Hi, new here and never posted or really asked for help/advice before but my usual coping mechanisms seem to be failing me.
I wasn't sure where to post this as it pertains to more than one loss spreading over multiple categories.
Where to begin also seems like the hardest thing to do right now so I guess the start is as good a place as any right? I'm 32 and on the outside I seem to have my life pretty together, I have a nice home, great career, I'm sociable and I have a great network of friends that I know would be there to help me if I asked so why can't I talk to them about how I'm feeling?
I first experienced loss when I was 5-years-old, my brother who was 2-years-old died from a choking accident, I'm not sure how to explain it but the loss of my brother I don't feel has an effect on my adult life, I was a child when he died, I think experiencing grief as a child is very different to experiencing it as a teenage or adult, it was all very black and white, one day he was there the next he wasn't and I just seem to remember things carrying on just without him, my sister and I went to school, we played, we laughed we had a childhood just like all of our other friends and we even welcomed 2 younger siblings to our family. As an adult I realise that being able to have a normal childhood after such a loss is a testament to my parents strength of character and how they must have put their grief aside to be the best possible parents they could for us. I wish now, at 32 years old when I came to that realisation I could thank them for that.
But they are no longer with me.
My dad died when I was 18, he went from being diagnosed with cancer to losing his fight in the space of 2 months. There was no time for processing anything, one day he was going into hospital for chemotherapy and then the next thing I remember is answering the phone and it was someone from the hospital, they asked to speak to my mum, I told them she wasn't there - she was, she was sleeping in the next room but it was 2 am, I was up late applying to universities and I didn't want to wake her because I knew she had to get up early with my younger brother and sister. The person on the other end of the phone asked me how old I was. I told them. They told me they were very sorry but my dad had just died and could I please contact my mum and ask her to go to the hospital as they needed her to be there.
I hung up the phone.
I didn't tell my mum untill her alarm went off, I remember sitting outside her room waiting for it, trying not to cry because in my 18-year-old brain I thought I was being a good daughter by letting her have one final nights sleep where she wouldn't be a widow, where her husband wouldn't be dead and everything would be as it was. You see my mum and dad really loved each other, even after 21 years of marriage and 5 children they were always in the honeymoon phase.
My mum was never angry at me for not telling her. I think she understood. She was angry at the hospital for telling me though, for putting her child through that and making me be the one to have to tell her the news. I think directing her anger towards them distracted her from the overwhelming fear of what happens now.
After my dad died everything changed. We went through the motions; telling people, organising the funeral, choosing songs and flowers and my siblings and I even wrote something to read out. We wanted to make him proud, he was after all in our eyes the best father we could ever have wished for.
My mum changed, she stopped seeing people, stopped caring, became this person that I didn't recognise, she would sleep all day, leave my older sister and I to get my 11&12-year-old siblings to and from school even though we were both studying and working, occassionally she appeared to come back to us but after a while it just became the normal, she would go through the motions but she never really seemed to find her way back to us again.
There would be times when she would laugh. Times when she would admit she needed help but as the years passed we all grew up, moved away and kind of just always expected her to be there when we went home or on the other end of the phone, going through the motions. Because despite how lost she was she always told us she loved us, always kept in touch and always tried to convince us she was ok.
And we never made her do anything about it.
Fast forward almost a decade and just a few months before my 28th birthday and I get a phone call from my sister. My mum's taken an overdose. She's ok though, she's at the hospital, she's talking and she's asking to go out for a cigarette. I was angry, frustrated and exhausted (I had just gotten home from a 12 hour night shift when she rang) I made the decision not to go down there, I was going to sleep, compose my thoughts and then head down later.
I showered. The phone rang again and it was my brother this time telling me something was really wrong now and that I should probably get down there as mum had collapsed and needed to be put on a machine to breath. I'm a nurse. I knew that wasn't good. I headed down there, every 10 minutes or so they would ring me with updates, she was ok, she was being moved to ICU, the doctors were with her.
Then the updates stopped.
And they stopped answering their phones.
I knew. That it was because they didn't want to tell me on the phone.
I knew she was gone.
She had killed herself, if that was her intention or not no one will ever know because she didn't leave a note, she just went.
And suddenly I became a member of this weird club that no one talks about, the bereaved by suicide club, people would walk the opposite way in the days after because they didn't know what to say. Those who did talk to me would talk around the subject when all I wanted to do was to talk about it, about her, because yes she killed herself, yes I was angry, but I was also a daughter grieving a mother who I loved, a mother who for most of my life was the strongest most incredible woman who would always have time for anyone, no matter how trivial their problems might have seemed.
But suddenly all anyone was thinking about was how her life ended. How she ended her own life.
And I think that was the worst thing of all because it was like this one moment, this one action, intentional or not suddenly became all she was 'the woman who killed herself' how is it that people feel they have the right to define 51 years of life by one action?
I know she had her problems after my dad died but she was still my mother.
She was their friend, their sister, their daughter, their neighbor.
Why couldn't they all seem to remember that? Why was how her life ended the only thing they could all remember about her?
Why couldn't they remember how she made them laugh? Baked awful cookies that nearly broke your teeth, would always try to switch people to decaf coffee, loved a weird kitchen gadget, and would always give money to those who asked her.
Even just typing how I felt then I still feel angry, and not at my mum like people expected me to be, but at everyone else for being angry at her and forgetting all of the good times, when my dad died all people did was remember the good times, when my mum died they were silent, judging.
At the time I was living with my friend, my best friend, we bought a 2 bedroom house together so we could both get on the property ladder.
He taught me to forgive everyone for judging her.
He helped me to move on.
And then he got sick and nearly 2 years after I lost my mum I lost him too, just weeks after returning from an amazing holiday in Northern America with him he got sick, he started to lose weight, he became angry and distant and different.
I begged him to talk to me and eventually he did.
He had HIV.
He made me promise not to tell, he promised to get treatment.
He didn't, we argued, he lost more weight, I screamed, he screamed, we fought but through it all he remained my best friend, my other half, he knew everything about me and I was the only person who knew everything about him.
Keeping his secret was painful, knowing I was the only one that knew, that I was the only one who had the knowledge to help him save himself was terrifying but I kept my promise, we went to Canada, he promised me the minute we returned he would see someone.
We flew back. It was my 30th. He collapsed.
4 weeks of life saving treatment later there was nothing else they could do, his organs had been overwhelmed by infection, his kidney weren't working, his lungs were full of holes.
That was when I found out he had made me his legal medical guardian.
They asked me what to do and I told them everything, they said they had and it wasn't working.
He opened his eyes and in that moment I knew, I told his family that this was it, that they needed to say goodbye.
I kept his secret.
But his secret killed him.
My guilt was quiet, overwhelming and I couldn't tell anyone because I promised him. I still can't say the words out loud.
I thought I was doing ok, but my older sister has had a baby and I'm so terrified that every time she feeds her she will choke, when no one answers the phone I think the worst, two of my siblings have mental health problems, this weekend my baby sister disappeared on my mum's anniversary after sending a poem to our cousin about how she wanted to give up.
My older sister spent 2 months in intensive care after nearly ending her own life, she's doing great now, in the best place she's ever been so why can't I relax? Why am I so scared of something happening to someone else that I can't even go on holiday in case I'm too far away and too late.
How do I let go?
I don't have a life. I spend it trying to make sure everyone around me is happy because when people aren't happy they die.
I'm aware I have a problem I just don't know how to start letting myself think it will be ok.
My granddad died last year and as horrible as it sounds I was ok with that. He was 96, he died in his sleep, that's how it's supposed to happen, with everyone else that's not how it's supposed to happen.
I wrote all of this down so I could read it back and see if seeing it in black and white would help my gain perspective. I have perspective, I’m aware I just don’t have the answers.
But I'm still scared. I still ring every one of my siblings every day and if they don't answer I panic and keep ringing till they do. I check whats app and Facebook to see when they were last on because if they were online they must be ok right?
Sorry for the really long post but I had already written all of this down so when I decided to join here I figured I might as well just share it all instead of writing it again in a condensed version.