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Will It Catch Up With You Eventually?


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If you don't open yourself up to grief, will it eventually catch up with you and come down on you like a ton of bricks?

Its been over 3 years now and I don't think I've ever really felt extremely over-whelmed and upset. I don't think I've even properly accepted it yet. I am now nearly 19, and was 15 when my Mum died.

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Hi Amz,

Well, I don't think a ton of bricks is going to fall on you any time soon. I think not dealing with grief just postpones it for later. Somehow we are able to bury difficult feelings, sometimes for years. We get swept up by events in our lives that make it difficult to openly grieve. So we grow a bit numb and become a bit mentally and emotionally stuck. Delayed grief can be very difficult! Active grieving, in contrast, is a direct expression of all the difficulty we feel. Actively grieving releases the difficult emotions, so our thinking and our feelings can evolve. In this sense grief is good! But learning how to grieve can be challenging. Almost everybody here does some sort of 'grief work'. Reading and posting to this forum definitely helps us express our grief. Breaking out photos or other memorabilia from your Mom would be another kind of grief work. Seeing a counselor would be a direct channel for you to face difficult emotions, that's another option. So long as you find some activity that regularly connects you to your Mom, then you will be actively grieving. Don't worry about having to emote or express difficult emotions; that will just happen. If you are able to cry at all, then you are also able to heal.

Ron B.

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Amy, dear, I agree completely with Ron's response to you. As I've said to you elsewhere, grief doesn't "go" anywhere; it just lies there waiting for you to deal with it ~ and it's never too late to face it, examine it and come to terms with it. In addition, how a person responds to loss is unique to the individual, since so many individual factors are involved (age, gender, personality, past experience with loss, relationship to the one who died, culture, etc.) If you feel as if you cannot do your own "grief work" by yourself, or you haven't got a clue as to how to begin, there are many resources "out there" that can help you to get started. I also believe it helps to learn how others have experienced mother loss, especially when it happens so early in your own life. Many books and articles have been written about early mother loss and its impact on a daughter's development ~ you'll find many of my personal favorites listed on our Death of a Parent page, and I'm sure you could find several of them at your local public library, especially if you ask a librarian to help you locate them.

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Amy, dear ~ This is not a stupid question at all! If you're still wondering if your responses to your mother's death are normal, I encourage you to schedule a session or two with a professional grief counselor: someone with whom you can share your own personal and family history, and who is in a position to evaluate and give you an honest assessment of where you stand in your grief process. The very fact that you're so uncertain about this is reason enough to do this. See my blog post, Finding Grief Support That Is Right For You

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Hi Amz. I've tried 3 times now to write an answer to your post, but each time I get stuck. I think the big questions are just very hard to answer.

After losing a parent, most of us have an upwelling of raw emotion that's real hard to deal with. Most of us are able to cry. Expressing these emotions during grief better enables us to cope with the difficulty of bereavement. If in your grief you haven't cried or expressed your emotions openly, that's just a bit different than the norm is all. In one sense you are lucky not to have been clobbered by so much difficult emotion. In another sense you may have to make more effort to tune in to your feelings if they don't pop out on their own.

Dealing with grief, for many of us, is done just by enduring the difficult emotions. But since you haven't been tossed about by rough emotions, you wonder whether you've dealt with grief at all. And you are probably right to have concern. But please also have some faith in the powers of healing. I believe you can get past any difficulty, just by connecting with your Mom and her legacy.

If you really want to jump-start your own recovery from grief, then go in for professional grief counseling or psychotherapy. And don't feel bad if you can't do that, for whatever reason. Less intensive grief work is ok too; at least that's what I think. Posting your grief issues here is probably sufficient to get your thoughts and feelings in motion. Better still if you can find other active grief work. My own grief work has included: keeping a diary in the first months, reading psychological and self help literature, seeing a psychologist, getting exercise, posting to these forums, issuing a book of my Mom's kitchen recipies, and working with my Mom's photos.

How do we know when we've dealt with grief? Well, the pain of losing a mother or father never goes away completely. That pain slowly diminishes, while at the same time our parents' legacy tends to grow. When you can put your Mom's portrait on your wall or your desk, you are acknowledging her place in your life. Our parents can still give us guidance, even though they are not physically alive. As you work to reclaim your Mom's legacy, you begin to own it. It becomes you. It will give you strength. This is what replaces the pain of grief.

As you find your Mom's legacy, you'll have dealt with your grief.

That's just how I see things. I hope this helps.

Ron B.

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Dear Amz,

I lost my father when I was 17 and its been almost three years now. It was hard for me to figure out where I was during the grieving process. I felt I lived in denial for a whole year. Sometimes its hard to really understand your emotions, I would get angry or cry over the littlest things. It helps to talk to someone but you can also practice breathing techniques to help ease your stress and grief. Everyone deals with grief differently and its different when you lose someone so young. There is no set time for the process as well you may live in certain stages longer and some of them you may hardly experience. I found that at least talking to someone helped me get my feelings out and put things in perspective.

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