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When Things Must Get Done And You Just Can't


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I feel like a nutcase going from one extreme to the other. Last night I was so angry. Today I am just crying.

I'm acutely aware of all the things I am supposed to be doing but I am not. I feel like each time I get a bit on my feet something else comes along to knock me down. It feels like a series of losses and each one just makes it harder to cope with the next one. I have this habit of reading stories on the Net in an effort to try to make me grateful for what I have and to make me realize things could be worse. Yes, it does work - for about five minutes.

Ever since my dad went into hospice my world changed. Logically, I know his days were numbered. Logically, I know he had no quality of life. Logically, I know he lived a long life, even if his final years were miserable.

I have turned into a different person since the first week of April when he entered hospice(not that I was doing well before this). A line was crossed. For all of the good things I've heard about hospice, my experience with it wasn't good. This was another hospice in another state, not to be confused with Hospice of the Valley on this site.

I was never the kind of person to lash out at others and just end friendships right and left. I guess once he went into hospice things seemed stupid and not important and I lost patience in many situations. Even if I was justified in some of my irritation, I am not happy with my behavior on a personal level. Now, this isn't to say I think picking up the phone to get those friendships back is the way to go. I don't. But now I'm really alone and just not in the mood to reach out to new people. There are a couple of people I can talk to, but I don't like to talk about my dad's death with anyone except people who are in the mental health industry or maybe people who know what grief is like. I just don't feel I can trust people anymore. I haven't quite decided whether I want to let these experiences take me out or if I can even figure a way out.

I had a therapist tell me all of this was just "my depressive thinking." Well, reality is that I don't see much to look forward to. I've missed out on so much in life. I am scared each time I talk to my mom and live in fear of her passing. That, I don't think I'll survive. So I found a different therapist and one who I think can understand what it's like to be a single woman, no children, menopausal, and with a history of depression herself. I just could not relate to this man who had been married for 30 years, with children, a successful career etc. I just couldn't buy into his telling me all that ailed me was "my depressive thinking."

Anyway, trying to keep some sort of routine (while I watch person by person exit from my life). I'm still volunteering but can't quite look for work. I just don't know and had to type this out.

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Lostdaughter,

Grief tests us all pretty severely. My personality has changed too. I've struggled with some of my own behaviors that I don't like, such as irritability and anger. I saw a therapist for several months and read though some dozen books on personal psychology. It helped settle out some of my charged emotionality. Still working on coping with profound sadness (depression). Yet I have acquired some new behaviors that are actually quite good. I have clearer lines of preference about people and things; I seem to know what I want in life with greater conviction. I steer around people and things that waste my time. I may be brusque sometimes, but I consider this a maturity I'm glad to have acquired. The trust issue is so broad I'm not sure where to begin. This may sound strange, but my personality has bloomed a bit through the experience of grief. I've been a very reserved person all my life, but the legacy of my mother has given me a kind of momentum. I feel like I am molting, breaking out of an old shell, and developing a new one. I am more confident and congenial around other people. So I think the pain of my grief is balanced by some real personal progress. But the first 3 months of grief were a pretty hellish time for me. At almost one year I feel the strength to move forward. I still get stuck not getting much done for days on end, but other days are quite productive. Like you I face issues of being single, without children, and add to that job loss. But I am not deterred. I am gaining conviction to do those things in life that I really want to do, because life is short.

I'm not saying that your grief is just like mine; in fact I see major differences. What I am trying to say is that the ordeal of grief is not all bad. It seems to be an essential stage of growth after we lose a parent or parents. Every generation has to endure the passing of their parents. We learn and grow from the experience; at least that's my belief. I think you too will find a new maturity.

Ron B.

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Ron B. Thanks.

I'm curious, what major differences do you see? I can tell you one thing that is major; I am grieving leaving the SF Bay Area. I haven't been there since 2007 (for a visit) and leaving was the worst decision of my life.

I am glad that you are finding some good to come out of this. Yes, the process is hard and it's still early on for me. It's only been since end of August dad died. But I'm having some major issues with my mother now too. Because she is doing so well (and doesn't seem to be missing a beat) I can't really talk to her about my feelings of loss. Don't get me wrong - I am glad she is holding up so well, but it's a rather bizarre feeling that she'd lose a husband and I'd lose a father and yet she is doing so well and I'm not. Makes me wonder...and not in a good way.

Case in point - I was upset over something this morning relating to this (former) friend I still can't figure out and I was angry. All my mother said was I am only hurting me and that "she (former friend) is winning." She had all of 2:58 seconds to talk to me before she said she had to go as my brother might be trying to call her. It makes me feel like she is telling me to just shut up and doesn't want to be bothered. This makes me want to call her even less. Yet, of course, she is mom and I love her. But I'm conflicted. I've never been able to really turn to her and it's almost like the roles have been reversed.

Anyway, I see a therapist this afternoon (seems pathetic that I have to pay someone just to talk to me) but it is what it is. I guess my feeling at this point is...when do I get to be important? Will I ever get to be important? I guess the answer is...not until I'm important to me, but if no one else thinks I'm important, how can I think I'm important? Oh well, maybe this new therapist will help this afternoon.

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Lostdaughter,

As for the differences, there are two i can think of offhand. Even at the very beginning of my grief I was telling a counselor that grief was actually good. She thought grief was "horrible", and that I was a bit nuts. But I still believe in grief's good, as weird as it sounds. For me grief is a vehicle for personal growth, and the the pain is there for very good reason. Many if not most others here would revert back to normal times if they could, and be freed from grief. I rather want it to run its course through me, because I'm trying to pick through grief's message and learn. Who wants the pain? Me, and probably very few others.

Another thing that's different is that I have not had a core group of friends or any kind of social life to speak of. Being completely alone is quite familiar to me; I am used to it. So I have not gone through that phase that so many others go through here of sorting out their friends. It's a shock when we discover these 'friends' don't even begin to understand our grief. So maybe I am lucky; I have not had to be testy with 'friends' and I have not had to engage in blunt communication. Now if it were family members at issue, oh yes I've had plenty of friction there and am probably not so different than you.

The last thing you say is quite interesting to me. "Will I ever get to be important?" I never thought of my own issues in those words, but this does help me reframe my own thinking. I too want to be important. i want to have a place among other people where I do something that others value. Most people find this through their work, and I think most of us are fortunate when we have jobs that we like. I was happy in my work as a librarian, until I was laid off in a direct consequence of the economic meltdown. That job loss left me feeling unvalued, inconsequential, and completely unimportant. I rather like when I see more pompous people in relatively high positions get some comeuppance. I particularly like your rejection of that one therapist -- successful in his practice and with prosperous family -- yet he had you pegged as stuck in "depressive thinking". Until he has crossed to the other side of life and endured a little hardship, he will never actually understand many of the people he treats. I don't resent success, rather I think a person has to develop a depth of character through some actual struggle in their life. Spoiled kids tend to grow up as spoiled adults; they are able to take greedily but give so little back. Currently the lot of us here are tempering our character through grief, and while that may not make us important to others, it gives us a depth and substance that many lack. I don't want to leave out family life as something that makes us feel important. Finding a soulmate and producing offspring has got to be near the top of life's achievements, and not to have had that is in my opinion a kind of tragedy. Our culture for some reason results in a lot of single adults who are not particularly happy being alone. The extended family is also almost dead in our culture, and lack of that isolates us all the more. I have many relatives I hardly know at all, but I am working to correct that. Anyway, wanting to be important and finding ways to do that is an excellent topic. I hope you can report back with a perspective from your new therapist.

Ron B.

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