Grief and a heavy sense of loss - what to do?

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I only really have one thing of hers – a piece of jewellery that I can't actually wear. It's in a little box in a drawer. When she first died and my dad gave it to me, I went through a stage of being a bit obsessive compulsive with it...I couldn't open the drawer without opening the box and then being a bit ritualistic about touching it a certain amount of times. It became quite stressful. I have a couple of photos of her up with a bunch of others from my wedding...but it's too painful to consciously look at her.

Don't know if you're crafty at all, but when you were talking about this the first thing that popped into my head was "shadowbox!" - Esp. if you only have a few things, it might be really healing to work on putting those things together in some sort of something you can see.

My mum liked flowers and pottering in the garden looking at her plants. I have some flowers that she dug out of her garden and gave to us and then we planted them back home. They are flourishing!

This is a lovely memorial and way to honor her!
 
About his lack of empathy and compassion. His insensitivity. His seeming lack of consideration. His poor communication style. His punitive use of silence – he did it when we were kids and still does it now.

^Honestly, you could be describing my father. He's dead now so I don't have to deal with him anymore. Actually that's not true. I deliberately had no contact with him from my early teens till just a few years before his death. Then I cared for him till the moment he passed away. How ironic.

But when he was alive & for most of my life when I went near him, he didn't show, express emotion. Cold, blunt etc.

He had a tough job - farming in remote areas of this country - and he only travelled away from it maybe once or twice. He was a veteran too and I think his service had an impact on his life. No attendance by him at weddings, funerals, family celebrations. No help when I was seriously injured. Worse, critical of my stumbling, pathetic attempts at recovery.

But he had his favourites & they got a different kind of father, neighbour etc.

He definitely set the 'temperature'. What a good way of describing that.

If there's not much else to discuss about him with T and of course you're well aware that there's no way you can change any of his behaviours then maybe do what I did and avoid? lol - I know I'll get howled down but honestly!

If he's as powerful as he wants everyone to believe he can change if it suits him. Maybe deep down, you know that your relationship with him isn't going to improve so there's loss in the knowing too?
 

barefoot

MyPTSD Pro
I get a sense of loss about also not having *him*, not in the roles you'd need...

I think it’s only really being highlighted at the moment because, at the moment, with everything that’s going on, I’m missing things about my mum. And they are not things he can step in and provide.

if there are other men in your

No, no father figures in my life. Which is fine - I don’t feel like I need one. I have a partner and we’re great but I don’t really want to talk about my mum to anyone. Not my partner and not my T. They are both strong supports and I can talk to them about lots of other stuff. But I don’t want to ‘grieve with them’ - whatever that means!

the first thing that popped into my head was "shadowbox!"

Not sure what a shadow box is - I’ll look it up! But if it involves consciously thinking about my mum...that’s what I’m avoiding really!

@blackemerald1 Sorry you had such a difficult relationship with your dad and that he had favourites who he treated more kindly. I get on with him ok on a surface/practical level. If conversations stay on a factual/practical level it’s fine. He’s great at things like boiler problems and questions about tax! But anything emotional or anything where you have a different view...nope!

I did email my T a couple of days ago to say that I was feeling deep loss at the moment and I mentioned that I was missing my mum. But I did finish by saying she didn’t need to reply and that I didn’t want to talk about it! I should be pleased with myself for baby steps, I suppose...?!
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I did email my T a couple of days ago to say that I was feeling deep loss at the moment and I mentioned that I was missing my mum. But I did finish by saying she didn’t need to reply and that I didn’t want to talk about it! I should be pleased with myself for baby steps, I suppose...?!
You should be pleased with yourself for steps. You can always decide if speaking about your mum is something you want to do. Maybe putting energy into not speaking is harder than speaking? I don't know. But why is it the 'truth' that not speaking is easier?
 

knuckles

MyPTSD Pro
I might be way off here - and I apologize if my words hurt or anger you.

From where I stand I see a possible connection between the struggles you have been/are going through and the increased focus on your mother - especially the comforting, loving and supporting aspects. I also see a possible connection to not wanting to speak with anyone about her - in the sense that the loss of her might hit home, on some level where it will be very painful, where you are still keeping her alive so to speak.

On another note, which may not be relevant to you I will share this: I still seek out loved ones that are no longer with me in physical form, when I need their support or guidance. I find that I can still connect with them on an emotional/spiritual level (or frequency). It's not easy for me (when I need them the most, in times of despair/pain, I can't "find" them); sometimes I re-read a communication or I immerse myself in certain pictures to re-connect with them. But when I "get it" there is no doubt; the sense of being blanketed in the unique "essence" of the one I'm thinking of is... I'd say it's unmistakable, but really I'm often a bit challenged. In that connection I am able to lean on their strength, support and love, and wrap myself in it for a while. It doesn't take away the grief, but knowing I can still reach them on another level does have a soothing effect.
 
I get on with him ok on a surface/practical level. If conversations stay on a factual/practical level it’s fine. He’s great at things like boiler problems and questions about tax! But anything emotional or anything where you have a different view...nope!

^It's ok - the same went for my father - talk about 'other' stuff and things were ok.

I'm wondering the same as @whiteraven - and I think that's a really good question to ask yourself... is not talking about your mother serving you well... or holding you down.

At my dads funeral a woman whom I had never met spoke about making sure we, as a family, didn't stop talking about our dad just because he was dead. That the mentioning of him in conversations didn't become the forbidden subject. That his manner of death did not become the prevailing last and only thoughts we had of him. That his rather unique spirit was kept alive by remembering him. Are you doing that?
 

barefoot

MyPTSD Pro
But why is it the 'truth' that not speaking is easier?

Because I know that speaking about it is very hard...? So, not speaking about it/her is easier. Emotionally.

I also see a possible connection to not wanting to speak with anyone about her - in the sense that the loss of her might hit home, on some level where it will be very painful, where you are still keeping her alive so to speak.

Hmm....sounds like you're saying I'm in denial...?

But is that really serving you?

is not talking about your mother serving you well... or holding you down.

Not talking about her keeps me feeling contained.


Are you doing that?

Not really. With my family, none of us really bring her up very much. Sometimes my partner talks about her – usually in terms of something that's reminded her of her. Often things that make us smile. So, for instance, we talked about how my mum would have been first in line to panic buy loo roll at the start of the pandemic! And I can do that for a little while. But I don't want to get into a big conversation about her. Talking about happy memories is excruciatingly painful. So, I'm just kind of baffled about why I would want to do that?
 
Talking about happy memories is excruciatingly painful. So, I'm just kind of baffled about why I would want to do that?

^I know what you mean. Obviously inflicting such pain on yourself is baffling.

I'm sorry I have to keep referencing the passing of my father but it's how I relate to what you're saying and doing. I loved him far more deeply than he loved me... I suspect. We disagreed on many things and as I've said for much of my life we were not close. but...

I think the idea with the talking is to normalise it. So mired in grief that touching on it is too excruciating. So, quite naturally, we don't. Who'd want to inflict that tsunami of emotional pain on themselves over and over?

I wonder do you want to be able to reminisce with others about your mum without being engulfed in pain? Or quietly remember her and find solace in the doing? Or do you want to keep it pushed down so you can maintain control for right now & function?

I realise that avoiding pain is the objective but there are different ways of arriving at that place of peace.

There's an in between method between avoiding & confronting (the pain) and it sounds like your partner has been heading for that sweet place anyway.

I could not do it... eg I had to ring & write to many businesses etc to cancel memberships, subscriptions, accounts etc. Each time I had to say or write over and over that my father had passed away. I cried after many of these moments. I had difficulty even writing it in an email... I was on auto for many of those moments and the only motivation

I had to continue doing it was to allow my mother the opportunity to not have to do it so she could rest & have some peace.

Having gone through that I was reluctant to speak about dad at all for a while. But things just kept coming up & because dad was such a patriarch much of what was going on involved him even in his absence? Does that make sense? Like business decisions..etc.

So incidentally and quite organically dad kept being referenced. Then it sort of spread into other topics so when I spoke with my mother about some of dads unique quirks... some good, some less than... we could see the humour..and initially at times, we couldn't bring ourselves to openly laugh but after quite a few of those moments we now can.. and that's led us into some other discussions about what he'd do, not do etc...

None of this was done without being confronted again and again with the awful, horrible reality that he's not here anymore. The lengthy silences where alone and in the presence of others.. we've just sat and reflected. And I'm so, so sad, so overcome still with aching grief that often I don't know what to do with it.

What I'm trying to say is that shutting it down, keeping that lid on - it takes so much energy. It does achieve what you want in the short term - absolutely. But in the long term, no it doesn't and I wish it could be otherwise.

I've tried to not make this post about me... just trying to explain that I was forced to confront my grief for many reasons and though I'm far from managing it - that it's another way for you to consider?
 

barefoot

MyPTSD Pro
I had to abandon this thread for a while as it felt too intense.

@blackemerald1 - you haven’t made it all about you at all so no worries there. Thanks for sharing and explaining and I’m sorry for your loss too.

I wonder do you want to be able to reminisce with others about your mum without being engulfed in pain? Or quietly remember her and find solace in the doing? Or do you want to keep it pushed down so you can maintain control for right now & function?

I don’t even really know!

It’s not that I particularly want to be able to reminisce with others about her. More that, if she does come up in conversation or if there is something that reminds me of her, it doesn’t feel so intensely devastating and painful and I don’t have to cry.

Or, if I think about her on my own, the same - to not feel so overwhelmed by a tidal wave of such profound grief.

Doing those things and having it feel like that doesn’t make the feelings lessen, so not thinking about her/talking about her seems like the only way to stop the pain of it...but, as you say, that takes a lot of energy.
 
Doing those things and having it feel like that doesn’t make the feelings lessen, so not thinking about her/talking about her seems like the only way to stop the pain of it...but, as you say, that takes a lot of energy.

^The feelings that you experienced initially and so soon after your mothers passing are overwhelming and I completely understand why that is so. I think it would be normal? Such a shock destabilises the rock upon which you've built a lot of your life.

In my case my father suddenly became unwell, was given a terminal prognosis and I cared for him almost continually till his death. Different in so many ways from your experience @barefoot. But then again, grief is grief. How we arrive at it doesn't diminish it's effects in a lot of ways.

People talk about time healing wounds. What a load of rubbish. I think though time does do something much more subtle. Perhaps not healing because that takes effort and work. But time gives us an opportunity to recover and find the courage to turn and face the grief. It's completely wasted if we don't take the chance it offers us.

If you wade through this crippling grief slowly and gradually accustom yourself to that feeling rather than have it overwhelm, after a while it holds you down less and less. I might add here that grief doesn't leave it just changes shape? Maybe one becomes more familiar with it and therefore it doesn't cripple.

I think you may want to consider what you'd like to have happen when thinking of you mother. Once you've decided what that looks like, what that might feel like then it gives you, your partner and therapist a place to begin. The motivation for dealing with grief is then more tangible.
 
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