Coping with the loss of my mum and dad


My name is Andy and I’m 29.
I don’t really know what I am looking for or hoping to get out of this but I have really been struggling lately (for years actually) and want to just try and speak to people who can empathise with what I am going through.
I lost my dad in Nov 2011 instantly over night in his sleep. It was totally unexpected and made a massive impact on me. The only way I could cope was to put all my focus into helping my mum cope with her loss and help her in anyway I could. I know I never dealt with my own loss on any level. Around 18 months later it was starting to catch up with me and was becoming more and more depressed. However simultaneously my mum had reached her limits. She was so strong and tough but it all was too much and she eventually had to take time off work with severe stress and depression. I put all my focus back on to her to make her better. Trips to the doctors confirmed all this. However a month or so later she became ill which appeared to be a virus. It got to a worrying level and even after trips to the hospital was told it was all linked to her stress and depression. I totally thought it was what the doctors were saying and counselling would eventually be the answer. Things became worse and we demanded more thorough tests. To mine and everyone’s complete and utter uncomprehendable disbelief they found a massive inoperable brain tumour. Words can not describe the shock. I didn’t have time to take it in as she was given weeks to live at most! I did not know what to do. I moved into the hospice with her and a matter of what felt like days later in October 2013 she was taken from me.
There is so much I am still trying to come to terms with. I have never dealt with my dad’s passing. My mum was my rock. Literally everything to me and at the time of my dads death there could be nothing more horrible than the thought of losing my mum! The fact it then happened killed me inside and I have not been the same since and don’t feel like I ever will. It is too painful to think about either of them, good times or bad. Yet all that continues to go through my mind is the night and aftermath of my dads death and the truly traumatic events around my mums death from the breaking of the news to everything I had to see after that. I was there the moment she died and that image along with visiting her in the funeral home afterwards haunt me daily. Not to mention the simple fact that she is no longer here anymore, something I will never accept.
I hoped time would heal and make things easier but if anything it is getting harder and I don’t know why, I had to leave me family home and move down south to be closer to my brother because it was too hard to stay with all the memories. So everything that has come with that has brought its own challenges on top of everything. There are so many thoughts and emotions that I am dealing with daily and I have never seeked any help but now feel I need to. I don’t know if this will help but just to hear other people’s opinions and views who know what I am going through can surely only give me some comfort.

Apologies for rambling on.


Hello Andy, I want to welcome you to our Online Community. I really hope that by disclosing here all the traumatic things you have had to cope with, you will realise that you are not alone.
Your life sounds as if it has been turned upside down over the last few years - losing both your parents as you did has obviously taken a huge toll on you. If you have not already done so, please go and have a chat with your GP. It may be possible for you to get more professional support, to get you through this dark point in your life.
I also hope that you will get replies from others in this community, who can relate to what you are experiencing.
With kindest regards, Jackie

Hi Andy,

I am so sorry for your loss and I wanted to echo what Jackie has said in her post. It sounds as though you haven’t had a chance to deal with your losses properly. After putting all your energy into supporting your mum, now perhaps it is time to put yourself first and find the help and support that you need.

I hope that it helps a little bit to be able to write everything down here on this site. If you read some of the other posts here, you will see that you aren’t alone, and that lots of users are dealing with similar feelings after the loss of a loved one.

We had a post a little while back from candy1960, who had also lost both her parents in a short space of time:

If you have any questions or there’s anything I can help with, just let me know.


Hi Jackie and Priscilla,

Thanks for your replies.
I have been looking through some of the posts and topics and so many people seem to deal with so many similar emotions I feel. A lot also appear to be dealing with more recent trauma. And I almost feel guilty still expecting sympathy or help nearly 5 and 3 years later. My parents were so young when they died. My dad 53 and mum 52. I am just struggling that it still all feels so raw and like it was yesterday and can’t believe how long it now has been since it happened. After my mum passed I did see a GP and went on some tablets for a short while but I didn’t believe they helped. I have considered counselling but if I am honest I don’t even know what I would say or do. I still struggle with accepting it all and the only thing I can accept is that I will always miss them and never stop thinking about them. It’s like I am always holding back tears and any little thing or connotation that reminds of either of them will make me cry and it seems to be happening more lately.
I came onto this site because I feel so limited in who I can talk to. I have a girlfriend who will always listen to me but can understandably never fully grasp how I feel on a daily basis and I wouldn’t expect her to but it can cause issues when I feel the way I can do at times. When I left my family home to move away I left all my friends but still wouldn’t necessarily have them as a support system other than them being an ideal distraction with having more of a social life. I only really have my brother. We went through it all together and I can’t say how he feels or deals with things but he can at least talk fondly of our parents where as I can’t even do that and will just try and ignore what is being said as it is too hard to talk or think about them. I would never diminish how my brother is coping or moving on but I feel that my situation was different. He moved home at 18 and due to living away and abroad had a more sporadic, but no less important, of a relationship. Where as that was the only place I have known and my bond with them both, especially my mother, was so strong. And then I had to uproot and leave my job, friends and everything. I feel guilty for suggesting I may be suffering more but I feel I am. And most of all I feel so alone. The one person who was there for me, and I was there for, and had the best relationship ever with, was my mum. The only person who I could talk to is my mum. And the only person who would be able to help me now I feel would be my mum and I can’t ever have that again. At the end because of how dramatic and quick it all happened there was so much I never had chance to say to her. One moment always gets me, in the hospice when my mum was starting her final days, sedated and unresponsive but we were all there talking to her and holding her, hugging her. And then when i went to hug her with all her last strength she knew it was me and could just get one arm around me to hold me. It was the one most traumatic but amazing experiences of my life and is making me cry now thinking about it.
I guess my point is I am struggling to ever think it will get easier and ever think I will or can ever feel more positive about any of it because I really can’t imagine I will. Some people are able to take positives from such situations but I feel like it all literally emptied me out. Took all my fight and positivity and drained me of so many feelings like I am just plodding along, going through the motions day by day. Where to go next or what to do I still am no clearer.


Hi Andy_29,

Firstly, I’m so pleased that you have made a start in getting some help/support. You’ve done a really big thing even starting a topic on this site - it can be exhausting making that first step, when all energy is taken up with managing emotion whilst getting through the daily grind.

Thanks for your other message - I’m really glad that you felt my words gave you an element of comfort, with them being something you could relate to. I scoured the internet in my worst hours looking for words of comfort - and those that did comfort me were written by people who had gone through a similar experience. The difficulty is, everyone’s experience is so different. No one avoids loss in their lifetime, and that is something we must accept - even the people we love most are not immortal, no matter how much we want them to be. What I think is difficult to accept is we feel absolutely cheated, and feel our parents were cheated, as they died too young. I am so, so sorry about your parents, and what you are going through.

It is unfair. There are no two ways about it. You loved your mum and your dad. That love won’t go away, and nor should it. You were emotionally attached to them, like most of us are to our parents and those people we love deeply. But with strong attachment comes horrendous bereavement when we lose those people. There is no way to avoid it. It is human nature - a fact of life - the suffering is unfortunately just something we have to go through. You can’t change it, hide from it, push it away or get through it by a particular deadline (so stop feeling guilty about feeling this way a few years on - that doesn’t matter). You just have to roll with it, and allow yourself to feel it, as horrible as it feels.

Acknowledge what you are feeling when you feel it. That is grieving. The wave of intense despair will pass at some point, until the next wave. And in those times when you are not feeling intense grief and despair, acknowledge that too. Those times may seem infrequent at the moment. As time goes on - weeks, months, years from now, those waves of intense grief will get further apart, and you will get on and live your life, and you will experience contentment, and joy, and your focus and energy will no longer be predominated by those heartbreaking experiences you went through with your parents or by your grief. Of course you will never forget those times, and you will think about them, but at some point, you’ll be able to do so without falling back into that pit of despair. And you will one day be able to remember the good times with your parents again, with a smile. I sometimes think my mum died too young, but then again, she could have died so much younger - the fact that I got to have so many years with her and so many good times to think back on then feel like such a gift.

You’re not there yet - and you can’t force yourself to be there. It will happen slowly and probably without you even realising. Until that point, all you can do is that cliche of taking one day at a time.

I have found several things have helped me:

  1. Write everything down, exactly how you feel, in a diary/on your computer. Don’t worry about setting out a timeline and context - it isn’t a book and doesn’t need to start at the beginning or finish at the end - just write.
  2. If you can’t be bothered to explain EVERYTHING (so exhausting) to someone you want to know what has happened, i.e. someone close to you, try putting your energy over a few evenings into writing down everything that happened, objectively. Don’t put your emotions into this one, but be as detailed as you want to be. Being objective but getting it all down into words can be as cathartic as writing out all your feelings. And it means you don’t have to explain/re-explain what has gone on to people close to you that you would like to understand but who you can’t find the energy to talk through it to.
  3. When you feel slightly stronger, consider volunteering for a cause that is important to you. I now volunteer for an animal charity one/two evenings a week after work. It gave me back a sense of purpose, and something else to put my focus into that actually makes a positive difference.
  4. Consider counselling. I went to 8 sessions, which isn’t much, and I would highly recommend it. It helped me a great deal, and I am a better person for it. Happy to speak more on this if you want to know more.
  5. Let people in - the easiest thing to do when feeling depressed is to push everyone away. Force yourself not to do that. Talk to people you are close to, even if they won’t really understand - their insight may surprise you.
  6. Look into bereavement support groups - I don’t have one near me but wish I did.
  7. Eat well and exercise - really, really important that you look after yourself physically.
  8. Do something you enjoy every day - even if it is just having a cup of tea whilst watching a box set episode.
  9. Read - I have read so many books on bereavement, hospice, illness, mortality, etc. I learnt a lot and found it helped me so much.

Good luck. One day at a time. You’ll get there.

Louise x

Hi Louise,

Thank you again for your reply and taking so much time and effort to do so. In everything I have read of yours I have agreed and related to on so many levels.
The feeling of being cheated and they were taken too young and way too soon is a constant emotion but your point of it could have been sooner is something I try to focus on. At times when I may feel stronger I do try and be pragmatic about things and put things in perspective. So many people can go through even more greater, immediate loss in other disturbing and traumatic ways. There are children who can be so young and deal with similar trauma and be left alone or in care or with nothing. And there are times which I can consider my self, not lucky as I would never use that term, but in a better position than others necessarily are. However on the other side of it I don’t care about any of that and what happened was, to me, the worst thing I could imagine.
Guilt is often something I feel, when my dad suddenly died I remember getting the call at work that night from an ambulance responder and I didn’t quite hear what they said and thought it was about my mum. In the hours of sadness after there was a part of me that felt relief that it wasn’t my mum. My relationship with my mum was so strong and closer than it was with my dad but it still didn’t change the heartache I felt. And then in time even more guilt for not having a better and closer relationship with him.
In time after that I would worry and always think the worst might happen to my mum and nothing scared me more than the thought of losing her too. If she was late home I would think something had happened. But then I started telling myself, life isn’t that harsh, if there is a ‘God’ he wouldn’t be that harsh. I never have had any religious beliefs and even more so now but it was something I used to ease any worry. And then when it did happen the surprise and shock was maybe the worst part. During finding out what was wrong, when believing it was stress and depression I knew and was told by doctors to be firmer and more strict to help my mum help herself. And all I can think of is when she would say how much pain she was in or suffering and I was telling her it’s not that bad and we can get through it! All at a time when I should have been solely comforting her. So the guilt on my part and the anger at the doctors are more things to deal with.
The hospice was so tough as you know yourself. It just felt so surreal and an environment like no other. In your words of advice how do you feel about your situation right now? Are you able to think positively yet or is it too soon? Do you think positively about the future? That is something I find very hard to do and there is a part of me that believes if my parents died in their early 50’s as one of my grandparents also did then that is what could happen to me too.
Your tips do make sense, I also have already made a diary. At my lowest points just wrote what I felt and it did help a little and have used to even show my partner to try and help her understand as that is as real as i can explain it. I struggle taking other people’s opinions though as like you say it can all seem a little cliche and I just think if you don’t know what I am going through how can I take in what you are saying which may be why I am find it more comforting from listening to people in similar situations.
I have often thought of charity work and find it admirable that you are doing so. My niece who was around 5 and 7 when she lost her grandparents was effected by it too and is starting to do charity work to raise money on behalf of my parents. I am so proud of her and think I should help her but I just don’t feel ready and get upset as soon as it gets brought up. I even strongly considered and still consider becoming a foster carer, wanting to help children who maybe we’re in similar situations and are left in homes. Right now I didn’t consider it fair as I don’t feel emotionally strong enough yet but it would be nice to think in the future it may be a possibility.
Counselling or group therapy seems like a good option but the idea of physically talking about it terrifies me and I just don’t think I could even get the words out as it is something I have never done. Writing it on here or in a diary is easier and even when ‘talking’ to normally my partner about it I can only do it by a text message.
I know my main tool for coping is surpressing the thoughts or distracting myself with either tv, sport, sleep or anything. I know it’s not probably the right way but it seems easier than thinking about it all. I should go to the doctors but that first step is the hardest and I just keep putting it off and know even if I do I would keep it to myself and not tell anyone. I guess it’s all because the one person who I would tell everything to and would listen, understand and be there for me was my mum and there is nobody else like her. Which is why I feel so lonely and alone without her. I may not be alone because I have friends and family and a partner, although it isn’t the largest group, yet the feeling of loneliness is ironically always there.
Do you have a good support network and people around you to help you?

Thank you Louise


Hi Andy,

Long read coming up…

I will try and address each of your points to give some structure to my reply.

To your first point: ‘And there are times which I can consider my self, not lucky as I would never use that term, but in a better position than others necessarily are. However on the other side of it I don’t care about any of that and what happened was, to me, the worst thing I could imagine.’

I completely hear what you are saying and I totally get this. I very often find myself back in that place. Each of us has our own world, and we and those we love are at the centre of that. Everything that happens within our world, especially at the centre of it, is of the greatest importance to us, no matter what else is going on outside of it. Our own world impacts on us directly and has the strongest of our emotions attached to it. So how could we possibly feel lucky just because someone else who we don’t know/don’t are about has it worse? And what even is ‘worse’? By the sounds of it, your heartache is pretty up there with the worst a human can feel, actually. And I have felt like that too. And we are allowed, and justified, to feel like that, no matter what else is going on in other people’s lives. Who knows, other people may read our posts, in another situation, in another country, in another culture, and be thinking, ‘They think that’s bad? They should hear my story!’ But you know what? Even if (looking at it objectively) they are right, and going through much ‘worse’, that isn’t going to diminish the emotion you are feeling about your situation. Maybe when you’re stronger, the element of looking outside of your situation and getting ‘perspective’ in terms of one sh***y situation compared to another may actually make you feel lucky for some things. But whilst it is easy for an outsider to look at 10 people and their situations and rank them in order of least sh***y to most sh***y, the way they are feeling could be ranked in a completely different order, or the person at the bottom of the scale may feel just as bad as the person at the top. I have in many moments looked at others who are feeling sad and depressed at things that I deem to be trivial, or not as bad as what I have been through in my life, or what mum had to go through, more importantly. And I have in the past become resentful, thinking, ‘How can you possibly feel like that when only {insert situation here} has happened to you?’ I almost laid claim over feeling like that, and only anyone who had been through what I had been through or worse was allowed to feel like that. In my weaker moments I can still have those thoughts – but as I get stronger, I look back on myself as being selfish, judgemental and unkind. (Although occasionally, totally justified!!) But I also think it is natural and understandable as we wrestle with acceptance of life being unfair, acceptance of the cards we have been dealt despite being good people, and acceptance of the fact that people are just people – some are compassionate, some aren’t, some appreciate their lives and any good fortune, some take it for granted, some live long lives, some don’t. And there is no correlation of luck or hard luck with how good or nice a person is, which is why the unfairness of life is even more conspicuous. One thing I hear time and time again, though, is no matter how lucky others seem, no one gets through life unscathed.

I try now to not compare myself and my situation and my utter grief over my mum and all the other stuff that has happened in my life to anyone else’s life. It does no one any good. And whilst it is essential to focus on how lucky we are for so many other things (live in a safe country, have food, water, a house, a partner, friends, a job, etc etc), doing that still doesn’t get us to go, ‘I see now! I’m so lucky that I no longer feel sad about the fact that my parents just died! Because it’s really not that bad, is it?!’ As if. Human emotion just doesn’t work like that. I often think, if only we could view the world objectively, and without emotion. Then there would be no emotional pain. We could just see a loved one die, acknowledge death is inevitable, then go back to work the next day without another thought about it. No pain, no suffering. Then I thought, is that a world we’d actually want to live in?! Where love doesn’t exist for the sake of avoiding the pain and suffering of bereavement? Sometimes I do think ‘Give me that world’, but then I think again. Instead, I try to marvel at the fact that our bodies work at all. I think it is actually amazing that more things don’t go wrong more quickly in more of us. We are miracles of matter, to be alive at all. My frame of mind is changing towards that because I am not religious, so that is the way I gain my sense of being lucky to be alive, and my mum having been lucky to be alive, in the first place.

I know I have rambled on at quite some length, but these are all the sorts of thoughts that have really kept me going over the past few months, when I crave some rational objectivity to pull myself out of a low point.

You talk about guilt. Guilt is a completely normal part of grieving. People who had been through their own bereavement said to me time and time again that I’d feel guilty when mum died, even way before mum died. ‘You’re going to feel guilty, you know – even with nothing to feel guilty for, there’s no avoiding it,’ they’d say. At the time they said it, I thought, ‘I don’t feel guilty about anything, so I don’t think I will when mum dies’. Wow, how wrong I was. Guilt weighed me down. I felt so much guilt for different reasons. None of them were justified.

I needed to find a way to put the guilt down. I only managed to put it down and start walking away from it after going to the counselling sessions. The counselling really helped me deal with the guilt – even though it took me a long time to not feel guilty for walking away from the guilt. And somehow, one day, you will find a way to put down that weight of guilt and walk away from it too. It will likely take time and work. You really do need to talk about it with someone though, not necessarily to a counsellor. It’s the only way through it.

No doubt I will return to the guilt and pick it up in future, maybe several times, maybe for long periods. But learning how to put the guilt back down, and walk away from the guilt (guilt-free), and working on recognising that there is no rational justification for the guilt you feel will help you heal.

So as a teeny tiny start, I will say to you now: you have absolutely nothing to feel guilty for. It is so easy to say when your parent dies how much of a better child you could have been, how much closer you could have been to them, how much more you could have done with them etc, etc. But there needs to be some degree of acceptance from you at some point that your relationship with your dad was your relationship with your dad. The way it was is the way it was. You loved him, he loved you, he was your dad, you were his son, and however close you were, nothing can break that. I think perhaps it is because you have your relationship with your dad in direct comparison to your relationship with your mum that you feel it wasn’t good enough. It was a different relationship. And it is ok to have had a closer relationship with your mum, you know. Nothing to feel guilty about there. That’s just the way relationships go.

Regarding your guilt towards your mum – well, I know directly how easy it is to think of all the things you could have said and done to have helped better than you think you did. But – you acted with nothing but the information you had at the time and the love you had for your mum. For that, you cannot berate yourself. There would have been no real right thing to say or do anyway. And the main thing really here is that you were with her. And that would have been a bigger comfort to her than any words you did or didn’t say.

You asked me how I feel about my situation right now. Today, I have my rational, strong head on, and I feel ok – I feel content, actually - although I still get moments most days, and I still avoid sad songs. A few days ago, I heard a song play that deeply brought me back to her – that song made me remember her so vividly, and I almost lost it again. ‘Losing it’ though just really means crying and falling temporarily back into that pit of despair. And we have to allow ourselves to do that, as that is grieving. It is essential to. Yet I think I hold back the tears too often, as sod’s law has it, I’ll be on my way to work or with friends when I think of something that reminds me of it all and the significance of it. And I only feel comfortable to cry when I’m in my home.

You asked me if I’m able to feel positively yet.
Positive is probably the wrong word at the moment. Not every cloud does have a silver lining, after all. There are no bright sides to take from this. But I do feel I’m getting stronger, so in that sense of being more positive, I would say yes.

You also talk about your fear of your own mortality – dying young because your parents and grandparents did. My fear about the exact same thing is only just starting to subside a little. I have talked to other people who have lost their parents young and they say the exact same thing – if they died young, could I too? I was a complete hypochondriac for a while. I read a lot about illness and mortality. Yes, we might die young. But statistics say we probably won’t. Have you been to your doctor to ask for a professional opinion? They will tell you if there is a genetic risk that you should be tested for, or if there is no possible connection and that your fears of getting what they had are unfounded, which they most likely are. Also, medicine is getting more advanced every year. All we can do is live a moderate, healthy lifestyle, and be aware of our bodies – the rest isn’t up to us I’m afraid. Again, when I have my rational head on, I think, I could have died years ago, of so many things. The fact I did not and that I am still here actually makes me feel pretty happy. Only approx 100 years ago, life expectancy was around 45 years old for people in the UK. I feel lucky we have even the chance of double that, and even more. I have worked on flipping the fear of ‘what if I don’t live a long life’ on its head to ‘I could have already died’. It helps me.

Regarding charity work/fundraising – you’re completely right - don’t do it until you feel stronger. You’ll be useless to any charity until you have looked after and helped yourself first. And fostering – what a fantastic and admirable thing for you to aim for in your future, for when you are strong again. I think it is wonderful you are looking at your future, and at ways that will help others so significantly. It is hard to do – you should be proud of yourself.

I strongly, strongly encourage you to talk, with actual words coming out of your mouth, above everything else. I understand the thought of it terrifies you. But I promise you – it is absolutely essential. If you feel close to/comfortable with your partner, you need to talk to her. And start as soon as you can. It doesn’t really matter what you say or how you say it, but you need to start articulating how you feel with someone you trust. From experience, and from just about every book I have read on grief, talking is the only way you will truly start to wade through it. I use those tools for distraction and suppression of emotions that you mention. But I also force myself to talk as much as I can – mainly to my husband – he’s the only one I can really just let go in front of. And you need to do that – you need to talk, and to let go. It may be hard, but it gets easier. You will start to process your feelings that way, and that is the start of managing your grief and moving forward with your life.

I have a great husband, a few family members (no one who lives close by though), and a few close friends to help me – but I do also feel that loneliness you speak of. My relationship with mum was unique and irreplaceable – she was my guide in my life, and I sometimes feel without her I have no one. So I truly understand you there. It’s rubbish isn’t it. Heartbreaking and unbearable and sh*t.

Gradually, very gradually, I am starting to get back hope for the future. I’m still walking two steps forward, one step back, but I’m increasingly able to think of mum and talk about her, every day, without being punched in the guts. I am strong enough to get on with life as best as I can without denying or suppressing (too much) all that went on and the fact mum is no longer with me. I’ve still got a long way to go, but I think I am starting to heal. Look up ‘Kintsugi’. A Japanese art form of broken pottery that is mended with gold. The cracks aren’t disguised, and the object becomes more beautiful. I love that art form, and I like the metaphor very much. So did my mum – she was the one who showed me this art form. In us, the cracks of our grief will always be there, but we will one day mend, and we will be even stronger than we were before. We may be more compassionate, appreciate life more, and be more motivated to help those in need.

We’ll get there Andy.

Louise x

(p.s. I have just read this through, out loud, before posting, and I cried. Saying the words out loud is hard, but necessary. Please start trying to do that).

Hi Louise,

Thank you again for your reply and taking so much time and effort. You speak so much sense and your first section about getting perspective is something I am constantly trying to do and everything you said I was just reading and nodding along to. I really do appreciate it and it is so comforting when I read some of the things you say and can relate to it and understand it all. That is one of the main things I have been looking for. To know that someone else feels the so many of the same things I have felt and continue to feel. It must be so reassuring and comforting to have such a supportive husband who has been there for you through it all along with friends. I guess my main issue of loneliness is linked to this, my partner will always offer me support if I need it or ask for it but I am the type of person who won’t ask for it even if I probably need it. I just find it easier to say “I’m ok” or “nothing is wrong”. I guess a part of me wants to just ignore how I feel and another part would want someone to actually ask how I feel, show that extra care and get it out of me. It probably sounds needy and I can be honest with myself and say I want this because it is what my mum would have done. Nobody even comes close to caring about me as much as she did, as I did too for her, and that is what I am missing. It probably is unfair to expect or want or hope my partner will fill this void but I wish she would as i would like to think it would make it all a bit easier. It’s tough as I feel I can’t let her in too much and although I have explained it to her or wrote feelings down to her and said most of the things I have said in these posts I know and can’t expect her to fully understand. I met her after all this happened so she never knew my parents or my relationships with them which makes it harder. My brother had his wife by his side throughout and has been I our family for a very long time so felt the pain and helps him through it all and was very close herself to both my parents yet there are times when I can see my brother hurting and she doesn’t even give him the patience or understanding that he may need. Like I say I can’t or shouldn’t expect this of my girlfriend but I am starting to realise that it is what I want because it is what my mum would have been like. Which I think is why outside support and understanding may be the better answer.

How do you cope in your lowest times? Do you talk about it to your husband? Does he give you time to yourself or space to prevent any other stresses or ordinary life making you worse? I ask because sometimes or most of the times I won’t communicate which doesn’t help or even the times I do my partner may not always have it at the forefront of her mind which is where it always is for me. How do I explain that I think constantly, daily, so many times a day about it all what happened and my parents, surely this will effect my mood or how I talk or what I want to do and yet I have to balance how much I can expect of her to understand and that it is not fair on her at times.
After it all happened I was so lonely, when I moved and left my friends I had nobody which was a dark time, I hoped a girlfriend would almost be a ‘cure’ I knew it wouldn’t be but I hoped it would. In many aspects it has helped me and she is the one real positive and element of hope I have in my life however I am just disheartened in a way that I still have such down thoughts and periods about everything still so often. It makes me think to the point that I will never be ok with it all and never not be down or depressed and upset by it all. Maybe I need to accept this.
I think things like this also are enhanced when I say how long it has been and if I am suffering or down and upset I just feel like I can’t express myself or shouldn’t. Even to family members or friends. If I was to say how I feel is because of my mum or dad or everything that happened I just expect them to think…well it was years ago so why are you still feeling like this. And even when friends talk about trivial things and things that really are not important or have mentioned their own problems it does anger me at times that they would say it in front of me knowing what I have been through. Almost like its forgotten because to most people or those unaffected I think that’s what it is like. Again I can’t really blame them, I consider myself extremely sympathetic and empathetic and when I hear of losses or heartache it can impact upon me and I can relate so would sympathise with them. And at the same time it makes me think about my own situation. I am always trying to find that balance of not being selfish and helping others with their problems. For example my girlfriend was quite ill earlier this year and have to have a short stint in hospital. This was so tough to go back to a place like that and it just instantly brought so many bad memories back, but I knew I had to be strong and be there for her. And sometimes it’s like I always have to be strong and keep going when all I want to do is give up. I always feel like I am one thought or memory from crying, like I’m at my limit all the time, so close to breaking down. Then other times when I may be stronger i think of people you hear about who have serious breakdowns and bouts of depression keeping them off work and I almost feel guilty that I haven’t been like that, like they are hurting more than me, like I almost want to have a breakdown to prove to people how much I am hurting and effected by it all. Sounds crazy and selfish doesn’t it.

The other things you said about guilt are so true, nothing makes more sense than when you talk about the contrast between when we feel strong or weak. When I am weak some thoughts and feeling are maybe exaggerated and when I talk about the guilt of my relationships or missed chance etc I do fully know it was what it was. Especially with my dad and I know that and the bond and love was always there. With my mum it was the pure fact of those last weeks. It was literally 2 days after finding out what the situation was to when she was so heavily sedated that she could not respond. I know she knew I was there all along and this is all she would have wanted but I just wanted to talk to her and hug her. In the first few days when sedated she could respond by blinking to certain questions but mainly just to say she was in pain and this killed me.
When I mentioned my own health, I knew after I would either become a hypochondriac or not care at all, and I’m sad to say it is the latter. I asked a doctor straight after if there was a risk to myself and there isn’t but I guess it has just made me so pessimistic that I expect bad things to happen or hope they happen to me over any of my other loved ones. Again it’s like a massive contrast where sometimes I may think or plan for the future then I may think why bother, it’s constant ups and downs or my like, just normal and downs, as I find it hard to recall any real ‘ups’ lately.

The toughest thing for me is when you say to talk out loud when I feel I physically can’t. When I gave my ‘diary’ to my partner with all my thoughts in it she tried to speak about it to me and i cried more than I have done for a long time and she asked me a question…“is there anyone you could talk to about this?” And I was just mouthing the words “my mum” but I couldn’t get it out. So I know this is what I would struggle with the most. What you said about your relationship with your mum being so unique and irreplaceable is the perfect way of putting it and with the emphasis on irreplaceable being the part that I struggle with as I know I can never have that again. And maybe even more perfectly put was you saying how s**t it all is. Because that sums it all up.

I know people strive towards and say that acceptance is one of the biggest goals and I have thought a lot about this. I only accept that I will never stop loving my mum and never stop missing her and never accept that it can happen to someone so amazing like her. I also start to think that maybe I don’t want help or to get better or feel better about it all because I don’t want to forget her or move on. She was too important to me and I don’t ever feel like I am getting better or improving I just feel like I am simply coping and surviving. Even now I feel guilty because I am primarily talking about my mum and not my dad. My mum is the larger heartache I feel and the loss I suffer most and that is not nice to say or admit but I can’t help that it is.

Thank you again for listening Louise and your advice. I hope we will get there eventually.

Andy x

Oh Andy. Your pain is so clear. I hear you. I wish I had all the answers and wish I could help reduce the pain you are feeling. What you have been through and are going through is absolutely horrendous – more than anyone should have to bear. I’m so glad that my words are even able to offer an iota of comfort to you.

I totally understand the not wanting to ask for help – we all want someone to help us without us having to ask for it, as the asking is the hardest part of getting help. It takes real effort, and is just far easiest to not ask and remain shut down. I’ll talk about my own experiences here.
I am extremely close to my husband, yet even so, communication about grief is still extremely difficult. I wanted him to ask me as often as possible if I needed to talk or if I needed help, and when he didn’t, I’d feel angry and neglected – how could he possibly think that nothing was wrong or that I was not falling apart inside? How could it not always be at the forefront of his mind like it is in mine (just as you mentioned)? Likewise, when he did ask, I would also feel angry – what a stupid question to ask! Do you have any idea? Why do you have to ask at all? Why can’t you just know? Why can’t you just say all the right things and do all the right things and understand my moods and my anger and tolerate all my weekends of silence and bursts of anger and lunacy and just shower me with love and affection and understanding and take away the pain and make everything better?!!

Err…because he’s only human. His perspective of the world and his own experiences and personality and emotions do not match mine. There is not one person in this world whose experiences and personality and emotions and perspectives will match mine. Yet all we want at this time is for that other – that person who is an exact clone of us, who can talk to us, who we can talk to, who will say nothing but the right things, understand us fully, feel exactly the same as us, have the exact same support network with the exact same guilt and anger and frustrations, feel exactly the same about our parents…only that other would be able to comfort us. But…they don’t exist. So in that partner, we want them to understand – need them to understand. But they never will, fully, just like we will never understand their experiences fully. But that is ok. You say you have good sympathy and empathy. That’s great - because a lot of people who have been through bad experiences can often have less sympathy/compassion because they become bitter and selfish. I am learning that some people who have been through similar experiences or worse often have good compassion, but not always. And people who have not gone through anything that comes remotely close often still have a good level of compassion. We need to give them credit for that, for them even caring enough to be with us, or to want to listen, and for trying with us, and to not shut them out. Your girlfriend may really want you to feel you can talk to her, yet as you have said yourself, you can’t, you shut down, you say you’re ok. You call her a real positive and element of hope in your life. That is really great. No, she is not a cure for all that has happened. But, she could be a real support to you right now and in the future, if you let her in more. Easy for me to say, I know. How would you feel about reading these posts to her as a starting point?

You ask how do I cope in my lowest times, and do I talk about it to my husband. I do - eventually. But it can take days. I have had so many weekends (during the week is usually fine as I am distracted with work) where I am hit with the grief and the hundreds of complex layers of varying emotion that suffocate me. My husband will or won’t notice something is wrong, when I’m quiet (cue my anger because he either can’t tell something is the matter, or that he even has to ask what is wrong – isn’t it obvious?) This tiny act of his lack of 100% understanding (that person we want that doesn’t exist) will make me shut down from him, and I will go into my shell, and brood on my emotions, staring at the TV or reading another book about illness and death. This will continue, potentially for many days, until I finally force myself to talk to my husband – and only then will I cry and scream and seem like an utter mad lady and then I will exhaust myself, the screaming subsides to crying, the crying turns to sobs, and only then can I talk about exactly how I am feeling. And once I’m done, and have no more to say, I’ll be exhausted and almost numb for a while, will force myself to do something relaxing whilst in that state – have a bath, watch tv, have a nap, cuddle my cat – and after that, and only after that, would I start to feel better. After many episodes like this, what I agreed with my husband was that if I started to feel at that lowest of low points, I would tell him. We agreed to make it up to me to ask for help, to ask him to listen to me, by saying to him even the simplest of sentences (that doesn’t actually even come close to the real way I was feeling) like ‘I feel sad’. He would then know I was at that point, that crucial point where I felt a million times worse than sad, but that I needed to talk which would help me immediately to cry and scream and then talk and recover, before I wasted several days of brooding/falling deeper into depression, which makes it harder to pull out of. This has worked, because I recognised and acknowledged my pattern of behaviour, which was actually detrimental to my emotional state. So I found a way to intercept that pattern, and to let my husband in, on my cue.

It almost seems like you are trapped in that period that I am in before I force myself to talk – except as you have never talked, you never get to have that outburst that I find I always need to reach the other side. I don’t know. Just a thought. Yet everyone is different so if you disagree with this as a theory then just ignore me.

And there really is no timeline for grieving – and if friends and family really think that ‘you should be over it by now’, then they truly have no idea and I would recommend you send them the link to these posts if you think they could be someone who could be of help to you – and if you don’t think that of them, then it doesn’t really matter what they think of you. It is still actually very recent, what you have been through. And it doesn’t sound to me like you have been able to actually start grieving properly. Suppressing grief doesn’t make it go away. It just means you’re delaying it and prolonging it. In my view, the only way to start grieving properly is to talk, in order to start processing your feelings. This forum is a start – hey, we’ll have a book between us with our lengthy posts! But this is still virtual, and you’ll need to open up, just like this, to others face to face – whether that is with your girlfriend or a bereavement counsellor (or Sue Ryder has family support/bereavement services – could you reach out to them?)

By the way, people forgetting about your bereavement is almost a guaranteed symptom of the death. I feel that too, as does everyone I have spoken to who has lost someone. Everyone else gets on with their own lives, the world continues to turn, and we think, ‘how can they?’ They can because they just do. They are at the centre of their own world, and if the death has not directly impacted on them, or to the same extreme, then they will not be thinking about it as much as we think they should. It’s annoying and frustrating and often makes me feel like have no friends, or just bad friends, and worse family. Yet sometimes, people say, ‘I think about you and your mum every day – I just don’t like to mention it to you too often as I don’t know if you want to talk about it and don’t want to upset you’. It’s nigh on impossible for others to know what is right or wrong to do or say. Often I’m grateful people don’t ask/talk about it – often the last thing I want to do is talk to certain people about it.

Your point about maybe not wanting to move on – I felt like that for ages – I felt guilty at wanting to not feel bereft – any flicker of joy or laughter I would have would come crashing down instantly because I’d immediately feel guilty for having a positive feeling. And that is one of the main things counselling helped me with – I talked through these feelings, untangled them, and got to the point where I learnt to rationalise them.

And also, you talk about always being close to crying and at your limit all the time – may I ask, how often do you allow yourself to cry? And you say you see people having breakdowns, and you are close to breaking down - what is a ‘breakdown’ to you?

I hope these long posts aren’t getting too exhausting. I think you are doing great in how much you are opening up on here, and in talking about The Sh*t.

Louise x

Hi Louise,

I totally get everything you said in the first part, it’s exactly how I feel and countless times I have felt such emotions. Like you have mentioned previously and what I can notice myself is the slight or somewhat dramatic differences in my thoughts and feelings from when I feel slightly stronger and when I’m having a bad period. I can over think things, be overly sensitive and want all those things you mentioned from my partner or friends/family. And yet when I’m stronger I know it’s not always that easy and possible for people to understand and can’t or shouldn’t expect it. I know this yet I guess you can relate to it that the desire to have that true utter compassion from the ones closest to you is something we crave more than anything despite its impracticality. I have thought about what you said and in time do plan to show these messages to my partner, reading them out to her may be another matter.

Reading your comments about how you deal with your emotions again really hit me, I am so glad you have found ways to progress and ‘manage’ on some level your feelings it is really inspiring and you seem like an incredibly intelligent, wise and strong person. The first segment sounds just like how I can act, where it may cause friction or arguments if I am more stressed or easily annoyed. If I can’t quite find the words or courage to tell someone how I am feeling, I know I should because they aren’t a mind reader but at the same time to want them to just know or ask me genuinely. I think you are right that I am trapped in that period. I wish I could intercept it and manage it better which is what I want to try and do. I completely understand what you say about other people’s perceptions or them not knowing what to say or wanting to upset me and just carrying on with life, I struggle hearing other people’s views like this because they all just sound so trivial and cliche, it’s wrong to think that I know, people have to carry on with life and I always think and I have no right guessing how much someone else is or isn’t affected by the loss of my parents also, but to me it is so poignant and central to me every day I just can’t get it out of my head that if they can move on after the loss of them and especially my mum (as my closest family are from my mums side) and that the loss of someone so important and key in our family then would the loss of me be a big deal, something that they would be able to move on from as well anyway. I don’t want to talk like this as it is something I think about often but I would be lying if I said I never have. I guess it is all linked to this and that constant feeling of being alone and lonely. It is ironic that I know I am not alone, but still feel so lonely.

The not wanting to move on is definitely something I have realised more lately, whether it be from guilt or not I am not sure. I used to feel guilt if I laughed or if I went a few days without properly thinking about my parents, and even though I never don’t think about them daily I know laughing is ok and being ‘OK’ is ok too. And I will never doubt my own thoughts about them which is why I can’t say it would be guilt driving this emotion. I have often just thought it is as simple as my way of keeping them with me, if I never move on then it never happened or they will never leave me. Silly or wrong I don’t know, and often I have been thinking about it all and told my self it wasn’t real and shaking off the image in my head.

I do always feel close to crying, even with things I never used to, and can be so much more emotionally attached to a film or someone else’s feeling that could make me shed a tear. It is like it is always there and been held back. I feel like I have been crying more lately and by lately I would say somewhat regularly for months. I can’t say daily, although sometimes it can be, but then it might be once a week or so. Is this a lot or somewhat normal? It is often when I am alone and my mind wonders or a lot I have noticed when I am alone driving, like you say work is normally one of the best distractions but driving to and from work is often when I have thought about things and become upset and seem to go into a trance. When I cry it is normally just tears that would drip down my face rather than an outburst, at my lowest and maybe just a few times since I lost my mum, the last when I tried talking to my girlfriend months ago have I had a actual outburst where I couldn’t control it. The other day me and my partner got on to this subject and I was shedding a few tears and tried to think about what you had said and tried to say the some of the things we had talked about but the words wouldn’t come out and I could feel myself about to let go and then just stopped it. So to me I wouldn’t say I have ever had a ‘breakdown’ where I have been uncontrollable or gone into hiding for days on end. Some times I do think people who do this must care more but I know everyone is different. It is like it is all there waiting to come out, to sob or cry uncontrollably for days and days but it hasn’t yet surfaced. I don’t know if it ever will and if it would even help.

Another long post added to our future book anyway, they aren’t exhausting at all and feel they are helping a bit and I am really grateful you are taking so much time and effort to talk to me despite it meaning I will probably be bringing up bad memories and things that are hard to talk about for yourself too which I am sorry for.

Andy x

Hi Andy,

I really hope you are well today - just to let you know I have a half written response that I will send you over the weekend. In the meantime, how are you doing today? How has your week been?

Louise x


I haven’t read any of the replies to your original post and so I apologise in advance if I say anything that doesn’t fit.

My Dad died 5 seconds after calling a TV show on 9th Oct 2012, he had the air ambulance - they sweated blood trying to keep him but he had to go, Mum lived another two years in a permanent daze until 6th Oct 2014 - these two,people were more than half of my life … and my sisters … we thought they were invincible, we never considered they would go - we selfishly expected them to be there forever - it was not to be and now my sisters and I spend our days in the deepest mourning, we just don’t seem to be able to shake it off - sure we can do our kids and do our day but it just doesn’t go away, in fact it gets harder - i came online looking for a grief service, I wanted to tell someone how empty I feel, how pointless it is that I cant call them, tell them about my day, my week - I couldn’t find what I was looking for but I what I found was your message and my message in return is - you are not alone and you are no different to many people suffering from grief, i would tell you that grief is like a scar from a wound you didn’t expect, it never goes away, it will always hurt but you will learn to live with the pain and from time to time when you look at the scar, you will remember the happiest of times which will help to cancel out the pain

Hi Andy,

No need to feel sorry for bringing up bad memories for me – they are always there anyway and it is quite cathartic to talk about it on here to be honest – it helps me to process my own thoughts and feelings. And if I am able to help in even the tiniest way, then that is a great thing. I feel privileged that you have been able to share those things with me and the forum, you articulate yourself extremely well. And thank you for your kind words that have actually been very touching to hear (read).

There is definitely no normal amount of crying – a lot, not much, it doesn’t matter – it will be so different for everyone - it is good to hear that you are not completely suppressing your emotions.

You said ‘I could feel myself about to let go and then just stopped it. So to me I wouldn’t say I have ever had a ‘breakdown’ where I have been uncontrollable or gone into hiding for days on end…It is like it is all there waiting to come out, to sob or cry uncontrollably for days and days but it hasn’t yet surfaced. I don’t know if it ever will and if it would even help.’ Perhaps next time you feel it is there (hopefully when you are at home/in a safe and secure place), feeling about to bubble over, don’t stop it – let it come out and let grief take its natural course. Scream, shout, cry, have a ‘tantrum’ on the floor, hide in your bed, whatever. It will pass. Then see how you feel (maybe not immediately – give it time) – see if you think it helps or not. You’ll work out what works for you and what doesn’t. I have found it helps me get out those extreme emotions that feel like they are strangling me and like a heavy weight on my chest. I had a bit of a tantrum a few days ago actually – it has been a while. I was feeling horrendous all day – one misplaced comment pushed me over the edge. I cried hard and screamed on the floor, hyperventilated, had to focus on my breathing to calm myself down. In those moments it just feels like it will never not feel like that. But the storm passed as it always does, and I felt calm for the rest of the evening, those feelings I had been harbouring all day faded, my mind was clear, and the next day I felt stronger again.

I don’t want to ignore what you have said about would the loss of you be a big deal to your family. I think some feelings along those lines are actually normal during times of extreme grief, but I would encourage you to go to see your GP to mention this.

How have you been feeling today?

Louise x

Hi James,

Thanks for your message, it’s quite a contrast of emotions of comfort and fear that someone like yourself can suffer such a similar loss. To read the emotions you feel and fully relate to them and at the same time am sorry for your tremendous losses too. I guess we are similar in that I don’t think either of us have found the answers we may be looking for and I am constantly wondering if I will ever find the help I need or just adapt and accept that this is how life is and how I will always feel. I hope not though. I hope you’re right that the happy memories will one day cancel out the pain.

Hi Louise,

Thanks again for your message, I understand what you mean and I feel the same that what I have been talking about is helping to process things on some level and this is the most I’ve spoke to anyone about all this which is quite a humbling and weird feeling to be so open with someone.
I have often thought about doing what you suggested and hopefully it is something I would be able to do or try, and like you say whether it would or wouldn’t help is another matter, I guess everything is trial and error until I find some process that works the best. Sorry to hear you had another episode the other day but then I guess in a strange way it can be a good thing for you to clear the air and start again. I often feel like that after my times of deeper sadness although I envy that you feel stronger afterwards. I think lately I have been in more of a constant state of either feeling down or ‘OK’ like i am just going through the motions, I can’t really say I have felt strong or stronger too often lately. I know I should see a GP and am going to do so soon.
I have been relatively ok today, although I had a tough weekend. There was a family thing back where I used to live in Yorkshire, my grandad was 90. And there was everyone there from my mums side of the family, faces I had not seen since the funeral and other faces who whenever I see them just remind me of my mum and all I can think of all night was she should be here! It’s all I could think about and could overhear people talking about my mum and what happened and it was so hard to stay and put on a brave face and keep smiling. I had a cry on the way back and had to do what I always do and carry on the next day. It just gets more and more surreal when things like that surface, bring it all back and scare me as to how long it has now been. And then on top of that I felt guilty because I was more upset and focuses on the fact that my mum wasn’t there and not my dad which I know I shouldn’t do but it’s just a continuous cycle of the same emotions and feelings. But considering all that I haven’t been too bad today, like you say the distraction of work is a good help.
How have you been feeling today?

Andy x

Hi Andy,

I really am glad you feel you have been able to be open - please remember you can chat on here to me any time. I won’t have answers - no one has answers - but myself and others on here can at least ‘listen’, and share experiences in a safe, kind environment, without judgement, and if we get even one little positive thing out of it, then it’s all worth it.

Just to clarify, when I said I feel stronger the next day, I really meant stronger in the sense of being able to face the day again and being ‘ok’ - or calm. Stronger in the real sense will undoubtedly take years. So, no envy please! I think strength comes to us in time, without even trying - there’s just no timeline for that, we’ll just know it when we’re there.

You may find this a bit wishy-washy but it helps me and it may or may not work for you:
A state of calm is actually what I reach for. It is my aim when I feel terrible - I’ve read a few books on it, and it helps me (do you read much? I could send you a list of the books I have read that have helped in some way). When feeling in crisis, all we want to do is go back to how we were, how we once felt, when your mum and dad were alive, when my mum was alive - the joy that came easily, laughter we could just enjoy, the (more or less) carefree, content living. I think of the state of calm being the point at the bottom of a pendulum, where it hangs still. That is the best place to try to get to each day. In times of crisis/extreme grief, the pendulum of emotion swings crazily all over the place - we feel these extreme emotions and they hurt, badly. We can try to consciously stabilise that psychological pendulum - let it drop, wait for it to hang still, sit with it for a bit as the wild swinging drops down to still - until it rests at calm. This took quite a while of practise, but I guess this sort of thing is akin to ‘mindfulness’ which has helped me in managing my emotions - not blocking them or suppressing them, but recognising them then helping them dissipate (getting back the calm) until the next wave.

Your weekend - urgh, that sounds mighty tough. I can well imagine how hard that was for you. And all those feelings you describe - that’s ok, keep describing them, keep saying it, keep recognising that is how you feel. Because it is more than ok for you to feel all those things, and to feel them over and over again, years down the line - remember, no timeline - this is your journey. Don’t feel you need to apologise for anything, to anyone (well, unless you do something really bad!) For your feelings I mean. It’s really good you are aware of them. A really poignant and hopeful thing my counsellor said to me was, she believes that the more we are aware of our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and the more we stop and acknowledge them for what they are, that is how fundamental changes in us happen, for the better. That is how our brain starts to process, regulate and regain control/strength.

I’m glad you’re doing ok today - me too. Calm today :slight_smile:

Also, I’m really glad you’re going to see your GP - let me know how it goes.

In the meantime, keep chatting - any questions, just ask - any thoughts/feelings you want to share, please do so. I hope you feel you can come on here in those moments of despair just to vent. I’ll stop trying to help and will just ‘listen’ - it’s in us all isn’t it, we just want to make it all better when the person speaking to us just wants someone to listen (sorry for that).

Louise x

Hi jamestoo2too2,

I saw your message to Andy and just wanted to acknowledge it and say I am so sorry for your losses and the immense pain you are suffering. There are many of us on here if you want to share your experiences/vent/chat. All of our experiences will be different and unique, but we are glued together whether we like it or not by the one common denominator - we are all experiencing the pain of grief to some extent. We are here for you.

Louise x