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Dear Faye...I am so sorry for your losses. We have so much in common. I lost my 14 year old dog in September (9 months ago)....my Mom in October (8 months ago) and my only sibling, my brother in April (2 months ago).

Like you...I have never been married and have no children. I am nearing 40 years old and spent the past 12 years taking care of my Mom...who lived with me after my precious Dad died. I know the deep lonliness that you are experiencing. I feel so disconnected....and I don't feel as I belong anywhere...other than with my family. No one loved me or will ever love me like they did...and vice versa. I will not take my own life but I will certainly welcome the day that God calls me to be reunited with my family.

The pain is unbearable...so much so that it seems that people can't stand to be around me anymore. I look terrible and feel worse.

Please join us at a great website that offers help for those of us who are grieving. The site has specific message boards as well as specific chat rooms. Here is the link. HALO

I hope to see you there. Please take care and know that I am thinking about you.

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Dear Faye,

I'm so sorry that you’ve experienced so many losses in your family in the last two years: the apparent disappearance of your brother, the death of your best friend, the death of your mother and, most recently the death of another brother – I can only imagine how overwhelmed and traumatized you must feel.

It's not surprising to me that, because you've been hit with one significant loss after another, probably with little opportunity to process each of them separately and individually, you now find yourself in what I would certainly call grief overload.

Grief is like that – if we can't give it the attention it demands at the time of our loss, it doesn't "go" anywhere, and it doesn't get resolved – it simply goes underground and waits for us to take care of it. And sooner or later, out it comes, just as if any or all of these losses had happened yesterday. As soon as we are hit with just one more loss, or even the anniversary of a past loss, it is not at all uncommon for that event to trigger all the grief reactions we've been suppressing for a very long time – like the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. This is not "going out of your mind" or "having a nervous breakdown" – it is a normal reaction to a very abnormal situation.

Since your losses have come so recently and so close together, I would expect that you are still in a state of shock and disbelief, not even ready to begin the work of grieving. That's not necessarily a bad thing – denying the reality of what is happening can be nature's way of cushioning all those blows because they are way too much for you to take in all at once, and it's the only way you can continue to function on a daily basis right now. It may even feel as if you must take a defensive posture, keeping yourself in a state of heightened alert to guard against the next onslaught of very bad news that surely must be waiting just around the corner. Certainly when one of your siblings dies, it brings home to you that if it can happen to your own brother, then surely it can happen to you, too. With all of this going on, with all your family gone, with your assumptive world turned completely upside down while everyone around you carries on as if nothing has changed – is it any wonder that you’re asking, “What’s the point?”

You say you’ve gone to bereavement groups but everyone there had family, which only served to emphasize how isolated and alone you feel. Even so, it’s important that you have someone to talk to about all of this, Faye, so that your feelings about each of these losses can be explored, expressed, worked through and released – that could be a trusted relative, friend, neighbor, clergy person or counselor. There are all kinds of resources "out there" in your own community – you just have to make the effort to pick up your telephone and ask for the help that you need. If one support group didn’t work for you, don't give up on all such groups. Keep looking for one that feels right to you. Every group is as different as the people making up the group. As overwhelmed as you feel, you are in need of support, comfort and understanding, and I hope you will think of this as a gift you can give to yourself. You say there’s no one to talk to where you live, but since you have access to the Internet, you really do have a world of support at your fingertips.

At the very least, I encourage you to do some reading about grief so you'll have a better sense of what normal grief looks and feels like, as well as what you can do to manage your own reactions. This alone can be very reassuring, because you'll discover what to expect in the weeks and months ahead and what you can do to help yourself. See the listings on my Articles and Books page for suggestions. Another alternative is to subscribe to an online e-mail course I've written; you can get a sense of it at First Year of Grief Course Overview

I'd also like to direct you to some other resources online that may be helpful to you. If you go to the Links: Bereavement and Loss Sites page on my Web site and look under the categories labeled DEATH OF A PARENT and DEATH OF A SIBLING I think you will find some very helpful sources of information.

Please don't underestimate the impact of each of these losses you've endured, Faye; any one of them is significant, but when they are cumulative they can lead to a complicated grief reaction.

You say that your friends are “dropping out like flies.” Unfortunately, as you have discovered, unless they’ve personally experienced the loss of a loved one, most people in our culture aren’t very good at knowing what to say or do for the bereaved – and of course, as you well know, in the end there is nothing anyone can say that will change how you are feeling in the face of your own losses. I have a suggestion for you that I’ve used in some of my support groups. By way of helping others understand how you feel, you might consider re-printing the following letter and giving it to certain of your family and friends:

My Dear Family and Friends,

I have experienced a loss that is devastating to me. It will take time, perhaps years, for me to work through the grief I am having because of this loss.

I will cry more than usual for some time. My tears are not a sign of weakness or a lack of hope or faith. They are the symbols of the depth of my loss and the sign that I am recovering.

I may become angry without there seeming to be a reason for it. My emotions are all heightened by the stress of grief. Please be forgiving if I seem irrational at times.

I need your understanding and your presence more than anything else. If you don’t know what to say, just touch me or give me a hug to let me know you care. Please don’t wait for me to call you. I am often too tired to even think of reaching out for the help I need.

Don’t allow me to withdraw from you. I need you more than ever during the next year.

Pray for me only if your prayer is not an order for me to make you feel better. My faith is not an excuse from the process of grief.

If you, by chance, have had an experience of loss that seems anything like mine, please share it with me. You will not make me feel worse. This loss is the worst thing that could happen to me. But, I will get through it and I will live again. I will not always feel as I do now. I will laugh again.

Thank you for caring about me. Your concern is a gift I will always treasure.

Sincerely,

Please know, Faye that we are thinking of you, and when you feel ready to do so, I hope you will return to this Discussion Group to let us know how you are doing.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

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