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Lack Of Emotion About Anything.

long goodbye

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This is my first post, after having searched the internet for a long while trying to find some answers. Back story - my father passed away after fighting cancer for 4 years. He and I were very close, both more pragmatic and down to earth, while my mother and brother tend to be emotional and erratic. My father was the anchor in the chaos that is the rest of the family. I went home to help my mom take care of him for the last two months, leaving behind my husband. It was slightly suprising when he passed, the doctors had thought he would have several more weeks. I helped my mom with all the arrangements, (we'd done a lot beforehand), did the funeral and burial without shedding a tear. We went through all of his things, cleaned the house, all that needed to be done. I came back to my husband and son, jumping right back into the bankruptcy we were going through, and moving to a new house. It has now been three months since my father passed. I still feel nothing about it. I feel nothing about the bankruptcy or the move. It's not that I'm depressed or sad, it just seems like everyday is another day to get through, more things that need to get done. I am sleeping a lot more then I should be, and have lost some weight, but that seems to be more related to how busy we are.

I guess what I want to know is if this is normal? Should I be doing something to force an emotional outpouring? I know I loved my Dad, I don't doubt that at all. I don't feel like I'm trying to push everything down... but then when I was cleaning, I found a note from him that he wrote to me when he was first diagnosed. I read it, I was glad I still had it, but a part of me feels like there should have been more of a reaction then that. I've read that people sometimes emotionally disassociate after a death to deal with practicalities... but what if that doesn't go away?

Sorry so long and rambling, just trying to get everything of my head out.

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First of all stop apologizing. smile.gif Rambling/venting/etc is what this place and those similar are about.

Second and if you remember nothing else I or anyone ever says about grief I hope you remember and take to heart these 2 things:

1. There is no "normal"

2. There is no "should"

Slight oversimplifications maybe but the gist of it being grief is different for everyone. There are some general tendencies but frankly that should get little more than a dismissive wave of the hand IMO. Everyone's situation is unique just like every person is unique. Do the best you can and allow yourself to feel whatever you feel - or not - and try to be gentle to yourself.

Also remember this isn't the movies. You don't necessarily have to have some big "dramatic scene" or whatever.

More specific to your situation, detaching yourself emotionally is not so rare, esp given you have many other HUGE things going on. This is probably your way of simply surviving for now. As the dust gradually settles, I'm sure the feelings will be there however is best for you. Again that doesn't necessarily mean some big breakdown, esp given how you said you are not as emotional as some in your family (we have a lot of drama queens so I can relate in that way). Some people simply don't show or feel emotions as dramatically as others, and as you already pointed out, that doesn't mean you didn't love him a great deal. In short, don't worry, there are no style points for performance. smile.gif I wish you the best!

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Dear One,

I don't disagree with anything widower has said. Grief is as individual as one's fingerprint, and no single set of rules applies. Your personal reactions to your father's death depend on dozens of different factors, not the least of which is the need to "keep it together" so you can manage all the significant events going on in your life right now. If you are truly concerned about your "lack of emotion," you might consider having a session or two with a professional grief counselor, who is in a better position to assess what is going on with you and offer you the reassurance that your reactions are normal under the circumstances.

You also might find these articles helpful:

Understanding Different Mourning Patterns in Your Family

Delayed Grief

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I totally agree with widower and Marty. We all grieve how we grieve. In my simple view, you are totally up to your eyeballs with really horrible situations. You can't help but be overwhelmed. That you can hold it together and deal with everything is wonderful. I bet you are one exhausted lady by the end of the day.

Please try to be gentle with yourself. That you can deal from day to day, is a tribute to you. Like Marty, I think it would be good for you to find someone to talk to for a while. I have found a women's survivors group at the local Hospice a wonderful source of understanding and support. I wonder if there is one in your area?

Thank you for sharing with us. Please continue to keep in touch so we know how you are doing.


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Thank you to all for replying. Everything said was helpful and comforting, but there were several things that really hit home... first was "this isn't the movies." I hadn't thought about where I was getting the belief that I should have a huge emotional breakdown from, but I'm sure you're right and that's part of it. Movies always depict crying as moment of healing release, but who's to say that's right for me?

In the links you gave me, Marty, it talked about instrumental mourners. Having a name put to how I am reacting is oddly comforting. I know it changes nothing, but it's nice to know that it's so common, it has a name. All the reading I did online did not turn that up, so I really appreciate it.

I have spoken over the phone with a member of a Hospice support group, but with everything going on I have not been able to connect with them. I also feel hesitant to meet in a group setting. My mother joined a group and has been telling me about it. It is very emotional and draining, which is good for her, but not what would make me comfortable enough to open up. I find that the more emotional people around me become, the more emotionless I become. My husband is very emotional, (I married someone just like my mom!), and the more stressed and upset, or sad he gets, the more I detach. The same with my mother and brother. So I don't know if a group therapy session will help...?

Thank you for saying there is no "should." Intellectually I know that, but when I see everyone around me breaking down, it's hard sometimes not to wonder what's wrong with me for not.

PS, even reading this back to myself, I'm being all clinical! :P

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lg, EXACTLY - whatever works for you is, well, what works for you. I can't emphasize it strongly enough: to hell with the alleged "norms" and similar BS! (well that's pretty strong not a bad start :) )

Re. going to groups, I have tried it twice with mixed results but you seem very logical, so I'll appeal to your logic: bottom line you have nothing to lose and potentially much to gain. Why not?

And if you try and it doesn't work, check out individual counseling. I'm similar in that I cannot open up to a "group" like that, I don't regret going and did get something out of it, but mostly sat there and said little. Was surprised how much I was able to let out 1 on 1 (luckily have a good conselor which helps - someone who has been there, which IMO should be mandatory for all).

Good luck and just take "baby steps," won't happen all at once. :)

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Greetings. I've lost both of my parents, but it was only when I lost my mom two years ago that my grief became emotionally overwhelming. When my father died, ten years ago, I was a lot like you are now. I can't remember crying at all. Like you, I just stayed busy. I started a new job at that time, and maybe that kept my mind away from thoughts of grief. Sometimes I think back to the loss of my father, and I wonder, did I really grieve at all?

The grief of losing my mom is what prompted me to think more and more about my dad. I think back on the things he said, and the things we did together. Even his faults make more sense to me now. My appreciation of him as a parent has finally taken a strong hold. The memories are tinged with sadness too; not always easy to bear. But I also gain strength when I think of my dad or my mom. Their good character and the things that they taught me are still guiding me.

I'm saying that it has taken me ten years for me to grieve the loss of my father. I don't know why I didn't cry, get sad, get angry, or rant out my feelings. Somehow, I just needed a decade to figure things out.

Maybe it will help you to take a longer term view of parental loss. 3 months is just too brief a time to digest it all. And in some ways you may be fortunate to have avoided the early and most upsetting time of grief; many of us here can barely function in the first months.

People just grieve to very different time frames, and there's no reason to fault yourself for not pouring out emotion now. I agree with you completely that it's not right to coerce our emotions into expressions of grief. The feeling has to well up naturally on its own. And though you may feel emotionally 'detached' now, you can gain on that by using this forum, reading grief literature, seeing a counselor, or doing whatever grief-work you choose. As you focus on grief issues, your thoughts and feelings will evolve. In coming months you will probably gain good clarity about what helps you heal and what doesn't.

These are just my opinions; take what seems right and chuck the rest. And thank you for your post; it has helped me understand my own grief.

Ron B.

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