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Complicated Grief Has Ruined So Much...

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Sorry for the length, but...

I lost my father in 2002. It was an unexpected death. I mourned some at the time, but mostly I pushed it down - diving into whatever distractions possible...my mom, details, arrangements, whatever I could. He was my rock and main branch of support in a lot of ways....we were always very close.

After a while, I still felt the same as the day it happened. I was numb, became unable to trust, had a diminished sense of self, felt empty, etc., etc. And I shouldn't use past tense - I'm still there.

My husband begged me for years to go to counseling...told me I wasn't emotionally "in" the marriage, didn't communicate with him, etc. He wss the primary object of my mistrust in others and I had no reason not to trust him. For years, he was loving, supportive, etc. About 5 years ago I could tell he was getting fed up with my distance, but I couldn't force myself to change one thing. And then a little over a year ago, I found out he had been having an affair. And although I absolutely do not accept blame for his decision, I know I have to own my contribution to the deterioration of the marriage - especially with his having been there begging for something, anything from me for so long.

We have been trying to work things out since, and he has done I think  everything he could to re-commit, etc to me, but I am still to this day unable to shake ky avoidance and trust and numbness issues that started so much longer ago. The recent problems were his end of the rope and my wake up call.

I know I need to let this go for myself so I can be happy in this marriage or not (ideally and hopefully, though, I do want the marriage to work). I need some guidance...I did go to counseling for a fee months but got title from it. I want to live in and focus on NOW - not 10 years ago.

I really need to know specifically what I can do to being myself out of this pit and become capable again of joy and hope. Anyone with tangible, do-able things for me to do? Something that will show some (any) results quickly. I don't want my decade old loss to have driven me to another (divorce) and I want to be happy in general.

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Hi Meceebe,

I was also scared once. I wanted to make others feel good and tried my best to please them but ultimately they blew my trust by admonishing me for not listening to them. I withdrew and was depressed over it for a long time. But I had a friend who would make me feel better and she helped me see myself in a lighter way. Not to be serious but take one day at a time. I now am able to put my foot down if something is wrong or someone tries to blame me. I am sure you had your dad who helped you, but now since he is not here but he will look out for you when you help yourself. You will feel better and soon you will regain the confidence in yourself and others. Your husband is there for you and so are all of us here. Above all there is God.



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My friend, you say you need to know “specifically what I can do to being myself out of this pit and become capable again of joy and hope . . . tangible, do-able things for me to do . . . that will show some (any) results quickly. I don't want my decade old loss to have driven me to another (divorce) and I want to be happy in general.” Given your complicated situation, that’s a pretty tall order for an online grief discussion forum ~ even one whose members are as wise, experienced and caring as those you will find here.

I don’t know what if any support you found in the wake of your father’s unexpected death a decade ago, but since you say “I mourned some at the time, but mostly I pushed it down” I assume that means you’ve never really dealt effectively with your grief. As you probably know by now, unresolved grief doesn’t go anywhere ~ it simply lies in wait until you pay it the attention it demands and deserves. But it is never too late to do the work of mourning, especially if you have some professional guidance to assist you.

I understand that you “did go to counseling for a few months but got little from it. I want to live in and focus on NOW – not 10 years ago.” Still, if it was your father’s death that triggered all the subsequent problems you’ve been experiencing in your marriage and in your life over the last decade, then I don’t see how you can avoid going back to that event to examine in detail what happened, how you reacted at the time and why. That doesn’t mean you have to stay mired in the past ~ but it may require that you revisit that time in your life, with the guidance and support of a professional counselor or therapist.

I don’t know anything about the type of counseling or therapy you sought at the time, but I’m struck by the fact that, since this obviously was not a good match for you, you gave up entirely on seeking help elsewhere. If you had a broken leg, were unable to walk and were not satisfied with the medical care you received, would you just decide that there is nothing further to be done ~ even if it meant that your leg would never heal properly and you could be crippled for life? No, I suspect you’d find another doctor! Yet here you are with a broken heart and you don’t think it might be wise to find another therapist?

Seeking the compassionate companionship of the wonderful people you will find on this site is fine, and I hope you’ll continue to feel welcome here ~ but given your complicated situation, I think you already know that you need something in addition to what we can offer you here. So I’m going to refer you to some additional resources, and I strongly encourage you to explore them:

What Is Complicated Grief?

Voices of Experience: Delayed Grief

Are You Reluctant to Seek Counseling for Grief?

Seeing a Specialist in Grief Counseling: Does It Matter?

Grief Support Group Didn’t Help – Now What?

Finding Grief Support That Is Right for You

And given the difficulties you’re experiencing in your marriage, I also invite you to read some of the articles I’ve listed on the Death of a Relationship page of my Grief Healing website.

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I'm sorry for your loss. And your marriage issues. I too lost my parent suddenly... My Mom to murder, when I was 15. She was my world... my everything. My stepfather shot her in front of me. After 10 yrs of abuse and rape that she found out about eventually. I am 39 now. But my trust is nothing. And I tend to purposely "leave" when I feel even the slightest of attachments. Shutting down. Is why my marriage has nearly ended in divorce twice in almost 5yrs of marriage. I don't have the answer for you. I just feel for you greatly. I have trusted my therapist of 7yrs... With much struggle. I constantly try to push her away and shut her out but she reads me like a book so deeply and compassionately.

I wish you much luck and courage.

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  • 10 months later...

Excellent post marty - 2 things you that came to mind for me that I was going to say if you hadn't, ie there is no quick fix here, this grief must be faced and dealt with.....and second, if a therapist doesn't work, try another (your broken leg analogy was spot on). Also consider different "styles" - for ex. I tried 2 group style counseling settings which did little for me before seeing a grief counselor 1 on 1, which helped a lot (PS I know people who got much more out of a group setting, not saying one is better than the other). Also I'm not sure what "therapist" meant, but frankly I would strongly suggest a grief counselor over some garden variety psychologist...ie see someone who specializes in this.

The other thing to deal with that's tied to the grief, yet also an issue on its own, is the problem(s) with the marriage. Your distancing sounds like it did contribute to his affair, but that is absolutely no excuse for what I consider an inexcusable thing to do. It sounds like you're both working on it and that may well be enough, but you might consider marriage counseling as well (don't know much about it to be honest, just a thought).

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