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Acceptance/denial?


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Hi everyone,

My beloved father passed on 3/30/06 and I've read a few grief books that discuss the different "phases" we all go through when grieving. I know that denial is the first phase and while I went numb and didn't want to believe what was true for a bit after the first two months I accepted that I'd never see or talk to Dad again. I was pretty much a miserable wreck during that period but over the past month or so I've been able to get through most days without breaking down and have been social, going out, etc. However, whenever I see or hear anything that reminds me of Dad I start to cry then my mind seems to shift to "don't think about it" mode and I carry on with what I was doing. I was wondering whether blocking out painful memories means that I'm actually still in the denial phase? I do have days of consant sobbing and heartache so bad that I don't think I can go on, but on the days where I put up my mental blockade I manage and can do the things I've always done before Dad's death. Does this make any sense? I was just curious whether putting up that blockade means that part of me remains in denial.

Kathy

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Hi Kathy D,

I just want to let you know that as we go through our grief journey we go in and out of the different steps of grief... SO one day you could be in deniel and the next week you could be dealing with the acceptance of the death.. I hope this helps you... Take care and I will pray that God will give you the strength to make it through your grief journey. Shelley

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Kathy,

I don't think that your mind is denying it. I have done the same thing. My Mom died in November and there are times when my brain goes idle and the thoughts of her death creep into my mind and I try to force them out because I cannot conceiveably cry all the time or every place.

I too have times where I just cry and cry but then I realize I've got things to do and a life to continue on with and kids to take care of. I get up and do what I need to do and when I am busy the sadness seems to float away.

In these months since my Mom's death I have learned that I need to take time for me to digest, if you will, the reality. I cry, but not like at first...you know, pretty much all the time. I get misty eyed when I think of something my Mom would have liked, or something I would have called to tell her. I also realize that she would want me to be the best Mom I can be and to do that I think of her because she was such a wonderful role model. There are times when it does seem to be not real...that she is truly, physically gone....but I do know that that is the reality. When I do have a cry, I feel better afterward.

Many hugs and prayers to you during this difficult time.

Lori

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Hi KathyD:

Maybe, but I wouldn't worry about it. One of the things I've read in all this is that there is no hard and fast cutoff between these "stages". We do not necessarily go thru them in their "proper" order nor remain in them in any "usual" period of time. We may even go back and forth, due to the emotional rollercoaster or relapses we may experience.

"Denial" as I understand it in griefwork, doesn't mean that you disbelieve that the death occurred. Its a coping mechanism meant to help you ease into dealing with the loss. You cannot fully accept the loss all at once, and so you do it bit by bit, and you go numb or refuse to do certain things.

Take me for example. I refuse to go down my old street. I only live nine-tenths of a mile away from my Mom's old house, in which I lived with her for her last 10 years. (And for my first 22 years. I'm 43.) Someone else lives there now and I'm having a tough time with it. I "released" the house to them psychologically (thru prayer and just "letting go") when I saw that someone had moved in, but after seeing some of the things they are doing, I have relapsed a bit on my acceptance of their residence there. So I refuse to go down that street. Its not a big deal, its a residential street on the edge of town and I don't need to go down it to get anywhere, but when driving down Main Street (yes, my town has a "Main Street") I can go past the intersection nearest the house and see it as its only a block in. I've trained myself to look the other way. It may be a problem since my town isn't all that big, so I may move, but I'm trying to maintain my resolution to stay here till at least May 2007. (Personal reasons why that month/year.)

I am not worrying too much about it. I just asssume that it is a part of my griefwork and figure its one of those things that is happening that is creating a new me. I don't fight it. It is just what I am going thru now.

So don't worry too much about blocking out painful memories (even if they are happy ones about your Dad that is causing you pain). Its just your brain telling you to take it easy for a while, you can't handle certain things right now. In a few months (or later) you can think about those things, just like maybe next Spring I can drive down my old street and see my old house and gaze upon what those nutjobs are doing. (Still have some work to do. :blush: )

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Thank you all for your input and responses, they are a big help since I know I'm not alone and not reacting abnormally. I guess I was thinking that we move through the phases without regressing but I now know that I was wrong - maybe it was wishful thinking that the pain would go away once I entered the newest phase. I think Lori and Paul both hit the nail on the head with comments about the brain going idle at times and digesting the loss bit by bit. I was just worried that my brain was idling TOO much but also know that once the holiday season hits it will be forced into "drive;" I suppose subconsciously my mind knows things will get worse soon and is compensating for the future by allowing me not to think until I have to.

Thanks everyone, I really do appreciate what you all have to say!

Kathy

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KathyD,

I don't think you are in denial. I think we all have to "face" our loss or losses, but that we also can have some sanity saving tricks that we use. I have certainly faced everything, but sometimes I have to say sternly to myself, "Don't think about it!" because if I didn't, I would go nuts. It's like Paul not looking at the house. If we can save ourselves more grief by using all these things, what is wrong with that? So much the better, because I think we all still have our "hit full in the face with our grief" moments. They will come and go, and in the meantime we have to try to keep it together and live.

Hugs,

Shell

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Hi Kathy, It seems that I have been doing this, too, for the past 2 weeks. I just passed five months. And for the first time during this grief thing, I have been pushing away thoughts. And this is new for me. I have alot of things to get done with work so I've been so focused that I make myself stop thinking about Josh and painful memories/thoughts. But this weekend, it kind of creeped back up on me. I wish I hadn't tried to avoid it the past couple of weeks because it seems I'm doing extra crying this weekend. I know that when we're in social or work situations we may have to say "stop thinking about it right now." But not all the time for big blocks of time. I tried it and now it sucks. :( Atleast that's my perspective on the whole thing. Do you ever wonder how it's possible that you can cry so much???

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Kathy D, I have been doing the exact same thing, I will look at a pivcture of Karen and star to feel some emotion and then push it away. I am actually glad that you posted this, because I was wondering if I was the only one doing it. I haven't really seen anywhere else that someone was going through this. I do know, that as time goes on we will seem to be getting a lot better and then something will come up and it seems like we are back at month 1. I just got through the graduation of Karen's neice from Texas A & M and the days leading up to it were very painful and the emotions were out of this world (Not in a good way)it seemed like I had taken a lot of steps backwards. That has happened to me before, and I know that it will happen again. It is all normal as we go through this.

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I also go through the steps over and over. My counselor tells me this is normal. I also took a class on the psychology of death and grief, and the professor told us he doesn't necessarily agree with the steps of denial, etc., because not everyone goes through all the steps and other people don't go through them in sequence. So don't get too hung up on those steps, they are only an approximation of what a lot of people go through, in some way.

He also told us he doesn't like the word "acceptance" -- he prefers "adjustment", because acceptance sounds like you decide the death was a good thing -- you're not likely to feel that way ever! But adjustment is a better way to describe how we try to incorporate the loss into our lives.

I find that I have more time now when I feel okay, since it's been more than two years -- but I still have times, like birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and also when something reminds me, that I feel the grief all over again, as if it were fresh and new. I'm told by people who have been widowed longer that it is still like that for them, too -- just that the times that they feel better get longer, and the crying spells are fewer, but they still happen, and probably always will. I decided the other day that I have permission to NEVER "get over" his death, and that made me feel better -- I didn't realize how much pressure I was putting on myself to "get over it". It's easier to just realize I will always miss him. But I do believe his spirit is here watching over me, which is comforting.

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Hi All,

I am in between some of the stages of grief, I do not know if I just made myself not think about it or if I am just in deniel... I often wonder when or if I will see my parents again... But remember they are dead... SO I really do not know what is happening right now... Take Care Shelley

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