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Grief, Depression, And Clutter

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Hi, everyone:

I am brand new here. I lost my only sister, Karen, April 5th. I lost my husband of 23 years 9 years ago, and my parents are gone as well. My sister had a son, who I am estranged from. I have no interest in re-establishing a relationship with him because he is a terribly cruel person. I have one brother in California, with whom I'm trying to build a closer relationship. My problem: I was depressed before my sister got the brain cancer, due to a BAD relationship (stalking, etc). I spent a year with my sister, spending time with her, taking care of her, loving her. Now that she is gone, my life is empty. I have a great job that I enjoy, and love the people I work with. But weekends are HELL. To be honest, since the breakup with a very dangerous boyfriend three years ago, I have been in a severe depression. I have gained weight, and my house has become a pig-stye. Sounds terrible, but there it is. Sometimes I bag the garbage, but have no energy to take it down the walk to the dumpster. I ache all over. I feel so exhausted, and so numb. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? I sit and look at this, and can't seem to do anything about it. I am in therapy, and take an anti-depressant. I just don't seem to know how to fill my life now, because my sis and I were so very close. We did everything together since her divorce and my widowhood. How do I fill this black, empty hole?? Sorry this is rambling. I would appreciate any advice...

Thanks so very much! J :(

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I'm so sorry for the loss of your sister. You have come to a good place though because there are a lot of people here who understand. I am glad you are going for counseling and hope that you continue and are open with your counselor. It is not unusual to be depressed after such a loss and since you had problems before I'm sure it is just accentuated.

If you have to just start by gettin through a minute at a time and then gradually grow in to an hour or a day. After almost 7 months since the loss of my husband I still can't look beyond a day. I put things on the calendar like appointments and such so I don't double book but I don't think about things past today.

As far as you "pig stye" is concerned maybe you could start with just one room or part of one room. I know that I go through phases when I don't care what things look like but in my heart I must because I don't want anyone to come by for fear that they will see it. It will help keep you busy though so that your mind doesn't wander so far.

I hope these suggestions help you and come here often because I am sure there are others who may be able to help.

Keep us posted with how you are doing.

Mary Linda ((((((( :wub: ))))))))

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Welcome to the forum. I'm so sorry for the losses of your sister and husband and for everything else you've been through over the past few years. With all that going on, and the fact that you devoted yourself to your sister's care for months before she died, it's no wonder you feel drained and exhausted.

The feelings you describe sound so familiar. Within the space of two years, my mother and my dog died, I lost a good job, my husband developed early-onset dementia that grew gradually worse, and then he died. That last year, I was trying to work full time, take care of my husband and find a way to pay the bills because with him disabled, our income was cut almost in half. Like you, I grew depressed, packed on the pounds, and let the house go. It looked so bad I was embarrassed to let anyone in. But at the time, I was so stressed that I didn't have the enegry to do anything about it -- and I didn't care. I also wondered if something was wrong with me.

Since then, I've learned that when people suffer multiple traumas or losses at the same time or one right after another, their abilities to cope and to bounce back can wear down until nothing's left. Basically, there's no gas left in the tank. Don't think your lack of energy and enthusiasm means something's wrong with you -- you're probably so worn down by past events that you're running on empty. And because you feel like you can't get up and go again, your self-esteem has probably suffered too.

I can't tell you exactly how to rebuild your life; I still have a long way to go to rebuild my own. But I can offer a few tips:

1. Be good to and patient with yourself. Accept that right now, you're not at full strength and until you are, you'll do only as much as you feel capable of doing. Give yourself plenty of leeway, breaks, and permission to backslide now and then.

2. Pick small tasks and do them one at a time. For example, maybe one day catch up on your laundry and the next day, get rid of the trash. You might even want to make up a list of these little "to-do's" and cross off each task as you complete it. As the list of completed tasks gets longer, you'll start feeling a sense of accomplishment and your self-esteem returning. And eventually, you may feel confident enough to begin tackling the bigger things you'd like to get done.

3. Pamper yourself a little. Sure, the refrigerator may need a good cleaning. But if today, treating yourself to a movie or getting your hair cut and styled would help you feel better, do either of those things instead. The refrigerator will still be there when you feel more up to cleaning it.

3. Focus on rebuilding yourself and your self-esteem before you turn to rebuilding your life. Take care of yourself first, and you'll be better able to think about what comes next.

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I have been in a severe depression. I have gained weight, and my house has become a pig-stye. Sounds terrible, but there it is.

Hon, the weight gain and messy house are effects of your grief. You need to take care of YOU on the inside before you can take care of the outside.

If the weight gain is not affecting your health, don't worry about that for now. Make sure you see a doctor, of course, and keep all of that in check. I'm not saying let it all go, but don't worry about things that aren't going to matter in say, a year's time. With the house...is it possible to get someone in to help you a few times a week? Perhaps you could even hire a high school student who is looking for some extra cash. But you cannot wallow in such piddly things. The weight gain, again, definitely a possible health concern and again, keep it in check with your doctor. But you need to stop adding things to your plate. It's full as it is.

Right now, you need to work on YOU. You need to do a very difficult task at hand as it is, which is rebuilding your life. If the current therapy isn't working, how about adding more sessions? Is it possible that you need to even possibly be dealing with additional therapy? If you're in therapy for the horrible relationship, but not the grief part, perhaps can you join a grief support group?

If the current medication isn't working, talk to your doctor. Maybe you can try a new medication, or add another one to the mix. Anti's don't always work for everyone and sometimes their effect can just wear off.

As for rebuilding your life...personally, I pretty much had to change. I used to watch a lot of tv with my mom, so now I tend to gravitate towards shows we either didn't watch or she hated. We both loved to shop, I now shop in stores we didn't shop in. So on and so forth. It's difficult, but it can be done.

Take care of you.


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(((Jani))) Welcome

So sorry for the loss of your dear sister. And also for the losses of your husband and parents.

It seems you were an Angel of sorts being there for your sister when she so needed you. And now.. you know the drill... the grief hangs like a thick fog.

I can so relate to what you have written. What you have said helps me make some self observations.. so I must thank you for sharing here.

After each significant loss I have experienced I had a portion of time that I refer to as "in the cave.. licking wounds" time. It was dark in there and I liked it dark. I know that sounds terrible. But I needed to be in the dark. I needed the isolation and darkness to allow myself to feel & express whatever I wanted to feel & express with as few distractions as possible.

The house wasn't as clean... but no one got sick from it. I didn't eat real well and didn't care. Sleep.. either none or hours and hours of it.

The garbage piled up and .. I let it. I only did laundry when everyone was down to their last pair of undies... etc>>>

I remember deliberately walking past a pile of recycling that had to go.. oh I don't know.. maybe 20 feet and having that feeling of "I'm just NOT going to pick that up. Period." And it stayed there & got bigger... for the better part two weeks. It was like a symbol of .. "That just isn't important right now and I refuse to make it important."

What was important was I just lost someone I dearly loved.. so..

To heck with the garbage, dirt or dust.

Today, someone else will have to walk waaaaaayyyyyy out there to the end of the driveway and get the mail or maybe I'll get it with tomorrow's. I'm just not doing it right now.

Because I think I knew what was really important was ... healing. I think I instinctively knew I just needed to lick my wounds. And I did.. I think we all do.

Once I had a several weeks in my cave.. I came out again.. just like I always have. But I really needed that time.. I had hit the wall and was toast. So I let myself be toast. And I tried NOT to judge my "toastness". I tried realy hard to just accept whatever I was feeling. I just left myself be.. whatever I felt like being.

I think when you are ready.. you will step back out again too. Look at what you have already survived! I think this is just healing time. And when you are ready you will take out the garbage, clean the fridge, etc>> But right now??? Really? What is hurt by you taking the time to heal?

You asked:

How do I fill this black, empty hole??

Best answer I could possibly offer is "slowly"... you will fill your life with things that bring you fulfillment and contentment. And that will happen exactly when you are ready.

You and your sis did so much together it seems and you were so very close. I don't think anyone can fill up the space in your heart that your sis occupies. I think she will always be there.. right there.. inside you.

I like KathyG's tips. I agree, maybe it is time to pamper you a bit.

If weekends seem hardest for you, try thinking of some things you would like to do... just for you. When you are ready, you can go out and do some of those things.. and then, in time, some more.

Doesn't have to be fancy... and just small steps at a time.. no pressure. For example, maybe going to a movie & out for a bite to eat is too much. But driving to a video rental place or even your local library to rent one and driving through somewhere.. is more manageable at first.

In time I think you will find a way to make the weekends a pleasant diversion for yourself. And maybe - in time - you may want to consider joining an organization or volunteering with something that you are interested in.

But I think overall.. what you are feeling is natural. So try really hard not to be so tough on you. This is really still early days yet. Give yourself a break.. and try being as kind to you as your sister would.


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