Zita

Complicated grief

5 posts in this topic

Hello everyone, I'm new here and feeling lost...

I lost my mum suddenly in January, we didn't have a normal mum/daughter relationship and I hadn't seen her for almost 5 years although we spoke regularly on the phone. In the first month following her passing I carried on with life as normal, didn't think it affected me that much but soon it all came crashing down on me. I started not sleeping, I developed anxiety and even had a few panic attacks. Been to GP who has put me on anti depressants plus meds to help with the anxiety and sleep but none really worked, meds have changed and although the anxiety has got better I am still only sleeping 3-4 hours at night, often waking up drenched in sweat. I have lost almost 2 stone in weight as my appetite has vanished. I feel like I'm stuck in a hole and can't find a way out, my children and my husband need me and I feel like I'm detached from everything. 

I started bereavement counselling and it appears I'm suffering from complicated grief due to the issues in my relationship with my mum.

Anyone going through anything like this? 

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Dear Zita,

My deepest condolences and sympathies on the passing of your cherished mum. I'm so sorry for your loss. Death is such a terrible shock to our minds and bodies. Everything you are describing is normal part of the grief journey. I'm sorry for your pain and sorrow. I know its hard. I hope the bereavement counselling will offer you some comfort. Take care and please let us know how you are doing. Sending you hugs.

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Dear Zita, I'm very sorry for your loss.  It may be a bit too early to consider that you have complicated grief.  I'm not a psychologist, but to my understanding, that is usually diagnosed after at least six months of grief that doesn't get better.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is supposed to be a good treatment for complicated grief.

I also suffered from bad insomnia, anxiety and loss of appetite during the first months of my grief.  I lost nearly three stone in weight.  I didn't want to eat foods that my late father enjoyed, because he couldn't enjoy meals with me.  I also was only sleeping 3-4 hours at night.   I was hooked on sleeping pills, but gradually weaned myself off of them when they stopped working, because I didn't want to have to keep increasing the dosages.  I had never lived alone before, and it was very hard for me to be alone day after day without anyone to talk to.   I would call relatives and email friends.  I'd take anyone who would go with me out to dinner, even strangers, but it wasn't the same as being able to talk with someone in person at home.  I didn't start to feel better until after eight months of solitude, because I let my gardener move in with me. 

Even as terrible and uncomfortable as your symptoms are, as Reader said, they are all a normal part of grief.  It is best to allow yourself to experience your feelings with others or by yourself.  Cry, even scream at the ocean, if you must.  If it gets to be too much, then try to distract yourself with something pleasurable, such as eating out with friends and relatives.  I had to tempt myself with the tastiest food available, and I made sure it had no associations with my late father, such as Peruvian food, which he had never tried.  Of course, I still wished with all my heart that he could enjoy it with me, but in doing so I forged new memories to distract me from the old ones.   You still need to make time for your grief or it will take longer to process. 

Guilt is one of the hardest emotions related to grief.  You need to forgive yourself for whatever problems existed between you and your mother.  If you spoke regularly on the phone with her, then your relationship wasn't as bad as other mothers and daughters who don't even talk to each other. You can love someone deeply and still argue with them and hurt their feelings, because all relationships are imperfect.  

When I had anxiety, I went to the ER and the nurse practitioner told me that the anxiety I was feeling was a normal part of grief.  I begged her to give me some sleeping pills, but she would only give me five Ambien -- which I had been taking for almost a year before my dad died.   Then after he died, a doctor gave me benzos.  The nurse at the ER said that I didn't have the appearance of someone who is depressed.  People who are deeply depressed don't even have the energy to dress or bathe properly.    While that was reassuring, it still has been a long road through my grief.  I tried four therapists, three grief support groups, several churches, bars, even online dating.  In my particular case, what helped me most was having someone live with me, so I would have someone to talk to, share meals with me, and watch tv with me, as my father had done virtually all of my life.   Each case is different.   Perhaps if you found someone to be your confidante on the phone, it might help to ease your loss.  It sounds like, in spite of your estrangement, your mom gave you emotional support that you weren't receiving from other sources. 

Even after two years, I still miss my father every day and I still cry, because no one can take his place, but I feel better than I did the first year.  I can sleep better.  Now I fall asleep too easily.  Just yesterday I fell asleep in my chair and didn't even hear the phone ring.  This is not like me at all, but it is way better than insomnia.  I wish you and everyone here the best as we struggle through grief.

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Zita, I understand what you are going through. It has only been a month since my mom passed. And at first i thought, oh you didn't see or talk to her that much, it won't affect you everyday. Well that was a lie to myself. Because even if you don't see that person everyday, you know they are just a drive away, or flight, however far away they are, they were still there. You probably thought you had loads of time to work through all of your issues. But then something happened and she's not there anymore, so now you can't work through them with her. Now it's just you working through the burden of regrets, anger, disappointment, solitude, guilt, and grief. And that's a hell of a load to bear. It's going to knock you right into the bottom of the deepest hole you can think of. But one day at a time, we will find steps out of that hole. One of them might be the love of a sibling, the care of a friend, the concern of a coworker. Those are the stepping stones of happiness, and the biggest and hardest part is not alienating them, because they aren't feeling as terrible as you, and they don't know how much weight it puts on your shoulders. Please remember to hug as many people as possible, not just by rote, but feel emotions when you do, remember the love they have for you, and let that be enough for now. One day you'll be able to feel that immense love again. It's just going to be awhile of fighting your way out of the hole. 

You will never be back to normal. You are now a new you, marked by the pain that deep love can bring you, but that pain just reminds you how much you love them, and that no matter the distance and fighting that love was still there. 

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Thank you reader, MissionBlue and Drissa...its reassuring to know others are going/went through the same, as sometimes I think I'm going crazy.

I think I am now starting to accept that I'm grieving and I just have to give it time, thank you all for your advice. 

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