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I Can't Feel Anything

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Hi, my name is Michelle. My Mom died 2 days ago from Pancreatic Cancer. We hadn't seen each other since Christmas because of what now is because of something so trivial. Thankfully I'd written her letters and sent flowers on several occasions so I'm certain she knew that if anything I loved her.

It doesn't seem real. I cried my eyes out when I first learned of her death and then was distraught when my brother wouldn't let me see her body. I felt like I needed to see her to believe it. (He is a whole other dsyfunctional issue).

Fortunately I have been seeing a great counselor helping with the family crap and I'm not mentally beating myself up over this. But I don't understand grief and the "grieving process."

I stumbled across this web site and can't read enough. It seems to be answering some of my questions.

I'm seeing that people grieve in different ways and that its a process of learning how to cope. Is it normal for me to be reading the paper one minute and crying the next? To dream of her? To wonder if she can see me?

When is it a healthy time to return to work? How do I deal with people coming up to me with their condolences?

I'm a good one for "pretending" something didn't happen or stuffing things. I just don't want to freak out years from now because I didn't "properly" grieve.

I loved my Mom so much. We weren't as close as I wished but I'm so sad to think about never being able to hug her, to hear her voice, to hear her laugh, to hear her say my name.

I am so sad.

I'll keep reading this site and working on it one hour at a time.

Thank you for this great outlet for people to get comfort.

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Michelle, I understand your grief as I'm sure everyone who is part of this discussion group does. My mother passed July 4th this year from a protracted illness. Her death was unexpected and I wasn't there when she died. I'm no expert on dealing with death. I'm barely functional with a new family, new job, and an infant to support. I will say that you don't do grief, grief does you. Wake up everyday with low expectations and accomplish one thing you can be proud of and be content with that. Remember, as much as you think you are yourself right now and as much as you feel in control, you are not.

My thoughts are with you.

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Dear Michelle,

We’re so sorry to learn of the sudden death of your mother. We welcome you to this site and send you our heartfelt condolences.

It is indeed unfortunate that you were prevented from seeing your mother’s body even though that is what you wanted to do. For many of us, that is an important part of accepting the reality of a death, and I’m sorry you were deprived of that experience. Keep in mind, however, that it is only one part, and over the next several days, weeks and months, you will encounter many other reminders that your mother is no longer physically present, as gradually you come to accept the reality of your loss.

You say that, although you’re currently in counseling, you don’t know much about the “grieving process.” You are not alone in that regard – our culture is not known for its understanding of death, dying and grief – and most of us don’t like to think about it or talk about it very much until it happens to us. But sooner or later, we each must take our turn with grief, because loss is an inevitable part of living in this world.

Fortunately much has been written about the subject of grief, and a wealth of information is at your fingertips, whether you find it on the Internet or at your local library or corner bookstore. If you haven’t already been there, you might begin by visiting my own Grief Healing Web site, at http://www.griefhealing.com . Take time to explore all the pages there, especially the “Articles and Books” page and the “Links/Human Loss Links” page. You will find articles I’ve written on various aspects of grief, as well as some wonderful pieces by other noted authors, and links to many valuable resources. See especially the links listed under the DEATH OF A PARENT category. Such readings will reassure you that what you are experiencing is normal, will prepare you for what to expect in grief, and will offer you some useful suggestions for managing your own reactions.

You ask whether your own reactions are “normal.” Please know that the range of reactions to the death of a loved one are as varied as there are people experiencing them. There is no right or wrong way to grieve – there is only your way, and as you go through it, you will discover what works for you and what does not. I cannot tell you when is a “healthy” time to return to work – you know yourself better than anyone, and you must balance your needs with the reality of your employer’s bereavement leave policy (which is probably way too short anyway!) Some people find returning to work a godsend because it gives them a much-needed respite from grief. Others find it difficult if not impossible to concentrate well enough to be of any use at work, even if they have no choice but to be there anyway. What I will suggest is that you meet with your supervisor and explain that, although you may not be at your best right now because you are mourning the death of your mother, you want to assure him or her that you are doing your best to deal with your reactions and get the help you need, and you are certain that the day will come when you’ll be back in top form once again. (I’d be very interested in knowing how our other visitors have dealt with this, and I hope they will offer some suggestions, too.)

As for dealing with the reactions of others, I want to refer you to a very helpful piece that appears on my “Quotes and Poems/Comfort for Grieving Hearts” page, at http://www.griefhealing.com/Grievinghearts.htm . Once there, scroll down the page till you come to Bill Jenkins’ piece entitled “How to Help a Friend in Grief.” You might even print it out and give it to your friends and co-workers to read.

Please know, too, that it is never too late to say whatever it is we need to say to our loved ones who have died. If it is consistent with your belief system, you might think about finding a way to speak to your mother’s spirit, whether that is through writing a letter, meditating, journaling, praying or any number of other methods. For example, you can find a place and time of quiet and solitude, and place your mother in a chair across from you, and then say whatever it is you need to say to her. You could write a letter, get all your feelings out, then seal it, burn it and release it as the smoke dissipates into the air. Whatever ritual you choose is up to you, limited only by your own imagination. The point of any of this is not so much that your mother hears or reads your message, but rather that you find a way to acknowledge, express and thus release whatever message you feel a need to send. That's just one way you may get past these (normal!) feelings of sadness, guilt and regret. Again, let’s see what others out there have to share with you in this regard.

I hope this information proves helpful to you, Michelle, and I hope you’ll continue to visit us here. Learning how others have managed, survived, learned and even grown from losses of their own can be an invaluable source of support and encouragement for you.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

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Dear Hans & Marty

thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my posting.

Hans - I am sorry about the loss of your Mom. Thank you for the advice and my new "mantra" I don't do grief, it does me.

Marty - you wrote so many wonderful things. So many great suggestions and once I stop crying (again) I plan on reading everything you suggested.

As ridiculuous as our company policy is (3 days for a parent) I fortunately have been there long enough that taking as much time as I need shouldn't be an issue.

I wonder why it isn't longer?

I definately have been trying to keep myself distracted however am realizing I'm not able to completely concentrate. I imagine that's to be expected, it has only been 3 days.

I can't say enough how fortunate I am to have come across this site.

Thank you so much for a wonderful site.


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Big hugs from me....Im so sorry to hear of your loss......

The thing Ive learnt with grief is....there are no set rules for how you will feel or how long it will take to get back to some kind of normality......we are each so individual and ok most go through similar stages but its not set in stone.......and time is the biggest thing.......and no one can say how much time you will need...but my advice, go with the flow and dont try to rush things......sometimes we feel pressure to get better as others maybe say are you still not over that or whatever.....only you know how you feel !!

Another thing Ive learnt is no matter how crazy the way you feel may seem Im sure you could find someone else who could say they felt like that too!!

Also...take time to feel....allow yourself the feelings.....in time the pain will lessen and no one can ever take away our memories !

Take care God bless

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  • 2 weeks later...

i had not seen my daddy in 16 years i talked too him on the phone all the time and sent cards and letteres and photos he lived in ind and i live in sc long way apart i always thought i had time t oo go see him he called me 6 mo ago told me he was dieing july 5th i went and got my daddy so i could take care of him and with in six weeks he died holding my had looking into my eyes in my home so i no how you feel but it will get easyer day by day or at least that is what they keep telling me i too still cry all the time so god bless and i wish you well


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