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Panic attacks since losing my dad

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I lost my father to cancer 2 months ago. He was diagnosed in January, so it all went really fast. I initially felt some relief when he passed away, as he was in a lot of pain and it was extremely difficult to see him deteriorate physically in such a dramatic way. I felt a little bit numb for a couple weeks but then life sort of went back to a somewhat normal routine. However I've been experiencing crippling panic attacks for a few days. Everytime there's been a different trigger for them I think - like hearing my boyfriend talk to his dad on the phone and realizing I would never get to talk to mine again, or waking up from a bad dream.
I am really struggling right now and I was expecting to feel better at this point but somehow I feel a lot worse than right when my dad died. Any tips on how to deal with this? I have never lost anyone close before and had no idea grief could have such a physical effect on someone.
Thank you

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I'm so sorry for your loss, my dear, and I welcome you to this warm and caring place.

The fact that you're only just now reacting as you are is most likely due to the fact that all of that initial shock and numbness have worn off, and you're now being hit full force with the magnitude of your loss. Since this is your first experience with significant loss, it's not surprising that you feel like a visitor in a foreign country where you don't know the language ~ totally alone, lost and afraid.

I believe that knowing what is normal in grief can help you to better understand and cope with it, so I encourage you to do some reading about grief in general and about the death of a parent in particular.

It's also helpful to surround yourself with others who are experiencing a loss that is similar to your own ~ which is why I've moved your initial post over to this Loss of a Parent forum, where you are more likely to meet others whose fathers have died. You might begin by reading through some of the threads you will find here. Doing so will help you to feel less crazy and alone.

I'm also going to point you to some articles that I hope you will find helpful. Note that each of these articles includes links to additional readings at their bases. (I don't mean to overwhelm you with too much information. Oftentimes in grief, one's attention span and ability to concentrate are impaired, especially when the loss is so recent. You're only two months into this journey, and the loss of your father will be with you for the rest of your days. Over time you will learn how to carry your pain and cope with your reactions, but you must be patient and allow yourself whatever time you need.)

Grief: Understanding The Process

Physical Reactions to Loss

Anxiety Attacks in Grief: Tools for Coping

Parent Loss: Continuing Their Song

Bereavement: Doing the Work of Grief

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Marty, I had all of the articles but the last one, and in reading through it, it is very helpful in explaining how to do our grief work and why.  Good article!


I'm sorry you lost your dad...I too lost mine, when I was 29 and pregnant with my first child.  It was hard for me to realize my kids would never know my dad as he was someone special to me, I was kind of a daddy's girl.  I told my kids stories about him and kept his picture on display, so that they could get to know him that way.

I'm sorry you're having such a hard time, it sounds like classic grief to me.  When I lost my husband, my anxiety was at an all time high, I didn't see how I could live the rest of my life without him, I had physical manifestations of grief that I had to see the doctor for and get treatment for.  In the years since, I've worked on my grief, all of the things the last article mentioned.  My grief counselor wasn't the best (I live in the country, not any choices) but I learned so much from Marty here.  There is a section called Tools for Healing https://www.griefhealingdiscussiongroups.com/forum/29-tools-for-healing/ , she has a course you can take, and there are many suggestions throughout.  There is also a list of books https://www.griefhealingblog.com/p/grief-bibliography_21.html .

I'm sorry for your loss...I've learned through this place that there is life after loss, it's not the same but then neither are we, but I've learned to look for the good that still is in life, and to embrace it, no matter how small, nothing is too trivial to count...it's taught me to live in this present moment, so as not to miss anything.  Yes, we still have our sorrow, but I've learned to coexist with my grief.  In the beginning it's overwhelming and seems to drown out everything else, but we do get through it and begin to adjust so there's hope for us.  

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