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New Member-Lost My Only Parent Early In Life


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Hello, I am new here and was looking for a place just to share my story and to read about other people's experience with grief.

My parents divorced when I was in the 7th grade, and my dad did not play very much of a part in my life after that. My mother was a very even-tempered person who I could always count on, and who I knew would love me unconditionally. When I went to college, I called her every day, sometimes more than once, just to share even the most mundane things about my day that I knew she would get a kick out of. She had always been in good health. 3 weeks before I graduated with my Bachelor's degree, I was on my way to my part time job at Papa John's, and I got a phone call from my sister saying that my mother had been found passed out on her living room floor, that she was not doing well, and that I should travel up to see her. All that I had previously heard from my mother the day before was that she thought she had the flu. When I arrived at my mother's house, several of my family members were waiting for me, and I could tell by the looks on their faces that she was gone. No one had known exactly what happened-only that she died of sepsis. After the partial autopsy, it was found that she simply had a case of appendicitis that she did not get treated in time.

I have struggled a lot the past seven years with this--it was just so sudden and shocking, and I didn't even start truly feeling the depth of the loss until about a month or two after it happened--by then, I was living by myself in a completely different state for grad school with no one around that I knew. I felt like a zombie for my two years of grad school--I generally could not fall asleep until about 6 or 7 in the morning and I felt completely zonked out in my classes. I discovered a new degree of grief and sadness that I never knew could exist. I didn't get any help or counseling-I guess I just didn't know any better.

My siblings have basically disowned each other and are very bitter because of a laundry list that they each feel the other has "done" to them--most of the stuff they are angry about happened before I was born or when I was young, as I was born 10-15 years after them. I haven't felt any solidity with any of my immediate family members, and ever since this happened, I've just felt that I have no "safety net." Some of my extended family members keep up with me on a regular basis, but I feel I have no close immediate family relations. I made a bad decision about who to spend my life, which has created another explosion in my life which has rehashed all of the "alone" feelings.

It's hard to explain-I feel like I don't have any sturdy ground to stand on. I saw a counselor for my failed relationship about 11 times, but I didn't have a good experience with that. I felt like she was just telling me what I wanted to hear and she didn't attempt to delve into any important issues. I don't know whether to try counseling again or maybe go to a grief group. I am trying not to get to the point where I want to give up trying things to help, but it's getting more and more difficult to believe things will get better.

Anyways, thanks for listening, and thanks to all who share their stories.

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Hi laureney. Sometimes it takes a couple of days to get replies to a post. Anyway, welcome to our grief forums.

Your experience in grief is different than my own. My Mom passed away two years ago, and she lived to 78 years of age. Your Mom passed away in mid-life, and there is an element of tragedy to that. Grief seems to get more complicated when life is cut short. Somehow the grief and the mourning process gets delayed, probably because it's just too traumatic. Our online counselor, Marty, has posted content about 'delayed grief' on many occasions. I have limited understanding of the issues of delayed grief, but at least I can link to some of Marty's content:

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=4771&st=0&p=37467&#entry37467

http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=521&st=0&p=1628&#entry1628

And this third link you may have to cut and paste; wouldn't work as a direct link. Grab the text between the dollar signs.

$http://www.selfhealingexpressions.com/delayed_grief.shtml$

And though my parents divorced too, they remained friends for life, so both parents were always available to me. Now I think, what would have my life been like without one of my parents?

Your description of how grief hit you years later in grad school is compelling.

Sorry to hear that your siblings are not at peace with each other. I do have family support from my brothers and sisters, even though they are occasionally very difficult. I agree with you that we need those family roots. Can you at least talk with your siblings?

Also sorry to hear that your marriage did not work. I've always felt pretty alone in that I've never married, but worse than loneliness would be a bad marriage.

Your circumstances of grief are certainly more difficult than my own.

But on one issue I feel that I can give you good advice. Not all counselors are going to be a good fit for you. You have to shop around. And most of them list their areas of specialization, so you can find someone who specializes in what you want. And if you don't feel that one counselor is addressing your needs, move on to another! And I like your idea of going to a grief group.

Well, I'm short on advice, but glad for your post. I hope you have opportunity to interact with other members of our community.

Ron B.

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Hello, thanks for the reply and the material--it is helpful and brings up some good points I haven't yet heard. I can talk to 2 of my 3 siblings--one has totally cut herself off from all of the family. I feel like I'm chasing them at times though-the 2 siblings I talk to have retreated somewhat from the extended family as well. I have had the attitude that I will talk to and keep up with any family who is willing to have a relationship, but I am cautious with certain family members who don't really actively pursue having a relationship with me. Luckily I do have some great aunts, uncles and cousins.

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About family issues:

1) I didn't talk to my sister for 7 years. Why? Hard to say in a few words. In short, she got verbally abusive with me on several occasions; lots of obscene language. I was very angry and upset. Not just for months. But for years. I just withdrew. Didn't want to have anything to do with my sister. And that was a mistake. My Mom and my sister ran a business together, a coffee shop. They worked with each other for hours every day. If I wanted to see my Mom, I'd also have to face my sister. So I didn't visit with my Mother at her residence for 7 years, just to avoid my sister. And then my Mother was diagnosed with a fatal kind of leukemia. At my mother's prompting, my sister and I agreed to forgive each other. It was a rocky and rough kind of forgiveness for the first year, but now, weirdly enough, we actually enjoy each other's company when we do get to see each other. Both of us now realize that our anger issues were futile. Holding onto resentments and being estranged from another family member was the real hell of it. And it's kind of amazing that a relationship so broken was actually repaired.

2) My younger brother has anger-managment problems. Last time I saw him he exploded upon me, first with minor assault, and then with face to face screaming. He's had rage problems for years. Didn't know how bad though until his recent rage at me. And I'm clueless about how to fix this problem. Wanted to write him a letter. But then everybody in my family advised me against it. I don't want to see him. Wouldn't be comfortable around him. He might take offense at something and fly off into another rage. So that's my current family disaster. I'm completely stuck.

Ron B.

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