Cumulative grief aka grief overload aka “holy crap I can’t handle all this loss!!!”

The other day we posted on the blog about different types of grief and we got a great comment pointing out a grief type we hadn’t mentioned, cumulative grief. The commenter said “I read something a little while ago on cumulative grief, where people have experienced loss after loss. Do you have any info on that?” I started typing a response to the comment and it quickly went well beyond the length for an appropriate comment reply. Brevity is not always my strong suit.

There are several expressions in English that reflect the idea that when one tragic thing happens other tragic things sometimes follow:“When it rains it pours” (or in British English, “it never rains but it pours”) and some people believe “bad things come in threes”. I started wondering if this idea (and corresponding idioms) existed in other languages. Luckily a quick “phone a friend” to Google provided some quick answers. Turns out those in the English-speaking world are not alone.

In Hebrew, the phrase is “Bad things come in packages”.
In Swedish, German, Spanish, French and a bunch of others, “misfortune seldom comes alone”.
In Latin, “troubles are followed by troubles” and “the abyss attracts the abyss”.
In Polish, “misfortunes walk in pairs”.
In Japanese, “when crying, stung by a bee”.
In Chinese, “good fortune never comes in two; bad luck never comes alone”.
In Russian, “when troubles come, leave the gate open”.

Kind of a downer to see all these expressions for such a painful phenomenon, but I guess on the bright side it shows we are not the first to be overwhelmed by multiple losses (I know I know, a tough sell to find the bright side there, but I figured I’d give it a try). when it rains it pours

As wonderful as it would be to pretend that every time we suffer a loss we have time to process that loss and integrate it into our lives before we suffer another loss, these idioms found in languages around the world point to the sad fact that it is simply not the case. It is all too common that a death is followed by another death. Pain is piled on pain; fear on fear; the abyss on the abyss. This experience of suffering a second loss before one has grieved the initial loss is sometimes known as “cumulative grief”, “bereavement overload” or “grief overload”.

I can hear your question already: when another loss arises, how can you possibly know if you have “grieved the initial loss”? This is a tough question because grief is so individual for all of us. There is no checklist or timeline that works for everyone, as we have said time and time again. But one thing that is common to the many different grief theories out there and to the personal experiences of so many grievers is that grief requires time. Be it stages, tasks, or processes, we need time to attend to each loss. If we don’t have the time we need before another loss occurs we end up overwhelmed by these multiple losses and unable to give them the attention they need.

When we become overwhelmed by anything our mind kicks into an incredibly powerful defense mechanism, which is avoidance. There can be an inclination toward avoidance when experiencing just one loss, so it is not surprising that this inclination grows when losses are compiled on one another. Though avoidance, denial, and shock may seem like a really bad thing (and it can be if it is never resolved), it can be our body’s way of keeping us functioning in the short term. When we are overloaded with multiple losses, this avoidance allows us to maintain our day to day activities. What becomes important when losses have become cumulative is an awareness that we may need to make a concerted effort to begin the work of facing the reality of the loss, as this avoidance can’t continue indefinitely.

Unfortunately, there is no magic answer for how to cope with cumulative grief. If you have suffered multiple losses, either all at once or before integrating the previous loss, some important things to remember are:

1) Be aware of the risk of cumulative loss/grief overload. Knowing is half the battle! Just being aware that multiple losses in a short period poses unique challenges and can put you at risk for a grief process that is especially complicated is important. Cumulative losses do put us at higher risk for prolonged grief. If you are worried your grief is no longer ‘normal’ check out our post on normal vs not-so-normal grief. And don’t panic – even if your grief is more complex, there is help out there!

2) Be sensitive to other friends or family members who have suffered multiple losses and are at risk for cumulative grief. When we lose someone we become absorbed in our own way of grieving. We can find it difficult to deal with people who are grieving differently. Being sensitive to the differences between all grievers is important. This sensitivity can be especially important when someone faces the unique challenges of cumulative grief.

3) Be aware of the increased possibility of avoidance or denial in instances of cumulative grief. To make it through, one day at a time, you may find yourself more prone to avoidance than you have ever been in the past. This can also increase your risk of alcohol or drug use, as these substances can be tempting to numb pain. Maintain an awareness that you must ultimately grieve both (all) of the losses. Professional support may be a good idea if attending to the grief of these losses is feeling impossible.

4) Keep in mind that time is not the only factor in cumulative grief. Though it may be tempting to assume that bereavement overload only occurs when deaths occur in immediate succession, this is not the case. A loss that was never fully attended to years before can be brought back up by a new loss and can be overwhelming.

5) Substance abuse can increase the risk for cumulative grief. When abusing drugs or alcohol, people are prone to avoid grieving. Using drugs or alcohol to numb grief can result in never fully grieving losses. This means that when a person stops using drugs or alcohol they may face multiple losses that they failed to grieve over the course of years or even decades. Once someone stops using drugs or alcohol they may find themselves facing multiple losses from the past that they avoided with substances, and hence experiencing grief overload.

6) Age can increase the risk for cumulative grief. As individuals progress into their 70s, 80s, and 90s they may find themselves experiencing the deaths of friends and family members more regularly than earlier in life. This can put them at a higher risk for cumulative grief. This is without even considering the other losses they are prone to, like loss of home, independence, and identity, as well as the fact that their grief may be minimized by society if those they lose are elderly (read about disenfranchised grief here). Due to a stigma around seeking professional support, some people in this age group may still have a strong aversion to seeking counseling. A little therapy never hurt anyone, but if therapy doesn’t seem like the right fit, seeking other types of grief expression and exploration is important for people in this age group.

7) Grief is as unique as each person we lose, so we cannot rush grieving multiple losses. Though it can be tempting to think that grief is grief, and we can lump our grief work together if we have multiple losses in a short period, the reality is that we must grieve ever loss individually. Grief is not generic to any loss but is specific to each person we lose, our relationship with that person, and the circumstances of that loss. Attention must be spent on each loss in order to integrate them into our lives.’

8) Cumulative grief can put a greater strain on our faith. One devastating loss can be difficult enough and can cause us to question our faith in a higher power. When someone suffers multiple losses, this feeling can increase. People can begin to feel they are being punished (remember Job?), have a harder time resolving a benevolent God with all the pain they have seen and felt, or struggle with repeatedly experiencing ‘bad things happening to good people’. This is certainly not true in every case of grief overload. Many will continue to find strength in their faith (again, remember Job?), but it is important to know it is normal if your faith shakes as a result of grief overload.

9) It is important for hospital, hospice, and other healthcare professionals to be aware of cumulative grief. Like compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma, the experience of building relationships (even professional relationships with appropriate boundaries) with patients and repeatedly experiencing the death of those patients can take a toll on healthcare providers. Though the grief of professionals may take a different form than friends and family, it is important for professionals to grieve these losses to avoid developing an unhealthy avoidance or detachment. Check out some info on self-care that isn’t totally unrealistic.

If you have had multiple losses, pretty pretty please consider some professional support. Just give it a try. You may be surprised by how much it helps. When you are already emotionally and physically exhausted from the pain of one loss, it can only help to seek support when more losses pile on. If that truly doesn’t feel right for you, consider other ways to attend to each of your losses. Learn about grief. Find a friend or family member to talk to. Write or journal. Find a creative outlet, like art or photography. Join a support group. Just make it something that works for you and that will allow you the opportunity to deal with each of these losses. And remember, even if the abyss attracts the abyss, tomorrow is a new day and hope springs eternal.

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November 2, 2017

97 responses on "Cumulative grief aka grief overload aka "holy crap I can't handle all this loss!!!""

  1. I did not experience back to back loss yet it feels like it. Back in Jan 2010 my mom died and I truly felt lost. My next younger brother had her ashes so I had never seen them. Sept 27 2018 my brother died and I felt like part of me died with him. The toughest part is I got handed mom’s ashes since I am the oldest. It was like hurting over her loss all over again as well as losing him. Just not sure how to feel,so I have been shutting it all in. I don’t manage grief well and it seems I have lost all the joy in my life.

  2. I’ve lost loved ones in my life. I lost my husband in Nov if 2012. In 2015 I met someone, we fell in love and got engaged. He died in my arms Sept 15, 2028. I thought I was completely devastated, but I was wrong. On October 22nd, 2018, just 37 days later my son died. I am not dealing with my grief, as it’s too much. I constantly have the tv on and my smart phone in my hand reading or looking at something. Constantly keeping my mind busy so I don’t have a chance to think. Because I can’t. It’s too much. I just realized yesterday that I didn’t get a chance to grieve Andrew..and now I can’t .. I need to morn my son..but I feel that I will die. I have belongings to go through. Things to donate and give away. Shoes, clothes, coats..i sleep on the sofa and avoid the bedroom. I want to scream when someone says they are praying for me. Their God took both of them from me..why would you ask him to help me when he caused all of this? That’s just stupid. I no longer believe in a God. As for heaven and he’ll? I’ve experienced them both. Heaven when I fell in love with Andrew and he with me..hell when he died. Heaven when I had my son..hell when he died. Grief interrupted by Grief..i do not see how this is manageable.

    • Wow, yeah I hear you. Back to back
      why do we have to deal with grieving which you’re almost wish that we couldn’t feel like maybe aliens don’t have feelings you know what I’m saying it’s very very hard we’ve been programmed and deprogrammed and society has put a lot honestly oh yeah do you prayers and believe in God and believe in this one in believing that one day over there watching over they’ll take care of you well when you have situations like you have back-to-back situation how is that helping so as far as you losing my faith in that kind of situation yeah I definitely have. My bayleaf now is don’t let society or anything else to dictate to you have your own belief my belief is is at 1 we want to go we do our own thing on a subconscious level by that I mean we say okay you know this is it I’m tired of all this and you do it through a manifestation but it’s on a subconscious level now as far as in the animal kingdom no I don’t think that’s on a subconscious level cuz I think animals are smarter than humans and when they come in at birth and they’ve done what they’ve done over and over again and they live their life and whatever then that’s okay you know I’m going to be recycled again so I’m going to do my thing and I’m going to go no more humans aren’t that smart to do that they sit Anna and the miserable life and keep putting up with BS and garbage until you get to the point where you just going to lose it you’re just going to just totally go off the chain here so what I’m saying is the weight my feeling is now do your own thinking don’t let anything dictate or control what you think and what you say and what you do and don’t ever let anybody make you feel guilty about any situations because the choice is the beans on a subconscious level animals they do it on their own level they’re much smarter than a human being thanks

  3. I have lost 15 family members in less than 18months, and as I feel like im moving on day to day, I cant help to worry that I have never dealt with the first, which was my father, and yet I continue life, but I don’t feel like I am living life, I’m just existing. I have 2 children and a husband, and I am not sure I have focused on any of the deaths, that have ranged from cancer (a lot) to murder which just happened last week, my cousin was shot and killed by his moms boyfriend. I am having an increased anxiety and starting to get weird. I feel like I am trying to keep everyone super close and feel the need to overly protect them from EVERYTHING, I don’t want my kids even going to school because I feel like I will snap and I am constantly looking at their location on their phones to make sure they are safe, and I just don’t know what to do, I am on anxiety medications, I am on depression medication, and I feel like a hermit, I don’t want to leave because what if this and what if that, I honestly am not sure if I am going crazy or just coping???? My husband isn’t much help because he’s stubborn, and seems to think once the funeral is over then we should move on, but its just not that simple for me, I can’t, I can’t sleep, I cant adult, I cant work, I can’t focus, I just really can’t deal with life, and it scares the living hell out of me. I am certain this wont be read and that’s ok, I just simply needed to put it out there, I needed to vent, I needed to breathe and to feel like there are others out there dealing, living, and coping.

    • Hi Shonia. I just read your story and I’m so sorry for all if your losses. I Lost my mom and only sibling and my dad all within a few years. I know how you are feeling…just trying to breathe…just existing. It is all so overwhelming…each loss alone and that many losses of those so close to your heart. It’s like your whole foundation has cracked under you and you are just trying not to fall in. It’s hard to talk to others who have not been through it because as hard as they might try they just dont understand. You are not going crazy. It is a process and drastic change of life…over and over again. I wish I had some good advice for you but I don’t. I’m still working on processing my losses too. But I wanted you know that you are not alone. If that helps at all. Take care of yourself.

    • I read everything, and Know exactly how you feel. Like there is some kind of omen following me. If I am being tested as (Job) why is it that I’m the only one it seems losing things? My friends are all happily married with families and people who love them. Who’s here to love me? At the beginning of the year, I lost the love of my life, after he succumbed to pulmonary and heart sarcoidosis. He died exactly one week before his 39th birthday. He was laid to rest on the day he was born. I was 6 months pregnant with our baby girl. She was due I’m May. In Aprail, I had a placental abruption, had an emergency C-section, woke to the fact that I had pretty much bled to death, tube in throat, hands tied to bed, going in and out of consciousness. They take the tube put, cut the cords on my hands, and bring my daughter to me. She didn’t make it. She was the most beautiful thing I’d seen since my son. Mama’s ladybug went to heaven with daddy. I wish God would have let me hear her voice or see her pretty eyes. She looked just like her brother. He calls her, baby sister. He had just made 5 after his dad died, so he didn’t understand when I had to tell him. It broke his heart. But he still brings her up. I hated for my little man to have to lose his dad and sister at such a young age. Both my parents are dead. They died back to back over a year. All my grandparents died in one year and in that year, my cousins boyfriend murdered her and committed suicide. Then my sister died after having the lap and at 35. Now my oldest sister is dead, she died in October. My little cousin was killed at the store this year. So in one year, my baby boy has seen 4 dead people, and was barely 5. Just bam all at once. I can’t eat, sleep or drink. I feel weird. I worry all the time because, I also lost my home and car and my son has to live with his daddy’s mom so he can go to school. I worry about him all the time because I am not there to see him daily, but I ask God to cover my baby. And I need to get it together, because my son needs me, and I want to be the best mommy I can to him for a long long long time. I want to see him married and see my grandkids… I will be praying for everyone on this blog. I’m not alone

  4. Thank you for responding to my story. It is now September 2018 and I’ve come to the conclusion that this life will never go away. I have zero support and I’m apprehensive to say I have zero life a head of me because once I admits that there is nothing left. But most/some of the time I just have no motivation to succeed any longer which is just the opposite of my family. We all played the game of life to be as good as we could, blowing by obstacles because that is what we were taught to do. We were taught to never let life kick your butt, you kicked life’s butt and always got back on the saddle no matter what. But it is different now, there is sometimes no reason to be the one making a trail and leaving a path…..just no motivation. Also it is rare, I’ve never spoke to anyone face to face that has had their entire family die, I’ve only read about it. This page is the closest I’ve ever had to discuss total elimination of ones family. I thank you for having it but I would really like to form a group that could communicate to 9ne another what it is like to have your entire family die. If there is such a group out there please post it up, if not maybe the owner of this site can get us an opportunity to meet online to answer the questions of what you do and how to live after you have no one left. That is the $1 milllion dollars question…..what now…..how do I motivate myself…how do I start back again for real and not just faking it.

    • Hi Dave. I too lost all my family to death from cancer and other illneses. I became overwhelmed with multiple grief as i became divorced and never saw my children for almost 6yrs and lost my job as well. I ended up having a nervous breakdown luckily my daughter saw i wasn’t coping well and notified the authorities. I endsd up seeing a phyciatrist. I went to some bereavement sessions a funeral home offered and it helped tremendously to know i was not alone and what others did to cope. I also went back to church and found comfort knowing i am one of god’s children. Again not alone met some beautiful caring people. I foung another job and have some

  5. I noticed a common thing all posters experience as I also experience and that is the isolation and grief from losing every relationship that had meaning and should of provided support from those in our lives who are still living. I believe the hardest thing making it impossible to break through is isolation and support from what could have been and should have been you guaranteed source of support and companship to make the feelings of being along even just a little manageable. I lost a 4 month old son to what is explained as SIDS so he died for no reason what so ever. I will just never have an answer. 4 years and 2 months and 7 days later my 4 oldest children died in a house fire at their biological fathers house and being there was a new thing so it was out of the norm and they were just getting to know who this person they called Dad was. 18 years of my life and memories that only remain with me and me alone remain because all of them are gone. The circle of life and the natural order as we humans are born and accostomed to believe and feel as a way to have unconscious ability that drives us to keep going because of purpose has been stolen and ripped from me. Brain Scramble that you have no other choice but to accept and process because choices in that are not blessings of entitlement and control you have. F*** my life!!!!!! Really!!!!! That is the bare naked truth of what I have to work with. I still have 3 living children who’s death is a possible part of my reality because we are not entitled to time and nothing we do can prevent what our moment of death comes and we are called home. And I am still mom so more of me is needed and demanded then I ever needed or wanted of myself! Being a mom was something those who did not like me never could speak out against with negative words because of dstain for me a simple word “good” was never denied me even in angry thoughts. Nothing can make escape a feeling of ultimate failure and guilt for my living children because a mom they had and were born to me entitled to that are short changed and cheated and they have not even had life experience to hurt others or wrong anyone or anything to deserve any of this? I only hope with everything in me that my best and what ever that is now will be good enough to help them understand and live life without the shadow of so many sibling losses following their lives. Losing 5 children just wont ever escape me I struggle with making sure it escapes them. Onica

    • Hi Onica, I read your message and I can’t even try to say “I know how you feel” because I don’t. I know how I feel. My story and the loved ones I have lost is different from yours, but I feel as though the way you describe feeling is VERY much how I feel. I am a mom, and I have to be a mom and I don’t get to just check out, and yes it’s a blessing to have a child, but it is also so hard when you don’t want to do “this”(life) anymore. I don’t know when it gets better, if it ever does. In my opinion I think one only gets used to the feeling of hurt and never ending torture. And that somehow becomes your normal. Yes you have to be strong for your children, you have to live so you have to find a way to move past, work through, be happy… etc etc… HOW?? How the F#%K do you do any of that when you do not care??! It’s not that you don’t care about your loved ones… in fact it is the complete opposite… we are still alive because we love them so much and know we cannot leave them with the grief of losing us. But this is hard and I have been trying to move my way through life for a decade now and I feel like not a day has gone by as far as the way I feel… I truly feel for what you are living. I am very sorry for all you are living through….

  6. This all hits home and explains me perfectly. My dad died when I was 15. He was my hero. Between 1994 and 2004 I lost 2 grandparents, and a close friend. In 2005 I buried my 2 month old daughter. I lost my other grandpa in 2007. In 2012 I buried my 2 week old son. Then 2 years later lost my last grandmother and this year a woman who was like my second mother. Holy crap I can’t believe I’m still here

  7. Well of course someone would come up with a name for it right? “Culmaltive losses.” I know that everyone experiences difficulties and for some they feel that the’ve “lost” everyone but they still have husbands, wives, children or other family members left that I can’t help but feel a little bit of jealousy about honestly.

    In just over the course of 2017, my Mother, Father, Brother, Aunt and even my dog…even my freaking dog died. Everyone just checked out a few months apart. Pretty horrible for everyone actually, no peaceful endings.

    I had resigned from my job so I could be close to home to spend more time with everyone when I found out they were sick but I didn’t know it was going to be so fast. My job change caused some financial issues so my house is in foreclosure. I’m single, unmarried, no kids. That’s ok, no mom & dad to see me at a wedding so who cares now?

    Oh wait, but a “nice guy” did start to date me and help me try to get through all the overwhelming grief…until I realized he was only trying to get the life insurance money. Nothing like a con man scamming you when your entire family just died. That’s a cherry on top of losing your family, house and any chance at a support system.

    I don’t have anyone else. That’s it. Grandparents all dead. I’m all alone. Anyone who says “You’re not alone” is L Y I N G. I worked for most of my life as a paramedic. You are alone, there is no God, no big Pearly gate, nobody really ever talked about a “bright light” but it sells books just like the Church is a good scam too. It’s just a story made up by man.
    You are all alone. Except for those of you still surrounded with tons of family like husbands and wives or kids or parents or siblings that you don’t seem to be counting. You didn’t really lose EVERYONE. So…I guess appreciate them until the end when we all just die but don’t expect a big reunion. I’ve “brought back” plenty of patients and no…there is no Heaven or any other BS the Church sells and blow it on a nice vacation while you still can. Or save it for the funeral. I couldn’t even get discount by the last one but then again They knew I was out of family members.

  8. I suppose at my age (75) I should expect losses, but despite losing a baby daughter 50 years ago, it never dawned on me that I could lose both my remaining adult children within the last three years. My son died exactly three years ago – Easter Monday, 2015, when he finally decided to stop fighting the bladder cancer and metastases that he had been battling for four and a half years. He left a wife and two children – then 14 and 11. He was brave and valiant throughout the fight. He had lost his job during the economic downtown, and when diagnosed, he was working on contract (no benefits!) in Massachusetts while his wife and children stayed here in Chicago. He traveled back and forth every few weeks to visit and for therapy, and was then offered a job in North Carolina with health benefits. He, his wife and children all relocated, and spent the last three years of his life there, which my daughter and I flew back and forth to visit when we could. My daughter (his “big sister”) was my trusted and supportive companion throughout that ordeal, and she and her brother were very close. We handled it well, I think, as a family. My daughter-in-law is a treasure, and we all had long discussions about how the moment we are living in right now is the only one that’s guaranteed – we all tried to make the most of every day we had.
    After his death, his wife and children moved back to Chicago, and were once again among friends. New relationships developed among his survivors; we were closer than ever.
    My daughter (and best fried) had noticed that I was able to overcome my fear of flying to get to North Carolina and back; and engaged in a conspiracy with several of my friends to get me out to California for a wonderful trip to the Bay Are last July. We had a wonderful time and I will remember it forever as a “perfect” vacation – laughing and sight-seeing, and getting lost on various interstates. By the end of the year, it turned out she needed surgery (laparoscopic hysterectomy) and came through it fairly well. I had the flu at the same time and felt terrible that I could not be with her in the hospital, but we managed to communicate furtively via cell phones and texting: “where are u now?” “in recovery” “how do you feel?” “um how do you think?” etc. She was discharged after an overnight stay, and returned to her nearby apartment. She reacted to an antibiotic, which was changed, and had some pain; but was back at work within two weeks (she was a literacy instructor in a university teacher education program), and she and I had resumed our weekly Saturday breakfasts and mutual good-natured and therapeutic “debriefing” sessions over coffee. On February 8th, I got a call that she had not come to work, and couldn’t be reached by phone, text or email. I drove the mile or two to her apartment with my blood turned to ice in my veins; and with the help of the police, paramedics, and building staff, her apartment was opened, and she was found lifeless on the floor. ..dressed, and apparently just coming home, or getting ready to leave. It took a month for the coroner to arrive at a cause of death: pulmonary embolism.
    So now I am planning a celebration of her life, working somewhat awkwardly with my equally devastated ex-husband and his wife to navigate our way through the red tape and the immense hollowness and loss that we all feel, but have difficulty expressing to each other.
    To lose both adult children in the space of three years has left me feeling frequently just like the pith of my soul has been removed. At times, I’m able to act “normal” (when I’m busy putting one foot in front of the other); but at others I feeling totally empty, and angry, and that it’s just not possible to have my two adult children taken away so close together. There are times when I don’t know whose loss I’m grieving – and when I think about remaking my will, and the fact that I will never be able to share a joke or a laugh or a moment of enjoyment with them again leaves me in anguish. I’m living in a retirement community (I wanted to save the children from having to make any awkward decisions!), but had always envisioned that they would be around to share memories of the over fifty years of our lives that we had in common.
    I have also lost two very close friends in the last few years – friends who knew me before the children were born, and who could share memories with me. Now I feel like I’m starting over at age 75, with very little energy to draw on.
    So that’s my story of cumulative grief. I know I am not alone – I know two other couples who have lost two children each, although they have one living child left. And I am seeing a counselor weekly, which gives me some structure. But for someone who thought I knew how to “handle” loss, I often feel that I’m in way over my head! My thoughts and good wishes go out to all the others who struggle with such clusters of loss. May we all find strength together.

  9. I can’t even describe my emotions as each day they are different and overwhelming. I have lost 20 family members including my brother and only sibling in an auto accident in the past 10 years . The last death occurred the day after Christmas of my Uncle. I have my 20 year old daughter whom I’ve raised alone in a town I did not grow up in she is now away in college and working full time. I have no significant other for support etc. Both of my parents have had strokes 4 months apart My Dad Dec of 2016 and my Mom just 4 months after in April of 2017 . My Dad has many serious health problems that cannot be fixed and his days are numbered. My mom has since had 2 strokes since then . I’m all they have to care for them and my responsibilities are mounting and taking over everything as they are becoming unable due to severe memory loss and rapidly failing health. I’m so terrified watching them both fade so quickly at the same time and knowing I will have lost all of my family. I’m thankful for my daughter but she is away at college and it is something she can’t help with , she’s young and has had her share of trauma when younger and it is something we have had to deal with alone together she has a long way to go on her road to recovery and only want the best for her. She has a bright future and a huge college load. I don’t want her to have to take on more than she is equipped and needs to focus on college and her future. I’m truly terrified and don’t know what I will do when my parents are gone, I’ve had to help them with preparations and sadly it’s not far off, Being alone in the world after my family gone is scary and heartbreaking to me. I wish I knew how to better prepare for and handle all my feelings and emotions on a daily basis .

  10. I never thought this product would work. I’ve been trying to get pregnant for at least 3 year and everything I tried let me down… but for some reason I had a gut feeling to try https://goo.gl/PyDhkd and few weeks after i used the herbs sent to me, I missed my period, took 6 pregnancy tests and my dreams came true. I can’t thank you enough Dr Cantara for this miracle you have brought to my life. I also love the fact that it’s all natural and completely safe. I definitely recommended this to anyone trying to have a baby.

  11. It’s so hard to find people who have suffered multiple losses. Last month my father, my husband and both my children were murdered. I’m struggling to find purpose right now as they were my reason for living. People try to help but they don’t understand. Reading all these stories makes me feel like I’m not alone.

  12. In 2009 my husband drowned. We were out fishing together & brought one of his friends along. My husband had dreamt his death months before. He never told me the full dream but I believe it was an out of body experience. He was shaking & crying when he told me a little bit of the dream. He said we were together doing something we loved to do, fishing. 15 months later my daughter was struck by a car & killed instantly, Trish was 19. She also told me 3 months before she died that she wouldn’t live to be 20. 4 months later my mom n law who had copd went into the hospital. The last 2 months of her life I spent in the hospital with her. What shocked me was when my mom n law was dying people asked me why I was still taking care of her. I loved that woman more than my own mother & even then you do what is needed of you. I no longer talk to any of the people who asked me why I took care of her. There were days I would cry out in pain,my heart hurt so much I felt so numb, confused, lost. I didn’t like the path I was heading down so I changed direction. I had told my mom n law before she died l was going to start going to church. I converted to Catholicism & was baptized & attend every week & I try to stay involved, I’m currently on the bereavement commity. I also meet people in odd ways like a wrong number. She had lost her husband. God works in mysterious ways. I often find myself being drawn to people I don’t even know or know what they are going through. But I let them talk & as I listen I know that talking about their loved one is helping them heal.

  13. Grief has struck me 6 times in the past 10 months. April 2017, my daughters friend, my friends child, commits suicide, may 2017, my grandfather died, July 2017 I get pregnant with baby #5….. aug 2017 my other grandfather passes, nov 2017 my grandmother passed, dec 2017 my sister, Jan 2018, my mother. Baby is due in April and I am consumed by grief, I don’t even know where to begin, have yet to pick a. Are, but I try to remain excited through it all. I finally reached out for counseling services. I just need the storm to pass.

  14. I have truly struggled the past 5 years. God is good, and His Grace has been sufficient, but he must truly know I can handle A LOT to allow the losses recently. My last Grandparent and true Patriarch, my Mom’s Dad passed like 7 years ago, then 5 years ago my Mom-in-law passed the sweetest old lady brought me into my wife’s family like a son for 15 years died after complications of Alzheimer’s. My wife’s last close relative. This was hard as she was like a second Mom to me and my wife was close to her as an only child. The dam of loss was just beginning to bust completely. My Dad nearly dies from drinking in 2012, the second year in a row. 2013 my Mom died, alone as my Dad had divorced her and married his secretary decades before it brought lots of childhood losses up. 2015 a friend and sponsor and mentor from church betrayed and deeply hurt me while on a mission trip to Africa- my wife and I are stung and stunned. Then my buddy and wife go gossip professional and I am kind of black-balled by portions of groups that are less than professional or spiritually mature. POLITICS. That year 2016 I was asked to not go to the men’s retreat and stop attending a recovery group. And lost my job, and favorite cat died, ugh. This after being temporarily disowned by the family for insisting we have no booze around at Christmas as my Dad just released may be tempted…. I stood Devastated. Sadly I had exalted the men’s retreat and idolized my recovery “clique.” My family chose to reject me….The annual men’s retreat, and Celebrate Recovery? These were two things I counted on deeply for fellowship and healing. But God had a better plan, he makes the best lemonade out of the worst lemons, the broken healed, and showed me hope. My wife and I found a great recovery group one mile away at a sister church, more down to earth and grown up-and a great men’s group and better retreat actually held in my old high school hometown! The Lord provides. Also in March of 2016 I lost my job and haven’t worked since but have worked through a lot if grief. Movies have been very cathartic for me, and reading the Psalms helps. I got to two dollar movies and rent from the library. I cry every morning, yet practice singing daily, in the car, gym shower, even the gym basketball court when it’s empty. I am joyful! God gave us what we need to endure, overcome, even conquer our griefs. He gave me tears, time, a patient and compassionate wife. Pain almost always results in growth. Although I have lost “friends” or fairweather friends, family, support systems and opportunities, I have followed my god, obeyed and taken the results but feel Christ’s love and forgiveness has walked me through this pain so far quite creatively, with a great journey so far. We now have been reunited with my family. We needed time away from all these toxic and unhealthy people and groups, and the losses to truly develop and define ourselves in Christ, spiritually; in or respective begat truly matters, and amongst those we are around, defining who is healthy to be around, and who still needs growing. This is a world stained with sin, we can’t avoid it, reading Psalms and Proverbs, taking it easy on.myself and watching movies that help me express myself, and singing has truly kept me sane and facilitated healing. God is able, and so am I.

  15. We had a big family, extremely close knit to say the least.
    In 1997 my b3st friend and brother died suddenly at my parents house from a heart attack. It was very hard on me but my family rallied and we pushed through together. In 2003 I started to feel 8 hadn’t done enough for him and started to grieve all over again, I kept quiet about it.
    Then 5 years past and after I got home from a vacation in June 2009 my strong Dad suddenly couldn’t walk. He was 85 at the time (WWII vet, Korean War and early Vietnam Nam retired Air Force in mid 1960’s) and was healthy when I left but now it looked bad. He went on hospice, which I now am not a fan of and time marched on until August 14th. I recieved a call from my older brother and he said “blank” died in his sleep last night! I couldn’t understand why he was calling my Dad by his first name, Then it suddenly dawned on me it was my oldest brother who suddenly died in his sleep, not my Dad. I was crushed. Then a short 2 weeks later my Dad died. I was devasted as my hero and my oldest brother had died.
    Then it was my Mom and me and my last brother. We were doing pretty good as we all rallied togethe. Then almost 1 year to the day my brother cam down with colon cancer that spread to his liver. For the next three years he gave it a Galavant try and fight like hell but died in April 2014. Again I was devastated I couldn’t understand how my family was just going one by one right in front of my eyes and I tried like hell to save them and I couldn’t . So then it was my mom and me. We held each other and she stayed with me for another year and a half. She was so devastated that all of her boys and her husband of 58 years were taken away from her . Then out of the blue on November 2015 my mom died, she was 89 years old. No I was left all alone to pick up the pieces . Our family even though close it all married for many years only one of my brothers was able to have children , One child to be exact . This child had been estranged for over 10 years now ……. I had no one no blood family left everybody was gone. My wife of 25 years did everything she could to keep me mentally straight and going forward . I avoided the grief as much as I could now I must leave them all behind or will take me down too.
    It is very difficult and I find if I forget about them but I disrespecting them so it’s a double edge sword.
    I understand that they are not a part of my life anymore and I will be able to move on and live my life until time my time comes. The last two years since my mom died has been crushing for me I can’t seem to get a handle on it that my big and loving family and we were all close in age is now gone. Faith has been shaken to the core I cant understand how any God would let this happen! But I’m still a God-fearing man but I will tell you first and foremost I have my doubts about Him.
    Might’ve left some things out but basically that is the exact timeline thank you for letting me post I think it helped.

  16. Thank you for this article! I have been dealing with just this the last two years,it’s been a difficult road.I just hit the 2 year mark on Nov 2nd that my husband passed away suddenly.Then 3 months after that on January 26th i lost one of my brothers to suicide.Also 7 months ago my 99 year old step-mom died.She was in our family for 42 years,my dad died almost 6 years ago. Through the Lord being in my life,my church family,much counseling, family and friends i’m getting stronger.I’m still having a hard time with moving forward,but just now i am starting to feel a shift that is taking place,a step forward. Again thank you for sharing this article.

  17. In the past 15 months I have lost my father (Aug 2016), my dog died this April, my cousin died in June and I just had to euthanize my cat from lung cancer. Grief is a strange animal. My father had lung cancer (quit smoking in 1970) and died in 6 weeks of diagnosis. I flew from St. Louis to Sydney and got their a day before he passed. Two weeks there and hardly shed a tear. A little when I got back home but I was numb. Christmas was hard and since I called him every Friday I was constantly beat up every single Friday afternoon at 3pm. The slowly into the new year things eased up until my cousin died. I coped with that a little better until my dog died and I just lost it. I have had to put many pets down through the years and it is a horrible experience at the best of times. But I think with this third loss everything had built up and I was crying daily for weeks. Then my poor cat got cancer and that was the icing on that cake for 2016. Now instead of thoughts on one person or animal I now experience crying and depression whenever I think of any of them. Which is hard not to do when I have their photos around the house. I know it gets better having lost my mom in 2004. And yes it takes time but when multiple losses happen its like your hit constantly with a baseball bat. And I must say that whoever in life made the comment that having a good cry makes you feel better is so wrong. After a long hard crying session apart from the congestion, swollen eyes, etc I then develop neck and shoulder muscle aches that go on and on. Sorry to rant on this and I hope I have not bored anyone but I feel like crap at the moment and at age 63 feel totally beat up. Thank you all for listening and for all the messages that preceded this. Take care all!

    • Stephen,
      You are right, it does feel like you’ve been totally beaten up. I remember that feeling also – my energy sat at a “big fat zero” too. I didn’t know how to escape that feeling initially, but then sourced the help when I needed too. I hope that you have a good support friend base around you, just to lend an ear when needed. Please feel comforted in the fact that you should indeed improve. We never get over it, but we do learn to manage it with the right mind set.
      Keep strong.

  18. Not to mention, other factors, such as being all alone, or having great support……………..I believe also plays a huge role.

  19. its been one year . Ive lost dad ,brother Chris ,3 aunts ,2 great aunts ,brother in law and 2 of my dogs…diagnosed diabetic as well as high blood pressure and have had 12 cancers cut out of me…… i have never felt so bleak . the major grief i felt has passed…. never thought i would cope with it, now i almost wish it was back as all i have is this consistent despair , i have done lots of counseling and am on meds but there is absolutely no joy to be had . thanks to you all for you stories of lost loves . it helps to know that iam not alone .

  20. Okay, Just stumbled on this web page. Over the past 4 months i have lost 7 good friends and relatives. Finding it very difficult and am on anti-depressents to be able to cope.. no-one can understand – I know that and do not expect anyone to know. Don’t know what to do any more. Can’t sleep, very very angry all of the time. Any advice????????

    • 7 souls gone in such a short time would make even the hardest person breakdown.
      You’re being really too hard on yourself.
      I know people say this often, but the good do die young/go first and then you have the elderly and very young to pile on top of that.
      It’s all too much.
      You must remember, it happened to them, not you and none of them would want you to feel so lost and down. They’d hate themselves for it. You still have your life and sometimes all it takes is for someone to get the shopping for an elderly neighbour, or walk their dog or open a door for someone…
      Someone somewhere is helpless and alone, maybe a hospital bed or an empty stomach… what I’m trying to say is you’re NOT helpless. You’re here and you can help others.
      Please don’t be sad because you’re wasting every precious day your loved ones don’t have any more.
      This has been the worst year of my life and just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, my mum died. I haven’t even seen her yet. I do know one thing though, she’d cry her eyes out if she thought of me being so sad.
      They never leave us.

  21. My children didnt pass away but I mourne them everyday in 2006 Dec 14 I was in a horrific car accident and stayed in the hospital for 52 days 21 of those were in acoma and after that was relearning everything all over again my Mom kept a journal of who came in to my room and the rest was a bunch of lies like never leaving my life I have any where between 110 to be 130 family members in one county in Montana and cant drive but that is the only way to see anyone all three of my kids oldest 33 and 5 kids the next 25 and 4 kids and next 24 and no kids none of them speak to me and have come right out and said they would rather see me dead I am not allowed to see any of my grandchildren and havent for 4 years and dont think I will before I die but my Mom and step Dad can and every sibling of mine which is 4 and all their others halves so when people ask if I have kids I say yes but I was a completely failure at it and they want nothing more in life but to die a miserable death due to the accident I have some of past memory but mostly gone so I truely have no clue why I am even being tortured

  22. Hauntingly sad, a term I use in identifying myself after losing my family (mostly through actual deaths in a 3 year period} but also the relationships that also suffer a sudeo death afterwards. There was a very different person that i knew myself to be…. before having the wind knocked out of me with each loss. Happy people don’ t like being around people that are grieving and meloncholy so one by one those relationships take quite a hit. Unless you’ re talking to someone that has also suffered losses without getting a chance to regain your emotional equalibrium back not even the other people closest to you {the ones you wish to regain your composure for} seem to understand even a little.

  23. I feel like I’m stuck, I don’t feel overwhelmed with sadness much of the time but I don’t feel any enthusiasm or joy for anything either. I have been getting quite emotional lately over tragedies on the news, like the Grenfell Tower disaster or the Manchester terror attack, I wouldn’t normally get so upset over this kind of news, even though it is very sad, it’s unlike me to be consumed by it, but I have been. Let me give you some background to my cumulative and perhaps complicated grief…
    – June 2013 my normal healthy 15 year old daughter died suddenly, drowned in the bath after suffering an epileptic seizure, she was resuscitated at the hospital but her brain showed no sign of activity and was pronounced brain dead 6 hours later, I stayed with her for a few hours and then turned her machine off and listened to her heart stop beating. We had a complicated relationship and I suffer a lot of guilt because of it, I should have told her I loved her more, given her more of my time and attention etc…. I can’t change that now but I still feel so guilty for it. The death of my daughter is very hard for me to integrate, I don’t want to forget the sorrow, and I should suffer sadness everyday after all my daughter is dead. I have 3 other children, my son who is the eldest 3 years older than her, and 2 young daughters who are 10 and 14 years younger than her and have a different dad. I think we are all suffering with complicated grief in some way, especially my boy who has lost 2 very young uncles aged 30 and 35 prior to the death of his sister.
    – July 2013 my boyfriend’s grandad died, I couldn’t even muster up the energy to comfort my boyfriend, and I felt cold as ice.
    – September 2013 after discovering I was pregnant I was very happy, it felt like my daughter had sent me a gift to help lift my spirits, I went for my first scan to be told that the baby had died and I would miscarry, I did this at home which was quite horrific, my poor boyfriend didn’t know what to do to help me… emotionally I cried a little, but other than that I dint feel anything.
    – February 2014 my mum died at the age of 62, she had alcohol induced dementia and could not cope with the loss of my daughter and basically starved herself to death, we rushed her to the hospital after collapsing at home, she was rushed into intensive care where they put a drip into her jugular but she was too sick, after 2 weeks we discovered that she had a blood clot in the arteries that feeds the bowel which caused her bowel to die, we had to turn her life support machine off. I had a complicated relationship with my mum, she could be quite abusive at times and I seemed to get the brunt of it. I struggle to feel any emotion about her passing, I cried a little at her funeral but I didn’t really feel anything. I spent the next year looking after my disabled dad with no help from my 2 sisters. eventually I told them they can do it all because I couldn’t cope any longer, I was working full time, doing a master’s degree and still had the 2 little ones to take care of at home, this caused some friction and I stopped talking to both sisters for 2 years, until dad was taken into hospital with a broken leg, then we kind of had to talk to one another.
    – February 2017 after being in hospital with a broken leg, dad contracted pneumonia, the doctors said he was very sick and unlikely to survive and basically prepared us for his death, this was more of a relief I think because he had been heavily disabled for the past 12 years and was completely bed bound since mum died, by his own choice I think, he could get out of bed when he wanted to, hence the broken leg… we all found it a struggle to watch him sitting in his bed, no quality of life at all, waiting to die. Again when he passed, I cried a little but didn’t feel anything.
    I have been sorting dads affairs out, probate and fixing the house up to be sold, and to be honest I’m finding it far harder and more emotional to let the house go than I did my own parents. I don’t understand it, why would a house make me grieve more than the death of my own parents?
    I struggle to go to work, I’m in an environment where I have my own isolated office and no one really notices if I turn up or not and I have been taking advantage of that by not turning up, or turning up half days etc. I know someone will find out eventually if I keep doing it but some days I just can’t bring myself to leave the house, or my parents’ house, I tend to end up having to go there for something and not leaving as intended. I’m starting to think I have some sort of depression or something because my ‘get up and go’ has ‘got up and gone’ I don’t get excited about anything, I don’t look forward to anything I feel like I’m just existing and I want to lock myself away from the world and do my own thing. That is not healthy, and I know that if I give into this urge to isolate myself, I may never resurface…. I am truly worried about my mental health, I have started drinking alcohol daily and I self-medicate with amphetamines which doesn’t help, I know but it’s what I turn to when things get tough. My mum had mental health issues as well as alcoholism and her family history includes a lot of mental illnesses and alcoholism.
    I had a gastric operation last year to help me lose weight, I have lost 6 stone and should be ecstatic about it, I should be out buying new clothes and feeling really good about myself but I don’t, I’m still wearing the same stuff as when I was 19 stone, just tying a belt around my waste so it fits better, the last time I lost a lot of weight I felt so sexy and full of confidence, this is the most I have lost yet I don’t feel anything.
    I am about to be awarded a Masters in Science with distinction but I don’t feel happy about it, I feel like ‘what’s the big deal’.
    There is more childhood trauma to add to this story but not relating to grief. It plays its part perhaps in my coping techniques, shutting myself off and self-harm… I just feel like I have too much stuff in my pot and it’s about to boil over…

    • Dad fought an aortic anurism survided. Then my halve sister diagnosed with a brain tumor. The grandma showed signs of denibtia, feel like my other halve sister blackmailed father to get guardenship, father was diagnosed with cancer while only living on one lung…. Biopsy caused an air embolism stroke. Discontinued chemo. Sister discontinued chemo. Father died Dec, had to lie to sister about his death no reason to make her last days ful of pain and sorrow. She passed New year’s day as fireworks went off. Then my other half sister changed the benifiare of life insurance for our grandmother. All the while moving her ever chance she got away from my dad brother mother and I. The she passed and threatened us to not go according to the will. She’s told everyone that the will is void….. It’s not and Grandma dispized her. Now everything will go to probate court and she will end up in jail for violation of court orders for care of my grandma and I have a case of for the blackmail of my father.. and find my self consumed with a want for justice. She never understood she can’t take my memory and love and hide it and expect me to roll over and be bullied to believe without showing me hard facts. I want to just be left along but I went back to work the day after the funeral and then other big changes in my home and just a wanting for her to just leave things the way Grandma would have wanted and just hand over the house and so we could save the photos or the family earlooms to pass on but she’s going to wipe our family history off the map with her jealousy and parobia. I wait daily for a call that says she’s been arrested. And yet I say nothing to her or her kids. I don’t want her to go but I don’t want her to get away with it. I want her to be out of my conversations. I want my future back and she is painting a picture of courts and bars for herself. I want lakes and laughs wife wants house and fences painted white. Mom want her knee replacement and brother wants the history and smiles with his kids.

    • Thsnk you for sharing !!!I lost my Dad Fter Being the only one who tryef to get the FBi to investagate my Brother death s than eight months later my Dsd died while I did the dinner dishes.I was judt coping wuith my utter avoidance of life whern my Dog died and f i family from my church shared Fathers dsy with me and than lodt their son.I slmost fied 12 years ago in the the same way.I am at times so overwhelmed I see the sign of my intense greif…I was s miltary non combat medic but I do beleive greif can grow if a person watches sad shows . I at time turn off sad shows or stop wstching a movie if it has a cancer or suicide theme. I have trouble listen to news on radio .

  24. back in 2006 – 2007 I had 6 losses within 5 months…first my Dad in Sept 06 then my sister Feb 07 , then 2 elderly close aunts a week apart in March then my son in law end of March 2007 ….4 yrs later y ex we were married for 20 yrs passed….now my 2nd ex has been diagnosed with acute lukemia a quick blood cancer…and by grand daughter who is having my 1st great grand baby ..her husband was just told he has brain cancer…I am going to lose it….I dont sleep…im scared of everything…im sick to my stomach….nothing in life seems good anymore…the only bright spot is my new Great grand baby…..but the over shadowing of the others…..IDK what to do…

  25. I had 4 losses in just under 2 years. No one and I mean no one especially my husband gets it in my family except my 95 year old grandmother and I don’t like to upset her but some days I just have to. First I lost my mother. My mother I talked to/saw eac other or 49 years. It was sudden. She was on machines and had to make the decision because my father was demented. I argued he wasn’t but it was but on me. I was her only child. Doing that was the worst feeling in my life. I was left to take care of my 85 year old father (he was 15 years older than her). He had so many health problems it consumed my grieving time. I also had to comfort my 9 year old son. They were extremely close. when I did have time to cry I could count on my cousin more like my sister to listen and comfort. Then 7 months later she was taken from our family in a motorcycle accident and died in the same manner as my mother. Machines. Now I’m lost. An aunt was somewhat helpful but not so much. I’m being told by my husband I needed to get over these losses. We were in the process of a second adoption. I turned my energies to this. My father fell and broke his hip. Now he needed more care. Thank God for my husband with that. My husband travels to China to get our second boy. He had a real hard time with him in China. He has permanent scars on his face still from him. He was very violent. We found out later he didn’t have to bring him home. But agencies don’t want you to know that. He gets worse with the violence. We had to lock our other son in our room to keep him safe because he was getting the brunt of it. Finally we had a social worker come to our house. She agreed he could not stay. He went in to respite care and is being adopted by a family in NC. Another loss. Not a death. But a loss. I am reallly a mess by now. Highly medicated and in counseling. All of a sudden my father stops eating. Then I somehow realize he’s not drinking. This is very dangerous because he had only one kidney. He wasn’t getting out of bed at all. I want to call 911. I was his healthcare proxy. But I couldn’t because he’s lucid and refused. By the end of the week he started to become demented so I could call 911. He said I know I’m never coming back here. This killed me. I had always told him he would die here. He rapidly declined over the last month. We’re told he can’t come home he needed too much care. The day before Christmas Eve I ran around securing him a bed. He ends up in the hospital again. We are now put in the same position again. My brother was supposed to be the one to make the decision. It was agreed upon with my siblings. I went through that hell once. I wasn’t doing it again. My brother was leaning over my father sobbing. He kept asking the dr what she would do. She can’t tell him that. I kept telling him that. My niece and I are on the phone with my other siblings who live out of state. It’s decided I have to do it again. He was supposed to go in the night. He didn’t. He lasted 3 days. In my private moments I told him was ok to go. Mom was waiting. I loved him. My brother and nieces had similar conversations. The last person to see him was my wonderful cousin Cindy. She told him she had to leave. She’d be back in the morning but if the angels came in the night go with them. Your wife is waiting for you. He died 2 hours later. This is the ONLY peace I have. I know my cousin helped him let go. I go to counseling twice a week now. See my physiatrist more and go to a grief group. But I still feel I am on the way to totally losing it. One dr said it was trauma. It is. And I have no familial support. Especially from my husband. He Keeps telling me get over it. I can’t. I want to. But I can’t.

    • I recently lost my youngest brother an my mom. My brother was 9 yrs. younger than me! So when he was born ,I got to take care of him! My brother had liver disease and he really suffered at last. He was 49 yrs. Old when he passed away ,3 days before his fifty birthday. My mom passed away 30 days after i lost my brother! I am really having a hard time coping with this! Dont know what to do! I cant hamdle this!

      • HI Tammy

        I lost my brother in May 2016 and my sister in November 2017. I understand how you feel, but I do like the thought of keeping a window of hope open that we can get through this. I tried to feel better as I couldn’t bear the sadness again, that did not work and I think it made things worse. I hope you are getting some professional support as I do think we need someone to guide us through and ensure we are not falling too far. I am so afraid for who will be next, while this is partly based in reality (cancer gene) it is also just an inability to think that I could get through this again. Those left behind are a mixture of a great support and a fear that they will be taken.

        This website is a godsend. Thank you

  26. Thank you for this article. My sister literally dropped dead two and half years ago at age 61. One year later my brother in law died of cancer. Last summer my sister in law, and Uncle both died of cancer, then my mother in law died, closely followed by another brother in law. Now, my Mom has passed, she was 84, and in declining health, and fell. I brought her to my home, and within two weeks she was gone. I’m overcome with grief, and can barely function mentally, or physically. On top of this, I have one remaining sibling who’s an opioid addict, and is threatening to sue me for using the little money my Mom had left, to pay for her cremation. Over the years he took almost every dime she had, so when she knew she was dying, she insisted that I get POA, and take the money out to pay for her cremation. There’s nothing left, she lived in section 8, elderly housing, and didn’t own a car. I’m trying not to drink, that’s what I did when my sister died, but it’s really hard to deal with so much death, and heartache, and deal with an addict’s verbal abuse. I’ve blocked his calls, but worry about him showing up, and physically hurting me.

  27. I’m 22 years old. I have lost my great grandmother, 2 aunts, and my mom and dad all in 2 years. I am now raising my 12 year old brother, while in school and trying to find a long term job. My parents didn’t leave a will so I have had to go through the long process of probate estate for both parents practically alone. I do have support from my aunt but she isn’t any where near as organized as I am. I handle almost everything. I’ve been torn from most of my extended family because of their lack of support during the end of parents lives. My friends have been incredible but they can not comprehend what I go through. And now they have found a cyst on my uterus and gyno is very nervous that it’s cancer. To top it all off throughout all this I’ve fallen in love and after all that I’ve fought through I feel like this possible diagnosis will take away the chance of ever being able to have happiness. He is disfunctional at times but the way he looks at me.. the way he loves me almost scares me. How am I supposed to believe that “it” won’t happen to me. That ill be stripped away from him like my loved ones have been taken from me. My brother and him are so close but what if they lose me? My brother is so young and I just can not fathom him losing me too. I am afraid to live. I have done close to everything I could do to be happy but it’s like the universe is rooting for my failure. The diagnosis may be benign but even still how do I trust life? My parents were dirt poor and built themselves out od nothing. They had a rocky relationship (My dad was married while daying my mom and getting pregnant with me, she left him when she found out) and were on and off for 22 yrs. After my dad got divorced. Once my brother (10 years after me) was born they decided to make it work. They spent 6 years together and the last 2 I think they started to fall back in love. My mom fought for 9 years, triple negative breast cancer. My dad fought for 2, stage 4 lung cancer. Through it all they loved me with all they’re soul could give. I had the best parents that ever lived. And I only wish they could meet my love, who has helped me dream again. But I feel like I am almost cursed or something and that I’ll never see immense happiness.. like being a mother. If this is cancer, my main option will be to have a hysterectomy because I have the genetic marker brca 1. And I won’t be able to carry or breast feed my babies. I just… I don’t want to be afraid to live.

  28. It’s okay to be thinking of loss not just in terms of death, right? I’m a missionary and have “lost” many relationships over the last 16 years of working in Japan. The expat community is very mobile and I have very few friends currently in my life in Japan who I’ve known for very long. Thankfully I have a strong support base back home in Australia, but they aren’t nearby for a coffee when I’m feeling down. It means that I’ve struggled recently to commit myself to new relationships because of the fear of losing them too.

    • Absolute, Wendy! We have written other posts on the many different types of things we grieve: people we are estranged from, have lost touch with, who are far away, who are struggling with addiction, dementia, mental illness, brain injury, etc. Then many non-person losses – losses of health, independence, identity, hopes and dreams, and many more. Please give yourself the space and permission you need to grieve these losses, while also being aware of the value of opening yourself up (carefully) to new people in your life. I realize this can be easier said than done, but it can ultimately be a tremendous support.

  29. I am so glad I found this post. I have been having such a hard time lately with the depression after 6 deaths in my world in the last 3 or 4 months plus a cancer diagnosis for me. all of the deaths were people around my age (in 30’s) and all heroin related or suicide except my uncle who had a very aggressive brain tumor.
    I am trying to deal with the crazy making stuff that a cancer diagnosis makes on top of all this grief.
    it has put me in a really dark place and I would love to talk more with anyone who is willing.
    I am in therapy (for years now), was put on an SSRI (have been before) but I went off due to possible sleep issues from it, and I do a lot of self care.
    but lately things feel really dark and doomed.
    thanks for listening [email protected]

    • Very similar story for me. I lost my Mom & both sisters in 9 months. I had breast cancer diagnosis in the midst of this. Both of my sisters died from cancer. All the doctors say I will be OK physically but hard to take. I went bavk to see one oncologist-found out he died! Going back to work soon, hoping it will give me some structure.

      If I were not living this, I’m not sure I’d believe it if someone told me this happened to them!

      Hope you are doing better now!

  30. I’ve lost 15 family members in 3 years (my Mother, Father and Stepmother all within 7 months of each other.

    It was hard to imagine that there are others who have been as unfortunate as I have been in the past 3 years. I’ve often said that I wanted to know the actual mathmatical odds of so much loss occurring in one person’s life in such a short time.I know the odds are astronomical.
    3 years ago in Sept. my stepfather who I loved very much was diagnosed with cancer. One month later I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 42 with at the time a 3 year old, a 7 year old and a 17 year old to raise. Fortunately, an extreme surgery took care of mine (unless this newly found growth in my throat proves to be cancer again.
    One month after my diagnosis, my 38 year old cousin was diagnosed with cancer.
    The deaths began with a great uncle (cancer), then my 38 year old cousin (cancer), another uncle (cancer), my stepfather whom I helped care lost his battle. Out of 13 family members diagnosed with cancer in 3 and a half years, I am the only one left alive.
    I went through a divorce in the middle of all of these losses too.

    My Dad was diagnosed with cancer in Feb. of last year, it was advanced when it was found and he quickly deteriorated as it spread throughout his body and to his brain. 4 months later he was so ill he needed help to walk. On June 13th my stepmother dropped to the floor with a fatal heart attack and 13 days later my Dad died.
    2 months after my Dad died, my Mom became sick (congestive heart failure) and was in and out of several hospitals for weeks at a time, endured a bypass surgery and still died on Valentines Day this year only 7 months after my Dad and stepmom.

    Raising young children while financially stressed, health issues of my own and all of these losses, particularly my Dad and my Mom( who was my best friend) have left me depressed, grief stricken beyond words and I think suffering from a form of post traumatic stress syndrome. However, accumulative grief seems accurate too.

    How does one find joy again when they’ve lost so much? People will say” you do it for your children who still need you.”
    Yes, I still somehow manage meals, laundry, homework and the necessary tasks but barely. I break down sobbing uncontrollably, tear up in the grocery store or while driving. I know longer have anything near a normal sleep cycle and the nights….oh, how long, hard and sad the nights are.

  31. Lost my dad in March 09. Our daughter in April 2010. My brother and only sibling in 2012. All sudden: just a phone call they were dead. In Nov 2013 my mom diagnosed with deadly brain tumor. Gave up my horse of 14 years and put my 18 yo dog down. Moved to GA from CA alone with my small service dog and 2 suitcases. My mom died at home the day after Christmas. Both sides of family are all dead except me.
    Inherited moms nice estate in GA and husband retired here in Sept 2014 after working 28 years in prison system in CA

    We are lost. Alone. I began menopause and my blood sugars skyrocketed. Lost 30lb despite Lyrica for Fibromyalgiano sleep patterns. No eating patterns. No desire to do anything anymore. I lay in bed almost 24/7 seemingly waiting for my own end. I can’t pull myself up on this one. My husband is the same as me. Yells at me a lot. Not his fault. Not mine. We are hopelessly floundering. Children and grandchildren all we have left and they are in CA. Not interested in visiting us really. We are alone. I think I’m just waiting for the end. I taught myself not to cry to be able to take care of all the business and households without a breakdown. Feel like Adam Duritz in Counting Crow’s song Perfect Blue Buildings. Good luck to you all. Peace, SC

  32. I feel like I have experienced this but only with one death – that of my husband. In addition to that, I felt pushed out of a job I loved, then both my son and my husband had mental health “breaks” and were diagnosed with Bipolar type II, we separated, he got sick, we reconciled and he passed away, and all during this my mother had beginning stages of Alzheimer’s which is now worsening and taking a lot of emotional energy to deal with. I feel like my entire world changed. Two of my adult children moved across the country during this time as well. Nothing is the same. I feel like on any given day I cannot even figure out what it is that I am grieving – the loss of Phil or the loss of everything combined, and now I have lost my mother in many important ways. (I also feel very cut off from my husband’s family as well) It’s like having your house burn to the ground – nothing is familiar, nothing is as it was, or as I thought it would be. I’m almost done with my degree so that I can begin a new career to support myself. I feel very overwhelmed by all of this on so many days – trying to move forward yet having days I just want to go to bed because I feel so overwhelmed by it all. I have a good counselor and she really pushes me to care for myself and to focus on what I can control. I never, ever thought I’d end up in this place and YES! it has impacted my faith. I don’t feel faithless, just like my former feelings of faith don’t fit somehow anymore and I don’t really know what to do about that. I don’t know how to make it fit again. I really, really appreciate all of your resources and articles! They have helped me so much!

  33. It’s worth noting that cumulative grief doesn’t always mean multiple deaths. In the last few years I’ve been diagnosed with an incurable chronic pain disorder, been through a traumatic divorce, realized that my ex-husband was abusive and unfaithful during most of our marriage, been diagnosed with PTSD from both my illness and my ex, and just recently lost my father, who was a major part of my support system. I’m grieving the loss of my dreams and an able-bodied future, the loss of the marriage I thought I had and the man I thought I married, the loss of my sense of safety and trust in my own judgement, the loss of my home, and the loss of emotional health. And I can barely even speak of the loss of my father.

    I feel so much fear about going through the grief process with PTSD and chronic pain. Knowing there’s a real term for experiences like mine is comforting; I feel like I can now find more resources to help me cope and to validate my experience. Thank you for this article.

    • Thank you for sharing and explaining that cumulative loss comes in many different forms. I lost my father a year ago and a half ago to cancer. He died within 3 months if his diagnosis. I was very close to him. My parents divorced when I was three and I am now 48. I feel my mother resented the closeness I had with my father and she and I have always had a strained relationship. almost since the day my father died, I have lost my relationship with my entire family over the family cottage. The cottage belonged to my father’s side of the family and has been in the family for 83 years. I was also very close with my Grandmother my father’s mom. I spent almost all my summers at the lake. That is home to me. That cottage was left to myself and my two other siblings. My one sibling has no interest in the cottage the other one does. At first he said he didn’t want the cottage. I worked very hard to find a way to keep the cottage financially and I maintained the cottage for the past year and a half on my own. The table has turned and my brother now wants the cottage. So it’s not so much the turn of events that’s upsetting , it’s the anger and lack of communication in the family. Since I had said that I wanted to keep my share of the cottage, the rest of the family turned on me. My brother did mot want to share or come to any comprised with anything regarding the cottage. He cut my out of his life, took my off Facebook and excluded me from all family events, my sister followedd suit and so had my mother as she never felt I should own the cottage for financial reason. For the record I have never mused one family event with my fsmiky, birthdays Christmas, Easter, now both me and my don are out. A hug shock and a hug amount of loneliness. Since my father passed, I couldn’t bare to loss the cottage or think about it right after his death. I did entially request that we wait a year before any big decision were made. I was hoping we could enjoy the cottage for that year as a family remember our dad. My father was much more sensitive as I am, I feel he was the only one who ever asked ‘ how are you dear’ and truly meant it. My mother lack’s empathy and sensitivity as do my brother and sister. Not once since my father died did my mother ask how I was doing. A week after my father died so did a neighbor who was like a grandfather to my son. A about six weeks after that someone else we knew within a few weeks of being diagnosed with cancer died. Two weeks before Christmas our dog got hit by a car in front of our house. He was only give years old. This especially difficult for my 10 year old. He was absolutely devastated. we still think of our fog and sometimes think he will be home when we open the ftont door. my don sleeps with his sweater. I was struggling with the meaning of life and death. I had no family member to talk to about my dad or remenece. . I think I still grieve my divorce and what I thought my life would be like if still married with more children. I am also in a rocky relationship. I am with a man who does not want children in his life yet he has become my sole supporter of the cottage issue, as my brother is now taking it to litigation. It’s hard for some people to imagine the cottage and it’s importance to me. Some say it’s just land or its just a building, sell it. It had so much more meaning then that. Coming from a disfunctional up bringing, the cottage is the only place that brought me peace, the sense of family and friends and community. It’s a tight lake as families go back for generation. It’s the one place I can still hold onto my dad and my grandparents.

      All this has made me very emotionally and mentally ill. I could barely make it through work the last year. I started to not want to live anymore. I took myself twice to the the hospital, once with my boyfriend,. I wanted to be admitted. I just wanted everything to be over. They didn’t keep me but gave me resources to tap into all of which was useless. I’m on a wait list for a support group for 2017.. I started seeking help in January 2016. I kept going back to my doctor for help and she put me on medication. It’s helping but I still haven’t been able to cope with the loss of my entire family. I’ve had a hard time parenting my son and I have a great deal of guilt over this. His father isn’t very supportive and is dealing with his own problems. His sister is dying of stage 4 cancer. My son is actually now with his dad in another Providence visiting her. My son has been through so much. I’m having a hard time helping myself let alone him. I’ve been trying to find a book on how to parent your children while going through grief.

      I am slowly losing my friends one by one. No one knows what to do with me. I can’t seem to stop talking about my family and how they have abandoned me and the worries of going to court. My boyfriend isnt the right fit for me and my son…once he is gone I feel I will have no one. It will be just me and my son and my son deserves more

      I’m sorry for such a long and depressing story. My friends say I need to make a change, I’m hoping thid will be a start. I’m looking for parenting books for pre teen s as I feel I have disconnected from him and have missed two years if his life. I also need a book that will help me with various different types of loses not just death

      I would welcome any suggestion.
      Thank you for reading

      • Hi Monica,
        I’m so sorry to hear of all the sadness you are experiencing. I have been there, and I would imagine so many others who have shared their stories on here also. Trust me honey, as much as you can’t seem to escape it all right now, it will slowly ease & get better.
        I lost my beautiful Mum, my Dad, & then my sister-in-law within a 4 1/2 month timeframe. My parents had split many years prior, and my Dad was living in a different country. My only sibling (my brother) had passed away from cancer at the young age of 14. So, I too know what it feels like to feel so alone !!! After my Mum’s funeral, I flew overseas to be with my Dad until he passed. The woman who was my fathers partner (of 8 years), chose to go to a friends 60th b’day party (in another country) and was not with him when he died. At that stage, he was in the Palliative Care Unit, and we had been told he didn’t have long to live (so, this kind of sums up what sort of person she was). I have never felt so alone!!! She had then been lovely to me up until she realised a death insurance policy didn’t exist. She withdrew all the funds Dad had from his bank accounts (which 50% were rightfully mine), she then deleted valuable photo’s of my father & I (which were taken the week before he passed). The final straw was when she buried his ashes without me being present. It took me a very long time before I could function properly.
        I didn’t care about the $$$, I was more upset about the photo’s she deleted (they cannot be replaced), and then of course the fact that this spiteful woman buried Dad’s ashes without me being there (I was devastated).
        Then one day, (almost 2 years after Dad had passed), I snapped out of it – I realised no matter what I did, I couldn’t change a darn thing. I somehow seemed to find my own inner peace. As soon as I decided that I didn’t want this bitter woman in my life, causing me any further stress, the better I was (I settled to believe that Karma will eventually catch up with her).
        I focussed my attention to my kids – as I failed to see that they too had been through all the trauma, and then had to live with me living life half heartedly – they needed ME !!! I was not helping them at all while I had been stressing about a woman whose greedy standards meant nothing to me – she had shown me her true colours, and I really didn’t want to be associated with such a person – so, I wiped her from my life !!!
        My own health (and mental health), then improved immensely. My children were so much happier. Monica, focus on what is really important to you and your children. We cannot change what has happened in the past, but remember, no one can take those beautiful memories of your Dad & grandparents away from you – cherish them fondly & and share them with your own children (as they never experienced your own childhood happiness). Most importantly, love your children as they deserve, and they will thrive from your love – you all will !!! Make sure you make your own beautiful new memories with them – both you and your children deserve every inch of happiness & love together x

  34. I lost my brother who was my best friend in Dec 2014. The following April 2015 I lost my aunt, who had kind of became my mother figure since my mother had Alzheimers and I had become the mother figure in that relationship. In Dec 2015 I had lost my father in-law who had become my father figure since I lost my own father in 2003. Then in Jan 2016 I lost my mother to alzheimers. Now the most recent was the loss of my 22 yr old nephew in March 2016. I feel I’m being drowned with grief. I’ve joined a grief concealing group. But I feel like my grief in insignificant compared to people who have lost children or spouces. I have also started seeing a private grief counselor. I just feel like I’m drowning and cry constantly. I have a wonderful husband and daughter and 2 beautiful grandchiodren. I know I’m needed but too sad to enjoy any of the good things life offers.

  35. My husband of 34 years died of cancer in December. Three months later the Grand daughter we raised , age 16, was killed in a vehicle rollover. All I want to do is lie on the couch and never leave the house, or make any decisions. During this same time period one of my grandsons lost 3 grand dads, his cousin (my grand daughter), and his dad was also severely injured in a rollover. We all need therapy, probably

  36. It does’nt make me happy that Im not alone in losing everybody. It went on for 31/2 years. Both my parents, neighbors, friends, pets, and my boyfriend, it turns out I lost someone every 6 weeks for 31/2 years straight. I was only 34 when it started. I feel vunrable and scattered all the time. It went on from 2003 till the end of 2006. It was like a genocide. I went to a berevement group and my 3rd time there, my friend came in because her husband died when the LAPD were chasing someone going the wrong way and killed him. He was in his 30’s and I just could’nt go back. I still saw her. I got sick and ended up in the hospital myself. Everyone thought I would go too. To be honest, I would’nt have minded. I had helped a lot of people when they were dying, and I think I did my best to help them. It was an honor that they wanted to be with me during that time and I would’nt take it back, being there for them. I feel drained yet privaliged. I just wish I could sort my self out after 10 years. My evil stepsister was a special treat, stealing my car, mine and my parents identy and doing it for a year and the cops did nothing. The one person I would have liked to see dead and no, shes fine and cost me thousands of dollars because I misplaced the will, she was getting just a life ins, and I paid the bitch off to leave me alone and refound the will later. Atleast going thru all that, it would have been nice to find it and stick her in jail. Hopefully shes dead now. Have’nt heard from her. Thank you God for all your help. Taking all the good people and leaving that bitch to deal with.

  37. I don’t usually post anything online. I am having a hard time coping with the meaning of life and my ultimate death after experiencing many deaths in a short period of time.
    First off, I want to mention that I am only 28 years old and I have a two year old son. My life actually became crazy after I had my son. Three days after he was born I went into heart failure. They were unsure if my heart would ever heal. To this day, I am not suppose to get pregnant again. My family all prayed for the Lord to take them instead of me. A few months after my diagnosis, My 63 year old grandmother died of respiratory failure. She was my best friend and practically raised me. I visited with her and my grandfather every weekend growing up. Three months after my grandmother, my father died in his sleep. My mother came home from working third shift and found him not breathing on the couch. My dad was 44 years old and had a brain tumor along with COPD. Two months after my father, my grandfather joined my grandmother in death. He was not happy on this earth without her and was deteriorating very quickly. He went to the hospital having trouble breathing and didnt come back home. A week after he was in the hospital we were told his cancer was terminal. All of those deaths were very hard on me, my most recent loss, has really hit home, so to speak. My mother died of a sudden brain aneurysm two weeks ago. I have no family other than my son and a half brother who lives three hours away. I feel utterly alone. Like alot of the commenters, I live in a very rural area and seeking therapy is going to be expensive and a lengthy process because there are not many options. I want to try to be happy again and not constantly grieving.

    • Hello Truly, I’m sending you hugs and compassion for all you have been through. I hope you are doing ok today, but I also know the pain doesn’t really go away, so if you are still hurting I hope you are connecting somehow with someone who can listen and provide decent hugs (even virtual) . all the best to you, Pam

  38. Finally… My feelings and experience put into words. Losing so much at once brings on the never ending feeling of falling. It feels like the floor just keeps giving out and you never hit the ground.
    Just when you think you have found a stable surface to find your footing… Bam.. You are free falling again.
    This type of grief has many twists and turns. It can uncover so much old wounds.
    It comes to the surface like a tidal wave.
    The only advice I can give is what I have experienced myself.
    Grief is a journey. It is a time for growth. It allows us to purge, let go, and heal.
    This is a journey we take alone. We may have people in our lives who grieve over the same things but our own personal emotions are something only we can experience.
    Don’t fight it for that will make it worse.
    Set boundaries. It’s okay to know your limits. Sometimes we have to keep some people or some things at bay for awhile.
    Don’t feel guilty for having boundaries.
    Don’t be afraid to have a few temper tantrums, eat a whole box of cereal, or watch reruns in bed all day every once in a while. We all need it every once in a while.
    Let your self off the hook if you have a day where you snap at people and have zero tolerance.
    I have had to hand over many things for my husband to handle when it comes to being a mother of teenage girls and dealing with multiple loss at once.
    Think of life as being on an airplane. When turbulence happens we are told to put OUR Oxygen Masks on first before we can assist others.
    It’s true in our daily lives. We need to look at those who surround us and remember that the only way to help them survive is to make sure we are well enough ourselves.
    Admitting our weakness is the greatest strength God could give us.
    It truly is a gift when you see it as a way to grow.
    May we all find peace.

  39. Thank you all for sharing. I do see a therapist but nothing helps my Brocken heart. Medications don’t work and I can’t even get out of bed. I’ve been married 37yrs and it got to the point I had to to retire. I first lost my father-in-law, mother-in-in, mom that I took care of for 4 years by myself. I promised I wound never put her in a nursing home. 6 weeks later our best man passed at the age of 56. When mom passed I had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized. My last day in the hospital my 44 yr old cousin died in his sleep. My family was so afraid to tell me. The following Week my friend of 15 year who was like my son died of cardiomyopathy which is heart failer which I also have but he didn’t know he had I’d. I almost lost my daughter to a miscarriage due to hemorrhaging. Then when I lost my baby brother who was a guitarist,47 died of a hearattack on stage. I’ve never recovered. He’s everywhere on the Internet and iTunes on interviews that I can’t watch. I can’t deal with my broken heart. I saw them almost everyday except my brother who was always on tour but we kept in touch. They were a big part of my lif and my best friends. It’s a struggle everyday. I just want to be me again and happy.

  40. Fate Doesn’t Care–

    Fate doesn’t care if you are ready for the first loss. And no one is ever ready for any loss. So fate is not going to give a hoot if you’ve not properly grieved the first loss before another, and another, and another loss happens. Fate doesn’t care about us. Fate doesn’t operate on our time table. It’s not about us. If fate cared about our feelings, it wouldn’t take our loved ones away in the first place. But fate doesn’t care, it’s indifferent. So let’s stop believing it’s a fair and just world where things happen in a neat and tidy and orderly and timely and fair fashion. It’s not. Life is not a fairy tale. And that’s reality. Keeping calm and carrying on anyway, despite all of it, is the only thing to be done.

  41. I would be interested to hear ideas on how to help a child (6years) cope with ‘cumulative grief’. She has lost 2 grandparents (who were quite young) and a close family friend. She saw all of them get sick and their eventual decline. She now worries when anyone get sick that they too might die. 9 months on she can still get quite distressed about the losses. We live in a small town and access to counselling is limited. We are on a waitlist. Any suggestions would be appreciated. We do things to help with ‘positive’ memories etc, but as we are dealing with our own grief too, sometimes her tears almost make me break.

    • Hey Dee,

      Gosh, I am sorry to hear that you have such limited access to counseling only because, as you’ve said, she’s experienced so much loss. Have you also looked into grief centers in your area?

      It’s hard for us to give real constructive advice from behind a computer screen, but I think allowing her the opportunity to talk about her experiences is important. Opening the door up for her to ask questions about illness and death and to receive honest answers. It sounds like she could use a little reassurance about the nature of common illnesses in that colds and stomach bugs and things like that do not lead to death. I would also recommend the first two coloring books on this list , but make sure that an adult is involved in either completing with the child or with debriefing the activity afterwards.

      Hope that helps somewhat.
      Eleanor

  42. Maybe I can get my friend, Robb, to read this. He worked in Tower 1 of the World Trade Center with 68 other people; 69 died bc one was pregnant and they count her unborn child as a victim. All of them died except him; he survived but was burned over 40 percent of his upper body surface.
    He can’t take the blast of heat from an oven without having bad memories or getting visibly distressed for a minute. He said he knew what a roasting chicken felt like and that heat really bothers him.
    I met him bc I know someone who died there but it’s only one person. This guy managed a fund for family of 9/11 Victims. He works with money now as he did then and had set one up.

    I thought the article was going to be about surviving multiple deaths that happen simultaneously, like with massacres. But it’s similar and anyway, he also lost his home in Hurricane Sandy. Then he asked me how many tragedies does God give one person in a lifetime but he’s not angry about it now.

  43. I’m glad I found this site. Multiple losses is so very hard and I haven’t found much at all to help when am entire family passes away at the same time. My 22 year old son, his 20 year old girlfriend of 5 years, and their 2 year old daughter, my granddaughter were all killed by a drink driver in a head on crash seven months ago in Dec. 2014. Trying to process all three of them gone at once, and so young, had been horrible. Any books, websites, or anything to help process this and deal with it would be much appreciated. Your site helps

    • Oh Janet, I am so sorry for all you have been through. I cannot even begin to imagine. What type of books are you interested in- books about grief or memoir-type books? There are many books out there and I just want to make sure we are steering you toward something that meets what you are looking for.

  44. I lost my mother 24 years ago, the worst part was that she rang me to tell me that she wasn’t feeling well, it took me 20 mins to drive to her house and I tried unsuccessfully to recussitate her. She was 58. Six months later, my husband committed suicide, with the help of a neighbour, I had to cut the rope to get im down ffrom a tree. I had three children 7, 5 & 2, I buried my grief and bought up my beautiful chidren on my own. I had no family support as my in laws live in N.Z. and my three siblings live in Sydney. Thankgoodness for neighbours and parents of the childrens’ school friends.
    On the 24th anniversary of my husbands death, I inexplicably became suicidal. It would appear that grief is catching up with me, i feel as if i have been run over by a huge truck!!

    • Elspeth, I am so sorry for you losses. Even without the traumatic circumstances of the deaths those would both be extremely difficult losses to cope with so close together. It is not uncommon to delay or repress the intensity of grief and trauma in order to manage the realities of day to day life – especially things like raising three young children without support from family! When we don’t deal with emotions they often creep up later, much like you describe. If you are having any thoughts of hurting yourself please seek help immediately. You can walk into your local emergency room or call the suicide hotline 1 (800) 273-8255 (if you are in the US) and +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (if you are in the UK). It is never too late to being working through the emotions of grief to begin moving forward. Though the early stages of grief (even when it is delayed and sets in well after the death) can feel hopeless, most people find that with time and support things begin to improve. I hope you find some support on our site and, again, I encourage you to please seek support right away for your thoughts of suicide. If you are struggle to go to an emergency room or seek professional help on your own, please consider calling one of your children or a friend who may be able to assist you in finding help.

  45. I have lost 6 members of my family 1 in July, my mother, Jan.8,2015 I lost my father & January 24,2015 I have completely lost the rest of my family my 50yr old husband, my 23 ur old son my 21 ur old daughter n my 36 ur old nephew, I am the last of my family except my daughters 4 ur old son who also was left behind, I have tried to get professional help but none available in my rural area until march 10 then after 3 visits with therapist I will get to see a Dr April 24th, like today the 24th is a anniversary of death, so somebody tell me, how do u deal with that!

  46. Its been 18 months since my unofficial husband died, 19 months since i lost my best friend and 2 years since my two aunties and Mom died. Since that time my two children (both adult daughters who have greatly benefited from the last three family deaths) and my only sibling severed any relationship with me. Iam overwhelmed with the emotional fallout from the abovementioed losses. Even though I received professsional help (6 free sessions) with a very good grief I am still confused and fatigued living in this black hole. All of the above comments by fellow grievers affected me deeply. The concept of cumulative grief is inspiring me to research a bit more. The kinship that I feel wjth the authors of the article and comments somehow sets me free to find more outlets and coping skills for living in this darkness. Thank you all so much for this help Guess Im stuck.,. .

  47. Its been 18 months since my unofficial husband died, 19 months since i lost my best friend and 2 years since my two aunties and Mom died. Since that time my two children (both adult daughters who have greatly benefited from the last three family deaths) and my only sibling severed any relationship with me. Iam overwhelmed with the emotional fallout from the abovementioed losses. Even though I received professsional help (6 free sessions) with a very good grief I am still confused and fatigued living in this black hole. All of the above comments by fellow grievers affected me deeply. The concept of cumulative grief is inspiring me to research a bit more. The kinship that I feel wjth the authors of the article and comments somehow sets me free to find more outlets and coping skills for living in this darkness. Thank you all so much for this help. .

  48. Tommorow will mark the 5 month mark since my little sister committed suicide, and its also been nearly 2 months since my dad passed away from liver cirrhosis. The last few days have felt very difficult and I think the shock has worn off. I find now that I’m in a constant panic and flitter between feeling like I’m coping and feeling that its all leading to an impending doom. I am greeting panic attacks at the fear of losing the rest of my family. My mum has suffered with an eating disorder for 25 years and has had 3 heart attacks as a result and I’m truly petrified that she isn’t strong enough to deal with this. I’m starting to feel like I won’t be able to cope and can’t be bothered to start anything through fear of going back to square one. I only have one shot at life and feel like my shot has been taken away from me at the grand old age of 25. I attend a proffesional wrestling school on sundays which is a good release bit it hits me as soon as I walk out the door. The emotional rollercoaster is insane and I truly appreciate the calm moments. For anyone else that’s going through the same kind of thing I empaphise with you more than ever.

    • Jamie Eve – you have been through so much luv. The feelings you have, I also had – but trust me, the pain does ease – it doesn’t go away, but I think we learn how to manage it over time. I too had panic attacks, fears, etc. I wasn’t sleeping, couldn’t function at work, struggled to drive even – my whole body was a mess. I did recognise it myself and seeked help from my doctor. Be open with a professional if you can – sometimes it’s really nice to be able to talk with someone “outside the square” to vent how you feel. Anniversaries are tough too – I’ve found comfort in focusing on celebrating their life at this time – in amongst all the sadness, you must remember that they would all want you to be happy – and I would imagine so does your Mum who is still here. It’s great that you have your wrestling – keep it up, as it obviously is a huge release for you 🙂 I was fortunate to have a wonderful friend base, who I consider my family – they have been my rock & backbone at times – especially in my darkest days – I don’t know how I would have managed without them. I hope you have a special someone that is there to support you too. I think you have to remember, it’s ok to feel everything that you are feeling – it’s ok to be sad, mad, tired, etc. Try to focus on your own strength for a while. A year ago, I would have told you that I wouldn’t cope – I can honestly say now, that I am a much stronger person than I thought I could ever be. I wish you all the very best !!!

    • Hey Jamie,

      Thank you for your comment. You have been through a lot and it sounds like you’re still dealing with a lot. Other than wrestling, do you have any other support in dealing with all of this?? A good friend, support group or therapist?

      Eleanor

  49. Still seeking relief no end in site only thing I look forward to is death:/

    • Jaesa, I am so sorry for your losses. I know that there are many times that you can feel absolutely hopeless and like it will never get better. As hard as it is to believe there are many people here on this site, and well beyond, who have been through the depths of that darkness and somehow managed to come out the other side. have you saw any support through a grief counselor or support group? Though they are not for everyone, they can be a tremendous help. If you were thinking ofhurting yourself in anyway, please seek professional help right away! You can always just walk into your local emergency room, or you can call the suicide prevention hotline (1-800-273-8255).

      We hope you find some resources and support on this website. If this is your first time here, we have a huge array of posts on grief and loss. We have a section on coping if you’re specifically looking for things that are concrete and practical. We also have topics on everything from music to art to writing, grief theory, dealing with specific types of losses, etc. Please remember that you’re not alone in the feelings that you’re going through and, as hard as it is to believe, it can get better.

  50. In June 2007 my 9-year-old niece found my 46-year-old sister dead in her bed. They say it was diabetes. I believe it was suicide. I was divorced after 22 years of marriage in August. My ex-husband found my best childhood friend dead on the side of the road. Drugs took her. In April 2010 my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died three weeks later. I watched him take his last breath. In June 2011 my nephew died on the road in front of his mother as a truck tire ran over and crushed his little head. He was 4. On Dec. 29, 2011 my brother blew his own brains out in a hot parking lot in Arizona. He was 46. Months later we realized my mother had lost her mind. I moved her from Arizona to Utah and have taken care of her for three years with ABSOLUTELY NO HELP from my family members or extended family — with the exception of my 16-year-old daughter who did her best. She finally moved away to go to college and escape the grief. Two of my children hate me because I have been low-functioning in the past few years. My extended family rolls their eyes and says I have always had a “poor me” complex. I have experienced cruelty beyond belief. There cannot be a way to recover from the terrible losses I have encountered. The worst loss of all is my faith in family, love and acceptance. I can’t wait to leave this life.

  51. Thank you Eleanor – your kind words are much appreciated. Still have the odd bad day with weepy moments, but I am feeling stronger & am managing feelings a lot better. Has helped to openly express my feelings to close friends & family. And accepted that the healing will take some time.

  52. Kimberly – this is directed to you. I have just read your post & really felt your pain – I can totally relate to you ( read my story a few posts earlier ). I too have lost my immediate family (mum, dad & only sibling). I just wanted to know how you are doing now, and hope you are coping better. And know that I genuinely understand & support you. I still have good & bad days – but the bad days are getting fewer. Soldier on honey & take good care of yourself . Here to help if you need someone to chat too

  53. Thank you for this article, I am coming up on the anniversary (tomorrow) of my brother’s death 2 years ago. My only sibling, he was diagnosed with end-stage cancer and died 5 weeks later. This followed 14 months after the death of our mother, also from cancer. The three of us were very close, they were my everything in life and the two people that gave me unconditional love and support, and I have struggled with severe grief. To add to that, my father – the last member of my immediate family – has been on a steady decline with MS and dementia. I just had to place him in a nursing home. I have a hard time, people think I should be “better” and yet, I feel worse inside. My brother and I had just reached the stage after mom’s death where we were ready to truly live again – we made many plans to travel together and made a pact to stick together through this (we had both just ended long-term relationships, and I had just had my own serious life-threatening illness 2 months before his diagnosis), and were closer than ever. I went through serious avoidance after his death, and have sought therapy in the last 6 months. I feel as if I’ve just began to grieve his death, and haven’t fully been able to get through the stages of my mother’s as well. My therapist reminds me often that I have been through what most will not, especially at 34 years old. But I wish I had the same support outside of therapy. I lost most of the people I had before my brother’s death, partially my own doing by pushing them away. I don’t have much of a support system at all, and the more time passes and I am “stuck”, the more crazy I feel and often have thoughts of ending it all. My health has seriously declined, but I hide this (as well as my feelings and grief, because others seem to think it’s “all in my head”. Anyway, thank you for this, I didn’t know the terms of losses so close together, and can now research better in my struggle.

    • After reading Kimberly’s post it really resonated with me. I know it’s 2 years old but I now click with those who lost an only sibling. I lost my older sister from heart problems last year and not even 10 months later my mothers uncontrolled diabetes landed her in the hospital where she developed dementia and now end stage Alzheimer’s. Her and my sister were my everyday. My sole and main support and my best friends. They were the only people I saw Every. Single. Day. I think if my sister were here we could cling to each other over my mom and that would help a lot. Not even a year later I’m dealing with another profound loss.

      I’m losing my mind already. I feel lost and terrified at being alone and having no one close that I trust to go to. I have no friends that can be that available to me. I just feel empty and shattered. I think if suicide all the time. There will be no one there for me when I need someone. Therapy helped for a while but I got tired of my thoughts being analyzed, I just need a regular conversation.

  54. I lost my husband and two of my adult children in a four year period. The last one was my daughter, 35, 2 ½ years ago. I have one child left and a total of five grandchildren. There won’t be anymore. I am wondering how long I will cry and how long my heart will hurt.

  55. Cherie, oh my goodness you have been through so much this past year! I am not at all surprised your feeling this stress physically as well as emotionally. Nothing could have prepared you for even one of these emotional situations and now you’ve been through 4 with 3 being in one year. I don’t know how open you are to talking to a professional, and I only offer this from my own personal experience, but sometimes just even a few sessions can help you get the relief you need. That and try and find some time for self-care. Your a wife and a mother on top of all this so I’m sure it’s not easy, but a few moments a day for yourself can be priceless. That and a vacation!

  56. So pleased I found this article.

    I lost my mother in Oct, my father 27 days later ( they were separated for many years, and living in different countries). Both died after long illnesses, and as an only child, I found this terrifying & extremely diffificult to be there for both of them – especially as geographically they were so far away. I did have a brother whom passed away from cancer when he was 14 years old (I was only 12), so this too I have had to live with in my younger years. I managed to be with my mum when she passed with my husband & my 2 children with me. I then flew overseas and spent 2 weeks with my Dad, and again was with him when he passed away. I was alone here though and found this extremely difficult. Now, two weeks ago, my sis-in-law passed away suddenly. I stayed at her side with my brother- in-law, until we enviably had to switch her life support system off. I feel so emotionally shattered. I don’t yet feel that I have grieved full for mum, and with the other tragedies which followed, my own health is suffering – no energy, concentration & very lethargic – crying an awful lot!!!. Just want to get life back to normal !!!

  57. Cumulative losses and grief can take a very physical toll on your health. Adrenal fatigue and failure is one possible side affect. Not only did I feel like I was going crazy from grief, I knew something was wrong with me, physically. It took 14 years and countless specialists until I found a doctor that put all the pieces together.

  58. Thanks for so many great articles with such useful information. You really understand grief and provide such valuable insight… very impressive and thank you!

  59. Thanks Celeste!! I am so glad you have found a good therapist to work through some of this – that is an unbelievable amount of loss. You bring up such an important point that, not only is there the pain of grieving multiple losses, but then the impact it has on our outlook on life. Though I mentioned our faith and spirituality suffering, on an even more basic level it just skews the lens through which we look at the world and can definitely make it hard to view the universe with the same sense of trust and optimism. And yes, here’s hoping! Though it is cliche, grief can be transformative . . . what people often fail to mention is that it takes time. Sometimes lots and lots of time!

  60. I love this post, so much. Thank you for writing it.

    When I suffered a devastating bout of depression after my son was stillborn, I sought help and connected with a very supportive therapist. The work I do there has helped me come to terms with the losses I have suffered throughout my life – both my parents, an uncle, my first boyfriend, my beloved grandmother and her 10 siblings, two cousins who were murdered in front of their children. There has been a lot of loss in my life, and they’ve all stacked up to make me distrust the universe. Therapy has been leading me on the path of unraveling my grief, and I hope that I can finally embrace life instead of living in grief.

    Here’s hoping, right?

    Thank you again for your very thoughtful post.

  61. That is a tremendous amount to deal with in such a short period. It is incredible the stories we tell ourselves and how unrealistic they can be sometimes! I can see how you could have felt a guilt for a grief over the end to your relationship as a “lesser” loss, but all losses truly are unique and we have to grieve them all in their own way. Not to mention that the end of a relationship at such an unbelievably difficult time in your life I am sure brought an even deeper complexity. It is hard to lose someone in our support system when we may be most in need of support! It is funny, because when we wrote a couple posts about comparing losses, I think we were primarily thinking about comparing our own losses with other people’s losses (https://whatsyourgrief.com/comparing-grief/). But you bring up an important point, which is that sometimes we compare our own losses and that can be equally dangerous . . . Thanks for sharing.

  62. Thanks for your words of advice. I am only sorry you have had to live so many losses to find that wisdom. You have an incredible gift for writing. I totally agree with your words about ‘philosophical’ statements from people. Though often well-intention, they so often come at a time that we are not in a place to hear them. That quote does sum it up well. Also, the point about grief hitting you at unexpected times in unexpected places is one we talk about here a lot and I think so many people related to. If only we could plan for the moments it was going to totally overwhelm us. Unfortunately, I think this is usually something people cannot understand until they have lived it – that feeling of thinking you have it together one moment, then totally losing it the next. Thanks for sharing here . . . I know your words will help others here . . .

  63. Thanks so much for tackling this topic. I asked about it because I had been talking about it with a friend who was dealing with multiple loses, but then when I think about it (I can be really blind to myself sometimes) I realised I am also dealing with the same. In the last five years I have had the grief of dealing with my daughter’s cancer diagnosis, her dad leaving us, my dad dying of cancer, my daughter’s relapse and death and then my boyfriend of two years deciding I was “too sad” and ending our relationship. I was feeling guilty about grieving for that relationship when the loss of my daughter was a much bigger and more profound one. But the bit that resonated for me in this blog was “Grief is as unique as each person we lose.” It’s ok to grieve in different ways for different losses (even kind of simulataneously). Thank you.

  64. Yes, your description of future options, actions, etc. is right on, for me at least. It was my poor luck not to have found this site, your blog, or other similar types of help back then. Of course, so much was different 10 years ago. I finally found a psychiatrist who helped a bit, although she put me on meds that I didn’t want to keep up with after awhile. Can’t say it was a wrong decision for me, but for others it’s a case by case situation. I know this is a controversial position to take, and for many folks prescription drugs would be a lifesaving option. I can only answer for myself.

    This ‘experience’ has cost me a great deal. I had gone back to school at 40 and became a middle school English teacher. I have always been a musician, poet and artist all around. The poetry became an outlet for my thoughts and feelings since it was impossible to speak and vent and grieve to anyone. Music and teaching though became casualties. I just recently pulled my piano out of storage after 10 years and started playing a little while ago. I quit spending time with children too but haven’t been able to see my way back to that – so far.

    One thing about the topic of this blog, grieving. This was REALLY hard for me. I fully understood that my feelings needed to get out. I’ve always been very comfortable in showing them…the artist in me allows easy access and expression of feelings. But as you know, grief comes without a ‘heads up’, without notice of any kind. So it’s always a movie, a song, a TV show, a stupid commercial, or a simple innocent comment that brings up the well of emotions that should NOT be pressed back, if possible. But it’s never convenient, is it? At work, at school or at the store, I could be found breaking down anywhere in public, at anytime. In the middle of it all I kept thinking, “Okay, just get through this one and it will slowly get better.” Good and true advice, no doubt. But like a tsunami wave, it was the unstoppable onslaught of one death following another that kicked my ass. Grief followed shock over and over.

    Looking back, I can’t understand how I’m still here. No one should ever have to die before their children. I was ready and tried ‘quitting’ a few times: coming back ‘home’ was too inviting in the middle of the storm while I was so alone. But I staved that off somehow. No fear or cowardice for the act, that’s for sure,…in the middle of the battle such feelings fade.

    One last comment for anyone who cares to read this: there are adages we encounter in life which seem too simple for times like these. Our base of ‘reality’ shakes from that tsunami such that sayings like, “this too shall pass,” “time heals all wounds,” “we’re responsible for our own luck” or “God would never give us something too hard for us to handle” (paraphrased) turn sour and false. It’s NOT my intention to take from people any hope or belief in God or from passing time when they want it, when they need it. But simple, homegrown philosophical statements like these only pissed me off back then as I grasped at them to keep from falling deeper. They meant so little, especially coming from someone who had never been in that dark hole.

    As a writer I collect quotations, and this one from Linda Berdoll explains better what I mean:
    “Neither enemy faces, nor the mothers that love them, come to mind when one is thinking of nothing but endeavoring to survive. Philosophizing about war is useless under fire.”

    Looking back, if I could have done anything different, I would have searched out group meetings for support. I think if I could have spent time with anyone who ‘knew’ what was real and true about “cumulative grief” (God, I never even HEARD that phrase until this blog!), that would have helped me a lot.

    To anyone who is where I have been, I offer this advice: believe that you can get through this because someone (like me) has survived it too. Seek out those who are or have been where you are, online or in the real world. These are the only people you will want to listen to. Also, don’t feel bad about grieving (especially for men), just find your ‘quiet safe place’ and let it all out. And don’t feel bad about the anger you have for the world, for God. The world doesn’t really matter right now, and God can handle your anger.

  65. Oh Jamie, I can’t even imagine so much loss in such a short period of time! I am so sorry that you weren’t able to find advice or support from your counselors that worked for you. It is commendable to you are still putting one foot in front of the other, and I appreciate you sharing – your experience will undoubtedly provide hope and inspiration to someone else early in the experience with multiple losses. You are right that wounds never fully heal and the cloud of grief never fully passes. I often feel the best we can do is appreciate when it becomes easier, even just a little, and share with one another the things we’ve learned along the way.

  66. Thanks Marty! And thank you so much for sharing this link . . . the situation your reader shares demonstrates so clearly the complexity of cumulative grief, and you provide such a thoughtful reply. Thank you!!

  67. I know about this. 13 friends and family members died or went missing – one by one – in 6 months time, from Nov 2001 to March 2002. Basically, every single person I knew or grew up with. Uncles, parents, children and best friends.

    My biggest challenge at the time was finding anyone who had gone through this. All of the advice I was given, including from the counselors I began seeing, said the same thing…depend on your support group. But they all were gone, and when I explained this to them, their advice stopped. Nothing to say after that.

    It’s been over 10 years now, and I’m still here, still keeping the faith, still getting up everyday looking for reasons to continue on. But, obviously, it’s not been at all easy. Even just sharing this information is, and continues to be, difficult. Usually I refrain from ever bringing it up to new friends I meet who quickly become people I have known the longest. In the beginning this was a problem…I couldn’t stop talking to anyone, strangers all, about what I was going through.

    Time doesn’t heal these wounds, but it makes them less damaging. This, too, shall not pass, as Mom had promised. But what else can a son do?

  68. Well done, Litsa! I so appreciate your efforts to inform those who are grieving and those who care for them. I’ve added a link to this article at the base of my own piece on the same topic, which your readers may find of interest: “Coping with Cumulative Losses,” http://www.griefhealingblog.com/2013/02/coping-with-cumulative-losses.html

    • This is the first time I heard of cumulative grief. I never knew that there were so many other people experiencing such deep pain from loss. At 7 my big sis died. Before that my 3 year old sister died. Every few years another precious loved one would pass. Including my Dad at 13. Then my big brother. My oldest brother died after that. By this time I am grown. I thought the worse had already happened until my mom got sick and died of a rare brain disease. A year later my little brother was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died a year later. People said that my situation was “rare” and “weird”. Today I was heading a bible study with 2 other girls. At one point one said that if we do this and that while being obedient to God basically everything would be all good. When I explained that my little brother was one with God and began traveling the world at 15 to help the poor, translate for missionaries going up the Amazon river to bring meds and glasses to the tribes, and more. I never knew anyone more dedicated to making the world a better place yet he died a slow painful death at such a young age. I felt like I couldn’t totally trust God to keep me emotionally safe. It was not what a bible teacher is suppose to say. Then an old man told us that his wife had passed away a month ago. He was so glad I was there because he said that we have something in common. I realized that pain like this can also bring beauty and comfort to others. I will cope by helping others cope. I may need additional help and I am thankful I found this site. The thing is I dream that I am with my mom or dad or little brother. I hear their voices and see their faces clearly. I am happy. Then I remember they died. I tell them .I cry and beg them to stay. The thought of waking up without them hurts me to the very core. I wake and it is like they just died. The 4 years that have made things less traumatic in time seem to be non existent for about 20 minutes. I cannot or will not explain how hauntingly sad it is. I don’t know what is going on with that. Or how to make it stop.

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