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How do we know if we're grieving the right way ?


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Greetings,

My mother died suddenly and very unexpectedly of a heart attack on february 8, 2021 (worst night of my life). It was so sudden and heartbreaking, and I felt so lost that I tried to help myself out, I read books on grieving, I contacted a counselor to help me (I've had one session so far and it went good) and I've joined two facebook support groups. At first, some of the posts seemed to help me, I found people who were going through the same thing I was but tonight I started to feel differently. Suddenly all I saw were sad posts about good people as heartbroken as me and some were saying it's been over a year and still no improvement in their moods or spirit . Tonight, I've also had a discussion with my older sister, we don't talk about it much since it happened but tonight we did and I thought it would make me feel better to share things , to hear her going through the same feelings as I was but to be truthful today was the first day since it happened that I felt more normal, not totally broken and completely anxious and talking to her and reading the posts on facebook brought it all back and all the "almost good" I was feeling went away... I didn't show it to my sister because I wanted to support her but it brought me down. 

We were so close to our mother, she was our best friend, our best supporter, we saw her everyday, talked to her on the phone, went for coffee and just discussed everything with her, loosing her was not only loosing our mother but also our best friend, the anchor of our family. 

i joined the support groups because I was looking for hope, I wanted somebody to come and say "well it's been over a year , the road was rough, I'm not over it as it's not something we get over but I'm doing better and you'll see over time so will you and also here's what made me feel better... " So far, only one person ever wrote that. Should i continue being part of those groups if I don't feel like it's helping me ? 

When I read books about grieving, I'm left with the impression that in order to feel better and get over the worst part, I have to sit and cry and be depressed so as to go "through the grieving process..." , is that really it ? My mother was the most optimistic and cheerful person in the world , always seeing the bright side of things, always trying to help people get through things. I don't think she would want me to be sad from morning to sundown, feeling like my heart has been cut open. Not that I don't cry, I write her letters every night and when I do , I cry because i realize everytime how much I miss her. But i also want to honor her by doing something that we both felt strongly about like volunteering at an animal shelter. I used to volunteer at one and me and my mother would fantasize one day about opening our very own animal shelter, we felt so strongly about providing a safe place for animals. 

I've been taking care of my father since it happened, they were together 50 years so of course he's in shock, he was the one with health issues so he always thought he'd go first. The situation left him completely distraught, I took a leave of absence from work to be there for him and even though it hurts me seeing him like this, I wouldn't want to be far away from him. And I'm also helping my mom's best friend in some other way. I like taking care of people , always have and my mother was so good at it, she had such a generous heart like my grandparents. 

I guess what I'm asking is , how do we know how to grieve the right way ? If I decide to do something like volunteering, is that a good thing or would it be considered avoiding the grief and by doing so it will hit me like a ton of bricks later on ? Is it bad to want to do something to feel better ? And is it normal that being among other grievers in a support group or talking to my sister, makes me feel worst instead of better ?

I'm sorry about the long post, I feel lost, I don't know what I'm supposed to do and my mother is the one to whom I always turned to... 

 

thank you for listening... 

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I can assure you that there is NO "right way to grieve" ~ there is only YOUR way ~ and from what you've written here, it seems to me that you're doing just fine! YOU are the best judge of what feels right for you, given your unique personality, your own personal values and beliefs, what you were taught and the way you were brought up, your past experience with loss and all the rest. What works for one person may not work for another ~ It's a matter of trying lots of different things (like joining a Facebook group) and if something doesn't seem to fit your needs, it's okay to move on to something else. Your interest in volunteering sounds wonderful ~ and it's perfectly okay to step away from your grief for a time, doing something that brings you satisfaction and helps to make you feel better. After all, your grief will still be there waiting for you when you return! Clearly your mother has been a wonderful role model for you, and the best thing you can do is to follow in her footsteps and live a good life in her honor. Keep doing what you're doing ~ you're on the right path! ❤️

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8 hours ago, Marie0010j said:

tonight I started to feel differently. Suddenly all I saw were sad posts about good people as heartbroken as me and some were saying it's been over a year and still no improvement in their moods or spirit .

I am so sorry for your loss.  Loss of our mom involves not only loss of the person who raised us, our friend, the person we shared traits with, the person who taught us in life, but also our connection to our family history, the one who carried the torch, so to speak, and now it's passed on to us...it can all feel overwhelming.  I lost my mom 6 1/2 years ago, lost my dad when I was young.  All my adult life I focused on being there for her, listening to her, taking her to appointments, making sure I spent time with her.  But now suddenly I wanted to talk with her and she was gone.  Something changed, our choice was taken from us, and suddenly we can't reach them.

It's good to connect with others going through it to know we haven't gone crazy, we're grieving.  To know it's okay to cry, okay to feel as we do, that the anxiety and fear is normal in grief.  Not sure how to put this but imo, just like with the news, we don't want to over-saturate ourselves either...it's good to take walks, get outside, even if it's snowing.  You'll find your balance.  Marty has a good article...https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2013/12/finding-crying-time-in-grief.html It's good to have siblings to connect with, they get it.  We don't all grieve the same, that's okay too.  https://www.griefhealingblog.com/2013/10/how-we-mourn-understanding-our.html So long as we aren't avoiding grief (it has a way of finding and haunting us until we deal with it), it can be good to take breaks from it too if possible.  Spend time with children, puppies or dogs, they have a way of bringing us back into a good place, even if only for a few minutes.  And it's okay to smile. http://www.aliveinmemory.org/2013/05/30/learning-how-to-smile-again/

Also, don't worry if you're "doing it right" or what other people think, this is your journey, and our grief journey is as unique as we are and our relationships are.

http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2014/08/grief-understanding-process.html

Sending you thoughts of comfort and peace...:wub:

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9 hours ago, Marie0010j said:

If I decide to do something like volunteering, is that a good thing or would it be considered avoiding the grief and by doing so it will hit me like a ton of bricks later on ?

Volunteering is wonderful!  It's something positive we do for others but it benefits us the most!  It's not merely a welcome distraction, but you won't be volunteering 24/7, your grief will still be with you.  I've learned to coexist with my grief.  I lost my husband nearly 16 years ago and not a day goes by but I think of him, it took me years to process my grief, years more to find purpose, years more yet to build a life I could live.  Covid kind of blew that up but I am confident I'll build it back again when things have settled down.  I learned to take one day at a time, and I do that still.  My mom's death didn't hit me as hard as George was very much intertwined in my daily life and routines and interdependence, but it's different for everyone, I know some who were devastated by loss of parent and others who were relieved when their spouse died.  It really depends on you and your coping skills (and it sounds like you have them very well!) and your relationship with your mom.  I do want to mention one thing, sometimes people feel guilty if they smile or even if they eat something good, remember it is not our grief that binds us to them, it is our love, and that continues still. 

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I wanted to thank you both. I've read lots of the discussions that happened here before my registration was complete and you help so many people in so many ways. 

You remind me of the group of women i grew up with in my extended family, I was surrounded by warm, strong and insightful women who always gave me hope and good advice. 

I miss my mom everyday, I grieve her absence everyday, although I'm still convinced that she's there and helping me through it like she always did, that's why I write to her every night.

Some moments are very hard, but I don't want it to be just about hard moments, I want to remember things we shared that make me smile still and I want to continue doing things that meant a lot to each other. 

Her passing is so hard to understand and accept and I hope that at one point, i can come to simply stop wondering and trying to explain and just be at peace a little... 

Thank you again, so very much... :)  

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You are so welcome, and please feel free to post here any time.  It helps to express ourselves and know we're heard by people who "get it."

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I find I'm not good at the grieving thing, not that anyone is I'm sure but my head is often a mess and I don't know how to sort it out. I feel a lack of support around me, people already went back to their things and life and I'm still at the beginning of it. The people I could have talked to in my family are gone, in my family the women passed away before the husbands so I'm left surrounded by men, not that I don't love them but they don't talk about emotions. I tried talking to my sister but since she's as much a mess as I am, it seems we're not able to comfort each other, we're too close to it. My friends seems to be wanting to talk about ordinary things rather than what's eating me up, and I can't seem to be interested in little everyday things.

I'm supporting my father through this , I don't even know if I'm doing enough. But for sure, he never talks about my mom cause it's too painful for him. In his family, they were 9 boys and 1 girl, they don't talk or share feelings. He lost a lot of people, only has 2 brothers left but he never talked about his losses , never shared anything so I don't think he'll start now. 

I work in a school, a new job I started 6 months ago. Before I lost my mother, I had come to the conclusion that I didn't like my job or the people in it. My mother told me to find something that would make me happy. I used to work in an hospital and I've reached out to my old boss to see if there would be a position for me, she told me to contact her if I ever wanted to get back in the health sector.  It's not that I don't want to work as I think it would help me, it did a lot of good to my sister but feeling like I do now I don't want to go back to a job I didn't like and people that I never was able to get a little bit close to in 6 months... Usually my mom would be the one helping sort out the work thing, but for the first time she's not there. I've asked her to guide me but I don't know if she'll do it. Right now, I have a leave of absence until march 21 but everything is so all over the place , getting used to that new life that I didn't ask for, that I would just want to know where I'm going at least in one sphere of my life. 

 

 

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I understand.  Feeling confused, dazed, in a fog, it's normal in early grief and can take a while to get any clarity.  My advice is take whichever job is least stressful or brings you the most comfort right now.  I had to go back to work two weeks after losing my sweet husband nearly 16 years ago, it was sudden/unexpected, he had just turned 51.  I actually had to go in and do payroll day 5!  I don't know how I did it, but I had a supportive boss and coworkers and I'd go to the bathroom to cry (which fortunately was right next to my office), and my job felt like home.  We do have to support ourselves so we push through but I don't know your financial situation or how long you can afford to be off.  I did find that work was a temporary distraction, which helped.  It didn't always distract me though as grief has a way of hitting us anytime, anywhere. ;)

http://www.refugeingrief.com/grief-crazy/
And this one, even if not loss of spouse, sometimes other losses hit very hard too and this is applicable in those as well:
http://mikeunkelhaeuser.weebly.com/blog/widows-brain

You're normal if that's any consolation.  (((hugs)))

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