Alone in grief

by Linda

I feel very alone right now. My father passed away on September 7, 2008. My relationship with my parents has always been complicated due to their limited mental functioning.

Both of my parents have some form of mental impairment. Although they were able to raise me successfully (I'm an only child), I eventually had to take care of them and "parent" them. I feel great responsibility for them, however they are their own people and almost 3 years ago they decided to move back to my father's home, 12 hours away from where I live. So now my dad is gone and I'm in the process of moving my mom back to the state that I live in.

Due to my mom's mental condition, I don't think she fully understands her loss or at least she cannot verbalize it. This makes me feel very alone. I'm married, I have a young child, but I don't feel that there is anyone that I can share my feelings with.

There's no one to tell that I feel guilty that the last time my dad called me--1 week before he died- that I didn't call him back. When I did call him, it was the day before he died and he didn't answer the phone, apparently he was not feeling well. I think what if I had tried calling again, maybe he would have answered, maybe I could have told my mom to make him eat. But instead he went into a diabetic coma.

When I went back for the funeral, I was struck at how there was evidence that my dad had not planned on dying anytime soon. In fact, he had only days before bought his month supply of medication and his only true vice, cigarettes!

My parents were both needy people and I got a sense from some of my family members that they were relieved that they didn't have to deal with my dad's needs anymore. I get the sense that people see my mom as "my problem" and that makes me angry. And although my dad's family was helpful during the last few weeks, I still get the sense that they see this as "my problem". Being an only child dealing with the loss of a parent is probably not any different from those who have siblings. During the last few weeks, I never felt like I was missing that bond of having a sibling, you can't miss what you've never had. But at times because I can't connect with my mom in a "healthy" way, I feel alone in my loss.

There is no one who can understand my pain. I get mad at myself sometimes because I just push away my sadness. Its easy to do that when you work full time, are in grad school and raising a child. I can find a lot to distract myself. I don't really like that about myself, but I don't want to talk about my pain with anyone, I don't want to express my feelings. I know that this is unhealthy but I'm at a loss for expressing my grief.

I think about my dad everyday. I miss him. I feel sad for my mom who lost her only friend. I think that also complicates my feelings also. Because my mom doesn't express her feelings, I feel sorry for her. I feel sadness for her. It's like I'm taking on her grief along with mine. And I don't know how to fix it.

For me, my faith is very important, yet I can't even express my feelings in prayer. Its like saying the things out loud make them real. If I keep it to myself they can stay hidden. I know how unhealthy this is, but I don't know how to not be this way. I don't think I thought losing my dad would hurt so bad. I guess I thought because I got used to the distance between us and because we have not had a true father-daughter relationship in a very long time that I thought it wouldn't be as painful.

This is so incredibly hard. There are so many things that I would have done differently. I wish I was more understanding and appreciative of them. I wish I had told him how proud I am of him as a father and how he did a good job of raising me. I wish he could be here to see my son grow up to be such a kind hearted and smart child. I wish my dad would have known the impact that he had on my life, how I appreciate how difficult it must have been being a parent despite their own limited abilities. What I would do to let him know these things.

Comments for Alone in grief

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Nov 13, 2012
My father died suddently when I was away, and my mother did not tell me about it
by: Anonymous

I lost my father very suddenly, when I was 20 years old. I was studying in the US when it happened, and was away from my country. My mother thought it would be better if she didn't tell me about it for a whole month, thinking that she did not want to disrupt my school schedule and not knowing who is with me if she gave news over the phone. Then in a random day, I see my mother in front of my door at my university to tell me in person that my father passed a way a month after it happened. I thought at those days I forgave her and understood why she did that. But now, 12 years have passed and I realize that she has caused me incredible damage in the way she never allowed me to say goodbye and have any real closure by attending my father's funeral. To this day, I realize inside me that i never forgave her and she never admitted why this could be damaging to me. She never said "I am sorry, you feel this way, or I didn't mean to hurt you". So, after all these years, I look like a fully functioning individual from outside with a nice job and about to be married, but I feel like I can barely hold it together on the inside..I have this feeling of "being shuttered into pieces" that never goes away. I lost my father, whom I was very closed to, I have a "love-hate" relationship with my mother, who is on the one hand a very kind and loving human-being, but on the other hand has so many pyschological issues that is overwhelming to me, such as inability to trust anyone, always blaming other people in a very hurtful way in difficult situations, victimizing herself, alientating many people unfairly. Over the years, I have also had a number of unsuccessful relationships, where I stayed for years, knowing deep down that it will not work... I am now engaged, and my fiance is terrible at talking about "overly emotional and uncomfortable" topics. We have been together for 3 years and I rarely, almost never talk about my father to him and he never asks. Today would be my father's birthday, so I woke up sad today. At the breakfast table, I started telling him a funny ancetode about my father, and my fiance tried to change the topic saying something very irrelevant like "You should finish your oatmeal before we leave the house". At that moment, I felt like incredible grief came over me.. and I seriously started questioning whether I can possibly spend rest of my life with someoe, who can't event listen about anectode about my dead father because "it makes him sad, and he gets afraid that it may happen to this father'. Is it just me, or is this explanation so hurtful?? Once again, I feel incredibly depressed, and whatever I do to change my life, such as buying my own place, or finally committing to getting married, makes me feel whole again. Please help!!!

Jan 01, 2010
lost dad and was not close to him
by: Anonymous

I lost my dad Dec 29 2009. I am very numb right now because I guess I am still in shock. I was not close to him and my parents live in North Dakota and I live in Indianapolis.

I feel alone right now also because I do not have any friends and I really do not want to be around anyone at this moment anyway. I know I am not making any sense, but I just would like to have gone to North Dakota to see him, but mom said he wanted to be cremated, and she only had a 48 hour window to do that in, so he was cremated today.

She said she has pictures of him before they cremated him, but I still wanted to be there; but she said no. I could come and visit her in the summertime because she would need to be with someone then. So I said ok. I looked up the funeral home on the internet and saw his death notice and that is when it hit me that it is true.

Mar 01, 2009
Our dads
by: laura

I just lost my dad on November 6th 2008.
He committed suicide while I was at school and I had no chance to say goodbye or I love you or anything, and I feel so alone right now. So I know how you feel and what you are going through.

My dad and I were close and I could talk to him about anything. I got pulled out of my class and they told me my dad died, and I just could not believe it; that it actually happened. Then three other people told me and I was like, no it can't be happening! It felt like i was in a big nightmare, but it's true, he's actually gone.

I can't tell him face to face that I love him and I can't talk to him anymore and well, I miss that so much. I guess you could say he was like a best friend to me, and now I don't have that, I don't have the commitment that he gave me when he had me to be my dad. I don't have that anymore.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you are not alone, I miss my dad too and I know a lot of the feelings you're feeling right now, because I either have them or I went through it.

Well, keep in touch with me.
I will keep you in my prayers and thoughts,

Jan 10, 2009
You take the love with you when you go.....
by: Patty in California

My Dad just passed December 15, 2008 from Pancreatic Cancer to which he was diagnosed in July of 2008.

Your journal entry validated many of my own personal feelings over the past few weeks and months. I too am a Graduate student, married, have three children and work full time. I have one sibling who lives in another state, an older sister who seems never to be around when the going gets tough. Many times I have felt completly alone, since I was constantly visiting my father throughout his illness and ultimately his death.

My only sibling, my fathers oldest child, couldn't even attend his funeral. People who I thought to be good friends seemed to stop talking to me once they found out my Dad had terminal cancer in September. It's strange how some view any terminal illness or death as being contagious. I did a lot of anticipatory grieving before my father passed with the thought that it wouldn't hurt as much after his death.....Grief has it's own way of telling you otherwise.

I believe in my heart that even if our words go unspoken to our fathers that they know how thankful we are that they alone were our only complicated super-heros. You see, when we raise our children, they see themselves in us and appreciate how we may have positively altered our parenting techniques to resemble their methods.

This truly demonstrates our love, pride, and thankfulness to them as a parent.

I too have become responsible for my Mother. When my Dad got sick I told him I would always look after her.
I can see how easy it is to feel alone especially when your whole world is turned upside down. It's hard for us daughters since our identity can sometimes be tied in with our father.

During times when I feel completely alone I know it is in these times that I need to be still and know that the only way through for me is with God's strength.

In the last week I've had two people say to me, "Do you remember the movie 'Ghost'"?, Patrick Swayzee says to Demi Moore after he dies, "You take the love with you when you go"..... If this is true how wonderful!! Especially, if we believe that one day we will meet again.

Take each day,

Oct 28, 2008
Lost my dad
by: Anonymous

You are not alone. I also lost my father this past June, and I am still in utter shock. It's so hard. We will get through it.

Oct 13, 2008
Some things I've learned
by: Anonymous

I'm sorry for your loss, and relate to all of the feelings you describe. As if losing someone we care about wasn't heartbreaking enough, we sometimes feel the need to punish ourselves needlessly for things that already happened, things we won?t ever be able to change. What I'm hearing is that you feel like you've failed by not being able to predict the timing of your father's death, and that you're blaming yourself for not acting on information you didn't have.

You're NOT alone. Guilt is programmed into us before we learn what the word itself means. It's a worthless emotion--nothing good comes of it! The "could-haves" and "should haves,? the self-blame, and imagining scenarios that may have changed the outcome will drag you down and keep you in this place even longer. We?re human, none of us has a crystal ball. Part of what makes life beautiful and exciting is that we don't know what the future holds. Free yourself from the idea that you did anything wrong. I assure you, you didn't.

If things were left unfinished or unspoken, it may help to write him a long letter and get your feelings out. Write it as if he were going to read it, and read it out loud. Maybe he will hear you, no one really knows! Doing this has really helped me. It may also help to imagine being with your father now, or after some more time has passed. Would the fact that you didn't return his call that day really matter to either of you? Of course not.

As for your relatives who have been insensitive, I can only say, again, you're not alone. Imagine yourself in their shoes, even though they seem to lack the compassion you need right now. There are others who will take the time to listen. Find some people you trust--seek them out and share your thoughts and let them help. I've found a few people I talk to a little each day. They stop avoiding and feel good about helping when they realize you?re ok and won't fall apart and expect them to put you back together.

Grief will look for any way out of you and will take the form of every emotion you can imagine. Be aware that anger can be misdirected. We do this because being angry gives us some structure to the "nothingness" we feel after a loss. The people you thought you?d be able to count on may run away while the last people you expected to find comfort in might be your best support. You're all dealing with something difficult, and everyone is different. Eventually, it's best to forgive folks for what they can't understand.

Lastly, celebrate his life and give thanks by living in a way that would make him proud (it sounds like you already are), and taking care of those who remain. I don't know much about your mother's limitations, but my guess is that she may be hurting more than you realize, or perhaps, more than she can adequately express. Your loss is very recent, I know. Take care of yourselves and each other, and it will get easier with time, I promise. Good luck to you!!

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