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Topic: Grief in a complicated situation

27 posts, 0 answered
  1. Flowerchild07
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    21 May 2020

    I'm grieving the death of a man I loved. He loved me too. The difficulty is that I met him while I was volunteering at an aged care facility. Of course there are rules about not allowing oneself to get too close or too involved with residents. Sometimes, despite the rules, these things happen. We formed a very special bond over a 5 month period. Unfortunately, he told his family about his relationship with me and they, understandably, were concerned. They brought the situation up with management, and of course I was reprimanded for my behavior. They didn't know the extent of our relationship.........nobody did except for the two of us. It wasn't something that we could share with others. No matter how hard we tried, we would never have been able to make people understand. The age difference for one, not to mention the fact that he had multiple medical issues etc.

    I was forced to leave and told not to contact him or his family. I didn't get to say goodbye. I don't know if anyone explained to him why I had to leave. I've been so depressed and worried about him. He passed away three days ago. The grief I feel is making me sick. I don't think it's just the grief. It's all the things that happened, the way they happened and the fact that I have no one to help me work through my grief, because no one really knows how much we meant to each other. My family know that I formed a friendship with him, but that's as far as it goes. They feel for me in that respect, but must be wondering why my grief is so debilitating. I have to cry in private, I have no one to talk to about the true relationship I had with him.

    The last time I saw him was Boxing Day 2019. Even though he was in his late eighties, very unwell and is no doubt in a much better place now, I still can't stop crying. I can't seem to accept that he's gone. My grief is making me sick. Everything seems 'unreal'. Because I'm not a family member, I don't have anywhere to express my grief and sorrow at his passing. I can't attend his funeral. I just feel lost and helpless.

    2 people found this helpful
  2. uncut_gems
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    21 May 2020 in reply to Flowerchild07

    Hi Flowerchild07,

    Your post is so moving to me because the goodness of your intentions and the intensity of your feelings come through so clearly. You are exactly right that despite the strictures imposed on us in the workplace and elsewhere (for good reason), sometimes people connect in ways that simply transcend these regulations and form bonds that you just can't explain or make understood to outside observers.

    Grief is so hard to deal with, even when we can discuss it freely with people who understand where we're coming from. When, for one reason or another, we're not able to do that, it can become downright unbearable.

    Without knowing anything about yourself or this man, it sounds like you made the last months of his life not only dignified and comfortable (by volunteering), but also full of connection and meaning. We should all be so lucky to have our final days come to a close like that. To leave behind what sounds like a budding romance must be as devastating for him as it is for you, but to have that connection with someone at the end of your life (and a vibrant, young person no less) is something he must have cherished.

    I wish that the family (both his and yours) could be more empathetic, but I understand that seeing something maybe untoward happen to a family member in a care facility has made his relatives uneasy. It is likely that only the two of you will know just what you had together. I see that you've posted here on the forums before, so hopefully you already know that you will always have a place here to talk about these things free of judgement.

    Warmly,

    Gems

    2 people found this helpful
  3. quirkywords
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    21 May 2020 in reply to Flowerchild07

    Flowerchild what a sad tale yet how wonderful that yo shared something so special.

    Grief is hard at any time but under your circumstances I can feel your pain and frustration and feeling of loss through you words.

    here is no right way to grief so do what works for you.

    am sure he understood what had happened. I suppose the family may have worried you may have been after money because of the age difference. It is sad that they could not see the special relationship you had. I suppose aged care places need to be protective of their residents.

    t will be hard. Can you writ him a letter saying what you would have said had you known it was last time you would see him.

    You say you last saw him on boxing day could you communicate by letter or phone? Or was all communication ended on Boxing Day 2019.

    Be kind to yourself.

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  4. Flowerchild07
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    21 May 2020 in reply to uncut_gems

    Thank you Gems.

    our perspective on my situation makes a lot of sense, and really helps. All I could see through my tears were the negative things. But yes, I see now that I would have brought some light and comfort into his final months, as well as connection and meaning, as you say. It still hurts that we couldn't keep in touch for the past few months, and it is devastating that he has now passed and there will never be any chance of us connecting (in life) again.

    I'm so glad I decided to reach out. Your beautifully worded and meaningful reply means so much to me. You've made me look at the situation in a totally different way. Thanks again.

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  5. Flowerchild07
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    21 May 2020 in reply to quirkywords
    Thank you quirkywords, for taking the time to read my post and reply. I love your idea of writing a letter saying the things I would have said had I known it was the last time I would see him. No, I was told not to communicate with him in any way. I wanted to send a letter many times, and call him....however, all the staff knew me and someone would have had to read a letter to him or his family may have seen it during a visit with him. I will try to be more kind to myself. Thank you for your advice and my best wishes to you.
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  6. uncut_gems
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    22 May 2020 in reply to Flowerchild07

    Flowerchild,

    It makes me so glad to hear that you've been able to think about the situation in a slightly different way and see at least some of the really wonderful things about it. Yes, the knowledge that you won't communicate again is, I think, the most painful part of grief. quirkywords' suggestion is a really great one that might help bring you a sense of closure and to honor his memory.

    Warmly,

    Gems

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  7. Flowerchild07
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    22 May 2020 in reply to uncut_gems

    Hi Gems

    I wrote a 5 page letter last night. It did make me feel less burdened and I can see that I'm not a bad person and that what I did came from a good and honest place. I'm still struggling with many conflicting thoughts and emotions. Sadness, anger, frustration, confusion. Crying a lot. I suppose these are all part of the grieving process that one needs to endure to get to the other side.

    Thank you again. I needed something to distract me for a little while, so I was pleased to see your message.

    Kindest regards

    Flowerchild.

    1 person found this helpful
  8. uncut_gems
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    28 May 2020 in reply to Flowerchild07

    Hi Flowerchild,

    Apologies for the late reply. I'm so glad to hear that quirkywords' suggestion was helpful for you. It sounds like it helped you let out some emotions that really needed expressing, and as you say these are all healthy parts of the grieving process. Still thinking of you and would love to hear how you're going.

    Warmly,
    Gems

    1 person found this helpful
  9. Flowerchild07
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    28 May 2020 in reply to uncut_gems

    Hi Gems,

    Thank you so much for your kindness. It means a lot to me. His funeral was today. I watched the live stream of the service. It was a lovely service and really expressed just what I felt and knew about him. He just drew people to him throughout his life because he was such an amazing human being, the biggest heart ever. One of those types of people who would never say a bad word about anyone. It was a really sad day today, of course. It has been tough just getting through each day. Not just because of his passing, but the fact that no one truly knows the depth of our relationship and therefore I've had no one to share it with or to help me through the grieving process. I've been on my own through most of it. My sister (who works at the aged care facility, and who sent me the link to the live stream) knows he was a friend, but no one knows the full story.....it's not something that people would understand or accept. I feel a bit like the grieving widow, but with no support system. It's going to take some time, but I have been trying to do all the right things to help process the grief. I've cried rivers of tears, and I'm sure there'll be many more. But I can console myself with the fact that he lived a long and full life and achieved so much in that time. Again thank you so much for being a shoulder to cry on and the same to Quirkywords too, thank you. Can I ask about you Gems, what brought you to BB?

  10. uncut_gems
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    29 May 2020 in reply to Flowerchild07

    Hi Flowerchild,

    It sounds like you were able to honor his memory and take part in the funeral to the maximum extent possible given the circumstances. You describe it so evocatively, seeing all the people he also touched and brought into his orbit throughout his long life. Even if you were unable to talk to them, I imagine there was something reassuring about seeing all the people who, for one reason or another, were drawn to this remarkable man just like you were.

    I think it's likely that, at least for now, only you will know just what your relationship with him meant. But despite not being able to share the full story, I think the fact that you were able to talk about it a bit with your sister means you can unload at least a tiny bit of that burden, especially now that your friend has been laid to rest by many of his other loved ones with peace and dignity.

    The way I came to BB is sort of interesting– I'm actually an American PhD student doing my dissertation on the use of the Internet to treat mental illness, and moved here in September for a year to do some research about how e-mental health works in Australia. I have been dealing with mental health issues for my whole life, so my academic interest is informed by my personal experience. Eventually I found BB and realized it was such an important part of the story of eMH in Australia, and also a great opportunity to actually get involved and talk to fellow travelers.

    After reaching out to find out more about BB and the forums, I decided to join and become a Community Champion a few months ago. I really love it here because it's such a gratifying way to spend my time, and to enrich my understanding of how people use the Internet to help their mental health. What about yourself?

    Warmly,

    Gems

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  11. Flowerchild07
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    29 May 2020 in reply to uncut_gems

    Hello again Gems,

    Oh, that is very interesting. That explains why you're so knowledgeable about the subject.

    I too have suffered from mental health issues for most of my life. That's what first brought me here. Have you managed to get your mental health issues under control? How are you now?

    I've had severe depression for almost 40 years. I've had let ups from it from time to time but it always comes back. I still have no idea whether it's the depression that has caused my life to spin out of control or the other way around...is it the problems I've experienced caused the depression?

    I'm an empath. Extremely sensitive. I've nearly always felt I didn't really fit in anywhere. I felt I was different in some way.

    Even as a little girl I remember being afraid of nearly everything and everyone. I was always shy and felt I wasn't worthy.....I always felt inferior. I really don't know why I was like that. None of my siblings were like that and all 5 of us had the same parents. Go figure.

    I seem to gravitate towards the wounded and want to help them, even though I am one of the walking wounded myself. I'm just different, always have been.

    I experienced a lot of bullying during my school years, was sexually assaulted by a group of boys in high school. Have experienced a lot of loss in my life, due to the early death of my mother, the suspicious death of my younger brother, my dad's long and sad struggle after having a major stroke, not to mention several unsatisfactory relationships and being cheated on etc. These things happen to us all and we all have to do our best to get through them. I often feel my family and friends don't know how to react or what to say and I know I make them uncomfortable when I depressed or grieving.....so I feel I need to turn to sites like this one.

    Kind regards

    Flowerchild.

  12. smallwolf
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    30 May 2020 in reply to Flowerchild07

    you raised an interesting question on what origin of depression.

    your story is a sad tale of abuse, death, relationship problems etc. My story is very different - part of my problem is medical (haemochromatosis) combined with lots of little things that I did not speak to anyone about that built up inside me. My father has been on ADs for some time so there is also a family history for me.

    I have brother who is the opposite of me yet like you said have the same parents.

    You gravitating towards the wounded shows you care very much about other people. Part of my story is that I don't want anyone to reach the low point I did.

    So I have also been talking with a psychologist for some time. You mentions being different. I wanted to the normal like everyone else. I am learning to embrace myself with the cracks and worked this out by discovering kintsugi and only the ideas... an art in which cracked or broken objects are repaired. It takes time to repair. It celebrates the imperfections in objects. The repaired objects is actually stronger than before. It is unique compared to the other plates that all look the same. The gold dust used in the repair makes them pretty and precious! I have a piece of kintsugi as my phone background - it's my reminder.

    I hope some of this makes sense and helpful.

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  13. Flowerchild07
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    30 May 2020 in reply to smallwolf

    Hi smallwolf

    I googled haemochromatosis and kintsugi. The kintsugi looks amazing. I think I'll be starting some art or craft projects soon to help take my mind off things.

    Yes, I care too much for my own good I think. I feel things so deeply. It can be somewhat of a curse. I just feel broken from everything I've been through. Is the psychologist helping?

    Once I have accepted the death of my friend and come out the other side feeling slightly better than I do now, I do wonder what is going to be next for me. Guess I should just continue to put one foot in front of the other. I'll get there eventually.

    Wishing you all the best.

    Flowerchild.

  14. smallwolf
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    30 May 2020 in reply to Flowerchild07

    Is the psychologist helping?

    There are two answers - one is sarcastic and unhelpful and the real answer is Yes. Perhaps so because of the learning different strategies and other ways of looking at things. such as kintsugi. Another is that to get to the top of the mountain that sometimes will have to go through valleys. There is also a story of a sheep getting to the other side of the paddock. And when I have that negative thought I know it is OK.

    I have also restarted a list of inspirational quotes - statements that help me. You mentions putting one foot after another, and I think this next one might be OK for you...

    It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. - Confucius

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  15. uncut_gems
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    9 June 2020 in reply to Flowerchild07

    Hi Flowerchild,

    Lovely to hear from you and sorry for the delay– needed a bit of time away from the forums last week. Your description of yourself as a young person really, really resonated with me. I was extremely anxious, sensitive, an easy crier, the whole nine yards. I also felt like I was somehow different from everyone else, and in adulthood that feeling has eased but not disappeared totally.'

    And, of course, I have a biological sister who grew up with me in the same household and turned out much more chill! Go figure.

    What you say about feeling things more deeply is something I've always felt and suspected about myself. Of course it's very hard to know if it's true, but as a kid and still I always remember feeling things so intensely and wondering why if everyone felt these things they weren't more outwardly anxious and upset. Once as a child I was in the car with my mom who was listening to an audiobook, and one of the characters said of the other that "while most of us have a wall around our heart to protect it, she doesn't." I was too young to articulate what I was feeling but I remember that phrase so well because it was like someone had said exactly what I was feeling, which meant that I wasn't the only one who felt this way. Random things would (and still do) hit me with a pang of sadness that I can't explain.

    In the past few years since moving for graduate school my mental health has been much better than it's been in a while, but of course it is always there and moving abroad and COVID-19 and some other things in my personal life have really tested me over the past 6 months or so.

    Smallwolf's point about how progress isn't always linear is right-on, and I had seen kintsugi before but didn't know what it's called. That's such a beautiful hobby and, as you point out, a really apt metaphor for how a lot of us feel.

    Warmly,

    Gems

    1 person found this helpful
  16. uncut_gems
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    9 June 2020 in reply to uncut_gems

    Wow, after all these years I did some googling and was able to find the passage. Apparently it's from The Secret Life of Bees:

    ‘I guess you’ve noticed—May is special.’
    ‘She sure does get upseteasy,’ I said.
    ‘That’s because May takes in things differently than the rest of us do.’
    August reached over and laid her hand on my arm.
    ‘See, Lily, when you and I hear about some misery out there, it might make us feel bad for a while, but it doesn’t wreck our whole world. It’s like we have a built-in protection around our hearts that keeps the pain from overwhelming us. But May—she doesn’t have that. Everything just comes into her...."

    As an adult I cringe slightly at how much I identified with this, especially because many people believe they are more sensitive than others and are keen to identify themselves as different in this way. But I know that at the time it put to words what I couldn't, and for that reason it will always be special to me.

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  17. Flowerchild07
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    15 June 2020

    Hi Gems

    Thanks for following up on my posts, and sharing the story of your childhood experiences. It's very kind of you and I truly do appreciate you taking the time.

    I was talking to my sister this morning, and we got on to the subject of our childhood. To this day, I've never associated any of my issues with my upbringing. As far as I could tell, my parents were pretty great. Yes, we had a few family problems at times, but nothing I thought would have caused me to become so messed up.

    I've always questioned why I am the way I am, but could never work out why I was so shy, sensitive and felt inferior and just 'different'. My sister went on to point out that she absolutely could attribute a lot of mine and my sibling's issues to be a direct result of our upbringing. She started to explain why and it began to make sense.

    At 61, I'm just beginning to learn and understand much of what has been giving me so much pain and grief for so many years. I'm hoping this knowledge will go some way to helping me to heal.

    Kind regards

    Flowerchild.

  18. uncut_gems
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    15 June 2020 in reply to Flowerchild07

    Hi Flowerchild,

    I'm so glad that you were able to have a conversation with your sister and excavate some of that deep-seated pain. Often it takes years or decades to make sense of childhood experiences and the family dynamics in our household growing up. I'm not sure if you have any children of your own (I don't), but reading this Philip Larkin poem in high school always resonated with me.

    I'm not quite so pessimistic now, but I think it humorously and artfully captures the bind we are put in when we are thrown into the world with company we did not choose for ourselves and who form our very being:

    https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/48419/this-be-the-verse

    Warmly,

    Gems

  19. Flowerchild07
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    24 August 2020

    It's been 8 months since I was forced to separate from the love of my life. 3 months since he passed away. I'm not getting better. I wonder if Covid lockdown is one of the causes for this. My grief is almost as deep and raw as it was back when I lost him (both times). Feels like I lost him twice....I guess I did. I truly feel that he would still be alive today if people hadn't interfered and dictated what he/we could and couldn't do in his personal life. The anger is eating me up. I've tried so hard to heal myself, from starting a spiritual journey and all that this encomasses. Doing online courses, reading all the right books and information about the subject of loss and grief. I've prayed, cried, screamed, tried to be good and gentle with myself. Talked to a few friends about the situation. People feel for you, then they forget and don't even bother to ask how you are. It's because they feel uncomfortable...I know that, but can't they get over their insecurities to help someone in desperate need of help? I have to leave the house to cry my eyes out and scream on the top note in my car. I know I need grief counselling....and I'll probably get it soon. I feel like I can't continue to live like this. I miss him more than words can say, and my love for him is still as strong as it always was. Just needed to vent.

  20. Sophie_M
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    24 August 2020 in reply to Flowerchild07
    Hi Flowerchild07,

    Thanks for keeping us updated on the situation, and I want to both recognise how hard things still are for you, while also commenting on the strength you are showing the situation, and in being proactive about your own healing process through trying to keep yourself informed and reaching out to friends. 

    Something that strikes me, and it might be something that you have come across in your research as well, is that given the complex nature of your separation from this person and your loss, you might be experiencing a form of complicated grief, which can come with its own additional difficulties and barriers. In a situation like that, it can be really helpful, or maybe even necessary, to look at some grief counselling from a professional, like you've mentioned. Services like GriefLine can be a helpful starting point for that, and you can always speak to us on our 24/7 Support Service on 1300 22 4636 or on webchat 3pm-12am AEST here: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support as well.

    I know that it can be really hard to try to reach out and open up about loss sometimes, especially when time has passed and it feels like the people around us have already 'gotten over it' while we are still feeling stuck in that same place and those same emotions. Please know that no matter what happens, you can always speak to us about what is going on.

     
    1 person found this helpful
  21. Sophie_M
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    24 August 2020 in reply to Flowerchild07
    Hi Flowerchild07,
    Sorry to double up on replies again, but just to let you know that we have also reached out privately to offer some additional support, so you should find an email from us as well.
    1 person found this helpful
  22. quirkywords
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    24 August 2020 in reply to Flowerchild07

    Flowerchild,

    I am so sorry you feel you are not getting better. It has only been 3 mths since he died and 8 moths since you separated . There is no use by date for grief. Your situation is difficult as people may not know or feel awkward offering emotional support.

    Sophie has some suggestions, not sure if you would try a support line?

    Please feel free to keep posting here.

    You are not alone and there is support.

    I am thinking of you.

    1 person found this helpful
  23. uncut_gems
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    24 August 2020 in reply to quirkywords

    Hi Flowerchild,

    Just want to echo quirkywords and note that 3 months is a very, very short amount of time in the context of healing, grief, and loss. Unfortunately it has also been a very long, difficult, and eventful 3 months for everyone, so it's no surprise that despite all your best efforts it hasn't been a period of peace and closure for you.

    You are doing everything right, including considering grief counselling. This is one of the most difficult and painful feelings you can have, so being laid low by it for a while is par for the course for healthy emotional processing. We're still here for you every step of the way, and will continue to be!

    Warmly,

    Gems

    1 person found this helpful
  24. Flowerchild07
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    24 August 2020 in reply to Sophie_M
    Thank you.
  25. Flowerchild07
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    24 August 2020 in reply to uncut_gems
    Thank you.
  26. Flowerchild07
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    24 August 2020 in reply to quirkywords
    Thank you.
  27. Flowerchild07
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    24 August 2020 in reply to Sophie_M
    Thanks Sophie. Yes, I know about complicated grief. I wasn't sure if this is what I am experiencing. I will get some counselling soon. I appreciate everyone's support.
    1 person found this helpful

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