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How long after bereavement before it stops hurting?

(41 Posts)
Retrolady Fri 18-Dec-15 16:48:36

I'm hoping someone out there can help sort me out - my mum died two years ago, having had dementia. The last year of her life was pure hell, for her, for us as she had the worst possible manifestation of that awful illness. She was sectioned for 7 months as she was a danger to herself and others.
Having said all that, when she died, although I was obviously very sad, it's only now, when things are calmer - wills etc... have all been sorted out. I have started volunteering with the Alzheimer's Society which is great and helps to put back some of the wonderful support we had from them. But .... I now feel very upset about my mum's last few years, especially now I know how much better it could have been, if I'd known what help there was out there for her. I wake up crying, feel very depressed, can't be bothered to do much at all - is this normal? I'm already on anti-depressants and have been since she was ill, so I can't do much medically. I really feel I should be over it by now. We inherited a reasonable amount, so no money worries, no family worries etc.... it really doesn't make sense that I feel so raw.

Lellyb Fri 18-Dec-15 17:30:06

Hello Retro. My heart goes out to you for your loss and the pain you're in. I lost my mum a few years ago due to many awful illnesses - dementia and Parkinsons - to name just a few, and watched her struggle to the end. I too found out so much more about her illnesses after she'd gone, and wished i could have turned the clock back and dealt with it all differently and of course, better. But you know, what helped me (and continues to help) was to remember how much my mum loved me, and if she knew how much guilt, regret and pain i felt what she would say which was "please Lelly, dont hurt any more, you did your best, and go and enjoy your life with our loved ones". I dont know if you have children, but if you do I guess that the last thing youd want is for them to hurt in the way you are, and youd say to them something along the same lines.

I found talking about her to friends and family helped a great deal, and indeed i have "conversations" with her about anything, (sometimes in my head, sometimes aloud when I'm on my own) including my feelings of letting her down which does pop up from time to time, but you know, each time i "mention" it to her, back comes her reply "dont be silly darling, and don't be sad, all is ok".

Bereavement counselling can be very helpful to come to terms with loss and the very natural feelings that come with it - the awful "could have/should have/would have" self flagellating thoughts. I think in the end, time does heal and some need more time than others, but in the meantime, be kind to yourself and accept what you are going through is natural and normal and know that you will heal.

ninathenana Fri 18-Dec-15 17:31:01

Grief is such a personal thing. No two people manage it the same.
My mum died in May '14 having lived with mixed dementia but as I felt I'd lost her long before that, I sometimes feel guilty that I was able to move on after a short period of grief. Be kind to yourself.

Can someone find that wonderful description of managing greif someone posted a couple of weeks ago?
I can't remember who started the thread or what the title was. I think it may held retrolady

Indinana Fri 18-Dec-15 17:41:32

Is this thread I started the one you were thinking of nina?
I do hope it can be of help to you Retrolady flowers

Ginny42 Fri 18-Dec-15 18:09:29

Retrolady I'm so very sorry to read your post. Sometimes when we're deeply sad, we find it hard to pull out of it on our own and posting here asking for advice is a huge step in the right direction. When we experience the devastating loss of a loved one, feelings arise that are overwhelming and difficult to cope with. While it may feel like you are in a never-ending spiral of sadness and emptiness, it is important to remember that the grief will ease. It’s a part of the process of letting go and helps us to understand what has happened.

I empathise with your despair, but try to believe that gradually it will get better, I promise. Be reassured that what you're feeling is absolutely normal, but you are deeply sad and that takes time and help to come to terms with. If you haven’t already done so, perhaps it’s time to seek help from a bereavement counsellor, or if you have, it’s possibly time to try a different one. I write not as a counsellor, but as someone who lost her Mum when young and didn’t really grieve until much later and then I broke completely. Please seek help now. Emotions can be intense and difficult to cope with alone.

A professional can hopefully help you comprehend that this isn't about something you did or didn't do for your Mum at the time. She was your lovely mother who became terribly ill for a long time, so ill that she wasn't like herself at all. You lost her really some time before she passed away and naturally that whole process has been very traumatic for you. It's sometimes referred to as ‘the long goodbye’, and that must have been so very hard for you. Your body is now crying out for help. Going through the process of feeling loss, heartbreak, and deep sadness only shows you're human.

It was brave of you to volunteer to help others with this awful condition, although in doing so you have in a sense made your suffering worse. Yes, she suffered a great deal, but you did what you thought was the right thing, now you know more about the kind of help available, please don't give yourself a hard time for not knowing more at the time.

You are in my thoughts. x

Luckygirl Fri 18-Dec-15 18:33:08

Retro - it does make perfect sense, so please don't beat yourself up by thinking your reaction is in any way strange or abnormal. It is normal to feel guilt after someone dies and to wonder if you could have done better in some way for the person who has died. But we are all only human - we can only do our best within the limits of our knowledge and feelings at the time. It sounds as though you were poorly served by those whose responsibility it was to make sure you were aware of all possible help available.

Life is not perfect, relationships are never perfect and there will always be something to feel regretful after a near one dies. But it is important that this does not dominate your life. Try and counter every negative thought that creeps in by consciously recalling a happy memory.

My mother died of a very lengthy and totally miserable dementia illness, so believe me I do know exactly where you are coming from. In spite of the fact that my mother as we knew her had left us several years before she actually died, we all still felt devastated by her death - more so, because she had never been an easy lady even before the dementia set in. If it is any help to you, I can say that gradually over the years following her death we all came to terms with the imperfection of the whole scenario and have been able to continue our lives without the constant looking back with regrets.

I do not think you should close the door on further help for your depression - please do go and see your doctor and outline all those things that you have said in your post here. He/she can then look at all the options for helping you to move on from this. Medication is not the only option and other help can be added in.

Retro you really are not alone in all this. flowers

ninathenana Fri 18-Dec-15 21:57:19

Yes indinana thank you

Deedaa Fri 18-Dec-15 22:07:07

Retro I don't think two years is very long at all. You never totally get over a bereavement, you learn to live with it. It's 37 years since my father died and 19 years since my mother died but there are still times when something reminds me and the loss feels as sharp and fresh as it did then. But do see if you can get help with your depression, it will help to talk it all through.

grannyactivist Sat 19-Dec-15 00:21:15

Retrolady please be kind to yourself and just accept your feelings of grief as something that is perfectly natural and normal for you. Two years is not very long at all and as it seems that your time with your mum was fairly traumatic at the end it's not surprising to me that you're still processing it. flowers
As others have said in different ways; grief sort of catches you out even when you think you've 'come through'. I unexpectedly found myself in tears yesterday just thinking about my late son in law missing his son being Joseph in the school nativity - and it's more than five years since he died.

Luckylegs9 Sat 19-Dec-15 08:45:53

Retrolady, how you feel is absolutely natural. We all think in the cold light of day, perhaps I should have done more, what if I had done that. You did all you could in your power at the time. When my time comes, I hope I get the love and care you gave to your mom. She would want to get on with your life and be happy and would not like to think of you crying and depressed. So make up your mind to be happy for your moms memory. As for how long you grieve, my husband died 11 years ago, this Christmas, I miss him every day but have learnt to live with it and made a different life. My mother and father died many years ago and I think of them often too. But all three loved life and I can hear them say make the most of it love, it passes so quickly. So all the best Retrolady I do hope that soon you can throw those tablets out and real use you did your best.

Synonymous Sat 19-Dec-15 13:11:27

There are some really helpful posts on here. flowers

Personally I still have a sense of loss for some who were really special to me and I expect I always will have but I don't have that awful raw grief any more. Nowadays I have got to the point of smiling when I think of them which I find quite do-able and more to the point it is what they would want. smile

HildaW Sat 19-Dec-15 20:43:31

Retrolady, you poor thing, you are trying to deal with so much here and perhaps a bit of help would do you some good.
'Normal' bereavement is bad enough but when its clouded with all the complex issues you describe its going to be very difficult to sort out your feelings. I suspect you feel a lot of guilt for your bittersweet cocktail of emotions. Watching a loved one disappear into dementia is never going to be an easy ride.

I went through a family death this time last year that was also a deeply difficult combination of guilt, bitterness, guilt and loss and I pretty much buckled under the burden. A referral to a councillor that was recommended by my GP (I did have to pay as funding had been dropped) helped me untangle the emotional mess so that I could order my responses and deal with the emotional baggage. I was then able to deal with the loss, accept what had happened and move forward. I'd recommend such a step to anyone floundering with a similar burden.

Falconbird Sun 20-Dec-15 06:45:11


In 2012 I lost my dh, and two dear friends. I went to a "get together" the following year and someone said it had taken her 3 full years to begin to recover from the death of her husband.

I think that's about right. The raw grief does lesson by that time. I miss my dh and my friends very much and think about them every day. They were all about the same age 67/68.

The grief for my dh was the absolute worst of course, but I had the two other deaths to grieve and the last 3 years have been full of sadness and missing them all so much. The death of my friends was made much harder because I didn't have my husband to help me with their passing.

At one of my friends funerals I cried so much it was frightening but I recovered and I'm still standing.

Courage to all those who are grieving especially at this time of year.

absent Sun 20-Dec-15 08:23:25

It will never stop hurting. However, as time goes on it will hurt less often and less intensively. That is the price we pay for loving.

bear Sun 20-Dec-15 08:50:51

When my old darling died - 11 years ago and I still miss him dreadfully - an old and loving friend wrote to comfort me. 'It won't get better,' she said, 'but it will get different.' They were wise words as I discovered. Most of us take at least three years to get through the utter misery of a terrible grief and the more you've loved the person who died the the terrible the grief. I'm now two years into the most anguished grief of losing my son and weep for him every night. Hang in there. What you are suffering is normal and, although it doesn't feel like it, necessary. The sun will shine on you when you least expect it!

Misslayed Sun 20-Dec-15 09:23:00

I found this poem recently, it struck a chord with me, maybe it will help.

AlieOxon Sun 20-Dec-15 09:36:55

Thank you, Misslayed

Anya Sun 20-Dec-15 09:45:56

Misslayed that is lovely. I've saved that and when we move back into our house I'll print that out and frame it to remind myself and my family it is indeed OK'to feel and do all those things smile

hulahoop Sun 20-Dec-15 09:49:39

I just posted a reply but lost it it ended don't beat yourself up you did the best you could with the knowledge you had at the time take care lovely verse misslayed ?

Indinana Sun 20-Dec-15 09:52:12

Misslayed that is so good, so true. I too have saved this. Thank you.

Nana3 Sun 20-Dec-15 10:33:24

I've saved it too, thank you (Misslayed)
Grief it comes over you in waves doesn't it, sometimes little ones sometimes huge.

Auntieflo Sun 20-Dec-15 10:36:32

I found this little poem some time ago and it helped me, also it can be nice written in a card, when you don't really know what else to put.

Remember This
What you were, you are
What you had, you have
Be still
Close your eyes
Listen for His footfall in your heart
He walks within you

TrishTopcat Sun 20-Dec-15 10:53:35

My Mum died with Dementia 7 years ago, and I miss her more now than when she first died. She was so lost to us before her death - didn't know us, didn't know herself, she was angry and frightened all the time, that I think we did most of our grieving for losing her before she actually died. The funny thing is that as the years have passed, my memories of her have changed. Instead of remembering her as she was When she was ill, memories of a younger Mum have started to return and replace the sad memories of the stranger she had become whom we loved and cared for but didn't really know. I have found it very comforting to remember times from her heyday, times when we were children, family events where she was always at the centre of things. Happier memories that have helped to temper the grief. I find myself talking to her more in my head than I had done before and she talks back as the capable strong woman I knew, it is very comforting.

Retro lady, I hope with the passage of time, something like this happens for you and that it gives you ease.

dustyangel Sun 20-Dec-15 12:52:50

Thank you Auntieflo, simple but beautiful. Misslayed I will save that too.

Indienana I followed your link and thank you for posting that. So true. Even when reading these bring tears it helps.

Indinana Sun 20-Dec-15 13:24:51

dustyangel flowers