Reframing grief into manageable pieces

jlj48January 8, 2007

I know the title sounds a little odd, but I continue to have trouble coping with my parent's deaths - 7 months apart. I seem to function best when I don't think about them at all. It seems that remembering them drags up what I know longer have - then I remember HOW they died, and I just cannot cope with that. So I just keep busy, which is avoidance I know. I think people may think I'm crazy. Because I'm not really dealing with my feelings, my overwhelming sadness comes out unexpectedly - often in church. I feel like people are thinking "why aren't you over this already?, it's been almost 2 years!".

For me, it's just sad enough that I lost people that I loved so much and I have this void in my life. I know that death is a part of life, and I believe in heaven, and I believe I will see them again. I think what I can't get past is WATCHING them die, and being so unprepared for it all, and inexperienced with it all, and all of the stress in dealing with my family members though it all. I am trying to reframe these memories into something more comforting and understandable, and logical. Does anyone do this? How do you do this? I don't want to go through the rest of my life in this anguish and being unable to view pictures of my parents or just remember them joyfully.

Thanks, Joanie

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I don't think anybody will think you are odd or crazy because you are still grieving. If they do, they haven't experienced it themselves. You went through two very traumatic events within 7 months and perhaps you have delayed stress reaction. Anyway, you have a right to what ever feelings you have.

Have you considered going to a grief group or some counseling? It may give you some tools to deal with this. Grief can often lead to clinical depression and that is something to get ahold of before it grows. Best of luck to you and please make a plan and let us know how you are doing.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 5:32PM
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You mention that you go to church. See if you church or another in your town has a griefshare program. The curriculum covers some of the very issues you have mentioned. You can check for group locations at One thing you need to consider is you are really going through TWO grief processes, not just one. That definitely complicates things. My husband and I lead a griefshare group at our church, specifically for those who have lost a child, but most groups are for any type of loss.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2007 at 9:29PM
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Dear Joanie, I know how you feel. Hang in there...
I lost my brother suddenly & unexpectedly just this past July. He was only 48. It has been such a shock. We are still trying to deal with him being gone. I never thought he would be the first to go. This is the first time I have lost someone whom I loved so much.

The hardest part is watching our mom grieve. She is having such a hard time even though she is a very strong person. Thank God she is still in good health.

There has not been a day that goes by that I don't think about him. I miss him so much.

We were on vacation when he had the masssive heart attack. He was on life support for a couple days & held on until I was able to get home...he passed on his own about 2 hours after I got to the hospital, so I was able to talk to him & reassure him I would help take care of things.

Just thinking about the sequence of events, the initial phone call & just reliving the sinking feeling when I first got the news, then when I got to the hospital & talking to him. I kept asking him to wake up, but it was not to be. (he had been brain dead since the afternoon he had the heart attack--the EMT's tried reviving him for 20 min. & then got him to the hospital.)

I keep thinking of whether he was hurting or what he was thinking those final moments. Thinking of all the events, the funeral, everything. I wonder sometimes if he can see everything going on since he's been gone.

Like you, I function best TRYING not thinking about this. I try to block it out, but I wonder if it's a "healthy" thing to do. I wonder if thinking it through, talking about it, & crying it out, will get the pain out of my system. There are times when I sit & start thinking & I have to stop's just too painful. I miss him terribly & can't imagine what it's going to be like without him anymore. We used to be regulars at our Sunday Masses, now, because of time constraints & having to help take care of mom, I am lucky when I can get myself to church. When I am there, the emotions let loose. I know he must be in Heaven watching over us. (I had the previledge of baptising him before he passed.)

I know it's only been about 6 months, people keep saying it will take time. Everyone was great at the beginning. I had a great support system. Now, everyone has gone on with their lives. I am alone in my grieving. Even my husband has commented that it's time to move on. He commented that
even though my brother is gone, our daughters & he are still here & living. I know he's been very patient, but he has not been emotionally support at all. I've been told, "Men are wired differently." I can deal with that...I know now, that no one understands what it feels like, unless they've experience a loss themselves. I have been to a couple different grief always turns out to be a crying fest for me, so I have not gone in a couple months.
I hesitate to call any of my "friends" to talk about things, I don't want them dreading our conversations, so I just don't call them.

To add insult to injury, we are going through a messy & emotional probate with his wife. (Another long story, but in a nutshell, she thinks we are trying to scam her out of things & is totally paranoid, when all I have done is help her since my brother passed away. We are doing everything by law & trying to follow what his wishes were. Unfortunatly, the draft of a living trust he had can't be used because it was never finalized.The marriage had its share of problems & my brother thought they might be divorcing a couple years ago.)
It has been a slap in the face that she is thinking this way, she has not once said Thanks for your help & support. Her behavior shows great disrespect for my brother.

Going through the holidays was very rough for me...I am glad they are over.

Thank you for listening...I don't know what the answer is to lessen the pain. I wish I knew & I could pass it on to everyone who has ever lost a loved one.
For me, I hope that once the probate process is over, we can start grieving properly....take care & I send you a great big hug....


    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 11:15AM
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Thank you Mary for sharing your story. You're so right in that everyone has gone on with their lives. My husband, too hasn't said anything about my continuing grief, but I know he thinks it, I can tell with his responses sometimes that he is thinking I should be moving on. And I am so trying and do great when I don't think about them. And we have junk in our family too. My brother thinks we are trying to scam too. He is angry that we kept some of Mom and Dad's things - things in the will that we were supposed to have. He thinks we should have sold EVERYTHING in an auction and divided the money equally. He has sent us all hate mail and doesn't speak to us. I could go on and on but the point is he makes the grieving process harder. Yet at the same time I worry about him. He can't be okay treating us like he does. I know he is hurting too.
And Scarlett - I have not gone to grief counseling simply because I do not want to sit there and relive the ugliness of it all and cry and cry. I have done so much of that already. That is why I am trying to reframe some of this in my head. Thank you Angela for the griefshare idea. I had not considered a grief group before for the same reason I have not done individual counseling. But maybe if I KNEW I would get some coping tools, and maybe if I could just listen, MAYBE I can do this. I will see if there is one in my area. Thank you all.
I am grateful for this forum and pray for you all from time to time - that your grief my be bearable.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 3:00PM
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The other thing about a grief group is it's so good to be with other people that understand what you are going through.....they won't ever make you feel like you "need to get over it"......I have a couple women that I now call my "grief friends" who have also lost children......we really enjoy each other's company and we feel comfortable crying AND laughing together.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2007 at 5:42PM
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