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 an 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.

Check out more on Ambiguous Loss by visiting the website of Pauline Boss, the woman who first labeled and researched this topic.

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

January 11, 2019

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

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  2. After being slapped by her husband of 17 years, my daughter had him arrested and her marriage was over. Unfortunately, the one and only time he lashed out at her was in front of three of her 6 children. She left him, left the LDS Church (Mormon), and took all the children with her away from the church they were born and raised in. She is now heavily involved in the radical feminist movement and refers to all of her children as radical feminists. She is now a lesbian and the last time she contacted me was on the 19th of November, 2019. I have not been able to reach her or any of my 6 grandchildren. I have texted, phoned, messaged, written letters, emails, phone messages, sent cards, sent letters, sent birthday and Christmas gifts and I get nothing but silence in return. I am cut off completely from my daughter and my 6 grandchildren. I don’t understand. I don’t know why. This is ambiguous grief and the pain breaks my heart and hurts my soul. I am at a loss as to what I can do. I need help. Is anyone out there who has suffered the same kind of loss? I feel so alone.

    • I have not experienced the same loss as you but I wanted to reach out to you. I am deeply sorry for your loss and your grief. My son is still living but has been lost to heroin addiction for the last 15 years and lives on the streets in Seattle. I see you are LDS but I wonder if you would be open to a Celebrate Recovery group at a church in your area. They have weekly meetings to reach out to people with “Hurts, habits and hangups” and don’t we all fit in there? Remember God loves you so tenderly and Jesus is always with you. Even when you don’t see Him or feel Him He is always working for you.
      Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;

      • Yes, of course, I am open to any help and support. But I live in North Wales, UK. Is there any support group around here?

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  5. 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

  6. this was very much related to what I feel. loosing a brother who still exist in another form, but does not exist for me. Cant get over him, its been 4 years now. but feel this kind of grief; the term that I found today.

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  14. My mum had an aneurism on her brain over 4 years ago and she is in a care home, peg fed, sleeps a lot but at times wakes and recognises me and will say small sentences over the years and understands some of what I say. She does recognise the names of people I talk about. Seems to be me more than any other family that gets anything from our mum.
    I love her dearly and although it’s hard she isn’t in pain or aware of her situation.
    I find it all so hard at times, I visit regularly and like now when the nursing home is in lock down due to the Coronavirus I feel so, so upset that I cannot check on her. After 4 1/2 years I feel I should not get so upset but I do.
    I miss my mum how she was and I love her dearly.
    Should I really have come to terms with the situation by now and be tougher about it rather than have periods where I feel so upset? I just feel so sorry for my mum as she is so vulnerable.

    • It is so much harder with Covid 19. My sister’s partner’s heart stopped 2 weeks ago, the lack of blood to his brain caused severe damage. He was in an induced coma and then a vegetative state until this morning when he died. My sister and his brother were there with him for 10 days in the hospital, because of the lockdown they couldn’t leave or else they couldn’t come back. We couldn’t be with her and now that she’s at my mom’s house with her kids, I can’t go be with them because I’ve been mildly sick and whether it’s the virus or not I don’t want to take the chance to spread it to them. Distancing when someone is in a vulnerable place and needs support is so hard.

      I don’t think that you should have gotten over things already. It’s ok that you still feel grief and loss for both the past relationship you had with her and what should’ve been that future relationship. Time heals all wounds, but the scars remain. My Grandma died a few years ago, after developing Alzheimer’s and living in a care home for several years. I miss her dearly, I think of her often and I grieve for the time that we should have together. I have so many questions I would ask her about her life, her experiences, her politics. I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I do talk to her often, sometimes even almost pray to her for guidance or help. It doesn’t make sense to me, and really it doesn’t have to. It’s comforting to imagine her close. In all honesty, I did this before she died, I spoke to her telepathically because I was a thousand miles away. I think it’s ok to incorporate your loved ones, whether they’ve passed or are in an in-between phase like your mother, into your daily life. Even if it’s something like I mentioned where I don’t really tell anyone about. It’s ok to not think about it all for awhile and then the pain of it all comes crashing in. Our minds can’t process grief in a linear way. The people that we love impact our lives in so many ways that we don’t see all at once. Sometimes the weirdest trigger will remind me of her, and though I get sad about it, I try to just hold the memory or the thought and feel it for a minute and then let it go. A poem helped me to think of the ways that people come into and out of our lives, I don’t know if it will help you, I know that it feels very unfair. And it is. But our lives are all we have and I’m sure your mother and my Grandma would want us to live fully and be happy.

      Time is a tree
      This life, one leaf.
      But love is the sky
      And I am for you,
      Just so long,
      And long enough.
      – e e cummings

      I hope that your mother is well and that you learn how to cope with your grief as best you can. Try to be patient with yourself.
      Much love from a stranger.

  15. Frustrated in OregonMarch 3, 2020 at 7:42 pmReply

    My sister is seven years older than me – really my first Mom. About 25 years ago she had a hysterectomy with some complications (scar tissue), which led to another surgery. Then it was clinical depression, breast cancer, bulimia, etc. She has been sick ever since. It’s just been one thing after another, year after year. I can count on one hand the number of times in the last 20 years that we have had a conversation in which she didn’t mention her body or her health. She hasn’t worked for years, doesn’t get up until noon every day, and pretty much stays at home. She can drive herself places, like the doctor or the therapist, but never at rush hour! Everything seems to be a chore for her, difficult, exhausting. I’m so angry and bitter. She used to be my best friend, my go-to when things got hard. Her grown children and husband walk on eggshells around her, as upsetting the apple cart throws her into a tail spin and harsh words and angry outbursts are sure to follow. I tried talking with her about it but she just broke down crying. That’s the most frustrating thing about it – she doesn’t recognize what she does to those around her, how we all walk so softly so as not to disturb her. I’m sure there’s mental illness involved but she fires her therapists when they get too close to finding out what the real core is. I miss my sister so much. It hurts and frustrates me to see her so frail, and to hear her whine about life. We live in the same town but hardly ever see each other. I can barely stand to be with her, and it seems to get worse with time. I sometimes think something is wrong with me, that I need to be more caring, more compassionate, more loving. It’s gone on for so long I don’t know which way is up.

    • I read so much similarities to our stories. We lost my dad 7 years ago. My mom has no social circle and has been on a downward spiral ever since.

      I have tried to help her but had to step back when I realized she refused to help herself. She has given up. Constantly complaining about the way things are but won’t take necessary measures to change them.

      Mother’s day has always been difficult for me, as we have always had a strained relationship. My mother was not much of a nurturer and made me feel like a burden as a child. I honestly thought she hated me.

      I tried to take on the necessary role as a caregiver, but it is hard. She just turned 62 and she might as well be 82. House is a disaster, won’t do laundry, has no desire to leave the house. She would love for me to come sit with her, but the condition of the house literally makes me sick. Her a/c hasn’t worked in over a year and she can’t let anyone in the house to fix it.

      I am at my wits end. So frustrating. I sit here and still find myself yearning for the mother I will never have.

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  17. My mom just turned 70 this past December. She was diagnosed with dementia in 2018. My husband and I invited her to live with us (2014) to watch the kids and spend time with them while I re-entered the job market and later finished school. We live 2 provinces away (2 or more days of driving). I’m glad she had a few very good years with us. We started seeing changes in her in about 2016. She developed some anxiety around cooking and lost the ability to use her laptop. I’m positive the dementia started then but she had no doctor. Looking back I can see the disassociation between her reality and mine. She felt fine so everything must be fine.

    I cried nearly everyday for a month and a half after her diagnosis in 2018 even though I had anticipated it. My mind just raced through what the rest of her life would look like. She got the disease I never considered a possibility because she was smart. In the last 6 to 8 months she has gone from early stage dementia to advanced dementia. I have POA over her estate and health matters. I made sure to get those in place prior to her diagnosis.

    I grieve all of her losses. I feel like I’m grieving in her place because she isn’t really aware of her state. She is beginning to show signs of neurological problems. I’ve placed her in transition care of a respite organization because I can no longer look after her. She is losing control of her muscles. She basically can’t relieve herself when she needs to.

    I grieve her losses so much sometimes I feel like I’m grieving for both of us. Today I cried reading this post. I am taking an online loss and grief class at the university and everything in it makes me cry (this was one of the readings). I’m even grieving for the day I have to watch my kids (6, 9) go through this pain in the future.I lost my grandmother when I was almost 9 and my grandfather when I was 18. My grandmother was sick for a while then I saw the ambulance go to her house (she lived behind us) and suddenly she was gone. My grandfather to me was just sick for a while as well (heart problems). I actually watched him die which was an extremely short version of this. We were at the hospital for about 6 hours and I called my best friend at the time at least 4 times during that wait. Both of those events don’t carry a heavy weight anymore. This one I think will for a very long time.

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  19. My wife of 40 years was diagnosed with bipolar disease 16 years ago.

    In the last 7 years she has had 5 major surgeries and has been in pain management treatment for the last 3 years. She is on a daily regiment of hydrocodone and other pain meds, along with the 5-6 meds she takes to treat the bipolar. Her bipolar is pretty much under control….maybe 3-4 days a year she has a day that she is out of sorts due to this condition.

    Her self image is shot. She has little self-confidence, continually second guesses herself, and has pretty much become a hermit. Her days are spent watching judge shows or Dr. Phil until I get home from work. She doesn’t drive anymore (nor should she given the medications she takes.) She is isolated in a lake community with few outlets and no real friends. Her social circle is me and one of our three kids( and his family) who lives an hour away. Our two daughters are too far away and dealing with their own issues.

    I am grieving for her because I want a better life for her. She used to work and then volunteer outside the home. She had 2 close girlfriends locally, and a very good friend living about 4 hours from us. She has not been in contact with any of these people for at least the last two years. It is so hard to love someone, remember what they used to be, and watch them struggle so hard. I feel selfish thinking that I want her back for my sake, when in reality I just want her to have a life she loves, and is able to live it without questioning or regretting her actions and decisions.

    This article and site at least allowed me to type our feelings that have been building up for quite awhile. I will continue to check back on this website and hope to find other articles that may help me understand and better help my wife.

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  24. I personally I’m going through all this.I had a boyfriend ,we loved each other very very much,even up to now.but things changed when he was diagnosed with HIV,and found positive yet i was found negative.From that day he has been pushing me away in the name of moving on with someone else.He says that he values my future more,and yet it has been so hard.Its now five months but its hurts like it happened yesterday.I can’t seem to forget him and the most hurtful thing is that he still loves me as much as i do.But we cant be ,that’s what he always tells me. I’ve tried to forget but it always comes back to my head and my heart aches like never before. I’m puzzled,I’m lonely,he was my best friend,he would call me every minute of the day,he would care for me as much,he would ask how my day has been like we were each others friends but all that is no more,he blocked my number,whats app,Facebook and everything i could use to access him.Even at his work place,he is rarely there .yet he calls some days to ask how am doing and asks me whether I’ve found someone else.

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  26. I am reaching out for some help. I am struggling with this..
    My mother has been out of my life for many years.
    6+ years.. honestly so much time has went by that I dont even remember how long.
    I unblocked her on facebook because she was talking to my sister again so I figured she was well and was going to speak to me. Months went by and just a couple days ago.. I see that she doesn’t even claim I am her daughter anymore. I dont know if she is still on drugs. That was so long ago and honestly there is a lot to this story but is this what I am experiencing? Ambiguous grief? I finally decided that she’s not going to come around and she’s dead to me just as I am to her. It hurt and it really stung honestly. My father is dead, he passed away last year. Now it’s a reality that she’s gone to but she’s alive some where living. Which I dont understand how she can just write me off like that… I am heartbroken.

  27. This makes a lot of sense. I wonder if this notion of ambiguous grief may be applied to me. My mom committed suicide when I was 9. I am an adult now, happily married and a mother to a lovely girl. After my mother died my father remarried and changed. I’ve felt isolated ever since. Lately he’s cut me off. We don’t see each other, he doesn’t pick up the phone when I call him. In a lot of ways I feel like I’ve lost my father. Like he’s dead. Only he is still alive&well. Just not in my life. It’s complicated. I send all my love to people who are in the same situation. God knows it hurts.

  28. I am so thankful I found your website because now I know what I am suffering from. My aunt, Sister Teresa (a nun in a convent in Pittsburgh) was always a kind, soft spoken, warm person that was to me more like a mother than my own mother ( my mother was mentally ill and never in my entire life did she say she loved me – she died last year but I felt nothing – maybe more of what I felt was the grieving over a mother I never had) On the other hand, Sr. Teresa was always there for me – I would call her crying and she would softly say “that’s ok honey just let it out” but in the last 2 years she has went from being this extremely kind soul to saying hurtful comments to me and when I drive all the way to Pittsburgh to see her she shoos me away after just visiting her for 1 hour. Whenever I try and come down she discourages me and says I was just there. I guess I’m trying to cling to her so tightly because she is all I have. But I think she is suffering from beginning stages of dimensia (she is 98 but acts like she is 68) – still walks up convent stairs, is as sharp as a tack and very smart and doesn’t miss a thing – I think that is why I am so confused about her radical change in behavior.
    Yesterday after I got off the phone with her I started heaving crying and couldn’t stop because I called her and said “I know you’re going to get mad if I ask to come down and stay at the convent but I love you more than anything and I just want to see you”. To my utter shock she immediately said “yes” and said she would reserve a room for me at the convent. I was shocked cus usually she discourages me but her different reaction made me cry because she has been talking alot about death and her past and I guess I cried because I’m grieving her loss already but I never knew there was a name for this grief till out of desperation crying for her loss already last night I found your website. It made me feel like I wasn’t going crazy – this is very real what I’m experiencing.
    So thank you and bless you for being there. I needed that. I will be driving down to see her in a few days and I will cherish every second with her.

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  30. Thank you for this article. I’ve recently begun tackling my own trauma with the help of a counsellor and have come to realize how much I miss my mother. She is still living, in fact she lives around the corner from me with my step-father. She lives there, but the woman I knew as my mother hasn’t been around for about 20 years. When I left home she suffered from the loss of me. She became irrational, calling me upwards of 15-40 times a day on her worst days (I am not exaggerating). When I lashed out at her for her behavior (I was a university student at the time and couldn’t handle her mood swings) she vowed to never call me again. Surprisingly, she has pretty much managed to maintain that. She doesn’t call me to just talk anymore, she only calls when she needs something, or in response to my having asked for something. She had always been one to pit me against my brother, comparing the two of us and using guilt as a motivator. As we grew older, the scale of that manipulation increased exponentially. I felt gas-lighted by her most of the time, as she would say one thing to me, another to my brother, then she would get all jumbled up when we had her together to get things clear. About 3 years ago she moved to the same city in which my brother and I now live. I thought that would make things better, as we wouldn’t have to coordinate visits into the weekend. And I was right, at first it was a bit better, but the mother I knew was still gone. I’ve tried over and over again to connect with her, but she doesn’t know how to listen. I feel like she doesn’t care about me as a person at all, she only wants to tell me the same stories over and over again about her own past, her own experiences, her own complaints about ever single thing under the sun. Spending time with her is exhausting, speaking to her on the phone is frustrating. I don’t know who this person is anymore, and it’s hit me hard recently how much I miss my mother. The caring, loving, affectionate woman who raised me. She used to tell me all the time that my brother and I were the only things she did right in her life…a bit extreme, but it made me feel special. I understand now that I’m suffering from this ambiguous grief. I feel like I’ve done nothing but try and try to rekindle our relationship over the years, but it’s like banging my head against the wall. I don’t want to pretend that she isn’t still living, I still need her. My father is a recovering alcoholic with mental health problems that go beyond the alcoholism (likely are the trigger for his alcoholism). I have had to cut him out of my life entirely because of the verbal abuse, I just refuse to let my daughter witness or be a victim to it as well. I am an adult. I shouldn’t need the comfort of my parents anymore, and yet I find myself desperate for the love of my mother still. I don’t know if that makes me weak, or if I just need to get over myself. I just miss her so much.

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    • My daughter passed away 4 years ago after fighting a lung disease – she was just 35 – she was so brave and battled for her life to her very last breath -it has devastated us as she was such a power in our lives and still shines so brightly – however my son is now a drug addict on cocaine and has wrecked his family – he has 2 children but is unfit to be a father or role model – he is constantly angry and verbally abusive – awake all night and like a zombie most of the day unable to stay awake – I live with both the unbearable grief for my daughter as we were so close and I miss her every single second of the days and also the terrible grief of living with what my son has become and despair and worry for him and his beautiful children – this article resonates very much with me – I pray a lot – it is all I can do and take each day as best I can x

  32. I came across this article because at 41 I’m learning to deal with grieving my father who is alive and well. My parents have been married for 50 years, are still together but they’ve never had a relationship. My father is an alcoholic, a hard working, hard drinking man that nevertheless played with me, never read a book, admired me or gave me any instruction for life. He is a narcissist and has emotionally and verbally abused my mother as long as I can remember myself. On the outside we looked like an admirable family. But I knew better. Through a series of events, I found myself extremely angry and unhappy in life when I turned 40. I have an amazing husband and beautiful children and yet I found myself very angry and in a desperate need for a father figure. I’m now on a journey out of codependency and following the program for Adult Children Of Alcoholics. It’s been immensely life changing. But the pain is still there. The anger is still popping it’s ugly head sometimes. I’m learning to grieve an person who is alive and was never there for me as he should have.

  33. First of all, my heart a goes out to all who share your story. I have read a handful and they are powerful. Sos grateful I have this site to connect. My mom has Alzheimer’s and lives 2000 miles away from me. She is in the End stages of the disease and I have had sad days over the areal mom slowly fading away. I now know I have ambiguous grief. I am sad she is not closer to me but that is not how it is…… long story. So, I give myself permission to have sad days knowing I miss her, opportunities missed and now gone, and the mom I grew up with is no longer here. I am working to find peace and acceptance over something I had no influence over where she landed. Thanks for reaching reading.

  34. Today is the day I realised that I have lost my husband, on a rare day out of hospital we went to a local restaurant, the manager gave us the wrong information apron arrival, he the berated the poor waitress despite my trying to intervene, gone was the loving, kindhearted man I had married and there sat a bitter, twisted angry and aggressive man! Who quickly snapped at me for my lack of having his back, I reminded him how would he feel if someone spoke to our daughters that way! He apologise to a clearly uncomfortable waitress and she graciously accepted, before we left I stopped her and apologised again, explaining he is terminally ill, he’s struggling to deal with it. But it’s still not ok to do what he has done, I took him back to hospital and I’ve sat in my car crying, I’ve realised he’s gone but still here, it’s hard to accept the angry man with the short temper when he snaps and our children who have only ever known him as a kind and loving father, I’m struggling to deal with the loving man that I shared my bed with, fathered my children is gone after having 15 wonderful years! None of this is his fault but how do you cope? I’m at a loss

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  36. My 47 year old son has bipolar disorder with some kind of personality disorder. He is living on disability and fortunately has never been into drugs (and has no children) as I can’t imagine the additional hell this would create. There was a time when we were very good friends, a warm trusting relationship. But slowly over the years (he was actually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was 14, but this was changed and I have to say, I don’t have a huge amount of faith in the way diagnoses are made and definition of various conditions) he has become suspicious, demanding, then threatening, highly delusional, confused, and is barely recognizable as the person I used to know as my son. I’ve had to take numerous steps to first minimize contact and now have blocked any means of contact including moving several hundred miles away, phone numbers changed and blocked, voicemail disconnected, emails blocked, employers informed. He has tried (unsuccessfully) to get me fired from my work (Ironically I am a mental health worker!) He doesn’t make physical threats (but makes vague allusions to violence) but has been waging psychological warfare against me for about 15 years. Every now and then I crack and think I’ve discovered something new that could help him, get in touch, he’s all happy to hear from me and within anywhere from one day to several months, he’s right back to psychological terrorizing. The last voicemail I received (You can block numbers but not voicemail which is why I today had that disconnected) went on and on about some harm he believes I have done, (though whenever I’ve asked him to clarify this, he just goes on some other tangent), how he has documents that he’s giving to the press, taking me to court, demanding apologies and acknowledging publicly to everyone he knows that I committed this great though unspecified harm, he’s right and he’s winning. He has quite an obsession about winning and being right. He has also threatened friends of mine and has been stalking a good friend who lives in the same town as him. Her workplace now has pictures of him on the walls so everyone knows who he is and to call the police if he’s seen in the vicinity. In the voicemail he said that he wasn’t going to back down until he had driven 3 of us to commit suicide. And he says it in a very calm though slightly menacing tone which is beyond creepy. This from my loving son. He has offered to send me severed heads of my friends, likened me to a terrorist myself, and in general wreaked havoc on my soul. Strangely enough, his behaviours are quite similar to how my mother was when I lived with her till I got away when I was 12, so I have long wondered about the genetic component. I experience anger, terror, grief, and unending helplessness as I keep having to learn over and over that there is absolutely nothing I can do for him. I start to heal from the damage and then something happens and the wounds are all opened up again. He is currently up on numerous charges but the legal system doesn’t seem to be taking it very seriously. He knows just what he can get away with and believes he is untouchable. I have created a document for myself with reminders of why I cannot have any contact with him. I also keep track of everything he throws my way. Other than that, I have a very good life and do a lot of personal work for my own healing. It is such a terrible thing to see someone I love so much (he is my only child and his father is not in the picture) devolve into someone extremely frightening and who I barely recognize and have come to fear and dread. My heart goes out to all the others experiencing similar situations.

    • Sharon, this will sound way too simplistic to work with schizophrenia, but it has worked for many…. research high-dose niacin (B3) for schizophrenics. Dr. Abram Hoffer. Orthomolecular medicine. He recognized decades ago that schizophrenia was similar to the mental component of Pellegra, a disease of niacin deficiency. My heart goes out to you.

    • Sharon, my heart goes out to you. My son is 28 and is very similar to what you have experienced wirh your son in the earlier stages. I have blocked communication with him for my mental and physical health. It breaks my heart. I am not sure if he understands why and I feel guilt sometimes that he feels abandoned, yet I don’t want to skip back into another emotional breakdown. I am having a hard time getting on with life since my breakdown. I pray for you, me and all of us affected by situations like this as well as the mentally ill loved ones. It’s at least something positive I can do. I am getting wonderful support from my Al-Anon group I attend as well as a few friend who understand. It’s such a strange thing, a grief that feels it will never end. Hugs to you and thank you for sharing.

    • I am so sorry, thank you for sharing.

    • read the book ‘I’m not sick, and I don’t need help’. my son thinks I’m the crazy one. all I can do is accept his reality. I’ve learned to let go of what I wanted from him. I’ve seen him in the ER… completely out of his mind, spitting into the air then singing opera in a voice never heard before.. then something called verbal salad. He does not want me to know he’s sick, does not remember me being in the ER. I treat him normal. I accept his reality. And this is my good and easy child. I have a daughter whose mental illness is so bad it couldnt’ even be diagnosed after 9 months of in house, she is so smart and high functioning, or was at the time. Now she’s a homeless drug addict 3k miles away from home for 7 year now. It is for my daughter that I read this article. People really look at me special and judge me for my children. there’s a lot of misinformation of mental illness caused by abuse. All those memes that say if your child is bad it’s your fault thus perpetuating ignorance and displacement of blame and kids will never learn to be responsible for their own actions. I was abused severely by a narcissistic mother who everyone thought was amazing… and had to learn how to love. I was not even a human being to her from the time of my birth so mental illness runs in my family very strongly. My brothers and I somehow escaped this. so it’s been especially hard because my childhood I was seen as a bad kid and no one blamed my amazing mother, only I was to blame and boy did I get ostracized to this day!… and then for my adult hood I also get the blame of my children who grew up with love and were not abused… thus justifying aforementioned ostrication. It has completely broken me. I will never be the same but it’s okay to be different. I’ve gone to counseling to help me cope and in the process found myself. got a few hobbies (don’t get birds!). love yourself every single day. love him as much as he will let you. never give up.

  37. My husband got diagnosed with the worst MS there is. He went from totally normal to dead in 2 yrs. He told me months before he died to get into grief counseling. It was too hard to admit he was going to be gone while he was still here. Now I wish I would had listened to his advice. 5 yrs later I am still coming to terms & struggling with his loss.

  38. My wife has struggled with recovery and relapse over the last 16 years. I have never stopped working 2 jobs because she could not hold a job. She is and was a wonderful human being with a gift for teaching children. This year she came home and announced she needed space and wanted a separation and a divorce. I was devastated. I was because I love her still and I always will. She has changed so much because of the opioids. It has changed her personality and it’s as if I no longer know her. She has been on a medically assisted rehab this last year and it was a godsend but also changed her. She relapsed twice that I know of and then said she wanted out of our marriage of thirty years. I have been trying to describe my feelings and emotions to my 18 year old son and today I finally told him how much I loved his mother and hated her at the same time. I told him that everyone says move on but I thought that was not easy when you love someone. I don’t think it should be easy. It is sad and tragic and should be dealt with as a loss. I wasn’t too pleased with myself but want my son to be emotionally healthy. He cried, I cried and we told ourselves that is was ok to be sad. I miss my wife and I told him to bring me some news from her and tell me how she is so that I don’t feel so alone. She will not communicate with me. He stays with her and sometimes acts as though everything is Just as it always was.
    A few hours later I read this article and realized this is what I am feeling. Thank you. It is good to finally put to words the feelings I have been having. I wasn’t sure how to explain them , until now.

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  42. I need an article about anticipatory grief when the person is alive and everything is normal. My brother was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago and he has been receiving chemo and RT. off and one since then, He has not missed a day of work. He has told only the immediate family and only a couple of close friends.about his diagnosis, When I received the latest update that the cancer was still in his lymph nodes, and before I knew there were still treatment options, I just lost it. It was as if I heard that he was as good as dead. I wanted to just stay in bed . But once I heard he was getting more chemo, I think I slipped back into a little denial ..for now. I don’t know his prognosis but I he and I are both doctors and we sort of do know. Recently, a long-time acquaintance of mine died from cancer. When I found out, it hit much harder than news like that normally would , and I know it is because it triggered my anticipation of my brother’s likely death from this cancer…unless there is some miracle. Even my other sibs and I don’t talk about this much. So how do I prepare? There is nothing left unsaid and I will spend time with him as I can etc. Do I seek therapy now? do I wait till after? Will it matter? I have a history of severe depression . I don’t want to become dysfunctional if and when the worst happens

  43. Thanks for this message. It helped me quite a bit. I’m in the middle of this thing right now, and this was a welcome guide back to sanity. Thank you and everyone who has posted comments. This is my story, too.

  44. Hi, my brother has been addicted to drugs and alcohol since about 2001 and it’s 2019. I grieve a lot, because he’s not so functional these days, in jail.. maybe, no job, stealing. I find myself feeling down a lot lately and crying and feeling alone. Mom doesn’t like to talk about him, I understand, but she’s really the only one I can talk about him with. I don’t want to talk to people who will put him down because he’s my brother, he was intelligent and so handsome, now he’s so thin and last time I saw him he was talking about idk what. He had scratches over his body. It breaks my heart. I feel like my heart is breaking so much lately. I pray for him and ask Jesus to save him. It’s so sad to see someone who you love walking around, but it isn’t them. :'(

    • Cwif you ever need to talk , I am here [email protected]. I have a daughter who is a. Addict currently in treatment. The hell is real. We become addicted to their addictions and behavior. I thought co stanyly for a year and a half my phone was bringing the worst news with every ring. I am a granny raising 2 beautiful girls waiting for my daughter to return there is hope. Pray and you may look into a program called Narconon it saved her. I mourned her like she died for years with addiction but theses last couple were the worst …

  45. Actually, I feel I lost the Mother I knew & loved years before she actually died. It wasn’t because she had dementia or was in a coma or vegetative condition. It was because she;d become a different person than the Mother I knew & loved. She died almost 13 months ago and while there are times I would love to be able to talk to her about something or ask a question I thought of after she was gone, I can’t say I miss the person she’d become & I’d had to deal with for over nearly the last 12 years of her life. I’d lost the Mother she had been or at least seemed to have been in stages. Perhaps my father had been right that the older we get the more of our real personality manifests itself. I also realize that with an IQ of 148, she was much brighter than the “average bear”. She’d was extremely creative, had a mind boggling amount of knowledge on a wide variety of subjects & was considered sweet, caring, personable, very caring, etc. Looking back, I can’t help but wonder about her. It was so very important to her that she be admired & liked. Sort of sad. But there was a great deal about her that was admirable. She fit in with other highly intelligent & creative people. She always had fabulous ideas & had a talent for being able to look at a space & know a piece of furniture would fit there perfectly. She could look at the windows in the house they bought after Dad retired, take X amount of material off a bolt, start sewing it & end up with curtains that fit perfectly. I was constantly amazed at what she could do. She was happiest when she worked with preschool children or was involved in a club that involved itself with something creative. On the other hand, I remember Mom losing her temper, throwing dishes into the sink breaking them, storming out of the house & slamming the door behind her. I realized a decade or so back that the reason I would sneak into her purse & put my own money in it that I did it so Mom could buy a little something she wanted. Because when Mom was happy things were pleasant. I realize she must have been terribly frustrated being a housewife. She would have made a fabulous interior decorator. She remodeled a little one bedroom cottage she bought next door that had only one small closet into a one with 4 double closets. She enclosed the front porch so it looked as if it had never been a porch. She designed special gardens within the fenced in back yards of her property. Berms were built, a miniature formal herb garden was created, a brick patio like area with raised beds containing flowers on one side & box woods on the other, which created a semi-private space. I could go on & on about who she used to be.

    But as her world began to narrow because she no longer drove – a decision she made all on her own – & she became increasingly bent over from kiphosis she became more & more demanding, angry, hateful, verbally abusive. In the end she became her own worse enemy by refusing to go see her doctor & refusing to take her medicine like she should. That resulted in her ending up in the hospital, then rehab & the beginning of a 10 year decline.

    Looking back, if I had it to do over, I would have done things much differently because I now know about things about which I was clueless. Do I feel guilty for making mistakes, some bad decisions, etc.? I would if I allowed myself to. But if I did that, I would become my own worse enemy because the guilt would cripple me & I deserve to have a life of my own now.

    There are only 2 times in my life that I felt her hand on my hair in a gesture of comfort & affection. Once was when I was in my late teens but I don’t remember the circumstances & the 2nd time was perhaps a week or so before she died.

    My problem is I am getting to the point where I could so easily hate her because of the God awful mess she left for me to clean up. She was a hoarder par excellence. She managed to fill up 4 houses, their respective basements, garages, attics, whatever spaces she found that she could “squirrel” things. If I were to pay someone to come clean the messes up, I’d have to spend a fortune – something I don’t have plus the special things I have managed to find (My dad’s letters to his mother-in-law during WWII, the basket my maternal grandfather carved from a walnut & other little gems) No money – Mom wasn’t into doing that. All 4 houses have problems needing to be solved & yards needing to be maintained. Mother said several times how sorry she was about the mess she was leaving behind. Being sorry doesn’t help or change the situation.

    I could write about this all day so I’ll stop here. If what I’ve written is too disjointed to follow I apologize because I was writing off the cuff so to speak.

    • It sounds like your mother may possibly have been suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. The need for admiration is one clue. NPD is very hard on people (and the people around them) and is especially difficult as they age and lose their looks and abilities. They often become demanding and extremely angry due to their entitlement. They want what they want and become enraged when they can’t get it. The rage can be internal and silent in more introverted people suffering. No one is all bad or all good, including your mother. Fortunately you seem to understand that although your mother could be very difficult, there were also good things about her.

    • As I read your message I also thought narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). I have had very similar experiences with my mother. Down to the kiphosis and the hoarding (though my mother is a neat and orderly hoarder with enough money to store the store and still have plenty of room to live.) She became so abusive to me, my husband, and especially my children that we are now estranged.

      There are many Psychology Today articles and YouTube videos about NPD. I found a lot of help and healing by researching the topic.

  46. Thank you for this article, it certainly has helped me not feel so alone.
    2 years ago by then 19yr old son had a car accident and suffered a brain trauma that changed him. He spent a 16 days in hospital and over that time I seen a number of changes in his personality. Things a mum would notice,some so little that others did not recognise. At the time I grieved for my boy who was. My family didn’t not understand and I felt so alone at that time.
    As time went on my boy became the new norm and life went on but I always had that grief in the background and knew that he had change some habits so he too could cope with the new him.
    Over time I noticed more changes in him and 4 months ago I had to call EPS and police and he was hospitalised with psychosis. He has strong delusional thoughts about me and these thoughts have destroyed our relationship. My family was tight at the time he went into hospital. He is now home and living with me and he can keep his delusions under control at times but they often come out at home and he says the most hurtful things. They break my heart and I miss my boy. I know that it is his illness saying those things but it still breaks me. My family dont see these times and he can be so good at hiding it around them. I wonder do they think I am being a drama queen. I need their understanding and support but feel so unsupported because they do not understand or recognise I am grieving for the boy I do not have now.
    I hope I have him one day again.

    • Julie,

      I’m so sorry for the pain you feel. I don’t know if my words can or will help you. Saying that I know how you feel is probably the last thing you want to hear, but I know it hurts. You’re definitely not alone.

      My son also suffered a Tbi/Abi. His was severe. He was 21. That was 9 years ago. I’ve been with him since the day he was injured. He’s mentally disabled. His frontal lobe was damaged the most. His parietal and temporal lobes were also damaged. It effected his personality and behavior. His cognitive abilities have been severely impacted as well. He can’t work or live alone. His IQ was also impacted.

      He is no longer who he once was. The essence of who he was is gone. Not only is his personality completely changed but he no longer feels love, empathy, or compassion for others. He had been physically abusive to me starting 8 years ago when I confronted him on how he shouldn’t talk to me because I’m his Mother. Now, I let it go. I don’t react. He hasn’t abused me for 6 years now. Because I don’t react, it no longer escalates into him wanting to punch me or slam me into a wall. (Lacking inhibition is the reason). That’s what separates us from animals. Now I know not to react to his being disrespectful.
      A hard lesson.

      His inhibition is gone, along with self-control. His memories of his life are mostly gone. His auditory memory is shot. He’s no self-aware and has no clue he’s different or brain damaged. He no longer calls me Mom. He calls me by my first name only. The only part of him that remains is that he’s still very polite (thanks me for almost everything and can be a gentleman. (Opening doors for me)

      I too miss my son. His appearance and voice are the same but that’s all. My son is gone too. His brain injury was severe and he’s plateaued. It’s been 9 years and whatever improvements or healing there was to happen have long past. He’s had neuropsychological testing 3 times since the injury and there’s been no change. The last one being a month ago.

      After 9 years I still miss who he once was. I feel bad for him that he’ll never have the life he could have had. He was highly intelligent, witty, good looking and very caring and loving. Only his appearance is the same, minus the horseshoe shaped scar on the his head where the hair won’t grow back.

      My husband and so I make sure his needs are met. My husband and I give him a home. We try to give him a peaceful content life. He knows he’s a man, so I treat him like one, even when he often behaves like a child having a temper tantrum. All I can do is be there for him. To understand that I can’t change what’s happened to him. I can only make his life comfortable and nice and treat him with respect. I’ll always miss who he was.

      Family isn’t supportive either. My husband and I are all he has that care for and about him in this world.

      I can tell you things like, keep plugging away, but I don’t know if that helps. There’s so many things I can say. I can say just be there for him. I don’t know if you believe in God or not. If you do, then imagine how God loves us, even when we behave horribly. Even if we ignore him. Even if we don’t love him. He still loves us unconditionally. That’s what I do for my son and that’s all you can do. It seems like or is a thankless job. No love reciprocated. But I don’t love someone with the stipulation that they show love in return. I love them regardless. Just as you love your son. It may seem like it makes no difference to him, whether you love him or not, but I’m betting if you didn’t show him love, things for him would be far far worse. You’re doing great in caring for him and loving him. Missing him is understandable.

      There’s a song called “The Dance” by Garth Brooks. I don’t know if you’ve heard it. There’s a verse in that song:
      “Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
      But I’d of have to miss the dance “

      You and I could have missed the pain too, but if there was no dance in the first place, we’d never have the pain now. I am thankful for the dance. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss the dance. I can’t listen to that song without crying.

      It’s hard to know love without pain. I hope for you that over the years the pain will lesson somewhat. I’m hoping your son gets better. I’m hoping someday that you won’t hurt as much as you do now. It’s okay to miss him. I miss my son so much to that it’s indescribable. It saddens me. I wanted him to have a normal happy adult life with all the things that go with it; job, car, girlfriends, then wife, kids, career, fun and vacations. Now he won’t have any of that. I feel for him. Even though he’s unaware of what he’s missing out on. All we can do is love.

      I hope this has helped you. If it hasn’t, I’m sorry for that too.
      I want to be of help to you. To make it better. All I can do is try. Btw, your post made me cry because I could literally relate to how you feel and why.


      • Thanks Deb for sharing your story and wise words. I hope that the day will come when my boy mental health improves but if it doesn’t I will still walk alongside him.
        You sound like a very strong person and positive. I try so hard to stay positive but sometimes you have to grieve
        Take care

  47. Wow! There are people out there who get this. Alex, my husband of almost 33 years, has been in long-term care for a little over 3.5 years due to frontotemporal degeneration (dementia). He is only 63 years old. I feel terrible about my frustration, anger, and rage because it pales in comparison to what he is going through. He resides in a good facillity, but I have expectations, not biggies, but still important to me, that they haven’t been fulfilling. It has become hard, so hard, to keep visiting him as faithfullly as I have been. I love him so much. It has been so very hard to see the decline in his condition. He is very physically healthy and could easily live until his late sixties. A blessing and a curse. Ashamed to even put that into words.

    There is a whole lot more that I could write. Things have been very dark lately. But in the last few days, there has been a glimmer of hope. I don’t know yet what will happen, but it was possible to laugh, to take a walk in a beautiful park yesterday and appreciate it, to be thankful for good friends who are pulling for me, to realize that God did not cause this terrible disease, that others have it so much worse off…

    Thanks for anyone who may read this.

  48. I wish I would have found this web sight 7 years ago. My mother was in a horse riding accident, broke her neck and has been a quadriplegic since. It wasn’t until almost 7 years after the fact, that I had been grieving. Grieving the loss of the person she was before that horrible moment. I am one of two siblings, but my brother lives 1500 miles away, so myself and my husband were the ones with all the responsibilities tending to her needs. I also had two children in school at the time, and for the first two months after the accident I was physically MIA from my family, and I quit my job to be with my mom. No regrets of course, because its what needed to be done.
    But for years I was a total and completely mess. I couldn’t fully connect the dots, on all the things I’d been feeling, then one day outta the blue I felt the grief, anger, resentment, guilt, depression, confusion, erratic behavior, loss of faith and so much more, that I had been feeling wash away. Since then, I’m feeling back to the “original me”. Genuinely happy… not the mask I’d been hiding behind for years. No one knew how bad I’d been struggling, and I didn’t realize what was wrong with me. Now I’m able to accept what’s happened and have enjoyed my mom and the time we have left in a whole new light.

  49. Perpetual Pain and FearApril 9, 2019 at 9:53 amReply

    This is the first time I have actually felt connected to people who might understand the constant pain I feel in regard to the ambiguous grief over the loss of my beautiful daughter to mental illness. I always thought we were very close. Her other three siblings all felt that I favored her. She had suffered a broken collar bone, had a lazy eye and had surgery, had to have braces, there was so much when she was little and I had to spend extra time caring for her. She was very special to me, all of my children are, but she needed a bit more. She became a difficult teen and put us through quite a bit. Over the years she had seemed to have matured greatly and my husband and I were very pleased with the wonderful young woman she had become. We were together almost daily and were as I said I thought “very close”. One day after a bit of drama, she was always very dramatic, she went off the deep end. Until then, I had never believed in mental illness, I still cant believe that I lost my beautiful, charismatic, fun, helpful, caring and loving daughter to such a ridiculous thing as mental illness. She almost overnight, became so evil and mean and posted horrible and disgusting lies about me and our beautiful family everywhere she could on the internet. I am still in shock and pain, the pain never ends. This all happened five years ago, she disappeared from our lives completely and continually tells people she runs into that we are evil and awful and disgusting people. It hurts so much to be constantly abused by someone I love so much and I would never do anything to hurt her. I just keep praying to God that she will be healed and see how her mind is lying to her and that she will remember the truth. I truly am grateful for the opportunity to share my perpetual pain and fear.

    • I am going through the same EXACT thing. If you want to get in touch please email me at [email protected]. i am a woman…Jackson is my rescue dog so I used his name for my account. I have a daughter eho is breaking my heart. Very similar story. Maybe we can support one another.

  50. Thank you SO much. How incredible, just last week a student of mine introduced me to the concept of ambiguous grief and ambiguous loss. I had no idea it existed but I did know very personally what I was living. Living the loss of my lovely hubby. A kind, gentle soul, a musician, who loved me and called me his ‘sun, moon and stars’ – soul mates for 20+ years we shared our lives, hopes, travels, studies and then made two lovely children. Late in 2013 he began to experience work place bullying in his full time place of employment. I watched the man I adored start to shut down and become increasingly absent from our home and hearts. As he spent 3 years fighting the bully it ate his personality and took his soul – he slipped into a deep deep depression. The warm kind and attentive father and the adoring husband was gone. The man who smiled and gave thanks for his life – was no longer. The pain was excrutiating and I had no words to understand what I was experiencing. His health began to shut down and fearing he may take his own life I asked (and then begged) him to move in to his cousin’s home for a while and do some work on himself. By that time he had not spoken to me for 2 years and then I called it. He moved out two years ago. He has recently returned to the city where we live – but he is not the man I loved. He has shut down emotionally – he lives behind a huge wall and shows no sign of coming out. He spends time with his children but there are always fights as they know their needs are not being met – dad is not there. He has gone. This has been a horrendous loss for me and my family. I am so thankful to have some notion of what hell I have been living in and more than that – the gift of hope that if I put the work in – it doesn’t have to always be like this. Thanks so much.

  51. I love this post! I love the there is a name for the grief that I am going through. My mom is still here but after my dad died the mom I knew is no longer here. She suffers from a mental illness and I sadly don’t see an end in site. Its been a few years and not much has changed with her behavior. I went to a counselor after a year of it and he said I needed to grieve her and I didn’t really know what that meant till now. It always stuck with me that comment he made and now another year later its still in my head but today I know I’m not alone and there is a name for it. That makes me feel a little better but I’m still stuck. I don’t know how to grieve my mom who is still a phone call away. When I look at her its still my amazing mom that was always there for me. How do i begin to grieve her shes still here. Its great that theirs a name and I’m not the only one going through this type of thing but, how begin?

  52. I’ve been suffering this type of grief. It’s been a long journey. My son was shot completely through his head. March 28th 2016. Was not expected to live. I don’t know if it was self inflicted or someone did it to him. The doctors said everyday for a month his brain stem would swell and he will die. For 2 and half years i have been forced in a panic state. Due to not knowing if he would live or die. No matter how much you try to prepare yourself. You can’t. Every time I would get a phone call it felt as though my blood would leave my body. So many trips to the icu unit. I feel frozen in a state of panic and anxiety. He’s done well the past six months. My baby 33 is in a body that is mangled with spasticity. And I have no idea how much he is cognitively aware. I’m stuck in a nightmare I can’t wake from.

    • Shannon, I’m so sorry to hear about your son. I can’t imagine your pain and suffering. I came to the replies to share my story of my boyfriend, who was also shot in his head, April 2017. He suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and the entire right side of his brain was affected. He has left side paralysis, but is aware, can speak, communicate, laugh, and is still conscientious.. this all happened with time though, and he was not expected to live either, I never thought he’d recover even this much. He is still bed ridden, but we are working hard in physical therapy. He is a shell of himself. It breaks my heart every day. I know your son can hear you when you speak to him.. some days I wonder how my boyfriend would be if I did not stick around, trapped in his bed unable to move or go places. They need us, they will always need us, and they will always be deserving of it. Your son needs you, you might be the one thing keeping him sane for now. Is he responsive at all? Blink twice for ___ blink once for ___? Idk his level of mobility, but if there’s any indication of consciousness then there’s hope for him. Love and prayers for you, your son, and family.

  53. Your post resonated deeply with me. This is the kind of grief that one can feel as one’s child transitions to another gender. This is happening with me, and the grief is profound. This has helped me better understand it.

    • Not sure what to call he/sheMarch 29, 2019 at 3:28 pmReply

      My Daughter after 2 marriages and on her 41st birthday has told me she wants to live her life as a male. I am still in a state of shock and don’t know how I can respond to something I cannot comprehend. Everybody tells me, “be supportive.” My other daughter tells me just to get over it.
      Worse yet, she hasn’t got the courage to face her father and expects me to tell him. She has refused to see me. Told me if I come to see her, she will call the police. I am at a total loss. Any Suggestions anyone?

      • Hi. I really hope that you are willing to call PFlag. It’s an organization for parents and family of the queer community. Many of the parents there are feeling the same grief that you are.

      • Hello- I was an RN. My “daughter” transitioned at 17 to male. This is a “fetal phase defect”. They are born the gender they truly are in the brain, with the tragedy of the wrong genitals. Your son is still your child, and alive! Sometimes people do not realize there’s a word, or treatment for this”knowing” until older, esp in the past few decades. I researched this thoroughly & scientifically, and never rejected my son. Because he is still who he was, only his eyes are now sparkly, not shaded and depressed. I look back at childhood photo’s and statements- ha! how could I not have seen he was my SON. No words then for trans.

        The genitals form in the first 8-10wks of pregnancy: affected by so many things- genetics, receptors on or off correctly, wrong hormones, inorganic chemicals, etc. Newborns have over 260 inorganic chemicals in their cord blood. The gender ID has been found in the brain, a white striated area, which is larger for males, smaller for females. When tested, trans people matched up to what the size was for who they stated they are. There is also no societal acceptance for them to state they are male, and remain in the female body. There has been found an area of the brain called the cingulate. It is responsible for telling our brain where and how our body is oriented in space, walking, moving, etc. This to me is what tells them no! wrong body! The kids who are trans are consistent, insistent, and persistent that they are a different gender. There is also the publicly accepted birth defect of born with both female & male genitals. Surgeons used to operate the baby into a girl as of course this is more easily done. Now, they wait to see if the older child prefers a surgery for change, or to just be “be left as is”.

        MD’s know these facts- yet are cowards, fearing if spoke of in accepting terms, they’d lose their practice instead of educating the public. Be sure to check out any web site you look at- there is one imposter hate group: The American College of Pediatricians. They run a hate site called “The 5th Wave”. The true MD site is American Pediatrician Association. They have information to help you. I won’t lie, there is a grief period, including one for how you wish your child’s life wouldn’t become adversely affected by others, and by inability to have children. Your son is ALIVE and has a working body and brain!! Don’t worry if changing from “she” to “he” takes time & practice. Of course it does!! Calling them “a he/she” is considered very offensive.
        I send patience and love, may you make peace with this change.

  54. I’m dealing with this grief right now. My best friend suffers with depression, bulimia, anorexia, and all the works. I had to take her to the hospital recently and she was involuntarily admitted. She said so many hurtful things to me. She told me I was a terrible person, that only cared for myself and that I should walk out of her life like everyone else. I was so angry I was about to walk out. Then she said that if I walked out that door she would kill herself right then and there. She hates me for taking her to the hospital. Our deep friendship may never recover from this. She hates me but at least she is alive. That’s what I keep telling myself, but it hurts so much knowing she won’t see that I did this out of love. She may never see it from my perspective, but I have to be okay with that because I have no other choice. Grief is all too familiar for me.

    • Hey Hannah,

      Im not gonna pretend that I have experience of bulimia or anorexia, but I just felt the urge to reach out to you and comment:
      You did the right thing.
      Sometimes doing the right thing causes hurt-to other and maybe even yourself (hating yourself for causing hurt, or going against a promise) But at some point you’ll realise its was the right thing to do. Making things right sometimes means having to do the hardest “hurtful” thing. Sometimes if you love that person to death it means letting them go-maybe for a short while-for them to get better. I applaude your courage for doing that despite, it meaning you had to say a brief goodbye. So Well done! 🙂 xxx

    • Hannah,

      I’m so sorry that has happened to you. You have suffered abuse at the hands of your close friend. The behaviors you describe very closely describe a classic case of borderline personality disorder. It sounds like her hospitalization was necessary. When someone suffers from bpd everyone they are close to suffers too. The good news is that there are treatments for bpd. It is very intensive and can take a long time, often years. If you can learn about bpd and remain supportive and in her life you may be able to retain the friendship, but that’s completely up to you. It’s important for you to take care of you, in whatever way necessary. You can’t effectively be there for your friend if you don’t take care of yourself first. If you need to let go of the relationship that is a legitimate response as well. Peace to you.

  55. Yes I’m dealing with ambiguous grief right now and i hurts so bad i just wish i had a rewind button. But its not for any of the reasons mentioned above. It because my boyfriend of 10 years has change. I’m not 100% sure why but I’m have a feeling he is cheating. So now I’m dealing with meanness, cruelty, manipulation, gas lighting, lies, and unfair treatment from him and and i no longer know who he is. The worst part is I’m stuck with no where else to go so I’m forced to put up with it. And i hate my life and have become severely depressed.

    • Hello Tiffany my name is Tiffany also. And I’m also dealing with the same grief. I have known my ex/current/ex again boyfriend for 18 years now. I can’t say that he’s changed.. he’s always been the same prick. But for this many years I hung on to the good parts but now even his fake love for me is fading. Ive complained and complained to no avail. Today Ive decided just to grieve. To let it be. We have to just feel it and let it pass. Good luck to you. Maybe we can keep in touch. 😌

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  57. I so identify with all of this. My daughter, diagnosed with a neurological brain disorder (Schizophrenia, a disorder in need of reclassification from behavioral, mental illness, i.e. stigmatizing titles) is on a slow suicide path and I so feel and live all that is described. I’ve recognized my grieving and appreciate this address…it is real. My first recognition of this was through a book called ‘Beloved Stranger…Reflections on Mental Illness’ by Mary Brust Heaney (CR ’96). Coping ways and support are a godsend, and focusing on gratitude for what positives there are.

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  59. YES ! THANK GOODNESS WYG IS FINALLY COVERING THIS TOPIC ‘ and grateful to all those ” grief friends ” bravely posting their various emotional testimonies’ Thank You for today’s therapy ….
    I’m a recent widow’ after 44 years of loving and old fashioned romantic marriage’ and I am not who I was before being unpaired’ and nobody in my circle of friends or relatives gets it ….


  60. What about grief over a divorce? The death of a marriage. A divorce i didnt see coming. Although, in hindsight, i should have seen it coming as when we got married, we didnt stand a chance. We had no foundation to build on. No communication skills. We were doomed from the start. I didnt read allllll the comments so i dunno if this was already talked about.

    • Rebecca, I am feeling the same – grieving my marriage, my relationship, the person that I thought he was but wasn’t, the future & the family that I have lost… so much loss. I am stuck in the pain. In agony. Trying to navigate all his lies. Thinking I won’t survive.

  61. My little sister, who was once my very best friend, married a very physically ill man and I believe started abusing his pain meds. She became very paranoid and a conspiracy theorist and I believe she may have had something to do with our fathers death. She moved my mom far away, took away her phone and access to the outside world. I was diagnosed with 2 types of cancer and she convinced my mom (who is in early stages of dementia) that I was was faking for attention and money and has cut off all contact with me and my children. It has been so profoundly sorrowful to lose my family while going through this awful disease. We were once very close, although I now think my sister hasn’t been scheming against us for many years under the radar. I am so depressed from debilitating treatment and cannot fathom what has happened to my family. I keep trying to reach them but I can’t. My Autistic son struggled to communicate and write a letter to his grandma saying “I need you” but she didn’t respond. It is time to grieve my living mother and I just don’t know how. I am afraid the pain of all of this loss is going to make it impossible to heal from cancer.

  62. 8 years ago I discovered my stepfather was grooming and potentially molesting my younger sister. When I told my mother she initially took it on board and confronted my stepfather but after he fed her stories and pretended to try and commit suicide she turned on me and called me her enemy. My stepfather served a prison sentence for what he had done not only to my sisters but also to his daughters from his first marriage but as soon as he was released my mother went back to him. Up until the point when I had told her I had had a close relationship with my mother and siblings however since it has been strained. I feel immense sadness and grief for the loss of these relationships, I have tried reaching out and sharing my feelings, with my mother she ignores my feelings, I feel she is in denial, with my friends and husband I feel like because they don’t recognise it as grief it is dismissed and rationalised…. I just feel so sad and don’t know how to deal with this grief.

  63. This is what I feel. My husband isn’t the same man I married. That man was considerate, loving, honest, and gave his family his best. Over the years he’s changed from drugs and attention from others. He now says horrible things, stays gone all hours of the night with people half his age (usually one specific female out of the group to ‘help’ until she realizes his truth), lies, and doesn’t spend time with us at all. There’s so much to our marriage that I could write a book. I grieve the loss everyday that I look at him. He’s not the man I knew at all. I’m actually contemplating separation or divorce. I know that will be straight hell but so is this. I think living with a person your grieving is hard because somehow you keep waiting for the person you knew to reappear. You can’t wrap your head around the fact they are gone because you see a shadow of them in front of you.

    • I am right there with you. I’m in so much pain.
      He shows no emotion or remorse and goes about his days with his soul still in tact, whereas I can barely function. I’m trying so hard to see, and keep seeing, who he truly has always been and not the fantasy I fell in love with. But I am aching for that good man to come back to me and just hold me in my grief. Stockholm syndrome…

  64. My name is Vince and I have been grieving for 45 years. My father passed away when I was 10 years old at Christmas 1974 . Christmases became non existent as I now understand my mother must have grieved alone at this time of year whilst my brother and I tried to enjoy ourselves alone …… Fast forward to Christmas 2011 Mum passes away within 2 days of Dads death anniversary, we think deep down she knew the relevance of the time of year. This year my father would have been 90. He is gone now for as long as he lived.

    These 45 years, I now know I have been suffering anniversary / ambiguous grief also. Our large family of aunts, uncles, cousins stopped communicating. I have always been the nephew / cousin to go visit, keep in touch etc etc. How I wish to receive 1 Xmas card from my Uncle Fred who turned 80 last year (unbelievably his birthday is the same date my father died and I never knew). We went to his party, it was magical.

    Mum moved me away from my growing up friends when I was 12 as she did not want to live in the same town where Dad had died. Grief for the loss of all my friends at that age. This is what I feel has caused me to be a so called loner.

    I have never liked Christmas for these reasons and mostly spent them alone where and when I could, and I despair celebrating with my partners family as I know I could, and can never do this with my own family. I try to put on a brave face but deep down it really hurts. Grief for what I never had.

    This is now getting stranger because my older Aunt is now in a Dementia Care home aged 85, and she always tells me I was her favourite …. and the youngest Uncle Ron has now lost both legs due to Diabetes. I am now grieving for these 2 who at the moment are still living and am desperate to see them more regularly than I can.

    Emotionally I am so pleased to have found this website and now understand that my moods, depressions over the years have been some form of grief or another. I have never had anyone to talk to. I can talk to my Aunt now and am blessed that due to her illness the conversations are short lived and repetitive!

    Life goes on, I don’t know how to not grieve but I think I can manage it, but sometimes it manifests itself at the wrong place at the wrong time, where I am expected to buckle up and get over it. Mum once accused me of being Weak like my father because he died young, this was uncalled for and now lives with me every day. Thank you for your time in reading this.

    • Hi Vince,

      I feel your grief, I grieve for a family who I have never met, and have had minimal contact with all my life. Reading your comment gave me shivers. My dad is 80 and is now suffering from multiple organ failure, and is now in his final stages in hospice. I too have never had much contact with my dads side of the family due to time difference ( we live in New Zealand, his family in Kingston Upon Hull, Yorkshire. What really struck me about your comment is he too has a brother named Fred, a brother named Ron and a sister in care whose name is Barbara all around the same ages. What a small world we live in, and I hope your grieving gets easier with time.

  65. I am scared of my son. He tells me fantastic lies .he denies he uses meth, but everyone tells me he does. He spent a few hours today. Jumped from one lie to another. I didn’t realize he was high. I was exhausted after he left. I was talking to my sister and told her some of the lies , mood swings, wouldnt really listen to me. I would start to say something and he would cut me off all he the time he was here. He even was bazaar , I didn’t understand . I know his eyes are very dilated. He told me it is due to his meds. He kept saying the results are worth the side effects. We haven’t been talking for over a year. He started coming around , I was so happy to see him. But again I am scared of him. He just got out of jail. I think he pretends to try and have a mother son relation so he can get Money etc from me. I just know after he left I locked all the doors. I am 78 ,he is in his middle 50s. My sister told me, he was high. I wish he would stay away. I don’t understand why he always comes back. I really think he loves me but I really think, he also hates me. I was doing very good till he got out of jail, he came to my house the same day he got out. After he left today , I questioned my own sanity. Telling me lies and stating most of the time that I was involved in the things he was saying. Stated one time when he was driving my car and a lady hit us do to sudden ice roads that my insurance gave him a settlement to give to me. I told him I have never had that amount of money he claimed he gave me from my insurance co. He wasn’t going to back of I could see him mood changing. I wanted to ask him why would my insurance give him money to give to me. But I knew he wouldn’t back down. So I didn’t say anymore. I was afraid it would escalate to something ugly.

    • Oh my goodness that is so so awful. I don’t know if you’ll see this but please call the department of aging. Please please. They can help you in all sorts of ways. I so hope that you call them and get some support. I’ll be thinking about you.

  66. Im 17, im scared of losing my parents, brother, friends but most of all im scared of dying myself, i cry everyday thinking about it and it makes my life terrible. Im not suicidal, i just feel alone already with everyone around except a few relatives that have passed. Why do i feel sad and cry, but have the feeling that if i died i wouldnt be missed, that i would be forgotten. I want to talk to someone about this, but counselors and others just say are you suicidal, or stop joking around. I dont joke on this. I dont think people really listen to me, its like it goes through one ear and out the other, without another thought. I go everyday feeling like one day closer to another death in the family, and another long period of time with that one special someone gone. I need advice, help or someone to talk to Thank You for reading, not many people do.

    • Hi Brendan,
      I am sorry to hear that you feel like this. I do hope you are enjoying nice holidays with your loved ones.
      Life can be tough at 17. It is an age where we are growing and developing ourselves, but things and peopel can appear distant or very confusing. I think every teenager feels misunderstood and like they can be missed.
      I think the key thing is to focus on yourself. Find a hobby or sport that you like and become good at. It’s all about focus and shifting it on the right thing. Happiness comes from within, not from the external world around us. Also the food we eat is important to our mood. Quit the sugar and processed foods as this will only make you feel more sad.
      Eat healthy, focus on yourself and be disciplinesd about a sport and you will see the changes that you will start creating for yourself.

    • Ik how you feel and you are not alone, I felt that way at your age and sometimes still do. But live laugh and love it’s worth it

  67. I’m aware of numerous families with a missing family member. Their grief is also ambiguous in nature. For them, grief becomes a limbo state while they wait, sometimes for years, sometimes for an entire lifetime, to know if their loved one is dead or alive, hurting or healthy.

    This is one of the websites I often refer families to, to help them learn to live with their grief on a daily basis.

  68. There is also ambiguous loss of a child when it comes to parental alienation

    • Grandparent alienation also.

    • Yes! Losing children through direct intervention from the other parent is so incredibly painful, I am at a loss to even try. And then there is the blank stare you get when you do try to talk. UGH

      • I lost my son to parental alienation and Stockholm syndrome about 10 years ago. No one understands it. My family whitewashes it as “a phase” (he’s nearly 30 now, so I don’t think so). Other people insist it must have been something awful I did. I rarely talk about it anymore and I don’t know how to broach the subject with new friends or dates. I find myself yearning for a simpler, happier time in the past–not that those times were perfect, but they were far better than my life now. I miss my dog, who I put down last year, terribly, and even though I have other pets, the old fellow I lost was my best friend and my last link to another life that is now gone.

        After a decade of financial struggle and tremendous stress, I know where I want to be in the future, but the gap between there and where I am now is still enormous. I’m in a terrible limbo zone, and the light at the end of the tunnel keeps moving when I get close to it. I live alone in a rural area and sold my car to make rent a few months ago. I’m broke and was told I don’t qualify for ACA insurance because they can’t verify my identity. I have a lot of anger about the way corporations and the rich run this country, and my grief isn’t helped by the fatigue generated by working too much for too little money. I’m not suicidal, but I am depressed and bootstrapping it on my own.

        Surviving the holidays has become my immediate goal. The thought of putting up a Christmas tree feels like a punch in the chest, so I’m trying to distract myself with movies, books, cleaning, and spending time with my pets. Ideally, my mood should be more internally controlled, but I can’t help but think a lot of my grief is exacerbated by circumstances, and if I could just make a little more money, I could get a better handle on it–get more rest, get the thyroid meds I need but can’t afford, take a vacation, have some time for creative writing, or just go to a museum for a day. I don’t like feeling such an external locus of control, but I do find myself fantasizing about a rescue, like winning the lottery or landing a big client. It won’t cure my grief, but it might give me a boost I need to manage it better.

        Thanks to anyone who read through my venting here. Wishing you all blessings and light.

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  70. I met my half sister roughly 22 years ago and I have been in grief for last couple odd months when she told my sister the family could all go to hell. That obviously meant me too. I spent much of my free time with her and she was my coffee buddy. The grief has anger wrapped up in it. The day after I was nearly burned alive by an error of judgment (heart broken). How could anyone ask me to walk away from my whole family (it is large) for them? Sometimes I just want to rush round and say my thoughts but I know she won’t hear because she is only into her own pain and feels nothing to anyone elses. My family are sick of me talking about her but I can’t get it out of my head. Don’t help she lives only blocks away. If only she could have lived in the here and now and make the most of the family she had. There is no way back

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  72. Thank you for putting a name to this horrible feeling that overcomes me at all times now after caring for my adult child with a severe mental illness for several years. I am so sad that the brilliant, fun, talkative, creative person is gone and I am so angry at what is left behind. I have fixed things my whole life , but I cannot fix this. As I sit staring at 5 bankers boxes of medical records, tests, experimental treatments I realize that I have failed but have no more energy to look further. Right now, the hardest thing is the pretending to the world that everything is ok. When I am with people who really care about me, I can’t be present for them for any length of time. The best way to describe this feeling is that I am standing outside watching my house burn down, and the postman wants to chat about what beautiful weather we are having today. I just want to scream, and scream. But when you do scream, you will lose your friends because they have never heard of ambiguous grief and they understandably feel that you are just an ungrateful friend who does not appreciate them. They say that living with the stress of caring for a mentally ill adult will end your social life and your marriage. I would have bet the farm it wouldn’t have happened to me, but I would have lost. I am doing my best to hold onto my marriage. We are both under this stress.

    • The part about your house burning and the postman wanting to chat.. What a good description of exactly how it feels.

      • Thank you Cheri for validating my feelings, that I sometimes feel are crazy thoughts. I read your poem the Glass, so true and well stated. I hope today is a good day for you and your family, as the holidays are very hard. My best.

  73. I am grieving ambiguously for a loved one who is definitely alive. I have been for many years. However, this is the first website I have found on the topic. I’m relieved to find. Thank you. I have had little support outside of therapists. My loved one and I were very close for many years. But, her choices have proved too much for me to understand or bear. I do not hear from her, though I reach out. She is caught up in delusions. She has become caught up in what is called religious bypassing. In other words, being in touch with her own feelings proves too scary, so she bypasses those feelings and connects outside herself to self-made perceptions of God. She describes herself as a prophet of God. She scares me. I love the person I once knew deeply. But, that person no longer exists. It is extremely sad. Thank you for suggestions of making a scrapbook. I intend to do. Thank you for acknowledgment that I need to remember who she was.

    • I am going through similar situation 😰

    • I am in the same situation. I have relatives who have gotten wrapped up in a group where the “prophet” makes all the decisions and one of the decisions was that they had to cut off all connection with family and friends. I don’t even recognize who they are anymore. Terribly sad and hard to grieve this situation.

  74. I am so glad I’ve found this article. I recently found out the truth about a dear friend. I wanted to believe we just lost contact over the years, and she just had t reached out. (My number hasn’t changed in over 15yrs) I’ve thought about her often and looked for her over the years and tried to find her on social media but had no luck. Last night I finally found out what has happened to her. I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked (denial I guess) to see she had an arrest record. Quite extensive for petty crimes, I’m guessing to support her addiction. Just last week she was arrested in Santa Monica, ca for sleeping in a public park. I didn’t want to believe she was homeless. Not my friend. The beautiful soul, tough as nails, one of the strongest people I knew. We met when we were young and instantly clicked. It was one of those friendships you only have once or twice in a lifetime if you’re lucky. The kind where you just get one another, and accept each other for who you are, idiosyncracies and all. We had so much fun, and grew up together in our twenties. My heart was broken to think that she was living that way. I’ve tried numerous times over years to reach out, via old social media and old emails, her phone was disconnected long, long ago. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been, how hopeless she must have felt to turn to that life. I felt guilt, then tremendous sadness, a deep depression to think of my dear friend living on the streets over the past 4-6years. After calling Santa Monica PD and finding multiple court docs I’ve come to learn she’s been getting charges dropped for time served, and sentenced to “permanent housing” over the course of the last 2-3 years. Now starting to accept the fact that she probably hasn’t hit her bottom. She most likely is nowhere near the person she once was, from all the drugs and living on the streets. And although it will never take away the beatiful person I knew-who was a best friend, she will never be the same. I’m still in shock. It’s like a bad dream, an alternate reality. I just can’t see her choosing that path. Not the girl I knew. She was obviously in pain and suffering, that is what hurts the most. I’m sorry I didn’t see it. I’m sorry I didn’t do more. I’ve grieved death and in some ways this feels worse because I know she has no peace. Everyday is probably a living hell, and there is nothing I can do to help her. She has to be willing to accept help and even then, addiction is hard to beat. People who want to quit have a hard time and sometimes backslip. She deserved better. My heart is broken. I wish I could’ve done something had I known. I pray she will reach out one day, when she’s ready and change her life for herself. I knew she had fallen on tough times becoming estranged from her mother and then her sister after her sis started using. All I can do now is pray.

  75. I am 34 years old, a wife to Richard and mummy to Ava and George.  I was a lawyer but have been a stay at home mum for nearly nine years now, which is slightly scary.  I have loved it and I would count it as a job because I have worked harder at home than I ever did anywhere else

    What happened to me?  I was going to say that I have recently become disabled.  It’s actually five years ago now so it isn’t that recent, but it still only feels like yesterday that I felt I had a burst AVM.  A lot of other people have explained it a lot better, so I am not even going to attempt if you want to know more type ‘Arteriovenous Malformation’ into any Internet search engine. In search for a better health I came across people talking of Dr. Kpomosa on the internet, on how he uses herbs to treat so many chronic diseases, I was reluctant to give his herbal fomular a try. At first it was like a miracle to me and my loved ones, I later realized that it was the miracle powers in his herbs that help my brain cells to function normal, after 5 years I now have my health in order, I now do everything I couldn’t do while I was disabled, am so grateful to God and Dr kpomosa, I can’t thank him enough so I pray his nature’s knowledge be multiplied to help reach out to more people in need of a stable health.

    I want people to think about the HEALING powers in nature’s herbs, If you have already had a stroke then I appreciate this might be too late but carers and loved ones should think about this in case something similar happens or had happened to them!
    Reach out to dr.kpomosa
    mobile /whatsapp number:+1 (805) 246-9394

    kind Regard

  76. Thank-you for this post. My son. I can’t bring myself to share as I don’t understand myself.

  77. Glad I found this post, i’m currently going through this. My mom is 40 and she used to be such a wonderful, loving, and kind person but now she changed completely. First we started noticing she wasn’t being herself anymore, hanging out with people half her age, doing things she would never do before. She separated from my father and left me and my brother which was 14 with my dad because she “got tired of living the same life”. She barely talks to me and my brother anymore; only if she needs help with money or something else, she says she never has time for us but – is always out with her friends. My brother is now 16 and he doesn’t seem to care for her anymore because he said she abandoned us, never comes to visit or calls. I personally miss her a lot because we were the closest, I miss the old her.

  78. I am so happy to find this blog! I have been dealing with my Mother for 12 years slowly but surely losing her mind, and health. I stuck it all out with her, in fact out of 3 children, I have a brother and a sister, I was the rock always, always got along with her, took care of her, laughed with her, etc. So, I was the natural fit for taking her to the major surgeries, the recoveries, the her moving in with me, etc. Always was me to be counted on by h er and them. This last Mothers Day, when visiting her there was a blow up between her and my oldest Son over basically a d illusion in her mind from about a year ago she blames him for, that didn’t take place, she begins to tell him off, he can’t take it any longer and goes off on her too. I was in the middle and asked them both to stop it. When they didn’t I got my husband to break it up, but, it did irreparable damage. Me, my 2 sons and my husband got her bedroom door slammed in our face and no good bye that day. I haven’t spoke to her since. When I call, she won’t take my call, she then leaves it off the hook. Well now she has asked my brother to go change the POA to him from me, kicked me out of the will, and last week was hospitalized stating that neither my brother or sister can call me and tell me, which they followed that order and didn’t. My brother called me because my sister didn’t answer her phone, is how I knew about her having hallucinations, falling, seeing things, etc. she was dehydrated and not eating or drinking, but, in any case, I at least knew, but, he couldn’t have me go there because Mother told him I couldn’t be there. Well, it has been over a week, neither of them have called and told me how she is either. I spoke to a niece that doesn’t want involved. So, I began scared, went to anger, and over the 12 years of her being some other woman and mean and hateful, I have slowly mourned and grieved who she was anyway. So, now I’m upset, and getting better from all these emotions. But, now, add my Sister and Brother to the mix, and I will probably mourn them too, I don’t want to see them right now, if ever, that was a cruel thing to do to me. I don’t know if I have forgiveness for the three of them. Thanks for reading.

  79. Hello, this weekend is nice in support of me, because
    this time i am reading this impressive informative article here at my

  80. I’ve lost my only daughter (16) due to parental alienation. She’s such a different person now & has adopted many of the same behaviors of her father (which led to our divorce) – secret online accounts to “bash” me yet smile to my face, call me hurtful names, mock & joke other marginalized people, get drunk, experiment with drugs, openly lie to me, & disconnect from my entire family – her grandparents, bonus dad, & bonus siblings, all of whom she previously adored. She’s taken so many of our conversations out of context to make me seem abusive, vicious, & cruel when all I’ve wanted since the divorce was for all of us to have peace & find happiness & hold onto the good. I’ve owned mistakes I’ve made (never with malicious intent, but moms make mistakes, even when we try our hardest not to), & even when her dad was out of the picture for 2 years, I allowed visits in my home & encouraged their relationship because I never wanted her to feel as if I’d withheld him from her in any way. Now, the narrative has been flipped & she believes his every word & im nothing but a shady con who lied on her dad. I feel like my world has fallen apart. It’s been about 2 years now & it’s only gotten worse. I so miss my kind, thoughtful, giving, compassionate, loving child. I miss the easy laughs & fun conversations & not worrying about her recording me if I’m sad, goading me into talking about things to be misrepresented later, or taking notes on our conversations & leaving out the positive things I say, just the “mom concerns” I’ve had that she makes into war crimes. I know she’s been brainwashed by her dad & that she (in her heart) knows his love is conditional on choosing him over me, where I’ve always put her needs first, even if it means having to say “no” to things that don’t serve her. But, him using her as an abuser-by-proxy & her seemingly hating me, disregarding anything I say as her mom? It’s a pain worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. I honestly no longer feel like a mom, just a surrogate at most as I’ve all but been erased from her life. I’m isolated. I cry. Meds & therapy haven’t begun to touch the pain I feel. My husband tries, but due to his ex’s addiction issues he’s got sole custody of his kids so he doesn’t relate to my grief. I just want to run away where no one knows me & start over.

    • Hold tight to your perspective. Your daughter’s behavior is not of her own will. Maintain the connect despite the pain. You are the only one who gives her unconditional love. I was in your shoes until this September, when I received a text from my daughter that read “Mom, dad is a narcissist. He never loved any of us.” Now she sees through everything. She is in a lot of pain, and it hurts to see her mourn the loss of a father, but I am warmed by the fact that I have my daughter back. Keep faith in your heart and do not blame your daughter. She is a prisoner in his shadow.

    • I am also currently going through Parent Alienation with abuse-via-proxy. My 14 yo daughter is being allowed to live with my estranged husband without the hard parenting she needs to mature and handle the stresses and demands upon her as a teen under family trauma. She is being reclusive and allowing brainwashing influences online as “support groups”, which are more like cult indoctrination. My husband avoids conflict and parenting, so he just allows whatever she wants as long as it’s not his concern. Watching this go down has driven me to panic and rebellion. She is (and will continue to) fall into extreme conflicts that she will avoid and manipulate without healthy resolution. My job (as a caring, loving mother) has always been, and will always be, her health and well-being. It is ISOLATING. Are there support groups of others like us that we can connect with? I need sanity validation.

    • I understand your situation because I am in it too. Has anything improved since you posted this? I have been grieving the loss of my daughter because of almost the same circumstances since 2014. I have endured 5 years of malicious bullying from her. It gets worse each year for me. It is so difficult because I know that this monster is not the child that I gave birth to, loved, nurtured, and made great decisions for. Please tell me it gets better.

  81. I had this friend, for fun we’l call him Lewis he was very good looking but also had this very amazing intellect that got you talking for hrs and felt comfortable like nothing I’ve experienced – yet -he may be dealing with things from his past and I don’t know if he’ll ever get out of the mindset
    We no longer speak to eachother and at times I have memories of him and I once happy full of hope for a greatfuture but I feel like his own insecurities holds him back and he won’t let me call him up and help him get through things — I am grieving Lewis eventhough he is alive the fact were no longer and no longer in touch even to see him in the mall or anything just to see him and see if he’d come talk to me – I pushedhim away because I was jealous and hes easily thrown me out of his life or maybe makes it look easy but I still have his words stuck in my head- were only delaying the inevitable that’s what he said to me beforei for jealous and did drastic things to get his attention. To him would be unforgiveable so I’m likely not gonna get the chance to make it up to him I’m grieving the loss of someone living, I searched up thoseexact words and found you and my heart skipped realising I’m not the only one thank you for allowing me to share my story god bless you and yours ❤-your friend Anna E Larose

  82. I have had the sweetest loving mom who was also my best friend . I am 53 single with two grown up sons. Mom was healthy till 5years ago at 85years old, when she lost her vision and had to give up her home. She insisted going to an old age home, but I couldn’t bear the thought. I have a full time job, so got a caregiver for her. I watched my mom going down gradually and as much as I love her, I had little patience and anger as I watched this once upon a time mother who gave me so much love, now feeling hopeless and hurt at being a burden to me.
    She is now 90years old , and had a slight stroke and is now in hospital. I visit her everyday, however she has deteriorated so much in these last few days that I just cry uncontrolably.
    I can feel that I am loosing her and feel so guilty for the times I got impatient and rude with her. I just want her to come home and make up for it and give her love and attention., But it hurts so deep, to see her and see that that chance may not happen.

  83. Thank you for this article. I’m really struggling with this at the moment. My mum is 67 ( still young.) She retired at 60 and was really active. She did exercise classes, she was making friends. She was great company. She enjoyed being a new grandmother too. About 4 years ago she started to develop stenosis of the spine. My understanding of the condition isn’t too great, but know she developed it from a back injury ( slipped disk) The spine issue came along with osteoarthritis. She’s been in incrediable pain. I have been understanding! However about a year and a half ago she had spinal injections. I think she had a large amount of steroid injected into her back. She was not the same person afterwards. It caused her to have major panic attacks and she didn’t want to walk at all. Due to this her muscles started to atrophy! Her right hand is almost closed. She refused to go to the doctor. She wouldn’t talk to me…She has a partner who all the while has been letting her have her own way. So roll on this year and you wouldn’t recognise her. She’s on so much fentanyl that it’s like talking to a drug addict. She’s very nasty. She seems to take it all out on me. She’s had further injections and told me she’s never going to improve so she’s not going to keep apologising. At this point I’d only asked her how her injections went. The thing is I’ve had enough now. I’m now seeing her for what she is. Our relationship has never been easy. When I was 16 she walked out on us all for the man she is with now. Since then he has been number 1. Shes put him first above anyone else. Prior to splitting up she had friends but with this man, they’ve never had any. She loves my children, but just sits there, and isn’t good company. She’s obsessed by the way people look, therefore she won’t go out in a wheelchair. She’s just awful. It’s very sad and hard for me to accept. Maybe, as the article suggests I need to just accept her how she is. It’s hard when get stroppy responses. She has a partner, why can’t she do that to him? Right now I haven’t spoken to her in 4 days and I feel sad but happy! This whole situation is all compounded because I lost my dear dad last year. He had cancer, but even when in extreme pain he was so different. He told me how much he loved me the whole time. I miss him so much. So feel like im going through double the amount of grief. Despite all this I have a good life. I’m just very envious of people with their parents. I’m happy I’ve got my lovely children, and hope I’m a much nicer mother than mine has been!

  84. It’s amazing to me how many comments this article has received. I feel like I am not alone. I wish other people weren’t feeling the kind of pain I am, though.

    For the commenter “Melissa Rodger” specifically, I am about ten years ahead of you…being a mother is something that doesn’t end or die. You don’t need to rush or push…I’m telling you that you’ll always be your child’s mother, and that bond is astonishingly strong. It might not be today, or tomorrow, but you are your children’s mother, please don’t lose hope. If the only thing you can do is let them know you love them, that is enough. You’ll see. ❤️

  85. Thank you for this article. I am dealing with my mothers Alzheimer’s and my husband’s brain injury, which resulted in addiction, deep depression, and anxiety.
    There are days when I don’t think I can take any more and I want to run away. I am able to deal with my mother’s problem easier than my husband. I no longer have anyone to support me, help make firm decisions, or comfort me. I want to treat my husband as the leader of our home, but the truth is, he is no longer the leader. I have been placed in that role. I am the one who has to provide for the family, make major decisions, plan and pay for anything we do as a family, and keep the peace in my home. Sometimes the stress is overwhelming.

  86. I have been alienated from my 12 and 13 year old child for over a year now, my son hasn’t spoken to me in a year and my daughter who I had a few calls a week has just told me that she needs time apart from me as I made her sensitive ( This decision was made by her and her father) My children have been turned against me by their father in order to seek revenge for ending our relationship. I am blocked on thier social media and when they do communicate its only to spew hate at me. My husband said I need to move on as they will never be aloud to have a normal mother/child relationship with me whilst they are living with their father. I miss my children so much, I am missing out on watching them grow up.

  87. I did not realize there are so many people out there going through what I am going though. My husband is mentally ill and suffers from the disease of addiction. And my 22 year old son has schizoaffective bipolar and the disease of addiction, too. I have been in Alanon for 10 years, which helps with the addiction part. But the severe mental illness part is very hard to deal with for me. I miss both my son and my husband so incredibly much. I love them both so much, and miss the days when they were able to love me back. My son is doing ok now, and living with my mother. But my husband’s illnesses have taken over his mind and soul, once again. Everything I say or do puts him in a rage. He doesn’t look at me, touch me, and is unable to talk about anything serious (bills, raising the kids, our marriage, etc) without completely getting angry or perceiving it as a personal “hit” to him. He hates me now. And after he goes to bed I cry, and cry, and cry because I miss the man who swept me off my feet years ago… the man who made my heart skip a beat just by walking in the door, the man who was my soulmate, my lover, and my best friend. We have been through therapy, but he doesn’t take medication for his mental illness and keeps trying to self medicate with street drugs. So, therapy does no good. And, watching my two youngest kids trying to grow up with one responsible parent (me) and one sick parent who changes the rules, and his mood, daily is breaking my heart. I miss having him be my “rock” when I was having a tough time…. now, when I am having a tough day he makes it worse and there is no one to hold me in their big, strong arms and make me feel better. Instead, I stay up half the night crying until the tears are dry and I can’t keep my eyes open. Everyday I pray for a cure for mental illness and the disease of addiction. Because when there is a cure, I will have my husband and son back from the “dead”.

  88. I’d like to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this site.
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  89. I just saw this article & some things mentioned sounded a little bit like my mother. I live out of state from her & go home to visit once or twice a year. Last year, I began to notice some odd things going on & things she said to me that were out of character for her. The biggest was a conversation we had where she accused me of “being distant” and not caring about things going on in her life. Being that the whole reason for my visit was to spend time with her, I just can’t figure out why she would’ve said that to me. It seems the more affection I try to show, the more she says I don’t care! She is now 62 and both her parents passed away kind of young. I can’t help but wonder if her actions are related to her losses, even though it’s been 30 years since her dad died & 20 years since her mom. She is a very religious person as well. I now live in Arizona and she in Michigan & she doesn’t call me, but prefers email. Most of the time, she’ll just say there’s nothing to say. I am worried about her and our relationship.

    • Hello, Beth Reis:

      You mentioned that your mother has been acting out of character. Please look up frontotemporal dementia, the most common type of young-onset dementia, which is under-recognized and often misdiagnosed as a psychiatric disorder or dismissed as “midlife crisis.”

      People with this brain disorder undergo a radical change in personality. The disease destroys empathy, emotions and executive functioning NOT memory, so it’s able to hide itself since most people think dementia means memory loss in the old, not a behavioral change in the prime of life.

      Unfortunately, many general practitioners have no clue about this devastating disease. Try to get her to a neurologist who specializes in dementia.

      • BS
        Pay more attention to your mother.
        It’s not dementia.
        It’s loss & grief because family is too busy to care.
        And has their own agenda and live in the past.
        She wants presence of love. and isn’t getting it from her children.
        It’s not dementia

  90. Thank you so much for this. I was thinking I was going crazy feeling this way and I makes so much sense. My husband, 2 years ago, had emergency heart surgery and had a 10 % chance of living. He made it but it’s been really hard. He is not the same and I know it’s because of his medicine and his heart being touched. He now has two aneurysm in his aorta. One doctor said he is a ticking time bomb. To hear that…..OMG… life, the person I am, and my soul has changed. It scares me everyday, wondering when will it happen. Even though the doctors have said he may not need another surgery for 20 years….but who knows. This is a heredity heart disease. I don’t want to live in the what if moments but it’s hard to do. I just need the support and someone to talk to and vent my wooriness.

  91. I almost lost someone I care about to suicide. I showed her that there is another way but I feel like she’s gone.

  92. Larry Craig Page MorganApril 29, 2018 at 1:41 pmReply

    I fail my daughter I abandoned every single day but I’m too weak and a coward to do anything different. Please help me!

  93. I was hoping this article might address an issue I’ve wrestled with for decades. I grew up with divorced parents. My mother has undiagnosed trauma, hoarding, and mental health issues like depression. She was controlling of who I spent time with and what I did. I left home for college soon as possible. My uncle told me my dad has borderline schizophrenia but I always thought it was bipolar. I’m and my kids have little to no contact with either parent unless they have a health crisis. It has been a long process of grief from 18 to 38. I’m tired and done. Mother loss, father loss. Broken family. Lost heritage. The ambiguity of how to grieve the living has been utterly painful. I’m now working on a book to highlight this challenge as I seek hope to rise from the ashes. Hope is all I have so I do not repeat these mistakes and trauma.

  94. I reasingly lost a step dad and 2 sisters we cried for the past 3 days we lost on a Sunday today is Tuesday

  95. So grateful for having discovered your website. I’ve been searching for some supportive, helpful commentary on my particular situation, and this is the very first I’ve found that fits my situaiton. My husband has schizophrenia. I, of course, knew this when we were married and we’d attended counseling together with his pshychiatrist before we were married, and with two different therapists several years into our marriage, and before he divorced me, a little over a year and a half ago, just before our 32nd anniversary. We had a good marriage and two beautiful daughters. Although there were a few troubling episodes during the years, we always managed to work past them, until it became more difficult, nearly ten years ago, when his doctors agreed to lower his medication. I never would have thought our marriage would have ended in divorce. I never would have divorced him because of his illness, but he divorced me because of it and it was a shell-shocked, blindsiding devastation. I’ve experienced the true loss of my husband, but there isn’t any anger toward him that would be able to eventually be reconciled in a divorce. There isn’t the grief process of the death of a loved one that I can try to work though, since he’s not passed away and so I hang on to the hope of “his return home to me”, which I know, because of how his illness has evolved, will never happen. Still…I yearn. I also can’t explain my loss to friends and family because they don’t understand the feeling of abandonment I’m experiencing. I can’t explain to others the private words I shared with him in these past few years especially, when he’d tell me the delusions he had about me and the paranoid thoughts about me that will never leave his troubled mind. I pray everyday for his safety. I love him so very much and can no longer be there to talk to him, the way I used to, when we’d sork through these times, which I’d like to believe, helped calm his troubled mind, silence the voices, even if only for a short time. So, thank you for this article. I’ll have to search out more about “Ambiguous Grief” (a term I’d seen here for the first time, despite my years of searching desparately for comforting words applicable to my particular situation.) Thank you!

  96. The additional problem with dementia is looking back and not knowing when it really began. When was it disease or a deteriorating relationship. All of that blurs together and brings a mixture of anger and loss. Emotionally it is very hard to sort out.

  97. Another reason rarely mentioned in articles related to grieving someone who still alive is that on a noncustodial parent. Especially in High conflict divorce is where one parent alienates another.

  98. Im so happy to find this forum .i googled grieving for someone a mum of 4 children who mean the world to me I love them so much also a great husband .4 yrs ago my 21 yr old happy funny handsome boy became comsumed with criplling depression and anxsiety and is battling each day wuth this while on meds .he confides in me and im his rock so I recieve all his texts each day telling me how he wishes he wasent here ,this world not me for him how he cant take it anymore refuses therapy .my heart is broken to see him in such inner pain .withdrawn and sad .this took a big affect on me few weeks ago and I had a nervous breakdown through worry cryjng every day over him worring what each day will bring.almost like im grieving but but worst as it wont subside .as a result ive been put on meds ti help me though each day .i jumo when phobe rings always on edge not knowing what he might do. I do believe that prayer can help me cope .im so glad im not alone feeling like this ..

  99. It is wonderfull article
    Thanks for Sharing

  100. very good article thank you for sharing

  101. Thank you for posting this article.
    My heart is broken for my best friend who, seemingly overnight, transformed from a thoughtful and kind soul to a manic, delusional person with a messiah complex. She runs through the woods naked at night to soak in the moon’s rays. She believes that the universe is sharing visions with her and sending her on secret tasks to save the world. She has cuts and bruises everywhere from running in the woods in the dark. Anyone who challenges her new belief system is “of the darkness.” Some people she believes are evil incarnate, and she avoids them at all costs, to the point she won’t go home because of her evil neighbor. She keeps saying that she is the north star and “of the light.” I was affectionately referred to in her new reality as “the rainbow guy.” I was in charge of making rainbows.
    That was until I had to call the cops to remove her from my home. She was getting violent with my roommate and talking all sorts of nonsensical gibberish. I am scared for her and hold out hope that the person I knew and loved comes back, but I don’t know if and when that will happen. I hope she finds the healing she needs. Unfortunately, she refuses help.

  102. I was 31 when my little brother, who was my best friend in the whole world, died in a terrible car accident. He was 28. That was in 2002. My father died when I was 26, by suicide. Besides my wonderful husband, my mother is ALL I have left. But she is dead now – although very much alive. Mom moved 800-miles away and lives 3 states away from me. She will rarely want to talk via phone, and the only way I communicate with her is via Facebook. I write lengthy posts about my life, since she never asks. I usually get a “one symbol” emoji response. Like a heart, or something. No questions about my life, how I am, what I am doing, what I am passionate about, what are my fears…..NOTHING. My mom posts about how she would trade her remaining days to be with my brother but yet she won;t ever come see me. I even offered to pay her plane ticket so she could be with us on Christmas, but she did not accept. Instead, excuses. I am tired of being the forgotten child simply because I am still alive. Would my mother grieve me if I were gone? WHY WON’T SHE BE WITH ME? WHY WON’Y SHE TALK WITH ME? WHY WON’T SHE BE A PART OF MY LIFE!?! I need her. I am 45 and broken by this. The only one who knows how bad this hurts me is my husband, and thank GOD for him.

    • I am so sorry, CL. I don’t know what to say because there is nothing to replace a mother’s love. It sounds as if your mother is angry at life for taking your brother from her and punishing everyone who is still alive. But all you feel, and justifiably so, is a yearning for her love. My mother did the same with me in the last years of her life. Is there a significant other in your life with whom you can share your Grief? It is important for healing that we have someone with whom we are close; someone who will hold us when we need it; a shoulder to cry on. I will be thinking of you…

    • I replied a little while ago to your post. I missed the last line in which you say thank God for your husband. I am happy you have a shoulder to cry on.

    • I replied a little while ago to your post. I missed the last line in which you say thank God for your husband. I am happy you have a shoulder to cry on. Do you ever feel as if your mother favored your brother because he was a boy?

  103. We old aged mentally and physically very very sick unresourceful parents living as dependant with our married son, his wife and gran dhildrens very happily since last fifteen years. My mental sickness started four years ago which badly effected my physical health, I had both eye catracted, Gulucoma and then sevre dried eyes plus other digestions and blood clott etc problems mostly due side effects of medicines. Now my mental sickness is treatment resistant as no medicines , Therepy even ECT not working, Anyway, since last three months all of a sudden, my married son, his wife and kid stopped talking to both of us parents without giving any reason…… my wife also got dipressed and physicaly sick with Nuoralgia facial nurve pain due sevre stress. My sleep gone and I can’t sleep for days… we both failed to cope with this unexpected painful situation. All our efforts to talk with son are failed due his total denial. With others we have limited formal community action as we still live with them. This situation created humiliation, grief, hopelessness, helpless ness, worthless ness, guilt, grief, fear anxiety, Dipression and 24/7 stress and anger which can not be express nor anyone recognizes theses things in house. No one seems bothered about our health or needs, particularly emotional needs of land be, attachments, care, passion and attention. All gone. We have no way out or in. Provocation may result in our further agony… so trying to be patient before he kicked us out of his house. … in the light of your blog…. keeping in view our grief agony and miserable life situation warranted to what situation ahead. We are alive, our son is alive but we are grieving 24/7. All other relation ships are cut off due our sickness and isolation…. we are also not able to speak to anyone nor wants to, as it is our family respect and it may not be helpful if any outsider is informed or involved. Don’t know what to do? Every day we both old parents are like dyeing and keeping quite.
    May be some other points I missed to remember and write here but I tried all detailed info so you can understand where we stand and what help n advice is available to us. We have limitations to go for counseling or other visits due hndicapmlike situation for us… I may explain it later but we can not go for counseling out or Therepy etc.

    • I am so sorry that you are dealing with that. You matter so much and you are enough. You and your wife are enough, and I am so sorry for the circumstances that has occurred.

  104. My husband had an aneurysm rupture which left him very confused and unable to form new memories or make decisions for himself. Everyone tells me that at least he’s alive. But it’s not him.
    I have this overwhelming sense of sadness that never goes away. I miss my best friend. I miss my life. I miss just having someone to hold me at night.
    The day to day is so draining. I love him so much and keep hoping he will come back but I am losing hope. My heart hurts and I just don’t know what to do.

    • I feel your pain. My husband was in a traumatic accident while we were on a vacation celebrating our marriage and life on October 1st. He fell over 20 feet and suffered from a sever TBI. He is now partially blind and is still early on in his healing stages. I miss him so greatly. During the first months of his healing I was so much happier just because he was alive and I could lay by his side while he was in a coma- watching him come to life each day. Then he went to rehab and truly came back to life. He still has so long to go. His memory is coming back very slowly but gets confused very easily. His eye sight does not help with this matter. His normal happy, joking personality is no longer there and replaced with a sad and hateful attitude. My best friend who loved more than life itself is no longer there. The person that would tickle me until I couldn’t breathe to ensure he got a smile out of me before we went to sleep always now gets angry if I get close to him in bed. He gets short tempered with our three children whom he adored. I just want to know if I will ever get the person I fell so deeply in love with back again.

  105. I am crying so hard tonight. I, just, wow. The man I love and married is gone. He was my angel, my saving grace, while I was bed-ridden for 5 years. Altho bed-ridden my mind was sharp so I taught us homesteading, we had laughs, shared ER date nights, altho I suffered physically and almost did not make it, he was by my side and I always tried to smile and enjoy our lives—what we had left. Well, Oct 2016, I got the clear from Drs, I had reversed a failing liver, quieted an autoimmune disease, all that was killing me, I had turned around with natural remedies and the Drs were shocked! I was elated, finally! I can walk and talk normal, finally I can be outside, not bed-ridden, not barely able to eat. That’s when my Husband passed away and in his place is a abusive and violent…thing.

    It started with verbal abuses I brushed off as stress…..but that escalated into me trying to please him in every way more and more. That did not calm this new thing. Over the course of a year I would be subjected to abuses and violence I never imagined him capable of. The new thing did not acknowledge what he has done, said or anything at all. He shows signs of borderline personality disorder, delusional, hallucinating (hears voices his whole life actually)…since he will not go to Dr, I am left trying to figure it out. I have a lifetime experince with mental twisted and ill people and studied in College. So, thats what I can say: Cluster B personality disorder. Very scary, my Husband is (emotionally) dead to me now.

    This thing is so evil and powerful, he threated suicide/homicide on me, my parents then himself several times. Loaded riffles became his ‘thing’ and all the while nothing I say, do or cry changes him. And then he blames me—for it, or plays he cannot remember, I dunno. It drove me away for my life and our unborn childs life. I am now 19 weeks pregnant and mourning my husband in another new state, safehouse without anything but my backpack, memories, and my baby within. I had to leave my homestead behind, accept my Husband is gone and never returning. I tried for that year to help, but as he stated: I am not sick, you are.

    I am mourning my best friend, my love, my Husband who was so very special and beyond loving while I was crippled. But as a strong healthy woman, he cannot handle without abuse and violence. I have a life to build now from the ground up with nothing—family and friends turned their backs on me, too. So, I literally, have no ground to stand on. Luckily after being homeless for 2 weeks, I did find this safehouse—but nothing will ever compare to my homestead with my Husband, RIP. I am so broken, but strong enough to keep pushing forward and fill my days with building my life, therapy, crying, trying to be good to myself and well…mourning. If I don;t move I will sink, so I always will move forward, but damn, this hurts to my core and he won’t stop abusing me via text or email. One line he is missing me, the next line this is all my fault, next our homestead needs me, then it’s my hormones that crashed us….for a year, my pregnancy hormones did this? Where are you! No one is pregnant for a year :*( I pulled riffles on me, I did this? The insanity hurts so much, but I have compassion now that I am safe—His body is there, but he is gone, the last few months I saw, his eyes were gone, his spirit gone, he is dead inside. And what is worse, is, I cannot help him—no one can. And he refuses to try….RIP.

  106. I am feeling overwhelming grief today and days before and probably into some point of the future. I don’t have a SO with a debilitating injury, or mental illness, so I feel like my grief isn’t validated.

    It had been brought to my attention before that my SO felt a lack of interest in gender and was comfortable with she/her and they/them pronouns but didn’t really care. We also discussed the idea that there may be a name change. I brushed it off because the discussion ended that it wasn’t going to happen any time soon. This was months ago, and wasn’t mentioned to me again until yesterday.

    Out of nowhere it was dropped on my lap that a name change and pronoun change is happening in the near future and a name is being decided on in a day. I was caught totally off guard and I don’t really understand the concepts of changing names and pronouns because I haven’t experienced it myself, I do support people who need to make these changes I just have a hard time grasping these abstract concepts. And I feel like I am now grieving the loss of a relationship that I have taken care to build to be strong. As much as I wish that it didn’t cause such an impact as I am not opposed to someone living as their truest self. I was not anticipating the crushing grief I would feel knowing that the person I fell in love with is going to fundamentally change.

    Months upon months of building an emotional connection with someone with a specific name, was a huge milestone for me. My brain doesn’t make emotional connections well and I don’t pick up on social cues. So to develop an interwoven and deep romantic relationship and spending countless hours building something that felt like the truest love I have ever experienced feels crushed by a small change. I know my brain struggles with change and emotional connections so I know why I am feeling this grief. I just wish it wasn’t there. I wish I didn’t care as much as I do. And I wish I didn’t feel this shitty about it. I feel selfish and horrible for grieving a dead name when I know that my SO has to make these changes to be their best self. But no matter how hard I try to understand it I’m struggling. And no matter how hard I try to not feel this way, I feel like I am losing the one person I care about the most.

    Names are just words, they shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but they truly are and I didn’t think to be so deeply impacted by it until I am experiencing it now. I want the grief to go away and I don’t want to feel the depression and sadness and mourning that I feel for this person that is still alive. I wish I felt like I still knew this person and loved them unconditionally but now I feel like I have a stranger. I feel like I have wasted all these months building a connection that my brain has now lost somewhere in my head because of something as trivial as a name.

    This probably makes no sense because I am upset while writing this. And its also worth noting that I am on the autism spectrum so my brain makes poor social connections or does so very slow. It has taken me a long time to learn grief and sadness, and I still struggle articulating what feelings I have when I don’t know the name of them. This web page is the closest I have come to identifying my feelings.

    • Thank you so much for sharing. For what it’s worth, you’re not alone, and everything you’re feeling is completely normal. That doesn’t make it any easier, I know, but it’s normal to feel afraid when facing big changes in your relationship, and it’s normal to grieve even while recognizing that these changes are necessary in order for your SO to live as their true self — not selfish, not horrible, but normal. Names are just words, but words are often far from trivial, and the name and pronouns your SO uses to describe themselves represent deeper changes in how they see themselves and/or how they wish to be seen by others. You’ve done an incredible job of describing quite eloquently the tangled knot of emotions that adjusting to a change like that can bring. There are others who share this experience and even counselors/agencies that specialize in helping couples cope while one or both partners are in the process of transition — Two Spirit Health Services ( in Orlando is one example, and they provide “Thera-Skype” services for clients all over the US. Thank you again for sharing, wishing you strength and peace as you move forward <3

  107. My husband had brain surgery about three years ago – weeks later I started graduate school. I stuffed my feelings down and got to work – supporting him financially and doing what I could to make sure he was taken care of and on the path to healing.

    I completed school in May and now I am falling apart. I’ve suddenly been having reaccuring dreams where he disappears and I spend the dream searching for him. I’ve been in therapy – but since school ended Ive been so depressed and angry. I’ve been weepy and unable to get out of bed for days.

    He is still here – but he’s not the same – not the man I married. We were once business partners – so that’s another layer of grief. He was once very charismatic, strong – powerful. Now he’s more timid, apologetic – he forgets things and makes mistake almost daily. He stomps around angry when this happens. He once took care of things – now I have to remind him to complete tasks. He’s lost his ambition. He was truly my only support in this large world. I felt like everything was okay when I was with him.

    • Hi there Anon,
      I am in exactly the same position as you. My partner had a stroke November 2016, 6 weeks after our son was born, we also have an older boy. I put my entire life on hold, school, work, and even bonding with our newborn to keep my partner alive and to keep our home and business.
      I have now returned to school and a deal is in place to sell the business.
      Life has kept me occupied from the grief. I tried all I could to push it down, but it came out. I had people tell me I was grieving, but I never really knew what it meant, and still don’t. I know it’s a peocess and that it is conceptualized to be experienced in stages. I am ready to learn mpre about my grief. I know that I have to be open to a new relationahip woth this new person, but I am finding it incredibly difficult. It is like everytime I look at my partner my heart breaks over and over again. I want my beat friend back, I want my old life back, I want the ateong supportive, charasmatic and loving father to my children back. Ihave to be honest, if I met theman I live with today, I wouls not have chosen him to spend the reat of my life with. I am at a loss about my loss. I don’t know what is next.

  108. Thank You. This is something I have been dealing with recently, well for almost 2 years. My father and I have always been extremely close. Lately he has been struggling with depression/anxiety and always has but you would never know. He was on medications for 20 plus years. He always was a happy , outgoing type of man. He would spark a conversation with anyone. Everyone loved him. I am now 37 and he is 60. Not only myself but my 3 kids always were close to him. I went from talking to him 5 times a day to hardly talking for a month. When I try and call he just is distant and has to go. He doesn’t come around at all and when I go there he’s lying practically lifeless in his chair. I feel selfish that I feel this way. I miss him terribly and my husband doesn’t understand. My fourth child is about to turn 3 and has no relationship at all with him. He was always the best father and pop to my children. I know he’s suffering and it kills me. I as well struggle with anxiety and went through horrible PPD after my fourth was born. I look at old pictures and cry. I miss his so much. He was my best friend, my Rock. He was always a strong man even struggling with his own problems. This is actually how I feel. Thank you so much for this post. Xoxo

    • Hi Jacqueline, Has your father been prescribed something for his anxiety, one of the benzodiazepines, for example? If yes, then it is possible that he is simply too medicated to do anything at all. You might want to check in and find out what he is taking for meds. Doctors can be extremely irresponsible with what they prescribe. I’m not saying that this is what is going on with him, but it might be worth considering. I’very become somewhat of an armchair expert on the damage to the central nervous possible from doctors over prescribing or misprescribing psych drugs.

    • Hello, Jacqueline:

      Please look up frontotemporal dementia, the most common type of young-onset dementia, which is under-recognized and often misdiagnosed. People with this brain disorder undergo a dramatic personality change. They lose empathy, emotions and executive functioning, NOT memory.

      Please take him to a neurologist who specializes in dementia since unfortunately, many general practitioners have no clue about this devastating disease.

  109. My husband is a quadriplegic. He has no movement below his collar bones. I grieve the man he was. The strong, fix everything, sexy, handsome, able bodied man he used to be. I miss the 10 years we lost since becoming a quadriplegic. I miss the life we COULD have had and should have had. I miss my happy, blissful, wonderful marriage. People don’t seem to understand this type of grief. All they say is, “At least he’s still here with you…”. Well, those words do not help. At least with death, there is a point when you do realize that life goes on and you do just that. I am stuck in a world that I can’t move on from. Oh, and I am his sole caregiver.

  110. My mom and I were incredibly close until her latest (and longest) relapse to alcohol. My last happy memory with her was two years ago, shopping for my wedding dress. I only wanted her to come because she knows how uncomfortable I become with everyone’s opinions, it was such a good day. She rapidly deteriorated within months of that day. We didn’t know if she would make it to the wedding and when she did she had the shakes so bad. I feel awful for how awful she must have felt.

    Fast forward six months later when she ended up in the ICU for severe withdrawal. She coded and after they did cpr on her in the hospital she was on a ventilator in a coma for a week. I thought I was saying goodbye to her on February 16th of this year as I walked in her hospital room. I was so relieved when she pulled through, eventually came home, and regained some physical strength. After stopping by my parents house everyday for a week or two she seemed different, like she didn’t care to see me. Like I was a stranger or a distant acquaintance. I would tell her how much I missed her and make inside jokes and she would show apathy. I told my husband that it seemed like brain damage, like she was back but not all the way and it wasn’t in a drunk way. He agreed.

    Three months after her hospital stay my mom began drinking again. I could tell immediately because of her mean comments and responses. My mom would never say those things to me before. I told her that I felt lonely not talking and texting with her everyday like we always do (did) and she responded with, ” I’m busy” but in this tone like she wanted to hurt me. Over time The mean tones eventually turn into horrible things no one should ever have to hear from anyone they love and miss. Now I don’t visit her, it’s been months. No one from my disfunctional family communicates and I have a mom and step dad that don’t call to talk or ask to spend time with me. I miss my mom so much it knocks the wind out of me at times. I miss my disfunctional family. The other day I went shopping by myself and saw a mom and daughter in the same age range and I felt so lonely in that moment that I left and cried my eyes out in the car. That used to be us. My husband is supportive but what can he do? He tries but he doesn’t know this. His 73 year old parents call him every week and still plan family vacations. I’d be elated if my mom even texted me at this point. I feel like an orphaned 34 year old from parents who are alive and live less than one mile from me.

    • Shannon.. reading your story I felt like it was mine.. I’m so very sorry.. I too had an alcoholic single mother who seemed to care more about her drugs and alcohol ban caring for her only child. I was 32 when my mom died of an overdose and hadn’t spoken to her in 3 years before she died. I have terrible guilt, anger which has consumed me. Then my only son started using drugs which over the last 4 yrs has escalated into near death. My husband and I have tried everything, spent thousands of dollars and tre last time we had him picked up, because he is 19 he shut us both out. I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest and found this forum when trying to learn how to deal with grief of someone who is still alive.. I’m angry, sad, completely heart broken as he wants nothing more to do with his family. So my heart goes out to you and any other person dealing with this type of pain.

  111. The past several weeks I have been mourning the last as of my husband who is an active alcoholic and has relapsed. The man I fell in love with and married has died and replaced by someone I don’t know. It’s so painful. It tears my heart out that he is still here physically but he has psychologically died. The pain hurts so much it’s hard to breathe

  112. I am currently experiencing the ambiguous grief, the only thing I can is say PAIN! It is beyond a point of control. Help is the next? Which is where I am and still seeking! I hope people find this because it’s far worse than many people know or can even relate to. And do what I am right now staying around and seeking for the help! And I am even gonna go to the extent to say please email me because my pain is deep. Please all stay strong enough to get the help you need because this pain is just like the beginning says, you either get it or you don’t.

    • I know this feeling well and it won’t go away, facing it even day is tourcher the pain is deeper than deep , haven’t a clue where to get help, how do people carry on living like this ? How do you get over the pain barrier ?

    • Thank you for commenting,i like you feel deep pain of ambiguous grief.i guess I wanted to say that you are remarkable as even in depths of pain you reach out to others.

  113. Having a name for this feeling “ambiguous loss” is like a small miracle. Thank you for that.

    I have been in Al-Anon for almost a year and it’s helping me cope with my daughter’s addiction. Yet often I just cry and cry. Someone said I was grieving and I didn’t truly understand until I read this.

    Much of what I am grieving is loss of what I imagined, that ‘happy family’ with my talented daughter’s life unfolding to a bright future.

    I think looking back on the happy times, feeling them, memorializing them, and letting them go, will help. Then I can live one day at a time. When I don’t dwell in the past or the future I do better. And I need to grieve and let go.

  114. Thank you so much for this article. My son left home when he was a little over 16. I had built an addition onto my home and moved my elderly parents into there the summer before.
    I wasnt capable of handing them living with me. All the past came rushing back, and I was slowly lozing it. My son and I got into a fight on my birthday, and he left to stay with his dad. When I found this out, I had a full blown nervous breakdown. I could barely function. So I 2as the one with the mental illness, BPD. His hatred for me drove me farther and farther into a hole. I have been fighting for 5 long years to get a life worth living without him. This article has helped me to see I have memories, pictures and he cannot take away my love for him. I see both sides of this situation, the side of the one being outside and the perspective of my son. Both are very painful. I have worked on me so much, but he doesnt want to forgive me, so I have to accept that. It is beyond painful, as he was everything to me. I was the room mom for a few years, helped get little league and football in our community, so he could play, them managed teams. I was involved in helping with everything I could to better his life. When he closed the door, I was completely shut out, I drove all my friends away. Bow I am completely alone tKing care of my father that I resent because of many things including being the catalyst of my breakdown. Life is challenging, but this helps immensly. Thank you!

  115. I am so glad to have stumbled upon this information. My sister (2 years older) who was a cheerful active and kind person during most of our lives began exhibiting changes in her personality about 5 years ago. We are in our late sixties. She has no known health issues and lives a good life with her husband of 47 years. She is close to her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. The changes have progressed to anger, derogatory comments, constant verbal put-downs, criticism, call-blocking (on her end) as well as distancing herself from me physically (she lives where there is no public transportation) as I do not have a car and she will not see me. I never married, had no children and live alone. My sister is my last living relative. She wants nothing to do with me. Who is this person and where did my sister go? So very sad. I cry often. Miss her.

  116. At last a name/label for what I’m going through ‘abstract grief’ which has come about after my son left his wife & daughter. Last year. Initially he stayed with me for several weeks but when I discovered he had lied not only to me but to his wife & more importantly to his young daughter and put his mistress before his daughter I felt I had to ask him to leave if he could not be honest with me – the hardest decision I have ever had to take. I don’t regret it as I couldn’t live with another liar as both his father, my first husband, and my second husband both lied to me about finances etc.
    Since this time our relationship has been extremely strained with his mistress lying about a time when we met which resulted in my son accusing me of something I hadn’t done! It took months before I got an apology but in the meantime our relationship has hung by a thread.
    I see my daughter in law and granddaughter occasionally but feel on the outside despite the help I have given them. I am after all a continuous reminder of my son.
    Their divorce has gone through and both have moved on but somehow I’m still stuck with what feels like no family & yet they live within a 10 mile radius of me in different directions.
    I know I’m grieving for a lost family, the loss of my son to a woman I do not trust, so whilst ambiguous grief is generally about a change in possibly a health, mental or addiction problem I feel that what I’m going through is akin to that. I moved home to be near my little family, to assist with my granddaughter but now I feel cast aside! Cest la vie I guess but it’s hard & lonely when no one seems to understand my distress.

  117. 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 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

  118. 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.”

  119. 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

  120. 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.

  121. 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).

  122. 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.

  123. 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.

  124. 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?

  125. 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!

  126. 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…

  127. 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.

  128. 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.

    • 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.

      • I had the same experience tonight. I Googled how to grieve someone who’s still alive. I’m so grateful I came across this website. I’ve read various experiences and am grateful to do that because I know there’s a whole group of people out there who are suffering from this previously unnamed challenge. I too have a child whose father is extremely vindictive and manipulative. He has use them against me in the past too many times to count. He knows it’s the only way to get to me. He’s very psychologically abusive which is one of the reasons we’re divorced. About 4 years ago he manipulated our oldest daughter and basically had her think that all of the decisions that he and I had made together were mine and I don’t want to get carried away with all the details but suffice it to say he directed her away from me in a psychologically violent and vicious burst of bad Behavior that went on for about 6 months and hurt all of us badly. We’ve never been the same. Our youngest child withdrew and I lost her at that time. It kills me because we were very very close. Fast forward to today and now she wants to go live with her father. He’s dangerous and once he gets her at his Mercy, he’ll return to the same psychologically vicious person he’s always been. I can’t protect her and she has changed so much. This year has been a series of major challenges and changes and it just seems to keep going. Mainly, how do I process this so that I’m not stuck here for years to come?

        • I also googled “How to grieve someone who is still alive.” My daughter and son-in-law joined a cult 6 years ago and we have not seen them in over 5 years. It still hurts that I haven’t seen my 3 oldest grandchildren in 5 1/2 years and have three that I have never met. You don’t just “get over it”.

          • Hello Karen,
            I also have a child in a cult whose children I haven’t met. It’s been ten years. I looked for a support group for parents of children in cults and came up dry. At times I felt that it would have been easier if my child died. The world would have embraced me, acknowledged my grief, comforted & supported me. As it is, I feel the world judges & blames me. People have told me their own children were too smart to a cult; (my child was sucked in as Ivy League college student). Talk about ambiguous grief!

    • I was thinking the same thing.

  129. 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.

  130. What i don’t understood is actually how you are not actually a lot more well-preferred than you might be now. You’re so intelligent. You already know thus significantly relating to this matter, produced me personally believe it from so many numerous angles. Its like women and men are not fascinated until it¦s something to do with Woman gaga! Your own stuffs outstanding. Always deal with it up!

  131. 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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  133. 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:

    • 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. ?

  134. Thank you for making my wish true Prophet Osula Ogwa I was totally devastated when john left me. It was like all my world vanishing into sorrow and pain. But your kind words when I first emailed you gave me hope. I felt how sincere, honest and authentic you were from your first email. I know it sounds weird but out of all the casters I contacted, you were the only one to give me that impression of being so true and caring. More than your words, it’s the fantastic work you accomplished for me that I will keep in mind. You brought my husband back and you made all my wishes come true. He’s now loyal, pays attention to me, he offers me flowers every Sunday, and we often go out at the cinema or at the restaurant. I will be forever thankful for turning my life from hell to heaven!” norman from USA. You can contact Prophet Osula Ogwa for any help via email: [email protected]

  135. How do we grieve the loss of a friendship that has lasted 42 years? I have been treated with utter despicable behavior, and I cannot bear to continue with the friendship. This lady is toxic to my health, and I need to move on without her. She has insulted my husband and I where there is just no coming back from that. Any suggestions? I was looking for guidance on how to write a letter that finds closure for both of us.

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  137. 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.

  138. 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.

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

  140. 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:
      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

  141. 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.

  142. 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 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.

  143. 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.

  144. 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. ❤️?

  145. 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.

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

  147. 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.

  148. 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. 🙁

  149. 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…:

  150. 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.

  151. 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.

  152. 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?

  153. 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.

  154. 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….

  155. 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.

  156. 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. . .

  157. 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…

  158. 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.


      • This thread is so old now, but I felt I ought to weigh in at least here, because I have just recently learned that many of these so-called mental conditions can actually be caused by…. undiagnosed or WRONGLY diagnosed *medical* conditions such as low thyroid (hits more women than men), or when that progresses, by autoimmune diseases that can develop from it, such as Hashimoto’s, where the thyroid is being attacked by the body’s own antibodies. I encourage people to look into this and INSIST on getting their thyroid *antibodies* checked. If your doctor refuses (as most will), find a “functional medicine” doctor to check instead. There are stories where women have suddenly gone ‘crazy,’ been disowned because of their disruption within families, become homeless, etc., but have turned right around with the right and proper medical expertise and updated knowledge.

  159. 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!

  160. 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.

  161. 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..

  162. 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.

  163. 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.

  164. 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.

  165. 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,

    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

    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!

  166. 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.

  167. 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.

  168. 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.

  169. 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.

  170. 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.

  171. 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

  172. 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”.

  173. 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.

  174. 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.

  175. 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.

  176. “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.


      • 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.

  177. 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!

  178. 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!

  179. 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….

  180. 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.

  181. 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.

  182. 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!

  183. 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.

  184. 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?

  185. I think I’m going through this ambiguous grief… 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

  186. 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

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

  188. 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:

  189. 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.


    • 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. . .

  190. 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.

  191. 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!

  192. 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!!!

  193. 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.

  194. 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.

  195. 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.

  196. 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.

  197. 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.

  198. 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.

  199. 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.


  200. 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 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.

  201. 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!

  202. 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!)

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

  204. 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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