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Having trouble grieving

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#1 Gone-Country

Posted 30 April 2012 - 07:30 AM

4 weeks ago my uncle was diagnosed with lung cancer. The next day he found it had spread to the bones and he was given 3-12 months to live.  Last Monday I was called to the hospital.  He had septicaemia and wasn't expected to last the day. He managed to hang on for another 36 hours and died late on Tuesday night. I was there, as was my sister, step father, Mum and my uncles ex wife whom he was still close to.  We were all with him as he took his last breath. It was a very peaceful passing and it was a relief to us all to see his suffering end. In those last few days he was in immense pain and in his final stages was on a morphine pump, unresponsive and unconscious. So it was a relief to see him at peace.

Immediately following his death, I went into survival mode, I wanted to be strong for Mum. I helped her get his clothes sorted, visited the funeral director with her and my step father, was there whenever she needed me and stayed with her for 4 days,  went to my uncles house with her and took her away when she had enough of being there. My step father was a godsend and dealt with the crappy stuff and I made sure Mum didn't have to face anything she didn't need to.

Now I am home and I thought the whole severity of the situation would have hit me, but it hasn't.  Is this normal. I am scared sh*tless that I either a) will crumble when I least expect it, not crumble at all, and that makes me heartless.  It's still surreal to me that he is gone, that from diagnosis to death it was 21 days.  3 weeks, not even the lesser end of the 3-12 months he was given.  It's surreal that I watched someone take their last breaths, and then leave this earth.  I want to cry, I NEED to cry. Don't get me wrong, I have been teary, but it is normally other things that set me off first.

I don't even know what I am asking, just if anyone else has been there I guess?

[Edit: remove signature... whoops!]

Edited by .:CowGirl:., 30 April 2012 - 07:31 AM.

#2 MintyBiscuit

Posted 30 April 2012 - 08:06 AM

Sorry for your loss OP sad.gif

My uncle passed away almost 11 years ago now, and I was in the room when he died much like you with your uncle. It took ages to hit me - much longer than I've experienced with other deaths I've dealt with. I don't know if it was because I was in the room, or because he'd been sick for so long and had a fairly long, drawn out death, but I just couldn't come to terms with it. It was about six weeks after he died that I finally cried, and it was because it took that long to hit me that he was really gone.

I think the shock of actually watching someone die really took it's toll on me. I couldn't talk about it for a long time after, even though my sister was in the room too and we'd witnessed the same thing. The hardest part for me was watching his partner as he died - it seemed like such a private moment I was intruding on. For years I wished I hadn't been in the room, but given that he held on and then passed about 45 minutes after my sister and I got there I think he wanted us there, so I am glad I didn't change it.

Sorry, that got a bit rambling. I guess what I'm trying to say is that for me, in a similar situation, the shock of what I saw took a while to abate and that was when the grief kicked in. I didn't deal with the grief well and it took me years to get over it (although I think a lot of that was my youth and a lot of other issues I was dealing with). On a practical side, my DH found reading "On Grief and Grieving" by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross somewhat helpful when his mum died, so that or another book might help you to work through things.

#3 noi'mnot

Posted 30 April 2012 - 08:16 AM

I'm sorry for your loss.  bbighug.gif

The spectrum of what's "normal" when it comes to grieving is so huge that basically almost every reaction that we have is termed "normal", as long as it isn't so overwhelming (in the long term) that it affects our daily lives in a bad way.

As individuals we all grieve differently, and we each grieve each individual death differently.

Don't beat yourself up, OP. You've been through a stressful time that you will have to process in your head, and you will grieve your uncle in your own way. You mightn't cry and wail as you would somebody else, but that doesn't mean that you're not honouring and remembering and grieving your uncle. Do whatever comes naturally, and take care of yourself.

#4 mks81

Posted 30 April 2012 - 08:28 AM

I think I did the same thing when my brother died. I called it my survival mode. I don't think I ever completely collapsed but have had a few teary sessions on my own. My parents, especially my Dad needed me to be strong so I had to be.

Don't think because your not grieving a certain way that its wrong. My parents spend a lot of time at my brother's grave but I absolutely hate going there. The grave is their way of coping, mine is something different.

#5 ellebelle

Posted 30 April 2012 - 08:32 AM

I understand. My Father and my Father-in-law have passed in the last 5 months, and particularly with my Father I thought I would hurt more. I'm quite confused too. I am more angry at him for a lot of stuff I feel was left unsaid. No advice - just letting you know I empathise.

#6 CallMeFeral

Posted 30 April 2012 - 01:25 PM

OP, and Ellebelle maybe it would help too. After my mum died I was sort of having trouble grieving too - I used to just go about daily life and then took some fairly unhealthy ways of avoiding thinking about it (not consciously).
One thing a psych got me to do was write a letter to my mum - everything I wanted to say, thought, what I missed, what I loved about her, what I was angry with her for, how I was feeling, etc etc - everything you can think about. I think it was more structured than that but I can't remember, sorry. For me, it certainly helped me cry and bring the emotions to the front of mind a bit. That's not a one stop shop for grieving, but I did find that it's a good way to open yourself up a bit, when the defenses are built up pretty strong.
Then depending on your thoughts, you can keep the letter, burn it (to 'send' it to them), or whatever.
May be worth a go?

#7 Guest_tigerdog_*

Posted 30 April 2012 - 01:35 PM

you will grieve your uncle in your own way. You mightn't cry and wail as you would somebody else, but that doesn't mean that you're not honouring and remembering and grieving your uncle. Do whatever comes naturally, and take care of yourself.

This.  I still haven't let it all go since my partner died in November but nor do I feel that I need to. For the first few weeks and months I really felt like I was 'on show' (and people have since told me they were waiting for me to crack, which is disconcerting).  I also had my workplace hassling me to go to counselling if I took a day off sick - I was actually sick and even if I just need a 'doona day' very now and then, it doesn't mean I'm not dealing with my grief. Counselling didn't help me, I didn't want to force the emotions to come, you can't save them up for the counselling session, you really need to have someone on the end of the phone to ring at any time if you have to or for some people they need that space on their own at those times when it comes upon you.

Don't stress, don't try to hurry it up - it will come in its own time and if it doesn't then it doesn't, as the PP above states, this doesn't mean you didn't love your uncle.

ETA I think 'survival mode' itself can be a form of dealing with grief - I'm still in survival mode nearly 6 months later, I compulsively write lists and tick stuff off, to what end I don't know, except maybe to get a sense of achievement at the end of the week?  It isn't like he's going to come back one day and see everything I have and haven't done!

Edited by tigerdog, 30 April 2012 - 01:55 PM.

#8 Isolabella

Posted 30 April 2012 - 01:39 PM

Sorry for your loss.

I am always the one who breaks down 1-2wks after an event (and even then my breakdown is limited to less then an hour). I stay 'strong' for everyone and appear heartless sometimes due to my lack of emotion, but it is always there one day when I do breakdown.

It took me 5 days after being told my Pop had died for me to cry and even then when I went to the funeral I was done with crying so had dry eyes (although I did well up at some points of the eulogy - my cousin giving his memories of pop). DH was just amazed and kept on waiting for me to 'fall apart'.

#9 Gone-Country

Posted 30 April 2012 - 07:08 PM

Thanks for your replies, I really appreciate each and every one of them.

I know there is no rule book for grief, and that this will come as it will, it is just really nice to hear from others who have been there.  I am so fortunate that I haven't lost many people close to me, and my uncle is probably the closest to me. So I have no idea how to feel.

But, I am just taking it as it comes. I had a small cry tonight when I thought back to being by his bedside this time last week, and just a short week later he is gone, nothing left.

Thank you again for your replies and kind words.


#10 ali27

Posted 30 April 2012 - 07:17 PM

Take care of yourself cowgirl.
You have had a difficult experience and however you choose to react to it is okay.
Just as we all experience other emotions such as happiness, pride, anger, jealousy etc differently, so too with grief. allow yourself time to do what's right for you.
I am sorry for your loss.

#11 katieface84

Posted 30 April 2012 - 07:20 PM

OP Im really sorry for your loss.

My younger brother took his own life 3 months ago and I still dont think Ive fully come to terms with the fact that I wont ever see him again.

It is starting to hit now as I am due to have my second baby and I dont think it will seem complete without him there to meet her (my 2 1/2 yr old DS adored him and still asks about him ALL of the time which is heartbreaking).

In my situation, life has had to go on, whether I like it or not. I still have to get up for my little boy every day and I still have to take care of myself being pregnant (there have been days I have wished I could drown my sorrows, luckily I cant)

I worry that once this baby comes I may lose it a bit, Im scared with the lack of sleep, hormones etc I will collapse and it will all go to cr*p. If it does I guess I will deal with it then.

Take care of yourself, there is no right or wrong way of grieving x

#12 ellebelle

Posted 01 May 2012 - 02:42 PM

Yes - it's weird Cowgirl. I likened it to Survivor when Jeff puts out your flame....you're just gone. It has made me feel very insignificant in the scheme of things and determined that I mean something to the people tha matter to me.

#13 Gone-Country

Posted 03 May 2012 - 03:24 PM

Well this grief thing sucks. I have cried most of the day today, but it's also triggered by other factors in my life, but as of today, I have cried. I keep getting 'flashbacks' (for want of a better word) to my uncles passing. As I said in my OP, it was a peaceful passing, the kind you want it to be when you are present, but it's just hitting me that I saw him die. I watched my mother's dear brother leave this earth forever.  And then I sat at his bedside and walked through his room while he was in bed, dead.  Oh I know this all sounds harsh, but I don't know how else to put it.

So I have gone from the not being able to cry, to the can't stop picturing it all. I guess it's just the next step.

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