Anxiety in Grief

Think of something that scares you. Perhaps it’s the thought of giving a speech in front of a crowd, taking a test, asking your crush out on a date, or jumping out of an airplane. Even if you’re mostly fearless, everyone’s got something.

Now think about the thoughts and sensations you typically experience right before doing this thing that scares you; this is your fear and anxiety at work. Maybe your stomach starts doing cartwheels, your heart begins to race, or your breathing becomes rapid.  Perhaps your thoughts start running through all the worst potential outcomes and you think to yourself…

“There’s still time. I could still run from this situation.” 

I know you know what I’m talking about. Even the bravest people feel fear and anxiety, they just know how to navigate the experience more exquisitely than most.

Are you still with me? Okay good, now take a second and think backwards to a time when you experienced the thoughts and sensations of fear and anxiety in your grief. Maybe this isn’t one particularly traumatic moment, but a prolonged period of time when you experienced ongoing apprehension and worry, upon worry, upon worry.

Using a personal example, I remember feeling panic-like anxiety when my father told me of my mother’s terminal cancer diagnosis, and then the slow hum of persistent anxiety in the weeks and months afterwards as my family frantically searched for treatments and clinical trials. For one year I held my breath and prepared for the worst, knowing that my mother’s death was not a possibility but a probability.

People experience anxiety after the death of a loved one for a number of reasons and, you guessed it, we’d like to discuss a few of them here today.

After the death of a loved one, you may experience anxiety because…

…you are trying to avoid unpleasant thoughts, memories, and emotions.

I want to start by discussing avoidance because the act of avoidance is involved in perpetuating all of the scenarios to follow. When we talk about avoidance in grief we are usually referring to experiential avoidance. As we noted in a previous article about avoidance…

“Experiential avoidance is an attempt to block out, reduce or change unpleasant thoughts, emotions or bodily sensations.  These are internal experiences that are perceived to be painful or threatening and might include fears of losing control, being embarrassed, or physical harm and thoughts and feelings including shame, guilt, hopelessness, meaninglessness, separation, isolation, etc.  Now please note I say “perceive to be painful or threatening,” these judgements are often subjective and what is perceived as threatening to one may seem totally irrational to another.”

Although grief is always unpleasant and uncomfortable, for some there are aspects that actually seem threatening and these perceptions can lead to attempts to control or avoid frightening feelings and reactions. Although avoidance can be useful in certain scenarios, for many it can become a harmful cycle that persists to the detriment of personal healing.

Many mistakenly think that if they make efforts to avoid their feelings for long enough these unpleasant emotions will be kept at bay or fade away, when in actuality deliberate attempts to suppress certain thoughts often make them more likely to surface. Avoidance is a large factor in the development and maintenance of anxiety.

…it’s a learned response.

There may be elements of your loved one’s death that, in the moment, you perceived as traumatic and terrifying. (We’ve written on traumatic grief before, you can find that article here) One of the quickest routes to acquiring fear and anxiety towards an object or situation is through a direct, negative experience.

When something traumatic happens the thoughts, emotions and sensations experienced in that moment can become paired with objects and situations associated with the event. Psychologists call this phenomena, Classical Conditioning.

Here’s an example, a parent’s phone rings at 5am and the person on the other end tells them that their son unexpectedly died in a car accident the night before (I’m sorry if this example hits too close to home).  Before this moment a phone ringing in the morning might not have given the parent a second thought, but now every time the phone rings before 8am the parent feels a temporary surge of panic.

Many people can pinpoint at least one thing that, since their loss, makes them feel anxious in ways it never did before.

…you fear grief emotion

The relationship you have with your emotions is complicated and nuanced. People begin learning about emotion from a very early age through learning and observation. Beliefs about emotion can be impacted by many factors, but some common influences include…

  • Adult role models (what they told us and how they handled emotions themselves)
  • Cultural and societal messages and norms
  • Religion
  • Television, books, and movies
  • Personal experience

The death of a loved can evoke such new and distressing emotions that they test or change your existing relationship with emotion.

After a death mourners often feel as though they are going crazy.  If a person interprets their symptoms as dangerous, threatening, or indicative of a larger mental or physical problem, they are more likely to fear their reactions. Those who fear grief responses and grief related emotions (i.e. fear of emotion and anxiety themselves), will likely experience increased feelings of anxiety in a world where emotion is unpredictable and easily triggered.

Those who are fearful of their reactions may also engage in maladaptive and persistent avoidance of triggers or reminders of the death or of their loved one, which can prevent the mourner from learning to cope with their thoughts, emotions, and memories, and contribute to the development of ongoing anxiety.

…you aren’t confident in your ability to cope

A person may also experience anxiety if they have little confidence in their ability to cope with their emotions, either because they feel their coping skills aren’t sufficient enough or because they feel that they can’t control their emotions. As noted by Abramowitz, Deacon, and Whiteside (2012),

“Clinically anxious patients typically underestimate their capacity to control or cope with perceived threats, as well as their fear reaction to such threats.”

Although only some people will experience anxiety that would be considered “clinically anxious”, it’s normal to feel anxious about experiencing new emotions, grief triggers, and painful memories.

…you now know bad things can happen.

Prior to your loved one’s death you may have assumed that the world was a good and benevolent place where things happened for a reason. You may have also subconsciously believed that bad things wouldn’t happen to you.  When something bad did happen your assumptions about the world became shattered. Depending on your understanding of what happened to you and your loved one, you may now hold new beliefs or engage in modes of thinking that contribute to feelings of anxiety such as probability overestimation, cost overestimation, and intolerance of uncertainty.

Probability overestimation: You may overestimate the likelihood of bad things happening.  Perhaps you overestimate the likelihood of the event that led to your loved ones death occurring, like cancer, accidents, or violence.  Or perhaps your loved one’s death led to the belief that bad things can happen to anyone at any time and now you feel that disaster is likely to strike at any moment.

Cost overestimation: Cost overestimation occurs when someone believes that the consequences of something happening will be worse than they truly are.  For example, you may worry that if you encounter a grief trigger in public you will become emotional and lose control in front of everyone and that this will be a mortifying experience. Because you believe that the pain of experiencing this event is so excruciating, you may feel anxiety over the possibility of it happening and engage in avoidance to prevent it.  However, by never allowing yourself to experience the event, you are never able to learn that (1) the cost isn’t as high as you assumed and (2) you are capable of coping with the experience.

Intolerance of uncertainty: Some people have a very hard time dealing with even the remote possibility of something bad happening. Even if the odds of an event occurring are very low, the uncertainty of whether or not it will happen is enough to cause intense anxiety and distress.

Many of you have learned first hand that worst case, low probability, scenarios can happen, so it may be futile for anyone to tell you to take comfort in the likelihood that these things won’t happen. As someone who has experienced the unlikely, the task for you becomes learning to live in an unpredictable world that you can’t control.

…you don’t want to find yourself caught of guard.

There an interesting theory put forth by Michelle Newman and Sandra Llera (2011) to explain worry and avoidance in Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) called the Contrast-Avoidance Model. Newman and Llera (2011) theorize that people with GAD, “…use worry as a coping strategy because they prefer to feel chronically distressed in order to prepare for the worst outcome, rather than to experience a shift from a positive or euthymic state to a negative emotion.”

Newman and Llera (2011) point out, that worry preceding a negative event provides protection from experiencing a drastic increase in negative emotions when the event happens. This makes sense if you think about it because our society promotes worry all the time. We say things like, “brace yourself,” and “don’t let your guard down,” which translates to, “don’t let something bad happen when you least expect it.” 

…you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health disorders. Logically, many people who already struggle with anxiety will experience grief.  For others, the death of a loved one may lead to new and unfamiliar struggles with anxiety.

While it’s normal to experience a sense of fear and apprehension during times of hardship and high stress, if you feel that you are experiencing excessive worry and panic in the absence of an actual threat and for a prolonged period of time then you might want to speak to a mental health professional.  Your situation is unique and the best way to truly understand your anxiety related experiences is to speak to a trained mental health professional in a one-on-one capacity.  That said, here are some articles that you may find helpful.

Grief After Traumatic Loss

Grief and Psychological Disorder

The Role of the Acute Stress Response in Grief

Types of Therapy

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April 12, 2017

46 responses on "Anxiety in Grief"

  1. My father died a month back. he was a tall, healthy and handsome person. couple years back by chance we got to know he is suffering from CKD Chronicle Kidney Disease. it was a shock for us because he never had any medical problems in his life and he looks very healthy. Somehow we accepted and planned for kidney transplant my mother was a good match. we were planning in between he had 2minor heart attack. doctor treated heart attack with medicine.. 4-5 months passed his kidney transplant date was near and one day all of sudden he got brain stroke. we got lucky that we reached hospital on time. he recovered from this within a month. again he looks healthy. looking at him no one can say that he was so unwell. Kidney transplant delayed by 3 months. last year he had a successful kidney transplant. he was so well he gained his diet. he started being happy. everything was soo good. his nephrologist said he has stone in gallbladder so lets get it removed before it infect him. again one more operation.. again my father was healthy but he started complaining that he is feeling pain around stomach. we always took him to regular checkup. one day i was out of country and i got call from my mother that my father has one pimple that has become so big that doctor wants to operate asap. i was shocked how?? just a week back i was with him and he was all good. I thought no problem he always had things all of sudden let’s not overreact. after last operation he never able to stand. few days later operation he developed multiple infection. after so many test we gotta know he has cancer terminal stage. 8th nov we gotta know he has metastatic lung cancer and on 30th nov my father left us. My father had great faith in me.. in his last days i was with him all the time. whenever i go somewhere he use to call me and say don’t go anywhere just stand infront of me, be here only.
    i dont know how but during his last days i have developed claustrophobia. I am a very strong woman emotionally but i dont know why am i not able to cope.

  2. I’m a 17 year old girl. I lost my dad in November of 2018 to a three week battle with lung cancer. I was 16 years old. My dad was my best friend, we did everything together. We really had this special bond. Throughout my childhood I had massive anxiety and I feared losing him. Every time he’d come home even five minutes late he’d find me in tears. His death still doesn’t feel fair to me. He never smoked a day in his life, it was an extremely rare form of cancer that was misdiagnosed as pneumonia. I remember getting a text in math class from him, in his usual cheerful demeanor, that he wanted to talk when he got home. I started panicking, because I knew exactly what that meant. I’m still so mad at myself for the way I reacted when he told me. I just screamed how much of a nightmare we were in, and he told me to hug him and I didn’t want to. I was just in total panic mode. I regret it all the time. His actual death was immensely traumatic to me as well because the palliative care service was not really prepared, because he went so quickly. I just remember him gasping over and over. I really don’t want to go too much into it. Tonight I discovered this page because I’m feeling particularly anxious. I’m in a serious relationship right now with a person whom I love very much, and I can’t stop thinking about losing him or preparing for his death. I also get extremely frightened when I see other people pass out or have panic attacks. I get agitated when my mom talks about him because i’ve never been that emotionally close with my mother so I tend to avoid all talk of emotion with her, and I feel awful for doing that because I would love to be close with her emotionally but I just seem to push that away. I try to be as comforting as I can but I can never seem to actually talk to her about it. I’m not scared of my own death, and I’m not very afraid of my mothers because from a young age she’s taught me that she’ll be ready to go when she goes, and that I should absolutely not worry because she’s with God and she’s happy. So I’m really not worried about that, I’m scared of being left behind down here when everyone I love is in heaven. I have good days and bad days, today is particularly bad for me. Writing this was helpful in processing my emotions.

  3. I don’t even know where to start. Every now and again I struggle with this anxiety feeling, I am nauseous, my heart is racing therefore I cannot sit still or focus on anything. Sometimes I want climb out of my skin as it feel I am suffocating inside.
    If I get in my car to get away from walls – I am no sooner out the shopping malls or just driving around with no purpose I have to come back home. If feel as if someone have died and I cannot cope with it – Yet nobody died. How – why – what do I do.

  4. I don’t think I’ve seen an article that explained so well the thoughts after the death of a loved one . I was somewhat axnious and panicky person before, but still held an idealistic view of the world. Until I discovered on friends facebook wall that that our friend, to me my best friend had died. Hours later I discover he commited suicide. This was three years ago and the anxiety has struck hard and so has depression. View of the world is forever changed and I find it hard to adjust to a world without him, but I make do every do

  5. There are different reasons for anxiety during grieving; mainly, fearing what lies ahead post loved one. Perhaps bills are piling up.

  6. A year ago, August, I was flying home for one of my “usual” visits with my family. The day before I was to leave, my elderly Mom had a fall and broke her shoulder. I was expecting my visit would be centered around cooking and caring for her and was prepared to extend my stay a little longer if needed. I spent the first day there at the hospital with Mom as she was in too much pain for them to consider sending her home. She was complaining of terrible stomach pain and wouldn’t eat and so I advocated for some tests which were to be done the next day. I kissed her goodnight, left her sleeping more comfortably and two hours later we got the call to say that her heart had stopped. She was almost 90 years old. And while it would never have felt “long enough” this was an uncomplicated grief. I had my Mom for much longer than most. She was in her right mind until the very end. We expect our parents to die before us. This was not a complicated grief. But I got on the plane to fly home with no idea that I would be burying my mother before I came home. And now, about a week or two before I’m scheduled to fly home to visit my family I start to experience shortness of breath, a sick stomach and a feeling of dread and anxiety. At times it is almost paralyzing. And I am always knocked sideways by it because I think, overall, I have managed the loss of my mom very well. I think that it must be a learned response. But how does one unlearn it?

  7. My dad died in 2001 after a long struggle with cancer. A year or so after his death, I started having anxiety about my own health. I had an overwhelming feeling that I was going to die. It was such a strong feeling that I would look at myself in the mirror every morning and say “good-bye” because I was certain I would not live through the day. Unfortunately, during that time, I was diagnosed with cancer. Luckily, my cancer was treatable. Fast forward to now. My mom died in March from cancer. In the last few weeks, my health anxiety has been creeeping back in and now I have odd tingling and pain in my underarm. I am convinced that I again have cancer. I want to talk myself out of this belief but my anxiety brain reminds me that the last time I felt high anxiety like this, I really did turn out to have cancer.

  8. One of my nephews whom I helped raise died suddenly and unexpectedly last year form an enlarged heart. He never knew about it and neither did we. He was a grown man but like one of my children. Ever since his passing, I have extreme anxiety that I am going to die like that. Plus, my mom passed unexpectedly two years before that. They both died alone. I can’t sleep anymore. I already have anxiety and depression but I feel like I am drowning.

  9. Hey I think this was somthing i need to look into, I lost my wife almost 18 yrs ago in a wreck and was deeply traumatized by what i saw just after the accident when i was rushed to a local ER,, I somehow found the door open into the area where they were working to save her. I wont go into detail but to say i was thrown into a state of panic that still haunts me 17 years later,, I was home and this was supposed to be a simple store hop to get items for a simple grillout with some friends who came by,, ironic how i cant remember so many things but every minute of that evening is clear as day. she insisted that i stay with our guest while she went to get bread i believe it was,, 1hr later her mother comes to tell me of the accident,, The first thing i was told was she hit a sign,, that turned out to be a billboard steel post structure at roughly 80 or 90,,,,, the amount of damage to our 4 wheel drive hunting truck was unbelievable,,,and it changed me so drastically that it took many years to start over,, i perfected the homeless veteran image of that one you would cross the street to ::not smell 🙁 My present issue is every time a loved one leaves or doesnt come home as expected i experience worst case scenario fears, ie a complex or PTSD im not sure but it causes family members to think one just is controlling . even after all this time i havent overcome that worst fear (to me) It isnt something i plan but my family dont quite understand and find it agravating if i ask them to call or text if they get held up its ridiculous how this has effected my life and very hard to explain to anyone who hasent been through such a event.

  10. Hello to everyone who is struggling with loss of a loved one. I posted in November, 2018 about my own struggle with loss. Five months on from that post, I have made progress, and have actually started to find joy in life again. I was so very fortunate to find a wonderful counselor who I truly believe is an earth angel….I do yoga, meditation and I go to Church as often as I can. I am still on a high dose of anti depressants, but live with this as the combination of everything has helped me to find a path to follow. I doubt I will ever be the person I was…but I am in a better place, and would urge everyone out there struggling to reach out….I am mentoring a lovely young woman from my Church who was a junior doctor working in the NHS until the day she suffered a massive bleed in her brain on her way to work…life turns on a sixpence. She is literally a walking miracle, and being with her and helping her each week to take another step in life has been such a wonderful thing for me…even on days when I am wobbling with emotion and just want to sit and sob for my lost loved ones, being there for her has been my salvation. So please everyone out there, please hang in and reach out for help. There are groups that meet to talk about loss, I am fortunate that I could pay for my counseling, I know a lot of people can’t, but please take the first step, yoga and meditation are very beneficial to those struggling with grief, above all, share your fears with someone….you will be surprised how much this helps…God bless to all x

  11. I lost my 21year old son on Oct 25 2014, he was our only child. The world tilted one way that day and I tilted another and I will not be right side up again I don’t think. Now I am in the middle of divorcing his father. My world was all about Ty and Chris, they are gone now.. Chris will be soon and Oct 25th I have experienced a daily nightmare. I saw my child laying on the pavement with a sheet covering him. I saw the fire fighters spray his blood off the pavement. I saw his brains splattered all over the back windshield of his car. I feel very bad for those that have lost so many in such a short amount of time and for those that lost their mom but nothing and I mean nothing can compare to losing your child. I talked to Ty literally 30 min before the accident and it was a bright beautiful day until I got that call.. then the day turned black and hasn’t changed since then. I feel like im coming out of my skin half the time. I have severe anxiety, depression, hopelessness beyond what a human can take in. I feel like he was a dream I had, I don’t recognize myself or my life anymore. I live in a fog that never lifts. I take Xanax for panic attacks, Zoloft for depression and blood pressure medicine and nothing touches what I experience every single minute of every day. I don’t remember my old life, I cant wrap my mind around this enormous loss. I know that I will never truly live again until I die. I am terrified of life, I very rarely like once or twice a week leave the house and when my husband is gone I don’t know how I will even survive it. He is my safe place but at the same time this tragedy has taken its toll on us. The scripture, Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick, is real. My heart is sick to the point my internal organs ache.

    • I am in tears reading this I am so sorry for your loss I am sure he is in a better place than this awful world x I am convinced life is an endurance test and the best people are taken early to avoid their pain x I am sure your wonderful son is looking down and praying for you x you will meet again x

  12. Wow 😮 I read a lot of the comments …& everything that everyone is saying about panic attacks ,anxiety & depression are all true ..YOU ARE NOT GOING CRAZY …..our bodies are all different each one plays a different roll but basically it’s all comes down to the same thing , death , fear of losing again , not wanting to be in a crowd ,embarrassment of having a panic attack when your afraid to go out …and more there’s a lot to mention …bottom line WE ARE NOT ALONE ….there are millions & millions of people around us,the guy next door ,the cashier at the grocery store …just to name a few that are going through exactly what we are but of course we don’t know that because we don’t know them….I will brief you know alittle bit about me …I am 56 years old …I had only one nephew the love ❤️ of my life …we were 3 sister & no brothers …so when he came into this world you coukd only imagine the joy that day we had …until about 7 years ago our world got shattered he was diagnosed with 2 bad kidneys I though my life was over right then & there …but ok the dialysis started which was hell for him …I’m sure some of you could relate …but after 7 years the disease took over his body which he could not fight any more …he passed away….( I say he got his golden wings ) because it’s hard for me to say any other word but that …I haven’t been the same since he got his golden wings …but keep this in mind I’ve had depression & anxiety since I was in my teens & I am 56 …I have been we’re most of you all are today …hospitals ,Drs, physiologist , Nero specialists & the list goes on & on …but I haven’t had panic attacks since my nephew & trust me there’s a difference some people would beg to differ …but in my opinion there is …explanation …anxiety you feel it coming on but there’s time to take a pill and get relaxed ASAP but a panic attack is exactly what it is a panic attack it comes on so fast ,strong, & hard & out of the blue there is no time to take a pill you just have to be lucky enough that it just may kick in as fast as it can ….I find myself alone a lot not wanting to get up out of bed ,or sometimes just the opposite having ocd ….like I said we are all different BUT in reality we are the same …just different people with the same problem ….and sleep 💤 what’s sleep I know ,I know …your gonna feel & say the same thing when I go to put my head on the pillow at night my mind ( our minds )are going a mile a minute …again we are all the same ….please before I end this conversation I want to repeat myself one more time WE ARE NOT ALONE ….we are in this together …oh & one more thing yes we are going to find people that don’t understand what we are going through & look at us like we’re crazy 😜 ….but they must thank GOD that they are BLESSED that they don’t have to put up a daily struggle like we do ….idk how but we will get through this some how …if anyone needs to talk here is my fb name sorry no photo my name is Denise Smith just leave me a message & I promise I will get back to you ….may God Bless all of us …..🙏❤️💕💔

  13. Thank you for a very insightful article, I see I’m not alone either. I believe any traumatic experience, death, illness etc. Has a tendency to burst the “happily ever after” bubble. Life seems to become more menacing.

  14. I lost my mum in 2011, I am still getting over it or trying to, a short illness with cancer, my husband gets me through bad days. For how long I don’t know, you see, he’s just been diagnosed with dementia…he’s 60 this year but doesnt look it..he is the love of my life….32 years we have had, 3 good kids and 1 lovely grandaughter. I feel like I’m grieving for him now? The life he’s being robbed of, his excellent brain not functioning, it seems such a cruel way for him to go…that hurts the most because he knows what’s coming. To see the pain of loss in his eyes is heart breaking…..

  15. Hi lost my mom August 22.2018
    Been have anxiety 4 months now, first i was loosing hair then feeling fear of being alone, its really sucks sometimes its really hard to breath like having a heart attack, been to a doctor 2x diagnosis is just the same, i have all laboratory done come out negative., doctor prescribe me inderal take as needed only, until now i am still feeling the shortness of breath, but its a little bit better than before… i manage to not to feel like scared or fear, but sometime i notice i get so stress listening or hearing a thumping sound, or vacuums
    I know its weird but really i dont want to hear it scared me for what ever reason… anyway I hope and pray we all get over it..

    • Hi Ann .. I never had anxiety before and Ive recently been dealing with it too. It is so weird ! I had freakouts on the train whenever it went underground.. so trust me your vacuum issue isnt weird. We cant control what triggers us I guess. I was struggling with that for a few months – the first few weeks were terrible so I understand your struggle! I would suggest to continue to push through it… sometimes we have to feel the fear but do it anyway. Separate our mind from our thoughts. Im here if you need to talk xoxo.

  16. I lost my mom August 21, 2018, 3 days after her 75th birthday. In 2003, I was still in college when she got into a car accident and sustained minor injuries. I dropped out of school and moved back home to “take care” of her because I couldn’t stand the thought that she had nobody to tend to her when she got into the accident and what if something like that happened again?! My father had passed away in 1997 and I have other siblings, mind you, but they all have their own families and I was the only one who was still single and had no “responsibilities”. Since then, I have been with my mother at our family home, ran errands for her, cooked for her, took care of her, and learned from her…my routine revolved around her. Siblings came and went, but I stayed, partly because everyone else had settled with their own homes and families; and also, the older she got, the more particular my mom became with her choice of a “caretaker” (me). She had a heart failure the day after her birthday and held on for a couple more days, saying her goodbyes to her children, siblings, and loved ones. She didn’t say “goodbye” to me, which I think is fine with me. She knew I loved her and I know she loved me. The last time she spoke to me, she was giving me instructions on what she wanted to wear for burial (the last dress my father bought her) and instructions on her most prized possessions (some to her siblings and I was to “hold on” to the rest on behalf of my siblings). Oh gosh, I rarely cry and I’m keeping myself from tearing up now because I am at work. I learned later that with every sibling of mine, cousin, close friend, even my fiance…she asked them to look out for me and thanked my fiance for taking care of me. My siblings asked my fiance and I to stay at our family home and not move out, at least for the next year because it is where she and I lived and they did not want it abandoned.

    I came to this site because I now find myself avoiding large groups of people, especially if there are strangers or my mother’s relatives. I get goosebumps when I see or even think about an event I need to go to and I think of the crowd and my stomach turns. I sometimes stop in the middle of an aisle in the grocery store because I’ll get a wave of slight dizziness and my stomach feels like I’m going up and down an elevator (is that anxiety?). I have become obsessed with organization and our kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom are the most organized/clean as they’ve ever been. My mom’s room is untouched, her bed, and all the areas where she would hang out, I’ve left as is (it’s a cultural thing) though I do launder her beddings and do the usual cleaning. My office space is clean, my desk drawers organized and I’ve spent a lot of money just buying organizational items. Keep in mind that I was never a neat freak nor was I a slob…I routinely cleaned before but it’s on another level now. And I smile, go to work, the stores, and when people I know ask how I am, I say, “I’m okay, yes, I miss her and I’m fine…I’m fortunate to have spent a lot of time with her. My siblings might need more comfort, though, especially the ones who lived too far to see my mom on a regular basis. Please worry about those two. I’m okay.” but then there are times when I get angry and bitter at my siblings when they say they are very sad and I wish I could just scream at them and say, “You do not have to walk past her bedroom, her things, her favorite chair, her picture on the home altar every day!! Your whole routine did not change!! Yes, you’re sad but so am I!”. What is wrong with me? Why am I such a bad person now, to think that and to be so selfish to even “compare” our grief? It’s an endless internal battle with me.

    I’m so sorry for the “essay”. It’s like I couldn’t stop once I started typing. I don’t expect anyone to read this far. I guess I just needed to put this down somewhere.

    • Hi, I take care of my mom for almost 2months running around different hospitals , trying to get her a great medical attention, money wasnt a problem at all as long she alive,but then the last hospital (4rth) told us to bring her back home and give her what she wants,(time clicking) doctors really wasn’t frank about she only have few days left, she died 3 days right after we came out the hospital, mind you i have 7 siblings, all really wasnt thr for me, i was a loner , my dad was thr for me but he wasnt any help i have to take care of him to for the whole 2months basically i take care both of them… to my story short 2 weeks after my moms burial i start of having fear scared of being alone,… then been feeling like having a heart attack , went to emergency done all the test came all negative, but still i was having difficulty on breathing, emergency doctor dont wanna give me any medicine because all the test are negative ( basically they thinking i am going crazy) no one understand me, they told me to go back home, then after i tired to calm my self having a hard time breathing, i went back to hospital find a doctor who can give me med. To calm down. Finally someone understand me and explain what i am going thru, he check my hair, he notice i was loosing hair, he said i am suffering from anxiety, so he prescribe med. It works but its really sucks its still their i am not getting better,, doctor told me to exercise i did that, but non of it works still dealing with until now… it really hard still have that feeling of diffulty of breathing but not like before it was hard almost like painting,… anyway i suggest to get a professional help,
      I have a docs appointment again, it help a little but better than never.

  17. I’ve taken care of my stepmom for the last 9 years she had a stroke and became paralyzed in 09 my dad couldn’t take care of her so she moved in with me and my 2 girls in 2013 my fiance and father of my oldest daughter wrecked a car bf behind me and passed suddenly it was so hard we had been together since 4th grade almost 26 years exactly 30 days to the day later my nanny passed from diabetes complications it really hurt she was my best friend my stepmom got me through this I now have 3 amazing girls 3 months ago I went into my stepmom room to bring her breakfast and wake her and she passed away in her sleep its killing me I feel so guilty for not being there it was sudden maybe I did something wrong or could have prevented her death she was so amazing I tried CPR I moved her to a blanket on the floor and kept trying spray it didn’t work the ambulance tried for 45 minutes we couldn’t save her my heart is broken they left her there until 9pm it was 9am when we found her and when I went to her room to cover her and cut the air up until the funeral home got there she did not look the same its was so scary I can’t get these images of finding her lifeless or finding her looking that way out my head I get this sharp pain in my chest and I feel like I can’t breathe so I go to my happy yet not so happy place in my head and block it out I’ve blocked for 3 months now I’m so angry and bitter I don’t know who I am anymore I don’t want to live but have to for my girls I’m crazy depressed I cry all day I hide the tears and pain for my girls please someone help I’m going crazy [email protected] is my email thanks for reading

  18. I have recently lost my Mom from Frontal Temporal Dementia (FTD) she was 60 years old. This didnt happen suddenly it showed its ugly head in August of 2013 and she recently passed Oct 9 2018. I am active military and her only child with a wife and a 8 year old boy. No one back home would help take care of her so I moved in with us out of state so at least she would be near folks who love her. After almost two years we had to put her in a home which was better for her but added extreme financial hardship for my family and I. The next following two years I tried to come home and see her as much as I could. In the end it nearly or may still cost me my marriage. After she passed I have had extreme anxiety and a deep pain in my chest that nearly never goes away and I try to help it exercise ( hardly have the energy) talking to people and even beer only works temporarily. It was a long drawn out excruciating preocess. To add to that I have extreme guilt and regret because I couldnt see her more.

  19. My Mom passed away suddenly 7 months ago and I miss her dearly. We spoke all day every day. I am battling with my sudden loss. I keep myself busy with my 2 daughters whom my Mom loved dearly. She was able to meet her second grandbaby and bond with her weeks before she passed and I am ever grateful to Lord for this. It was a very short visit but my mom bonded with her grandbaby and that day was her best day of her year!! The extreme sudden lost (within 14 hrs) shook me so that I am battling with anxiety daily now. I thought I could deal with it myself and over these past 7 months I thought I was on the right track but I know now I am not. I am anxious everyday waiting for something bad to happen. Trying to control every situation I possibly can. Monitoring everyone’s coming and goings and mostly hubbies. Why aren’t you home yet and don’t drink too much and just waiting for something bad to happen. I need to deal with this now as I just want to feel my normal self again, like I was before Mom passed! Feeling anxious all the time is getting on my nerves and I’m tired of feeling this way when I have no reason to! Anyone else out there with some issues? How do you deal with feeling anxious all the time? Wish my family stayed closer!

    • I really sympathise with you, I lost my mum very suddenly in January, she was my best friend and we spoke to each other everyday.
      Every day is a constant battle with anxiety and panic attacks.
      Then 3 months ago I also lost my father, the pain is unbearable. I feel every waking hour I live in fear of a panic attack.

  20. I lost my mother very unexpectedly on 14 November 2018. I hide my tears and feelings in front of my sisters and family but I’m really struggling. She was only 63 years old and I’m 32. I don’t have children yet but I’m very happily married. I feel like I lost half of my heart and struggle to do simple daily tasks. I struggle with severe anxiety and panic attacks.

    • Reading your comment brought me to tears. Know you are not alone. I lost my mother very unexpectedly on Nov. 16. She was just 62 and me 33. How you describe half of your heart missing, it is exactly that feeling. But, not that the half simply disappeared. It feels like the half was ripped out. Confide in your family. Chances are, they are feeling grief in their own ways as well.

  21. I lost my Dad on 20/12/2018 to cardiac arrest 8 days to my wedding.. Today I almost drugged myself to death but was stopped..
    I’m afraid of losing anyone.. My husband means the world to me.. Each time he’s away I’m terrified, anxious and scared..

    I feel I’m losing my mind..

    • I so now how you are feeling. I lost my dad to sudden cardiac 3 months ago and my wedding is in Feb. I only came across this page because I couldn’t get hold of my fiancé and needed to google to see if I felt normal. Like you I also think the worst, just had a breakdown at work all because he didn’t answer my phone call or call back from 2 hours ago. I really hope you are getting better, Ive heard that one day the memories of our lost loved ones make us feel happy and smile instead of sad and alone like they do now.

    • Oh god I know what you’re going through I have severe anxiety and fear of losing my husband or daughter I am ruining any pleasure in the here and now and am worried I am manifesting my fears onto my daughter xxx hope you feel better soon much love 💖 I

  22. I lost my mom to ovarian cancer when I was 23. It’s been almost 10 years and I still have trouble dealing with it, most especially in the winter months and around the holidays. Most of my issues with anxiety and depression are the fear of becoming terminally ill or someone close to me becoming terminally ill. The fear is so palpable at times that I convince myself with certainty that I have something. Even though I love my family dearly, sometimes I find it hard to be around them because I am afraid of losing them as well. It is possible that my seasonal fear stems from my mom being diagnosed just before Christmas and dying just a couple months later. I’ve haven’t been able to navigate the the holiday in a way that is healthy ever since and I usually feel much better when the season is over. My heart goes out to anyone with similar experiences and feelings. God bless you guys.

    • James, I can see this was last year, but as we are approaching the holidays again I just wanted to see how you are holding up? I lost my mum a few weeks ago suddenly and it is hell.

  23. I lost my mum about 2 years ago to sudden adulatory cardiac arrest which means she had a sudden heart attack at work, when I was 13 and ever since then I just feel like I always the worst is going to happen I have often minor panic attacks about my sister and dad dying and I don’t know what I can do to help it.

  24. My heart goes out to all of you….lost a much loved brother in 2015, and my much loved younger brother in 2018 with a heart attack…since 2014 I have been losing my sister to dementia….the sudden death of my youngest brother has literally broken me…I spend each day in a state of panic and anxiety about losing my husband….life, at present is hell, I pray to find some help for this somewhere, and hope you all do too xxxx

    • Hi Gillian, I am sorry youre in pain. I have lost everyone the last couple years and it was so hard on me I decided to retire and go to England for several months to get away from the pain. 4 days after I left my closest friend in the world, and my main support system died suddenly. Its been a year and I am in so much pain. Only had a few friends left and they dont understand. So I am alone. Intellectually I tell myself that someday I will feel ok again. But that is honestly hard to imagine. Antidepressants for my sadness and anxiety have helped a lot. As has my friends cat who I now have custody of. It is a small part of him. I never knew my life could change so much. I am with you and hope you can find small things to make your days easier. Diana x

  25. I lost my Grandmother just a few months ago.. She was 98. Even though I saw it coming, I couldn’t brace myself in time. Then, one year ago this February, my best friend died suddenly and tragically in an accident. Last summer just a couple of months after he died, my uncle died of a drug overdose. The re-occurring deaths frighten me so and now I find it difficult to go into public without being plagued with sadness. I’m scared if I go back to work I’ll start crying out of nowhere! It’s haunting me and now I’m so worried something else might happen. The fear is beginning to take control of my body and I feel energy coursing through my veins. I don’t know what to make of it. I’m constantly praying and trying to have hope.

    – Becca

  26. I lost two sister in law in 8 months then I am suffering from severe grief stress and anxiety for last 2 months what i do?

  27. I have suffered from anxiety all my life since age 8. I have lost my best friend in 2016 and her husband died within 24 hours of her. Then in 2017 I lost two more dear friends. Now I have lost my beloved husband too and I am grieving everyone and terrified that it will shortly be me. By shortly I mean any second now. My husband died of a stroke and I learned life turns on a dime.

  28. I lost my aunt in June of 17…my friend a year ago last week…my only sister in Jan. of 2018…my sisters father in law the day before her funeral…my brother in law 2 months to the day of my sister, my father this Sept. AND my cousin this week. I think I’m ok…then I’m not.

  29. I losst my father at 14 then 10 moths later my brother 1 year elder to me and recently some 48 days ago I lost my mom. I am 18 now and only have my dister. But I geyt bad thoughts like something will happen to me then I divert myselg but the next bad thought which immediatly strikes me is that something worst happening with my sister. It never happened with me before.
    Some examples of my bad thoughts are:-
    1. If I travel through bus or train I get thoughts of accident happening.
    2. Some untreatable disease happening.

  30. I lost my dad 22 years ago very suddenly and unexpectedly when I was 28 since then I have become very anxious .
    My mum is 78 and has heart problems ,every time she has a hospital appointment I fear the worst . My mum is a very needy person and wether she does it purposely or not plays on my emotions .
    I resent her for this as she knows how anxious I am .
    Her answer to this is ..if I can’t talk to my own daughter how I feel who can I talk to ,which makes me feel bad
    Her conversations are manly about when she has gone …meaning when she’s died .

    • I’m 28 and just lost my dad unexpectedly. I know how you feel about the communication thing with your mum. But you don’t need to tell her everything. My dad and I were very similar and my mum and brother are similar so I know that neither of them are going to see my point of view or how I approach things. they are really good at practical things and getting things done which is when I need them most, but emotional spiritual things I save for those who get me in that way. You just need to pick out the things your mother can relate to you on and talk about those.

  31. It might be useful to add a section on social anxiety. As a 20-something who recently lost her mum, I find myself in the strange position of not wanting to be alone and seeking out company for support and distraction, while at the same time feeling a lot of anxiety when it comes to handling social encounters. I was and probably still am a fairly outgoing person, but nowadays it’s hard for me to draw much pleasure from encounters which are surface level (i.e. acquantainces, recent friends) because I can’t talk about what happened with my mum, and if I am honest about how I feel I think my general state of cinicism and mysery will not make me an attractive-fun person that people will want to spend more time with. This sort of vicious circle means I generally spend lots of time stressing out before going out and cancelling most of the time
    I have close friends luckily, and they’ll always be there…but it does feel like I’ve lost the whole ability of light social interaction.

  32. The phone ringing befor 8:00am… vacations in Colorado (my former favorite place), my mothers house…all triggers. Thank you for another great, eye-opening/ I am not alone, article!

  33. Iam one with a large amount of anxiety. And brought on by the deaths of family member, its a struggle each day and i myself am not the same person. Ive change my hidden life style and i dont cry any more i cant, there are no tears, iam full of anger and God and i are not on speaking terms.

  34. Thank you! I lost my mom 10 months ago and it still hurts like hell. I didn’t feel this much pain when I lost my dad 43 yrs ago. It’s like my heart is missing! There are days all I do is cry, I miss her so much. I am thankful to my husband who is my rock and my fur babies. The coming holidays will be very lonely .

  35. Enjoyed the article

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