Grief Makes You Crazy

I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news for you…grief makes you crazy.

I suppose that may be a bit of an exaggeration. In reality, it only makes you feel crazy.

In the beginning, you feel totally out of sorts – like lash out at everyone, cry over everything, wear the same sweatpants for a week insane. Then over time you only feel a bit odd every now and then – like I’m a 5’2 woman totally unwilling to let go of the 6’1 man’s tweed suit from circa 1950 that’s hanging in my closet.

Stop looking at me like that.

Fortunately, I also have good news…when it comes to grief, crazy is the new normal.

It looks different on everyone because we all experience grief in our own way, but on some level, we all struggle to understand ourselves and the world around us in the face of profound loss.

Think about it – it makes total sense. Whether the loss was sudden or you were able to anticipate it, as soon as you understood and accepted that someone you love was dead or dying you began the grueling work of grieving. If ever a rationale for temporary insanity was needed, one could certainly be found among the range of reactions and emotions associated with grief and loss – 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 – to name a few.

Understandably, many will find it hard to acclimate to these emotions. One day you’re walking along like normal and the next day you feel like an alien has invaded your body; your actions and reactions have become totally unpredictable and confusing. In search of something familiar you look to your primary support system, your family and friends, but they seem changed as well; some avoid you, some dote on you, some are grieving in ways you don’t understand, and some are critical of the way you are handling things. Everyone is searching for the new normal.

The first few weeks are foggy. You wake up each morning thinking maybe it was all a bad dream and you muddle through the day trying to make sense of life without your loved one. Just when you start to get a grip (or not) you are forced to step back into your pre-grief life. It seems absurd that the world would keep moving in the face of your tragedy, but it has. Sadly most grievers can’t abandon their duties for long – parent, employee, bill payer, pants wearer – you now have to figure out how to continue to exist in the roles that have been yours since before the death.

Alas, that is not all. You must also incorporate new roles and duties, the ones you inherited when your loved one died – mowing the lawn, balancing the household budget, single parenting, closing old bank accounts, dealing with insurance, taking in grandchildren. God never gives you more than you can bear? We’re seriously testing that theory.

Sometimes even more disorienting is the emptiness felt by those who have fewer responsibilities as a result of the loss. Perhaps you have spent the past year dealing with treatments and prescriptions, appointments, prayers, and hospice. Now that’s no longer necessary and a life put on hold to be a caregiver must be restarted. Or perhaps you’re a parent whose life was previously made colorful by a child and fast paced by the duties of parenting. Now you find yourself waking up in the morning to rush through the before school routine, only to realize there’s no one to hurry out of bed or call to breakfast.

Life is forever changed and things feel meaningless, gray, and empty.

This is when you really start to feel crazy (you’re not). Friends don’t know what to say to you anymore. You are supposed to be back to work, school, the PTA, but you don’t feel the same. You’re worried you are alienating people by talking about your loved one and the death. You’re confused about your purpose. Everything you knew about life has changed. You’re questioning your faith and life’s meaning. You’re wondering if you are supposed to be getting better and you can no longer see the world in color.

We here at ‘What’s Your Grief’ like to talk about a condition we call ‘Temporarily unable to see rainbows’. Have you ever noticed that many of the resources, articles, books, and materials created to help people who are grieving use images of people staring off at sunsets, standing on a beach, or gazing at the clouds? These images inevitably lead Litsa and me to a conversation that goes something like this…

Eleanor: You know, my grief never looked anything like that.

Litsa: Yeah my grief didn’t look like that either.

Eleanor: As a matter of fact, my grief would not have been impressed with that sunset at all.

Litsa: Mine either. My grief would probably have wanted to punch that sunset in the face.

No thrilled about sunsetThe irony is, when you are in the throws of grief you may really struggle to find the beauty and the joy in life and it may be quite unlikely that you would stop and admire the beauty of a rainbow or the vastness of an ocean. Those who cannot relate to these images begin to worry, what’s wrong with me that I don’t have such a zen perspective? The inability to derive joy from things that were once pleasurable can feel a lot like depression and it can be frightening.

Don’t worry you’re still not crazy. These are normal feelings. I know because I’ve experienced my own grief and I know because I’ve heard hundreds of other grievers talk about the same types of experiences.  (If you’re worried that you are actually experiencing a psychological disorder like depression, anxiety, or PTSD – read this and this and this)

You’ve probably heard people say, ‘the first year is the hardest’, this is sometimes true.  Quite often, the second year is no picnic either, but at some point, things should get easier. The intense and unrelenting distress of acute grief will be replaced by less frequent moments of sadness, anger, and frustration. You will still have bad days, but you will know things are getting better when those days are outnumbered by ‘okay’ days.

This does not mean you are ‘getting over it’, moving on, or forgetting. An important part of healing is discovering the role your loved one will play in your life after their death. Of course at first, you hold on very tight, afraid if you let go your loved one will disappear completely. You hold on to items (not crazy), you leave rooms untouched (not crazy), you pay their cell phone bill so you can continue to hear their voice on their voicemail (not crazy). These things are not crazy and you may continue to do some of them forever, but some you will eventually let go of as your grip slowly loosens and you realize that nothing short of amnesia could make you really let go.

And slowly…slowly…the faded colors of life become more vibrant. The world unthaws and you start to find beauty peaking through in places you would never have expected it. Your season of grief has left you weary but stronger. You know you will never be the same and you begin to accept that you must integrate your loved one and your experiences and continue to live…a little bit wary, a little bit wise, and a little bit crazy

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Prefer to listen to your grief support?  Check out our podcast on 12 ways that grief makes you crazy.

April 29, 2017

65 responses on "Grief Makes You Crazy"

  1. My wife passed Nov 4 2018. I found her on recliner cold and unresponsive..called 911 and pulled her on floor as told and started cpr but she was gone. She began having mental issues since 2016 that increased until her death..she stopped eating and drinking. Had her in and out of hospitals the month of October for dehydration..Finally got appointment with psychiatric doctor ans she was gone before it happened…I will never be the same

  2. Im 19 and my mum died in oct 2017, 1 year ago when I was 18. She was 47, smoker but non drinker. She passed unexpectedly in her sleep due to heart issues. 1 year on I still have days just like the day we found her but if you are mentally strong you will learn to cope with the pain. My experience is it gets harder then easier, but I am still grieving.

  3. My husband passed away 1 yr and 5 months ago tomorrow. I’ve know other women who’ve lost their husbands but noone had as good a relationship as my husband and I. I didn’t think I’d ever find someone who really understood how I felt until I read some comments. My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer yet I couldn’t believe that he would really die. I had been the sick one for several years of our marriage. He took me to at least two apts a week. Would pick me up off the floor when I would pass out. He always took care of me. Even after he got sick he still tried. The hardest part was trying to care for him being as sick as I am. But I did the best I could. Hoping every day we would go together. I don’t know if I have a gift or if it’s because we were so close but I have seen him a few times since his death. I once felt him touch my arm only to realize he wasn’t really there. I still hear him inside my head making comments and once after days of looking for something I asked him where it was and he showed me. I often feel crazy but have talked to counselors and was told I’m not. I just don’t know if I can ever feel a little normal again. I’m the only widow I know who hasn’t gotten rid of her husband’s clothes. His jacket is still hung on the same hook next to the door. I’ll never really accept that he’s gone.

    • Omg I tghought I wrote this story .
      My husband and I had 36 years of an amazing ride. I was the one sick. During our life.
      For the last 6 years he worked every day at Zales 24/7 with 3 cancers ,till one morning going to work ,he looked at me and said called 911 I cannot move my neck .
      When they put him on a stretcher. I cried bc I finally realized how thin he was. I wonder and everybody else, wherevhe got the strength to go to work. He wanted to make sure I was financially able to go on. But I would give my life to hold him one more time .
      He fought 42 days in the hospital having aneurysms.
      While they gave them steroids for his brain he got pancreatic cancer 2. When he heard it he gave up.
      3 days later he lost all his motor skills but not his brain.
      I finally did what he asked me to do ,cut his life support.
      I feel so guilty bc I didn’t want to see how sick he was bc we were supposed to finish our lives together.
      I hold him ,I kissed him for 20 minutes, while he was crying but he could no more. After that I stayed alone with him for almost 4 hours .
      He died 14 months ago and I cannot get over his death. The silence , his smile, his love .
      The kids are far away and don’t understand my grief.
      He was my love, my everything.
      I want him back.

  4. Carolyn Tolliver-LeeOctober 23, 2018 at 11:35 amReply

    In less than 60 days it will the first anniversary death of my husband of 37 years. Just as the seasons have changed since last December. So has my ability to manage my life and my grief! At first I lived in shock. Shock that this man whom I had care for and advocated for had died. How could he have done such a thing? Didn’t he know all I had done and was doing was because I wanted and needed him to live? How could he had not known that? All the times I stopped whatever I was doing to rush to be at his bedside in hospitals emergency rooms. At the drop of a hat I would rush to the nursing home whenever they called me. How I would firmly and boldly tell his medical team what I thought needed to be done to restore his health condition. All the phone calls to friends and family members to join me in prayer so God would restore him! I wanted him to live! I wanted him to be here with me! Call it selfish if you like. But I never saw him dying because I wanted him to live. Death was not a part of my agenda. Death was not on my radar! How could this have happened to him-to me-to us? I was doing all I could!!
    Did we loose the battle? Did he forfeit his right to live? Did we give up? Did I stop believing in God’s power to restore and heal? I never saw death. I only saw life. I only saw him living regardless of his medical condition. I saw life.
    But that day, the last day of his life. I knelled down at his bedside. He laid there so feeble, so frail, so weak and lethargic. It was different from another time that I had ever seen him before. I didn’t recognize him. I never seen him like this before. I called his name and asked him to “wake-up, because I wanted to see his eyes. and I wanted him to see me.” He did-barely. He never blinked, just a far away look. But I believe he heard me. He heard me and saw me for the last time. This was our good-bye!

    • Your story touched me as it captured many of the same emotions I felt before my husband died in May 2018 and how I feel still. Death wasn’t on the agenda. It was inconceivable. How could he leave me. It wasn’t possible. Not us. We were special. This just doesn’t make sense. I fought for him. I made stupid bargains with myself if only he wouldn’t die. I would be a better person. I would do this I would do that. Because he just couldn’t leave me. My whole existence – our whole existence focused on beating this cancer. Why oh why couldn’t he have used my passion for his life to stay with me. To not succumb. Can he see me now. Can he see my despair. How much I miss him. How much I ache. How empty and lost I am. How broken I am. On his last day in the ICU when the Dr said “he is dying” I said I’m not ready I want him to open his eyes one more time. I want to see him, I want him to see me. And he did open his eyes for a brief moment. I’m exhausted by my grief. By the unrelenting horror of it all which does not give a moment’s waking peace. It consumes me. My heart goes out to you and everyone who suffers such loss. I feel hopeful by reading comments that the intense pain should diminish its just a tough and lonely road to that spot.

  5. I lost my grandma Evans 3 years ago by death on September 28th at the age of 99 and I sure do miss her so much it hurts.

  6. This article is amazing! Here I thought I was the exception!? My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 colo-rectal cancer in June. She was given 2 to 4 months to live. As she was leaving her diagnosis appointment they took a blood test on the way out, They called the next morning and told her to go to the closest hospital. Her sodium was dangerously low (105- Normal is 135-145). We put her in the Cleveland Clinic where my uncle was fighting for his life with a very rare case of Bullous Pemphigoid. He was in their ICU for over 100 days. My mom was in the hospital for 6 days and she passed away from complications from Sepsis. I was called that she had a respiratory arrest during a CT scan. I arrived at the hospital to see her intubated, external pacemaker(being shocked 60 times a minute to keep her heart beating), on full inotropes to increase her heart rate and contractility, and medicine that brings her blood pressure up. You see I’m an ICU nurse and I’ve seen this many times. I was finally living what my patients and their families have gone through, it was awful. To see my Mother the sweetest woman in the world, being shocked , it killed me inside. I was devastated . My Rock was gone. I asked them to turn off the machines and she dies within 3 minutes, 9 days after diagnosis my Mom was gone. For whatever reason i thought I was read to return to work after 6 days. Boy was I wrong. You see I own a full time business and work as a full time RN as well. I’m a busy guy. I guess I figured if I buried my grief in work it would eventually go away. It didn’t. I was cloudy and distracted. I don’t believe I did anything wrong at work, but I wasn’t charting very well. I was taken on the schedule and I am still not back on it after 8 weeks, I’ve also had a ton of screw ups in my business. I’m in financial ruin, my marriage is under pressure and one of my two children wont talk to me! ` TIm so depressed there are days I dont want to get out of bed and I feel like I can never sleep. HOWEVER if there is one thing I leave you with… YOUR the boss of you! You can do this and NEVER give up hope. Neither my Mom nor my Uncle would have wanted this to happen to me. I will conquer my problems and I WILL return to work!

  7. I have read each and every single post on here before leaving my own. My GOD this sucks sooo bad!! I too feel like my heart has been ripped right out my chest. My Dad, my hero, passed away June 1st 2018 totally unexpectedly. He woke up one morning and went to work like he did every single day for as long as I can remember but never made it home. He was only 66 and in great shape, healthy, never smoked, didnt drink, and though he had a very mild heart attack 24 years ago there were no known of issues going on. Well something went terribly wrong that day and before he got in his car to drive home he collapsed. By the time my family and myself arrived at the hospital he was gone. It has been exactly 18 weeks today and I still feel exactly the same way I did the first week. It doesn’t get easier!!!! It fucking gets harder and harder. My poor mom!!! she’s so lonely even though we try to keep her company and keep her as busy as possible. Her and my DAD were always together. He was her everything. When I tell you my Dad was the greatest man that ever walked this planet, I am not exaggerating. He was truly the most loving and caring husband, father, grandfather, and friend one could ever have the pleasure of knowing. I love and miss him so much it really fucking hurts. He is on my mind allllll day everyday. I sometimes still think I dont believe the reality. I still wake up thinking its just a terrible dream and then I get sucker punched in the throat again and have to go on and fake another day. As far as anger? I fucking hate everybody. Everyone annoys me, I dont give a shit about anybody else other than my family and sometimes in my mind wishing bad upon others. I often think to myself why couldn’t it be that guy and not my father. I hate GOD!!! He leaves all of these scumbags on earth that are worthless shit heads but takes a good man from us way to soon!! And fuck!! the way it happend??? it doesnt get any more screwed up than that. Look I can go on and on for days. I dont see any fucking colors or rainbows in the future. Maybe 20 years from now this will get easier but for now I will be thinking shut the fuck up when you talk to me, i will be thinking go to hell when your in my face, and the anger will be there forever.

  8. I lost my brother on july 29th 2018. We were 10 years apart to the day. He was in a car accident that killed him instantly less then 5 miles from home. He was only 17. I feel so lost so robbed so angry. I feel like he never had a chance and i wish that it could have been me on those back roads. Lord knows it should have been several times. We lost our father march 10th 2018 and my dog of 12 years 2 days before our birthday. Its been a very tough year. And some days i just feel like im broken. Like someone just took my heart from my chest and all thats left is a bleeding jagged hole.

  9. This is beyond grief I can’t stop crying I’m lazy I’m listless I lash out I saw I miss JT so much it hurts every part of my body I have a huge hole in my heart in my throat I have never experienced this in my life I’ve lost my parents many relatives friends John was my boyfriend of 5 years. We split up a few times but got back together little Reef the day before he died I have no answers his parents shut me out nobody told me anything that we let me go to the services. John and I were complete opposites, but we had an amazing chemistry! )I met him 35 years ago, and thought of him off and on through the years, and then we ran into each other five years ago both divorced not looking for anybody started an immediately relationship like teenagers he loved to hold me hug me, would watch together or go for walks together. My heart aches I don’t even go out unless I have to. It’s not like I’m a child from a 56 year-old woman raised my kids, Was so fearful that they wouldn’t accept John and they did . I just wish she was sleeping approved it was Soul life after death signs nothing there and then spend two and a half months since his passing. I pretend he’s still alive I know that sounds silly.

  10. I lost my best friend/sister last October, she was only 66, cancer. I live in GA and she was in TN. I would go to take her to treatments for weeks at a time until my daughter had to have a major surgery in July. My daughter went manic and we had to stay in a mental clinic in Houston to experience Hurricane Harvey. Returned back to GA and my brother phones also lived in TN to explain he was not doing well. I drove up and attempted to find the correct doctors although it would take a month to get an appt. His wife took him to a ER, horrific place, and my brother had told me if he went there he would die.. He did, the week before Thanksgiving. He was only 56. My mother moved to Fl to live with my sister and her health has suffered to the point that now she is in a horrible assisted living not receiving the proper care. Week to week we just don’t know what to expect. Half the time I speak with her she remembers, I drove down in July to see her in the ER and she has no recollection of my visit. My daughter now 18, has been to many specialist and we have learned that two sectons of her brain are inactive. She has extreme manic/rage issues, attempted to murder me and now is off to college in NC?! Her boyfriend of 3 years introduce her to drugs, and detest me. My daugher has to take 14 holistic vitamins a day, 3 liquid. Her dad has anger issues and only enhances the extremes.. He is mentally abusive and I still think he is the love of my life! HA! I am and always have been a single mom. I left my job to be a full time mom when my daughter was 6. Now I am 56, lost and each job lead seems like a black hole. I cannot seem to get over the saddness, loss, depression the list goes on. I try to escape with alcohol which only temporay relieves the pain..

    Thank you for allowing me to share. I used to be a very strong person, have seen many therapist, tried anti-depressants.

    Now feeling hopless and worthless.

  11. I’m falling apart my husband is dying. Caring for him is overwhelming. I know I am suffering from anticipation of what lies ahead. I feel sick each minute fearful every moment. This feels like it will kill me before him. I feel it physically. I cannot remember ever being calm…for a moment of calm I would give anything. I don’t feel like I can go on yet I must..can anyone help me

  12. More questions than answersJuly 19, 2018 at 12:50 amReply

    I lost two high school classmates to suicide years ago. I was friends with one and acquaintances with the other. What I can’t figure out is why the death of both of these boys absolutely destroyed me and why I’m still grieving their loss. We weren’t very close friends, and I certainly wouldn’t put myself in either of their close circles. I never dated them, I’d never been to either one of their houses. And yet, the death of the two of them, just weeks apart my senior year of high school, destroyed me. I’ve since put myself back together, and career wise, I’m a successful adult. But I still think about them all the time. They’re in the back of my mind, and I just, I’m not sure what to do or think because in most ways, they aren’t mine to grieve. They were classmates of mine, we said hi in the halls, but we weren’t close, and I certainly don’t feel as though I’m entitled to grieve over them. They aren’t mine to grieve. Their siblings and their mothers and their relatives, those people have a right to grieve. I didn’t know either one that well. I just don’t get it. I know grief is different for everyone, I just don’t understand the way their deaths affected me so deeply and intensely, when I didn’t have a deep or intense relationship with either one.

  13. we lost my 12-year-old grandson last January I have a lot of depression anxiety panic attack PTSD and other disorders caused from being in the military my youngest son needed some help so I came back to Michigan from Tennessee to help my son in doing so I found myself permanently transplanted back to Michigan I live with my daughter and her family for almost 3 years and I was just getting to know my grandkids I moved out and my daughters home in December 2017 with having made a lot of promises to My grandson and many times I had to break my promises for one reason or another either because he was grounded and couldn’t you’ll go and do anything or because I had things come up and I had to take care of her but I always thought I would have plenty of time to do things with him and take him to hunt did you do shoot a bow taking Payton to take them out in the woods in and enjoying natur my grandson and many times I had to break my promises for one reason or another either because he was grounded and couldn’t really go and do anything or because I had things come up and I had to take care of her but I always thought I would have plenty of time to do things with him teach him to hunt teaching him how to shoot a bow and arrow taking him fishing and just taking him out in the woods and enjoying nature my Older son got in contact with me later that day or the very next morning to tell me that my younger grandson his sisters son had passed away unexpectedly and suddenly with all the medical problems that I am caused by the military and leave that being able to for older son got in contact with me later that day or the very next morning to tell me that my younger grandson his sisters son had passed away unexpectedly and suddenly with all the medical problems that I am caused by the military and leave that being able to fulfill My promises that I have made to this boy it is actually put me over-the-top in my group and my problems there is an a day goes by now that the slightest little thing starts me crying I can’t talk about it without having a hard time to speak because of the crying and the grief that I have every time my daughter write a post on Facebook speaking about her feelings and the sense of extreme loss of her son where she puts a picture of something he did when he leaves younger and has a caption under it I get so tense up inside and I cry for hours I don’t know how to get past this one I’ve gone through a lot in my life I’ve had a lot of loss I’ve had a lot of grief and pain suffering but I’ve always managed to get past this one is really giving me an extremely hard time to get through it I have psychology counselors I have psychiatrist that I talk to our time and just plain counselors to help me with many things when I feel I may have the strength to get past this one something else happens for somebody says something or picture is posted not necessarily of my grandson or about my grandson but you’re staying showing a man and a child fishing I just don’t know what to do anymore of this one I’ve never had this type of group even when I lost my mother I did not have this type of grief and it seems that I am not strong enough to cope with it I fear the unknown as to what’s going to happen in my future with all this because I don’t know how to come to grips with that I do the best I can to try to be there for my daughter and my other kids and all my grandkids but this one I don’t know I don’t know how I’m gonna get through it I’ve had grief counseling with my counselor to my psychologist and I get to point where I start to feel pretty good but then something is sad or I see something or something is done and it throws me right back into the pain of the loss of my 12-year-old grandson it’s not right we shouldn’t be burying our kids and our grandkids our children and grandchildren are supposed to outlive us I know eventually I will be able to live with it and cope with it for at least Waze I hope so but until that day comes how do I live with the Day to day grief and pain that keeps swelling up inside me every time I see anything that remotely remind me of my field promises to my grandson how do we cope with it how do we bear through it is there any certain ways that we can learn to cope with it or do we just have to take Life as it comes in hopes that it will slowly get easier to cope with

  14. I lost my sweetest friend just over two months ago. It seems no time has past. I don’t know how I’ve made it through two months. First, I was traumatized, doctor mistake. I’m not getting past the memories of his pain and watching him die by doctor mistake. I’ll have a good memory and cry a lot. I feel it is my fault for taking him to that doctor. I’m finding it hard to imagine doing anything without him. When I do things without him, it feels empty and quiet. So used to having him very close to me all the time. I keep thinking about going with him, but I don’t do it. There’s no contentedness without him and no joy. I can’t imagine any in the future either. He was in all my future plans, from waking, to breakfast, to all.

  15. I lost my daughter to trisomy 18 three days after she was born last month. Despite of knowing that she will have a short life span, nothing could have prepared me from her passing. Everyday I cry and I always felt guilty that maybe I could have done something more since we have elected palliative care for her. My faith is also shaken right now. I also feel crazy. I have been entertaining thoughts of being with her. The only thing that stops me from acting on it is my son who is only 12 years old. However, I feel miserable and it seems like my grief is not getting better.

  16. My complicated grief started two years ago. In November 2015 my father died in hospital after a surgical procedure went awry and we asked them not to proceed, but they did anyway. Eight weeks later my dear sweet beloved cherished sister MY PAL die in hospital, she took ill over the christmas period and she died attached to an automatic drugs dispensing machine. Ten weeks later my dear sweet beloved mother died in the care home where she was kept against her will, in April 2016. My mother too died attached to an automatic drugs dispensing machine. I never knew my father’s family and most of the aunts and uncles had already died. My mother’s family acted like uncaring selfish brutes and they made some VERY BIZARRE excuses NOT to help whilst my sister and mother was STILL ALIVE. The excuses that were hurled at me were “I have to go now someone is knocking on the door,” another excuse was “I am going to a St. Valentines meal.” another excuse was “I have seen no letter,” another excuse was COMPLETE IGNORANCE and the excuse that was made directly to my mother was “I have Kirstie to look after.” Kirstie is an ADULT. Also, “I am visiting my friend in Oxford.” They ALL gatecrashed my sister’s funeral and they were having a ball in the cemetery just enjoying themselves and laughing, because they are WEIRD. Not one of them expressed any sympathy to me or offered condolences, they just gawped at me. When they discovered my mother had died, I received a threatening call from a male member of my mother’s family; threatening that they were getting ready to gatecrash my mother’s funeral. I could NOT stand yet another mashing of their insults and cruel behaviour, so I told this person that they are not coming and I doubly ensured that there were no leaks regarding my mother’s arrangements. They went behind my back and pestered the funeral parlour for details, which I had already instructed them to tell nobody and explained why. My mother’s family are cruel and evil and I want no part of them for the rest of my life. They thought that they could use me as a scapegoat and they got it wrong. Now I am thrust and forced into living the life of a hermit because I have NO CHOICE. and the more I move away from this period, the harder it gets for me and I cry all the time, am really sad about everything. I am still wearing the same old pants; they do get washed now and again, but like I said, it is a GREAT EFFORT for me to do any chores and the more chores I do, the more depressed I get. Two years on, NOTHING has changed with me, it might as well have been yesterday. I break down when I go to the cemetery, so I try not to go because people stare at me and I am conscious about my loud wailing. My life has come to an end, because I hate going out in public, I miss my family, I desperately miss MY PAL. I have no future, it is like sitting in a waiting room waiting for my turn to be called. Hooking up with another man is NOT a solution for me so I am not on my own, as I have had two failed marriages already, don’t feel like it a third time.

  17. I lost my grandma about 2 weeks ago. She looked after me since I was 11 after my mom passed tragically in a drowning accident. My grandma also passed suddenly she wasn’t young, she was 92 and had lived a very long life. But there was this part of me that had hoped she would live forever. I think the trauma of losing my mom so young and never having a real father ignited abandonment fears. I am fortunate to have an extremely loving bf in my life. But theres still this pronounce pain and loss of a woman that’s been in my life since I was born. She was my everything I spend every holiday with her till I was 11 when I then lived with her. I’m now 30 and feel I should be able to grow a pair and understand that she was an old woman who had lived her life. But I’m just so lost, I held her hand till she passed that was hard watching her last breathe. I was in healthcare for years and watched many people pass but when it’s your own loved one it’s a whole different pain. I quit my job last year because I couldn’t handle watching people pass anymore and then this happened. I feel broken but yet I’m pushing myself numbingly through an intense trade school program. I’m in the middle of the drama that comes around wills and greed within families. I’m exhausted and feel like I’m actually nuts. Grief is never something that can be fully explained but there is always a sense of relief to be able to relate with others like through this site. I wish you all the love and strength through your losses.

  18. My mom passed away Aug. 5th. this year. I never ever thought it would be this difficult. She lived with me, actually we have never been apart. We have always lived together. I am 50 now and alone, no kids. I have siblings that are married with kids so they get to move on. However, my whole purpose has disappeared.

    I got through the first Thanksgiving okay, almost numb like it was very weird. What really frustrates me is other members of the family making comments like “she is with us today” and “this is the new norm” (that one was said over and over. I wanted to scream. I am sure it was their way of getting through the day but for me it was not helpful at all. First of all I don’t believe she was with us and I am not ready to accept this is the new norm.

    I have no questions, just needing to vent

  19. My dear Mom passed away 3 months ago, after a 1 and 1/2 year battle with cancer. I lived with her and my Dad over the last decade; my Father died from cancer 6 years ago. Living alone with Mom was at first strained, but with time we got on better and better. then she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. I was petrified of loosing her and i took me a while to learn how to hide and deal with my fear and my wish to hang on to her. The last 6 weeks everything that could go wrong happened. among other events, she broke her femur 3 times and was not managed properly by the orthopedic surgeons. She experienced excruciating pain whenever moved in bed and morphine and morphine derivatives did little to prevent the pain upon moving. After experiencing a spontaneous fracture (possibly a consequence of the delay in surgery for the previous fracture) she underwent further surgery. She awoke from the anesthetic tapped in a nightmarish existence in which anyone entering her room might be there to inflict pain. She would nod off to sleep and only to startle again and again, sitting up with terror in her eyes, her arms flailing. Her speech became incoherent. And the staff still had to change her position in bed (to prevent bed sores) frequently. She was going through hell and could not be consoled. at times she physically “defended” herself from those who wished to move her. Spending hours with her, seeing her suffer such physical pain and mental anguish, without a way to comfort her and all the time fighting back my tears (and sometimes, a wish to scream) was probably the most difficult thing I have done in my life. Eventually the suffering ended and she drew her last breath. Thus began part 2 of our saga. I identify with “feeling crazy”. I experience anxiety and panic to the extent of not being able to function or think about anything else for 2-3 hours. Other times, at the same time I feel deep sadness and want to fall on my knees and cry,; i feel anxiety and the need to escape (where to?); and I hear emotional music playing in my head and feel bitter-sweet/ sad-happy. WHO IS RUNNING THE SHOW?

  20. My husband died 7-21-2017 and I feel like I’m stuck, I can’t cry! It’s like I’m stuck! We were together since we were 15 he died at 40 and I have no idea why! Still have a pending death certificate! I lost my best friend ! My love but it’s like why am I not trying! I was at his funeral I saw everything! I just don’t think this is healthy it’s like my mind shut down! I need to find a way out to start grieving

    • Sha, often this early after a death you are still in shock. It is not uncommon not to feel the way you expected. If you feel shut down, it can be helpful to go see a therapist or join a support group. To locate one, start by contacting a local hospice or hospital and ask if they have any running or can recommend something. We hope you find some support here on our site as well!

      • I feel like only person in the world to suffer the loss of my only real, true love, best friend, co-founder and the vision of our business THAT WILL CHANGE THE WORLD!!!! But without my Neil I am trying to hang on with a very painful arrow sticking out of me. Not lethal however!!! unfortunatly…I don’t want to live without MY ROCK!!!! I don’t want to get up in the morning. My guy was so motivating… he brought coffee to my bedside every single morning. WE had a 40 year date…. We so purely and completely. Once two of us have firmly have established their souls joined , blended as one ewithin each other … i feel like I’m out in the universe with him but am stuck here to handle this physical world with all it’s bullshit but also the joy i can’t experience anymore right now…..But should! If he’s inside, part of me… I need to feel the pride and joy in our children, our Grankids.. so he can enjoy or hurt with me! I so love and miss you every minute.

    • Hi. My husband passed away on 7-29-17. I am so sorry for your heart. You are still numb. I had a pending death certificate too. You are not alone and the tears will come when your heart is ready. That is a very long time to love someone and then lose them. Somewhere I read that for each year we are together with someone, it takes a month to process their loss, but that is in no way a timetable, because there is no such thing (a timetable) when your love goes. Hugs and sending comfort from my heart to yours.

  21. Thanks for this.

    I needed to hear that my wife threatening to leave me and our 4 children after the loss of her father was a little bit normal, she is lashing out at everyone, questioning every decision, including marrying me!

    I wish I knew what to say when her statements are contradictory, inflammatory and designed to hurt.

  22. I Lost my husband over a Month Ago,, He was dying of a Heart Attack ,,He complained of Having a” Stomach Ache”,, then he said he couldn’t breathe,,we were on our way to take him to the hospital,,but he insisted on going to the bathroom,, Giving us the Impression he was Okay,, we called 911 and waiting for what seemed to be Forever for them to come,, he kept saying he was Okay,,”I’m Coming” I’m Coming” through the Door,,”Don’t call no Ambulance”!,, we did anyway,,there was,, He kept insisting he was Fine,, and then it got “Quiet”,,I opened the door,, and I knew he was Dying ,and I knew I had to wait for the Paramedics,, and they still hadn’t arrived,, and I couldn’t do “Anything” to stop it,,,,40 (plus) Years My high School Sweetheart Father of Our Children (Now Adults),,My Best Friend,,I couldn’t watch him Suffer,,I couldn’t,,I knew he was about to leave Me and I couldn’t handle it I just couldn’t,,Help Him,, and I feel so “Much Guilt”,, because I stood outside the door,, My God!,,I was afraid to watch him Go,,I was afraid he was going to Die in front of Me and I did not know what to do,, when the Paramedics Came I rode to the Hospital with him ,,his heart stopped on the way there they revived him when we got there,, but he still Passed,,I wasn’t there,, I was Emotionnless, Shocked,,Afraid,,Numb,,I couldn’t even Cry,, it took A week after,, the Day of the Funeral,, for it to Hit Me that he was actually gone,, and since then all I’ve been doing id feeling guilt,, for not Forcing him out that door ,, and not allowing him to go the Bathroom,, for not being in there when he was Leaving Me,, I’ve been told when people are leaving this Life, some like to be Alone,, and that’s why,, he went in there,, and Insisted he was fine,,to Make his peace with God,, I don’t know,, all I know is,,I feel I should have been in there with him ,,I should have Been with him going through that,, instead of not wanting to see him Suffer,, not wanting to see him Leave,, Not believing the Inevitable,, and Now I can’t Stop Grieving,,,, I love Him Completely,,,,I don’t know who I am anymore,, what to do with Myself,,,, I don’t know how to Act,,No desire to Socialize,,They always have a Dinner for the Family After the Funeral,, I couldn’t even go to that,, Wasn’t Hungry,,I’m Lost,,God help Me

  23. I buried my brother today and the sunset line in here made me laugh out loud in the middle of a panic attack over him being cold and alone. Thank you for reminding me that all of this darkness is normal. He isn’t alone. I’m in the darkness right beside him. No rainbows for a whole but they’ll come back.

  24. I don’t understand why I’ll be doing fine (and sometimes even well) in my grief, then one little thing like a Travel Ban (pretending to be the answer for preventing what caused his death in Tower 1) will upset and distress me in ways I can’t even control. Then I feel like I’ve been shunted to the bottom of the hill by an avalanche of agony.
    Everyone online who talks about this stuff like it means nothing, as if NObody lost loved ones on September 11, are completely insensitive to how we feel about using his death and our pain in some gd political GAME.
    Did it ever occur to anyone in this world outside of his family and friends that he was a person w/ some of the same ambitions, hopes and dreams the people in question take for granted every day?
    I just don’t understand why almost everyone treats what happened as if it never happened to a human being and his/her living relatives who have to live w/ what happened, but instead use the terrible thing that happened to him as an opportunity to bash one side of the other in the political arena.
    Right after it happened everyone was united against a common enemy. Now they use our pain and his demise as opportunities to appear hateful of one side or the other. I don’t understand it and it makes me crazy that most people will never see him as a person or at least stop using his death as an excuse to practice hate. Being hateful is one thing he NEVER did. He was exactly the opposite of that, he was happy almost all the time and always wanted to include people in his life. One time he invited some people to come up to his company’s holiday party even though the people in question had quit working at the company bc of bad feelings between the old VP and the ones who quit working there.
    That’s not a sign of a hateful person so why would people want to appear hateful and then say it’s bc of avenging Eric’s death. He wouldn’t want them to do it. He’s want them to do acts of kindness. That’s part of who he was and why I’m so insistent about saying the travel ban is #notinhisname.
    One of his favorite verses:

    ‘He drew a circle and shut me out
    rebel, heretic, a thing to flout
    but love and I had the wit to win
    We drew a circle & shut love in.”

  25. I lost my mum to cancer two months ago, I’m a complete mess, I’m constantly crying, I’ve been to my doctor for help but I’m not getting any help at all, I’m really at a loss as to what to do , I would appreciate some advise.

  26. My Mum died when I was pregnant, and my grief has been ‘complicated’ to say the least. Every time (even 5 years on) I get triggered or revisited by grief….every single time…I think I have gone crazy, and have clinical depression. The grief feels more like fear for me, fear and depression – I just stop seeing and feeling the good, and then I panic about not feeling good – the feelings don’t seem ‘appropriate’ to the amount of time that has passed. I have to trust that I will come out of it, like I always have – it’s exhausting though. Especially in a culture that is so quick to pathologize any and all kinds of depression and anxiety….it just makes it all that more lonely and frightening, and much harder to trust the process – which in itself causes anxiety!! lol ;( I have a great psychologist to help me with this…still it’s a crazy crazy ride..and I want off it.

    • Katy, I feel exactly the same. I lost my dear mum 2 years ago but feel worse now than I did then. I miss her so much. I have got angry with everyone and my work has been affected. In the past I have suffered anxiety and depression after a death in the family and was terrible after losing my dad. I’m scared of feeling like this in a tunnel and not being able to get out of the other side. It’s been a battle each time. I have just come off anti depressants as I was on them for years and I am trying to get through this bereavement . Mum was my bestest friend and she was always there to say I would be alright an d she can’t say it to me this time! I feel as though I hav’nt grown up.. Like you I can’t see or feel good, I just feel flat. I’m so pleased I have found this site as its a tiny bit comforting that you are not on your own and hits on a lot of the same fears. I have sent it to my sister who feels the same as me.

  27. I had an ambiguous loss (children abducted) which was never recognised by others and my grief has been disenfranchised for many years by my family and by the nhs, the circle of grief is a vicious circle from which there has been no relief.
    My children despise me, thanks to years of grooming, my family hate me too, thanks to years of manipulation by a sadistic narcissist who was my mother.
    She died being loved by my children, I will die being hated. No one has listened or heard my pleas for help. Now tell me what im supposed to do???

  28. I lost my daughter two years ago,she was 22 and mentally challenged there are days that I cry alot and feel like all I want to do is die,I know I shouldn’t feel like that but sometimes the pain is just so unbearable. I have my three children that I have to take car of so I just try and get through another day.

    • Tirhas GebremedhinMay 1, 2017 at 1:29 pmReply

      I lost my 22yers.old son.hes my evry thank lm lost i cant go on any more i dont no what to do my hart is brok emty al i want is to die no pont any mor

  29. Lost my son two months ago in an accident
    Despise this new world of pain
    Want to die but gave another son
    In hell
    All I hope for is reunion after death
    But lost my faith that there is anything after so much agony
    Don’t want to carry on
    Don’t want to be a poor example
    Impaled and on fire every single second in every atom of my being and eternity grinning at me like a skull
    Sucking me in to a life with no joy or hope of joy
    Looking for proof of life after death all day on YouTube
    PTSD from the terrible loss

    • Pam,

      You are clearly in a lot of pain. First of all I understand that you expressed that your other son is your reason to live, but I have to say f you are having any thoughts of hurting yourself please seek help immediately. You can walk into your local emergency room or call the suicide hotline 1 (800) 273-8255 (if you are in the US) and +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (if you are in the UK). If you are elsewhere just google suicide hotline and your country name. It is so common to feel as if there is no way out other and suicide but please know there are ALWAYS other ways.

      Second, please know two things.

      (1) The pain of acute grief should get better. You are in the darkest days right now, but as you learn to live with this loss one day at a time it will get easier to tolerate getting out of bed in the morning.

      (2) If your grief remains intense for longer than you are comfortable with. If you truly feel that you are experiencing PTSD or if you are experiencing thoughts and reactions that cause daily distress and which get in the way of daily functioning, then the best help we can give you is the recommendation and encouragement to reach out to a therapist in your area. You may want to look for someone who specializes in grief and/or trauma.

      I’m sorry for your pain. Hang in there.

    • Pam, I am so sad for you. I too lost my younger son in an accident on 4th June 2016. I too have another son, John’s older brother and his best buddy – he is the only reason I stay. I fantasise about dying from an illness that I couldn’t help having – but that would also destroy my James, so I try and stay healthy. I have PTSD and a kind helpful trauma therapist – do you have this? If not, try and get it. It can help a bit. The other thing is you say you have lost faith,but it may be that the focus of your faith may be changing, not totally lost. I know it isn’t for everyone, but I have been able to hear messages from John, through music, through signs, and through a medium. It was such a relief to know he is okayand I cling to that on my real bad days. Most of them! If you would like a name to contact, I would be happy to tell you about a very helpful person. If not, maybe find a spiritualist Church? I know I sound batshit crazy but I know their spirits carry on and are with us; I’ve had proof. It doesn’t stop the grief,the loss, the yearning, the fear, the fury, the every bastard thing that goes with this thing that we have to bear, but it can help. Hang on in there, Mum.

  30. Thank you so much, I don’t feel nearly as mad as I did!!! So true, all of it, such a shame noone around me gets it…. All I can say is thank you… K x x

  31. My only child died it will be 2 years ago next month. She was a beautiful 15 year old girl…she was killed in an accident. Nothing could have prepared me for this. I feel like im going nuts all the time. I feel like some days I’m handling it too well…then other days I’m a mess. The days I feel “too good” I think what an ass I am because I’m actually looking forward to doing something or enjoying a day. I feel crazy all the time and I don’t know who to talk to about it.

    • Jayme, have you connected to a counselor at all or gone to a support group? Those can be good places to start, though of course not the solution for everyone! If in person isn’t for you there are places online to connect with others with shared experiences as well. If you are looking for resources let me know and we may be able to point you in the right direction!

  32. My husband of 40 years was sick only 4 weeks when he died. I have three grown children and four grandchildren. I was fine at first, but as time goes on, it is the little things that make me weepy. I can’t sleep, am lashing out at loved ones and at times, think craziness has set in. My husband spoiled me, he did everything, by that, he took care of the outside of the house and yard, would not let me handle a tool or paintbrush. Soon it will be 10 months since he died and miss him. Is this normal to feel this way?

  33. I found this blog today while searching the internet for answers on why I have the intense desire to break up with my fiance since my mom died on September 8th. I feel so crazy and out of sorts just like this blog describes. I am so confused right now and wonder if my feelings and desires to leave him are real or whether it is just me shutting everyone out.

  34. I think grief has quite literally turned me crazy. Life is so naff now my best friend died 18 months ago at the age of 22. Sometimes I have an overwhelming urge to kill myself so we can have our ashes mixed and be together for eternity. I feel like I literally want to melt my skin off with a blow torch because life hurts so much without her. They say a loved one who has died is now at peace, yet suicide is frowned upon… why aren’t I allowed to be at peace?! I am expected to ‘carry on’ and suffer here for the next 60 years miserable in a life that is not worth living without her.

  35. I feel like I am crazy. I keep looking up DSM criteria for disorders, but I just don’t quite match any, but I still feel like something is wrong with me.
    I am 30, my husband died 16 months ago. We were only together 3 months before he was diagnosed with cancer, and died a year later. It was very atypical, we had very little support, I was his sole caregiver, on top of living in a foreign country, and not having a single doctor to take responsibility for his care.
    We were constantly moving cities and countries to different hospitals, so I wasn’t working. Now I am in our house, in a foreign country, cannot legally get a job or even residency, but I just don’t want to leave our home. I feel like this is reasonable, but people act like, why don’t you just go back to America where your family is?
    The house is a mess, I struggle to throw out things I know I don’t want. Bad days I can stay in bed for 6 hours after waking, only to leave bed to buy fries and coca cola as a meal. I’ve put on 10 pounds.
    The first 6-9 months I felt a lot of grief of course, but also a lot of optimism and support from new and old friends. I felt strong and resilient, and often even euphoric. I traveled, socialized, went out partying, and was more sociable than I’d ever been. The world felt warm and loving. I had a string of very brief romantic encounters with several men, and felt buoyed by them.
    Now friends have less time to give, and my attempts to stabilize my life (getting a job here or a meaningful job elsewhere) have totally failed. Even my husband’s estate is still unresolved, so I don’t even have the control of paying my own bills.
    I cry randomly and become incredibly depressed over little things, like a friend or my (very casual) boyfriend canceling plans. I struggle to stick to plans to clean up, eat healthy, exercise or pursue some goal. I feel guilty for not using this time to develop skills like my writing or art which I always wanted more time for. I also feel guilty when my sadness/depression isn’t directly related to my husband. I wonder if I am just lazy and using his death as a crutch. I have no responsibilities and enough money not to worry about working yet, so I also feel like I should be more grateful.
    Is this normal? Can grief manifest as sudden sadness/depression for no reason or a very minor one? I miss him, and feel he is irreplaceable, but I know it is not complicated grief. I feel my life is in a total shambles. I believed I had learned some great lesson in his death, and it would make my life better, giving it purpose, but now I feel like a failure, and especially a failure to live up to the sort of person he was. I struggle day to day, often waking up anxious about how to get through the day and have no more than a few good days at best before a relapse. I guess I want someone to either tell me that my overwhelmed feeling is justified, or if I need to get over myself and pull it together.

    • Samantha, I am so incredibly sorry that you have been through such a devastating loss at such a young age. Though there is a common belief that they first year of grief is the hardest, they reality is that sometimes we get the through the first year and it isn’t until the second that we realize we have to adapt to a long term life after loss. Based on what you describe about your life and struggles currently I would strongly suggest you see a counselor. It sounds like there is a lot going on and a counselor would best be able to help you sort through those things and determine steps for moving forward.

  36. I am still going through a bit of “crazy,” two years after losing my mom (expected) and my husband (sudden), three days apart. I have good family support, counseling, etc, but most of the time I still feel like a kid with ADD. It is such a struggle to finish tasks. My husband’s office is still basically untouched. I have friends & family who say they will help me tackle this when I’m ready. It just feels like I’m never going to be ready.
    With the new year I do want to bring some order to my life but the thought is exhausting. I know everyone’s grief journey is different, but in your experience, is there some point when I should be concerned that I’ve become “stuck?”

    • MJ,

      I think it’s normal to have times when you still feel crazy two years later, although after two years I would say you should be able to expect it will happen less often than not. Do your grief related feelings seem just as extreme on a regular basis or is it just a certain time of year, when thinking about a specific task, or is there anything else that pops out that you think might be complicating things for you?

      Unfortunately it’s really tough for any of us to say from the other side of a computer screen but I would say stuck or not, if you want to bring order to your life and you feel unable to do it then it’s time to figure out what’s standing in your way. Perhaps it’s something that needs to be resolved or overcome or maybe there are tools and coping skills you have yet to learn that will help you find your way. You don’t have to answer this here, but is your counselor helping you address this “stuck” feeling? Have you discussed going through your husband’s office with him or her? If not you should consider breaching these topics.

      I’m sorry to not be more helpful. Grief is complicated, relationships are complicated, people are really complicated, so all we can really do is guess and ask questions.

      Good luck and let us know how you’re doing,


  37. My husband passed away 14years ago and ppl tell me to get over it but I never will. Am I wrong? He was my world and when he left this world he took my soul with him.I guess what I’m asking is there really a certain time that you have to stop grieving?… Forever lost

    • Jamie,

      I’m so sorry. To answer your question, no there isn’t a time frame when you have to stop grieving. The conventional wisdom is that one should start to feel better, but not fully ‘get over it’. We keep our loved ones with us always – we’ll always love them and this means we will always grieve them on some level. That being said, fourteen years later do you feel like you’re able to find peace and feel happiness or satisfaction with your life? Is grief impacting your ability to find happiness? Part of healthy grieving is finding a way to live a healthy life after the loss even though we know you will never let your late husband go or stop loving him.


  38. I am grieving over the loss of my pet. That may seem pointless to some but she was my baby for 17 years. She has been gone for nearly 3 months and the mere thought of her still makes me fight back tears. My children are grown and out of the house for awhile now. My little dog gave her life to me as she sat nearby while I wrote page after page of my life. She comforted me when I was laughing, angry or crying as I wrote the depth of my journey. She struggled down the stairs and eventually couldn’t bend to eat of her bowl. (Oh geez, tears now…arghhh) I can’t imagine the ache of losing a child, I came so close so many times. Anyway I pull up my big girl pants and smile at the memories but I still miss her so much. My book was the bravest work I have ever shared. I look forward to all your stories, that helps us get through our losses.

  39. I’m glad to know I’m not the only 5’2 woman with a man’s tweed suit from circa 1950 hanging in my wardrobe. I have 2! Thank you for ‘normalising’ the crazy feelings. I always find the sunny days the hardest – they made me feel the most sad. These are the days I most want to hide in my bedroom and stay in bed. I think your article sums up why for me.

  40. Hello,

    Everything you wrote is how I feel.

    I lost my Mom in september she was 81 years young and looked 65, She was beautiful, She was my best friend and in the last year she got sick from cancer and I spent my days taking her to doctors and making sure she had everything she needed and wanted. My Mom was doing well with the cancer ( even though their is no cure) we had just went to the doctor 2 days before she passed. She passed from a blood clot that went to her heart. My sister called me said my Mom was having shortness of breath and I was on the highway to get to her and the ambulance was there as I heard my sister screaming my Mom had passed.
    Im so lost. I have been to depression therapy I cant take anti depressants. I thought I was doing good had it together on my way to healing and since Christmas I cant get a grip on reality. I feel like IM LOOSING MY MIND. I just want her here to tell me how to get better as she always knew what I needed.
    I feel like a little girl scared to death but NO one can make me feel better
    Nothing feels right. I feel like im on a different planet and I just want to go home.
    Please help!

    • Oh Brenda, I am so sorry about your mom’s death and that the holidays have been so hard. It is totally normal for the holidays to be a trigger for really intense emotions and grief. Though it is hard to believe, it is normal to feel like you are going crazy, especially when it has only been a few months since your mom died. CS Lewis wrote an amazing book after his wife died call A Grief Observed. The book starts with the quote, “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear”. I have always thought he was so right – no one ever warns us that grief does make us feel so scared and alone. I know you said you have been to therapy for depression, but you may want to consider going to someone specifically for grief and possible a grief support group. Grief and depression are two different things. Though of course someone suffering from depression may be grieving, grief itself is not the same as depression and it should be treated differently. A counselor who specializes in grief should be able to help you understand and process your grief. Calling your local hospice is a good place to start with finding a counselor or a group.

      Along with seeing a grief counselor, journaling can be very helpful. If you look at our categories (over to the right) at the bottom of the list you will see “words, writing, and journaling” (or just click this link and you will see a list of different grief journaling prompts that we have posted. One journaling technique we have not posted, but that may be helpful, is writing down a problem or question you have (perhaps about your own grief) and then spend some time thinking about your mom and write what you think she would say and tell you. It sounds like you and your mom were very close, so though she isn’t here to tell you how to get better or help you see what you need, you may find that with some time and reflection you can imagine what she would say to you.

      As you work through the next days and weeks, try to take things one day at a time. When grief overwhelms us it can feel totally debilitating. Try to focus on getting through just this one day – set some small goals: find a counselor or group, spend some time journaling, do something to memorialize your mom, or whatever else works for you for that day. Consider some self-care techniques as well — we have a self-care post here with some tips you may want to check out:

      Hope you spend some time poking around on the blog – you may find some other helpful ideas. Wishing you strength to get through the weeks and months to come.

  41. Dear Litsa and Eleanor,
    I really appreciate your post on this issue. In 2007 my only brother passed away in a car accident. I was 26 at the time and had just started my career and was trying to maintain “normal” when I was feeling anything but normal. It was a difficult time and I remember several people telling me things that were not comforting. I think that there is a balance between grieving and living and I am still trying to figure it out. If I were honest with myself, I believe that I grieved for almost 3-4 years before I sought out someone to talk to about my situation. Death of a loved one is difficult and sometimes family situations make it so much more difficult after the fact. People seem to argue about money, material goods, etc. It was such a stressful time. Also, if you are married at the time and your spouse has never experienced a significant loss…that can be difficult as well. I was married shortly after my brother died. As supportive as my husband was and is…he just could not understand my grief and I needed to be ok with that. He never pretended to understand. Looking back, that was really upsetting but there was nothing that I could do to force anyone (including him) to understand what I was dealing with inside. I guess that would be the same for each of us experiencing a loss. We all experience this as our own journey. Now, 6 years later my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given months to live. If I could say it anywhere…this community would probably understand that my Dad is dying from a broken heart. The cancer took over because of his grief and somewhere he lost his will to live when Rudy passed away. That is just my opinion but it makes sense to me. We certainly can “feel” grief and the feelings can become illness. It is sad for me but I find myself not wanting to deal with anything that is coming up right now. Unlike when Rudy died, I do have time to say goodbye to my Dad. It is a different loss this time. I imagine that when my Dad does pass away, I will have another time period of grief. I find comfort in friends and family that can help. I am beginning to appreciate that saying good bye is a blessing. also, I recognized that grief hurts. Not only is a feeling but can manifest itself as physical pain or illness. Back to why I originally began to type….I so appreciate your post. It is encouraging to know that I am not crazy in dealing with some of my feelings. I really appreciate your facebook page as well.

  42. I find myself talking to the stars more. And, actually, finding the beauty. My love died Oct. 4, and we spent a couple gorgeous vacation days on the shores of Lake Michigan. When he died, I found myself at my sister’s, on the shores of Lake Erie, so I went for a walk, and I took picture after picture of the beauty that was there that day. And, now, a little more than six months out, I notice myself stopping to watch a hawk soar through the sky, or a bunny run across the field. The crazy I experienced was in the first few weeks when I SWORE he was sending me signs, a song, finding something I forgot he’d given me, the seagull that wouldn’t fly away from me the week of the funeral.

    • Joyce, I think so many people can relate to that experience of seeing signs everywhere!! Though we all have different belief systems and may think different things about “signs”, the afterlife, etc there is something so comforting about the idea that our loved one is somehow trying to help us or communicate with us. Grief often shifts how we look at the world around us, for better or for worse. I think if we are lucky enough to find our grief helping us notice beauty around us it can be its own source of comfort. Thanks for sharing and I am so sorry for the loss of your husband.

  43. Hi,

    I”m not sure if this is the right place but your post was very warm and comforting so I… I’m wondering if maybe you could help me out.

    Without going into some kind of long spiel about the whole thing, about 2 years ago, a guy I’d been with (but not really; I think we were at a loss for what to do) for 2 years by then, found out that his mom was going to die. She was diagnosed with breast cancer right after I met him. It seemed that part of the reason our relationship seemed to exist, but yet not really be fully there, was because of her sickness and the constant flying both of us had to do back to our homes in Taiwan (mine), Hong Kong (his and his mom’s) and Vancouver.

    She passed away a year and a half ago, and I started crying nonstop for about a year. Not knowing the reason, and believing it was about our imperfect relationship, I got angry at him and destroyed his things, causing him to move to Australia. To my intense grief but eventual relief, the days of feeling split between two continents ended there.

    Although I finally feel like I am back to normal now (exactly two years later since she was diagnosed for having not long left to live, and one year after a sensational, mad breakup), I definitely feel that the new normal is different from the old normal. But I feel confused. I have read sooo many articles online and even tried to tell my friends, but I feel like I am missing something. I cannot shake that feeling of being left out of some kind of answer. I don’t really understand why I turned the loss of his mother into some other issue, like long distance. I can’t date because I keep finding problems with people that do not exist. I no longer know if the choices I made were based on a rational reason, or if it was some kind of denial. I can’t imagine why someone else losing their family member would throw me into that kind of madness. I had lost the ability to manage myself and make regular plans for the future. I isolated myself and moved away from people I used to know. I changed my hairstyle and my appearance and tried to hide by pretending I didn’t really exist. Now, I feel like I am crawling back out into the world like a turtle. 1 year, or more, seems like an irrationally long time to be upset over a boyfriend.

    As a grief expert, in your experience, is this… normal? Or is it complicated? I feel that my world is wrong. How can I make it less threatening again?

    • Thank you for reaching out to us, you are welcome to ask us questions any way that suits you.  It’s difficult for me to say whether your reaction is normal or not without knowing more about you and about the situation.  All three factors involved, individuals, grief and relationships, are very complex.  Put everything together and it can be really difficult to sort out; I imagine this is part of the reason why you are struggling to make sense of everything.  

      Bottom line, it sounds like his mother’s death and the subsequent breakup was significant to you, and your feelings and reactions confused and frightened you. Perhaps it has been difficult for you to move forward without being able to make sense of the past.  The only thing I can say with certainty is if you feel this is currently impacting your relationships, happiness, and/or daily functioning, then it may be a good idea to talk to someone like a counselor.  

      Often times all we need are a few sessions with someone who is a blank slate, who will not pass judgement, and who will help us sort out our thoughts and feelings.  More often than not the answer is in there, we just have to sort through many layers to get to it.  

      If your not open to this option, then journaling can be a helpful tool for sorting things out.  Sometimes organizing our thoughts on paper helps us to make sense off all that’s circulating around in our heads.  

      I’m sorry I couldn’t give you a more specific answer, but please let me know what other questions you have.

    • My step-parent sees it to be fit to keep all of my deceased parents money. He never had children of his own, and now that my parent has passed, my stepdad has decided to keep everything because he lost his wife. But, she had children. So, shouldn’t they get something?

      • Hi Vanessa, I am so sorry for the loss of your mom. The question you ask has both legal and then ethical/moral answers and, depending on your perspective, those answers may be different. Legally your mom would have needed a will if she wanted her children (or anyone else) to get a portion of her estate. Otherwise legally my understanding (and I am not a lawyer, so you would need to check with a lawyer to know for sure) is that any money/assets would go to a spouse. Whether it is moral/ethical for a spouse not to share that money with the persons children is another question altogether and one I suspect people would have many different opinions about! I am so sorry this is probably causing strife within your family. Please know there are professional mediators (some of whom are also lawyers) who may be able to assist if this is something your family is hoping to work through. Take care.

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