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so my mum died when i was eight (im now 17), she got breast cancer when i was 4. she should have gone in for the surgery to remove the tumour over christmas but she didnt want ruin christmas so she waited till after (predictably i have to think wot that delay could have meant).the cancer came back, to her liver and her bones, there was noway, there could be no miricle. we were told 2/3 times i think by my dad that she would not make it past the weekend. after the first time tho this didnt seem to matter because if she can surprise doctors once....

but she did die.

i have been without my mum for half my life.

she is never bloody talked bout coz my dad "sealed that box away a long time ago and it hurts to open" my elder sisters cant or wont remember-blocked it out and then theres me...the one that cant quite ever get over it. the one thats too young to have memories that arnt created frm photos or scrapes from other people.the one that never bloody gets to tlk about it.

my step mum gets moody withany slight mention of it- like a dead women is competition to her.

i thought i had reali grieved ( and i did ) in 2004. in 2004 altho she died in 1996 it reali hit me and i dunno i suffered, i wept it was awful so hard and it was just for me. after my mum died the family went wrong for years. bt 2004 wasnt too bad so i think it just came and hit me-hard. but tonight trying to sleep my thought snapped back to her and i thought that u can find anything on the net right.....

this year for her anniversairy i will be away at uni. my family doesnt do anything 4 it- havent reali 4 ages. but i knw wot this year wil mean:

as soon as death is passed the 2 year mark no1 cares-its just a battle scar

10 years no1 will give a **** she will just b dead to every1. does that make any sense? she will b dead to every1. i make it worse by shrugging it off saying "ah well it was nearly 10 yrs ago" it becomes less than trivual and that keeps me awake i think. its so "in the past" to every1

well as u can tell this isnt me making much sense or at the best of times i just want something....some answers that i knw arnt there....some help that nevr seems to come. maybe i just had to put it out there yunno

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I am so sorry to hear of your pain and loss. I am 43 yrs old and just lost my Mom on January 6th. I already feel as if it is a "closed book" as my brother hardly acknowledges what is happening (we lost our home and are both unemployeed as well). I drove around aimlessly yesterday trying to connect with my Mom and my shared past. Our hometown is a slum now (Detroit), and no Church is open unless mass is being held. I went to the hospital to talk to a social worker. I wandered the streets looking for strangers to cry about my Mom, to listen to my grief. I too am the one who is "not dealing with it well", or in other words, fast enough. It is so tragic that you ost your Mom when you and she, were so young. You are told you are too young to remember. I am told, "At least she is not suffering, some people don;t get as long with their Moms." How do I know she isn't suffering. My history is that I took care of my Mom for two tears as she had COPD, a lung disease caused from smoking. Every move I made or didn't make, I analize and worry over. I don't sleep at all unless I take some sort of drug, or I'm too exhausted from crying, worrying, and generally beating myself up. I feel for you, my friend. Try and find one of your Mom's friends who will probably think you are the sweetest, most loving of sons to be so interested in your Mom. Some people are not so interested. I find some strength from my Mom's friends. In any event, try and go easy on yourself. Easier said than done, but try...We all have to cope, I am told it never quite goes away, but the pain may help us be stronger and sensitive to others at the same time. Just my thoughts, I'm new to the agony of grief, loss, and such loneliness.

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My dear Clam,

I'm so sorry to learn of the death of your mother when you were so very young. Forgive me -- I cannot tell from your posts whether you are male or female, but I want to offer some information that I hope will be helpful to you.

You say that “altho my grief may seem like nothing because it was 10 years ago – i should b over it by now.” I want to assure you that the sadness you are feeling still today, so many years after your mother's death, is both understandable and normal. It may interest you to know that research indicates that the loss of a parent in early childhood does indeed have an ongoing effect on the life of a person, through adolescence and on into adulthood. Grief expert J. William Worden, who served as Co-Director of the Child Bereavement Study at Harvard Medical School, states that:

It may be that the most important long-term consequence of parental death during childhood is neither depression nor anxiety disorder, as important as these are, because these only affect a small percentage of adults with childhood parental loss. Rather, the most important long-term impact may be their continuing sense of emptiness and an ongoing need to rethink who this parent would have been in their lives had he or she remained alive. This ongoing presence of the lost parent is strong for most people, even though they may have had adequate parenting by the surviving parent or parent surrogate (J. William Worden, in Children and Grief When a Parent Dies, The Guilford Press, New York, 1996, p. 110).

You say that no one in your family even mentions your mother anymore, “and then theres me...the one that cant quite ever get over it. the one thats too young to have memories that arnt created frm photos or scrapes from other people.the one that never bloody gets to tlk about it.” Whatever grief you were not permitted to experience or express as a child hasn’t gone anywhere, my dear, and I think the reason you “cant sleep” sometimes is because your grief is still lying there in your mind and in your heart, unaddressed. It sounds as if not much was said about whatever grief you may have felt right after your mother died and over the last ten years as you were growing up. If your efforts to ask and learn about your mother were met with resistance from your father, your older sisters, your stepmother and your other relatives, it only adds to your feelings of loss, because without their cooperation, you cannot construct any real memories of her. I would venture to say that most people in your position would feel exactly the way that you are feeling now: sad, frustrated and angry.

That's one of the realities of grief. As you have discovered, if we cannot give it the attention it demands at the time of our loss, our grief doesn't get resolved -- it simply goes dormant and waits for us to take care of it. And sooner or later, when something happens to "trigger" it, out it comes, just as if the loss had happened yesterday. Regardless of what others in your family may be telling you about this death, one of the greatest myths about grief is that the day will come when we "get over it." Grief is a normal reaction to a significant loss, and it's something we all get through and learn to carry with us as we go on to live our lives, but we never, ever get over it. And there is no time frame for grief. The bond you have with your mother will continue as long as you hold the memory of her – or at least the memory of who you’d like to think she was – alive in your heart. Even though the two of you never got to know each other because she died at such an early age and when you yourself were so young, you still may find yourself grieving the loss of what never was and will never be.

Grief produces all kinds of conflicting feelings, most commonly those of anger and guilt – which over time can become quite distorted, unless we share them with someone else (a trusted friend, a relative, a clergy person, a grief counselor). Feelings exposed to the light of day can be acknowledged, examined, evaluated, worked through and resolved. Feelings that are stuffed just sit there and fester, making us feel miserable, crazy, sick and alone. You may have heard that "time will heal all wounds" but I'm sure you've learned by now that the passage of time doesn't do anything to heal your grief – time is neutral. It's what you do with the time that matters.

Grieving successfully requires the hard work of confronting, expressing and working through the pain of your loss. The good news is that it is never too late to do the work of grieving. That's because unresolved grief doesn't go anywhere - it just lies there waiting for us to deal with it - and when the pain of grief keeps coming up for us despite our efforts to ignore it, we are wise to pay it the attention it demands.

So I strongly encourage you to find someone to talk to individually about all of this, my friend. I don’t know where you live or what resources are available to you, but I think it’s important to find someone who knows something about the normal grieving process, so that issues specifically related to the early loss of your mother can be addressed. You say that this year for the ten-year anniversary of your mother’s death you’ll “be away at university” – perhaps you could investigate whatever grief support services are available on your campus and take advantage of those. At the very least, as this special date approaches, I would encourage you to go ahead and plan a personal, private ritual of remembrance that honors your loss and pays tribute to your mother.

Of course you’re certainly most welcome to continue posting here in our Loss of a Parent forum, which is like a virtual support group in that it puts you in touch with others whose experiences may be similar to your own. I think it's also helpful to read all you can about grief to learn what is normal and what you can do to manage your own reactions (for examples, see the Articles and Books page on my own Grief Healing Web site.

See also the sites listed on my site’s Death of a Parent page.) Take a look at the on-line email course on grief that I wrote for Self Healing Expressions, The First Year of Grief: Help for the Journey.

Find and read some of the wonderful stories written by others whose mothers have died; this will help you see that you are not alone, and will give you the hope that if others managed to get through such a devastating loss, then somehow you will find your own way, too. See, for example, the book reviews of Maxine Harris's book, The Loss That Is Forever: The Lifelong Impact of the Early Death of a Mother or Father at Amazon.com. At Grieving The Loss of a Parent , Alexandra Kennedy makes the point that relationships don’t have to end when a loved one dies. In her insightful writings, she describes many ways to reconnect with a deceased parent, including with dreams, letter-writing and guided imagery.

I think it's important to recognize that even though you're still feeling sorrow over the loss of your mother now, it doesn't necessarily mean that you haven't made any progress in your grief journey. As we grow and develop through the years, our grief changes right along with us. This grief will change you as well, influencing who you are in the present and affecting who you'll become in the future. This death of this important person must be worked through, adapted to, and integrated into your life repeatedly, as different situations and developmental milestones will require you to accommodate this loss of your mother again and again. You will re-visit your mother's death continually as you grapple with its meaning – emotionally, socially, economically and spiritually – and as you struggle to find a place for her in your present and future life.

I sincerely hope this information proves helpful to you, my dear. Grieving is very hard work, but it is manageable and there are many resources "out there" that can help. Please know that we’re all thinking of you, and we hope you will continue to use this warm and caring place to "put it out there." We are here for you, and we stand ready to listen to whatever it is you need to say.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

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