Ambiguous Grief: Grieving Someone Who Is Still Alive

My guess is that when people read the title of this article they will react with either a, “what are they talking about?  How can someone be grieving someone who is still alive and what the heck is ambiguous grief???” or a “holy crap, yes!  I have felt exactly that way! Thank goodness WYG is finally covering this topic”.  This is one of those topics where if you have been there, you get it and if you haven’t, you don’t.  Either way, hopefully you’ll read on.

Before we dive in, if you clicked on this post because you feel like you are grieving someone with a terminal illness who has not yet died, there is another WYG article you should read before you read this article.  Check out our article on Anticipatory Grief, which is about the grief that comes when we anticipate that we are going to lose someone.

In contrast to anticipatory grief, there are times in life when someone we love becomes someone we barely recognize.  The person is still physically with us, but psychologically they are gone. There are a range of reasons this can happen.  Some of the most common are things like addiction, dementia, traumatic brain injuries, and mental illness.  If you have never lived through loving someone in such a situation, this can be hard to understand.  The person you love is still there, sometimes they ‘look’ sick, sometimes they don’t.  But regardless of how they look, they do things they would never have done, they say things they would never have said, treat you in ways they never would have treated you, and they are not there for you in ways they previously were.  This is sometimes referred to as “ambiguous grief” or “ambiguous loss”.

This may sound very abstract, but when it occurs in your life it is very concrete and real.  Your mom, who always loved and supported you, doesn’t recognize you, understand you or says hurtful things.  You husband, who was always kind and considerate, is now lying and stealing to support an addiction.  You son, who was brilliant and driven, is now struggling with delusions and hallucinations.

These things do not change our love for the person – we still love our mom with dementia, our husband with an opiate addiction, our son with schizophrenia.  But this continued love doesn’t change how deeply we miss the person they used to be, the person we lost.  We may not feel like we have the same relationship with that person – our marriage no longer feels like a marriage when one spouse can no longer remember the other.  The parent-child relationship no longer feels the same when a parent has to stop protecting, trusting, or helping a child in the same way due to addiction.  The child-parent relationship becomes confused when a child has to care for a parent.   Though we still have a relationship with the person it has radically changed and we grieve the relationship we used to have.

Our ‘ambiguous grief’ feelings may be sadness and yearning, anger and guilt, or a range of other emotions.  These emotions can become even more complicated than the grief that comes after a death when the behaviors and words of the ‘new’ person causes us to question our old memories.  Or worse, they can start to consume our brains as those old memories begin to fade.  Another complication of ambiguous grief is that many people don’t recognize it as grief.  When those around us don’t acknowledge our grief, or make us feel that we have permission to grieve this sort of loss, that can make you feel lonely and isolated. It can be a hard type of grief to open up about because we know others may not acknowledge it.

As usual, the big question is so what?! So what that it is grief? So what do I do about it?

Ambiguous Grief Tips: what to do when you are grieving someone who is still alive:

  • Remember that the present doesn’t override the past. This can be easier said than done, but it is important to remember that the person your loved one is now doesn’t change the person they were.  Even if their words or behaviors now are difficult or hurtful, even if your relationship has changed and is not what it was, this doesn’t change the person they were and the relationship you had.  Cherish those positive memories, write them down, create a scrapbook of old photos, whatever you can.
  • Understand that the illness isn’t the person. This sounds obvious, but it can be really tough when someone you love seems like they should be the same wonderful person they always were, they’re not.  Whether it is addiction, dementia, a brain injury, mental illness, or anything else, it is important to understand the illness.  As much as we may still feel anger, frustration, or blame toward the person, understanding the illness can divert some of those feelings.
  • Acknowledge the grief and pain of the loss. Though society may not always recognize this type of grief, it is important that you give yourself permission to grieve this loss.  Acknowledge and express the pain of the loss, rather than trying to ignore or avoid the pain.
  • Be open to a new type of relationship. When the person we love has changed, the relationship we have with them will inevitably change.  This can feel like it is objectively and entirely a bad thing, but there is the opportunity for a new type of relationship.  Will this new relationship always be easy? No.  Hell no.  In fact, many days it will be very very hard. But being open and seeking gratitude in your new relationship can be extremely helpful.
  • Connect with others who can relate. When many won’t relate to ambiguous loss, finding a support group can be of help.  There are support groups out there for caregivers of those with dementia, groups like Al-anon and Nar-anon for family members of those with addiction, and groups like NAMI who offer groups for family of those with mental illness.

Have you dealt with ambiguous loss?  Leave a comment to share your experience.  Then subscibe to get all our posts right to your email.

March 28, 2017

152 responses on "Ambiguous Grief: Grieving Someone Who Is Still Alive"

  1. It is only now 12years later that I have a name for this awful feeling that torments us.ambiguous grief. It has crippled us for years.now as mum I will find a way to acknowledge and honour how life used to be with our much loved son &brother whilst dealing with all the life experiences&expectations that mental illness have taken from my son firstly and also his family.the love for my son is unaltered,my son is though. Thank you

  2. I came across this site today after coming to the stark realisation whilst walking the dog (it gives me time to think) that I am grieving. I am grieving in part still for the loss of my Dad seven years ago, which is a very real and tangible grief, but also grieving for my Mum, who is very much alive.

    My Mum, however, has been suffering with Secondary Progressive MS for the best part of fifteen years, and after the loss of my Dad, he primary caregiver, she kind of… gave up.

    Our relationship is good, but it’s not what it used to be. She is bedbound and hasn’t left the house in what feels like forever. We have gone through many troubles with her health over the years and her demeanour has become miserable, cantankerous and belligerent, and y’know what? I don’t blame her after everything she’s had to go through. However, I miss my Mum. I am her daughter, but I feel like this is only a biological link, and in turn I feel awful for thinking this. I find it difficult to talk to her about the everyday – I feel pangs of guilt and sense disinterest from her, and perhaps even envy, when I talk to her about what I’ve been up to, as she cannot do things for herself any longer. I know how much she would long simply to walk out of the door, but she can’t by virtue of her condition.

    I have taken time off work over the years to attend hospitals and safeguarding meetings and have undergone complaints procedures and arguments with care providers and NHS Trusts, and after seven years I am drained. An e-mail from my Mum’s local council about another follow-up meeting almost brought me to tears, as the thought of sitting in a room again with the people in charge of the people that caused her harm makes me feel sick. I want to scream at them to stop, no more meetings, because it won’t change the fact that what happened happened. It is done and my Mum is still paying the price.

    I feel envious when I see people out with their own parents because I am denied that simple pleasure by some very cruel medical twists of fate. So, my grief is manifold – the grief of the loss of my father, compounded by the loss of my Mum’s health, compounded by the loss of a ‘normal’ relationship. I long to take her outside for coffee, even simply to sit in the sun in the garden, but I know that she is simply too ill to do so at present and, even if she could, we don’t have the equipment to allow this to be possible.

    One would think that seven years was enough time to get used to the way things are now – I can’t change them, so why not just suck it up and get on with it? It’s a premise so simple, but one that is so alien and so insurmountably out of reach that to grasp it would be a Herculean task that I simply do not have the strength for.

    I want to cry at times, but after seven years I have become so dulled to everything that I can’t. I feel like a teenager, a giant adult teenager who wants to stamp their feet and cry out ‘IT’S NOT FAIR’ because it simply isn’t. Nothing more, nothing less. There is nothing fair about any of this.

    But it just is. I am a daughter, without a father, with a woman who is my mother, who is still my mother, but who is not the mother that she once was. and I miss her.I am grieving for what we could have had, and it is as painful as if I had lost her. I have lost a version of her.

    But, alas, to take the parting words from my favourite book, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

  3. I am grieving someone who I broke up with, nearly 20 years ago. How crazy is that? I broke up with her because I thought I was losing my mind and I didn’t want to drag her down with all that. It turns out, I really was losing my mind.

    Previous to our breakup I was having lapses of memory that had increased so significantly in the last couple of years we were together. Stress was a major factor in all that. Previous to meeting & dating her I had experienced the deaths of my dad, my next older sister, and my daughter.

    2 years after my daughter’s passing she and I met and began dating about a month later. She insisted that we kept our relationship a secret, threatening to leave me if I “outed” her. We stayed like that, hovering in our own falsehoods, for 5+ years. In retrospect, perhaps that was the final straw in whatever was left of my psyche.

    When I met her, I was broken. When I left her, I was shattered. Not all of that, by any stretch, was completely her doing although I had somehow become accustomed to taking the blame, hers… mine… and ours. By the time we split (and still some 15 yrs later) I was still carrying the blame. Not some of it, all of it.

    And with not one apology from her either. What was that? I don’t know. I think that maybe I blew off too many of the little “battles” that maybe 2 healthy people go through when they get together? Or maybe 2 healthy people don’t disagree so much?

    I broke up with her, yet in another way, she left me. Yet, I’m not so sure that the she I’m referring to even was real, or rather someone I made up in my head to have been real. Rose colored glasses perhaps.

    Even though I’ve had literal decades of therapy (especially grief counseling with regard to family losses) and I did well in many psych classes in college, I’ve felt so stumped about this whole breakup with her. I’ve had trouble not only letting go, but also I’ve had trouble moving forward into the new & the present. In the years since we broke up, I used memories of her (the ones where i’m wearing those rose colored glasses), in my new relationships as some weird measuring post for the new relationships I entered into, and compared each person according to that facade. What a short sighted stick that really was.

    I’m not sure where I’m going with all this or perhaps even what I hope to achieve from sharing my part of our story, as much as I just have to get this unresolved grief off of my chest, and move forward. She hasn’t talked to me in several years and the last time we talked, we didn’t really talk as much as throw accusations and other hurtful commentary back and forth. Yikes. Perhaps I’ve been holding onto a sinking ship all along. God Bless her. I don’t know how to. Thanks for reading/listening. ~ K

  4. I lost my daughter to an accident six years ago. That day, my wife claimed she had been murdered, despite no indication at all of any foul play. The next day, she started exploding at me, especially when I told her what the police, coroner, funeral director and her priest told me. She even told me that our deceased daughter was my least favorite and kept telling me how terrible a father I had been.

    After 3 years, she handed me divorce papers and left in a rage, moving 4 hours away to live with her mother, brother and sister, and leaving our two surviving children behind with me.

    She has since cut me off completely, and has almost no contact with our kids.

    I never understood what was going on – I was later told by a trauma specialist that she was feeling guilt, and that the creation of an imaginary murderer and the attacks on me were attempts at deflecting the guilt.

    Now, I go from anger to feelings of loss (I lost both my daughter and wife on consecutive days, and then, believe it or not, we were hit by a hurricane and flood a month later).

    But there is grieving – I want my old wife back, and the stone cold, unfeeling woman who replaced her overnight was weird and hurtful. And my kids are still trying to figure this out.

    I go from anger to sadness, which is probably not uncommon.

  5. For the past month, I have been struggling to move on from a breakup. After dating for almost two years, I casually asked my ex how he felt about me (from the urging of my therapist) and he didn’t know what to say. We decided to take a break, but were still in contact. He finally made an appointment to see a counselor. They said he is depressed, grieving losses of his mom and grandma, and needs to deal with repressed feelings from his childhood. He said he doesn’t know if he has ever loved me. (Has feelings for me, but not sure if it’s as a friend or deeper.) My rational brain says he’s not well, how can I expect him to love me, but my heart aches. He was my first love and I waited a long time for him. I’m in my thirties. I had a heart to heart talk with him tonight, said I’m ready to get over him. I have cried so many tears, went from being sad, angry, helpless, anxious, and finally to the point, enough is enough. I said I would contact him when I’m over him. I did ask that he,let me know if he has any insights with the counselor regarding our relationship. This is one of the toughest things I’ve had to do: letting someone go that I truly love and never knowing if we will be together again (in a healthy relationship).

  6. You said My Story. I lost my husband of 10 years to addiction and mental illness. We’ve been separated for a year, but seeing the physical body of the man that I once loved is killing me.

  7. I lost my daughter Melissa seven years ago, she got sick with a undiagnosable brain illness when she was eighteen just after she got her drivers license , she slowly got dementia and her body just slowly became paralysed , I looked after her everyday, i didn’t want to Miss a day without her, it was hard to lose her , before I lost her entirely it was really confusing dealing with my emotions but trying to remain upbeat fo her sake . It was so hard, but it’s still so hard being here without her, she was my best friend and I miss her so badly sometimes I feel like I’m just going to stop breathing because of the pain of losing her. I don’t know how long I keep living for, I can’t see any future ,cause she was my future. Every night I’m haunted with what she went through as she died, I can’t even talk about her last week, it’s frightening and I’m scared of life cause I saw what she went through.

  8. We lost my sister just over 3 yrs. ago unexpectedly after a surgery she had & my mom & I ‘s relationship has changed for the worse. It seems whatever I say or do, it’s not enough. She makes up lies about me & talks mean to me & disrespects my boundries I had to make to keep the trouble from effecting my own lil’ fam. My gma, her mom, swears my mom is I’ll & expects me to just forgive & look out the window. I’ve done that for too many years & can’t help to think about how sick can she really be if she’s carrying on a independent life of her own? I’m sure this stems from my sister’s death & she may be deflecting her hurt & guilt on me, but it’s not fair to me or my lil’ family. If I grieve the loss of my mom still alive, is there any hope at all that she may snap out of it before her body leaves this earth?

  9. Thank you so much, I just woke up from yet another traumatic dream involving the ex Husband I lost to drugs & mental illness over 10 years ago. I’m grieving the loss of the husband I thought he was. He’s still alive but the man I loved died when he started lying compulsively & getting nasty & violent when his lies were discovered. I still can’t get over the betrayal. I’m disgusted with myself for wasting my precious energy on dreams of him. They’re always awful & panic inducing but yet at the same time, reminding me of the love lost.
    I am grieving!
    Hopefully I now know how to deal with it so I can remove this ugly pain.

    • Josie! Your dreams are how you work on crap that has happened to you! It’s your psyche’s way of integrating and processing that stuff! Dreams are SO necessary! Michael Brown’s ‘Presence Process’ is another great way to deal with the horrible stuff you have had to experience! It’s a 10 week program that will blow your mind! Literally!

  10. Thank you for this site…. My son Daniel, at the age of 10, in 1994 was hit by a car. He is a Traumatic Brain Injured , in a wheelchair, can’t talk and I do all for him.. I cry every day, not all day long….just times when I look at him from the back…and there he sits in a wheelchair for ever…..I do need help ….I am stuck and feel my life is over and just keep going for him….I need my life and to keep going for us both…

  11. This is just the site I needed and would’n you know it just appears on the email this morning.What a relief to be able to verbalize and also read what others have to say.There is great comfort in that.My son is 40 this year and has gone into MIDLIFE crisis .He told us in Sept that he got into Crystal Meth. because he loves the feeling it gives him he apologizes for for himself doing this to us. We are in our seventies and life has become very hard for us.We have tried helping him get help and he has followed our direction but he never fully makes the program to the end.We see the big changes in him as describe in the format of addiction and we are being supportive but keeping ourselves safe .We worry when he is with us and have some peace when he is back at his home. Our second son is 6 hrs away and feels guilty he can not take on this burden for us.He is very close to his brother.This road he has chosen is only going to get worse in the months to come as we know it will but we will find peace in the reading that we have now and keep on trying to find him help and hope he sees the light.

  12. What if your ambiguous grief is because the person that you love no longer loves you, despite their claims to, and is emotionally, and mentally abusive and neglectful, shows total disregard and respect for you? The list goes on.

    • I understand. My husband is the ecact same wY to me and has no memmories of pur past. He had a intracerebral madsive bleed from a aryerial venous malformation
      My kids wete 7,5and 22. He had a massive stroke from the bleed. He had to learn to talk and walk. It happened on the left part of the. Rain that controls your thought process and many things that are vital in life to be able to communicate. He has become so abusiveabusive and mean. He days things to me that shows me he had no regards for anything about me in life and to our children. He has tried to kill me but because he drank and does not remember in his mind he doestruly believe i think that i am responsible for his attack on me in a hotel room at a wedding. He i am scared of him. I forgave him even though he was charged with assault and battery to the second degree and intent to cause bodily harm to another that could end on death. He faced 5 to 10 years in prison and 100,000 fine.because of the person i am and know je has control problems i lied to deyectives police and doctors. I had at least 7 staples in my head,i had bruises everywhere as i was violently attacked the second i unlocked tje hotel room lock as i did not know what hit me as i never knew he eas capable of such violence. He left me for deD on the floor when i became unconcious. He then changed his clorhes and grabbed a bear and when i came tohe was laughing at me when i asked him what have you done to me as i was profusely bleeding from my head. He still thinks o am lying. It is so stressful to live with someone who you forgave and he is getting more aggressive every single day. I had major traumatic surgery on my spine whi h i am still trying to recover from but the relentless stress is inhibitong me from moving on because of his abusive everdaybehavior. I am lost. I am living woth a stranger as my hisbsband left mentally along time ago please help as i do not know what to do or when he is going to turn pn me.

      • Lynn,
        I am praying profusely that I reach you in time. I just read your post from May 20th. I need you to know that I hear you, this is NOT your fault, and you are in very real danger. Clearly you are in a very unsafe situation, and your leaving is not only the best thing for BOTH of you.. it’s the ONLY thing to do. This is no reflection of your love, and dedication to him. His disability is causing you life threatening harm. If you truly love him, yourself, and what’s best for the two of you… you will leave RIGHT THIS SECOND, get to a safe location, and THEN seek professional help for the BOTH of you. Protect yourself… of course. But… protect HIM FROM HIMSELF as well. I’m not entirely familiar with his injury, but if that is what is causing such extreme and dangerous behavior… then there ARE places that can help you guys! Doctors, meds, psychologists, social workers, even in home care providers. PLEASE call somebody that can help you get plugged in, but more importantly… just get out… now.
        You aren’t any good to anyone if you’re dead… and I am so afraid that is where this road leads.
        I’m going to be praying for you every day Lynn. You are NOT alone. The Lord designed you for GREATNESS. You are valuable, loved, and worthy.. always.
        #ChooseToday

    • My son changed when he met his wife. She wants nothing to do with me and he has distance himself from me. It has been 9 years. He lives 5 blocks away from me. He said after he got clean of his addiction he sees me differently. I have been to myntnerapist off and on for years. I can’t get over the fact that my son who Imgave birth too wants no part of me. It is killing me and I don’t know where to turn. I have tried everything. He has a daughter who I met once only because we were at an affair that he didn’t know I was attending. It breaks my heart everyday. My 5 siblings do not care what I’m going through. They are all invited to his home, parties etc… Very hurtful. I lost my relationships with my siblings because they don’t understand my hurt and one of my sisters says it’s all my fault. I never thought one of my children would disown me.

    • Did we date the same guy? 100% with you.
      It hurts.

    • Did we date the same guy? Probably at the same time if it was my ex but who knows.

      100% with you.
      It hurts.

    • That is one of the toughest things to walk away from. My ex has a mental illness, he needs to take care of himself. But I also do too, that’s why I’m moving on. Good luck to you.

    • I Googled “How to grieve someone who’s still alive” and came across this site. Your comment is the closest to what I am going through. My 23 year old daughter wants nothing to do with me and it has been going on and off for years. Finally, I just gave up trying to mend our relationship when she started threatening bodily harm to me. She seriously needs anger management therapy, but of course, she doesn’t think she has a problem. I’m the one with the problem. I’m the reason she is overweight, has diabetes and started having sex at such an early age that now she can’t get pregnant. I loved that girl with all my heart and soul and not only did I take care of her when she was little, I enjoyed taking care of her. That was the best time of my life. Those memories will live with me forever. But now, she is so angry about everything and she takes it out on me. I read somewhere that it’s like someone holding their gut in all day to hide a fat stomach, and when they get home, they can finally let it out. They take it out on us because we are the closest people to them. She is even abusive in her relationships.

  13. Good info!! I have not read anything about this before- I grieved my mother for close to 10 years before she passed due to Alzheimer’s. it was difficult, but I did have support from others who understood. “Not so much” in the years I have grieved for my granddaughter, living “on the streets” lost in drug addiction. She is now in a sober living facility and doing her best to stay clean, after serving 8 months in State prison. I am hopeful for her, and yet still grieve for the mess she made, the lost opportunities she had and the fear of what she will do or not do in the future. This grief, anger and fear is hard to carry, while trying to be positive and enjoy the time I am with her.

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  15. I went through my mother with Parkinson’s for 22 years and my father had a stroke and got dementia.. I cared for them for years watching the deteriorate.. both past away within 10 months of each other.. When they died I grieved I am still grieving.. I don’t believe in this ambiguous grief.. I spent every moment with them in there last few years and me and my family did the best we could for them.. I was only too happy to spend my time with them when they were alive.. I did not grieve the change that happened too them but I did become stronger for them.. I am grieving now, they are both in a grave.. I did not grieve before.. believe me I was heartbroken with the way they were both slowly going from me.. nope sorry this is not grieve to me

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  17. This article really hit home. My 29 year old son suffered severe brain damage in a horrific accident nine years ago.. He spent almost a year in hospital and didn’t walk or talk for six months. I grieve the son I once had – a very smart, quick witted, huge personality who is just a shell of what he once was but he’s a more caring person than I remember and I embrace that every day. We’ve been through it all in this painful journey where he was violent in the initial stages of his brain injury and we take it one day at a time. Until you’ve been there and lived through it no one really understands the meaning of ambiguous grief. I honestly think this grief is much worse than losing a loved one. It’s horrible to say but when someone passes away there is closure – with this grief there isn’t.

    • Annette, so sorry to hear about your son’s accident and the journey of uncertainty you have been on. Your ambiguous loss journey has been a long and painful one for sure. Regarding closure, I’ve learned there is no closure and it’s being argued that closure is a myth even when death. Some writings:
      http://www.onbeing.org/program/pauline-boss-the-myth-of-closure/8757
      http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/emotional-closure-is-a-myth

    • Annette… I have just found this site. I am grieving a sister whom I’ve lost to mental illness. She and her partner are both delusional and they are now shunning me. I have PTSD and am alone. She has always been there for me until I got sick. That was when her personality changed and she bacame abusive. Too long a story, however, it is so much worse than death. That does sound harsh but I’ve lost most of my family to “death” and still grieve, but – this new “relationship-non-relationhsip” with my only living, immediate family member is unbearable.

      • Hello Mara, I too have experienced unconventional grief. I have grieved the loss of my mother, father, younger and older brothers. The only immediate family member I did not grieve was my sister. Yes, at the time I thought it would have been much easier to have grieved them had they died. This process was not a voluntary one. It was a profound and painful realization that my family were not who I thought they were and that my value system was grossly and inherently different from theirs. There is no reparation to be had because I no longer have attachment to them or any sense of belonging at all.

    • Annette, I have been grieving inconsolably since my son (also 29) was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia four years ago. No, there is no closure with this type of grief. It’s an enduring sadness that will never go away. I just have to deal with it. It’s particularly hard to talk to people about severe mental illness. My son was a beautiful child and teenager. Never a bit of trouble. Good hearted and loves children and dogs, still does. But he’s a shell. It really makes me so sad that he never had a chance at a real relationship because schizophrenia usually begins to act during the teen years. Full blown comes on later. It’s a terrible thing to witness. ?

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  21. THIS confirms what I’ve been feeling. Over the last 2 years, my 2 youngest sons got involved in drugs and a weird crowd of friends. The 19 year old left home over a year ago, still struggling with substances and behaviors. The 17 yo has been diagnosed with a psychotic disorder, and has been missing for 2 months. I recognized I was grieving, wasn’t sure it was right. This article may help me think about the old relationships vs the new. Thank you for the bit of help.

  22. I’ve been looking for something like this. My best friend survived a brain aneurysm and has had a long recovery. I’ve stuck with her through thick and thin….at the hospital every day through a long rehab time. She’s returned to living alone and working but she’s not the friend that I once had. We used to take trips together and have long hours of laughing and enjoying our friendship. We called ourselves the long lost sisters. After two years of recovery, traveling with her is like taking a five year old on a trip. The last trip was a disaster. My other friends don’t want to be around her. I’ve tried to modify our relationship but she and I no longer have the same values in life…..that essence that made our friendship so special. The friend that I had is gone and I don’t think I can be friends with this new person. I’m grieving for someone who is still alive. I don’t know how to disentangle myself so I can get on with my life.

    • I can understand your grief, truly. But please don’t abandon your friend completely. That’s so harsh. If your friends mental capacity is that of a 5 year, then treat her as such, Lower your expectations to her level of capabilities. set your limits of time and energy. Meet her where she is at, if she isn’t destructive or abusive, try to look at her as a younger sister.

  23. Very interesting info!Perfect just what I was searching for!

    http://www.corburterilio.com/

  24. This reminds me of what I am going through. One day my boyfriend was loving, caring, and wanted to be with me forever. We even got an apartment together a week earlier. Then the next day, they decided he decided that he wanted to break up, decided that he wanted me out of the apartment, turned into a monster saying all kinds of hateful things, wanted nothing to do with me, and got a new girlfriend. It was as if he was a new person overnight and a demon had taken over his body. This just happened last week and I still have all kinds of emotions from it and do not know how to move on.

    • Christy,
      It sounds like you may have been involved with a narcissist. I would encourage you to check out the blog at: esteemology.com
      It was extremely helpful for me after an excruciating breakup with a narcissist. It has also helped me to better spot this disorder, so I can avoid repeating that mistake. Hope this helps. 🙂 Jean

  25. I was talking with my youngest daughter this morning about my oldest daughter who has struggled with addiction since she was 18. She also had a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder from about the time she was 15. She recently completed a 3 year intensive drug court program. Not even a month out from graduating, she is now shooting up meth. I have raised her special needs so who is now 15. Anyway, I told my youngest that I feel like I’m grieving. Same feelings I felt when my Dad died 1 1/2 years ago. I remember thinking grieving?? That is exactly what I am feeling! Thankful to run across this article. Now to cope with the grieving of an adult child who is alive.

  26. [email protected]August 25, 2016 at 11:33 amReply

    I’m having a horrible time in my life right now. I was raised by my two grandparents. My mother was an addict and my father owned and operated his own business. He had. Hard time raising and connecting me. Growing up I had abandonment issues, despite seeing my dad weekly. My grandparents were very loving and sweet. My grandfather and I connected and he was my best friend. However my family was very tight knit…my aunt/cousins. There was a constant feeling of you don’t belong here though it was never said. Once I got into my teens my grandmother became very controlling and negative..to the point I almost committed suicide. Once I got to college she disowned me for being secretive and not visiting more that once a month. I wasn’t able to go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas. This continues into my jr year. She was paranoid I was a bad child, despite being very conservative and studious. She constantly told me never to come home. My junior year she asked me to watch the dogs as the rest of the family went on vacation together. This made me feel so small and I had the last bit I could take. I packed my sentimentals from her house and brought them to my dads. she noticed immediately once she got back and began yelling and screaming at me…calling me a theif. She changed the combo of my safe a withheld 4k. She told me she deserved something for raising me. My grandfather just washed his car as I drove away in tears to my bf house an 1.5 away. The longest drive of my life since them my family has not tried to contact me and if they do its hateful… I’m struggling right now because I graduated college and moving 1000 miles away. They are old and the thought of my grandfather thinking of me in such a way kills me. I miss him dearly, but he has made no attempt to have a relationship with me. I cry at night when I think about how much I love and appreciate him…it’s just so hard. I understand I can’t have a positive relationship with them…and that I have to accept the situation….I just miss them l, but the people I loved are gone…I’m just struggling to deal with these terms.

  27. thank you for this post. i am also a grieving “trans” widow. i met a man i thought was my soulmate in 2005. we built a life together with my two children from a previous marriage. i don’t wish to go into that as i already had PTSD from that situation. my love came out to me around 3 years into our relationship as a crossdresser. this quickly progressed into what looked like a multitude of mental illnesses and eventually he went behind my back to the dr for hormone pills to change his gender. that was in 2008. it’s been 8 years and i still can’t talk about him without experiencing jagged pain inside my soul. he was the most gentle, considerate and thoughtful man i have ever loved. i don’t know how to get over this. i’ve been in therapy for 2 years now and i’ve struggled with substance abuse to kill the pain but i’m recovering from that. the grief though? not so much. i could not handle continuing a relationship with my love because i’ve been angry and confused and in grief ever since he came out. his gender transformation killed all of my dreams of a future and because my children had only known him as a father figure they too suffered with his loss. he is still in my life despite many attempts to cut him out. i still love him, but not only am i grieving this loss of the man i loved, i’m also absolutely furious with the selfishness and lies and his cruel treatment of me when it became apparent that he was willing to murder our relationship for his desire to change. i don’t care how understanding other people are about it, i have come to reject the transgender ideology and the only thing that keeps me sane some days is spending time in radical feminist spaces so i can be around others who don’t believe in sex-based stereotyping people. i believe based on the previous entries i’ve read up above about other transgender losses that these people are suffering severe mental illness and the “trans” thing is just an internet fad. my partner expressed no interest in changing his gender nor did he appear to be suffering with any serious mental illness before he found a crossdressing forum and decided he wanted to be like his internet friends. i implore anyone else here suffering with this to reject the gender stories and do some research. these people are ill, not trans.

  28. I first posted on January 15,2015 after finding the term ” ambiguous grief”. I am not alone that is for sure. Many people are suffering for many different reasons. Since my January post, it has been learned that ny husband us suffering from HE…..hepatic encephalopathy due to his non alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. He also has many other health issues. I try everyday to be THANKFUL that I am healthy enough to be his advocate and his caregiver. I also try and pray to not fall into the pit of self pity. So many of our dreams and plans are now further away than the ” back burner.” So, the reality is we take one day at a time knowing that God is for us and has a plan that will direct our paths, I share in all the pain that is described in each post, realizing we are all in our own personal circumstance. I just want to urge you to put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for He is your only hope. ❤️?

  29. I have been looking for this!! It perfectly explains my signs of “depression” but I know there’s a reason. My grandfather, whom I’ve never met is still alive, but he’s homeless due to his multiple Traumatic Brain Injuries, just this week I was told about this after being so hurt my entire life. I hated him, after learning this I feel horrible. I want to cry about him constantly, I’m hungry but I don’t want to eat, I have huge issues sleeping, because I know he’ll never be the same person he was before the TBI that made him crack and become “crazy”.
    I thought it was just me. I’m totally obsessed over him, I want every single picture of him, I want to know everything about him before he got hurt, I think of him ALL DAY LONG. It’s so torturous because my mom has basically disowned him and no one wants to talk about him. All because of how the TBI’s affected him. It makes me so upset I just want to cry all the time for him, I want to talk to him, but I know if I did it wouldn’t be the person I want it to be.

  30. Schizophrenia also fits into this category. My dad has schizophrenia, and I feel the pain daily.

    • Yes, Victoria! I posted that before here somewhere. My son is schizophrenia and as a mother it is extremely painful and sad . . . I cry all the time. Schizophrenia is a terrible disease and is a loss for all involved.

  31. My dad had a cerebral hemorrhage some years back. He is a different person now. He has become selfish and sometimes even mean. He says and does things I never in a million years would have thought him to. Each day is as difficult as the one before. Even now, after four years, it is still as hard to cope with as it was the first day. I am exhausted by the daily struggle. Most days I just want to disown him. But I can’t. He is my dad. I love him. Though most days, I can’t stand him. I even moved 250 miles just to get away from it all. I just have to remember who he was and not who the illness has made him. But man, that is no easy task. The dad I had is gone. All that is left is some cruel man in a wheel chair with my father’s memories. But he is not my father. I keep in contact to honor the man that was, not the man that is.

  32. Patricia StephanieJuly 12, 2016 at 11:27 pmReply

    I grew up with a mother who was and is an addict, of alcohol, and now antidepressant and anxiety medication…until she had an accident and broke her neck…I rushed onto a plane to be by her side, as did the rest of her family.. All of the blame for her addiction was put on my father, who they threw In jail, and her family made up that he was the cause of her accident. For a brief moment in her recovery and rehab process, I had my mother back..she was her…she was herself, my mom, that loved me and CARED about her kids well being. My grandmother forced herself on my mother and lives with her to take care of her, even though she can do most things herself and is basically fully healed. She enables her and now my mother is a nasty alcoholic again…she is not herself…she is an addict with my grandma..yet they sit there and judge others, like my life for falling apart because I care and try and be there for her, and they sit and judge me..

    The worst part is they have brainwashed my brother…he is In so deep and so fragile (he saw my moms accident) he is tied to her by codependent guilt. She brainwashes him to be by her side even though she doesn’t need it and it’s not good for him…he doesn’t even know what normal is anymore…any time I bring it up to him, he literally can’t handle the conversation…he dismisses me and can’t talk about it.

    These people (addicts) are so selfish and the part of their brain where they care and consider others is literally not working…it is so hard..I try and love my mother, but she is not there…at all. 🙁

  33. I’m grieving the loss of my child whom I haven’t had any contact with in over 3 years. When I left my ex, she played the martyr to our daughter instead of leaving her out of it. My daughter, understandably was angy I left, but I didn’t leave her, I left my wife. Yada yada yada, 3+ years later…I’ve never quit or given up. I just do everything invisibly. If I don’t my ex makes a scene, embarrasses my daughter and blames the whole situation on me for showing up when I’ve been told to stay away. I’ve watched her entire HS years invisibly. Have any idea how it feels to watch your daughter graduate and not be able to hug and kiss her and tell her how proud you are of the incredible young lady she’s grown n2. I was in an auto accident a bit ago involving an 18 wheeler, and in that flash, when you realize this could be how it ends for you…the 1st, and only recurring thought running thru my mind was, “I wouldn’t be sad anymore…:

  34. I think my siblings, mother,and I may be dealing with some ambiguous greif. In 2009 my father inexplicably left our family for another woman. He just didn’t come home one day. He had been lying to everyone for months. After the initally discovery of his betrayal it was like he was a completely different person than the man we had always known. This new man lied. He was mean and hurtful. He was resentful.In seconds everything we all knew came crashing down around us and he didn’t seem to care. He was completely changed. It’s been years of trying to move on, heal, and accept as much of the person he is today as we can. It’s funny because we have even said that it’s like that man we all knew has died. There’s another man that has his name, looks like him, and sounds like him, but it’s not the version of him we knew for our entire lives. Ambiguous grief seems to fit the bill pretty well for what I’ve been feeling for so long. There’s no addiction, illness, or tragice accidents invloved in my story (to my knowledge anyway) but the provided description seems to fit the bill so well for what I’ve been feeling for so long.

  35. My 24 year old daughter is in an emotionally abusive relationship with a 42 year old man who has a 15 year old autistic son and lives with 2 other women (35 and 25) and she is now living with them. She calls them her family. He had convinced her that after only knowing him 2 months that getting pregnant was a great idea (she was 23 at the time). She later decided, on her own, not to go through with the pregnancy. She asked for my help, so I went with her. She told him it was a miscarriage. He did not believe her and questioned her until she finally told him and then tried to drink herself to death. She says he has forgiven her, but blames me because I didn’t “stop her from killing our baby”. She has cut our entire family off. She does not talk to us and has blocked us all from social media. I still text her to tell her I love her and I hope she has a great day, but I never hear back. I’ve told her no matter what she says or does, I’m not going anywhere. But, I am not hopeful she will leave. She has only had emotionally abusive boyfriends (except for one, which she broke up with). She has never broken up with one of them, why would she start with this one? My youngest daughter is grieving the lose of her only sibling. And, I’m going through a divorce because my husband spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on prostitutes in the Philippines…oh, and my mom died 4 weeks ago and my dad died 16 days after her. So, any words of wisdom?

    • Oh Kristy, I am so sorry for all you are going through. I am not sure I have any ‘words of wisdom’ but I would definitely say that a counselor or therapist might be an incredibly helpful support if you don’t have one already. You are clearly managing a tremendous amount right now and having someone to process that with and to look in depth and ways to cope may be really valuable. Not knowing your daughter and this man it is hard to know much, but we do have a post about emotional manipulation (you can find here) that may be of value. If you haven’t read it already I would also take a look at this post on cumulative grief. It sounds like you have experienced so many losses in such a short time. Your grief from one loss may make it even harder to grieve the additional losses that have stacked on it.

  36. HI< I am in excruciating pain daily!Five hears ago my son moved away with a woman that he married (without telling us). Before that she was pregnant and they lost the baby at birth ..we were called the last minute. When we met her she was rude and quiet and so he took her side. I tried for 2 years to put up with her psycho accusations like we were out to make her miserable nothing we did was right and My son always took her side. Anyway after loosing the baby she got pregnant again and she wanted to go home to her mother in CA.He said good by would not speak other than that and stormed out of the house and left. I called a few times but never felt like he wanted to talk to me. She of course was a total bitch all the time. After the beby girl was born i wanted to fly out to see her and she said NO. for the next year we sent a camera for photos and got none, called to see how she was and got treated like leapers. Of course her smoking trailer park trash mother was always there. Then 3 years ago i emailed asking for Catherine's size clothes and the psycho emailed me back and told me that THEY never wanted to see or hear from us again. I asked for my son to contact me and he emailed saying that I ruined his like that he never wanted any contact and that I would never see the child ever! I was totally numb for a year. Now I am in so much pain daily. I raised him alone. We were VERY close and this stab in the back is unimaginable to me! No word for now going on 4 years. My husband and I have NO family we are totally alone now and in our late 60's. He thinks I should just let it go…my heart is broken..nothing will ever change that. Holidays I just want to sleep all day and where we live we have no friends or support of any kind.

    • Oh May, I am so incredibly sorry. Unfortunately it can be impossible to make sense of the things others do, and once someone is in a relationship it can become even more complicated because they can be manipulated and influenced by someone else, sometimes in significant ways. You are absolutely right to grieve this loss as “letting it go” is something that can be easy for others to say but not realistic to do. Have you worked with a therapist at all to help you find ways to cope through this devastating loss?

  37. I am 39 and my Mom’s dementia has taken her identity… her role as a supportive matriarch has been twisted into a dependent who I barely recognize. We used to be very close and I knew her well. Lately we have become not just distant, but quite at odds.

    The roles of parent-child having had a reversal sets up multiple dilemmas for us. She resists the situation which is understandable. She resented having to take care of her mother – my Grandmother, and she is only recently coming to terms with the grief that situation presented her as she sees it as a clear and present danger again in her life, through me and our relationship. Her condition is getting more pronounced, and my brother is also starting to grieve his Mom’s changing identity.

    She lost her husband last October and our family after grieving his death is now in the throws of “what to do with Mom” as her dementia daily deprives her of a new skill or ability. The dignity of living independently is at stake while she becomes needy for others to share in her care taking. AND she is acutely aware of the whole situation.

    I feel the loss of my Mom’s former identity to me most when I face her and she has this “what do I do with myself” look. She was always a fighter, a fierce and capable woman who raised her two boys by pulling herself up by her boot straps, finding her inner reserves of determination, displaying grit in times of challenge, being resolved to stay a fighter in the ring, and rallying her strength when life’s circumstances required it. Now she needs help getting dressed, feeding herself, knowing what day it is, typing an email…. oh how hard it is to lose her capabilities, while being aware she is losing them.

    Labeling what I am experiencing as grief is good; it is. Sharing what I am going through is good. I am ready to let go of that which doesn’t serve me, only to focus on the situation as an opportunity to grow, to love, and to cherish what remains.

    Thank-you for this opportunity to find clarity, to indulge in a little self-pity, and to get back to mindfulness that to honor our parents when they stop being our parents, means we most find the emotional integrity to look fear right in the eyes and bare witness to our own truth.

    • Oh Matt, so sorry you had reason to find this post, but as you do I am so glad you found us. Space for self-pity and spending time with the emotions, however tough, is a good and important part of adjustment. Though I have not experienced what you are with a parent, I did with my grandmother and it was so painful to watch her slowly become a person I didn’t know. When she was a aware was the worst of it. There was a relief that came when she eventually no longer understood what was going on. I wrote a post here about the anticipatory grief that can exist with dementia, and also a post here about the experience of relief in grief.

  38. Thank you for your blog, though it saddens me that so many have similar problems, I’m grateful to see that people are seeking and sharing an understanding. My father who was a great dad, has been suffering from schizophrenia for about 15 years. Prior to his condition we went on rocky terms, mostly because I was young and lacked understanding of adult problems. As time passed and I became aware of my father’s condition, have slowly noticed that he has gotten progressively worse. Over the 10 year period I’ve only visited him once and though we have maintained a weak connection over the phone it was minimum. I’m not sure if I just was afraid to face the truth about his condition or if I am just some punk who couldn’t overcome my resentments of the past. Today, I talked to him and discovered his condition is much worse and he only weighs 130 lbs at 5 10″. Its now hitting me like a ton of bricks that my father may pass if he continues this path and that I have squandered so much time with him. More so in the fact that I will never have the dad I had 15 years ago and he is not even close to the person I knew and loved. I am sooooo sad and heartbroken to only truly realize it now and the impact my actions or lack there of has done….I feel that all I have now are the great memories of the past but I am making a commitment to cherish what I have left and to make the most of this… Thank you again, all of you, for sharing….

  39. Thank you. I appreciate this from a first-person perspective. I have an extremely painful condition that has changed my life in every single aspect that I can imagine. I have been dealing with this for 4+ years now and at 35, I realized through a chronic pain group that I need to grieve for the person that I was. I’m no longer that person that I was. Not only the woman in my 20’s, but also a healthy person that could do anything anytime without worrying about pain, exhaustion, bright lights, smells, etc. Of course, the grieving process will never be over.

  40. My son has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, three years now, and I know this is a never-ending sorrow, and enduring sadness. Just have to learn to cope. I have empathy for anyone who is grieving the “death” of a loved one to severe mental illness. . .

  41. I have lost my mum to mental illness a long time ago. She’s still a live though… So I feel this is a never ending grief…

  42. My wife one day just changed. She had had a number of close calls medically, we thought it was leukemia, then a hysterectomy then her mother died. A few months after all this happened to her she told me “I died and you killed me.” This was three years ago. The woman I loved, and still love, never returned. I began therapy and told my therapist my wife died, and I just can’t get over it. There is this sort of Zombie Doppelganger who has replaced her. The kids live with me through the week and go with her on the weekends. At first she was abusive to them too, a sort of angry neglect, with periodic horrible outbursts, but now that seems to have abated. They too talk about before Mommy got sick and after Mommy got sick. they love her as they should, but it isn’t “nice Mommy.” She told them “there is no more nice Mommy.” It feels like she died all at once. But we still see her, she just is not her. She is paranoid, angry, vindictive, peculiar, hypochondriacal. PTSD? Who knows. A stranger who still looks like old Mommy but just isn’t. It is not easy for us. I mourn my wife and their mother every day. The kids do seem to be getting over it, since they are all doing well in school now and have friends. I keep them involved in everything so they are normal rambunctious kids. I am happy about that. But I cannot get over this. The mourning the constant flashbacks to nicer times, to the heaven of her smile, and the constant self recrimination. The confusion the desire to just blame myself in order to make sense of it. She is dead but she is still there. A stranger I do not know.

    • Jim,

      I am so sorry for everything you have experienced. This sounds like a traumatic experience for everyone impacted. For someone to have such a complete and total shift in personality in midlife is puzzling. With her past medical issues have they ruled out any underlying medical cause or has she seen a psychologist? Not that you haven’t already probably thought through every possible scenario and situation, it just seems like such a drastic change has got to have an underlying cause. And if there is an underlying cause, then clearly that would be the only thing to blame. Gosh…I guess I’ll just say I’m so sorry. Ambiguous loss can be such a difficult type of loss to bear because theres always the wondering and the hoping.

      Eleanor

  43. Susan Rowen, LMFT #186567May 7, 2016 at 6:12 pmReply

    Thank you for this article addressing “discounted loss”. One of the biggest discounted losses is “divorce” especially, since seniors (50 plus) have become one of the biggest populations to experience divorce and many of these marriages have been long term. As a “Grief” therapist, licensed and practicing, and facilitating “Grief Groups” for HOPE Connection, a non profit organization in the L.A. area, I see more and more of this discounted loss.

    • Totally agree Susan! We discuss this in our post on disenfranchised grief and are actually working on a couple posts specific to divorce loss that will be coming soon!

  44. I feel like I am dealing with both types of grief here because my grandmother has dementia and only remembers her daughter and me most of the time. She went into a nursing home two years ago, and i have watched dementia take every piece of her that we knew and change her in ways that most times make her just a shell of who she used to be. She used to be really strong and independent, invincible to the little girl I was, and now she’s frail, withered, and can’t do anything on her own. Just thinking about her sends me into a frenzy of tears. I don’t really know how to handle it, because my mother deals alone. This is the hardest thing I have ever experienced and it really does hurt like hell.

  45. my mom is a meth addict and she is not the person she used to be. its like the person she once was is dead and now all she cares about is herself. she has 6 kids and doesn’t even care if she see them. she is worthless..

  46. While Inwas going to write about dementia I think there is a grief for a loss of something like a time or place or what should have been. When I listen to friends speak of highschool days I grieve for the loss of such times as mine were blighted by severe bullying, i would have loved the memories my friends have of school.

  47. My problem is people who were never there for me (physical abuse) and still aren’t there (refusing to acknowledge it happened or not caring that it did.) Not people who used to be there and changed. They never were in the first place because they cared way more about themselves than they do me, or at least that’s what they demonstrated through their behavior. And all these years later, the living ones still don’t give a flying fig about it.
    Although the relationship title (mother/father/aunt) implies you’re supposed to be close to them, I’m not.
    I used to like them no matter what. Then I became an EMT and saw how the majority of people who did this to their kids actually feel about it, about how they don’t care and even blame the kids for what THEY do, and when I found out nearly all of them didn’t even care what they did right after they did it, I stopped feeling irrational love for my biological parents. Emotions that have no basis in anything other than feeling them bc you think you’re supposed to, not because you actually feel them.
    It’s what The Grief Recovery Method called “reaching out for someone who’s never been there for you and finding out they’re still not there.”
    I found Grief Recovery Method because I used to live in Los Angeles County and that’s where they exist. They’re online too but their offices are in Sherman Oaks, California, north of Los Angeles where I once lived.

  48. I don’t know where to start, I’m 56 years old. My husband and I, for the last 3 years have been raising my 4 year old grandson. He is our everything. We have changed our entire life’s for him. My son who is almost 40 years old is out of control, he has been in prison twice, and through rehab. It seems to me that the only tru relationship that we have had for years was through letters and visitation. Once he is In the real world he eventually goes back to his old habits. All drug related. He steals, he lies, and loses control of himself when I confront him. I have had to stop him from coming to my home because I don’t want him to influence my grandson ( his son). I know that he feels that I have abandoned him. Physically I guess that I have. Everyone tells me that I have to just let him go. I have done that , except for in my heart. I hurt for him and worry about him constantly. Sometimes I think that I am losing my mind. He has been living this way for so long that I don’t think that he can change. The drugs have gotten the best of him. Even when he seems to be clean I can see the physical and emotional changes in him. He doesn’t understand how much I love him. He hates me for keeping his son from him, but I have to think of the child. I was in an abusive relationship for years with his stepfather , he grew up seeing that. And it didn’t help that his real father was doing drugs all along. His father is now is jail for manufacturing. I sometimes feel that my son never had a chance at life. I know that I am rambling on but this is how I live, with these thoughts in my mind all of the time. If I try to help him he takes advantage of me, I guess that he can’t help it. I just don’t know anymore.

  49. I need someone to talk too as I’m also a mental patient PTSD and severely Depressed wife of 30 years who feels so alone and lost right now I,I so alone.
    I have been sexually abused by my own father,mental,emotional,physical problems. I have 2 very unstable bipolar daughters have trouble with there fathers DX We have Hospice in house and his Dr. told us enjoy the spring because there will be no Fall with him…I cry every night to go sleep..Im crying now as I writing this ….I’m so scared I wrote this to you before cause I did not If you be able response Quickly

  50. Is the experience ambiguous grief or ambiguous loss? I have experience ambiguous loss through the experience of a missing loved one, my son. After 3 1/2 years missing, remains of him were found by the MibSAR team on May 24, 2015. Prior to this day, my grief was frozen, me and my family experienced “frozen grief” with an “uncertain loss”, hence Ambiguous Loss” as presented by Dr. Pauline Boss, http://www.ambiguousloss.com

    This type of ambiguous loss is where the person is physically gone, but psychologically connected. This is another type of loss from the one you describe in your article. I appreciate knowing about ambiguous loss, it helps me explain my experience and validates what I’m going through.

    I appreciate you writing about this and want to make sure readers understand the other type of ambiguous loss, applicable when someone goes missing, along with other situations of loss experienced from adoption, migration, miscarriage and stillborn loss, natural disasters and catastrophic tragedies. In all these cases, the persons left behind, have few supports in our communities. More awareness and education is needed about Ambiguous Loss. Here is a link to my FB page Support for Us – Families with Missing Loved Ones https://www.facebook.com/SupportForUs

    Grateful for your help in raising awareness, Maureen Trask Waterloo, ON Canada

    • Hi Maureen- I am so sorry for what you have gone through! This is absolutely an ambiguous loss. We plan to write a post on this specific type of grief experience- when a loved one is missing – but we have not yet done so (the list of grief topics often feels endless!). Thank you so much for sharing the resources above. When we do write that post we will link to it in this post as well. Take care

    • I wonder if “ambiguous loss” could be applicable to when you lose your loved one who passed away in their sleep unexpectedly. For what it’s worth, I am still in somewhat of shock how it happened to me with my first husband. I catch myself thinking I didn’t enough when trying to resuscitate him although the E.R. doctor assured me that I did a good job and I was probably too late because he probably died much earlier than I thought. Still miss my Dragon and say hi to him everyday ;( Thank you everyone for your thoughts and support!

  51. I am 28 and have lost 2 boyfriends to death one being shot and the other in a motorbike accident ontop of that recently lost my 8 year relationship with someone I still love so much although his still alive I’m in pain because the person I was before I was with him was a compete different person I am now he was addicted to ice and sure enough got me adicted he gambled was a compulsive liar cheater and I fought for us to work for so many years but he was fighting against me mentally emotionally and physically abusing me I even tried to kill myself when he slept with a friend of mine and others I know and acted like I was crazy because I’d sit there crying for him. He would say he loves me but would run off with girls and laugh at me with them. His family blame me for the way he was and what addiction had done to him but that wasn’t right as I was the good girl and he introduced me into that lifestyle I was dead against anything to do with drugs I had a hard child hood myself and my father was a drug addict I never wanted to be like him I was so hard working for the government I struggled but I was a fighter I was ok until he turned my life upside down but no matter what I done his family still to this day say I’m crazy it’s all me. Well finally last sep he got admitted to rehab I thought it was a good thing but since he has come out now he all the sudden doesn’t want to know me his family have been brainwashing him and his all the sudden living a new life he told me last week he doesn’t love me anymore and he blocked me from calling him and on Facebook I’m beside myself because I know I’ve done so much for him and been through everything with him don’t I deserve atleast some closure was the last 8 years nothing to him I done get it please I need some idea of what is going on I love him so much.

  52. Much like all of the other comments, THANK YOU FOR NAMING MY PAIN. My mother has struggled with addiction most of my life. Now as a grown woman, I look back at my childhood and feel like it was all a lie. Im the only girl out of 4 kids. I was extremely dependant on my mom, we were best friends for years. As a young mom I’d call her before I’d call my husband. In 2002 she started taking pain medicine for hip pain. Today she is a full blown addict. Over those years our relationship slowly deminished. I realized she is very manipulative, controlling, lies about stupid things…she has done this her whole life. I do not like this person anymore. We lost my younger brother to overdose in 2008, her addiction got even worse. She has pretty much checked out. Our roles have reversed which brings a ton of anger. I am griefing the mom I need. & I’m not alone, that is my Aha moment today. I will continue to read your site to get more insite on help…Thank You.

  53. I’m not sure what kind of grief I felt. My father lied to me about everything he ever told me (he is very paranoid and hallucinates). I finally got the truth and I had this overwhelming feeling and I felt depressed for weeks it almost felt as though I lost a loved one. Is this a form of grief?

    • Morgan, this absolutely is grief and I think it is ambiguous. You had formed a relationship with your father believing certain things. When learning these were not true you may have had a sense that he is a different person than the person you understood him to be. This is a deep loss and, though not a death, is devastating in its own way. I am so sorry for what you are dealing with and hope you find support here!

      • It’s pretty much how I feel about my son’s schizophrenia. I feel a deep loss, almost like a death. It’s very hard to deal with this type of Ambiguous Grief/Loss. Very sad.

  54. Update on my son. He is doing well and is now communicating with family. He is happier and really working on issues in his life. He is a very honest person and I have learned a lot these last few months.

  55. Many thanks to WYG, in acknowledging and explaining ambiguous grief. I am a grieving mother. My children are all here and as best I know doing well. I’m an alienated parent. Theres no reason or courtroom ordered restrictions preventing my children and I to have communication. tlThe ex husband swiftly and successfully accomplished his goal in deep level brainwashing them. No one believes the unthinkable can happen to a mom or even dad such as this. I don’t like to talk about it, and grown used to the lofty glances of judgment, assuming I didn’t try hard enough, didn’t care about my family, to the despicable notion that I never really wanted kids. I remember the every detail that surrounds the way they were cut from my life and it happened in less than a week. The horrific things they were led to believe about me are all untrue and can prove more than enough to get the truth out. I have had no contact with the older two in over 10 years now. The youngest son at 11 was disowned by the biological dad (all 3 have the same father and he had fought to be able to be with me. So any assumptions about me as unfit are debunked by this alone. I am sad. all the time and I am blessed as well. The most painful part in this, is my own family every one of them, has seen them and spent time with them, all the while I have been lied to. I find out about the visits every time and the first few years of these deliberate malicious acts cut deep and angered me. I physically felt my heart break. My mother who by natural order is someone you expect to be there and one who will defend you cared more about seeing her grandsons than them seeing their mom. I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer just 3 months prior to losing my marriage and family. All that I ever had known to be normal the life I had known for 15 years gone with the flicker of taillights as my soon to be ex husband drove away with the boys.
    The loss of my dad still new and I hadn’t begun to process that profound loss, now the loss of my husband and children I would grieve also. The next few months following, I look back and wonder how I survived and kept my senses about me. My close friends shook their heads and were certain I would not come back from this with the sanity i had before. I know what kept me and sustains me to this day,and that is amazing Grace. Grace that is sufficient for me and always enough, the undeserved yet boundless Grace given to me and everyone by God. I have been angry questioned why I was even a mom to begin with. I swore motherhood was a cruel joke and I felt like an ant under a magnifying glass. Like I was nearly dead from the heat , but made to squirm and suffer as much as could be enjoyed. This is the best way I can describe how much it perpetually hurt. Still does today and will tomorrow. What’s misunderstood grotesquely is the idea that seems downright ugly but it’s not it’s the ugly truth that is a byproduct of separation between mother and child the admittance that I am not ready to be reunited and if the chosen ones would actually read anything about alienation, any attempt at restoration must be done slowly often with help from a neutral party as a therapist or such. The pictures I see now make me shutter as I have seen a ghost – to me they are still 12,10, and 8. Not 18, and 16-(the baby 15, is with me and I am alright with him ) Not only is it a cold shock seeing pictures it’s just so painful and so sad. The ignorant powers that have played party in this division and isolation don’t see any problem and have zero common sense that I am grieving. I grieve lost time missed milestones first days of high school driving and endless other everyday and the not every day moments. So saddened by the thought that I wasn’t there to listen to their hurts or celebrate their victories. They have had no voice and under the control of a narcissistic father with mommy and daddy’s hundreds of thousands of dollars. I don’t have that kind of money that it takes to fight back in the courtroom. I was told I would be bankrupt if I tried. The court ordered me to pay child support, I would be in jail if I didn’t pay. The baby and I still had weekends and holidays together. I couldn’t be unable to see him, I knew what he was going through and the awful things that were said to him. Protecting him whether with me or at a distance was the most important thing I could do. I couldn’t go bankrupt,and I’m not so well connected in the legal arena that i could buy them off and sway the judge my way. Custody is still 50/50 he being the primary parent. They ran from me, and laughed when I saw them the first time in less than a week. I had no idea that level of evil existed. I didn’t want to know. I have had many moments of being mad at the boys and how they believed any of the lies told. Admitting I am and have been angry with them undoubtedly not my finest hour. True though,it is another casualty of this. I found forgiveness,towards the ex and the boys. I did for the family members too, I don’t speak to them at all lest I have another reason to be forgiving of them, it is best to stay away and stay quiet. I have had great understanding of the scripture “nothing formed against me shall stand ” I am living proof that what has been set out to destroy me did not. Felt like it was doing me in but there’s that Grace arriving in the knick of time that allows me to share this and although hope can be paralyzing it’s there and won’t let go. I believe God is a God of restoration and His will- will be done at His time in accordance with His plan. The plans to prosper me not harm me to give me a future and a hope. My dad loved the chapter in 1st Corinthians -love is patient kind…..he especially liked the last few lines and I’ll close with them love believes all things hopes all things and endures all things love never fails never ends-love is the greatest of all.

  56. I am estranged from my beautiful daughter – no contact for over 2 years. No-one talks if her, it’s like she evaporated. I miss her every day – it’s the deepest grief, more so because the estrangement is my fault but I am powerless to fix it. Such a sad situation. Thank you for the blog – very helpful. A

  57. Thank you for posting this article. I had not been married long when my husband was diagnosed with severe depression. He has had a hard time getting the proper treatment. The depression caused anger and conflicting behaviour and self destructive habits. It made the months leading up to our separation very difficult. I couldn’t figure out why I was so sad all the time and agitated about the whole situation; I missed who my husband was, the man I married. I clung to hope the those memories of good times for months, but he never came back. He has stayed in an unreachable hole. I will always love the man I married and honor the memories but to stay was abusive. It has made leaving easier, but there is much “survivor’s guilt”.

  58. My Mom got a sudden severe brain hemorrhage at age 32. At that time I was 13 and my little brother not even 3 years old. She spent a long time on ICU where I was not able to see her. I will never forget the day when they finally let me to see her. She was lying on the bed, unable to speak, her head was wrapped into gauze, she had tubes everywhere, unable to move, unable to tell me anything, any single word. I brought her a card we got from the friend and she slowly took it into the other hand and was looking at it, not telling me anything, I didn`t even know if she could understand what she was looking at. It was very traumatic moment for me. We were told she will never walk again and she will never be able to speak. I was never able to get back to that hospital room when I was at a training as an RN.
    After quite a long time my Mom was slowly “returned” to us, still going for in-patient physio with speach therapy etc. I felt like she died. She died and still, I had her. I still had my Mother, but she died, that was what I felt and I couldn`t understand it.
    Now, 25 years later, she is able to walk, with difficulties, but she is able to. Her speech is affected, some of her cognitive thinking as well, she is not able to comprehend books (in the past, she loved to read), she can`t do even quite simple crosswords, deal with things like banking, ordering something, she has lots of anxieties and needs support all the time. She will never be the same strong person as she was. She still loves me and my brother, it is still her. I know things could go even more wrong and she could be bedridden, or blind, or totally dependent. Well, she is not. I love her, I protect her, but I feel like something or somebody swapped her, replaced her for another person. I feel like “my mom” that one she was before has to still be somewhere… like she might be somewhere around and I just don`t know where, but I should find her…In my head I have a clear picture of her like she was before… I still remember the last moments when I saw her for a last time when she was healthy. And after that everything in our life abruptly changed. I don`t want to feel this way, I want to even love her more and let her somehow participate in my life more, but I am just use to the fact, that she needs a help from me, support from me. Since the time when I was 13 years old and she got this brain injury, I had to be resposible for lots of things, rely mainly on myself. It`s very hard to find the way how to connect with her more. I even feel like I will never know how to be a Mother of my teenage daughter if I ever have one, as I never got that experience from my own Mom. Should I try to say goodbye to my “first Mom”, the healthy and strong one? Because I know she is the same person I have as a Mother now. But what I feel is like she is still somewhere and this feeling is very strong….I can`t even explain that properly… or should I try interconnect the two and persuade myself that this the Mother I have? Sorry, if this is too confusing, I just feel like I will never get over this and I can`t even imagine how hard it was for her, for my little brother and for our Dad…Thank you.

  59. Thanks for this blog. It made me realize (again) that no matter how painful and difficult my life is there are many other people with much harder challenges. Realizing this helps me to be thankful for small blessings.
    My beloved wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 9 years ago. She has gone downhill and now can’t walk or talk and barely recognizes me. I was her primary caretaker until she started falling last year. After 3 broken bones in a year I had to put her in long term care to protect her safety. (Small blessing) Fortunately she is peaceful, cooperative and generally happy in her simple, childlike way. I have lost all the adult roles we once shared, wife, mother, lover, life partner & best friend. And yet she’s still alive and I love her. I visit her 3-4 times a week.
    5 months ago I started a friendship with a woman that rapidly grew into a love affair. This has been very confusing because I am a very loyal, one woman man. I would never remotely consider having an affair outside my marriage. But now I find I have fallen in love with another while my wife still has a piece of my heart. Caretaking is such a hard job. In my case it has gone on for 8 years and my life has been on hold for most of that time. Grief and loss have been my constant companions and will seemingly never end. I have had caretaker’s fatigue for years. Now I have a chance at some real happiness with a new love but I am struggling with the lack of closure with my wife. Do I need continue to sacrifice my life for her until she dies and I can complete my grieving process? She could live 20 more years and I might die of stress and unresolved grief long before that. Oddly, my new love is giving me strength to continue to care for my wife.

  60. I keep telling myself “no one died” but after 6 weeks of not being able to see my grandkids because of a horrible accident and DCF getting involved, the kids were taken from my daughter. The loss of not being able to see them everyday and wondering what will happen to them is overwhelming. I keep wondering when I will wake up and the nightmare will be over. My friends and family say “the kids are ok, your daughter is ok” but I can not explain the feeling of loss.

  61. “Naming my pain,” as someone said, is very helpful. No one has yet mentioned ambiguous grief for the parent of a transgender adult. My daughter lived as my son for 27 years before coming out and beginning a male to female transition. I had no clue. I was blindsided. Growing up, she was a totally normal boy. She never wanted to wear dresses or said she thought she was a girl. She had normal friendships with boys and had girlfriends all through high school and college. It sounds strange, but she was a wonderful son, and I considered myself so blessed to have raised such a fine young man.

    Then at 27, she came out to me and began the transition. Needless to say, I grieved for my lost son (still do), but my daughter needed me to support her, so I pulled myself through and assured her she would always have my love and emotional support . She underwent gender affirmation surgery about 8 months ago. I went with her and took care of her afterward. I was worried about my own emotional response, but the experience we shared, the fact that she really was allowing me into her life for the first time ever, was gratifying and rewarding. We came home closer than ever.

    I thought we’d seen the worst of it and come through, but since then she has suffered depression and anxiety, been diagnosed with bipolar II, been to chemical dependency treatment (another surprise to me – alcohol addiction), and survived at least one suicide attempt. She is doing all the right things to deal with her mental health issues – seeing doctors, going to therapy, getting support, etc. – but the truth is, she is not the same person, even allowing that she has transitioned from one gender to the other. She has a brilliant mind, and was nearly finished with her Ph.D., but now she can’t seem to work at any job or do academic work, and I am terrified for her future. I miss her, and I miss the son she used to be.

    I feel like I lost one person, gained another, and then lost that one. It’s almost too complex to put into words. But my point is that I think it would be helpful if someone studied the experience of parents of transgender adults. I researched it a lot, and I didn’t find much helpful information.

    • Violet,

      I think you are right, this experience does need more focus and attention. I would imagine researchers and clinicians who specialized in LGBT issues might have the largest wealth of insight, but even then I could see where this might be limited. All I can really say is that I’m sorry for the pain your family is going through. It sounds like you have been such a wonderful support for your daughter and that she is getting help and support she needs to feel better, so that is good. I will keep your comment in mind and if I can find anything, or if I hear of any good resources, for the parents of transgender adults I will make sure to let you know.

      Eleanor

      • Please keep digging. There isnt much out there for us, and those of us who love a person who has transitioned need care, as well. We support and love them through everything they go thru, but we hurt, too. Its a hard battle. I am glad that there is now a name.

    • Oh…I HEAR you. My spouse of almost 15 yrs has transitioned, had surgery 18 months ago, and I am still yearning. We stayed together, and I love her, yet she is NOT the same as he was. Some days, I feel so confused and angry and alone. Giving this a name helps!! Thank you for sharing about your daughter. I wish you well.

  62. Thank you for your kind words, and the suggestions. I am definitely going to join a support group! Just letting it all come out in my blog comment helped some. I just miss my little baby boy. I was told my empathy Meter is way to high and I know I have a worry about everyone else but myself thing going on. I wish I didn’t feel the pain of others so deeply. I am also going to put my gift or curse to use and volunteer for a child advocacy group. I might as well use it for helping, instead of worrying all the time. I did locate my Son and he is living in a camper in someone’s yard. i told him I loved him no matter what, and I have complete confidence that he can make it on his own. Thank you again!

  63. Oh boy, I don’t know where to start. My 40 year old son Jon, started showing signs of mental illness as a child, but I did not know what it was back then. My husband adopted him when we married at 19 and my son was only 9 months old. We had another son Joey 2 years later. Jon was the child that when he was scolded or disciplined carried it like a brick, Joey was the child who shrugged it off very quickly and seemed to learn from the parenting. As a result it seemed like my husband and Jon were always at odds. Let me say that my husband provided for both our children and loved them both, and was never abusive, but I think Jon felt he was treated different. Jon started really acting out as an adult in his mid twenties soon after his son was born. He abandoned is wife and son to live with druggies, and a string of very unhealthy relationships. Amazingly his ex wife a wonderful mother to my Grandson has been enabling him for 15 years and so have I. I have so much guilt for not getting the help he needed as a child and wished I could have done everything different to make him feel better. He is very smart, but has delusions about the world. I have been sneaking him money and buyin gas on a regular basis because my husband said no more after literally thousands of dollars spent In rehab usually to keep him out of jail. 5 weeks ago I finally followed thru on my threats and did not buy him gas or give him money again. Jobs ex wife also quit helping him. His verbal abuse to both of us just became to much. As long as we gave him money etc. he would be kind, but when it stopped he threatened to cut my head off and the whole families head off. I am so sick and sad. I can’t enjoy anything in life, my marriage is failing because it seems that everyone else is just ready to forget Jon. I feel I am grieving a death. Of course there is so much more to say about my wonderful memories of our family and both our children, it has not been a bad life for either of our kids. Yesterday I drove all over town trying to spot his truck so I could try to talk to him, but I could not find him.

    • Oh Kelly, I am so sorry. Addiction and mental illness can be absolutely devastating. Are you familiar with the groups Al-Anon or nar-anon? These are support groups for individuals who have a loved one struggling with an addiction. These groups can be extremely helpful and allow a place to connect with others who understand what you’re going through-everything from seeing someone act as a completely different person, to struggling with not enabling someone. What you’re going through is such a common story, but so many of us suffer alone because stigma often prevents us from connecting because of fear of opening up. There is another book that you may want to consider, if you have not read it, called Codependent No More by Melody Beatty. You’re in our thoughts and please know you’re not alone!

  64. I was looking for info to help my husband and sister in law find some peace…their mother was an alcoholic and died way too young because of it. They struggled with the loss of the mom they knew and then her actual death. Now they are realizing that they are also dealing with a dad that was an AMAZING dad and man as they grew up….then his parents divorced as the kids left college and his dad remarried. He is not the same man and has very little to do with the kids or grandkids lives and it just breaks their hearts. He’s not ill, no disease, no addictions…just moved away with the wife, lets her say hurtful things about the family and individuals etc and does not defend. When they do come home (usually for funeral) he expects the grandkids and kids to treat him and his wife as if they are the best parents and grandparents ever…How do I help my husband accept this man? He is breaking emotionally and so hard not knowing how to help him through this….

  65. Thank you so much for this post. I am in the process of letting go of my adult daughter who has been suffering for years now with mental health issues. It has become too difficult to deal with this anymore because she is in denial that she needs help, refuses help and has rage issues that can be quite frightening. My daughter and I were so close for years, I feel as if I have lost a limb. I was the one to make the decision to put her out for good and while I know it was the only option I had at this time, I am sad every day. A friend of mine used the term “grieving a child who is still physically alive’ and it connected with me. I had been looking for the words to describe how I felt and that was it. When I put that term into the internet, I found your blog post.

    It is my hope she gets the help she needs before life offers her some extremely hard times. But I know even if she gets help and turns her life around, she is and will be a different person because of all of this.’

    The beautiful angel girl that I once knew is gone and for that I am very sad.

  66. I’m glad I found this website! I am grieving over a son. He is alive, but wants very little to do with family and especially his mom and dad. I saw him a few days ago and some of the things he said hurt me very deeply. I feel he has died, because he does not want me to be a part of his life. I have been crying all the time and cannot stop thinking about the past and what he said. I will read the whole article later and come back here again to read more. I feel like I am dying inside. It hurts so bad I can hardly stand it. OK, I told someone how I really feel. Thanks for listening to me.

    • Mariposa, I understand how you feel. My ex-wife moved my boys out of state and I have just recently reconnected with them 6 years later. They were 14 and 12 when they left. There was a lot of tension and family strife at that time because I was remarried and had 2 more boys. She got fired from her job and claimed she couldn’t find a job locally, so she moved out of state and took my 2 older boys. They lived on food stamps for over a year and refused to come over when I had visitation. When they decided to leave, I was told by the 12 year old at the time that if I fought it in court, he would testify that I abused him (I never did). I knew my new wife wouldn’t support a long court fight for 2 boys who were just going to make trouble for us and our 2 younger sons. It’s been heartbreaking. I cry in my car where no one can see me. I felt like they died. We have been able to reconnect recently just a little bit, but contact is very sparse. I think they still love me, but it’s very different. I don’t bear them any grudge. My resentment applies to my ex-wife who has now finally gotten on the right medication to control her chemical imbalance which caused all of this. I missed all of those years and because they were alive, no one really could really provide any comfort. They just kept saying “they’ll come back to you”. I thought that seeing them again would wipe away the years of pain but it didn’t. I love them and will continue to see them anytime they will agree, but when I look in their eyes I see all the years that were missed. They are boys and they were gone when they needed their dad the most. It remains very painful.

  67. Over 8 years ago I listened to my therapist describe my reality with two words, “Ambiguous Grief” as I grieved the loss of a mother with severe unmanaged mental illness. It took nearly 4 years to learn how to grieve the loss of someone so very much alive. But I’m so grateful that someone was there to walk me through it and give me the freedom to grieve. Without that experience, I could not walk with my own daughter today as she grieves the loss of her ideal father. Thank you so very much for writing such a great blog about this very issue. I can show her that she’s not alone, that what she feels is very real and by doing so, I don’t feel quite so helpless!

  68. Thank you for naming my pain, defining it well, and offering helpful tips for putting one foot in front of the other. Last week I put my 16 year old daughter into residential care. I didn’t want to, but I didn’t have any choice. I stopped working 3 1/2 years ago to manage her care, chart her moods, psychosis symptoms, and keep her safe. She had a great doctor, great therapists, a wonderful school, so many people beside her attempting to equip her… it wasn’t enough. The only way to keep her alive after 4 psych inpatient stays was residential care. I wouldn’t do this any differently but I still hate it. I miss her so much! My heart just aches like a knife has been plumbed through my chest. And it’s so unpredictable! Sometimes I’m fine and other times I start bawling when I see her empty chair at the kitchen table. This is just agony, yet many people don’t get it because my daughter is still alive. It just hurts so much.

  69. I stumbled onto your blog this evening and cried as I read the article on ambiguous grief.
    After 25 years of sobriety, my (soon to be ex) husband fell off the wagon. This previously kind, generous, and highly ethical man has undergone a complete personality change. He has lied to, cheated on, and stolen from me. He has become an awful father.
    I have avoided feeling the grief of the loss of my lifetime partner by distracting myself with anger toward him, but it is not working. I miss the old him so much. We got together when I was 19 yeas old. It has been so difficult creating a life without him, though I know that to save myself and my daughter, I must do this. I know my grief would be less complicated if my loss was due to his death. At least if he had died, he would not be able to keep hurting us, emotionally or financially. I feel guilty wishing that he had died instead, but it’s how I feel. There’s a physical shell left that looks like him, but the person I knew and loved is gone. I would like to create some type of funeral-type ceremony to acknowledge and mark this loss, but I don’t really have any idea of what to do. Any suggestions?

  70. I think I’m going through this ambiguous grief…..my nan whom I adore is in quite late stages of dementia even though she still knows who we are she is no longer my nan in my eyes. In 2013 we moved her from her home in which she had lived for 85 years to a residential home with her sister (who has a form Alzheimer’s) my mom and Aunty were their carers as we’ve always been a very close family anyway as the time had gone on my nan slowly but surely declined and started becoming somebody else in September 2014 we decided to move her to a care home as my mom and aunty could no longer cope the care home didn’t work out as we didn’t feel they could handle my nan as much as she has dementia and its severe she needs constant attention and she wasn’t getting it! It was a crazy ride but we moved her back to residential care home with her sister and my mom and Aunty continued to look after them, again it wasn’t before long that my nans behaviour took another turn and she started to become agitated and aggressive even a bit violent and there was no passfiying her anymore so the search for another care home continued we found one and moved her in around November/December but within the first 24 hours she had already been violent and started smashing up her room trying to escape the prison she thought she was in…..they had her sectioned and it was such a traumatic time for all of us she was sectioned for 4/6 weeks in that time she was in 2 different hospitals and on nearly every visit I made told us we were murderers and she wanted to die and many more horrible and hurtful things…the woman who once loved me with all her heart (I know she still does) and had a very big impact in my upbringing is no longer here she’s been replaced with this monster a monster who evokes deep emotion and despair in all of us she looks like my nan a very frail version of my nan but no longer in there in mind. Anyway she came off the section and we moved her back to the care home to be with her sister and at that point I thought I could see a light at the end of the tunnel I really did….if we could just get her to settle this could smooth out the roller coaster for a while, it got smoother I won’t deny that but there were still bumps often a weekly thing then low and behold the decline was coming and it came too fast none of us were expecting this….she had become violent again (the care home she was in didn’t handle her behaviour in the best way a lot could have been prevented) they wanted to issue her with a section but because myself and my mom (who is one of the main people in the interest of my nans care) were on holiday a section would not be issued (she wasn’t sectionable anyway she’s a 90 year old lady with dementia no real threat or danger to anyone) they managers at the care home told my Aunty and my sister that my nan had 28 days to leave the care home….hello despair anxiety and lots more stress! She was only allowed to be placed into EMI nursing care which thankfully we found a place right by us but she really has declined she shuffles when she walks the only thing she says is ‘please don’t leave me’ ‘where am I’ ‘can I go home’ or the very hurtful ones ‘I want to die’ ‘it’s your fault when I die’ ect ect or she stares blankly into space or just sits and cries when we (her family) are around. It’s hard trying to live a completely different life that I’m used to like seeing her everyday going shopping going for food ect slowly all that has faded out and the impact of what I feel is grief has hit me like a ton of bricks she is here in body but not in mind and it feels like a dark and lonely road right now. The most confusing grief how do grieve someone that is still alive where is the end point? and do you survive this grief….the inevitable is coming I understand and accept that it’s coming sooner rather than later but I feel like my life has stopped that time is distorted and life is passing me by and I’m stuck in hell yes I have ok days but 9x out of 10 I’m not really here as much as I try being in the present its hard cause I just look how much has changed in a short space of time and I don’t know how I got here! It’s a terrible grief to lose anybody but this grief is torture because until it happens to you I truly don’t think you will be able to understand that comes with any ambiguous loss not just one involving dementia x

  71. I know this feeling all too well. Not drugs nor alcohol, but someone who can’t continue life without his other half. In my case, it’s my father. It’s bad enough to have your mother die, but to see your father go while still being physically here is almost too much

  72. Eu precisei passar por isso pra entender…
    Obrigada por compartilhar.

  73. i am so glad I stumbled upon this term, ambiguous grief. It helps me to know there is a name for this feeling of ” suspended animation.” A most difficult time in my life; in our life, my husband and I. Being a nurse by profession with over 40 years experience, one would think that this would be easier. It is, in fact, the HARDEST thing I have ever been through. ” Through” is just a word………..because we are NOT through yet, just in the middle! Chronic illness of any kind is very difficult for the one who is ill and the one who is not. It is a daily thing and looking beyond 24 hours is too hard also. So, we depend on God who is our strength, our hope and our future! He is our ” ever present help in time of trouble.”

    • Wow thank you. I spent six weeks straight with someone and a month after that in contact. I love this person incredibly deeply. After being yanked from this person’s life completely I have grieved and grieved. But few even understand that I would have anything to grieve or I should be over it by now. It’s been nearly a year now, still so painful and I miss this person so incredibly much. A death would’ve been easier to deal with. Thank you for validating the excruciating pain. My loss doesn’t really fit a category here. But very helpful article. How do you grief someone you love and who isn’t mental or substance abuse or sick, but you may never see this person again?

      • Snow White, this is another distinct type of ambiguous loss which we really should write another post about. It can come up when you are estranged from someone, when they are missing, etc. There is no easy answer as to how to grieve that loss, but it is important that you know you have every right to be grieving. Finding ways to cope and take care of yourself will be similar to grieving any other loss and you may find our section on self-care here on this website to be helpful. You may also want to check out our post on disenfranchised grief that can be found here: http://www.whatsyourgrief.com/disenfranchised-grief/

  74. What is it called when you grieve someone but they are atill alive, is there a term for that? Is there support for that.. I feel so alone in this …. You answered all my questions. Thank you for writing this. Three years ago my older sister (24) was walking across the road and got hit by a car going 50 mph. That night moved in slow motion. I remember the phone call and just knowing how dire the sistuation was so I rushed to the secne of the accident. They wouldn’t even let me see her. She was rushed to the hospital in record time. Everything was wrong the doctors kept coming in telling us about a new issue that had come up. Broken leg, broken rib, frontal lobe damage, shaken baby syndrome, brain bleed ect; It was the most real night of my life. I felt everything and nothing at the same time. Every second we thought we were going to lose her… But we didn’t she “survived”. I almost feel guilty for putting the quotation marks. The thing is my sister has two children who were her life before the accident, my newphe Adam who was 4 at the time of the accident and his sister Sarah who was 6 months old. My sister is now in a brain injury facilitie 3 hours from my family. She can’t walk she can’t take of her self she certainly cannot take care of her children. She can communicate but it’s though grunts and thumbs. I know she’s inSide of there she still remembers who we all are and she is still the same person (sometimes)but it’s like she get out of inside her head She was an artist now she can’t even grip a pen. I feel sad everyday about what happend to my sister. I try and help my mother and father out rasing my sister children but it’s so hard. I miss my big sister. It’s hard to talk or bring up to people beacuse of how heavy the sistuation is. Thank you for putting how I felt into words I really do feel so alone in this sometimes. It took me time to realize it was okay to grieve. I wish I could fix her I wish she wasn’t so far… I wish she was able to raise her babies..

    • Julie,

      I’m so sorry this has happened to your sister. It’s devastating. I think what you describe is certainly ambiguous grief but unfortunately there really isn’t a lot of support for this. I suppose you could look into some caregiver support groups. Again they might not feel like a great fit for your situation, but might be something? Ambiguous grief is often also disenfranchised (which we have an article about here). We aren’t sure if we should be grieving, society doesn’t feel we should be grieving, and worst of all….we sometimes feel guilty for grieving people who are still alive.

      I’m so sorry for all that you’re dealing with.

      Eleanor

    • I am suffering a severe case of depression and anxiety, and terrible sadness . . .I started taking Efforxor (?) and feel like a zombie. Before, though, I was the opposite, of bundle of nerves and emotions out of control, daily crying jags, so sad, my son’s diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia!
      🙁

      • Ambiguous Grief, it’s been known for years, but just recently we know it pertains to severe mental illness of your adult child or child. . .no words. . .

  75. i Googled ” grieving alive” and found this website. I also found a name………ambiguous grief………..which helps me to know there are others just like me. Even though I should have recognized grief within myself, it took my sister to tell me I was grieving my still alive husband. Feeling like I am in a state of ” suspended animation”, I continued to look for answers. This identifier is one of those answers.
    My husband has suffered chronic illness(s) for the past 25 years. The last 2 years have been the most difficult for both of us. Ambiguous grief describes so many of the situations we are living through. It is difficult to say the least. I believe in part, I have over expected of myself since I am a registered nurse. However, this is so very different when your “patient” is your husband. There are days when I feel like running away and other days when I feel so bad for him I could cry……..and do. I sought pshchological counseling a few weeks ago for myself. Whether is was this particular counselor, I cannot say for sure, but it was only making things worse for me and definitely not helping him.
    My husband is not the same man I married. He is not the same man on any given day. In fact, that can also change from hour to hour. Needless to say, it keeps me on an emotional roller coaster 24/7. I feel trapped in my life…………thus the term suspended animation. My faith and trust in God is what gives me strength everyday. I take 24 hours at a time because that is all I can handle.
    So, thank you for this web site and the information provided. I look forward to future posts.

    • Jeannie, thanks for your post. It is about 2 years later, 3:30 in the morning. My dog woke me up coughing, so I got up to give him medicine. Started to write a post and discovered I should do it in Word and copy/paste. So look for another post from me shortly.

  76. Thank you for sharing. My father attempted suicide last year. We have been struggling with our emotions as well as his recovery. We have been trying to support others in our position. I have shared this with the small growing community and it one more validation, that we are not alone and what we are feeling and thinking is “ok” Thank you again!

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Dawn. i am glad you found the post helpful and shared it. I am so sorry for what you and your family are going through- sending lots of good thoughts your way!

  77. As I read this article, I was amazed at how many people experienced what I could not find words for… Ironically the first comment was approximately the one year mark of when I lost my first husband, my Dragon (his nickname). Within the last 10 months of his life, I saw how this strong and proud man who was a decorated USAF fighter pilot and a cancer/abdominal aortic aneurysm/carotid arterial occlusion survivor became easily weak in the knees and losing his abilities to do what most take for granted. All the while, the doctors could not tell what was going on nor why or how, because they did not know… To respect his privacy, I never shared with anyone (including my parents) how he transformed from a man who was fiercely independent, affectionate and kind to me turned into a combative, ill-tempered, bladder/bowel incontinent, afraid-to-be-alone-longer-than-necessary, verbally and sometimes physically abusive demon… Yet, I still loved him and told myself that it’s not him that acting that way, it’s his condition. And I would tell him that because as Dragon’s sole caregiver, I felt he needed to know I loved him despite the difficult times, the harsh words and criticisms. However, nothing prepared me for losing him after we said our love you’s and “Sweet dreams…” the night before he passed. I am glad he died in his sleep, by my side, as that is what he wanted all along. However, other people didn’t see it as such. When they finally found out that bitter truth of how he was faring, they accused me of being selfish and negligent because he “should have been in a hospital”. Those he thought were “family” (including our former landlady) kicked me out of the house the very same day of his death. The son wanted me to spread the ashes by myself… For the better part, I have moved forward but I still mourn for the man I vowed to “love with all of my all life, forsaking all others”… Per his wishes, I will keep my chin up and love life again because I shall always remember what we shared as I go out in the world.

    Great article and thanks for sharing your insight everyone!!!

  78. After 34 years of marriage I am grieving an unexpected divorce.

    • I am so sorry, Brenda. Divorce is a type of loss and, unfortunately, it isn’t always recognized as grief. But the reality is that we grieve when our relationship with someone changes and divorce absolutely is a source of immense pain and loss. There are support groups for people coping with the pain of divorce, which may be helpful. A google search should be able to help you locate a group in your area.

  79. I accidentally stumbled upon your website today while I was searching for anything that could help to ease the pain that I am feeling. My 30 year old daughter who is married and lives about 6 miles from me has always been such a beautiful loving and kind person. She was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of MS while in High School so her and I spent many weeks in hospitals and our relationship grew even closer than it had been as she became an adult. When she and her husband gave birth to their daughter we were all thrilled. The doctors did not think she would be able to get pregnant. Many people had concerns as to her ability to take care of her baby but I did not. I knew that my daughter in spite of her MS would be a wonderful mother. Of course she needed my help and I was more than happy to help her. So each day when I got out of work at 4:00 pm I would go to my daughters and play with my Grandaughter until her husband got home at 6:00 pm. It worked out great for both of us. I was just in love with my granddaughter and as she got older we could do more things. Some days we would go to the park, or go for walks. I always would invite my daughter to come with us but she didn’t want to. Like I said, my daughter and I have always had a very good relationship, if she has something on her mind she is not afraid to tell me, she has never been afraid to speak her mind and neither am I. Our relationship is not perfect but it’s normal. Well about 2 months before my Grandaughters 3rd. Birthday I noticed that my daughter was in a nasty mood more often than usual. She was up and down. This usually means something is going on with her MS. She was angry with anyone that said anything to her about it. Then it happened. I went over to their house to play with my Grandaughter on June14th. 2012, I asked my daughter how she was feeling and I to.d her she needed to call her doctor. She told me that I needed to leave. I said ok. I have my Grandaughter a hug and kiss and I sort of tickled her and told her I would see her Monday. Then my daughter said to me, “I don’t ever want to see you again”, I said to her, I love you and I will see you Monday. It has been 2 & 1/2 years and I have not seen or spoken to my daughter or my Grandaughter since that day. I have tried everything I know to do and nothing. My daughter will not talk to anyone in our family. Not her brother or sister in law. She was so close to all of her Aunts and uncles and cousins but she won’t speak to anyone. I don’t know what to do. I have gone to her home and knocked on the door and my granddaughter came to the window one time and begged me to come in and play with her. My daughter called the police. Every time I have tried to go to her house she calls the police. My grief is unbearable. There are times that I just want to die. I go to counseling but it doesn’t help. How could it? My daughter grew up in a loving home. I was a good mother. Yes I was divorced but I worked so hard to make sure that my children’s needs were met. They always came first. They never say different men in my home. I only went on dates when they spent the night with Grandma. I don’t know how to cope with this loss. I miss my granddaughter so much and now she is in kindergarten and in the same class with my friends grandkids. So when my best friends go and pick up their grandkids from school they get to see my Grandaughter and I can’t. Everyone else can see my Grandaughter every single day at school and I can’t. I could go with my friend to pick up their grandkids but I worry about what would happen if my Grandaughter saw me. I don’t want to hurt her. Please help me to deal with this grief. Nobody understands what I am going through. It’s been 2&1/2 years and alli do is sit home and cry. I have fallen deeper and deeper into this depression. My friends are sick of watching me waste my.ife. Even the one friend who understands is sick of seeing me like this. But it just hurts. I just want my daughter and my Grandaughter back. None of this makes sense.

    • My son said he wanted “No context what-so-ever”. And every time we broke this commandment he said he would add on time to the “Time Out” as he called it. He had my 4 month old Grandson and his baby mama living with him. His only complaints were after the baby was born with our behavior towards himabout wanting to see the baby too much, not waiting for an invitation, because we live an hour and a half away, we would call him if we were headed into the big city, and ask if we could stop by to see the baby. Stuff like that. I saw him at my Moms funeral this summer and he at he would call us in 2 weeks and set up a time so we could have the “talk”?before we could see the baby. We got a letter from him in March giving us ten rules if we wanted a felationship is we apologized, and if we broke any rules, he and his-wife, ( we saw the photos of their marriage at home in their t shirts on Facebook, Jennifer, who by the way estranged from her family a month before my son did, would decide how long we would get another time out and how long it would be for depending on the so called offense. Doesn’t this sound like its out of a

      • Of a movie? I’m getting counseling, meditating, exercising, and trying not to cry about it. There’s support groups about this travesty. One is called Mothers Abandended By Their Adult Children it’s on Facebook. There’s a lot more if you google it. Take care.

  80. Hi. I’m sure there is no name or catagory for the grief I suffer with. This may be the closest one. I am attempting to grieve the loss of my three children who are very much alive. I m trying to grieve because I have been in denial for 18 years and not able to face the pain of what happened. They were my little babies and their father and I were seperated. He wanted to see them so we met at a outside play area at McDonald’s. While I was inside ordering them some happy meals the girl at the counter facing the outside parking area who I was ordering from started yelling to call 911. I looked behind me out there and it was my husband whole family from another state. They were dragging my children and trying to throw them into a car. They were screaming for help. I ran out and my husband was throwing my oldest son who was 10 over the fence from inside the play area to his brother. My younger daughter and my other son were already being held down in the back if a car by their nefew. They wete all screaming for help. Screaming for mommy. I was able to get my oldest son by the hand and was trying to pull him from his uncle. As he was screaming for me to help him also. Well his uncle was bigger then me and ripped him from my arms and threw in in the back seat with my othet two. Tge police had not yet come. It was my mother in law who was in tge drivers seat of the car. I tried to reach in to get het keys but I couldn’t. I got galf wau into the passenger side and almost got the keys. My children were still screaming and terrified. My husband came behind my and was pulling my hair to ge Tuesday m err out of the car but I wouldn’t stpp trying to get the keys. So he started pulling the back of my shirt and got me out and my whole shirt came off. His mom
    Stepped on the gas and sped off down thr wrong side of the street with my children. I fell face first on the middle of the street. They were gone.
    That was the end of the wonderful life I knew as being “mommy”. They never came back to me. When they finally did, they wanted nothing to do with me. They were lied to the whole time they were hidden from me. They believed that I never loved them and that I never wanted to be their mommy. I was replaced. I never drank or took a pill or had any friends when I was married to their father. I homeschooled them for a while. I loved being their mommy. They were also told that I was a drunk and a drug addict. My guilt today is that after they were gone I became homeless and the deep pain of being seperated from them and not knowing where they were or when or if I would ever see them again made the lies they were told about me come true. I turned to drugs when I was homeles to numb the deep sorrow and pain I had. This happened 18 yearss ago and I have been running and running from the reality of ehat happened and from facing the pain. Of allowing my self to come out of denial and to accept. I still try to reach out to my children but get nothing but rejection. I need to grieve the loss of my children eho are alive. I need to grieve the lose of being mommy and wanting to be aluve without my children. I lost my purpose that day. They were part of my flesh and my heart. My flesh was ripped off of me that day. My heart was torn. My reason for breathing was taken.

    • I understand. I just went through this myself. After my kids were kidnapped 5 years ago by their father we finally found them. They hated me so much they were willing to lie to courts saying I had done unspeakable things to them. My heart was crushed. It came to a point last week that in order to protect my youngest child (from another marriage) that I had to let my children go and stop fighting for them. We use to be very close. I know it is not their fault because their father lied to them and he is their dad so why wouldn’t they believe him. I miss their smiling faces. I miss doing art with my daughter, going to bike races with my son. It took everything in me to say goodbye to them but I have a new husband and a younger daughter my ex was willing to destroy to hurt me as well and I just couldn’t put them through what I’ve gone through as well.
      Btw, I didn’t react well when they first disappeared either. It took awhile to get back on my feet but I had a daughter that helped me do that because she depended on me being sane. I’m so sorry as I would not ever wish our pain in anyone. You are in my prayers.

  81. is it possible to have this over a dog?
    He was like my soul mate and my fur baby kid. our perfect relationship changed last year of his life or less then that. He was the only one in my life was with me through thick thin. He was my first only dog n baby, then his heart murr murr turned into heart failure then he died 1-2 months after in nov. 12 year old. think I went through many types of grief ? changed dog, sick dying dog to dead dog. I love him. Miss him.

  82. Thank you, for this post. My mum does not fit in a definitive name of disease which really frustrated me over the years as her mental illness took over her and I didn’t know how to deal with the changes. From someone who was a strong-hearted loving person, to someone who happened to abuse me to feed her mental illness and finally into someone who is weak and with mixed emotions. I often don’t know who I am talking to even though she sounds exactly like my mum. Not living with her anymore I thought I was doing okay and for days and weeks I’d be happy until things got less busy and a wave of sadness struck me. I was mad, I didn’t know what was wrong everything was going well. I kept telling myself it wasn’t her that bothered me but after reading this article I have decided to face this ambiguous loss that I may be feeling by visiting a counselor.

  83. I first experienced ambiguous grief when my dearest friend. ( who is 7 years older than I am) started to have age related problems and health issues. It caused her to be emotionally unavailable in ways she never had before. It was hard not to take it personally until I realized she was scared and overwhelmed. Even with all my insight, I still missed the friend she used to be . It feels selfish to say it, but I also missed the person I used to be when I was with her. It’s taken me a long time to sort these feelings out and redefine our relationship. I’m accepting that aging changes things and that I’m changing too. Its how life is: always changing.

  84. I have a friend with severe anorexia nervosa. I met her while we were both in a treatment hospital for eating disorders. I have never known her without anorexia. But while I journey towards recovery, she plummeted. She cut off all contact with me a few months ago. I believe it was because I was getting too close and vocal about my concern for her. I still feel guilty every day that I did something wrong. If I would have just kept quiet and been there for her instead of getting myself so involved, we would still have some sort of relationship. I miss the person I knew and I grieve the loss of friendship we had. I wonder what kind of person she could have been without the disorder. It is difficult to remember the times we had without feeling hurt and guilty.

    • Hey Kristy,

      Sorry it took us so long to respond. Thank you for your comment, sadly this is a perfect example of ambiguous grief. I totally get why you would question yourself and feel guilty given that she cut off contact with you, but please also remember that your intentions were rooted in concern and love not judgement. Just the same, I get it and I’m sorry your struggling with this pain. But P.S. I am so happy to hear that you personally are doing well in recovery.

      Eleanor

  85. I have also lived with ambiguous grief , with my son , he was addicted to opiates and it put a strain on our family. My relationship with my family and Alex where forever changed, do to
    His addiction. Unfourtanly our worst nightmare came true Alex overdosed and passed away 3 months ago.

    I remember at times through Alex’s addiction that I cried as though I had already had lost my son, I understand that was ambigous grief.

    We now have to grief more loss, never being able to hear his voice or feel his touch.

    • Hey Kerri,

      Sorry it took us so long to response and I’m so sorry about your son’s struggle with addiction and his death. Have you by chance seen either of our posts on overdose? In addition to helpful information there are quite a few comments from people who’ve also lost a loved one to overdose. Here are the links to the posts –> Part 1 and Part 2

    • I’ve been married for twenty five years to a man who has slowly succumbed to alcoholism and drug addiction. He is a binge user which means there can be days, weeks, sometimes even months when he does not use, but when he does it is as if his family stops existing for him. It’s taken a long time for me to understand what is wrong with me and I now know I that I’ve been suffering from ambiguous grief for perhaps ten years now. I miss him all the time, even when he’s not drinking and drugging; I’m sad and lonely even when he’s nearby, because he is not really ever present. I’ve filed for divorce because I can’t live like this anymore, but I am afraid that the grief will continue for a long time. The problem is worse for me because I have no other family. It’s just my daughter, my husband and me. Once we are divorced, my daughter and I will move to a new place where we have no connections and it will be just the two of us. I’m trying not to wallow in self pity; I’m trying to maintain as cheerful a front as possible for my daughter’s sake. But I know that I have to go through the stages of grieving and I am afraid that as long as he is alive, whether we’re together or separated, that the grief will go an and on. I’m also leaving the home that I love, the place I’ve lived for more than thirty years with all the social connections I’ve made during those decades. The future looks pretty bleak right now, mostly because my husband is still alive. How does one grieve the loss of a loved who is only a phone call away? As cold as this may sound, it would be so much easier for me if I were to learn that he was dead.
      I

      • I also lived with someone who binged on alcohol & drugs. He stole all our money. He left me with nothing to feed the kids with. He lied & lied to me , his family & himself. 8 years I tried but it was fruitless. Rehab, AA, everything!
        Then one day I found the courage to end the relationship. It was hard. I had to do it, for myself & my children. I know it seems like a lot but the peace will be worth it. Your worth it. Going thru all that everyday isn’t worth it. My grief is huge. I live with it everyday. Some days are hard. But keep your head up! You can do it! You are strong! You’ve already taken the biggest step!

    • Kerri… I’m so sorry about your son. My son took his life late 2013 (also had addiction and depression) but God had taken away my pain. I’m no longer grieving. Infact, I’m looking forward to seeing him again in the other life. What helped me to go through this is being closer to God. When a situation like this happens, there are only three choices to make. 1) We either hate God because we falsely believe that He took away someone we love/ and or tore a family apart. 2) For those who don’t believe will keep on fighting death and will never have peace about it. 3) or embrace God and have peace about death because we know we are going to see our love ones again. I have chosen the last one and I’m very peaceful about my son who took his life. During my mourning period (I was also thinking of taking my life) I cried out to God as I can no longer take the pain and He came to my rescue. Finding God brought me so much peace, contentment, and comfort and learned to accept death is a part of our existence and that rather than struggling to fight it, I might as well embrace it. Afterall, we are only travelling temporarily on earth. If you need to talk, I can share with you on how to have peace also. I’m here to help.

  86. Thank you for writing about this most difficult issue. You are right that your love and concern for the person does not go away even though they may have changed through the onset of a mental issue or a physical addiction. But there is an incredible sadness mixed with your love for you are looking at the person you used to know but they are no longer present. Your insight has helped me a lot today!!

    • With Addiction the sadness and grief are mixed with shame, but with many other losses there is guilt even though the reason for it is unknown. Many of us re-live things and think of ways the situation might have been made better even when there is no reason for that guilt and what occurred would not have changed regardless.

    • Thank you for giving a name to this constant grief for the undead
      Mental illness and drug addition have imprison our daughter and us for 17yrs. She is now 35 after years of treatment centers hospitalization and no compliance
      We let her go and applied for a restraining order
      As it is often said in family to family support NAMI group
      Where’s my casserole dish where’s my Hallmark sympathy card

      • Right there with ya! My daughter got addicted to pain meds after major surgery for a 2 foot long colon cancer tumor that ruptured her intestine and nearly killed her! She was 20!! After being a heroin addict and now being on suboxone for 10 years she is no longer the sweet, loving, giving girl I raised! She’s a selfish, narcissistic, angry and miserable person! She attacked me on Christmas Day because she claimed I gave her brother’s kids more presents than hers! Even though I bought her kids presents because they didn’t have money and I paid way more for their gifts than I did my son’s kids! Because of this, I wrapped 3 of her son’s gifts together and she went berserk! Screaming and threatening me for an hour in front of our whole family in a cabin my husband rented for our Christmas celebration! We paid for all the food and activities! She did nothing! Just weeks before I spent days helping her get rid of bedbugs and we bought them a new bed and mattress pads and bug powder! No matter what I do it’s never enough! Never heard a word from her since Christmas until a few weeks ago when she PM’d me on FB asking for her external drive I paid for and had borrowed to fix my puter! I am deeply grieving the loss of not only my daughter but my grandkids!

  87. Litsa-
    Once again, amazing post. Exactly right, with good practical advice. Reminds me of Helen Keller’s quote reminding us that we belong to a large community of people also suffering, we aren’t alone in these experiences, even though we might feel that way. Connecting with people who can share our sorrows is the only way I know how to begin to endure ambigious and anticipatory grief.
    Thank you for the care, feeling and support you put into these posts (the humor helps a lot too!)

  88. Alcohol abuse fits into this category, you lose them but they are there

  89. Being a caregiver for my husband with Alzheimer’s made me think I would not grieve his death as hard. I was wrong. I have lived through 8 years of anticipatory grief and now one year since his death. Either way – it is just hard.

    • Well said – it’s just hard. I’m sorry for your loss.

    • How about loss of a therapist? For reasons not important here, I had to say goodbye to my therapist of 2 years. It was/is a hard loss. I come from a long history of abandonment by parental figures and she was very much like a mother figure for me. It’s definitely triggered all those old memories.

    • Omg I had this grief when I found out my mother was dying it was heartbreaking and it actually destroyed part of my soul…. my mother taught me many things and if you have ever heard the saying
      My mother taught me many things except how to live without her… well I did think this was so in my case, in actual fact because my mother lost her own mother at a very young age she actually did teach me how to cope.
      I just didn’t realise this until I lost her in her death.
      Seeing the strongest person I’d ever known fade before my very eyes was soul destroying.
      I usually help with fixing things or helping with things that seem impossible but this was one problem I couldn’t solve no matter how much I tried prayed or cried…. nothing I could do but watch my beautiful little mum suffer.
      Then my brother was in a horrendous road traffic accident we were told as a family to prepare for the worst that was also heartbreaking…. see I lost my dad when I was only 14 on Christmas Day suddenly to a horrific heart attack… my family were devastated.
      So there is myself and my two older brothers…. who are my world
      So after loosing now both our parents and myself being the youngest but a grown adult I still was heartbroken.
      Thankfully my brother survived his life has been turned upside down by his accident…. and also for all of his family that know how much trauma he’s suffered.
      Then there is my eldest daughter who is caught up in a manipulative soul destroying relationship…. with someone who has helped her on her way to completely destroying her own life her children’s lives and our lives.
      With the drug abuse and the violence and lies and manipulation…..
      so reading this has opened my eyes I’ve suffered this kind of grief many times and still suffering.
      I live in fear for a call to tell me my daughter has been found dead, either because of drugs, or being killed
      I can not reach her she’s not who she once was….. so I feel this pain
      But life must go on

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