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Longer term loss

(23 Posts)
Imperfect27 Tue 04-Jul-17 11:20:57

Hi, I am interested in hearing other's experiences as people who are dealing with long-term grief. My daughter died over ten years ago and when I was approaching the anniversary I felt it might be helpful to read about how others have managed this profound anniversary. I couldn't find anything to help me and this, together with other experiences I have had has led me to feel there is the possibility of a gap in supporting people who grieve longer term.
I think I have grieved ' healthily' and I don't feel I am stuck in a negative place, but I have felt there is a lack of awareness and understanding and support at times.
I just wonder how others have managed loss longer term and if they felt in need of support that wasn't easy to find?
In posing the question, I guess I have to ask myself what it is that I was / am looking for that is lacking ... for me, through the tenth anniversary year, I have been aware at times of feeling more low and sensitive to loss than I had done for a while. I was also stressed about how to meaningfully mark the anniversary when my child had died in traumatic circumstances and I didn't want to upset close family members by suggesting something that might not have felt appropriate for them. It has been a 'raw' year - nearly over now :0) - I just wish I could have laid hands on something that told me this might be expected / typical / not going backwards and identified some of the things that it is natural to have to process, but that I only found out about by experience. Sorry for the long post, just where my thoughts are at present.

silverlining48 Tue 04-Jul-17 13:06:55

Hello imperfect, i remember reading your posts when i first joined gn. I always thought how well you put your extreme sadness and huge loss into words.
I was listening to r4 this morning where the mother and sister of millie dowell were speaking about losing her which I think was 10 years ago. Her sister has written a book. They are doing the best that they can but it is never going to be without pain and there will always be times when anniversaries, or just for no reason at all, that the feelings of love and loss can return.
i really do understand that you would want to do something to mark the years which have passed. I hope you find something/ somewhere appropriate to do so.
Sending love to you and to your family.

Imperfect27 Tue 04-Jul-17 13:24:13

Hi - and thank you, I remember you too :0). I had a lot of problems with my email account last year - long story short it was hacked and I have started completely afresh, but it has been a long and protracted process to renew contacts.
I saw Millie Dowler's sister on The One Show recently and was very moved by what she had to say - that poor family went through so much trauma and were so badly treated - their space to grieve seems to have been taken away from them.
I have been thinking about writing a book myself - very aware that if people are bereaved in traumatic circumstances this can complicate the grieving process. Also very aware of the apparent lack of clinical awareness and support for those who suffer protracted grief.
We will see if a book emerges from what, for now is more of a cathartic re -telling :0) I know I have benefited in the past from posting on bereavement forums and sharing / finding empathy - always reassuring to know we are not going mad :0). It just seems to be growing into a project and is tipping me into researching clinical models of grief.
The national news seems so full of bereaved parents lately. Sad times . xx

suzied Tue 04-Jul-17 13:29:30

I don't think the sense of loss ever goes away. One of my relatives lost a 16 year old daughter 4 years ago and the occcasions for sadness are continual- birthdays, Mother's Day, Christmas, family events, date of death, friends leaving school , going to uni, doing all the things she will never do etc. I can't see it changing. families seem to develop their own rituals to mark their sadness. Perhaps you could plant a tree, buy a bench for place she loved, go for a long walk or holiday with other family members somewhere she enjoyed. ?

Swanny Tue 04-Jul-17 13:38:56

Imperfect if only grief was definable as a solid object that eroded over time but never grew back again to bite you on the bum when you're not expecting it. I don't intend that to be flippant, they were just the words that came out as I started writing.

My father was killed 2 months before I left school. My immediate focus at the time was on supporting my mother, my (younger) sister and, to a lesser extent, the rest of his immediate family. It was several years later, after a court case had been held and my mother and sister moved to a different part of the country, that I realised I was now grieving for his loss. Similar events took place when DM died nearly 20 years ago. At the time I was dealing with funeral, elderly aunts and uncles, sister and our grandchildren. Her death was expected and I was with her when it happened, so no shock experienced this time. However, on holiday about 4 years later, I suddenly experienced an unexpected amount of immense sadness over her loss and realised that it was delayed grief again.

No easy answers for me either time but talking about them with others helped, as did allowing myself to feel that sadness. (((hugs))) and flowers for you x

Imperfect27 Tue 04-Jul-17 13:43:12

Thank you. I am so sorry to read of your friend's loss. To lose a child of any age is so hard and different ages poignant for different reasons. Sixteen - so much she should have been looking forward to, on the threshold of growing up.
I my family we have a few things we already do ... like wearing blue, her favourite colour, on special days and having a Bruce-Bogtrotter-style chocolate cake in her memory at family teas from time to time. Because her loss was traumatic and two of my children were in the accident and suffered PTSD because of it, I am sometimes hesitant to introduce talking about her in case it has a negative impact - they have sometimes signalled that this has been the case - this is a complication for us.
You are right - the reality is that we are faced with an on-going round of anniversaries. Over time little things change, photographs start to look old, but won't ever be replaced, there is an awareness of the world having changed so much - her favourite pop artists don't make the charts anymore, girly fashions have changed .. and she would have been all grown up by now. I didn't set out to make a big deal of ten years because every year feels profound, but it is a significant passage of time. I have found myself writing about her ...poems, memory snippets - things I wasn't able or ready to do even a couple of years ago so that has been good for me this year.

Imperfect27 Tue 04-Jul-17 13:48:49

Swanny, thank you for sharing. Yes - I can identify with delayed grief. When you are so worried about bringing your children through, that was a reality for me. Also, my daughter was badly injured and I never saw her body which I think had an impact. My heart goes out to families of terrorist attack victims and those lost in the Grenfell Tower.
I think I have learned over time that these 'grief blups' do come along - and bite yer! But also that getting through them gets better over time. And when it is hard I remind myself that the ache is there because the love is there. (smile)

Imperfect27 Tue 04-Jul-17 13:49:39

'blus' HA HA - meant 'blips' but quite a good word that! xx

silverlining48 Tue 04-Jul-17 14:01:06

I imperfect i think the very act of putting things into the written word is often very helpful in clarifying thoughts and feelings. I do the same when in distress or confusion about painful situations in my life. I am sure if you set yourself this goal it will not only be of help to you but also to others who have been similarly affected by this pain and trauma. Always a parents worst nightmare.
Good luck to you Janice.

Imperfect27 Tue 04-Jul-17 14:03:25

Thanks silverlining ... lots of things are coming together that make me feel this is useful. xxx

paddyann Tue 04-Jul-17 14:14:32

I had a lovely doctor who saw me after a bereavement who recommended a book called "Tear Soup" as a way of understanding grief takes all forms .My daughter died at 4 days old 40 years ago and I still grieve ,every birthday and anniversary and times when I watch her sister do things she never got to do.There isn't a day when I dont think of her and I'm sure you are the same.It doesn't go away ,you just learn to live with it .We had a balloon release on our girls big birthdays ..and it really helps .I hope you get through this anniversary feeling more at peace with life .Its tough, as they say theres a name for a child who loses parents but not for parents who lose a child ,maybe we need a name so we know the world acknowledges our loss ,so many times I've been told I "should be over it by now" thats not likely to happen .Be kind to yourself until this spell passes

Imperfect27 Tue 04-Jul-17 14:40:40

I learned this week that in clinical psychology there are 'western' and 'eastern' models of grief. If I have understood this correctly, the western view hinges around the 'grief stages' - shock, anger, denial, bargaining, acceptance and various interpretations of the order / length of these apparent phases. The eastern view suggests that with death, the relationship does not end and it is still necessary to face and meet and move through the important life markers, whether one or two years, ten or forty down the line ... all the 'this could / should have been happening now' stages. This fits my experience and understanding better. I guess, on a good day, we remember with smiles, but sometimes we feel the loss as deeply and freshly as if it were yesterday. But as time goes on, I think we become more and more alone in our grieving. And yes, there is a definite view amongst some in society that we ought to be 'over it'.

Grannyknot Tue 04-Jul-17 14:51:01

Read Julia Samuel's website and/or her book "Grief Works"

I'm very sorry for your and others on here and their losses. I read the book because I wanted to help my sister when my adult nephew died 18 months ago, and I found it helpful and I could help my sister in her grief.

Alima Tue 04-Jul-17 14:51:34

Hello Imp, good to see you back.
I can only speak on the loss of a child at second hand. In April 1962 my niece died of a brain haemorrhage, she was one week short of her first birthday. I can remember that day as though it was yesterday. I don't believe they received any help at the time, that sort of thing wasn't done then. My brother and sister in law have spent the intervening years in quiet acceptance of their loss. They visit her grave each birthday and Christmas, they talk of her and wonder what she would be doing now. Losing J affected their lives, and the lives of her extended family. None of us will ever forget her, I don't
think the way they especially remember her has changed after all these years.

hulahoop Tue 04-Jul-17 14:51:55

Grief and how people cope with it varies and you never feel that you should get over it . My mum lost a daughter a sister I never knew when she was 4yrs old and she used to say you never get over it just learn to live with it . I think what you do like writing poems etc is a lovely way to remember her . Losing a child is what every parent dreads best wishes to you all and to all who has lost someone ?

Imperfect27 Tue 04-Jul-17 15:02:54

Thank you for all your, lovely replies ... very much appreciated.

Grannyknot, thank you for the book recommendation. I had very little help when I lost my daughter - never saw doctor and had to wait a very long time for 6 weeks of counselling which didn't really touch me all those years ago. Still ... we get through.

All these shared stories bring home to me that we do travel with our griefs and no two losses are grieved in the same way.

Thnaks all xxx

TwiceAsNice Tue 04-Jul-17 18:27:38

Another very good book about newer ways of looking at grief and loss is called Continuing Bonds written by Glass and Silverman. It talks about not "getting over" the person lost but keeping them with you as part of your life, even though they are not with you. It has sections in it as well specifically talking about the different relationships we all have and including the loss of a child which is acknowledged in this book and elsewhere, as the hardest grief of all and I speak from experience. Grief is so individual we need to do whatever it takes to help ourselves . Good luck and be kind to yourself.

Luckygirl Tue 04-Jul-17 18:57:55

I remember listening to a R4 programme about a part of the eastern world where sometimes a lost loved one is embalmed by injecting some chemical, and they stay in their bed in the home. They visited one family where the father/grandfather of the family had been there about 10 years. They dress him and put food in front of him, chat to him and the children play around him totally unconcerned. When the family feel ready to let him go they have the funeral - not sure whether burial or cremation.

It all sounds quite bizarre to us, but I thought of the programme when I saw your post, because the central idea was that we know when we are ready to "let go" and until then we can incorporate the loved one into our lives in whatever way seems right for us. It equates to your desire to mark anniversaries etc.

I liked the fact that these people had fully acknowledged that they needed more time to assimilate the loss; whereas here we bustle around getting the funeral organised quickly and dealing with the will - then we are left in a sort of vacuum when all that activity ceases. I am not suggesting that this should be adopted here; but simply that we do need a lot of time to Deal with these things and it would help if this were generally accepted, rather than this slightly critical stance which says when we "should have got over it."

I am sorry for all of you who have suffered these losses and would just say that you must grieve in your own way and your own time - there is no right or wrong. flowers

Imperfect27 Wed 05-Jul-17 13:53:51

TwiceAsNice and Luckygirl, thank you both for taking time to share these insights - lots for me to explore and learn about.

I am very tentatively exploring writing a book at the moment. If it comes to anything, I want it to be a layman's book, about dealing positively with on-going loss, but feel I still need to do more technical work - and I would hope that it can add to raising clinical awareness. However, to achieve that, I think /I need to do some homework! smile
Thank you again for your kind interest and sympathy - much appreciated.

trendygran Thu 06-Jul-17 11:17:17

Hi. Imperfect 27. I totally understand your feelings of long term grief .I lost my DH in 2008 and then my younger DD to PND related suicide 16months later in 2010.
Since then I have been through the grieving process and tried to rebuild my life with friends and trying to keep busy as much as possible. Like you I have recently been feeling those losses much more again during the last few weeks and not truly understanding why they have returned so strongly.
My daughter left 2 beautiful girls -now 12 and 9- and my SIL has a lovely partner who ,all but biologically, is a great Mum to my Granddaughters and they are growing up in a happy environment . This keeps me going but the hurt remains.
They live nearly 300miles away so I see them rarely and I think that doesn't help .
Grief and emotions are hard to deal with and I don't believe they ever go away completely. Hoping you are finding some comfort in the replies to your post.

Imperfect27 Sun 09-Jul-17 12:57:35

Dear trendygran, I am sorry it has taken me a while to reply to your lovely post. Thank you for your kind words. You are right, of course, these losses never go away completely. I tend to think of these more sensitive times as grief blips - I know I am stronger long-term and even though there are these raw times, I also know I come back from them more quickly. And hard as they are, I think they are also reminders that the love we have had is not lost - it is because we still feel it that we mourn from time to time. At my daughter's funeral we had the reading 'On Joy and Sorrow' by Kahlil Gibran - it has great truth to my mind and I am positing it below. In my eulogy for Evelyn, I spoke of her as 'Our delight' - so the sorrow is deep, but we also remember her with many smiles,

Janice xx

On Joy and Sorrow
The Prophet
by Khalil Gibran

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the reassure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Iloveyou6 Wed 27-Sep-17 12:22:29

I understand how you feel - but in a slightly different way! We had a grandchild who was adopted out of our family 18 years ago. We saw him up to he was 10 months old. I still miss him to this very day. We are also going through the grieving process of losing another 6 grandchildren again this year. Somebody who was very wise once told me tears are healing tears. I hang onto that as that is all I can do. Perhaps you can do/buy something in memory of the person you lost? Something that brings back the memory of that person,and tgeir personality?

Iam64 Wed 27-Sep-17 13:20:23

Thanks for posting Imperfect and to everyone who responded with such sensitivity, especially those sharing their own experience of loss. I understand the accepted western psychological understanding of the stages of grief, not that they appear in that chronological sequence, or can every be "dealt with" or that awful word "closure" ever found. We can only integrate our losses into our heart and soul, live with the grief and somehow continue to live our lives in love and hope.
So sorry to read of your losses Iloveyou6.