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Experiences of Grief

Just thought I'd ask about the following.  No obligation to answer but it's on my mind today.  I'm wanting to write a piece about grief.  I recently became swamped by it just because someone gave me a card for Christmas with a particular image on it.  I have quite a few anniversaries myself and also times when grief crashes in on me in response to unexpected triggers.  I know what it can feel like for me.  And how it isn't only about a person we've lost, it might be about what our life could have been if not for ....., how a relationship turned out different to what we'd hoped....coming to terms with a new diagnosis for ourselves or someone close to us ....... or whatever it's about for you.

I'm wondering what it feels like for others, physically and emotionally/mentally, and what sort of events have caused it and what things can trigger it to surface again over the years.    You might just be interested in this discussion.  Please all feel free to invite others I haven't tagged who might have something to say.  I'm just tagging the people I know best who know more people here than I do, not because I think you have these experiences necessarily.

@Mazarita @Appleblossom @Faith-and-Hope @greenpea @CheerBear  @Shaz51 @Razzle @outlander @Exoplanet @Teej @Faith-and-Hope 

Thanks in advance for anyone willing to share.  

NB I'm not any sort of research person from any organization or anything, I'm just another person with lived experience and I've been on the forums for over 4 years.


Re: Experiences of Grief

Hi @eth it’s an interesting topic.  I will respond more in depth later, about to jump in the car, but I’d be interested in reading other people’s experiences too



Re: Experiences of Grief

@eth  Hi eth for me I express  my grief internally. I barely show it at times. When my pets die I cannot speak about it as their deaths are so painful even through the deaths may have occurred years ago. Same with my family members who have passed I don't express it so people think I am very cold because I do not talk about it but it is not the case I just keep my grief to myself. Lock it in a box in the deep recesses of my mind never to be opened.


Re: Experiences of Grief

Thanks @Razzle  I look forward to your reply.


Hey @greenpea I've had some events that I didn't grieve at the time or didn't show but I've found they've cracked open at a later time, often catching me totally by surprise.  Do you think it's a survival thing protecting us at the time?  When I look back I think some of the delay was because I was busy caring for someone else at the time and there was just no room for my own deep feelings to surface.


I've also had the experience of being really angry at the time or feeling someone was to blame (including myself) and not feeling sadness until much later.


I've found the one true thing about grief is that it has it's own timing and is largely out of our control.  



Re: Experiences of Grief

Hi @eth and everyone. Great topic eth and one I'll look forward to reading as it comes along!


For me grief feels like something inside me is really hurting, somewhere usually in my chest but it is a deeper ache - different to the tight sensation of anxiety that also sits in my chest.


Though I try not to, I tend to bottle things up until it gets to a point where a small thing gets to me (about a bazillion possible triggers) and I feel myself fighting back tears until it all tries to pour out. Big grief cries also come from somewhere deep inside me. I usually manage to save them until I'm in a safe space either on my own or sometimes with a helpful helping person. I can feel pretty exhausted initially after a big cry but often better later. Sometimes (lots of times) grief is behind anger I can experience too.


I feel grief over some relationships I don't have anymore and ones that have changed, but I feel maybe the most painful grief over intangible things. It's the lost things like dreams and hopes, my sense of safety, time, changes within myself (my mental health being one), trust in others (and myself), beliefs I once had etc. that hit me the hardest. I've found it a bit confronting to realise this as I would have thought lost relationships would have hurt me the most. I feel like they maybe should hurt the most and am kind of ashamed that they don't. In saying that, I know grief is complicated and there's no right or wrong with it.


A really interesting (I think) term I learned last year when I was going through something very painful is "disenfranchised grief" (grief that isn't socially acknowledged/accepted). I think disenfranchised grief is a huge problem for many of us who hurt over things that others can't understand or recognise, or that are minimised or dismissed entirely. It helped me to understand how different kinds of grief might be experienced differently. Here's a handy article on that one if you're interested @eth and anyone. 


Long story short - grief makes lots of sense and no sense at the same time I find. It can be so complex with so many layers to it!


Re: Experiences of Grief

@eth   Ive lost both sets of grandparents, my 9yo son, my mothers siblings and my dad.  Only 3 of those have left a huge hole in my life.


First was my mother’s father.  He was the greatest man to set foot on this planet, I thought he was perfect.  In reality, he was a hopeless alcoholic, but he wasn’t abusive or mean, in fact he was the opposite.  He would give his last $1 if someone needed it, even if that meant he couldn’t pay the rent (which apparently did happen - often), but to me he was the sun shine.  I dreamt of him for years after he died, often dreaming that he was still alive and was hiding somewhere.  He died of throat cancer - he’d had his voice box removed long before I was born, so I never heard him speak, but he out lived the dr’s predictions by about 30years - he was supposed to die 18months after diagnosis.  I saw him a few months before he died, but once he got really sick we weren’t allowed to visit him.  I was a teenager when he died.  I missed him so much, cried for months and months.  When I was pregnant with

my oldest child I dreamt that I had had the baby and was parked outside his house, I was trying to get the baby out of the car, all I wanted to do was introduce my new baby to my Pa, but something kept slowing me down and I felt like I was running out of time and I would miss that chance.  I woke up and felt distraught that my Pa wouldnt meet my baby, I was really going to miss that.  I still think of him often.


My next big loss was my 9yo son - who I don’t feel I ever actually grieved.  My husband was in the car accident (only he and my son were in the car).  My husband had been injured and my son had massive head trauma.  He was airlifted to the RCH, on life support for 4 days before he passed away.  I think I was in shock for a few days, then when we came home it was straight into looking after my husband (both wrists broken, a rib and bump on his head).  Organising a funeral, looking after my other 2 children that had just lost their brother, a court case looming - the other driver ran a give way sign and both cars collided so it went to court.


I dont feel like I was allowed to grieve.  If I got upset in front of my husband he’d get upset and feel guilty so I never showed much emotion in front of him.  My parents fell to pieces, so I felt I had to be strong in front of them, and getting upset in front of the kids only scared them, so I didn’t show any emotion in front of anyone.


The worst part, all our friends dumped us.  They’d pretend not to see us, cross the street rather than walk past us, 

they never contacted us, they’d have parties or dinners and we’d find out after the event.  We’re from a small town and our son was the first child death (aside from a 16yo girl a couple of years before) for about 20years.  It used to upset me greatly, but I would

never give those people the satisfaction of seeing me cry.


I cried in the shower, in bed at night, alone in my car and I tried my hardest to dream of him.  After a couple of years I finally did have a dream about him, but it was no comfort, it wasn’t a nightmare but it wasn’t a pleasant dream either.  I’ve only dreamt of

him twice more since, still not pleasant. For years I always felt uncomfortable, the best way I can describe it is that I felt like when I got up in the morning I put my clothes on backwards walking

around all day like that just to take them off at night and put my pjs on backwards - sleep (well try to) and repeat.  I just never felt comfortable in my own skin.  It was an incredibly lonely time in my life, and I felt I had no support at all.


My son loved the 80’s power ballads and songs from around that era (he was born in the late 90’s).  His favourite song was “I would walk 500 miles” which is often played at weddings - and I start tearing up - actually burst into tears a few times.  When it plays on the radio now I feel my heart drop.  


The thing is, I don’t grieve for what I

lost, I have those memories, I was there, I remember it all, and that won’t change, I grieve for his future that I won’t have with him - always wondering what he would be like now, especially when I see what his mates are up to.


The last person that left a huge hole was my dad.  We were great mates.  I was the youngest of 4, only daughter and could do no wrong in his eyes.  He was diagnosed with cancer (about 20 months ago) and 6 days later he died.  It was a huge shock to everyone.  In the weeks leading up to his diagnosis it was very stressful, and just hours before he died I had a massive falling out with my SIL - haven’t spoken to her since.  My dad died early hours of the morning, only my mum, 1 of my brothers and myself were with him when he passed, it was horrific.  That night, I was quite emotional and confided in my husband about the falling out with my SIL and he defended her.  My marriage basically ended that night too.  This time I cried in front of everyone.  My husband felt guilty about how he’d treated me, and seeing me upset made him upset too - and I didn’t give a rats arse about how he felt.  I concentrated on myself, and if I needed to get it out, I did.  Just like my son, I felt I had no support at all.  At the funeral,  my brothers had their wives comforting them, I was comforting my mum but there was no one there for me, something I still get stuck on now.


Grief comes and goes in waves now, sometimes a song will jog a memory and makes me sad.  Sometimes I want to tell my dad something and then remember he’s not there.  Some days I just feel so sad and have a cry in the shower or if I’m in the car alone.  


Lots of things just dont feel the same anymore.


Re: Experiences of Grief

@CheerBear   That article on disenfranchised grief was bang on the

money, that’s exactly how I felt after

my son died.  Thanks for including the link ❤️❤️




Re: Experiences of Grief

@Razzle I read your post above lost for words. I'm so sorry you've experienced all that you have 😔

I thought about how much extra might have been added to your loss through the actions (or lack of actions) of others and an am glad you read the link if it was at all helpful. That kind of grief is very real. Again, so sorry ❤

Re: Experiences of Grief

@CheerBear  I’ve often been referred to as a hardened bitch - I refer to myself that way too - a lot.  Because I don’t show emotion people think of me as cold.  


Because of my CSA I learnt from an early age to hide my feelings, something that came easy as I got older - but it’s all coming back to bite me now.  Like others here, I bottle things to the point that the smallest most insignificant thing sets of an eruption.  It’s unhealthy, and frustrating and it takes a huge amount of effort to change.  


I often feel unworthy, (something that came up in councilling today), so I feel I don’t have the right to look after myself, to put myself first, to be looked after.  And in the midst of grief when you need support the most and don’t get it, it just reinforces that feeling of worthlessness.


Re: Experiences of Grief

I have been referred to as, and refer to myself as, a bit of an ice queen @Razzle. I'm not sure if it's the same for you but I can feel so emotional that I lock it down tight so it doesn't cause any external chaos but I probably appear unemotional (and cold) as a result. I also probably/definitely like to give off a decent "dont mess with me" vibe as a protective thing which adds some ice.

It does take a huge amount of effort to change things that have been a certain way, often out of necessity, for a long time.

Feeling unworthy is an awful feeling Razzle. I can see how not receiving support can lead you to even more worthlessness feelings.

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