Family Misunderstanding After a Death

Ahhhh, family.

Family, family, family.

Family can be great, but that’s not what this post is about.  This post is about death and grief and all those times you’ve looked at a family member and said – “who are you?” “what are you doing? ” “where were you?” “when did you turn into someone I don’t know?” “why aren’t you there for me?” and “how can I count on you?”

After a death, many people feel isolated and misunderstood.  Dejected by friends, co-workers, and community they may say – well at least I have my family.  And why shouldn’t they?  Family is supposed to be there for each other. For many, their family has always been the weight that keeps them grounded and their beacon in the storm.

Here’s the problem, death and grief can make people act kind of crazy and it can seriously rock a family’s center of balance.  If the death happened within the family, then there is fertile ground for family misunderstanding as family members try and deal with changing roles and dynamics, different grieving styles, and complicated emotions.

Now, some people are lucky to find their family is exactly as supportive and caring as expected, but it is very common for people to turn to their family and find themselves terribly disappointed and confused. We receive a lot of questions about why this might happen, and due to complicated family dynamics, it’s a question we can rarely answer. Still, we have a few general hypotheses about why family misunderstanding might occur after a death, which we’re going to discuss today.  In reality, your situation is likely a combination of factors; our hope for this post is to simply get you thinking.



Changing Family Dynamics:

We just love talking about theories around here, so let’s start with one. Family systems theory was introduced by Dr. Murray Bowen in the 1960s.  Very basically, the family systems theory says that families are systems of interconnected and interdependent individuals. Within the family system, each member has a role to play and members of the system are expected to respond to each other according to their role and relationship. Maintaining the same pattern of behaviors within a system may lead to balance within the family system (but also to dysfunction).

When someone dies, the whole family system is thrown off.  Grieving family members find themselves disinterested and/or incapable of behaving in the ways they used to. Not only do people have to cope with grief, but they also must deal with the fact that a vital piece of the family is gone. Some of the roles your loved one used to inhabit will have to be filled by family members and, as everyone adjusts, a seismic shift in the way things ‘have always been’ can occur.

Different emotions:

Grief can make you feel like you are going crazy.  Your response to grief will be entirely different than anyone else’s and so will the range of feelings you experience in response to the loss.  Here is a partial list of emotions typically associated with grief:

shock, numbness, sadness, despair, loneliness, isolation, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, irritability, anger, increased or decreased appetite, fatigue or sleeplessness, guilt, regret, depression, anxiety, crying, headaches, weakness, aches, pains, yearning, worry, frustration, detachment, isolation, questioning faith.

Quite often, family members will respond differently to the same death.  When each person is going through their own individual emotional experience, it can be difficult to figure out how to connect with and support one another. When someone you love is all of a sudden angry, depressed or anxious, or numb, your immediate reaction might be to wish they would snap out of it.  Conversely, if you are the one feeling these emotions, you might feel more distant and isolated from your family.  In a perfect world, people would have patience and understanding for one another, but sometimes this is easier said than done.

Birth order:

Although research on birth order is often contested, I think we can all agree that position in the family has some impact on who we are as people, how we behave in the family unit, and the expectations we have for other family members.  If you have a smaller family, it’s far more likely that you will have a prototypical ‘oldest’, ‘middle’ or ‘youngest’.

It may be that after a death the oldest child feels they have to step in and take care of grieving parents and younger siblings.  If it is a parent who died, perhaps the oldest child feels compelled to fill some of their roles.  Maybe the youngest child has been babied and so they feel they need a little extra emotional support.  Regardless, some family members may end up feeling unsupported or forced to step into shoes they feel they cannot or do not want to fill.

This whole dynamic becomes a little more complicated in larger families.  But, when there is a large gap in age between the oldest and youngest, I think it’s interesting to consider the idea that the family the oldest child grew up with is often quite different than the family the youngest child grew up with.  This might explain some differences in relationships and in outlook after a death.

Gender/Grieving Style:

To be perfectly honest, this heading is a bit misleading.  It is not a fact that men and women have entirely different and distinct grieving styles.  Rather, prominent grief researchers Kenneth Doka, and Terry Martin believe that there are different grieving styles that are associated with being characteristically “masculine” or “feminine”.  These grieving styles exist on a continuum and gender is merely contributes to the way you grieve. For an in depth discussion on their theory, head here.  

Briefly, this theory asserts that there are two types of grievers – instrumental and intuitive.


Intuitive grief is experienced mainly in terms of feelings and emotions – “I felt sad” or “I felt angry” – and the grief response is usually focused on exploring and expressing these emotions – “I cried all night” or “I got so mad I couldn’t think.”


Instrumental grief is experienced in more physical and cognitive ways – “I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened” or “I felt like I couldn’t breathe.” The instrumental grief response is expressed in physical, cognitive or behavioral ways and looks more like ‘doing’ or ‘taking action’.

Now, you can imagine how misunderstanding would arise when intuitive and instrumental grievers exist in the same family.  The instrumental griever, who appears less emotional and more active, might seem cold and uncaring to an intuitive griever who believes that emotions are the expression of grief.

Coping Style:

I’m not going to get too in depth on this topic because we’ve written about it quite a lot. Basically, you should never assume that someone will grieve in the same way as you because we all have different coping styles.  The WYG philosophy on coping is that each of us has predispositions toward the rational, the creative, or the emotional sides of our minds.  Though we all certainly have a bit of each of these within us, we often lean toward one style over another. To hear more about this, listen to our below podcast on the topic.


Age and stage of life obviously has a large impact on behavior and how ones makes sense of their world and experiences.  We’ve written about the influence of age on child and adolescent understanding; special considerations for grieving teens; and grieving as a 20-something.  The most important take away is the idea that a person’s life context has an influence on how they perceive their experiences.  Things like access to support, past experiences, resources, physical health, existential angst all have an impact on grief and also change with age.  So in attempting to understand another person, it is generally helpful to take their stage of life into context.

Secondary Stressors:

Society’s notion that grief is something that can be ‘dealt with’ within months to a year after a loss seems ridiculous to many.  I think this notion assumes that people have all the time, space, and support in the world to deal with their hardship.  When in reality people have to deal with all sorts of extra stressors like work, school, childcare, etc on top of their grief.  Sometimes people have to prioritize and make choices about the things they will give their time and attention to which might mean…

  • Giving less time and attention to the things they used to care about
  • Having less energy to support other people
  • Choosing not to focus on themselves and their grief
  • Opting out of time with family and friends
  • Becoming overwhelmed

It can be easy to lose patience with someone when you think they are letting you down or handling things poorly, but before passing judgment you should consider all the many things they have on their plate.

They’re in a different place:

Although people would have you believe there is a timeline associated with grief, there really isn’t.  So it should almost be expected that people grieving the same loss will be at different places in their grief at different times.  You may be ready to talk openly about your loved ones death, while the rest of your family still prefers to avoid the topic.  Your sibling might feel capable of sorting through your loved one’s belongings, while you still can’t imagine the thought of it. These differences can easily result in misunderstanding and confusion, so communication and patience are key. Although some family members may never want to grieve in the same way you do, many times people just need time to find their own peace and perspective.

Avoidance and negative coping:

Avoidance is one of my favorite topics because I think it explains so much of what we do.  We wrote a very comprehensive post on this topic which I encourage you to read.  When we talk about avoidance in grief we are usually referring to experiential avoidance.

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

One might avoid in grief because they don’t like to experience painful feelings. The onset of a grief wave is sometimes predictable but often not and each new wave brings with it an ocean of unpleasant thoughts, reminders, sensations, and memories.  

Many are experiencing emotions of this type and intensity for the first time and in response, they may exhibit physical, behavioral and emotional reactions they aren’t comfortable with.  This may be particularly true for those who have yet to develop a reliable set of coping skills.  Although grief is always unpleasant and uncomfortable, for some there are aspects that actually seem threatening and these perceptions can lead to attempts to control or avoid frightening feelings and reactions.

So, when your husband is putting away your deceased son’s belongings way before you’re ready, it might be in an effort to avoid reminders.  When your siblings refuse to talk with you about your deceased father, it might be in an effort to avoid the memories. In grief, avoidance is often perceived as a lack of caring when in actuality it comes from intense caring.

Avoidance is at the heart of most negative coping.  Negative coping consists of things like substance use, staying busy, and isolation; basically anything you can do to numb, forget, and minimize your exposure to grief triggers.  To learn more about negative coping you can listen to our podcast on the continuum of negative coping:

Now that you understand the ‘why’, if your family is fighting in the wake of a death go here for some helpful tips on handling the situation.

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April 1, 2019

58 responses on "Family Misunderstanding After a Death"

  1. kaitlynn giesbrechtJuly 30, 2019 at 4:47 pmReply

    Wow this a great article. I wish i had this when my dad died four years ago. So i have a question. When my dad passed my mom was obviously hurting but she did and said alot of really hurtful things. I was 23, married, and an only child. I felt really rejected and it took a couples years for us too get to a healthier place. I notice now though that everytime we disagree, she goes backbto being this really hurtful person. Saying im not kind and much more hurtful things then that. At the moment she has cut me, my husband, and my son off because we have wronged her. My husband is just as confussed as I am. Is this expected behaviour? Should just be used to this a normal? She is all I have for family and it is devastatimg.

  2. I’m so sorry for everyone’s loss on here.

    In boxing day, 2017, my brother and I caught the flu and couldn’t get out of bed, typical in the winter. The next few days, the 29th December, I managed to get out of bed, my first thought was to see my brother and take him a drink of water. I got to his room and he smiled at me from his bed and said “I’m starting to feel better now!” His skin was so cold, hiss complexion was so pale, I gave him his water was told him to wrap up warm under the duvet and he did. I told him I loved him.

    I didn’t realise that was the last time I’d see him. The next morning I woke to my mum screaming his name, my little brother was crying on me in my bed saying “something’s wrong with Cameron… I think he’s dead” and I remember replying with “he’s 19 with the flu. 19 year olds don’t die with the flu!” The paramedics showed up not long after I’d said that, I called my oldest brother and told him something was wrong with Cameron and to come home from work. Before he even got home, the paramedics pronounced Cameron dead. I had to phone everyone, mine and camerons dad, my other brothers dad as he had raised us all, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles… I had to because everyone else was sat on my bed crying, my mum, step dad, and both remaining brothers were such a mess that at 18, I had to make the call to everyone we knew at 8am, on my grandma’s birthday.

    Since that morning, everyone has relied on me to be the strong one, I can’t cry in front of my family because I’m meant to support them, my little brother has become spoily, every wish is met, my oldest brother pretends Cameron never existed. My step dad… I don’t even know he feels anymore. But my mum. My mum takes her grief out on me. I was only 15 months younger than Cameron, and we were ill together. One night I heard her say “why Cameron and not Caitlyn?!”.

    I already feel guilty for surviving. It would have been easier if I had died, everyone would have been happier faster if it had been me.

    It’s been a year and a half, still no easier. This morning my mum woke me up on my day off from college and demanded I go to work for her, unpaid. She then continued that I needed to get a job on top of that and a more active social life. I retaliated. I don’t want a job, or an overly-active social life, I just want to pass my college course. One thing at a time.

    I told her that it’s not fair that she expects so much from only me, I pointed out that my 16 year old brother goes to school then sits alone in his room all day, and that’s fine, my 25 year old brother works part time and pushed all his friends away, and that’s fine. My step dad works, then sits in silence all day, and that’s fine, she works part time, then comes home and doesn’t move off the sofa, and that’s fine, but I can’t just focus on my education, sometimes I see friends on my days off or on the weekend, sometimes I draw to calm my anxiety, sometimes I just sit and chill out before college starts again, but that’s not ok, I need to do more, unlike everyone else.

    Last time I helped my mum out at her work, her boss smashed my phone and said nothing. She admitted to doing it but never apologised and we had to pay for fixing it. I don’t want to go back there again.

    As for work, I’ve tried to work and do my college course, it doesn’t work. I have a very creative, hands on and time consuming course. The next film I make determines if I pass onto next year or not. I want to continue to next year so much, but she thinks I’m being dramatic by spending so much time on it. I already dropped out of one course, this is my second attempt and I don’t want to fail again. I just wish she would understand.

    Sometimes it feels like she forgets I’m grieving too, Cameron was like my twin, we did everything together from the minute I could move freely, even before I could move, he would bring me toys and food, and place them round my head in the cot. He even gave me my nickname which is now used by everyone I know.

    I think she forgets that I’m human, I feel things too, I have emotions and valid opinions and I am allowed to take things at my own pace. I think she forgets that I’m struggling every day and sometimes I need a day off too. She often uses Cameron’s death against me, whether it’s using my survivors guilt to make me do or feel something, or straight out yelling “my son died! Do what I say!” (Exactly what she said on holiday when I didn’t want my picture taken). She doesn’t like it when I reply with “my brother died too”. She likes to tell me to f*ck off wherever I share an opinion that doesn’t match hers…

    I don’t know how much longer I can handle being her emotional and mental punching bag.

    • Wow. I read your story and i’m sorry for what your mom is putting you through. I think it’s time that you figure out boundaries and set them. It will be hard at first but good for both you and your mom in the long run.

      I have a similar story. Both of my nieces had the flu at the same time and unfortunately one of them passed away. We lucky enough that my sister woke up in the middle of the night to check on her so we had a few extra days with her at the hospital– even though she was brain dead when we arrived. At least we all had time to say goodbye and know that we tried everything possible.

      My nieces are much younger than you but I can already see my sister acting this way towards her living child. My sister and I are 14 years apart and she practically raised me after my dad passed away. My nieces were like little sisters to me because I lived with them and spent quite a lot of time with them. It hurts me to watch and I do not see it improving any time soon. Thank you for sharing your story because it gives me insight on how my niece is feeling and it will allow me to hopefully help her cope with the loss of her little sister. Just know that your mom loves you. A LOT but her entire world was flipped upside down as was yours. I know that for almost half of my life now I have been the “strong one” for my family after loosing my dad. I don’t think a single one of my family members have seen me cry because I was so numb and “strong”. Now after loosing my niece I have come to terms with my emotions and am trying to cope in healthy ways BUT I am doing that by setting boundaries for myself. Your mothers pain is immeasurable but so is yours. Help yourself before you help others.

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  4. I’m on the East Coast and my husband was from the West Coast. We met online.. Sparks flew.. and we got married. I am studying and working at the same time, and i had put in a lot of effort and work into my education that I made plans to move after I graduate. We had known each other for three years and married for one year. I thought i had it all. The most loving husband and extremely caring In-laws. Last Christmas, we all planned a trip overseas. My parents were already there fixing the vacation home, so my in laws, my brother in law, my husband and I would be able to just plot ourselves right in. I’ve been on vacation before with my in laws, and they are very demanding, but I was able to tolerate it, so I figured.. I could do that at my parents’ place, as well. My husband didn’t look good. I didn’t see him for 2 weeks… but i noticed he lost a lot of weight. He said he just had a cough. Anyway, during the vacation my husband and I were talking about the house we were going to live in. Initially, my F.I.L said he only had $75,000 left on the mortgage for one of his houses and he wanted us to build a house on an empty lot he had… My husband was paying for the property tax and he even took money from me for that lot… Which was fine, with me. But I had to figure out how we would pay for everything because I’m a planner. I was doing what every wife does. Ask about money. My husband was reluctant to answer.. I was a bit annoyed with him and said, FINE.. when i move there permanently, I need you to be completely HONEST with me about what you have and don’t have.. if you have any debt do not hide it from me. If there’s a will, there’s a way. After which, my husband told me he had a $6,000 debt. So my question to him was.. if you can’t pay $6000 then there isno way we can afford to build a house. After all, the property was on his father’s name.. my name was no where on the deeds, and i also had been paying for it. The vacation we were on, all expenses were paid by my parents.. Anyway. my in laws wanted everything 5 star. AGAIN, i tolerated it… but it was becoming frustrating noticing my parents were slaving away for my in laws. my husband started to notice this , as well.. and even tried to explain to his parents to not be so harsh on my parents. to which my father in law replied, “then why did they invite us over?”

    Anyway, back to the house discussion. I asked my husband to ask his father when he goes home to ask for the mortgage papers for both of the properties. His father replied, “there is $250,000 left on the mortgage and we didn’t need to worry abou tthe mortgage papers. We should pay him monthly $3,500. I only make $6,000 per month.. and my husband was in debt.. which i didn’t want to pay off until i was there on the west coast. My husband was extremely dumbfounded by the hike in mortgage. And i was not a happy camper. But, I was taught to be easy going, and I told my husband, look we don’t need the property.. we can stay at your father’s home, until all of your debt is clear and we have at least $200,000 in the bank so we can pay a down payment for some other home. Even if it takes 10 years to save that type of money, we can do it..

    My husband broke down and cried… and begged me not to leave him. I went to hug him and noticed his chest was warm. I started to cry, as well and told him I would never leave him and I’ll always support him but i was so confused about why he would ask me not to leave him.. It was the first time I had seen my husband break down… and that brought me to tears. After I asked him..”Are you okay? Look let’s forget everything. Let’s not think about anything until I come there. I will pay off your debt.. it’s not a lot of money. But i can’t do that until I move there.” All was well. Then i said, “Babe, do you want to see a doctor?” he replied with, “No. It’s just this cough.. and i’m really cold.. but we’re going home tomorrow.. I rather see my doctor than one over here.”

    we both took a nap. and when we woke up.. we packed our bags. I watched my husband and he looked like he was thinking a lot. I asked him what was on his mind.. I even told him, “stop thinking i’m going to leave you!” He then said, “I know I’m not thiking anything, Babe.” He was just thinking.. and i could tell when my husband is in thinking mode. He didn’t look happy.. So i then asked him, “Do you want to go watch a movie?” he smiled at me, kissed me and said, “Sure”

    We went downstairs and asked everyone if they wanted to come to the movies. Everyone said no, except my Father in Law. So he joined us. We walked to the theatre., it was right around the corner. We bought soda and popcorn for my FIL. during the movie, my husband held my hand and said he was tired he’s going to take a nap.. He turned to his father and said, “Dad are you eating popcorn?” his father replied, “Yes”.. then he closed his eyes. He whispered to me, “Babe, I love you.” I whispered back, “I love you.. Hey grow a mustache for me when we go back home!” he opened his eyes slightly, smirked and said, “Sure”. He closed his eyes, and quickly said, “I love you.” again. I looked at him, and said, “Why did you say that so fast?” he just smiled with his eyes closed.

    2 minutes later.. he jerked his hand out of my hand.. shook.. and rolled his eyes up. My husband had a silent heart attack and passed away right at the theatre. we were in another country.. i had no idea what to do. I was shouting screaming.. my FIL was so confused.. They shut down the theatre and called an ambulance.. I tried to give him CPR, Compressions.. everything and anything.. NOTHING worked. He was announced dead in the ambulance. I was in deep shock. I think I had lost it.. at least that is what everyone was telling me. My entire time, I’m thinking it’s all my fault.

    It took over 1 week to bring his body back home. His brother contacted my brother back home to transfer money for his body transfer… I didn’t know that.. until i saw 3 weeks later, that i was CC’d on all of the emails. I was a gone case.. My brother couldn’t do it, due to him being in another country.

    So my husband’s elder brother took care of the arrangements. As soon as we knew we could transfer him back home… my parents also paid for their tickets to fly back with me. His younger brother didn’t have enough money so my mom paid for his ticket, as well.. His flight cost my mom$3000.. so my parents just spent $10,000 on 3 tickets. My in laws however… refused to pay for their ticket and demanded STAND BY TICKETS. this time i did not offer to pay for their tickets. i was tired and I was going through a mental break down. But they were so confident they would get standby tickets. The airlines upgraded my ticket to business class, and my mother in law asked if she could switch her seat with me. The steward bluntly said no. I was willing to give my seat up. and the airline staff said I can’t. My mother in law was angry with me.

    When we got back to his house… I was floored.. His extended family took care of everything. They really put so much effort into it. But the first thing his brother asked me was to put in all the paper work for my husband’s pension. and to file a report to his workplace for a funeral cost refund. My brother in law paid $7000 CAD for the funeral and wanted that money to be paid back to him.

    I didn’t say anything.. i just went with it.. I really was not myself. I just lost my husband. I had NO children with him.. I asked for 3 things at his home.. his wedding outfit, his cell phone, his shoes that he died in.. To which, his extended family replied, “You are his wife.. you can have whatever you want.”

    His father then said, “I wanted those things.. and I’m not giving them to you.”

    They blamed me for my husband’s death. To which i truly believed It was all my fault. I still do believe it.. I think i gave my husband a heart attack from talking about money.

    I have nothing of my husband’s. I wanted to leave on good terms. so they have everything of his. I have not stopped crying since. my parents forced me to see a therapist. I have to go 3 times/week and they even prescribed me medication. But I honestly feel like i shouldn’t be living.

    Anyway, a month later, my brother in law contacted me again because he didn’t get the money from my husband’s workplace. and the pension money can’t be sent to me until I go there officially and sign it off. I find out through a credit check,.. my husband didn’t have a $6000 debt, but he had a $30,000 debt. He was paying for my father in law’s properties, their groceries.. their vacations…for the past 6 years… and HE paid for our reception.. and the debt accrued starting a year ago. right before we got married. So i’m feeling guilty for that, as well.

    I never took a dime for my husband.. in fact, i was paying him when he couldn’t pay for things. My therapist thinks I should talk to a lawyer, but i really don’t want to. They lost their son as I have lost my husband. I don’t want to play dirty.. i just want PEACE. But I’m constantly being bothered about money. I don’t have a money tree, nor do my parents, nor does my brother. We just work really really hard… and i can CARELESS about his pension money.. It’s not going to bring my husband back.. Seeing that money will just make me angry.. because that’s what started this mess.. at least that’s what i think. If I didn’t nag about money then he would be alive today.

    My mother in law claimed $1,000,000 from a life insurance policy that my husband had left under her name. They didn’t give it to her yet. I don’t know.. I stopped asking.

    I loved my husband. He treated me very well.. but he also kept a huge financial secret from me. I don’t know how Canadian law works.. Do i have to pay his debt or not.. i was hoping i could use the pension money to pay off any debt that may be pushed on to me. If not, then i want to donate that to a Heart Research fund. So much is going on in my mind.. but my in laws believe I’m having the time of my life. .. and I’m really not. I’m SOOOOOOOO tired. and hoping I get a heart attack so I could be with my husband. ..

    I have nothing, except photos of him and his wedding ring.. Not a single shirt.. not a single sock.. I know I’m so selfish. I am trying not to be.. that’s why I stopped asking for things.. but I really loved that man. He was everything for me.

    • Hey D.
      You’re doing an amazing job and I’m so sorry your in-laws have been abhorrent. You need to focus on yourself as they try to agitate you. A lawyer might help as you can just tell them to call your lawyer for info. If you’re not able to hire one, just tell them to approach you through mail or email due to your cell service being limited or something. It’s not right what they are doing to you, and you’re only one person. You have every right to limit or cease contact with them. I am so sorry for your loss and hope you the best for you!

  5. Hi! I’m Tierrra and I would just like to ask if who is the author of Family Misunderstanding After a Death which is from this blog… I just badly need it to use as a reference in our research. We’re not allowed to use the name of the website. Please do notice meee

    • Litsa Williams and Eleanor Haley are the authors on this blog. Hope that helps you document your research. Go to About and you’ll see their photos.

  6. I am fairly lucky in that my family is loving and supportive and There has been no fighting once we have all become adults. But there is familial mental illness and parental issues and such. I wonder if anyone else has experienced fear or anxiety or depression at the prospect of seeing family when the only reason you’ve seen them the last few times has been funerals? My father and brother died over 10 years ago and 5 years apart, but I still have such a negative feeling when I think about seeing my siblings or other family, that I have been avoiding it. I have this terrible negative association with these very nice people.

    It’s very sad.

  7. I was brought up by an alcoholic mother and no father in the picture. The only person I had in my life whom I knew loved and protected me was my older brother. He had assumed the caregiver role for me when I was still in diapers, even though he was only a couple of years older. He was the one making sure I got enough to eat, was clean and wore clean clothes, did my homework and my chores. I did poorly in school because of my undiagnosed dyslexia and it was my brother who patiently helped me understand my schoolwork when no one else cared. He was the reason I didn’t drop/flunk out. Our mother was either mentally ill or too far gone in her alcoholism to care about us, so we were dependent on each other psychologically. She would bring home men, some of whom would try to molest me and I started sleeping in my bed with my brother because he would cause a ruckus if they came in the room and tried something. We had both been in foster care when we were younger and were molested there, so my brother and I decided we would never go back, so we never told anyone what was going on at home. When we were teenagers, we would drive our mother to work so she wouldn’t get fired for being late at the bottling plant she worked at. I loved my brother more than anyone else in the world, but I needed him more than I loved him. Since we were still sleeping in the same bed together, he was physically reacting to that and I realized that if I stayed in his bed, we were going to end up having sex. He was also really stressed out and crying when he thought he was alone. I knew that if he fell apart, I couldn’t keep things going by myself and I still needed his protection. So I let it happen. I was 12 at the time. He didn’t rape me. None of the counselors I went to see years later will agree with that, insisting that he molested me. But it would not of happened if I didn’t make the decision to let it happen. He never hurt me and I learned to like the sex. I didn’t understand for many years was just how much my brother was psychologically dependent on me as well and wanted us to live together as man and wife for the rest of our lives. When I was 15, I moved out and avoided my brother as I was old enough to take care of myself and I didn’t want to continue sleeping with him. My brother lost it when I did that. He didn’t have anyone else and didn’t know how to be with anyone else. He left school before he graduated and after working some laborer jobs, enlisted in the Army in 2006. He went to Iraq as part of a Stryker brigade combat team. After his discharge in 2010, he was in bad shape mentally and physically. He was going to the VA and was on a lot of medication. He asked to come to live with me after my latest boyfriend and I broke up and he moved out, but I knew that if he did, he would try to get us to slip back into old roles, so I refused. We argued, then he hung up on me and I never heard from him again. Two years later, I was contacted by the police who told me that he had died of a drug overdose and I was listed as the next of kin as our mother had since died. I had him cremated and his remains put in a wood box which I kept in my closet. I felt numb about him dying for a long time, then one day I just couldn’t get out of bed to go to work. I just couldn’t make myself do it. I finally got up days later and stayed in the bathroom for another day because I couldn’t work up the effort to go back to bed. Some friends who were worried about me finally got the apartment manager to check on me and they took me to a hospital. I couldn’t talk either. I would say I was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility, except that I didn’t care enough to it to be involuntary. When I started talking again, I was told I had a breakdown and the antidepressant meds they gave me appeared to be working. I can’t emotionally feel the loss of my brother, but apparently my body does. When I finally talked about my brother to the mental health counselors, they all said he abused me. I still don’t believe it. We were both hurting and that was his way of healing his own hurt. Sex made him happier, calmer and more able to deal with all the shit we were dealing with. It was at worst, a necessary chore and not a particularly unpleasant one at that. More often than not, I was able to get into it. I’m just messed up because I didn’t help him after all he did for me and the guilt makes me think I don’t deserve anyone to love me. I shouldn’t have just tried to push him away because I didn’t want to deal with our past. I wish I could talk to him again. I wish I could say everything I wasn’t able to put into words back then.

    • You deserve love. If anyone does in the world, someone who has gone through what you have does.

      You were traumatized so much by your mother and lack of parental love, that there is no way your brother or you could have ever had a chance to have a normal life. You tried, and did your best to create solace in each other out of the dirt you had to make it from.

      If you can’t have “normal” feelings, it’s no wonder. You can only do the best with the mental handicap your parents gave you. I hope you can find someone who you can be honest with and who can see you past all the emotional scars that you no doubt bring to relationships. None of it is your fault. Humans (even animals) can’t function properly without a minimum of proper care. You and your brother were cheated. I hope you can find peace.

  8. I took care of my mom since I was 13. All I can remember is me taking care of my mom every day for decades while the rest of the family went on with their lives. My mom died last year from breast and lung cancer along with a host of other medical complications.

    I took my mom to every cancer treatment with no family members in sight. After all the treatments we decided to move to Florida to escape the harsh New England winters. Against my better judgement we moved my sister and her kid with us. It turned into a total nightmare. My sister complained day and night and used every excuse to drink and take pills.

    When my moms cancer returned my sister bailed, quickly moving to the other side of town. as she proclaimed that she came to Florida to have “fun” not play nurse. With tears in my moms eyes she told me I was right about everything, which I already knew my sister was a worthless pieces of trash who didn’t want to help herself let alone anyone else. Shes now posting on face book that I murdered my mom.

    This is my reply to my sisters post.


    My mom and I moved you to Florida with us (against my better judgement) because you called day and night from your 3rd floor attic apt and screamed that you were infested with bugs and rats.

    I paid all expenses, hotel, moving truck, rental car, food and bought your kid school supplies. When my mom got sick you bailed on her moving to the other side of the city (the run down side) I might ad. I never begrudged you anything, you screamed about wanting a scooter to get around and the very next day I took you to get one and even drove it home for you until you were comfortable driving it yourself. The only time you used the scooter was to go the store to buy booze 5X a day.

    I gave you nearly $1,000.00 in CASH to put towards a used car and you smoked it in one night and blamed your so called kids father and had the police kick him out of your apt.

    You told me your kids fathers apt was bug infested and that you never wanted your kid near him because he was a big time crack head, yet you shipped your kid off to live with him because your kids school was on to you about never sending the kid to school. It’s all on file and searchable for all to see. Don’t worry if need be I can easily provide links.

    In RI the only time my mom and I seen you was when you needed money or when you wanted to use our washer and dryer.

    You threatened your best friend Debs children with bodily harm and death, that is also searchable on FB.

    You never even once went to see my mom at ANY of the cancer treatments at RI hospital that _I_ alone took her to. the same for the radiation treatments or even the primary care Dr, you were a totally worthless daughter as your are a worthless human being and unfit mother, a pimple on the ass of society.

    You lived in my house in Florida over 6 months RENT FREE and never saved so much as a dime. Endlessly blaming everyone else for your smoking, drinking and drug addictions. Taking your child to bootleggers off Cranston street in providence because you wanted booze on a Sunday night.

    Now I see you posting pics of your kid sick and at the hospital AS ALWAYS, nothing ever changes with you. Why not admit you load the kid up with cough syrup to knock him out so you and your junky friends can smoke crack?

    I gave my mom a wonderful life, dressed her, changed her, washed her, went food shopping for her, put her to bed, took her to ride on her electric scooter everyday on the bike path and my mom and I would stop at the bakery and I would let her pick out whatever she wanted and I took her numerous times to Newport and even rented an electric car for her so she could drive it around Newport by the ocean, don’t you remember any of that or is your brain so badly burnt you have selective memory? I helped put her on and off the toilet, these are things YOU as her DAUGHTER should have been doing.

    When Kim and Pam got sick with Cancer _I_ took them to treatments, I never seen you there not even ONCE TIME!

    When the going gets tough Michele gets going….going all the way to the liquor store and that’s about it.

    Before my mom died she told me I was right about everything.

    I have not called, texted emailed ANYONE in RI other than Joe and Rob who stay in contact with me. In other words I moved on with my life, I am doing AMAZING.

    I gave you an equal chance to better your life but you didnt want to stop the drinking, drugs and drama and thats why you are leashing out at me because you know you made a grave mistake going back to that shit hole Providence RI, but in all honestly we both know it is where you belong. You can take the girl out of the projects but you cant take the project out of the girl.

    • I understand your grief and pain and frustration.

      I just want to share something related to show the other side of such a heartbreaking situation

      My mother is mentally ill and I found her difficult but not abusive or anything to live with and left home as soon as I could support myself. She felt great responsibility on her shoulders from propriety or Catholicism or whatever to “do the right thing”, so she took care of 3 family members in their dying years. She may have done some of it out of love, but all she ever expressed was resentment and annoyance. Why was she taking care of her mother in law more than any of the woman’s own children? Why did she have to care for her aunt when the aunt’s own child wouldn’t care for her? The answer in these cases was that those old people hurt those offspring so badly that they just didn’t have any love left for those mothers.

      I am not caring for my mother. I watched her take care of people while bitching about it day after day and it taught me that was the wrong way to be. It turned her into a sour rotten being, or she already was that way and she used it as an excuse.

      I offered my siblings monetary help since they live near her and are shouldering all the burden, but they are so kind, they didn’t take me up on anything (they don’t have to spend much for her care, but they visit and spend time, and I’d pay something for the privilege of not doing that)

      My point is that we siblings lived through our less than stellar parenting. It bonds us and we have vowed to always love each other, especially since one brother killed himself from inherited mental illness and inability to cope with that and his upbringing. I see so many siblings torn apart by what happens with bad parents. I wish that trauma could bring more siblings together like it has us. We know we each have a comfort level with our contact with Mom and we accept that and support each other whatever the others need.

      It’s a tragedy when siblings turn on each other. I wish I could fix each and every sad story I hear like yours.

  9. Everyone’s story here makes my heart hurt. My sister and myself were both very ill 3 years ago. She had cervical cancer and I had breast cancer. We both received chemotherapy and radiation. She did not make it. I am still here, and very grateful. My brother told me a few weeks ago that after my sister passed away, my mother said, “Why did God leave Susan here and take Judy?” I am confused and hurt. I currently help take care of my Mom and Dad, travelling over 2 hours to do so several times a month. I still want to help, but my heart is not in it like it used to be. I guess she was bargaining with God and thought if I died, then my sister could be saved. But this comment is something I have to carry now, and it is a burden. I cannot talk to my Mom about this because now she is very fragile with congestive heart failure. But if I could bring it up, I guess I would tell her I’m sorry I disappointed her.

    • People with chf can occasionally have low oxygen to the brain which can make them say irrational, mean things….if she indeed said that. Who knows? Maybe your brother misunderstood her words or misquoted. Could happen. I would find a way to talk to your mom about your sister’s passing, not confrontational, but an open way that might lead to you having some closure.

  10. I have read your stories and they are so sad. I’m very angry at the moment. I have over the last decade lost everyone. I lost my dad at 14 because I was born 21 years after my oldest brother. When my dad died my mum ignored me for three years. She was very jealous of my relationship with my dad. He took three years to die from a horrible disease called Asbestosis. Basically it’s like drowning or lung cancer. Anyway I’ve had a life full of ups and downs, I went down the drugs route at one point but got myself together at 23 and never looked back. I had my daughter at 24. I achieved a lot I took on other children who’s mums didn’t want them and I brought up 3 kids altogether. I split with the partners and met a man 13 years ago whom I loved very much. Since 2007 starting with the suicide of my beloved nephew I have lost my entire family. My sister died in 2008 and it had the worst effect on me. I couldn’t work or do much. Then it was just one after another, aunts, uncles, friends, my oldest sibling, then mum, and cousins then in September my last brother. Out of a family of 9 there’s just me left. It’s been so hard. Then my partner who had been an alcoholic when I met him and whom I helped to keep away from it for 11 years started drinking behind my back. Then in January even though I’d just lost yet another loved one he turned on me. Saying the most terrible things like I hope you die of cancer and so on. I was devastated. My two step children live abroad and my own daughter is horrible. She has treated me like shit to be frank and even at my mum’s funeral she was rolling her eyes behind my back and she has told the most terrible lies about me. She has two children and I love them so much but she has bullied me and taken everything from me, and blackmailed me with not seeing the children if I didn’t do what she wanted. So I’ve stopped contact and am very much alone. I just don’t know what to do next. I’m even doubting God at the moment because my finances are pretty awful. I know it could be a lot worse but I feel he’s let me down so much. My faith has always helped me but after losing 14 loved ones in the last decade I feel abandoned and instead of being financially comfortable like so many of my sister and brother in laws etc. I have nothing. I feel so much for you all who’ve written your stories too. My daughter for example I said to her recently after I left myself with nothing to give her money, and when she was paid I asked her to lend me a little money for groceries. She said you put me on this earth so you’ll have to sort yourself out. What have you done for me? It’s insane. She nearly had the kids taken off her by social services because she told so many lies. Me and my ex partner had them every weekend for 8 years. I have lots of health issues and depression and anxiety. When I approached my daughter to tell her she said tough now you know how I feel. She is nearly 31 years old and still blames me for her problems yet I have done nothing but support her. I am so angry and also want to see my grandchildren but have put my foot down and refused her bullying. She always goes on about the men in my life. I have had two partners over 30 years, and she lies about my first partner making out he hit her etc. when he didn’t. Even behind the scenes with Social Services I helped and wrote to the heads of department and so on. I’ve always helped even when she thinks I haven’t. Anyway the grief is stifling me and I just don’t know what to do next. I’m an artist and author and used to make a good living from my art. Running community businesses. Now I’m just so lost. If anyone has any advice I’d really appreciate it. I’m in the UK but I could do with a friend from anywhere including Mars!

    • Life. Goes. On.
      I know it can get hard sometimes and I’m sorry about that; but if there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that THIS HAS TO STOP. Stop looking back. Stop waiting for your daughter to recognize your existence and appreciate your presence. If she wants to, she will, but obviously she’s too busy blaming you for anything and everything. Stop waiting for a miracle to happen. Just go out there. Read new books. Watch new movies, series and shows. Listen to music. Teach children. Help poor. Learn a new language. Travel. Find a new job. Write.
      From all those family members that you had, YOU ARE THE LIVE ONE. Take advantage of that. Appreciate what you have and seek out for what you don’t.
      You have to live, darling.

  11. I lost my oldest son September 17,2018, we are so hurt. It’s hard to be positive or even see other teenagers. My husband and 2 surviving children 10 and 4 are all having a hard time. We are leaning on GOD but it’s so hard.

  12. Hello everybody I have been a victim of herpes virus for the last four years and had constant pain, especially in the knees. During the first year, I had faith in God that I would be healed someday.This virus began to circulate throughout my body and I have been doing treatment from my doctor a few weeks ago, I came in search on the Internet to know if i could get information on the prevention of this virus, in my research I saw a testimony of someone who has been cured (hepatitis B and wart virus) by this man Dr ALUYA and she also gave the email address of this man and advice we should contact him for any cure that it would be of great help, so I wrote to Dr. ALUYA telling him about my herpes virus he told me not to worry that I was going to be healed !! hmm I never believed ,, well after all procedures and herbal medication given to me by this man a few weeks later I started experiencing changes over me and Dr ALUYA assured me that I have been cured and i was ask to go for a medical test after a while I went to my doctor to confirm if I have finally be healed behold, it was true, and my friends my advice is, if you have this same problem or any other then you can email Dr ALUYA via email ( or call him on +2349030926716

  13. I lost my son this year on September 25th 2018 he was only 26 years old I have seven kids and me and my kids is taking it very hard I find myself closing myself in and not want to be bother with the outside world

  14. Prayers to the lady that lost her 10 yr old son on Sept 3 2018. My heart goes out to you.

  15. My son died Sept 3 2018 . He was 10 and I’m having a hard time. I miss my baby boy so much and I hate how he left this world. He is my little boy and I just hate living without him

    • Wow..I just lost my sister suddenly and I am a basket case since Im.the last member of my immediate family now.
      But my heart goes out to you loosing your baby boy
      Praying for your peace.

      • I know how that feels. I’ve just spent ages writing my story about losing my family on here and can’t see it. I don’t think I could do it again as it drained me to do it. I’m the only one left out of my family too. I’ve never felt so isolated or alone and yet it’s my choice. I am down and my faith for the first time is really wavering. I have lost so many people and my friends have abandoned me too, I think they think I’m the angel of death. I just don’t know what to do right now. I come from a big family and they’ve gone. My dad died when I was 14 40 years ago this year and my mum 2 years ago. It’s my sister Christine that devastated me in 2008 as well as my nephew’s suicide just before. Since then ti’s been one or two each year. 14 funerals. I have the most selfish cruel daughter too. So she’s no help. She hasn’t once asked me if I’m okay. Her only questions are when am I having the kids or when am I giving her money.

        • Hi Suzy,
          I am so sorry for what you are going through. Your story did show up. You may not have been able to see it initially because of your cache. Have you considered a support group in your community? They can be a wonderful place to meet others who are also coping with loss, so comfortable to talk about it, but may also develop into friends. Do you have a therapist for your anxiety and depression? If so, they may be able to recommend a group in the area. At minimum, this may be a moment to focus on what we like to call ‘found family’. When our blood family fail us, sometimes looking to friends or looking to make new friends is the most realistic and helpful option. Sending good thoughts . . .

          • It was excellent advice you gave for an unsupported family member to move on with their life after a death of a significant other and focus on moving on with her own life. The only support I got from her was coming to my loved one’s funeral at my financial expense. She criticized the disarray of my house due to 8 years of hospital, lab, doctor and diagnostic visits with my dear friend before he passed away 2 months ago. I had visited her every year since she moved 900 miles away after our mother died. I befriended her friends and family, gifted them over 30 years and never even once got a thank you note with the word “aunt” on it, a card, or any personal token of affection from her or her husband. She would often not come to the phone when I called to speak with her.

            That similar thing just happened to me realizing the unavailability of my only sister to support me emotionally. She selfishly, depends on my resources to fall into her hands upon my demise and has stopped all communication with me. What she does not realize is I refuse to give up on myself and allow that to happen at this point in my life. I may be alone and isolated, but I care enough about myself to try to move on and disrupt her evil scheme to benefit from my resources without ever showing any regard for my feelings or my plight. Thanks for your input on this site.

  16. My brother passed away in 2012 after finding him in the ocean by a guy on a water ski. I come from a family of 7 with 6 of us kids and Mum. Before my brother died, life was hectic and we were all not living together and we were all separated to focus on ourselves, until he passed away. When he died it was strange because we did the funeral and it was really hard because we l kind of broke down inside and out. It was difficult weeks later because we all kind of turned on each other in a weird way and we have never really been the same. I kind of went numb at the time and instead of having time to grieve, I had to work and finish my last year of uni. My mum lost her job in Australia and my brothers stopped living, my sister nearly ended up in a mental hospital. So to escape from all of this I instead of supporting my family I moved overseas to start a new life by myself. Four years later and I’m back in my home town and I have a partner, a dog and have a really good job that I enjoy. I have tried to reconnect with my family but we just don’t get along anymore. I’m not sure but since I have been back, I have had thoughts of my brother and just seem to want to cry sometimes. Just being in familiar surroundings and although the city has changed, it makes me sad to think that he is not living life anymore. I understand that I need to in a way live for him, but at random times I find myself thinking about him more than ever before. I watched a YouTube video online about an old 104year old doctor who. Flew to Switzerland to essentially kill himself, and the
    his familys opinion that they gave was that it is exactly what he wnanted and wanted full control of his dealth. The guy didn’t exactly have any illness or wasn’t in any pain, he just realised his quality of life has changed and wanted to die. The video was published on July 18th which is my brothers birthday. I am thinking is this a sign that I watch this and it help me finally grieve over my brother or am I just really exhausted over a hectic week. Which then lead me to this site and being able to read other peoples stories
    and I think for myself to acknowledge grief in a healthy way. If you can’t tell already, I am a person that seems to what to push all this stuff to the back of nowhere and hope it never comes up again. It’s a little bit overwhelming and makes me want to try reconnect with my family but only once I understand my own grief first. I think it’s really early days but I feel a lot better now

  17. Two deaths of parents this year- one was my parent the other an inlaw parent. Many siblings on both sides.

    What’s worked for me – Draw pictures of any negative feelings and shred them. Gets it out of my system without making it a bigger problem. Everyone has their own unique relationship with the deceased. I found myself thinking when a sibling or in-law described their parent( or interest of the deceased) that it sounded nothing like the person I knew….unique relationships. Adjust expectations of all siblings. Expect nothing more of them than a friend and probably a little less or a great deal less. I was putting too high expectations on my siblings. We all get different bumps in our life and those bumps helps us prepare for grief maybe a little more than others. And people, I think are born with different abilities to handle grief. I am going with the giving myself oxygen first like they saw on a plane and then helping others starting with my family (husband/kids/dogs) who lives in my house and of course my surviving Mom. And for the person that dies that you admired, do something each day that is positive in their memory – Call a friend, send a thank you note, do a hobby, volunteer, take a walk, connect with a long lost friend(life is short) etc… If you really admired the person that died….be more like them. It would be nice if grief had shortcuts….

  18. I lost both parents within a year of each other finding that my father was dying 24 hours after losing my mother. My aunt and uncles and families his siblings went into hiding. She was when he wanted them the most they did not want to know. They were younger than hi. They were but was always there for me them when they needed help. So by the time of his death 6 months later he had felt so rejected and hurt he had a final wish of not wanting any of them at the funeral. The only person I managed to get to visit a week before he died was his niece who I had to collect and take home an 100 mile trip something I could have done without having dad so ill. I she said that no one believed me when I said dad was so ill. What does the word terminal cancer mean to them makes me wonder. I did ask her to tell her family how close to death dad was but she said she would not get I involved. Dad lasted a few days longer and in respect I let them know. All on answer machines. Dad’s sister phoned back with no words of sympathy only are we invited to the (swearing) funeral or not. I had only had lost dad an hour prior. I was going to dis honour my dad’s wish and let them come until a few days later I received a letter through the post one that said that I had no right in doing what I was doing and that the family would be paying a visit and the outcome would be my choice but I needed to be punished. I had to get law enforcement involved as I deemed that as a threat and therefore kept my dad’s funeral wishes. Ever since there has been many lies about me. I robbed my parents of money, I never worked and made my parents keep me, and I am a born liar and have mental issues. I! I moved area as I could not take any more can no longer visit my home town as I know so many people there who if I see them tell me what they have heard. There was well known hate between my aunt and a nephew they would not be in the same room together yet they are the best of friends now. My uncle said that I lied about how ill his brother was. My dad weighed 4 stone when me died and was on a syringe driver for the last 8 mo this for the pain. His excuse for not coming to see dad was one of the heartless things I have ever heard. “well he does not come to see me so why should I see him’. A brother that my dad and. Om did so much for when his marriages broke up and more. I have no family at all now. It hurts but one day karma will happen I just can’t make it move on from it as I am angry and hurt and that was why I go to the grave with me. I have no happiness or interest in life. I wish they could fe the rejection n. and hurt that they dad to have I have been in his last months.

  19. My mother passed away a few months ago. Prior to her passing, she went into a coma for 2 weeks. The day she went into the coma, my husband and I were supposed to leave on vacation for a month to Greece. We obviously cancelled our long planned trip without a doubt and stayed by my mother’s side until she passed. We stayed for the funeral of course which was the most difficult thing to endure. After the funeral, my husband and I decided to re-book the trip to Greece because he had family there and an ageing mother that we needed to see. For myself, it felt like the right thing to do. I wanted to get away and also visit my mother’s roots such as her village, her sister, her brother’s and parent’s grave. I had also discussed this trip with my mother, prior to her illness and she was so happy that my husband and I were taking this trip and that we were going to visit her family and roots. It felt right. I was going only for 4 weeks and would return. What happened is that my 2 sisters did not agree with my decision to take this trip because I left them to tend to my father while I was gone. I distinctly told them that I would do my part when I return and that they would be able to take a break then. Also, what I forgot to mention, during this trip I took care of some family land matters for my father and was calling him every single day when I was gone. He was very responsive and looked forward to my calls. I am now back 2 weeks and my sisters are giving me a very hard time. They say I abandoned them when they needed me the most and that I don’t care and that my actions speak louder than words. I don’t agree with them at all. I never abandoned them. I only left for a while and I am back to do my share and taking care of what my dad needs. I have been trying to meet up with them to discuss family needs and they both have been avoiding me. I expressed how much I love them and that I never meant to hurt anyone but they don’t want to listen. What they fail to understand is that I do have a husband that has family in Greece. My husband was here for all of us, until my mother’s last breath and he was holding our hands and supporting us. They fail to listen and understand and only see their emotions. They are causing me more stress and I really can’t handle this at this time after losing my mother. I don’t feel the least bit guilty for leaving and going to Greece. I believe they don’t get to call the shots on how I mourn my mother’s death. Maybe my way was to leave for a while and since this trip was on the back burner, it was the right thing to do. I don’t feel bad that I did this. Actually it was very healing. I do however feel bad that I hurt them as they say and they are not even giving me a chance to express myself in person.

    • I hope you can continue in love with your siblings, telling yourself it is their grief coming out wrong and as anger at you. I hope that is true. It is a tragedy when siblings can’t bond with their grief. I hope they can hear you if you tell them you love them and want so badly to be close to them and grieve with them but are very hurt and pushed away by their harsh words.

      It would be terrible if they could hear that and still be mean. I’m so sorry. I would hate to have anything come between me and my siblings. Best to you.

  20. My grandad passed 3 days ago he was my rock he stop me from going into care when I was 6 year old I’m 31 now he raised me he has 4 daughters and one son because I told his only son that he passed because one of the daughter didn’t want him to know the whole family has turned on me threatening my miss and kids and one of my kids is disabled I can’t grieve I’m just filled full of anger can’t even go to my grandad funeral even tho he was my second dad even my nana the one I love so much has turned on me his son didn’t even know his dad was dying that how evil they was so at this point I can’t grieve just full of hate

  21. Mine is the same story as Barbara Silvia – lost all my family and within 5 months of each other, including my younger sister who was so very dear to me and my best friend. I too am alone and isolated.

  22. Eric. I understand your comments. I won’t say I know how you feel because I hate it when someone says that to me. I”m 58 and lost my husband of 32 years 2 years ago after a sudden illness. Sometimes I feel there is nothing left of who I was and want to jump off the nearest brridge because I’m not living I am existing. Will this pain ever end?

    • Elsa,
      I’m 52 and I lost my husband if 30 years Dec 24,2017. It’s still very hard and I know what you’re going through . I’m very crippled with grief and struggle just paying bills and have no desire to live. I want to die too but we have a 14 year old daughter that I have to be here for.
      Please hang in there. You are not alone. I have found that praying at least two times a Day is very helpful. When I stopped praying, things got noticeably worse. So please pray. Also , I’ve been told to volunteer and do something good for others, and I want to , but right now I’m just struggling to get out of bed and get my own things done.
      I don’t mind if you contact me. Maybe we can help each other.

  23. My wife of 28 1/2 years Katherine passed away from stage 4 cancer on my birthday, March 24, 2018. She was 55 years old. I am a natural introvert but Katherine, and eventually our (now) 18 year old daughter Laura, were the only people on earth I wanted to be with all the time, or at least all of the time they wanted to be with me. My heart is torn in two and I am a broken man. I continue to work as an architect for an architectural firm, but if not for the emotional harm it would cause my daughter I would jump off a bridge right now and be done with this, because this is not a life. If is a vague ruined shadow of a life. My sister in law (Katherine’s sister) has attempted to jump into the breach and I think assume the mother role for Laura, but while I appreciate her sincerity still it makes me feel left outside on the perimeter of the life which used to be mine and ours. I am lost, empty, aching and sick in my heart. I am 62 years old, and I wish I were dead.

    • Eric,
      Although your comment was from May of this year I wanted to see how you were doing. I went on this website because I just recently lost my dad, and I’m having a very hard time coping with it. after I read your comment, I felt very bad for you and I hope that you are doing better now. I too am very lonely and don’t feel good mentally, but I know my 18 year old son needs me and that keeps me going every day.
      I guess we have to find coping mechanisms but sometimes when you’re in this so fresh like me it’s really hard to even get the drive up to do it.
      Again I hope you’re doing better and I’m sorry for your loss.
      Mary ([email protected])

  24. I’m so sorry you were abandoned with many deaths Barbara.. Our only true comforter is God.

    • Hi I lost my son September 25th 2018 at the age of 26 years old don’t know what he passed away from but I just can’t let him go I find myself closing myself and I have 7 kids and my kids is taking it very hard right along with

  25. My only sibling died in October 2017 after a six-week bout with cancer. She was divorced and left behind a 24 year daughter and a 17 year old son. During the time of her illness and after my sister’s passing, my niece and I became closer. However, after my 88 year old mother (her grandma) died (of a broken heart) almost four months after my sister (my father died 24 years ago). I thought my niece and I would still be close yet, but it turns out now we are not. It bothers me because I think I was trying to hang on to a piece of my sister and I feel hurt because my niece doesn’t say anything to be anymore so that is one more loss. So, I stepped back (I unfriended her on Facebook) because I can’t handle this anymore–I am 54 years old and I am the only one left in my family and I have some fresh grief to process. Was I wrong to distance myself?

  26. My mom passed away this last November…I am the youngest of 4 siblings. It has turned so ugly, not about money because we all get 1/4 of that but her possessions. Somehow my older siblings has chose me to “bully” if you will. They do not want me to take anything of my mom’s. I’m constantly defending myself and my family….I finally just gave in and told them that I will not take anything…but this hurts so bad. I was my mom’ one constant…my brother didn’t help her or come around much, my older two sisters were constantly fighting and they would take turns not talking to my mom…I don’t understand why they feel I don’t deserve anything…I’m hurting so bad….

  27. Four months after my 80 year old father passed away from a major stroke, my mum is breaking my heart and turning against me as she is falling back in with my sister who disappeared for several years after creating much havoc for the entire family. She took my parents for lots of money more than enough to buy a house but has nothing to show for it. My sister actually married my ex son-in-law.. what a nightmare. He spent two months in jail for domestic violence against her and got right back together. She has a history of this with previous six husbands. I told my mum to be careful with her after hearing of them staying out all night at a casino. I mean please don’t keep mum out until 5 a.m. gambling. It was all down hill from there. She said, oh my God and walked out of the room. Then yelled that everybody was alienating my sister and does she have to pay for the rest of her life for her mistakes. Sister has history with all four of her children that now won’t speak to her. I tried to explain that I cannot let her back in my life and even had to get a court ordered restraining order against her for verbal harassment. Trying to move on and have a relationship with mum but am afraid that this is the beginning of the end. My sister’s son (whom won’t speak to her) is coming and hopes to explain to mum why we all can’t go through more of her narcissistic behavior. Feeling so lost to think of how hard I have worked for a good life and family to only be put in the same boat as a self centered irresponsible immature baby sister of 51 years old. At one time she even said that she didn’t think our dad was her father. How hurtful for him to be told that. I miss him so much and grieve for him and grief for my mum losing him after 60 years of marriage. Now going through a nightmare of her hurtful behavior toward me. Is it time to let go, I think it may be the only option.

    • This is such heartbreaking to read. I am by no means a professional in psychology but it sounds as if your mum is finding great relief from her own grief by being with someone (sis) that is on the reckless side..judging by your comments. Perhaps self punishment? If she were to be closer to you instead, would that mean more talk and having to actually feel where your dad is concerned?
      I ask this because I see a pattern here. My mother is exhibiting quite the same behavior pattern. My only child passed unexpectedly December 8th, 2017. She was found in her bed and we will never really know why. With the loss of my child, I am only 2 most in and also grieving the loss of my mom and she is still alive. Mom was very close to my daughter and has always seen herself as my daughters “first ” mom. After she got the news, she became very verbally violent and then turned physical. She told me she never really loved me and even wished for my death. This wasn’t a fleeting has gone on for years but now the scraps of any relationship are destroyed. She is currently out of my home and living with my brother in a hotel room! My brother has many gambling and alchohol addictions. She plays him like a fiddle and puts him on a pedestal. I have 2 younger sisters who have a terrible relationship with her as well and want to cut ties but are having a difficult time letting go..she’s mom! Today, she’s being released from hospital back to hotel room after having bi lateral pneumonia and I can see the recoil in in my sisters. It’s as if we are all 3 hiding so we don’t have to know her demise yet brother…will retrieve her and keep trying to take care of her even if it kills him. The 2 of them are feeding off eachother and it sounds like your sister and mother!
      I don’t know your whole story and I am not qualified to give you advice but here’s my options. I will attend grief meeting bi weekly, maintain relationships with my sisters as much as possible, stop trying to rescue my brother and unfortunately finally acknowledge what I have known for years but took my daughters death to realize…I’m letting her go! It hurts very much but there are no other options for me. I have a very supportive husband who is patient and doing all he can to help me with my child but he can’t take my mom and brothers reckless ways either. Sometimes through grief, a thousand people can be in a room and one will often feel alone. I hope you make a good decision for your life and perhaps with professional advice as to terminate your relationship or not with your mom. I hope you do not allow the reckless ones to steal your time away truly grieving your dad because that time albeit never ending, is also very critical in its freshness. Best wishes for you!

  28. My 33 year old nephew died suddenly last week. He was partially estranged from his mother ( my sister) and had problems with addiction and PTSD from serving in Afghanistan. His wife had refused to have anything to do with my sister and she was not allowed to see her 2 grandchildren. But can you imagine, finding out about your son’s death on Facebook? That is what happened. I was not close to my nephew and do not fully understand all the problems between his wife, himself, and my sister, but I find this heartwrenching and inexcusable. That no one could think beyond themselves and pick up the phone and tell my sister that her son had died. My nephew’s half-sister also appears to have gone ballistic (again, I don’t understand–I am not involved), but the childishness and infighting and anger astounds me. It is also now apparent that there is probably no funeral or memorial service–who knows why– so those of us who are living have no proper opportunity to mourn our loss and celebrate the good in this young man’s life. Tragic, really.

  29. My son died 3 years ago at the age of 27. He had a heart attack. We never knew anything was wrong. I have a daughter who is two years younger than he was. It has been so hard for me to process his loss, my first born, my little man. He was 6’2” and patted me on the head! My grief external has been in waves, crying over seemingly nothing at times. I was a teacher, and had to retire. Every high school boy reminded me of him. During the last year my daughter says I have become distant, snappy and critical. How do I help myself? I’m not the same mom I was.

  30. I am the oldest of 3, the only daughter. My younger brother hardly ever answers my calls or responds to my texts. & I don’t reach out often. In fact, I continually talk myself out of contacting him at all. He chose to work Thanksgiving Day this year, “off duty” work, than to spend it with our mom. Or me. My son didn’t see his cousins, my brother’s children. It’s become the norm; expected. On a more positive note, my mom & I have become closer than we’ve ever been since my dad’s death (June 2016). We are very much alike & hardly agree on any topic in particular, but her more openness to talk about my dad, answer my well thought out questions, share his stories of his past in the Army & Vietnam, his dad I never met, his time in an orphanage with his siblings, etc has strangely enough made me closer to him than I ever was in his waking life, and for that I am forever grateful. Maybe it’s a strange thing to admit, but for me there is a sense of peace in my grief. Happy Holidays 2017.

    • I don’t know how old your younger brother is, but I was him in my 20s. Life was too much fun to bother with family much. They just let me be and was happy to hear from me if I called. Now we love each other very much although we still don’t communicate much. (Everyone is busy). I hope he is ok and you aren’t too hard on him.

  31. My mom passed away on January 18th 2017. My dad was her main caregiver for her for a few years until she became very ill and had many hospital visits and passed away at home. Her body was tiny, frail and just could not go on any longer. She was released home from a nursing facility a little over a week before her death, so with her wishes to go home, it was where she really wanted to be. My brother, dad and I were pulled closer than ever before, enduring such deep pain of the sad last days.

    We knew that my mom wanted to be cremated, but did not want an official service, a funeral or a wake. Her siblings and family live in Japan and we knew that one day, we’d return her ashes to Japan to be with her parents and brother.

    At the mortuary office, we discussed the plan to cremate my mom. We had not discussed this before, but my brother elected to for a visitation to see mom. My dad did not want to do this and stated this clearly to my brother. Out of no disrespect at all, he was sure he could not bear to see her again. I, however, was torn with my decision on whether I should or not. I let my brother know that I really did not know what to do, but since the visit to see mom was more than a week or so away, that I would carefully think about it and let him know very soon.

    In the extremely upsetting few days, I told my brother that I would go, but I was very reluctant to see her in a very bad state, as she was so frail and that my last time I saw her, on my birthday, I could not bear to see her this way and she and I had a quiet, lovely last moments that I saw her alive. I had a change of heart the more I thought about this; the fact that mom and I had a very surreal last moment with a very unspoken type of “goodbye,” that I will never, ever forget. I relayed this to my brother. He said he understood and later asked if I’d like to write a few words that he may read aloud to her. I did offer a note for him to read. He, his family, dad, and I were all quite saddened, but respected my brother and family’s wishes.

    We all met after the visitation. My brother and family were truly relieved that it was over and that they got to see her and video taped the words spoken to her, laid flowers with her. This was a nice meeting with my family and we all shared our moments of grief along the next few weeks.
    I then started getting unanswered emails, texts and phone calls from my brother, and only my brother. My sister-in-law said that he was having a difficult time and needed “time.” Confused, I offered my support over the next few months. He also did not call my dad and since then, my brother and family have even sold their home, moved and not told my dad about this. I also kept this secret.

    Recently, I could not bear the fact that almost 5 months have passed without any acknowledgment on how my brother was doing. Finally, I reached out to my niece. I explained that I was hurt and sad that we were so “distant” but the fact that our elderly dad was being shunned, this I could not take, it was so sad.

    My niece then proceeded to drop a huge bombshell on me. She said that “Her dad resents my dad and I on how we decided to handle the passing of grandma.” She said that these were his exact words. She further stated that he is very hurt that “you guys did not attend her service and decided not to honor her or say any kind words in front of her.” She said that if she put herself in his shoes, she could not even imagine how sad it would be to stand alone with mom and not have brother or dad there. She said he thinks about this a lot. Also, the fact that I kept changing my mind and telling him that I was going to go and did not, it made him feel even worse. The other family members say that they are not blaming me, but asked that I try to see his perspective.

    My answer to her was that it was absolutely the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I explained that I saw her last on my birthday and how my decision was never intended to hurt my family. I lost my best friend that day. There was never anything stated to me of how they really wanted me to be there, how hurt he was, etc. In fact, we saw each other weeks after, without any spoken word and I did not get any feeling of resentment from my brother, nor from anyone else in his family.

    I’ve decided to not contact them anymore and let her know that I needed to step back and perhaps one day, we’d talk about everything, but that I was in utter shock that this was how my brother felt (and family felt) as no one has tried to contact my dad or me since then, just an occasional text from my niece or sis-in-law.

    I am hurting so much and wonder if I should have gone. However, I stand by my decision as one of no intent to hurt, but more of a last moment seeing my mom. It saddens me and I realize we all grieve differently. I want to write a letter to my brother and let him know that I am not a selfish person and feel confused and saddened.

    Any advice or similar experience from anyone would be greatly appreciated.

  32. I do not see any current comments but I can relate to the feeling of being alone in grief it will be 2yrs in august that my 28 yr old son passed away his birthday is coming up june 30th he would of been 30. After the first few months people started distancing theirselves from me except for one or 2 people. I tried not ever to be a burden i didn’t call people in the middle of the night i didn’t talk excessively about his death but still my family my sister other relatives i was close too don’t invite me to gatherings anymore or call like they used too it is very hurtful they do seem relieved when we speak that im doing ok. There is one person who calls whenever someone dies to say did you see what happened to that person at least you didn’t have to go through that, i watched my son die a agonizing painful death from a disease that shouldn’t of been fatal. My husband works alot , most weekends & alot of OT he has to because of his job so i sit here while they gather&im never invited when i mentioned once that i was told i have a husband. I lost 3 of my closest friends all in their 50s my bf right before my son died i feel like she would be here for me. Thank god i have one person who invites me over or i would never get out. I do not know what I did to be left out i really tried to work my way through the first year of Jordans death without being a burden. Has anyone else gone through this after losing a child? And for all out there who are mourning the loss of someone they loved dearly im sorry.

  33. My Mom just died unexpectedly after a surgery. She had heart problems, but we weren’t told she had so little of a chance to survive… This happened 5 days ago. She was only 60. Now I’m left to plan a memorial while autopsy is performed… The hospital doesn’t even know why she died.. I only have my brother and obscur Aunts and Uncles offering to take my Moms place.. But now they’re the ones wanting family heirlooms, China sets, diamonds… Green eyed monsters every time someone dies. To make matters worse, my mother in law has been trying to convince my husband I’m no good for him for years, and he’s my only support. She says we’ll support you, then I ask for what I need, and she always has an appointment, or treats me like her dr appt is more important than my mothers funeral. I told my family if you want a funeral, go for it. I’d want to scream at my MIL for kicking me when I’m so hurt. My son was just in the hospital a week before my Mom died. My MIL said this wouldn’t happen if she cared for my son. I told her she must be a mind reader to make such know it all statements. She’s just so pompously rude.. I’m sorry, but I’ve prayed for her for years, and she keeps trying to drag everyone down into a pit. She hates her life, hated her parents, hates me.. My husband gets his butt kissed by this faker, so he’s oblivious to her abuse of me. I wish she died instead of my Mom. But then I realized, the good die young, no wonder my MIL is 74 and keeps getting healthier. I believe you choose your heaven. 100 years of heaven on earth, or an eternity of heaven with Jesus. My Mom chose eternity, my MIL is vain and worldly, she’s chosen the 100 years on earth for her heaven.. Bad choice, but it’s one we all have to make. Live for God, or self.. My Mom Chose God. My MIL doesn’t understand faith, and she’s the Pastors wife. It’s flabbergasting… I hope my MIL lives a long time since she thinks it’s ok to hurt others, Because such won’t inherit the kingdom of heaven, the bible says. I told her she treats everyone different based on looks and riches. She tried to profess sainthood, and never says sorry without being sarcastic, or blaming you for being sensitive. She calls me pathetic.. She has no repentance, and my Mom always repented. God bless her soul, and please help my MIL to wake up out of the darkness and treat others as she would be treated.. My dad died 13 years ago in a hospital. I heard him screaming. They amputated his leg, and he was having blood transfusions that removed his pain medicine.. It was like seeing a civil war scene.. Seeing my Mom peaceful at her death was comforting, but I miss her, even though I know Jesus said she’s mine now. He told me the morning she died that He ( God) would be in front of her, and behind her. I thought he meant to keep her safe in the surgery, but now I think it was to escort her to heaven. To live is Christ, and to die is gain. Believe, and we’ll be where Jesus is. In Paradise. Our only hope. Don’t forget what the devil did to Job, and his miserable comforters he had, but the end of the story is Job was restored. And he even said, If a tree is cut down, the stump still seeks water and will once again shoot forth a branch. Jesus is the water we seek in death to make us grow again. He’s going to wake the death and say, death where is your sting? No more death, sickness, or crying when the Son of God returns. Have this hope, because there is no hope in this futile world. God said he’s going to make a new heaven and earth, and the former things will pass away. If this makes you sad, then your hope is in the world. Look up for hope. And faith is not real unless we work it out like a muscle. God bless those who mourn.

  34. My story is too long to post but i will say i was abandoned too with many deaths and now i am alone and grieving everyday

  35. It’s also a lot more jumbled and messy when the death was a stillborn child. My family were there, flew across the country, called etc… But within months it dwindled to nothing. They all never called and supported after the first anniversary of our son’s death. Like people move on and grow tired of you still hurting and being different and ‘stuck’

  36. My parents abandoned me long before my husband passed. Last February, he was admitted to ICU in a cancer center. They came down to “help me” because I had 3 dogs at the time, and it was 45 minutes to the hospital. They got in late Thursday evening and went with me to the hospital Friday a.m. John was having a bone marrow biopsy. My parents stayed long enough to hear “it was complete and John was resting”. My father had to eat lunch, so we went to the cafeteria. As soon as he finished eating, he and my mother left. I stayed with John all day and didn’t leave until nurse shift change around 7:30 p.m. I got home after 8:30, took care of the dogs, checked phone messages. Around 9:30 p.m., my father told my mother “I’m tired of her sh**, let’s go.” It took them about 15 minutes to pack up their stuff. I, of course, was crying and asking “what did you mean by that?” My mother told me to “get hold of yourself. what is wrong with you?” I told her “my husband is fighting for his life, and you’re asking what is wrong with me?” They walked out the door, and I was left alone for the next six months to take care of John, three dogs and our house.
    Unfortunately, John took a turn for the worse last July. I renewed our wedding vows with him on his last night. My parents drove down again, but it was much the same. My father had the nerve to tell my sister “don’t bother coming down because she isn’t having a funeral”. My sister, thankfully, didn’t listen to him and flew in the next day. It was around lunch time, and my father told my mother to fix lunch. My mother said “she can fix her own lunch”. So, I tolerated them one more day, and thank God they left the next day.
    Three weeks later, I planned John’s memorial service. I really thought my parents wouldn’t show, but unfortunately they did. My sister and her son were at my house along with my parents. I snapped at my parent’s dog who peed and pooped on my rug which I had to clean up. They packed up their stuff. The next morning was John’s memorial. My parents showed up late, managed to suffer through the service, ate lunch and had my brother-in-law take them back to my house. They drove back home and never said a word to me. My father wouldn’t even look at me at the service. My sister, her husband and nephew were appalled, but I told them “this happens every time”. Needless to say, I don’t have a relationship with my parents at this time. They refuse to acknowledge what they did, won’t talk about John . . . I’m supposed to forgive and forget anything happened. I ask God to help me forgive them every day, but the trust has been broken once again, like I’ve let happen for over 40 years.
    I’m now totally alone. All three of our dogs passed within one month of each other after John passed. I just try to get by one minute, hour, day at a time. Thank you for letting me vent.

    • I’m so sorry for your losses. I can certainly relate. My father died unexpectedly in 2008. Since then, our family has completely fell apart. Personally, I have been at death’s door 3 times, not even a phone call to see if I made it. Months and months of recovery. No offer to even bring a pizza by, or anything. I have come to realize that just because people share the same DNA does not mean they are obligated to associate with each other. My family has a toxic relationship. There is no love loss…love doesn’t treat others that way. I refuse to walk back into that atmosphere ever again…just like I wouldn’t expose myself to some horrid incurable disease. God knows my heart. I have given it ALL to Him. He knows them better than I ever did. I understand the “guilt” feelings of “but that’s my parents”….After the way you were treated, and apparently your Mom stood by and allowed your Dad to be so cruel, she’s as guilty as he is. I would not welcome them in my home ever again. They don’t even deserve an explanation. It’s obvious he didn’t want to come in the first place, he made that clear. Again, your Mom said nothing. Respect yourself enough to refuse to allow people to be in your life and treat you worse than an animal….because there is NO respect coming from them. Ask God to help you with your feelings of hurt, abandonment, resentment, anger, and all others…ask Him to remove those painful memories to where they bother you no more than some kid who you were in the first grade with…they’re just a memory without emotions connected. My Mom said in a conversation she started and had asked my opinion on something, and I gently told her what I thought. She didn’t like it and responded, “Hahahha…Do you think I need “somebody like YOU” to advise me on anything?…Hahaha……..That did it, that was the last straw. No, somebody like her does NOT need somebody like me for anything anymore. I don’t even answer the phone if she’s on my caller ID. It’ll just be more drama.I’m in control of my life and who is welcomed or not. Respect and love are ALWAYS together in a relationship of any meaning. If one or both aren’t there, then you are just a pawn they use to their advantage and then tossed aside until the next time they want to use you.

      • P.S.
        Even Jesus Christ knew when to knock the dust off his shoes, and leave people to their own devices. It’s time to clean your shoes off……….

      • “I have come to realize that just because people share the same DNA does not mean they are obligated to associate with each other.” This has been a hard pill to swallow for me as well. It took me 3 years of hard work and letting go to get to this point…family was always so important to me and now that they have shown their true colors, I no longer feel obligated to include them in my life. They don’t include me in theirs and haven’t since my husband unexpectedly died in our home. And I tried and tried, gave and gave, and finally gave up. One way relationships are just that: one way. So I took the road away from them. I’m feeling “freer” now that I’ve done this, however, I miss knowing I have family. POOF! Husband dead. POOF! Family gone (well, gone after they got what they were bequeathed) and not one ounce of checking in on me or helping me. Just unsolicited advice and give me this and that and silence. I hope you reach a place where you are at some sort of peace with letting go of this toxic familial relationship. I send you love.

  37. Wow, so much loss, I am so sorry and my heart hurts along with yours. Please know that you are cared for and loved by people you have never met, such as myself. I know it’s hard to do daily things and stuff you believed in once upon a time are not comforting anymore.

    Day by day just do the best you can and I hope new situations and people will appear in your life to give you comfort. After my sweetheart passed, it took me two years till I laughed, what a weird feeling that was, didn’t know what to do at that.

    Hang in there, you have come to the right place to express yourself and we all love and help each other as best we can.

    Best wishes to you.

  38. MONTHS? They expect it to take months?
    Right after someone in my family was murdered in a terrorist act and I was having trouble handling it compared to how “easy” it was to process other losses in my life, so I asked for help, someone told me that if I “wasn’t better in two weeks” they’d think something’s wrong with me.
    Two weeks later I still felt like I’d been hit in the side of the head with a shovel, was walking through my days feeling so dazed and confused I could barely work out simple directions much less process the whole thing and move on within weeks.
    They give you less than a month to work through a homicide, then start in with the conspiracy-theory crap not much longer after that. A month ago I ran afoul of a person who was going around telling everyone September 11 never happened and that all the people who died on the planes “went right on living their lives.”
    So I guess we’re all hiding our loved ones in the broom closet or something just to annoy the person who believes in these government conspiracies? Online such people come a dime a dozen. No matter how hard I try to avoid most of them I still end up running across some of them.
    I’ve never had to deal with certain things in death by sickness or accident that I’ve had shoved down my throat bc it was a homicide. With accidents people blame the dead person sometimes, but they almost always do with a death by intentional violence. Knowing they’re probably doing so to make themselves feel better on a subconscious level does little to console me some days.
    Then you have people who feel sorry for the suspects at Guantanamo, the ones who had evidence against them beFORE they were tortured by CIA “officials,” so even if the behavior was totally stupid on the government’s part the people incarcerated had enough evidence against them to keep them there. They’re not innocent lambs like some people want you to say of them. And we won’t even discuss why it’s still in Pre-trial hearings 14 years later. I have a friend whose daughter was killed at the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado by a madman with a semi-automatic weapon. The trial’s been and done less than 3 years later.
    When the victim advocate in New York City told me that almost everyone who goes through a homicide feels RE-victimized by the court system I thought she was exaggerating, or I didn’t assume it would be much more traumatic than the actual death. I thought I’d seen the worst that could happen. Well what they’ve done since it occurred has been almost as terrible as the main event, no thanks to Cheney/Bush, who I voted for but not bc I thought they were going to torture prisoners. That’s NOT what I envisioned when President Bush said he’d “make the people who did it pay for their crimes.” I thought he meant the normal punishment of prison and/or death sentence.

    This loss changed things in me that I wasn’t willing to give but felt forced into it. I never thought I’d have trouble reading murder mysteries or fiction in general, I never considered that some writers glamorize homicide in fiction until it happened in my family or that I wouldn’t be able to read certain books if the information is handled insensitively.
    I remember reading a Stephen King book, Bag of Bones it was called, where he said writers need to be more sensitive to the way they handle fictional homicides. It was 1994 and I hadn’t had any personal experience to relate to what he meant; I wondered what he was talking about but disagreed with his statement.
    I agree now. Slasher movies for the sake of violence is an example of what he meant; there are novels equivalent to slasher movies that show violence for gratuitous reasons. I can’t watch or read about things I used to view or read with impunity. The Halloween movies for instance. I can still watch Friday the 13th though, at least halfway; Jason was bullied before he died. Not the greatest reason to become a murderer but at least there’s an impetus.
    Other things changed in me too. I wouldn’t mind so much but it happened against my will; I DO mind that and I also care that people assume I have 100% control of how I feel about it. That I can turn it on or off at will. If I could I’d already have done so.
    The only thing I can control is what I talk about and never discuss it – or hardly ever do. I’ve never talked about this part of it, but the question of ‘how has the loss changed your identity’ persuaded me to talk.

    My favorite sister-in-law lost a live baby and one to stillbirth. They were twins, one never had a name bc it was dead at birth and she hadn’t named it. She named the other Katelyn Patricia Barnes and the baby lived 5 1/2 months, then died a few days before Christmas. She got really upset at my stupid brother, whose first comment was that he was glad the baby died bc “she’s not suffering anymore.” She suffered the whole time bc she had no surfactant in her lungs and they didn’t know how to manufacture it then, but all Kim could see was that the baby was gone and had no chance to improve, which she thought would occur even though she was a nurse and her rational mind knew it wouldn’t happen. It was emotional and anyway it was her first baby. My mom didn’t help by taking my brother’s side, being glad the baby was no longer suffering in neonatal intensive care.
    Kim stopped believing in God’s love and stopped going to church. She may have started believing in his love again but still doesn’t attend church.
    I stopped believing in His love after September 11 but went to church anyway and hoped the mind would follow the body. That’s another thing that changed against my will. Love IMO is either there or it isn’t, you feel it or you don’t, and it wasn’t there afterward. I went to church until someone accused me of being “too tolerant.” I left and haven’t returned.
    It didn’t help that my mom forgot to mention the living baby was part of a twin set in which one was dead at delivery. I was an EMT-D then; I would have known how truly much of a miracle it would have taken for the other baby to live in that case and never would have gotten my hopes up in the first place. But my mom waits until 10 years later to casually mention Katelyn was part of a twin. I would have recalled if she’d said something earlier bc I would have known not to have high expectations for the other baby. Expectations mattered in this case.
    I don’t think I’ll ever understand that loss even though it was more Kim’s than mine. I’ve never prayed a rosary again. I’ve never believed in the magic of touching beads to make something happen. I also don’t believe in Holy Water anymore.

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