The Worst Year of My Life

by Charlotte

I have experienced loss before. The death of elderly relatives, the loss of a marriage, the loss of never being able to have my own child. These last 2 were particularly difficult and it took me a long time to work thru those. Life turned around for me 11 years ago when I met a wonderful man whom I married and am extremely happy with. We were not able to have children, I was now 40, and that window had closed. Dogs became our family. Life was great. I have a large extended family; 4 siblings, 10 nieces and nephews, many aunts, uncles and cousins and we are all close. I have learned that this closeness with my immediate family is unhealthy. There are issues with boundaries and problems within each family unit become everyone else's problems. The older I have gotten, I have realized that my family is unhealthy in many ways.
Six years ago I experienced my first significant death. My grandmother. She was the family matriach and I loved her. She lived to age 90 and had some health issues but was sharp as a tack. Her death was beautiful. She died surrounded by her 6 children, 20 grandchildren with her Swedish music playing. I took this very hard and each year around the time of her death, I have gotten very depressed and cry often. Her death represents something more. She gave me things that I didn't get from my own mother and I miss that.
One year ago I was celebrating my 50th birthday. My husband had a surprise party for me and I was surrounded by family and good friends and had the time of my life. I was so happy and life was good. Two days later, my mother in law died of a massive heart attack. I am a nurse and I have known my mother in law for 30 years, long before I married her son. I was working the day she came to my hospital with chest pain and I rode with her in the ambulance as she was transported to the city to the cardiac cath lab. She went in to cardiac arrest in the back of the ambulance just as we pulled in to the hospital parking lot. I was alone and panicked and felt so out of control. I never thought she was going to die!!! They tried everything and after working on her for over an hour we had to let her go. She was 72 years old. Such a shock and it was so traumatic for me. My mother in law was a great lady and she was a person I looked up to and could go to for advice and now she was gone. 4 months later, we had to put our beloved dog down that we had had for 9 years, 3 months later my aunt and god mother died from metastatic esophageal cancer. She only lived 9 months after her diagnosis. She was another source of love and support for me and now she, too was gone. The next month, my mom at age 74 was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. It has all been too much. I try each day to get up and focus on the day ahead and the positive but the sadness just comes over me and I cry. I feel so anxious and keep wondering what is going to happen next and what is the point of all of this? I do see a therapist on a regular basis but it just seems like the hits just keep coming. All around me there is sadness. My dear sister is struggling with anxiety and her son has mental health issues and will not take his medication and I worry for them.
How do I process all of this? My mom just had a doctors visit and some tests and we are told that she most likely has a form of leukemia! Going to meet with a specialist this week. It is like a bad dream. I am supposed to care for people in my job and some days I feel that I am going to burst in to tears at any time!! I am unsure how to process each of these losses as each one is significant and combined is just too much. Two days from now will be the fist anniversary of my mother in laws death. I hope and pray for peace and healing.

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Sep 08, 2014
The Worst Year of My Life
by: Doreen UK

Charlotte you have so much on your plate to deal with and you haven't had time to catch your breath and process what is going on. You have thus become vulnerable and wonder what is next. You need to be aware that whilst you are a caring person and also by profession that you can become the person to lean on and you have your limitations and need to set some boundaries. It is also good you are seeing a therapist. BUT. You only have one hour session and by the time you leave you can feel disorientated having not finished your session before you go in for the next session your daily life could have changed and added to your stress and you wonder how you tackle it all. What do you talk about in therapy? Life has changed since the week before. I have been there. Also come from a family where there were no boundaries and I had great difficulty setting boundaries. Everyone was in each other's business and it gets complicated. Those you think care and supporting you can become your enemies.
Take time out for yourself. A BREAK. VACATION. FOCUS on yourself and start building yourself up. Lashings of encouragement, day out, meal with friends. Switch off. Take off your carers hat and don't take on the world. Make a priority list if it helps you and see things for what they are. Grieve the losses of loved one's and your dog. Cry all you need to as this is healthy grief. Just taking a little time out for yourself may be a help. You need to build on this and change the way you do things so that you don't neglect your own needs. Don't fret over having a dysfunctional family. WE are all dysfunctional in some way. Often this happens when we don't grieve our losses throughout life and it piles up and passes on down the line from one generation to the other. This is the stage we can get to when we then need to see a therapist when it all becomes compacted we can't work it out. You are in the right place getting support. Just don't give up therapy too soon even if it becomes painful and you feel therapy is not helping you. IT IS. You just don't know it yet. One day you will wake up and feel different and the therapy will be working and you will be healing. You won't ever go back to feeling so bad again as you do now. I DID THIS IN MY 40'S. Now in my 60's. Now grieving the loss of my husband of 44yrs. to cancer. He died 2yrs. ago. TAKE ONE DAY AT A TIME. This is how I still cope. It will work out for you and you will get your life back. You will begin to process life better and death will become a part of life you begin to accept and grieve.

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