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Delayed Grieving For Over Thirty Years

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My mom died of cancer 36 years ago when I was 12 years old. At the time I couldn't properly grieve because I didn't feel safe. I was left to my own devices (my grandparents, dad and extended family were lost in their own grief and didn't know how to turn their minds to the children my mother left behind) and I was terrified to feel the pain. Also, I felt my grief was a burden or a nuisance to others and thus off putting. So I buried it and dragged it around with me for over thirty years. That delayed grief has sabotaged me for years.

Finally I am at a point where I am ready to truly grieve but I do not know how. Part of me feels like I am still 12 years old and I am shouting at the top of my lungs HOW COULD YOU LEAVE ME? I am so angry. Intellectually, as an adult I know she had no choice but the 12 year old me is so LIVID that she did this to me. This anger in me is so deep, so pervasive. I am hoping that if I finally can grieve, the anger will abate and I will have some peace.

Can anyone help?

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First of all, I want to tell you how very sorry I am to hear that you lost your Mother at such a young age. Our grief does not go away. It sits with us until we attend to it. I think you have a right to be angry and I’m sure you felt abandoned when your Mother died. Since you did not receive safe and emotional outlets when you were so young does not mean that you shouldn’t receive support now.

You can find help by looking for a grief counselor who can help you work through your anger and who understands children who grieve.

You have already found this special place where we listen and understand what it is to lose a loved one. We need our losses validated and this place allows us to do so.

It is very important that you talk with someone who can help you through this now that you are an adult.

If you have a Hospice group where you live you can ask them how to begin.

Counseling services at hospitals could give you referrals to someone who understands grief.

Others who read your post will be able to give you more help.


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I am so sorry for your loss...it is so much harder when you are young and still need your mom. Knowing she didn't choose to leave you doesn't mean you don't still experience anger, that's because it doesn't have to make sense, it is just a feeling and doesn't need to make sense.

I encourage you to see a grief counselor that can help you work through your grief so you can make headway with it. I hope you will continue to come here and voice your thoughts and feelings...like Anne said, it does help to know you are heard and someone understands.

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So sorry to hear about such an early loss of your mom. Mine died 2 months ago and I found myself saying the same kind of things. "I want my mom" - and I'm 55 years old. Miss her a ton.

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