—coping with the loss of your loved one in your life. In this article, you will learn about your grief (experiencing your reactions to the loss of your loved one) and your mourning (making necessary readjustments to ultimately fit that loss into your life).”
“Learning how to grieve healthfully and to mourn so that you can learn to adapt to life in the absence of your loved one, is no simple task. It often requires more work, takes more time and is more impacting than most people anticipate. These 12 insights will help you better appreciate the true realities of your own particular bereavement, respond more effectively to what you encounter in it and have more appropriate expectations of yourself along the way.”

Insight #1: Grief is personal and unique.

“Your grief is as personal and unique as your fingerprint; no one else will have the same bereavement experience as you and there is not one “correct” way to respond to loss.”

“There are literally 37 sets of factors that influence any individual’s grief. They combine to make your own bereavement distinct from everybody else’s—even different from that of others in your own family who are mourning the loss of the same person! Although one person has died, you and every other individual mourning that person actually experience different losses. This is because no 2 people can have the exact same relationship with another individual, and it is the loss of that specific relationship that is mourned when the person died. Also, it is because no 2 people ever bring to a situation the same strengths and weaknesses, the same past experiences or the same social and cultural conditioning.”

“Everyone’s grief is determined by:

“The nature and meaning of their particular relationship with the person who died.

“Their own personal characteristics and life history.

“The specific aspects of their loved one’s death.

“The social situation surrounding them.

“Their physical state.”

“Given all of the things that determine a person’s reactions, you can see why there is absolutely no way in which anyone else could grieve or mourn in the very same way as you. For this reason as well, there is no one correct way to respond to loss. While there are some common processes that people must undergo to learn to live healthfully with a major loss, everyone will go about these in their unique fashion.”


“Do not let anyone tell you how you need to grieve and mourn.”

“Be careful about comparing your experiences with those of others.”

Insight #2: You are dealing with more than one loss.

“With the death of your loved one, you experience so much more than merely one loss. The losses that go along with or develop as a consequence of your loved one’s death are known as secondary losses.”

“They are not necessarily secondary in terms of their importance to you, only in terms of their being dependent upon the death of your loved one. Secondary losses, like any other losses, can be either physical (for instance, the loss of a house because you cannot afford to live there anymore) or psycho-social (for example, the loss of a relationship). Part of mourning your loved one means identifying and mourning the inevitable secondary losses that develop for you as a consequence of your loved one’s death.”

“Secondary losses:

“The loss of the roles that your loved one specifically had played for you (for instance, spouse, best friend, sexual partner, confidant, cook, co-parent, travel companion).”

“The loss of meaning and satisfaction in the role you played in your loved one's life.”

“The loss of all of the hopes and dreams you had for and with that person.”

“Importantly, secondary losses can also occur in what is known as your assumptive world. This is the unique set of expectations, assumptions and beliefs that you formerly had held about life, the ways it works, spiritual matters and the existence of your loved ones. With the death of your loved one, you lose all of the assumptions, expectations and beliefs that had been based upon your loved one being alive (for example,
“he’ll always be there for me if I need him” or “she will make me a grandparent”).”

“Other more general, but still quite important, elements of your assumptive world that didn’t concern the existence of your loved one also can be undermined or violated by your loved one’s death. For example: your belief in God, your security in the world, your expectations about life being predictable and fair.”

“These are additional secondary losses you must deal with over and above the actual loss of that person.”


“Over time, identify the secondary losses that come to you as a result of your loved one’s death so that you can mourn them—they are part of your bereavement.”

“Work to revise your assumptive world insofar as elements of it are no longer valid or have been shattered because of your loved one’s death.”

Insight #3: Don't underestimate your grief.

“The depth and breadth of your acute grief reactions to the loss of your loved one should not be underestimated.”

“Any grief response expresses one or a combination of 4 things:

“Your feelings about the loss and the deprivation it causes (for example, sorrow, depression, guilt).”

“Your product at the loss and your wish to undo it and have it not be true (such as, anger, “searching” for your lost loved one, preoccupation with that person).”

“The personal effects caused to you by the assault of this loss upon you (for instance, fear and anxiety, disorganization and confusion, lack of physical well-being).”

“Your personal behaviors stimulated by any of the above (including, among others, crying, social withdrawal, increased use of drugs and alcohol).”

“You can experience your grief:

“Psychologically in your feelings, thoughts, wishes, perceptions and attempts at coping, through your behaviors, in your social responses to others and through your physical health.”

“Acute grief in the early days, weeks and months often surprises mourners because it can be so unexpectedly intense, can make you feel very different than before, may overtax your normal coping mechanisms, can sometimes leave you feeling totally numb, typically involves so many more aspects of your life than you would have expected.”

“For instance, you might be surprised to find that while you may have assumed that you’d have many emotional reactions to your loved one’s death, you didn’t anticipate that you’d have difficulty remembering what you needed at the grocery store or even how to get there. You can be stunned to discover that your normally clear thinking has diminished, your usual sunny disposition has temporarily disappeared, your concern for others has evaporated at this point or that your decision-making abilities are gone for now. The job or personal activities you’ve been engaged in for years might now seem strange and may require much personal effort, if you can muster it at all. These and an infinite variety of other reactions illustrate that with the death of your loved one, for a period of time your world—and your experience of being in it—is different than ever before.”


“Remember that this is a process and not a state you will stay stuck in. Give yourself permission to express your reactions in ways that work for you.”

“Recognize that your reactions may be quite diverse and different than you had anticipated, often making you feel very different than your usual self.”

Insight #4: Grief does not solely affect your emotions.

“Grief does not mean that you will only be sad. It is a myth that grief solely affects your feelings. Grief is a “whole person” experience, and you probably will notice it affecting most, or all, areas of your life. Some people can cope better in some areas than others (for example, you may be able to control it when you are at work, although you might have more difficulty doing so on the ride home). However, there are plenty of mourners who have difficulty across the board in all parts of their lives.”

“It is also a myth that sadness is the only emotion you will experience. There are a great many other feelings that can come with the loss of a loved one.”

“Other feelings that you may have could include: Anxiety, helplessness, feeling overwhelmed, fear, longing for your loved one, anger, impatience, guilt, depression, frustration, loneliness, feelings of unreality, abandonment, fear of going crazy, relief.”

“You also might experience: disbelief, confusion, impaired concentration, disorganization, feelings of unreality, numbness, obsession with your loved one, tension, avoidance of things associated with the death, intrusive thoughts and flashbacks, spiritual distress, impaired concentration, restlessness or agitation, a sense of meaninglessness.”

“Sometimes you may feel disconnected from others with whom you’ve previously been close. At other times, you can wonder
“what’s the use?” and wish that you could die too. While these are not abnormal in the abstract, if you seriously consider suicide or fail to take appropriate care of yourself in such a way that you put yourself at risk for death from illness or injury, then you must seek professional assistance.”

“Behavioral changes

“Additionally, you can expect that your behavior will be affected for a while. Among many possible reactions, you may find that you respond to others differently than you had before. Your behavior could be more disorganized and you might have little interest in those things that were formerly of concern to you. You may cry or, on the other hand, have no ability to shed a tear. You could have sleep problems and appetite changes; develop temporary problems in your personal, social and work functioning; and become physically run down or have specific medical symptoms that indicate stress, depression and anxiety. A lack of feeling of well-being is common. You should be aware that the loss of a loved one leaves you susceptible to illness and injury. As a result, you will need both to monitor yourself and take care of yourself, including getting proper medical care.”


“Expect that you will be affected in all, or many, areas of your life.”

“Make sure you have proper medical assistance with those reactions that are medical in nature and seek mental health assistance if you are suicidal, self-destructive or worried that your reactions are abnormal.”

Insight #5: It takes time.

“Your acute grief entails your having to gradually learn the reality of your loved one’s loss, and to appreciate that you cannot grasp that fact or its implications without sufficient time and experiences to “teach” you. Intellectually, you may know right away in your head that your loved one has died. However, it takes much longer to truly recognize this reality and internalize it to where it is something you can understand.”

“Even if it is not a sudden death, but particularly if it is, you have to learn that your loved one is no longer here through your experiences of bumping up against the world in their absence. This means that grief and mourning focus not only on your feelings, but also upon your comprehending that your loved one has died and your ultimate making sense of that reality.”

“Each time you want and need to be with your loved one—to see, touch, hear, taste or smell that person—and you are frustrated in your desire to do so, you “learn” once again that your loved one is dead. In acute grief, each pang of grief, each stab of pain when your expectation, desire or need for your loved one is unmet, brings you yet another “lesson” that your loved one is no longer here. You want to resist it and have the “lesson” not be true. Like a habit you don’t want to relinquish, you don’t want to let go of having your loved one in your life.”

“After countless times of experiencing an unrequited need to be reunited with that loved one, you learn not to need that person in the same way as before. This is not an all-or-nothing event. It is a process in which you have fluctuating abilities to grasp the reality of the death. This occurs until at some point it becomes a permanent realization for you, despite your wishes to the contrary.”

“If your loved one died suddenly, get yourself assistance in coping with the personal traumatization you experienced and the extra reactions you have.”

“If your loved one died from an illness, develop an accurate appreciation of how illness can affect those left behind and look for ways to rejoin the world if you had spent much of your time care-taking.”

Insight #8: Your grief will not proceed in a fixed sequence.

“Your grief reactions will not necessarily decline consistently over time or be over in a year, and will not fail to come up again once they subside. Despite popular notions otherwise, there is not a standard series of stages through which you must pass in your grief. Certainly, some reactions do precede others (for instance, if you do not acknowledge the reality of your loss, then you have nothing to mourn). However, for the most part there is not a rigid sequence that unfolds. Along with this, it is not true that grief reactions necessarily diminish in intensity in a straight line over time.”

“Depending upon the circumstances of your loved one’s death and your own situation as a mourner, your grief can fluctuate enormously. It may have ups and downs, twists and turns and absences and presences of different reactions as time moves forward. Often mourners can incorrectly believe that there is something wrong with them when they feel worse after feeling better for a while. Many times, this merely reflects their coming out of their shock, their increasing awareness of the reality of the death, or the fact that others are not offering support as they had earlier.”

“Even after your acute grief reactions are long gone, there may be many times in the future when certain experiences catalyze what are termed "subsequent temporary upsurges of grief" or STUG reactions. These are brief periods of acute grief for the loss of your loved one that are stimulated by something that underscores the absence of your loved one and/or resurrects memories of the death, your loved one or your feelings about the loss. Everyone can expect to have some of these in life after the loss of a loved one. While sometimes they can signal problems, far more often they merely are part of the normal living with the loss of a beloved person.”

Insight #9: Healthy mourning does not mean "letting go" of your lost loved one.

“In our society, there is a curious social phenomenon. On the one hand, we have relationships with dead people all the time. We learn about dead people in history, are influenced by them in philosophy and are moved by them in the arts. We celebrate holidays to remember them, dedicate buildings in their honor and visit museums to see how they lived. In virtually all aspects of our lives, we are in a “relationship” with the dead.”

“However, on the other hand we are told that we have to “get on with life” and “let go and put the past behind.” It seems that in Western society it is acceptable to have a relationship with a dead person as long as you didn’t know that individual personally. This is why you could be criticized for displaying a certain photograph of your departed loved one, but it is permissible to have Princess Diana’s face on a memorial plate hanging on your wall. Clearly, there is a double standard. You do not have to forget the person you loved and lost.”

Insight #10: Others will not understand.

“Others will not necessarily understand what you are going through or know how to reach out and support you. Despite the fact that people have lost loved ones from the beginning of time, the human race is not always very effective in consoling and supporting the bereaved.”

“Suggestions: Ask for what you need from others. Don’t expect others to know what your needs are and what your limits should be.”

Insight #11: Do not ignore the children.

“Because children do not respond exactly like adults does not mean that they don’t need to be given information about the death or to be included in the family’s activities and discussions around it. Consistently, people underestimate their children’s needs when it comes to bereavement.”

Insight #12: Many mourners have the wrong notion about what "recovery" means.

“Even if you grieve and mourn in the healthiest ways possible, there will always be an emotional scar that marks the loss of your loved one. Learning to live healthfully with that scar is the very best that a mourner can expect. Like physical scars, the scar of your loved one’s loss reveals that there has been an injury, but does not have to interfere with current functioning. Also, like physical scars, on some occasions there can be pain (for instance, if you bang the scar or the weather is bad), but in general it does not ache or throb.”

“Recovery” after the death of a loved one must be put in quotes to illustrate that it is a relative term. It does not mean a once-and-for-all closure in which you complete your mourning and it never surfaces again. There will be numerous times throughout your life when you experience the reactions mentioned earlier and these can be appropriate and expectable.”

“Closure is for business deals and bank accounts. It is not for major loss, where the heart and mind typically reflect the notion of forgetting our loved one and seek ultimately to learn how to live with our loss and adjust our lives accordingly in the absence of the person who is gone, but remembered. This does not mean that you would have chosen this loss or that you had been unmoved by it, only that you no longer have to fight it. You take it in the sense of learning to live with it as an inescapable fact of your life. Like many mourners, you can determine to make something good come out of your loss. This is another way to make a positive meaning out of what had been a negative event.”


“Look for specific ways in which you can transcend this event. In other words, work to make something good happen out of it.” [Ways in which to make your loved ones existence meaningful and to preserve their memory].

“Ultimately, healthfully integrate this loss and its effects upon you into your life story, but make it one chapter—perhaps the biggest and most profound—and not the whole book, as it can be when it initially happens.”


All the best to you, Tyson, and to all fellow RfMers who are experiencing loss and grief. This life thing is definitely not for the faint of heart. You know that old saying that after the storm comes the sunshine. Well, maybe. Sometimes not. Or not all that quickly. But there is hope that it will return. That is all I got - the hope that at some point pain diminishes and enjoyment in life resurfaces. Meanwhile, we have to be good to ourselves. I remind myself that my departed loved ones wouldn't want me to mourn indefinitely. Rather, they would be happy for my happiness and success and good times. Another reason to love them - for their generosity and kindness. Some days all I can say is that I am so fortunate to have had loving people like these in my life. And I hope that in time the memories will be sweet again, not heart-wrenching, and that a smile comes more readily than a tear at thoughts of them. I hope that for all of us.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/04/2020 09:42PM by Nightingale.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: January 04, 2020 04:54PM

Tyson: I think it is entirely understandable that your mom cries often about the loss of your dad. The hospital circumstances and how she feels about what happened are major complicating factors.

For myself, I question some medical decisions re my loved ones. I also regret not having had the opportunity to say good-bye at the end to the three people who represent the most impactful losses in my life. I keep mulling over a belief that I would somehow not feel as much grief if those factors were different. I am likely incorrect in that. But it's grasping at some details here and there to try and cope with the overwhelming feelings of great loss. Losing the physical presence alone of a beloved partner is a huge change to cope with, for your mom and all those who lose their other halves.

There is a lot of information available that can give you insight into whether a grief reaction may need professional intervention or not. It can take more time than we may think or expect but slowly people come to terms with their loss. Meanwhile, hopefully they have loving support and understanding to help them cope with the initial very tough time after a major loss.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: January 04, 2020 05:52PM

Tyson, I'm sorry for your loss. The loss of a parent can be quite difficult. In a way, it feels like being orphaned. I think it took me a good three years to recover from my mother's death. Even now, many years later, I still think of questions I want to ask her or things I want to say to her. I was with my mom when she died, and to this day I still sometimes think perhaps I should have handled things differently. I think death humbles you in a way. You realize you are just a (sometimes) bumbling human being doing the best that you can at any given moment.

After both parents die, all of a sudden you become the oldest generation in your immediate family, and that's a very odd feeling for a while.

People grieve differently. Whatever comforts you and gets you through the day is okay.

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