by William Matthews
(New Rochelle, New York)

In July we put down our pet Akita Smokey. The same day we sold my childhood home. I have not lived there since 1988. But I still have fond memories. This past February 3, 2013 we lost Dad. He and I were close. He was my hero and role model. Even though I feel both losses I feel relieved. Smokey was suffering and lost his will to live. Dad had a major stroke almost eight years ago. I feel the losses but have been the strong one for my kids, wife and my mom. People commented that I did not show any emotions during the wake and funeral for Dad or when Smokey was put to rest. I am wondering if my greving period had begun or is it still coming. Should I feel guilty for not grieving more. If anyone has suggestion I would like to read it.

Comments for Bill

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Feb 28, 2013
by: Doreen U.K.

William NO! You shouldn't be grieving more. And people who comment should SHUT UP! They have no business commenting like this and making you feel guilty. There is NO NORM to GRIEF. Each of us has different life experiences and bonding with the loved one who passed away. There is a possibility that your grief may be FROZEN. Almost like a shock to the system and you can't feel anything and then you start thawing out and this is when the grief hits you. Because you are also being the strong one for your whole family you are not being given the time or space for yourself to feel what you need to feel and to express this. Many people find benefit from seeing a grief counsellor who is skilled to help us with our grief and be supportive. Grief is so very painful that having support does help us cope better. You sound like a very caring person who is looking after everyone else. Just make sure you don't get lost in everyone's problems with grief that you neglect yourself. Grief strikes in very often the wrong places. Don't worry about this or shut it off. I have found myself crying on the bus, walking down the street, standing in the bank, shopping for food. Just about anything can happen. This is the nature of Grief. Just don't repress your grief as it will be harder to deal with. Sorrow will find expression and is normal. Let it come. Lean on other people when you need to. Don't let anyone tell you how and when to grieve or to question you on anything. Many of us become NUMB and can't express Grief. Let no one judge you or make you feel uncomfortable. You will get through this in time.

Feb 28, 2013
Dear Bill,
by: Pat in Missouri

I am truly sorry for your losses. Please know that grief is very, very personal. Everyone grieves differently. Just because you are not crying buckets of tears does not mean you are not grieving. Also, men and women grieve differently. Losing your dog, your father, and your childhood home are all major losses. Being a man, you are normally trying to be the strong one. To answer your question of "should I feel guilty for not grieving more," absolutely not. You are grieving or you would not have reached out like this. I do think you could benefit from a grief support group. I attended one just after 3 major losses in my life. I found it very helpful to be with others who were in the same situation. There were 12 of us in the group. Six of them were men. Some men think that seeking help is a sign of weakness.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It appears that you have some strong emotional attachments with your losses, but you are not really dealing with them because you think you have to be the strong one. Unless you deal with your deep-seated feelings, years down the road, you could face some major health problems. Grief does manifest itself in physical ways. I know that, as a man and the head of your family, you feel the need to hold everyone else together. They are also grieving, although it is different. It could help all of you if you attended a support group together. You might suggest that to your wife, kids, and mother. If they do not wish to go, it would still help you to do so. If you prefer to work 1 on 1 to get help, there are plenty of counselors or social workers that can help. If you have a pastor, he could help. I feel your pain. I lost my brother, father, and fiance' all within 5 months in 2011. It still hurts. I do not believe anyone ever "gets over" grief. We just learn how to live with the memories. The physical presence may be gone, but the spiritual one will be with us forever. Thank you for reaching out. It's a big start. I wish you well.

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