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Delayed Grief

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Hello. I am new to this forum.

I am 41 years old. My dad died in 1992. I was 23 years old. At that time, I was a senior in college. I had no family living near me. When he died, he, my mom, and my younger brother were living in Utah. He was buried in Oregon, which is where I was attending college. I stayed at school and waited for my mom to pick me up on the way to the town where he was buried. The day after the funeral, I was taken back to college to be by myself.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I was never allowed to grieve with my family. I had no one to grieve with. I've always been seen as strong, and I think all my friends thought I was doing fine. So I pretended I was fine so much that I convinced myself that I was fine. So I have never grieved.

This was all fine until a few weeks ago. A few years ago, I found out thru my dad's sister that my dad was married and had 3 kids (2 boys and 1 girl) before he and my mom married. I decided not to try to find my half siblings because I didn't want to upset anyones' lives.

So a few weeks ago, another one of my dad's sisters (who'd been out of contact with the family for over 50 years)contacted my uncle. I talked to her on the phone, and she knows and keeps in contact with my half siblings. So I have been talking to my half sister for the last few weeks ago. She never knew my dad so has been asking questions, which I'm elated to answer. She has also told me things that she knew about my dad before he married my mom.

So now, I'm finding myself doing some major grieving over my dad. I've spent the last few days crying a lot and wanting him to come back. I've been told that I have delayed grief. It really sucks because my family has already grieved, and I've just begun. It feels like I have just lost him.

Can anyone relate?

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Hello Tracy.

I read your post when first written a week ago, but like others here, didn't have anything to say at the time. But you set me to thinking. Made me realize that I did not grieve in the weeks and months after my own father died in 2002. And my reason is the same as yours. After the funeral service, I went back to work, far away from family. I could have and should have taken time off from work to grieve with other family members, but I did not. I had a conflict with my sister, and that alone kept me away from the rest of my family. Feelings of anger towards my sister prevailed over feelings of mourning for my father. Now, 8 years later, I feel remorse. Delayed grief? Maybe a bit of that.

Anyways, your story of discovering your half-siblings is remarkable! Of course communicating with them about your father is going to well up emotions. That's got to be a good thing. Even the grief is good; it is an honoring of your father.

My own family situation is similar to yours in another way. Three generations ago one side of my extended family split off. No communication now for decades. Is it possible to pick up the pieces some 40 years on? I don't know! But at least I'm thinking about it.

Thank you for budging my mind to think about things left behind long ago.

Ron B.

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Hi Tracy,

First I want to say, I'm sorry for the loss of your Dad.

It seems your grieving process is mimicking your relationship with your family. When your dad passed you went back to school and continued on with life as it was, now you have an extended family wanting to share your memories of your dad and again you are independent of your immediate family. They say we are only given what we can handle and I think that at the time of your dad's passing you weren't denied the opportunity to grieve with your family but given the chance to continue with your studies and grieve at a time that was appropriate for YOU. Your extended family coming into your life is giving you the opportunity to start your grieving process while allowing your new family the opportunity to get to know your dad at the same time. You WILL catch up to your immediate family and then you will be able to share with them the celebration of your dad's life together.

I feel like EVERY DAY I experience delayed grief. My mom passed on May 21, 2010 in New Brunswick, Canada. I live in Ontario and it's easy for me to just think that mom is at home and we are just long overdue for our phone calls, THEN it hits me when something new, sad, happy, or scary happens and she's not there for me to call and share it with. Reality hits and it seems like my mom has passed once again. I spent three months with my mom last summer at her home while she went through treatment for lung cancer and having MS at the same time. My son, younger brother (from Vancouver), and myself had a fabulous early Christmas with mom and then she had excellent results in February from her follow up CT. Suddenly she started to suffer from extreme fatigue and weakness in April and then became extremely malnourished and was hospitalized. I was planning my flight to New Brunswick when I got a call that they discovered a spot on mom's liver and the CT results showed the cancer was back and everywhere. I immediately moved my flight up to that night hearing it wasn't going to be long and my brother booked a flight too. Mom seemed to improve while we were there and I knew she was holding on until we left. After two weeks for my brother and three for me, I made the hardest decision of my life to return home. Mom passed three days later. She didn't want a funeral, a memorial, and wanted to be cremated. There was no ceremony of closure, my younger brother is across the country, I have an estranged older brother, my father passed away two years ago from lung cancer, my golden retriever passed away two weeks after my mom, and my 21 yr old son is quiet and continuing with his life. Then there's me, like you, I'm an extremely strong person and my friends think I'm fine. I'm lonely, scared, afraid to feel ANYTHING in case I have a nervous breakdown, and I'm completely broken inside. I cry constantly with the weekly reality check and mom won't be call on Saturday and it's JUST ME! There is no one to grieve with. Mom was my back up and it's now up to me to do it on my own. Every week that goes by I stuff my emotions into a coffee can because all of mom's friends and what is left of my family is grieving on their own.

Is it real? I guess I'll find out next Saturday :unsure:

Val aka broken inside

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