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Solaeris   

I'm not really sure where to start, but there are multiple categories this post could fall into, so I hope that's okay.

Introductions.  Sure.  My name is Amanda.  I'm 39 years old, I live in Pennsylvania, and I'm here because I've lost 4 people in the last 3 years, and I need some help figuring out how to deal with it all.  I'm at the point where it's so overwhelming that I'm numb.

So I'll start at the beginning.

In March of 2014, a close friend of mine (Chris) passed very suddenly from complications of oxygen deprivation due to advanced Pneumonia and H1N1.  I struggled to maintain after his death.  I struggled with guilt over his death, even though I know there was absolutely no way I was even remotely responsible for it, I felt guilty.  Maybe because I knew I wouldn't be able to make it in time to say goodbye (he lived in Illinois.)  Two months later, in May of 2014, my mom was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer.

So silver lining?  At least this forced me to focus all of my energy into my mother and gave me time off from the endless waves of grief and guilt I felt over Chris.

In November of 2014, after a complete hysterectomy and 6 sessions of Chemo, my mom was declared cancer-free.

In April of 2015, during a routine scan, the doctors found multiple malignant tumors in my mother's liver.  They gave her 12 months.  She died 6 months later; October 2015.

I told myself, and anyone else I could convince that I'd accepted my mother's inevitable death that moment in April when she said the word "terminal" out loud.  I did accept it.  But I never processed it.  The only times I cried during those 6 months of hell were immediately after she told me, and the night before she died, when I broke down in anguish and fear in the middle of her kitchen, while she lay dying in the hospital bed in the next room.  Everyone had gone for the night.  It was just my mother and I alone in her house.  And I finally understood what the word "orphan" meant.

In May of this year, a friend I've had since grade school accidentally took her own life.  She OD'd on heroin despite being sober for a year.  Her husband had died suddenly 3 weeks prior.  I haven't even tried to process her death.  

And finally, last week, July 20, my grandmother passed after battling dementia for 4 years.  You'd think this would be the "easy" one in comparison.  I got to say goodbye and tell her I loved her, even though she didn't know who I was for the past 3 years.  Easy isn't a word I'd use right now.  

I'm exhausted.  I'm completely and absolutely numb.  I'm not dealing with any of these losses because I haven't the slightest idea how.  I never even had a chance to properly grieve for Chris, but I don't even know what's proper anymore.

I'm not on the edge or anything.  I don't drink or use drugs.  I quite enjoy living and I have a lot of things I'd like to see and do before I return to the Universe.  But I owe it to myself to deal with this, and I recognize that I'm not.  Therapy isn't an option at the moment, and I'm quite good at psycho-analyzing myself.  I'm hoping maybe someone here could throw me a breadcrumb, or point me down a path towards feeling and doing rather then pretending everything's okay.

I do have a fantastic support system who've been through all of this with me.  But as supportive and incredible as they all are, none of them have suffered these losses or any number even close.  I lean on them, but they're outside looking in.  And that's okay.  As much as I wish silently that they understood, I'm so, so thankful that they don't,

I'm sorry for the long post.  If you read this far, thank you.  

-Amanda

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kayc   

Amanda,

I want to start by saying I am so sorry for each and every one of your losses.  Each of them deserves to be grieved individually.  I wish we could get it over with by grieving them as a group but it doesn't work that way.  

http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2016/04/in-grief-coping-with-multiple-losses.html

You mentioned feeling guilt...that is common in grief.  It doesn't have to do with our BEING guilty, however.  It's more like we're going through those "what ifs" second guessing ourselves, if we'd done this differently or that differently, maybe we could have a different outcome.  But of course that isn't in our power, and hindsight wasn't ours at the time, so much of what happens has to do with things beyond our control or our ability to decide.  That doesn't stop the guilt feelings.  Recognizing and acknowledging the guilt feelings and realizing the truth about them has been of help to me.  

http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2012/12/grief-and-burden-of-guilt.html 

http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2012/03/guilt-and-regret-in-grief.html

There is much much knowledge on this site, it warrants ferreting it out and processing it.  I'm glad you have a good support system.  That said, you're right, others can't begin to understand what they haven't gone through, that's one reason it's good to come to a site like this.  Here, there are others that have been and are going through grief, they get it, you're able to recognize your feelings are normal and you're not going crazy (as many of us have wondered about ourselves in grief).  This is the club no one asked to join.

My own mom died three years ago and I find it hits me sometimes out of the blue.  Nothing wrong with that, let your tears flow as they come, cry out, scream, however you feel the need to express it, it's your grief and okay to feel.  I'm nearly 65 and the other night, as I was going through something particularly hard, I missed my mom, I knew she'd understand, and I felt myself sobbing for her.  Those moments will come.

And your grandmother...nothing "easy" about that.  Just because someone is old (my mom was 92 when she passed) doesn't mean we don't grieve them when they're gone.  We can expect it, we can know they lived a long life, but that doesn't make us miss them any less, the finality still hits us.  

Your friends...my friend of 38 years passed from a sudden and aggressive form of cancer last year.  I still find myself being hit with that loss.  Now that I'm retired, I'd like to take a trip across the state to see her...but I can't.  Loss seems to be a part of life, death is part of the life cycle, but in our society we don't seem to view it that way, it hits us unexpected and hard.  There is no time frame, we all grieve in our own time and way and pretty much anything we feel is normal in grief.

I hope you'll feel comfortable continuing to come here and read and post.  You might want to check out the Tools for Healing section and Marty's blog, there are so many articles here, sometimes they're hard to find but you can look with the search bar.

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MartyT   

Amanda, my dear, I too am sorry for all the losses you've endured ~ and good for you for recognizing your need to process each of them. What does that mean? If you were planning a visit to a foreign country where you didn't know the language or the local customs, I imagine you'd spend some time preparing for your trip ~ reading guide books, talking to others who have been there, etc. When we suffer a significant loss, it can feel as if we've been dropped in the middle of a foreign country without a clue as to where we are, how to speak or understand the language or how we'll ever find our way back home. Grief can seem like that ~ totally disorienting and confusing. But you've found your way here, and you are not alone.

I hope you'll take Kay's wise advice. Do some reading about what is normal in grief, which will help you to feel less "crazy" and alone as you experience your own reactions. (Browse through the articles listed on these pages: Marty's Articles  and Voices of Experience. See also our Grief Bibliography page.) Get to know some of the other members here by reading their posts and learning what they're doing to cope with their losses. Consider finding an in-person grief support group.

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Solaeris   

Thank you, both, so much for your responses and your kind words.  I will check out all of the links supplied, as well as read through the other posts on these forums.  I appreciate the advice and support; it means a great deal to know I'm not alone.

 

Thank you, again.

-Amanda

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Joy1974   

Hi Amanda.Im so sorry for all your losses,you've been given a crappy deal, most definitely.I just lost both my parents within 14 months of each other, my father just on July 10th.My grandfather has pretty advanced Parkinson's and is not going to be around that much longer,and my only sibling has muscular dystrophy which could take him from me to if it starts affecting his heart.

In my experience, we all have different ways of dealing with our Grief.Im a single parent of three with a very small support system,so I cry.. a lot.I write, and I wrote poetry for both my parents.I do as much as I can for my grandpa,because I love him, but it's also a way of honouring my mom.I spend time at my mom's favourite park with all the geese and ducks she loved to feed.I do those things,because  she was my very best friend and it makes me feel closer to her somehow.

I was at the hospital the entire week with my mom ( she passed a week after her metastatic breast cancer diagnosis, nine years after beating it or so we thought) But I went home to rest about 7 hours before she passed.I still feel some guilt over that, even though my brother and his wife were with her.I don't think my being there would have benefited her as she went downhill so quickly and I was just sobbing and howling incoherently.

Imo, the best thing we can do is try to remember them for what lessons they taught us in life, and honour them with every step we take by being the best "us" that we can be.Thats what your loved ones would have wanted for you :).

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Solaeris   

The nights are bad.  Most nights anyway.  

I'm a gamer.  World of Warcraft.  I've made some absolutely amazing friends through this game who are wonderful and incredible and supportive.  But I'm a night owl.  When everyone takes off at night and I'm alone, reality sets in.  The silence is deafening sometimes.  I understand that phrase now more than ever.  It's what made me seek out some sort of support group or... well I guess this.  I'm an open book and I wear my emotions like clothes.  I'm also an empath - and that comes with more complications than I can even begin to sort through.  I'm alone with my own emotions when it's quiet in the middle of the night.  3AM.  I'm so used to being able to deal with everyone else's emotions that I've rarely been able to take stock of my own.  Problem is, I can turn "off" the empath part of me at will.  Bigger problem is, sometimes it won't turn back on, and I become numb.  And now we've come full circle.

One of the issues I'm trying to work through is "well-meaning people."  Let me explain.  The flowery, Hallmark-y, cliches that everyone says to anyone who's grieving (mostly because they don't know what else to say, and they're trying to make themselves feel better) literally make me roll my eyes and sing "blah blah blah" in my head.  I can't help it.  Grief lasts longer than sympathy, and the casual head-tilted "how are you doing" coupled with a side-hug and a pat on the back make me want to scream.  What do you say to that?  "I'm fine"? cause I'm not.  "I'm doing okay"? cause I'm not.  What about, "insert truth here?"  People don't usually want to hear the truth; they want to hear, "I'm hanging in there," after which they'll say, "One day at a time" or "I'm here if you want to talk" - which they almost never mean absolutely, and they don't have to mean it because if they have to ASK "how are you doing" then they obviously aren't one of the handful of people who are part of your integral support network, and you'd likely not want to talk to them anyway.  And then comes the side-hug and back pat.  Rinse.  Repeat.

I promise, I'm not as jaded as I sound.  I just have trouble dealing with people who claim to be "here for me" in the immediate aftermath but are nowhere to be found after the lasagnas have been eaten, and the funeral bill's been paid, and the flowers have died.  Grief lasts longer than sympathy.  Grief lasts longer than the support my mom's friends promised to show me but have since devolved into "liking" pictures of my cats on Facebook and pretending that's enough interaction with me for today.  It's alarming and frustrating and intensely sad.  Those who held my hand at her funeral can't spare five minutes to call and have a less-than-artificial conversation with me?

What's even more sad, to some degree, is the people I've met in the ten years I've been playing World of Warcraft have been my rock.  These people have never met me in person, but they don't shy away from the visceral, raw emotions and the gloopy, tear-filled breakdowns when it all gets to be too much sometimes.  When everything blends together and I'm not even sure WHY I'm so emotional.  Those moments are few and far between, but what does that say about people who've known me since I was 5 verses people I've known for less than 10 years but have never even met face-to-face?

Writing is my outlet.  I write a lot.  I'm sorry that I'm using this thread as a sounding board.  None of you know me.  But you've shown me great support and understanding.  Thank you for that.  One step closer right?  One day at a time.  (eyeroll)

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kayc   
4 hours ago, Solaeris said:

Grief lasts longer than sympathy

Wow, in my 12 years here this is the first time I've heard this, and it is so true!  I'm going to have to try to remember that.  Yes, grief lasts longer than sympathy, unfortunately.  Most of the "sympathy" we can do without as people simply can't begin to know what we're going through, not having been there themselves.  Sometimes I wish they'd say nothing, and just be there.  But people are in a hurry and they want us "over this" and back to ourselves, neither of which will happen.

I'm somewhat of a night owl myself, although not by choice...I go to sleep okay but then I wake up 2-4 hours later and cannot go back to sleep, my mind won't shut off during the night.  Sleeping aids seem to make me sleepy but still I lay there thinking and don't go to sleep, so I don't take them.  I've always loved the quiet of the night, but not when my brain won't shut down.

Not sure why the eyeroll at "one day at a time", that piece of advice literally saved my bacon.  When my husband died, I would worry about doing the next 40 years without him, and "one day at a time" reminders would help me put aside the future and focus on today, I can do today, not sure I can much more than that.  I still lean heavily on that advice, reminding myself when I start to move beyond it.

This forum is my connection, like your gaming is yours.  It's true, we can really get to know someone on line, we pour out our thoughts and feelings more than we can with others, they are going through the same thing, they get it...they get us.

I can see how being an empath would be hard sometimes.  Like some gifts, it could sometimes be burdensome.

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Solaeris   
16 hours ago, kayc said:

Not sure why the eyeroll at "one day at a time",

Because it seems to be the default "advice" from people who aren't around for the truly hard times.  Yes, it's actually great advice, but it seems like it's thrown around far too often for just about everything.  I say it to myself; so maybe that makes me a hypocrite.  I guess I'm okay with that sometimes.  I'm just trying to deal, some days are better than others.  Perhaps I should just appreciate that people are willing to express sympathy at all, which I do.  I'm just frustrated.

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Joy1974   

Grief does last much,much longer than sympathy, that's is so true."call me if you need anything",  in my opinion,is what people say because they feel they have to say something, without  having to actually commit to doing anything lol.

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Hi Solaeris,

 I read your post and felt a need to respond as I relate so much to the 'too many to handle' tag.  I just lost my uncle (a second Dad to me) last week, my best friend a month prior, my Dad a year ago this Friday and my cousin (like a brother) 16mos ago.  I can't help but feel anger and resentment - the typical 'why me' - at the amount of loss that has been placed on my lap.  This last one of my Uncle was the only 'expected' one as my Uncle had a terminal diagnosis but we thought we had months; meanwhile we only had 7 days.  The grief is overwhelming and almost impossible to process as it is muddled with the others.  Feeling paralyzed and exhausted.  That said, so thankful for these forums as to me, there is nothing like someone else 'getting it' and knowing what this feels like.  I have many supports but none of whom truly 'get it'.  Knowing that others are riding a similar wave is comforting, although devastating that we are in this position.  Ride safe Solaeris, know you have friends riding with you! 

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Solaeris   
1 hour ago, bombergirlt said:

Ride safe Solaeris, know you have friends riding with you! 

Thank you.  It's awful in and of itself that there are others who do get it, because I wouldn't wish that on anyone.  But it's also a comfort to know, even amidst grief and anger, that we aren't alone, even when it feels like it.   I'm sorry for everything you're going through.  And if I could give you a hug, I would.

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Solaeris   
11 hours ago, Joy1974 said:

"call me if you need anything",  in my opinion,is what people say because they feel they have to say something, without  having to actually commit to doing anything lol.

It has to be one of the things that absolutely infuriates me.  I never say that to anyone.  What I DO say is, "Let me come over and clean your house" or "I'm taking you out to dinner" or "Drop the kids off at my house for a few hours so you can rest."  We should be DOING instead of offering to DO.  Because, you know what, in the midst of tragedy, people don't know "what they need." And having someone walk in and take care of the little things like walking the dog, or doing a load of laundry, or dropping off pre-made meals, those make ALL the difference.  If you truly want to help a grieving friend, DO.  Don't offer to DO.  Just get in there and do it, whatever IT is.

When my mom was dying, those last few days, in her home (mine now), when there were scores of people coming in and out to stand vigil, my best friend dropped every responsibility she had to drive over and pull me out of the crowd.  She took me to dinner.  We went to the beach and sat in the shade in our matching gravity chairs.  She held my hand in public when I felt like I was going to collapse.  Those were enormous small gestures, and her love got me through. Still does today.  She was on vacation in North Carolina when my grandmother passed, and she started packing up her car to drive home 5 days early just to be with me.  (I told her not to come, because it was a different situation, but the fact that she would have meant the world to me.)

Those of us who have known grief have a better understanding of what to do for our loved ones when they are suddenly thrust into this world.  So yeah, don't offer, just DO.  Makes all the difference.

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kayc   
19 hours ago, bombergirlt said:

Hi Solaeris,

 I read your post and felt a need to respond as I relate so much to the 'too many to handle' tag.  I just lost my uncle (a second Dad to me) last week, my best friend a month prior, my Dad a year ago this Friday and my cousin (like a brother) 16mos ago.  I can't help but feel anger and resentment - the typical 'why me' - at the amount of loss that has been placed on my lap.  This last one of my Uncle was the only 'expected' one as my Uncle had a terminal diagnosis but we thought we had months; meanwhile we only had 7 days.  The grief is overwhelming and almost impossible to process as it is muddled with the others.  Feeling paralyzed and exhausted.  That said, so thankful for these forums as to me, there is nothing like someone else 'getting it' and knowing what this feels like.  I have many supports but none of whom truly 'get it'.  Knowing that others are riding a similar wave is comforting, although devastating that we are in this position.  Ride safe Solaeris, know you have friends riding with you! 

I'm so sorry, I know what it is to have multiple losses, they seem to pile on top of each other, yet it's important to grieve each one individually.  It's overwhelming.  This forum has been a lifesaver to me, over and again.  Expressing myself and knowing there are others that "get it" has meant so much to me.  Marty listed this article once and I've saved it, about multiple losses, I hope it is of help to you:
http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2016/04/in-grief-coping-with-multiple-losses.html

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Solaeris   

Tonight's one of the bad nights.  So I write.  Poetry.  And I wanted to share this one with you all.  Hope that's okay.

What You Have Left

There's a moment when you realize
What you have left is
Less
Than what you have to give
And your thoughts drown out the silence in the night
Shifted between your fourth cup of coffee
And that ten-season series crime drama
You've been binging for the past 3 weeks
And for those brief moments you let yourself forget

You believe yourself strong enough
To stop it all from crashing down
But hell, even Atlas shrugged
And while those who cannot share your burden 
Compliment you on your ability to swim against the current
You know the truth
The memories act as driftwood
Holding you afloat
Just long enough to breathe again

The gulf between what is
And what should have been
Is the abyss you tread
For it isn't just the grief that
Slams you into the wall
It isn't just what's gone 
That takes your breath away
It's all that will be
And what won't.

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kayc   

Wow!  That is really deep.  I think that affects me more than any I've ever read.  It's the little things...the series you were watching together, the cup of coffee you no longer get to share together, the little things that hit you so hard...the memories that sustain you, but they can be like a double edged sword.

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