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It’s been 6 months dad passed but not able to grieve.


Esa

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Hi everyone, thank you to anyone offering advice on this. My father (69), passed away 6 months back due to a heart attack, it was so sudden as he was in a very good health but the work stress got to him. The suddenness of it made my mom go into a state of shock and that’s when I (28f) realised that I’d have to be the strong one. I became my mom’s strength, she would cry for hours infront of me but I never let her see me cry. I knew it would be her breaking point. I closed myself from all the emotions and I stopped myself from dealing with grief. I behaved with everyone how I behaved before dad passed and everyone was shocked yet happy seeing me so positive about life in general. But the truth is that I suppressed everything I felt. I was closest to my dad, and he always said that I was his bestest friend. I can’t put in words what my dad meant to me. Even after 6 months I am not able to think about my dad without feeling an excruciating pain in my chest. My whole body hurts just thinking he left me. I have for 6 months every day distracted myself with work or friends or something whenever his thought came. Every now and then it pops in my mind and I get so scared of feeling the emotions. I am running away from all of this but I am scared it’ll catch up someday. I am scared what it would do to me. I feel I am going to go back to depression. I miss him so much, I don’t know what to do about it. I talk to my husband about it and he makes me understand that slowly I’ll have to move on as there’s nothing I can do about it. Even though I know he is right but my brain still is not letting me. Losing him is probably the worst thing I could go through and I have been strong but I totally broken mentally. I have no motivation to work yet I work even though I don’t want. I have no motivation to get out of bed, I just want to stay alone all the time. I feel like running away from all the people and be alone for sometime. I don’t know what to do. Please if anybody has advice I’d be really thankful. I feel I am abnormal to be going through like this. 

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Marty should be along soon to address this...personally I think it might help your mom to see that you also miss him and that she's not alone in her grief of him.  One caution, it helps to recognize that although you're grieving the same person, your loss is different from hers.  (When people compare losses sometimes it can feel like it's being devalued.)

It might help you both to see grief counselors.  It's hard to navigate our grief without a roadmap and grief counselors can help up navigate our grief journey/

Feeling no motivation, loss of desire to work, enjoy hobbies, etc. is part of grief. http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2014/08/grief-understanding-process.html

https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2013/02/parent-loss-continuing-their-song.html
 

Six months is still fairly fresh in the scheme of things with grief...it took me probably three years to process the sudden death of my husband, he was barely 51!  Everyone's timeline is different and affected by things such as suddenness of death, our own coping skills and resilience, how much we help ourselves by getting grief counseling, journaling, posting/reading on grief sites, reading books and articles, and even attending grief support groups.  There is a lot you can do to help process your grief, I even did art therapy.  Letting yourself cry and feel your pain is part of the processing.  The more we learn about this, the more we realize that death is a natural event and what we are feeling is normal.  Unfortunately in our society we don't seem to get that message.  Grief can affect us similarly or uniquely, we learn there is no right/wrong way to grieve, only OUR way.  I guess if there is a wrong way, it is shoving it aside for years...it doesn't go away and has a tendency to find us even if we try to avoid it.  Since most of us need to work and function, some have found a way to mete out their grief, try to turn it off during work hours and resume it when we're home. Balance, if possible, is helpful.  In the beginning that may not be possible, however.

I read an article in What's your Grief about assimilating our relationship in a new way with them, I found that helpful. I'm listing the article with my two cents at the bottom:
What it Means to ‘Change Your Relationship With Grief’

There are things that you get over in life. For example a cold, your first breakup, or an argument with a good friend. More often than not, these things happen, they cause temporary misery, maybe you learn from it, and then you let bygones be bygones. Many experiences follow a similar pattern and with good reason. There are things we can and should leave in the past for the benefit of everyone, just imagine how much pain and negativity we’d all carry around if we could never forget and move on.

That said, it is a mistake to think that all painful experiences can and should be gotten over. There are times when such a shift simply isn’t possible – people can’t always change the way they think, feel, and behave simply because they want to. It’s common to think that, in these instances, one can go to therapy or take medication and be cured of these problems, but many people who’ve experienced things like serious hardship, trauma, addiction, and psychological disorder will tell you that healing isn’t about putting these experiences in the past, rather it’s about changing their relationship to the related thoughts, memories, behaviors, and emotions that exist in the present.

There are also times when ‘getting over’ something or ‘forgetting’ isn’t even desirable, such as getting over or forgetting about a deceased loved one and their ongoing absence. Still, many people mistakenly think that grief is something that can and should end at some point. Those who understand grief in hindsight may think this is a foolish mistake, but I would argue it’s common and understandable considering how little people know about grief before experiencing it. Especially those who live in societies where people are quick to believe that grief runs a linear and finite course and, as a consequence, encourage grieving people to push forward and let the woes of the past disappear like water under the bridge.

The reality of grief is that it often stays with you until the day you, yourself, die. For those who think of grief as being all negative emotion, I can see where this may seem unmanageable, but rest assured the impact of grief changes over time. As you change your relationship with grief – by changing how you respond to, cope with, and conceptualize grief – you will likely also find hope and healing. If you think about it, grief is one instance where there is a strong benefit to accepting its ongoing presence in your life because doing so creates more room for comfort, positive memories, and an ongoing connection with the person who died.

I understand this progression because I’ve experienced it, but I’m sure it can be difficult to believe if you haven’t. Initially, I thought about writing a post titled something like ‘5 Ways Your Relationship With Grief Changes Overtime’, but then I changed my mind. Grief is unique, relationships are unique and so your relationship with grief and with the person who died will evolve in a complex and nuanced way.  So, instead of generalizing and categorizing, I’m going to share how my relationship with grief changed over time.  At the end, please share your own insights about how your relationship with grief has or has not changed in the comment’s section.

At first I tried to outrun, wait out, hide from, and ignore grief.

Eventually, I realized my grief wasn’t going anywhere so I could either run from it forever or give in and experience it.  Once the cloud of grief consumed me, it was hard to see or feel anything else.  This sucked but only slightly more than the running.

In the early days of grief, it felt like all the light had been drained from the world and everything was dark.  But as the fog of acute grief thinned, a little bit of light crept in and things started to look a little less scary and a little more manageable.

I grew less intimidated by my grief and increasingly confident in my ability to handle its ups and downs, twists, and turns.  Once I was able to look grief head on, I realized it’s made up of both good things and bad.  Grief grows from the same seeds as love so after someone dies, one seldom exists without the other.

Over time my relationship with grief has changed.  I see it now as something as nuanced, complex, and beautiful as my relationships with those who have died.  Though its ongoing presence is sometimes challenging, I embrace it because it’s a source of love and connection with those who have died.

---What’s Your Grief
https://whatsyourgrief.com/changing-your-relationship-with-grief/

 My Footnote:

At first I was in shock, terrified, anxious.  Friends disappeared, adding to the hurt and confusion.  I felt alone, abandoned and didn’t know a roadmap through this.  I tried rebuilding my life but was thick in grief fog, no clarity of thought and everything I tried was disastrous.  It took much time to process my grief, but I did, through allowing myself to feel the emotions, pain and all, and not trying to cover them up or rush through this.

I found that grief is not 100% negative, but there’s benefits to having gone through this.  I began to look at life and death differently.  Rather than hating my loss and grief, I began to see the benefits of  having experienced this.  I became more empathetic, more able to help someone else going through it (comforting with the same comfort God has comforted us), I began to appreciate each day and value life as a gift and live in the present moment.  I found purpose again. 

I’ve discovered that grief isn’t for a set period of time, but is with me for life, although it evolves throughout my journey and changes form.  I’m no longer afraid of it, it has become my constant companion as I’ve learned to coexist with grief.

Little by little I’ve built a life I can live.  Finding balance, interaction with others, and solitude, time with my furry family.  Activities, not to crowd out the pain, but to experience life even with its changes.

One of the benefits as I’ve had to tackle life and its decisions on my own is the confidence its built.

I’ve given myself permission to smile and realized that it is not my grief that binds me to him, but our love, and that continues still.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I know this is lengthy but I wrote this article at about ten years out of the things that I've found helpful...I'm hoping you and/or your mom might find something helpful in this as well, if not now, on down the road.  I don't want you to feel on your own in this, you're welcome to come as often as you want to this site.

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH GRIEF

There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.

 

 

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