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A couple of months after my mother (aka "Mumsie" in GreyHawk-speak) passed, I was invited to participate in a grief support group sponsored by my childhood church.  At first I balked because I've always disliked public demonstrations of grief, but after I thought about it, I thought, why not?

I should have listened to my gut after that first meeting.

The youngest there by at least 20 years, I sat in a circle with mostly women.  Some were silent like me, but there were others who made it a point to "cry on cue".  If they weren't crying, they were babbling a mile a minute about their deceased loved one.  I winced throughout that first session.  Their grief seemed so profound, so heartwrenching that I instantly put up my psychic shield, lest it infected me.

Follow the squiggle!

CareGiving Kos is a community diary series posted generally on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening by volunteer diarists. This group & series is for those who are now (or have been) in the role of being a care-giver for a loved one. We want this space to be supportive and free of squabbles. Our only rule is to be kind to yourself and others who are going through a very difficult time. Please respect the concept of this group: No Politics Here.

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During the second meeting, The Wailers, as I'd mentally termed them, came out in full force.  They dominated the portion of the meeting where we sat in small groups and, in turn, each of us was supposed to tell the group something about our loved one.  They dominated the Q & A portion.  As we adjourned, one of the facilitators noticed my unease.

"Why do you let them do that?"  I asked.  "They're not the only ones grieving here."

The facilitator nodded.  "They're suffering from what's known as complicated grief.  Most of them follow us from church to church.  They're stuck in the process, and we cannot turn them away.  Their loved ones passed many, many years ago, and they're still grieving."

Stuck in the process of grieving.

According to Grief-Healing-Support:

Complicated Grief or Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) may occur when normal grief and loss processes appear to become 'stuck' and the symptoms continue unresolved for months and perhaps years.

The nature and closeness of the relationship you had with your loved one (such as the death of a partner, child or parent) and the nature of death (for instance a tragic death) may also prolong the grieving process.

If the usual feelings of disbelief, loss, anguish and bitterness over your loss do not go away after six months or more, and if you have difficulty functioning normally, you may have symptoms of Prolonged Grief Disorder (or Complicated Grief).

I lived with my mother for most of my life.  She was widowed.  I was her only child.  The natural inclination for a parent to let a child spread his or her wings, so to speak, didn't exist in our relationship.  I couldn't leave her to fend for herself, even though she was quite capable of doing such years and years before the dementia surfaced.  At the same time I was a self-conscious, timid young woman who couldn't quite grasp the concept of letting myself bloom into who I was supposed to become.  My mother sacrificed much for me -- she paid for most of my schooling and let me live rent-free (OK, I paid her weekly board when I started working regularly -- that went for groceries and the occasional household bill, neither of which I realized until I took over the checkbook).  She never let on about her financial difficulties, even though we took vacations to Europe and the Caribbean.  I, in turn, was her daily company.  I didn't want her to be alone.  I didn't want to be alone.

From The Harvard Medical School Health Guide:

For anyone who could not respond to earlier losses without losing emotional equilibrium, complicated grief becomes a greater danger. So a person with a history of depression, anxiety disorders, or a personality disorder is more likely to suffer complicated grief after bereavement, as well as PTSD after a traumatic experience.

My mother, as well as everyone in her family, had a history of clinical depression and/or mood disorders in an era where one never acknowledged their existence.  I didn't discover until well into adulthood that she suffered from severe postpartum depression from after my birth until I was past toddlerhood.  My grandmother's death a few years later sent her into an emotional tailspin.  When my father passed, both she and I disappeared into an emotional black pit.  We never discussed it, but we both witnessed what the effects of that black pit had on each other.

I do remember one particular phrase my mother would utter in reference to either my grandmother or my father:  "Part of me died that day."

From Psychology Today:

The symptoms, says Mary-Frances O'Connor, an assistant professor in psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA's medical center, are unique in their intensity. "They include an extreme yearning for the deceased, loneliness, even searching for the deceased in a crowd, and intrusive thoughts about the deceased."

Complicated grievers may feel that life has lost its meaning. "They will often say, 'I feel like part of myself died with the person,'" O'Connor says. People who were emotionally dependent on the person who passed away particularly at risk of developing complicated grief.

My mother was never quite herself for the last few decades of life before dementia.  I certainly know I haven't been quite myself since her passing; if anything, I consciously avoid talking about her in real life because I too could easily become one of The Wailers:  I have that heartwrenching wail down pat.  Just ask GreyHawk.

I avoid talking about our book Her Final Year:  A Caregiving Memoir both in real life and online because I don't want to publicly declare I'm stuck in the process of grieving.   Like The Wailers, I'm afraid if I start talking, I won't be able to stop.  I don't want to push people away with that, so I remain silent.  It's easier to do, of course, online, but anyone who knows me knows it's simmering just under the surface.

I'm sorry.  I'm sorry that I don't participate in this group as often as I should.  I'm sorry I don't market the book as I should, especially since I'm a co-author.  I feel like I've let everyone down, especially my mother.  Would she understand?  I have no idea, and the fact that I don't have any idea troubles me.

Originally posted to CareGiving Kos on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 01:59 PM PST.

Also republished by The Grieving Room and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  No way. Don't be sorry. You have to do what's best (29+ / 0-)

    for you. When we start listening to the "should" demons is when we lose equilibrium. Trust your instincts always. Inplimicitly. Follow your heart, because it knows what's right for you right then and there.

    Thanks for this diary. I found it really helpful. My dad is facing losing his second wife. I don't think he worked through his grief after losing my mom and now this. I could see him having these issues. I think he's chronically depressed anyway. This diary gives me something to do some research on.

    Thanks again

    I've become re-radicalized. Thanks a lot you bunch of oligarchical fascist sons-of-bitches. But once again, I have no choice. Bring it the fuck on.

    by mdmslle on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 03:09:30 PM PST

    •  I'm so happy I could help (13+ / 0-)

      You're absolutely correct -- I block my ears when it comes to the shoulds and woulds, but somehow they keep knocking :/

      Trying to accept to do what's best for me?  Now that's a very tall order...

      Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse.

      by HawkWife on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 03:46:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've learned (over lots of years) that they will (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nomandates, GreyHawk

        keep knocking.  For me, the goal is to notice them without believing their crap - cuz most of that 'should' crap is not accurate or valid.  It's my old fears and doubts coming out disguised as my very own concern trolls.  

        You know what the advice is (here) for the best response, right?  IGNORE THEM.  They only want to tangle with you, frustrate you or get you flustered.  Or maybe get a giggle to yourself as you imagine posting a favorite recipe to those shouldsters in your head.    :o)

        Thank you for all your honesty and hard work creating the book.  It has helped me and many others.

        Peace To You ~ Jonathan

        "I'm (so effing) tired of hearing that it's "pragmatic" to support positions that most people oppose." RFK Lives; (parenthetical swearing: JVolvo). PS Bach-Perry-Christie Boo!!11

        by JVolvo on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 03:34:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I once learned what "I'm Sorry" Means (7+ / 0-)

    The apology is meaningless unless one is willing to commit to changing the behavior that caused one  to have to say they were sorry. Anything short of that is just words.
     Those words served be well most my life.

  •  Thank you for talking about this (14+ / 0-)

    I had never heard of "complicated grief." I wonder whether ongoing participation in a grief support group is helping "The Wailers." It doesn't seem possible, but perhaps they're functioning better than they would be otherwise.

    The level of honesty and self-awareness displayed in this diary is impressive. I truly hope you find something that helps you get unstuck--perhaps this diary is a first step forward? And, FWIW, I think many people would be more sympathetic listeners than you might expect, and the ones who are unsympathetic aren't worth troubling yourself about. JMO

    •  I honestly don't know if they're being helped (8+ / 0-)

      by being perpetual "followers" either.  What struck me most about them was how "stuck" they must be in experiencing every single meeting's topics over and over and over again.  It's as though grief has become their life's mission.  I sincerely hope I never get to that level.

      Thank you so much for your kind words.  Maybe this is a first step forward, I don't know.  But I do feel better finally getting some of it out there.

      Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse.

      by HawkWife on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 07:22:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would guess they aren't. If they were they (6+ / 0-)

        would not be still doing it. It probably provides temporary relief, or an opportunity to feel companionship with others sharing their experience.

        And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

        by TheFatLadySings on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 05:35:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I am a therapist (11+ / 0-)

        and often deal with this issue, not to mention the fact that I suffered from this myself. So often it is tied to not having gotten what one needed in the first place when parents are involved. In the diarist's case, the roles appear to have been reversed, with mom being unable to reliably provide the nurturing every baby needs.... and then sending the message that it wasn't ok to grow up. This leads to getting stuck emotionally in childhood, a time when the parent is the center of life.... and thus it remains to this day, as one rotates around the loss of the person instead of the person.

        Another difficulty with females in particular is that one of the stages of grief is anger, often at the loved one for abandonment. Of course one knows logically that the person did not really choose to leave, but feelings are not rational and need to be acknowledged and worked through regardless. As it isn't ok for females to be angry in this culture, this presents a problem. The undealt feeling has to find expression somehow, and thus maybe expressed with an exceptable feeling like sadness, but since it's not the real feeling being sad and crying only reduces the pressure temporarily.

        Interestingly, males have the opposite problem as it's not ok to be sad of afraid, so they often have trouble with "anger"..... as anger is the only emotion that is ok so many other emotions masquerade as anger.

        •  interesting (8+ / 0-)

          A lot of my childhood revolved around making sure my mother was OK and to make myself as compliant as possible so I wouldn't bother her...when she had one of her angry outbursts -- they were frequent and often terrifying to me -- I was her target just by virtue of the fact of physically being there.  

          I am totally speechless and blown away right now by what you posted. Wow.

          Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse.

          by HawkWife on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 07:30:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Well (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HawkWife, GreyHawk

            as I said, this is terrain I am well acquainted with. So you never had your own life it sounds like, so how can you be expected to just jump into it now? Being stuck in the grief process does keep you where you have always been, so that might be part of it.  

            We adapt to whatever environment we land in, we have no choice. How many Gila Monsters do you suppose there are in Florida because they woke up one day and realized it sucked in Death Valley?

            That's why it's so hard to change, because we are that lizard with a fancy computer on top. A computer that can make us aware that where we have adapted to is in fact hell on earth, and thus can make it worse. But the lizard brain knows damn well where it can survive, so..... it's good at reproducing the old environment even if it can't stay where it originally started.

        •  I'm stuck with some of the anger (8+ / 0-)

          which gives me guilt.  My Mom's death was a long one.  Last 3 years we waited for the call in the night.  Then colon and pancreatic cancer took her.  Swiftly.  While being at her side, I had to deal with her right wing, crazy zealot family.  I took alot of their crap without fighting as I would normally do.  I needed my enegery and my head for my Mom and for me to get through it all.  As I held her hand during the last rites, an Uncle said something about us "heathens" and the Hospice nurse made him leave the room.  Every minute was with someone looking at me or my kids and judging us, mocking us, Palining and Becking us.  

          Imagine watching your Mom die with Limbaugh in the room!!!!!

          So it's been a year and I'm just now dealing with some of the grief process that I think I prolonged in order to just go back and forth to where  she lived.  

          Also my Mom was MORBIDLY obese.

          All my life she needed one of us kids to do for her.  That was "love" to her, taking care of her.  I wasn't good at it.  Never was.  Part of me, I think, hated the fact that her bad choices and depression were affecting me, too.  

          I'm a mom now and one of my children is severely disabled.  It was still expected of me to care for Mom.  I couldn't.  

          At the last year, my Mom had dementia from years of lack of proper oxygen, she smoked up to the last year even while on oxygen...  

          I know she isn't in a "better place" or "peaceful" now.  Her eyes opened briefly as she died.  I saw terror and fear.  There wasn't any happy ending, there wasn't any "relief".  Just pain and a long walk back to the parking lot.  I buried most of her family with her that week.

          I'm mad.  My Mom didn't want to die.  She just didn't know how to live.

          "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix

          by Damnit Janet on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:12:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  my mother had the opposite reaction (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Damnit Janet, JVolvo, GreyHawk, nomandates

            in that she wanted to die -- she had been saying versions of it from the time my father passed.  Her infamous tagline whenever she introduced me to someone was, "This is my daughter X.  If it weren't for her, I'd kill myself."  Now, she probably did fervently believe that, but you can only imagine the psychic number that phrase did on me.

            I am so, so sorry for both you and your mom.  I wish there was something I could do to ease your pain.

            Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse.

            by HawkWife on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 05:12:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for sharing what is (22+ / 0-)

    obviously a difficult self-realization.  When I read your title, I wondered, "Who has UNcomplicated grief?"  I had no idea there was such a definable term.

    I lost my mom to cancer when she was 57.  Many of my friends' parents are now dying, and I see the vast differences in how they cope - or not.  My advice to them all has been the same: grieving takes as long as it takes.  Denying it doesn't make it any less intense or its duration any shorter, and in the end, you will never get over it.  Losing a parent, especially your mother is a BIG deal, no matter how old you are or how sick she was.

    You and your mom had a unique relationship built, in large part, on prior griefs.  You learned, individually and as a family, to cope with those griefs in your own ways.  You'll find that life will eventually flow as it once did, if in a slightly different direction.  You'll also find that at random unguarded, unexpected moments, it will all overwhelm you and the tears will well up.  It just happens.  Even after over twenty years, something will hit me just so and I feel it coming.  I've learned that accepting that as an occasional part of my life now gives the moods less power over me.  

    I wish I could explain it better.  I wish I (or anyone) could say it will be better at such and such a time.  It does get easier to deal with, but it never goes away.  Maybe just realizing that is enough to get us through...

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 04:39:38 PM PST

  •  I hope writing this has been helpful to you. (15+ / 0-)

    You may find writing, in general, could be helpful, allowing for more private expression of your feelings. It need not be for anyone's eyes but your own, and you could even write and delete the same words, day after day.

    Healing can be a long process, but as someone else said, it sounds as if you were brought up, were living, in grieving. You may not know what it feels like to be "healed." I hope some day you experience that lightness and peace.

    "Stay string." ~ rb608

    by Melanie in IA on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 05:29:49 PM PST

    •  I hope so too (12+ / 0-)

      ...and you're right:  I was brought up in grieving.  That has never really occurred to me before...

      Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse.

      by HawkWife on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 07:30:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  i was "brought up in grieving" also (10+ / 0-)

        never saw those words in black and white before, but as soon as I saw them they hit me as my reality.

        my mom never got a chance to be the youngest.  When she was nine months old her parents were wrapped up in their first grandchild.

        my father went off with another woman while I was a tiny baby.

        when I was seven I had to move away from my childhood home with my loving and attentive grandparents, and live with my mom who was barely capable of taking care of herself.  I feel like I lost them and her and my father.

        during my childhood mom lost two more pregnancies.

        her whole life was mourning and loss and sadness.

        during the last seven years of her life when I was doing the in home eldercare mom and I became very close and tried to make it up to each other for the years of depression-fueled estrangement.

        now the five year anniversary of my mom's death is coming up in three months and  I have made so little progress.

        in the last few months I have been so depressed that I have a hard time feeling attached to myself.

        In some ways I feel grieving has been my whole life.  Not just these past five years but my whole life.

        And my food addiction is just an (unsuccessful) attempt to run away from that grief.

        I have a similar reaction to the term complicated grief.  Isn't all grief complicated?  I can't imagine getting over the loss of a parent or a spouse or a friend or a child in six months!

        "Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D."

        by TrueBlueMajority on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 05:16:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Six months is indeed too short a time (5+ / 0-)

          My mother was never given a chance to be a kid when she was growing up.  Like all immigrant families, she and her brothers were put to work in the family business as soon as they returned from school (no wonder why I have the work ethic I do!) My mother was also the only girl, so there was also that additional burden.

          We became much closer when I was an adult too.  She often apologized to me for her past behavior.  She asked me to forgive her during one of our very last coherent was as though she couldn't pass unless I did forgiver her, which I did.  Two months later she was gone.

          Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse.

          by HawkWife on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 07:45:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Had to respond (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GreyHawk, TrueBlueMajority

          I had read that study awhile ago and it made me agitated, six months!!???  I am a little over 3 years out from watching my beloved husband leave his defective earth suit; have incredible support, loving family and friends, a great therapist, a wonderful son, no immediate financial issues, have a very healthy understanding of moving through the grief and moving forward, am healthy, eat well, excercise every day, experience joy, laugh, have fun and you know what?  I grieve every day, miss him every day, listen for him every day, watch my son without him every day.  Just because you choose to still live with purpose after a loss doesnt mean all those examples of "complicated" grief dissapear - 6 months my far too long unsqueezed ass!

  •  Grieving is complicated (18+ / 0-)

    I only catch a portion of them but this is the best of the Caregiving-Kos diaries I've read. It's honest and touching.  I think any of us that have experienced grief can relate to parts of what you have written.  Grieving is a process that needs to be traversed.  People like those you mentioned with "Complicated grief" are stuck in the process and not moving toward healing.  I don't have time tonight but perhaps sometime I'll share a bit about going through another wrong-road in the grief process. "Denied or Delayed grief" that can manifest in surprising ways.  Something I experienced after my brother died (he was 39).  

    Thank you so much for sharing some very personal feelings.  Such frankness is helpful to others who are trying to navigate the grieving process.  I hope writing about it proves somewhat therapeutic.  

  •  You are very kind (12+ / 0-)

    It would be very easy to ridicule the "Wailers". Instead you try to understand them thus helping all of us to understand them.

    music- the universal language

    by daveygodigaditch on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 07:59:41 PM PST

  •  I'm in a grief support group now (12+ / 0-)

    Tomorrow will be week 5 of 7.  I'm having problems with a couple of people in our group who monopolize all of the sharing.  One woman in particular goes into great detail and seems to be either terribly angry or she ends up crying on cue.  No matter what is said she has to chime in with her own story.

    I feel my own feelings are stifled and I don't know if I'm getting much from the group experience.  I'll be glad when it's over.

    It's like what you wrote "They're not the only ones grieving here."

    “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.” Albert Einstein

    by Texnance on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 09:54:08 PM PST

    •  I wish all of us (the BIG us) had the capacity to (9+ / 0-)

      sit with you, hold your hand, while you go through your process.
      I wish for everyone that at least one person in their life would say, "Will you tell me about your loved one?" And then sit back and LISTEN to their story.

      When my own mother died, people at work were appropriately sympathetic, but no one actually wanted to hear about her. I kept wishing someone, anyone, would say, "When you're ready, I'd like you to tell me about your mom." It would have taken me a long way toward healing, just to do that.

      In a group where you are, to some extent, forced to listen to others' stories, you have no opportunity to share your own. Though it must be reassuring for some people that their mourning/healing process is "normal," and also to have reinforcement and information on what comes next, it's too bad that some can't move on and dominate the discussion.

      Best to you...

      "Stay string." ~ rb608

      by Melanie in IA on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 05:36:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  :nodding: (5+ / 0-)

      I have a friend who attended a support group after his wife passed.  He left in the middle of the first meeting, IIRC, because he couldn't take the monopolization.

      I found a couple of the group exercises quite therapeutic.  One of them was to write about a photograph of you and your loved one -- when it was taken, the circumstances around the photo, etc.  I had maybe 3 or 4 photos I couldn't choose between, so I wrote about all of them.  It made me wish I had known my mother as an adult when she was in her prime.

      At least you've stuck with it much longer than I did :)

      Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse.

      by HawkWife on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:04:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The first meeting wasn't too bad (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HawkWife, GreyHawk

        The monopolizer wasn't at that meeting.

        I'm stuck for 3 more times but I know my inhibitions keep me from fully participating in the exercises.  I hope I can do them later at my own pace.

        “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.” Albert Einstein

        by Texnance on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 03:37:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  please don't apologize- (10+ / 0-)

    just hold yourself together and be well, and know that most folks understand. This time last year, I was in the deathwatch for my stepmom, who I really never knew really well despite our 36 year relationship. This year, I am thinking of her constantly, and everyone else- my dad, her kids, sisters, have moved on. My thoughts and well-wishes are with you.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 12:27:34 AM PST

  •  sorry for your loss though it is a cliche (10+ / 0-)

    it appears our mothers died at about the same time.  Observing people who are grieving I agree that grief can be addictive and many succumb to its allure

  •  Be good to yourself (12+ / 0-)

    I went to a grief seminar after my mother died -- it was a one-time thing, though the facilitator encouraged participants to seek further guidance if necessary (it was put on by the Behavioral Health department of the medical foundation my spouse and I get care from). The one key thing that I took from that seminar is that when it comes to grief, it takes as long as it takes.

    And don't be afraid to cry; my mother's been gone for almost 7 years now, and while our relationship was complicated (almost as much as yours was with your mother; I was the youngest of four, and with 6 years difference between me and my nearest sibling I was almost a virtual only child) I still miss her. I miss my father-in-law even more deeply, especially now with my spouse (his oldest son) retired; I'm in uncharted territory here.

    Maybe a good session (or several) solo with a counselor would help -- or you could work out your issues on your own with journal-writing, art, or whatever inspires you. My father-in-law managed to find and get in touch with his birth father (his parents divorced when he was 5 years old, and his mother re-married an Army colonel who had them moving about the country), only to have him die a few short years later; going through my father-in-law's papers, I found he worked out most of his grief and other issues through poetry. I have those poems and plan to put them on the computer, then print them out and collect them in a book for my mother-in-law.

    A long time ago, there was a late-night talk show host whose name escapes me, but I remember his sign-off, which I leave with you: take care of yourself, and each other.

    Now to try to end the wars we ask our gay and straight soldiers to fight. -- Chris Hayes (modified)

    by Cali Scribe on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 02:12:53 AM PST

    •  counseling has been recommended to me (5+ / 0-)

      by several RL and online friends.  I haven't made any steps toward it as my present insurance no longer covers mental health visits.  My new one will, though, so after the first of the year...

      Writing, for me, is very, very therapeutic.  I gain much more insight from it than I do talking, much like your FIL did.

      My best to you.

      Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse.

      by HawkWife on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:21:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I knew there were good reasons (10+ / 0-)

    to not go to grief counseling after my husband's death. The Wailers would have driven me off, but I really worried about the Widowers, surfing around for a new companion.

    This post(?) is great self-insight. I thank you for it.

    Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

    by riverlover on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 02:17:13 AM PST

  •  Sorry for what? Being human? (9+ / 0-)

    Sweetie... you have nothing to be sorry for...


  •  I think your mother would understand. (6+ / 0-)

    I went through a therapy for PTSD called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing that really helped me. It was initially developed to help veterans. Nothing else worked but this did.

    PTSD and complicated grief sound like a related problem. I would recommend giving EMDR a shot. It helps get things unstuck.

    And even though it all went wrong I'll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah! -Leonard Cohen .................@laurenreichelt

    by TheFatLadySings on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 05:13:40 AM PST

    •  I've heard of EMDR (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GreyHawk, nomandates, Onomastic, corvaire

      and I once had a therapist who had wanted to try it on me for other issues I'd been going through at the time.  I never went through it.  I think I might have been scared of what the result could have been for some odd reason...

      A few of the readings I'd done for this piece mentioned EMDR and the parallels between complicated grief and PTSD.  You don't think there would be parallels, but there are.

      Certe, toto, sentio nos in kansate non iam adesse.

      by HawkWife on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:28:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  EMDR can be very helpful; it can help one greatly (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nomandates, GreyHawk

        reduce the internal anxiety/stress that feels automatic/baked in.  Please do consider it, I have benefited from it and know others who have also.

        Peace To You Again ~  Jonathan

        "I'm (so effing) tired of hearing that it's "pragmatic" to support positions that most people oppose." RFK Lives; (parenthetical swearing: JVolvo). PS Bach-Perry-Christie Boo!!11

        by JVolvo on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 06:30:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My deep sympathies for your loss ---- (7+ / 0-)

    this idea of "complicated grief" is very helpful. It sounds like what my father went through after my mother's death. His lawyer commented that she was surprised to find out when she died while they worked on dad's will, because he talked about her as if she had just died, rather than years earlier.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 06:13:21 AM PST

  •  Thank you (6+ / 0-)

    still reeling from my own loss of my mother.  But it was very "complicated".

    And thank you for allowing me to share my story upthread in a comment.

    3 days of bereavement... I'm lucky to work in a place that I got that.  But it wasn't enough to even get the burial stuff done.  It was a week after her death, so I also ate up a bunch of vacation time.  

    None of my European friends understand that most of us Americans use our "vacation time" for things like Dr Appts and Bereavement issues.

    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." ~Jimi Hendrix

    by Damnit Janet on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 08:19:11 AM PST

  •  Hawkwife... (6+ / 0-)
    I'm afraid if I start talking, I won't be able to stop. I don't want to push people away with that, so I remain silent.

    I know this feeling all too well as I do exactly the same thing.  The few times I mentioned my son's suicide, I received overwhelming support and felt unworthy of the comfort.

    My complicated grief is tied to the feeling that since my son chose to take his own life that I failed him miserably and deserve no succor.

    You and GreyHawk provided most generously for your mother in a very profound way.  I have always admired you both.

    No matter what, talking about your grief does help even when it is so difficult to do.  Perhaps something other than this group can help you.

    I wish you the best.

  •  A wonderful article. Thank you! (7+ / 0-)

    A couple of points
    1)  You are not alone.  I too suffer from complicated grief due to a loss that occurred 15 years ago.  My life changed irrevocably after that, and often were the times I cursed my weakness at not overcoming those events.  Today, I see that sort of loss and my response to it as more normative, not pathological.  Such things DO NOT make us bad people, only humans.

    2) Grief does not express itself with tears alone.  Another way grief manifests itself is with toughts of "I should have done this....I could have done that... Would that I had done this other thing..."  It is very helpful for me to understand those thoughts are expressions of my grief, and not reality (i.e. even if I had done any of those things, the outcome would have been the same).

    3) Many people find comfort in fellowship with others, so the typical suggestion to the bereaved is to join a club, a church group, a civic organization, volunteer in your community, etc.  This explains the purpose of the grief groups.  There is scientific evidence that physical movement has anti-depressant effects, so there is some basis for the suggestion to get out, meet others, and do stuff.

    4) The buddhists tell us that loss and change are ever-presant (all things MUST pass) and that the tendency to avoid loss and change is a) a normal human reaction, and b) a principle cause of human suffering.  Buddism and most other religions teach the importance of acceptance.  But how do I accept what is unacceptable to me?  I don't have a good answer to this question, but I do know that my search for the answer to that question puts me firmly on the path of one of life's most significant endeavors, one that has been trekked by mankind's greatest thinkers.  You will find many friends if you aacept this challenge.

    I wish you peace of mind in all you do.  I hope you keep writing because I enjoyed your thoughts on this topic.    

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 09:23:14 AM PST

  •  Not sure I buy the "disorder" part (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HawkWife, GreyHawk

    As there is nothing "wrong" or "disordered" about the way a person experiences grief.

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 02:16:55 PM PST

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