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Wondering Where The Light Is...


MarieR

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Hi all...

I've been reading along and moving along. It has been a year and 3 months since my best friend died. I think I've moved thru alot of the intensity of my grief and now what I feel left with is something similar to the wreckage after a train wreck. I feel so afraid...so removed from the person I used to be. I am not myself...my old self. I kinda expected that, but I feel so unmoved by life right now. Nothing seems to thrill me...in fact everything seems to be a struggle to do. I have moments of feeling energetic and ok...but alot of this crappola too. I wonder if my mind is stuck in "negative" mode...am I pushing the grief too hard still, expecting myself to be free of it? Is it realistic to expect to feel joy and happiness and zest for life now...or do I need to cultivate that? My body feels like it has been beaten up, my mind feels like I'm missing a few screws. I am a mess..not sure where to start...not sure I have the energy to start. My body aches, I have headaches, weird stomach stuff...off balance somewhat. My muscles have never been so tense. I feel like i could collapse and at times that would be a welcome rest. I'm just feeling really crappy and now that alot of the dust has settled...I feel huge saddness and depression that my dearest friend died.I feel shell shocked. I don't know what I need.Anybody else feel this way? How do we pick up and move on? Marie

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Hi Marie,

First let me say that I am so sorry about your loss. I can't even imagine what it feels like to lose your best friend. It sounds like you're going through the natural grieving process to me. Have you considered a therapist or bereavement group? And if all else fails, maybe medication to help you through? I felt the exact same way after my mom passed away, but I am a lot better now with finding out about this website, therapy, medication and a great support system of friends and family. Maybe Marty has suggestions about how to handle this. She is wonderful and has been a huge help to me.

Hope this helps you somewhat!

Hugs to you...Lori

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Lori had a great suggestion with regard to a bereavement group. I joined one at the local hospice and they meet on various schedules throughout the year. I also got a face-to-face grief counselor who helped me move through the early processes. Try the yellow pages for local hospices or bereavement centers, they usually are free. These people (and in groups, the other grievers) can help you see the light that is there, if only dimly. Or at least hope that it will become visible someday.

At the support group that I go to, we started a tradition of going to a Denny's restaurant afterwards to continue the fellowship (for lack of a better word). That has sometimes been more helpful than the meeting itself.

It seems like you're just going through the normal grieving process and having a tough time with it. It's wonderful that you found this place and have started to reach out for help.

And Marty's great! :):):)

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It has been 10 months for me since I lost my wife/best friend. I remember feeling what you are feeling now. It has been a longer time for you than for me, but keep in mind we each have our own time frame. I like Lori had to use medication in order to go through life's motions. Now after 10 months I am off of that medication. It worked for me in the begining I also started going to a support group for me and my son. There is a lot of help out there to help you get through this. I think the biggest help was my trust in God, I don't know what your relationship is with God, ut prayer will work wonders. I will be praying for you please keep coming to this site, it was a God send and has helped me when I couldn't help myself

Derek

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MarieR,

It will be two years this month since I lost my dad (and several others around the same time) and I still feel like you do. My mother fell apart when my dad died and we believe she has some sort of dementia, but it was like it just apppeared out of nowhere when my dad died. So I am still grieving, in a way, but for my mom too. It is like I lost her too, but it took awhile to finally accept it. I am her main caregiver and I feel all the things you are going through almost everyday. I'm on meds too and they have helped my anxiety attacks tremendously, but I'm still am a mess, trying to deal with my moms behavior and memory loss. I almost laughed when you said that there are times you feel like you're going to collapse and that it would almost be welcome. I KNOW what you mean. I wish I could say that it all got better at such and such a time, but that's just the problem....it will get better whenever, at some point that none of us knows. Hang in there and keep posting, it helps so much.

Hugs,

Shell

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Hello,

I had a horrible day yesterday. My dad has been in the hospital since a week after my mom died.(Dec.7th) The social worker called and told me they were releasing him on the 16th because they feel they can no longer do anything for him. They told me to find a nursing home. His doctor wanted to put in a feeding tube(my dad doesn't eat enough) but the social worker told me she thought I should talk my dad out of that because they believe he has given up and why go thru that procedure. My dad wants to be in a nursing home that is close to me..I have been there..very dark and depressing place. I can't believe this is happening, until the day my mom died he was so active, driving an hour each way to take care of my mom all day. I believe he has given up too, but I am not ready to sit and watch my dad die.

Here is my other problem of the day..my friends daughter is planning a huge 16th b-day party. I asked my friend if her "grandmother" was coming, my friend said, no , her daughter didn't "feel the need" for her grandmother to be there. It broke my heart. My daughter would give anything for one more day with her grandmother. I just wanted to scream at my friend, but I know...they don't understand. Thank you for listening. I hope the day brings you peace and happy memories.

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Hi Marie

This past little while I am feeling as you do I don't want to be repetitive, just look under Dereks topic about the light and you will see what's going on with me. The grief support group does work , Marty's on line bereavement course is terrific, I have a councelor but my memory is so bad at this time, I even forgot my last appointment, I "TALK" to Rick and to God everyday. My mind does know all these things but my heart is slow catching on. I am wishing the best for you as we all know what it is like and have all been there Take care Jane

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My dear Marie,

You said, I feel so unmoved by life right now. Nothing seems to thrill me...in fact everything seems to be a struggle to do . . . My body feels like it has been beaten up, my mind feels like I'm missing a few screws. I am a mess..not sure where to start...not sure I have the energy to start. My body aches, I have headaches, weird stomach stuff...off balance somewhat. My muscles have never been so tense. I feel like i could collapse and at times that would be a welcome rest. I'm just feeling really crappy and now that alot of the dust has settled...I feel huge sadness and depression that my dearest friend died. I feel shell shocked.

My first reaction to your post is that it’s such a poignant and accurate description of the physical, emotional, and spiritual effects of grief. I especially appreciate your use of the term, “shell shocked.” I can think of no better analogy than that. When we lose someone we love so dearly, it does feel as if the entire landscape of our life has been destroyed completely – as if someone dropped a bomb in our midst, and everything familiar, everything we thought we knew for certain, believed in, and took for granted, is now in shambles. It is so unexpected, so unfamiliar, so overwhelming that it can take weeks and months and even years for us to get our bearings, find ourselves once again, and begin rebuilding our lives.

You ask, I wonder if my mind is stuck in "negative" mode.. am I pushing the grief too hard still, expecting myself to be free of it? Is it realistic to expect to feel joy and happiness and zest for life now...or do I need to cultivate that? . . . Anybody else feel this way? How do we pick up and move on?

I think the worst thing we can do in grief is to try to wait it out, or wait for something outside ourselves to happen. Grief is something that we can learn to manage – we need not sit passively in the face of it, just waiting for time to pass. The passage of time alone does nothing to heal our wounded souls. It is what we do with the time that makes the difference.

You are now 15 months into your grief journey, and I’d like to ask you some questions.

What is the state of your physical health? When did you last see your primary care physician for a complete check-up? While grief can affect us physically, and many physical symptoms occur normally in grief, it is extremely important to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing the symptoms you describe (i.e., no energy, “body aches, headaches, weird stomach stuff,” etc.) How is your appetite? When you do sit down to eat, are you intentionally eating nutritious foods? Do you make sure that you’re drinking enough water every day? Are you getting enough rest? What about physical exercise? Do you have a regular exercise routine?

Besides the wonderful suggestions you’ve already received from our other members, are you doing anything to nourish your soul – such as using nature, prayer, meditation, imagination, guided imagery, music, works of art?

Are you learning all you can about what is normal (and to be expected) in grief, and what you can do to manage it? Have you read any of the dozens of wonderful books recommended by our members?

In addition to posting on this site, are you keeping a journal? In his inspiring, hope-filled (and very practical) book, Love Lives On, Louis LaGrand beautifully describes the benefits of this simple but important exercise:

Keep a journal. Whether you fill it with personal thoughts and feelings, memories, or prayers, a journal can be an effective means of enhancing your inner dialogue and your overall spirituality . . . In your journal you can let the universe know what’s bothering you, ask for advice, complain a little bit, recap the day, give thanks, ask for the wisdom and insight to make upcoming decisions, even record the answers you receive to your wishes or prayers of petition. Make a list of the positive things in your life; ask for the courage and grace to eliminate the negatives. Record the insights, reflections, and ideas that pop into your mind. You might even write letters to whoever is a current source of deep emotion in your life, whether alive or dead. Your journal is a place where you can explore your deepest feelings. You can confess your faults and express the unthinkable. If you feel unloved, say so. Nothing is off limits – just tell it like it is. Remember, if you write freely, you will develop a stronger relationship with your Higher Power and your inner self. In that way, you should think of journaling as one of your daily spiritual practices. It doesn’t matter how you do it – you can write in a notebook or on a computer, if you prefer. In any case, don’t worry about your writing ability; just write. And as you’re journaling, be sure to date each entry so that every month or two, you can go back and see what you wrote, and notice how you have progressed and how the patterns of your life have changed. Soon you’ll be able to see just how far you’ve come. I promise, writing will lead to self-discovery. You’ll learn so much about yourself to use in the pursuit of your mission and your purpose in life.

[source: Love Lives On: Learning from the Extraordinary Encounters of the Bereaved,© 2006 by Louis LaGrand, Ph.D., Berkley Books, New York, ISBN # 0425211932, pp. 167-168.]

You’ve probably read about “doing grief work” in some of the other posts on our site, Marie, and this is precisely what I’m talking about now. This is an excerpt from one of my posts dated March 8, 2006:

If you’ve ever worked out on a regular basis, you know that it requires a great deal of time, effort and commitment – but when done consistently over time, it produces physical, emotional, mental and spiritual benefits. So it is with grief work. Doing the work of mourning takes enormous energy. It is both emotionally and physically exhausting – which serves to explain why you feel so tired, even after retiring early and awakening nine to eleven hours later to “another butt-draggin’ day.” Grief work may well be the hardest work you will ever do, but it can also produce tremendous healing and growth. Much as you may want to forego this labor, whatever issues you don’t address will lie there, waiting to be resolved. When feelings are expressed outwardly, they can be released. When they’re held onto, they just fester and keep on hurting.

The work of grieving can be done through private activities such as reading and writing, and with others through talking, participating in bereavement counseling, or finding support in a group (including online virtual support groups like this one). It is an active rather than a passive process, not only of coming to terms with your loss, but also of finding meaning in it as well, so both the painful experience of your loved one’s death and your life without her physical presence will count for something.

Have faith that there is both a purpose and an end to the hard work that you are doing, and trust that you will find your way through this grief of yours. Take responsibility for doing your own grief work, and give yourself credit for doing so. As another wise mourner once said, “Your family, friends and support group may help get you on the right path, but very early in the process you have to get behind the wheel. Only you can complete the road to recovery.” The decisions you make, the feelings you feel, the tears you cry belong to you alone, and no one else can do your grief work for you. That does not mean that you cannot take time out and time off whenever you need to do so. I don’t have to tell you that your grief will be waiting when you return. Ask for help when you need it, from those of us who are working through losses of our own, and from others who understand the grief recovery process. And take all the time you need. Grief work will take more time and effort than you ever thought possible, but you will make it through this, and we are here to help. You may feel isolated, but you are not alone.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

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Hi Marty and everyone who responded to my post...

Thank you for your loving responses....all such good advice and comforting. I know you all know what this is like. It comes and goes and is something so hard to understand until you've been there. I am moved and grateful for this place.

Marty..to answer your questions. I had a huge amount of bloodwork done a few months ago, as well as all my normal female exams...all came back better than ever. I'm not eating well...or as well as I should be. I do alot of the healthy things like vitamins....yeesh...I was going to list all the healthy things that I do but now realize that beyond taking my vitamins most days what I eat is whatever is in front of me or easiest. I definately need to be more deliberate in my eating. My appetite is good..too good...but you're right..I'm not getting enough water or raw, healthy foods like veggies and etc. I'm getting more exercise and it does help..I recently rescued a yellow lab who gives me alot of exercise when we walk..he also showed me that my heart could feel love again..that felt so good. I am currently seeing a massage therapist who works on trigger points in muscles...I did a number on my neck and back while lifting my friend's full body weight as she was too weak to stand.That is slowly getting better.You're so right in that I need to nurture myself more with better food,meditation, exercise.

I do journal, listen to relaxation cd's while sleeping, I NEED to do my creative things that distract and fullfill me...I'm not sure why I'm not doing them.

I also see how I HAVE been "waiting" for my grief to end...for it to be over. Maybe thinking I'll somehow start to feel like I used to and just get on with it. What I see is that alot has changed...although I am basically the same..the death of my friend and all the loss/issues that came up with that, have definately changed my landscape. I do feel I am searching for that firm and familiar ground to stand on...but I consciously know that I am forever on new ground now. New comfort zone..new everything it feels. This loss has drawn out of me new spiritual experiences that I think I've always known were there, but now have been revealed to me.I am trying to integrate so many new experiences..it feels overwhelming and very difficult to sort out. I do feel I am processing everything..it just takes so long.

I have never lost anyone close to me before...grandparents all passed in their 90's. My friend was my age...diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and fought it for two years. We were both so aware of how much of a treasure our friendship was. It was emotionally intimate. We spoke of being on this journey together and our conversations were always about our life's lessons and how to learn and grow from everything..good and bad. We "traveled or journied" together for 11 years. I could call her if i was upset about something and had forgotten "who I was" and within a few minutes our conversation had me centered and at my place of power and peace within myself.I guess my lesson now is to learn how to do that for myself.

When she was diagnosed, I was terrified for her and for me. Watching her die was hell..for all of us who love/loved her. This was also the first time that my words couldn't pull her out of something.We spoke very little about death/dying as she was set on getting well and wouldn't go there. There were brief comments about it and I let her steer. It is so hard loving someone so much and knowing what and how they feel inside about everything. Then to know the thoughts and fears they are having as they are dying. It feels like such a horrible thing to happen to someone so loving. I know that death is inevitable. I know that what has happened was probably meant to happen and there are lessons to be learned. I feel like I'm almost at that place where I can look at everything and see the lessons, the reasons why things happened. I see/feel how I have been changed, strengthened, made more compassionate. I see that priorities have changed.

I think that's another thing...priorities have changed and what felt important before no longer holds the same value.The changes feel good and healthy and at the same time I feel naked and exposed now without all the clutter and hallucinations that used to serve me. Losing my friend made my veil of innocence and ability to bullsh*t myself fly right out the window.So here I stand, naked and at Life 101. I do need to rebuild my life it seems. What was once a cracked and shaky foundation under my feet, has been obliterated. I think that's a good thing.So now, I have to build a firmer foundation under me and recreate my life..so to speak. Yesterday as I drove past a church, I was feeling down and worried and looked up in time to see the sign at the church which read..."rebuilding the temple". I thought, that's it. I'm rebuilding the temple.

Well, I know there are restrictions on how long of a post I should post...so I will end this one.

Again, thank you for the responses. Marty...whenever I post and see that you've responded..I start to choke up.You offer such a loving and safe refuge here...thank you thank you thank you...

with love, Marie

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AnnieO,

I'm sympathize with you about your dad. The same thing happened with my mom, as I have mentioned before. She was still active and "normal" until my dad died and then she just fell apart, and hasn't really returned since then. I think they just give up, and it's so heartbreaking to watch and have no control over. You'll be in my thoughts!

Hugs,

Shell

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