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Introduction to Grief and Bereavement Issues

Kathryn Patricelli, MA, edited by Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. Updated: Mar 2nd 2016

While it is true that people require "air, food, water, clothing, and shelter,” in order to survive, we must also add "relationships" to this list because it is a rare person who is able to thrive in the absence of intimate relationships with other people, people, and things.

grieving childGrief is the process and emotions that we experience when our important relationships are significantly interrupted or (more frequently) ended, either through death, divorce, relocation, theft, destruction, or some similar process. A related term, “bereavement”, has different meanings for different people, but all meanings refer to the grieving process. While some view bereavement as a specific subtype of grief that occurs when a loved one (usually a spouse) dies, others think of the term as referring to the period of time during which grief is felt and losses are dealt with.

Grief starts when someone or something we care about is lost to us. We do not grieve for all lost relationships; instead, we grieve only for those that have become important to us over time. These can be relationships with people that we have strong connections to, such as family members, spouses, significant others, and friends; places we feel attached to, such as the house we grew up in or our hometown; or things that are important to us, such as love letters, a watch that a grandparent gave us, etc. We may have loved or hated that person, place, or thing, but we feel grief when they (or it) are gone.

There are two types of losses that we may grieve. The first is the actual loss of the person or thing in our lives. The second is the symbolic loss of the events that can no longer occur in the future because of that actual loss. For example, if a child is lost to parents, those parents lose not only their actual child, but also all the many events they expected to share with that child, including birthdays, graduations, wedding days, and other shared events large and small that make up the ongoing relationship with the lost child that is no longer possible because that child has died.

In many ways, we live our lives through our important relationships. Our relationships define us and who we are; they become intimately intertwined into our sense of self (or self-concept) and are thus a living part of us. It is terribly painful to lose one of these key relationships, because with the loss of such an important relationship, we also lose an important part of ourselves. For this reason, grief is not something that happens 'out there' in the world. Instead, it happens inside each grieving person's sense of self which is personally wounded and damaged by such losses. The work of grief is thus the personal work of healing and regrowing the sense of self.

Grief ends when we have gotten past the acute need for the lost other person or thing in our lives and are able to function normally without them. This doesn't mean that we stop feeling sad when we think about older losses; it only means that we are no longer significantly crippled by them.



Reader Comments
Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

You learn to live with it - - Jan 25th 2015

In 1996 I lost my partner of 30 years. We were well known in the large city in which we lived for our enduring partnership and our service to the community and wide circle of friendships.  About six months before he died I knew he was going to die and I finally told him.  He told me he thought he was going to die too.  He went to his physician who said we were both crazy.  The Saturday before he died (the following Thursday) we became frantic and once again his doctor told us we were crazy.  I was scheduled to go home to visit my mother in another city and we decided I should go.  I drove there that morning, 300 miles, called him halfway there and he said he had thrown up his breakfast.  I called him when I got to my mom's and he didn't sound right.  I got back in the car and drove 300 miles home. I considered calling neighbors or the police to check up on him but didn't.  I arrived home to find him on the floor.  He had suffered a massive stroke and died 5 a.m. Friday.  It is now almost 20 years later.  I went on with life.  I enjoyed more successes and, better, more rewarding experiences helping people in need.  I made new friends.  One of his good friends became my good friend.  But I have never gotten over my partner's death, not even a little.  I think of him every day.  I talk with him every day.  Very soon after his death I saw him at home, my next door neighbor saw him waving from the kitchen window, another neighbor saw him at supermarket and waving at her as he walked by the picture window of her beauty parlor.  When the bushes on the lawn and in the garden the tops of the bushes grew crosses and Jewish stars alternately.  My neighbor spotted it first, then my next door neighbor.  My partner was fascinated with mallard ducks because they mated for life.  The Sunday after he died--God, Sunday were awful--I went out to work in the garden and there was a pair of mallard ducks who waddled not away from me but toward me.  My neighbor across the street told me, "They were on my lawn all night watching your house."  I had many more remarkable experiences.  When an appraiser came to look at the house she said, "There are two of you here, you know."  So I guess we are still together, and I am proud I have gone on with life successfully and constructively.  But the grief has never lessened or gone away.  And so many people have told me that about their own grief.  I think we do learn to live with it, it becames part of our life, we accept it and that is the important point, accepting it, integrating into your life and still doing the very best you can to live ethically, productively and with love for people.  My heart goes out to anyone and everyone who has been through this experience.  As a grief counselor--one of many who helped me tremendously--said, "There is us and there is them.  Us who have lost someone and grieved and those who have not lost someone yet and have not met grief.  It is impossible to explain to them what we have lived."  I agree.

Grief, who am I now? - Unknown person - Aug 7th 2014

It has been almost 2 years since I was abruptly and drastically thrust in to my new UNWANTED world...due to the loss of my precious husband.  He was my loving world, and all that I had.

I have been trying to do the right things to cope and adjust...and just when I think that it's "working," something surfaces to say that it is not.

I know that I have to become a different person in my new, unfamiliar world, but I don't like it.

Normally cheerful, I have become a serious person, too serious about everything.

Normally out-going, adventurous, liked meeting new people, trying different things, and adjusting to anything quickly, I am now the opposite.

There's no going back to who I was, for he was half of me that was torn away.  I knew who I was before I met him...but after we met and married, he completed me, which I did not know was even possible.

My new UNWANTED world has nothing for me.

And I don"t know who I am anymore>

so much sudden loss - - Jul 14th 2013

I was in a wonderful relationship with someone I adored. then, suddenly he began to do the breaking up with me randomly and often hurting my self esteem and saying confusing things like he never loved me at all. then my  mother in law committed suicide in a shopping mall that she had a salon in. My daughter called me hysterical because my father in law had called my daughter who was 22 at the time and told her before anyone else. I  twas told that I was not invited to the  funeral. I paid for my daughter to go. Then my father was diagnosed with colon cancer, my mother became very deathly ill, my boyfriend needed money and had avoidant personality disorder so when my dad got sick and my mother in law passed he left he took all the money we had and left me with a stack of unpaid bills and no money. My daughter has stopped speaking to me and has apparently become sort of a surrogate wife of sorts to my grieving father in law. My boyfriend claims that I am emotionally unstable and he has cut off all contact with me. I am alone completely my father is gone my boyfriend is gone my daughter is gone and I feel guilty for feeling so emotional. My apartment offers no happiness and no comfort. it is empty. I am going back to get my masters degree in psychology but it is hard to keep a brave face on what has been happening so mom is sick mil is dead, dad is in the last stages of caNcer, boyfriend is gone I have no one, however I did get a kitten so Iwould have something to take up my time and something to come home to I have a son whom my ex husband took over and was very controling with. I try to tell my son all the time how much I love him he is 19 and lives about 150 miles away.

dieing more each day - donna - Apr 12th 2012

My husband David and i were married 33 years ,he died of T Cell lymphnoma cancer one year and one month ago .i thought that the day he died was the worst day of my life but im finding out it hurts more every day .no one understands how broken i feel i seea comercial of a coupel in their 60-70 and know that i will never do that with him  i cant sleep and i cry all the time some days i think i cant go on another hour or a day with this pain i miss him i miss his holding my hand as we slept his smile his witt.i miss me with him .im not me any more i feel like a shell i find it hard to do anything .i think you can die from a broken heart ,how does it keep beating when it is so broken

My Babydoll - Wayne Fogel - Mar 18th 2012

My Babydoll,

We met when I was 17 and she 14, within 2 weeks we both concluded we were in love and we dated 4 years till our marriage. Over the next 33 years we enjoyed a honeymoon that never ended until her illness ceased our sexual activities. We got the point of REALLY knowing what the other thought. Our ECG's looked identical we developed some kind of mental telepathy and almost always walked hand in hand. Communicated constantly. I became disabled at the age of 37 and she cared for my every need. I got much better but still remained disabled. She became ill about the age of 50 and it became my turn to aid her. I did the best I could and she stable for the most part with slowly declining health but was doing fine. It was hard but we were together and it pleased us. I would have happily gone on to my dying day just as it was. We spoke of the “what if's” many a time. And agreed we would promise to carry on and try to find happiness and cherish the times we had, had.

She suddenly Died in my arms at home with our last words being we loved each other. She looked into my eyes said "I love you" and I responded "I love you" while staring into my eyes I could see life leave her. I gently placed her on the floor called 911 performed CPR until EMT took her to nearest hospital. They tried to help her but it was clear to all she had died in arms, peacefully, in no pain, and in the arms of her best friend and lover. I kissed her for hours in the hospital and called our children to come see their mom. They came and had short 20 minute visits as I held and kissed her.

It has now been six months since her death. And everyone's fear is me dying of heartbreak. I truly feel physical pain my mind is always clouded she is always on my mind and I have what I call events where I slide to stage one grief. I live without my children by choice and in the familiar surroundings of our home I continue to dispose of belongings no longer needed. I choose a small selection of items that are so dear to me, and I protect them with my life.

Transference - Before her death we had a part time housekeeper, who perhaps 2-3 times a month would come and clean up the heavy cleaning projects at some of our homes. I requested and she accepted to live full time at my home. She is very different from my wife but I have apparently found similar traits.

I believe i have developed transference related to her.

She is 30 yrs old and I am 62.

We come from very very different backgrounds and we clearly do have levels of a caring love for each other.

At first she slept with me so I could sleep, it was sleep and nothing more. One evening while I slept, I apparently rolled over put my arm around her, mumbled in my sleep and rubbed her back and buttocks. I have no recollection of this and don't doubt it at all. She understands where it came from but is uncomfortable, so we have ceased. Now I don't sleep I am heavily medicated in my efforts of trying to sleep and get 2-3 broken hours some nights.

Here's -transference,

She has made requests of different sorts for help with this and that and in some cases helping a person with this and that. I find and now have identified I can not refuse any request she has. I have noticed this just recently spoke with therapist and left it at that!. 

The complexity of what I provide in material as well as counseling related to her addictive drug history and now recovery and current ongoing legal issues makes her fully dependent upon me for everything. If I were to cease her employment. She would regress to the point of death. This is very clear, no room for adjustments. It will be another 18 months before I feel she will be at the point of independence.

So we have set up her own room, she gets the professional counseling and medical treatment she needs.

And I don't sleep and I have my "events" daily. Night time is the worse time for me although any time of day can be bad.

I'm thinking perhaps a sort of 12 step program might help me, but I haven't found any such thing other the for AA and NA. It doesn't fit!

The recent conclusion of my last grief counseling session finished with the ending uplifting phase (sic) " for now it sucks to be me".

Where do I go for help? What should be my goals? Should I cut myself off from all other people who happen to ask me for assistance? I am truly lost in space! 

I have come to the conclusion I am there for everyone, but there is no one for me for the things I really need!

I plan on just continuing things as they are, with the sense of obligation I have made for myself related to helping her. I see no harm in it and get out of it what I can. I have upgraded and made clear her “newest” job title is, person who has to keep me alive! If that happens I feel it is a fair trade.

I am in pain emotionally and physically constantly and YES, it sucks to be me!

Advice? Comments?

The Loss of My Heroin Addiction - Darius - May 5th 2011

There is a Vietnamese legend which tells the story of Co Ba. She was a lonely lady - derogated, mocked and abandoned by villagers for her insidious appearance. Before she died, she prayed for God to let her be reincarnated into an object of beauty that all would crave for, love more than any another, never abandon and be put above all else… God turned her into a poppy. Opium (or heroin), the spirit of Co Ba which runs through the poppy’s whole being was my first love – my immortal.

She was my partner in crime. She gave me peace - sedated me from the emptiness that had haunted me all my life; and the agony that is life. She defined my life. She was my shield, my sword against all that fear stood for. She brought with her a rock star lifestyle which allowed me to escape the rat race where money, sex and love were abundant. I was respected, loved and admired. She enabled me to romantically love one girl whilst gratifying my sexual fantasies with others without a care. However, none of that mattered if the day did not end with her by my side and with her there to start the next day off. She knew that. I knew that. I was Clyde and she was my Bonnie.

Eventually the law of marginal returns came and made me realise that I had fallen for her monkey trap. It was a little too late for she already had taken me prisoner. She imposed extraordinary requirements for me to perform which were becoming more and more immoral. When I failed to follow through, she would deprive me of her pleasures. Nevertheless, life without her was unbearable. She became my only focus where my servitude inevitably took its toll on my holistic well-being. Carrying out her will eventually brought homelessness, jail and made my interpersonal relationships take a back seat. I was a slave to her and in the end I felt like an abused and neglected housewife. I had to leave.

The anticipatory grief was unbearable as her wraith made leaving unfathomable. Leaving meant giving up all that I loved about heroin, what it brought into my life and the persona I had built. Feeling I needed to leave was one thing; realising I had to leave and not turn back was another. Insanely, I was the abused house-wife who came back for the sex and security time and time again. It was antagonising. This subsequently allowed depression to set in as I saw no way out. As a result, my self-worth and self-care took a battering. Hitting rock bottom, I was then forced to accept that inevitably she would have to be out of my life or my suffering would continue till I eventually die in misery. I prayed for someone to forcibly take me away for I could not do so with my own will. Eventually the law came and sent me away to a 500acre rehabilitation farm amongst the sticks. However, as much as I wanted to get away from her, I began to miss her and all that she meant dearly.

Grief had set in. She was gone. Without her, I felt desolated. The primary loss of not having heroin in my life brought physical and mental agony that I would not wish upon my enemy. The agony of desolation and destitution that I had feared had now become a reality which greatly intensified as secondary losses followed. Giving up heroin meant no substantial income, no sex on demand, stifled avenues for romance; and parting ways with a social circle and status that took a decade to build. In effect, it meant a loss of my sense of self. I was naked. Who am I? How will I survive....? What is the purpose of life now?

Working through the grief now brought new feelings of powerlessness from knowing that I still wanted her pleasures but could not do anything to have her back due to legal restraints and geographical distance. This was exacerbated as other losses came up and complicated the grief process. Other losses included secondary losses, losses prior to addiction, loss of the potential of where I could have been in life had I not been in addiction; and the loss of interpersonal relationships due to addiction.

Fortunately The Twelve Steps based rehabilitation program provided an empathic atmosphere which encouraged me to tell my story and in the process helped me to release 15years of emotional pain.  From this support network, I also found meaning to make sense of it all which greatly contributed to my adjustment to this new world without heroin. Meaning making was facilitated by members of the Narcotics Anonymous fellowship who assisted in me in removing my masks and developing my self-honesty and self-awareness. From here, the path opened for me to explore spirituality and create narratives (such as the one I am using) to comprehend my loss. In the fellowship, most of us are dissonant grievers experiencing disenfranchised grief since we are unable to freely mourn such a socially unsanctioned loss, even to each other. Hence why the elephant has always been in these meeting rooms, yet few seem to see it let alone acknowledge it as grief. Regardless, we nevertheless helped each other with our individual narratives as we brainstormed reconstructions of life’s meaning - adopting new concepts from one another as we went along. By embracing concepts such as compassion, gratitude, joy and serenity, life not only became easier, but also more enjoyable. These spiritual concepts helped me to overcome the duality of good and evil where instead of fear and anger towards the spirit of Co Ba, I now thank her for the lessons and experiences that she had brought. Like Eckhart Tolle’s (2008) analogy of how through heat and pressure, a plant becomes a diamond over time - Co ba and everything she brought including the grief experience, was the heat and pressure that has greatly contributed to moulding the resilient person that I am today. Though I no longer crave for Co Ba, her breath still lingers. As I write this paper, prolonged thoughts of her - trigger cold shivers and feverish sweat. In these moments, I smile with tears of gratitude welding in my eyes as I reflect on the wonderful experiences she had gifted me. Though she is no longer the love of my life, she is nevertheless my immortal.

Grief Out - Ruby Taylor - Dec 13th 2010

we are social beings. We need other people to survive, especially more so when we are trying to navigate our way through a difficult loss. Community offers an alternative option to family and friends. When I refer to community I don't necessarily mean the immediate community that we live in, although for some people, this can be beneficial depending on the situation.

We can recover from loss without support. Yet why would we want to? Suffering in silence, not knowing if what we feel or think is right, tormenting ourselves with thoughts that if shared could lighten our burden and help us move on.

Suicide of my husband and kid's father, We can't heal - Donna - Sep 26th 2010

In 2004, my husband chose suicide because of his deep depression. I was used to his behavior, depressed for months and then happy. The yo yo effect was part of my life and my childrens' lives. I knew he needed medicine but could not get him to see a doctor. When his pain got to bad for him he left us in pain forever. We all have problems to this day and have tried counceling and medications and nothing stops the pain. We suffer still to this day each in our own way. Nothing has gone right in our lives since that horrible crushing day we found out the news. We we all close before and now have all grown apart and distant. It just seems that everyday gets worse for us all and we have no trust for each other now. I do not think there is an end when someone you love for so many years commits suicide. Life in no longer life as once know, but a struggle to stay out of pain everyday that goes bye. The church we belong to, no one offers true help. The councelors think you magically go through seven steps and it's over. Anxiety becomes your only unabandoning constant known to your day. Predisposed to anxiety they say?? What are the statistics on that occur for 4 out of 4 remaining family members left behind. No it's not the lack of funds, debt, college tuition or home.  All that remains as was. We are very comfortable.  It's the absence of him in the home. How do we heal?

Relationship - Marie - Jan 10th 2010

After two children, and almost four years, my husband told me he doesn't love me anymore. No reason he says in particular. And now I don't know who he is or I am anymore. I can't bear it, I feel like ripping out my own heart might hurt less. I have a bad past with men, alcoholic father, a brother in law that tried to rape me, and now this. The chapters of my life are as follows and I quote" Sh!t, Sh1TTER, and The worst.

My home place where I grew up... - RW - Aug 11th 2009

Grieving is a strange thing, I think we only think of it as a scenario when someone we know and love passes but my experience this summer is a little different and until I ended up going and talking to someone about it I never realized just how broad the grieving process is.  I had long been holding out to buy the home place where I grew up, my grandparents longtime home, and a place that I always saw as saving my life as I grew older because when I moved there as a young adolescent it was because of things going very wrong where I was with my mother and step-father.  I looked at that house as a savior, a place that likely saved my life in the long run from either running away, the justice system, or even worse.  I loved it there, I was nurtured, I learned things there about life, was encouraged to do well and work hard and be good.  I am thirty-two now and this summer plans abruptly changed and there is no chance of me getting my home place as it has been sold.  I know my grandparents forgot about my conversations with me and I also suspect there were some slick figures on the other end that I didn't see coming the way I should have, either way it is a done deal and a situation that I will never be able to correct in my favor.  I moved back home after college to see them through with plans to one day live there, no more.  I was so down and so full of stress and disbelief that I went to a counselor and embarrassingly spilled my guts that I was so upset and so broken down by this seemingly silly land deal when I said it was much like the grieving phase.  He went over the stages of grieving beginning with disbelief, then anger, then this and that, all of which I said "Oh, I did/do that" in response to learning of them, but when he said that the steps are not in any real order except the last one of them I perked up even more, I was relieved to have at least figured out some part of what was eating at me, he said grieving must end with acceptance!  Of course he went on the tell me the dynamics involved and it wasn't all to complicated, but he said, and has proven to be correct as my attitude is improving, that when one accepts and full accepts the issue the healing will begin and life will begin to improve.  I know it sounds strange for me to be telling you about this subject over land/home, and especially those of you grieving the loss of a loved one, but my situation was a love of this place, the sanctuary that saved me, for twenty plus years, not a house I saw one day and loved the design or location, I loved what it was, what it did, and what it meant to me, it was and is my grandparents saving me, and now my shot at living there is gone.  I am working on acceptance, I don't know where the list the Dr. had is from, the steps of grieving, but when I heard them they were dead on and I think someone, if not many of you, might benefit from seeing them or talking to your doctor about this.  Medications can help, I am certain, and talk therapy can/will/does as well, but I am now an advocate of acceptance as the be-all/end-all that will help put a close to a sad and miserable, albeit completely normal and necessary chapter in the lives of those that have felt great loss.  It will undoubtedly come easier to some than others, think of the older generations and how well they coped with loss.  My doctor said this was in large part due to simple acceptance, it was the way is was and nothing can change that or make it different.  I hope sharing my experience, as trivial as it may sound, can help someone in need.  I felt so rotten, and still do at times, I can only hope that everyone that passes through this site looking for some support finds something that makes them think and move in a positive direction.  The human mind is a complex thing, but damn if it isn't a tough old bird as well.  Stay strong. 


i lost my mother to cancer 3 months ago - marion - May 6th 2009

i lost my mother to cancer 3 months ago ,at the start i was grand ,i was the strong one ,helpin everyone with there hard time ,my mother was the best mother i could have wished for ,so special ,she was ill for 16 months and in that time she never gave out, even when she as so sick after chemo , as i said at the start i was ok ,but 3 months on and im findin it very hard ,the doctor wants ta put me on anti-depressions ,but i keep thinkin of my ma ,she tryed so hard not ta have ta take them type of things when my brother dyed 5 years ago ,i dont know weather ta try do this without the tables ,or do i realy need them ,depression is sooo hard ,i just wish i could be back to my normal happy go lucky self  

no solution - Lost - Jan 14th 2009

There's really not solution is there, you just suffer, as I guess one deserves when they have been selfish and stupid.

Loss a sister - HumanPain - Oct 24th 2008

I recently loss my little sister of 12 years old. She was murdered the in most brutal way. Eversince, i have been very scared and confused. I have little so depressed. I dont know what to so stressed.

grieving the lose of my life. - LISA - Sep 30th 2008
i have recently gotten out of a rehab.and a week later loss my 3 sons father and my husband of 20 years although we had been seperated for along time he was my childhood friend.and we married at the age of 15.our youngest son is two oldest sons are both locked up due to there drug addictions. so i fel alot of seperation anxiety from them and it crushes my heart to know that they have to live the rest of there life without a dad.and its affecting my life to the point that i have panic attacks.i fel my life has change so much at the age of 36 that i dont know what to expect from day to day. also my 13 year old son seen the accident. i also dont live in my hometown where my family is at.this has all happen withen the last 3 mon. and my youngest son lives with me i also feel that i will never be able to be in a loving sexual relationship again..i do plan on getting grieving counceling soon but until then i will keep doing the best i can and hope the people around me can understand my feelings on all this.....

Losing a long time friendship - Martee - Jul 7th 2008

My loss comes not in the form of a death but the loss of a 20+ year friendship.

Cathy and I became the best of friends, found so many things in common, were room mates for 10 years, and laughed each and every time we talked.

I really valued her and her family ~ in fact, her family was a blessing and a substitute for not having a family I could rely on. 

And now it's over...and I am lost. I am so sad. I changed some of the dynamics of our friendship by coming out and getting married. I tried so hard these past three years to accept new realities, to accept a man she's fallen head over heels in love with, to include her in my marriage and friends.

All to no avail.

I feel lost. I miss our friendship terribly. And although I have several friends, my friendship with Cathy meant the absolute most to me.

Accepting that it's over and gone feels almost unbearable to me, and I so wish this painful ache in my throat, the tightness in my chest and the pit in my stomach would go away.

I am trying not to re-live the friendship, to forge new ways to think about the past...but the pain can be excruiating.

Thanks for listening... 

Editor's Note:  The loss of a significant relationship can be as painful as experiencing a death, no question.  What counts is how attached one is to the lost person.  

childhood loss - fiona - Apr 18th 2008

My father died when I was 10 years, I am now 38 years. I know this has had an impact upon my personal developement & with romantic relationships & trysts. I now feel I miss an idea or ideal rather than the reality of a father figure & this has led to bad male partner choices as I have no real yard stick to measure 'a good man' by. I grew in a matriarchy this has led to problems for my male siblings developement & led to deliquency etc etc.. & no male role model only older female dominant carers. I suffer with depression & have always felt something missing in my emotions & intimacies to others.

Thanks for listening x

Many years after - - Mar 29th 2008

I sat on the front porch this Easter talking to my father, and as the drinks began to flow we styarted talking about life. He knows that I am going through some major life changes, like is my marriage over? Him having a background in minisrty and family counseling he began to tell me why i was "damaged." You see my older sister died almost 13 years ago, and i was only a teenager in highschool. I grieved, but mostly i suppressed all those feelings of loss. My father told me he believed that because of my youth I looked for security in relationships that were not always healthy.(His explanation of my husband) Whibch is somewhat true. I guess what i want to know, is do you ever really get over this loss? Are we all damaged when someone so close to us dies? I feel like I am marked , I have got lots of baggage! Am i destined to have psycological problems?

Grieving loss of who I thought I was - CBT - Mar 24th 2008

I feel like I sound so spoilt and judgemental, but I think I'm grieing not only the loss of several relationships, but the loss of my sense of self--or rather who I thought I would be at this point.

A little over a year ago I left a man I had dated and lived with for 6 years. We were never officially married, but we lived together in Africa--a place where if you live together you are married and people treat you as such. I don't want to discredit people who do take an oath, but I feel like I was divorced. I gave up a good job, a nice apartment, friends, closeness to family to be with him on the other side of the world. I found myself back in the US aimless with nothing to show for my time, my energy, my devotion or love.

I met someone new a few months after returning to the US who took care of me in many ways. He was lovely to me, but also annoyed me in some ways. At the same time I was getting to know him, I was trying to pull a life back together for myself--find a place to live, get a job, reconnect with old friends, make new ones. I broke my leg playing soccer, one of the keys, in my mind, to re-establishing my sense of self. I was unable to take care of myself--I had chosen a walk up apartment and could not take out my trash, do laundry or walk to work. My mother had to come and take care of me. This was a serious blow and reminded me how pathetic my life had become, how precarious my situation was and how I had not lived up to what my dreams were.

Just as I was getting over that, my only aunt in my very small family--a woman I had lived with several times while moving in and out of the country--was diagnosed with cancer and died 48 days later at the age of 57. This loss has devastated my family and has changed the dynamic in sad and scary ways. She was my mother's only sibling and also her best friend. She and my uncle were happily married for 37 years. They met at the age of 17 and were inseparable since. They had one daugther who was extremely close to her mother. All of my support system has collapsed and I want to be there for them, but have very little left to give.

Around Christmas time I felt like finally I was becoming a somewhat balanced person again when this "new" man cheated, then lied, then said he was sorry and would do anything to fix it. Then told me he wanted to see other people. I know he sounds like a player. I think he's not, but I do think he's confused and it's not good for me. The worst part is that I believe he did love me and is making a mistake (for himself). I say that because his friends and family think he does actually love me and that I'm good for him--they think he's temporarily lost his senses. But I can't change how he's acting and that it is hurting me and because of that, even if he "comes around" he will have hurt me too much to put any pieces back together.

I say all of this because I think I could "take it" if it were one of these pieces at a time. But all together these losses have shaken me to the core. The loss of a long term romantic partner & friend, a close family member and my friend and hope for my future, all at once, makes me feel like I have no hope, might never have the life I wanted, the life I guess I assumed I would have because I was good enough to deserve it. I guess I think I do deserve it--that everyone does--but I'm scared that that doesn't mean anything. It still might never happen.

Learning To Live Again - Joyce - Feb 28th 2008

What has brought me to this website today I really don't know, but reading all of your comments has made my heart hurt for each and every one of you that has experienced some type of loss in their life that they are struggling with.  My prayers go out to each and every one of you as well.  Although your losses may not be all the same I am positive the pain you each feel is extrodinary to each one of you.

I suffered the greatest loss of my loss nearly 13 years ago this March.  Sometimes it feels as if it were yesterday to me.  I was engaged and 5 months pregnant to the most wonderful man that I have ever met or laid my eyes upon.  I had finally found my soul mate and the life I had always been dreaming of when a freak accident took him from me.  I still can feel the pain of losing him each day no matter how much time has passed, but I do want to let you all know that there is life beyond that pain as well if you allow it.  I have been dealing and grieving for my finance for nearly 13 years and I have finally realized that I have let go and live my life again.  I've learned through accepting help from others around me that it is okay to let go of my grief, but that doesn't mean that I loss him.  He will always be one of the biggest parts of my life.  I see his face everyday in our 12 year old son.  And although I admit sometimes it can be a bittersweet feeling I wouldn't trade the chance of loving him or being loved by him for anything in this world.  I have dealt with this grief in many ways over the past years and all were not so healthy for me.  I turned to alcohol and depression many times and never seen what it was truely doing to me until recently.  Now I have accepted the help of counselors, friends and anti-depressants and feel better than I have since he has been gone.  I know that sometimes acceptance of what has happened is not that easy, but we all need to know that is okay to accept help and ask for help when we need it.  Jason still remains my soul mate and there will never be a day that goes by that I will not think of him or speak to him in my own way.  I miss everything about him, but I also know that he would want me to live my life to the fulliest as I would have wanted for him if the tables had been turned.  I feel very blessed to have gotten the chance to share my life with him not matter how brief a moment that it was.  It will forever be the best chapter of my life.

Myone and only best friend - Elise - Nov 2nd 2007
All through school I had friends but in elementary in the second grade I met my best friend are birthdays are close her's is near the end of Nov. and mine in the beginning of Dec we wrer the same age. WE became best friends in the fourth grade knew each other since the second grade. SHe just had her bday in Nov 25 2006 and me too. WE were so close even in a dream after her passing. After her wake and funeral I was surprisingly composed but I was asked to speak at her wake I was scared to talk to all the people but I said how i felt and what she meant to me and always will mean to me. But I din't get to say completely everything I was upst about that because in my heart I felt I truly knew my best friend which it was true she always talked about me to her mom her family knew me well we grew up together me and and my best friend and her mom always thinks of me when she thinks of her I think it hit me harder  than I thought to this day I get depressed at work and home I cry at night I try alot of things to make me fell better and be positive and though I am greatful for everything in my life and my life. I stillfeel this awful lonliness and void in my heart so far my favorite aunt died and now my best friend just yesterday at night I face a reality and said to myself I forgot she is dead. So when it sets in I feel deep pressure in my heart and my heart sinks because there is nothing I can do to make this void go away and of course I can't help but cry and I get irritated easy sometimes and get mad when I see to girls leaving school walking home like best friends I had friends in high school but only one true best friend. I don't look at things the same as much and as I am typing I cry just thinking of my friend. I tell my mom I am sad but truly I am depressed and mourning still and hurt and lonlry . Even as I drive sometimes I start to cry I feel not as happy as I use to I try to be positive but I have bad days sometimes. There are so many thins we were going to do together travel and grow old .

Losing loved ones - Chrisitne Linde - Jul 28th 2007

Hi...I have lost many of my close family members. My older brother commited suicide in December 96'. My mom who was 57 suffered from a cardiac event in November 05' and it left her in a comatose like state for 21 months she just 2 weeks ago passed away because of nursing home neglect suffered yet another cardiac event. In April 06' my uncle my mom's brother and last living realitive in my mom's family commited suicide.

All of these loses I had recently in my family have been hard to cope with, but I think the recent lose of my mom has been the hardest. She was 57 and after the first cardiac arrest that left her in a comatose like state we as a family accepted my mom's condition. She was there but unable to communicate effectively or as a doctor would say purposeful responses. We could still see her personality, she responded to our voices, to pain, had sleep wake cycles and she would let you know when she was displeased about something etc.. I stood by my mom for 21 months and cared for her everyday many times from A to Z. I never gave up on my mom. Because of a nursing homes neglect my mom suffered yet another cardiac event. This was described to my by her neourologist it was like being hit by lightning twice. We were faced with a horrific decision. We needed to remove life support and let her go. She was very sick and no chance of her bouncing back. I could see she was tired and her fight that she always had was gone. Everyday while in the hospital I prayed, cryed and had many talks with my mom. I told her I could see she was very tired and told her it was OK to go and not to be afraid, she would not be alone. I would have taken her off life support because I would have done that for my mom. My mom ended up passing on her own. I do feel this was her last gift to me...We missed her passing by 1 minute. I was a little disappointed to say the least about this. After kissing and thanking my mom and telling how much I loved husband and I sat in the room I held my mom's hand and we told many stories of good times with my mom. It was as though I could still feel her in the room as if she had not gone at all. Ater 2 hours I felt her no longer with us...then I knew she had passed on. I miss my mom with all my heart. My parents were divorced and I lived with my mom. We have always been there for one another for support etc.. Not a day would go by I did not call her several times for times no reason at all or see her....I will miss her dearly! I know it has only been 2 weeks and it will take some time to allow my heart to heal. I do know my mom will live on through me.....So in a sense she will never really be gone. I always told my mom "Until the End"....and that is exactly what I did for her!


my fiance was killed... - Marcy Fox - Jul 25th 2007
on november 8th 2006 i lost the love of my life. he was killed...i believe and know in my heart it was a hommicide but the detective on the case has done nothing. i have had to solve most of the crime including searching the car, phone records, finding shoe prints and fingerprints etc. what is so difficult for me is that i don't even feel like i can just miss him. i have to solve what others are supposed to solve. i have known B since i was five, we went to preschool together, summer camp, and our families have been friends for decades. He was 24, as i am now, and not a day goes by that i don't miss his smile, his touch, his laugh, his eyes, or his soul completing mine. we had an unbelieveable connection from the time we were tiny. we would be hundreds of miles away and hadn't talked for months but i would need him and he would call that minute. he would text me answers to questions i hadn't even finished typing myself yet. being with him felt like comming home to the most beautiful, passionate, and loving space in my heart. we could spend hours talking or hours in silence and have no doubt that that time was spent doing exactly what we were meant to be doing. he told me i was his compas, his north star, that i gave him purpose and that i was the only thing in his life he was ever sure about. i have seen him since, and dreamed of him and had conversations with him... a lot of which has given me insight and answers to what happend the night he died. i keep trying to remind myself that he told me our love could do anything include get me through this....but most of the time i hurt so bad its hard to breath. even now i can barely see the screen through my tears. how am i ever going to let him go? how am i ever going to be able to love again? how am i ever going to wake up and not look next to me first thing in the morning still thinking im going to see him smiling back at me? i haven't seen a counselor, or taken anti depressants. i haven't wanted to kill myself....although i did wish God would have taken me with him many times. sometimes i just wonder if anyone on this earth knows what this horrific pain feels like....and if someone does and has made it through, please help me. my email is any kind word or piece of advice would be so helpful. and to anyone who is taking the time to read this, do not think i am complaining...i am lucky to have had love like i had. to give and have it given back with such honesty and raw passion is rare and to be cherished. the last words he said to me, just hours before he was killed were "i love you with all my heart babe, you have to know that" thank God we never left each others sight without saying i love you. i hope all of you get to have that feeling, and if you love someone now, never leave them angry...they might not come back. hug them back when they hug you, say you are sorry even if you still think its their fault, kiss them every chance you get, look into their eyes when you make love, and smell that little spot inbetween their neck and shoulder, its beautiful.

Loss in love & friendship - Psyche76 - Jun 6th 2007
I am married.  But I got into this relationship for emotional support.  I know that it is wrong from the very start.  But this connection with someone is a form of survival as I go through an ordeal in my marriage life.  Much to say, there's no sexual intimacy involved, yet there was an emotional intimacy going on.  The guy was in another town for some circumsatnces and we continue the friendship through phone.  He was a great guy!  We had  a genuine fiendship!  But then, when my husband learned of this connection through my diaries and phone bill statements, he called all my friend's mom, for he also got her phone no. from my phone.  She intervened and ofcourse for the good of his son, she advised me and her son, to do the right thing.  So one day, for two weeks that I haven't communicated with him, he just decided to tell me to stop calling him until I settle my divorce papers.  Due to circumstances, I cannot file it for now, as it involves time and legal issues, that I need to go through.  I was full of despair.  But I accepted his decision.  I felt like I lost something valuable inside me.  I thought about it over and over that night.  And I realized, it must have been good that it came from him.  It may take time for me to deal with the loss but it will make me a better person, in the process.  Learning to accept and move on, no matter how painful it is.  I have to deal with my own personal issues before I deal with the emotional aspect.  I told him that what we had is a true fiendship and nothing has harmed me, nor destroy.  But it is part of knowing who we really are.  I am revalidating my issues now and although I am still grieving for his presence in my life, it will help if I let him go. 

fear of loss - Danika - Feb 24th 2007

I have been dating a fellow for nearly 3 months now. in that time we have grown extremely close. we were very close even before we started dating. Everything has allways been fine between us. we have had our problems but what couple doesn't. The only thing that has ever come between us is his parents. They have allways tryed to find ways to prevent us from seeing each other and talking to each other as much as we wanted. he lives 2 hours away from me and doesn't drive or have a job so we depend on his parents to take him to the bus and such. recently they disconected the phones and the internet and took his money so we have no way of comunicating. he e-mails me and calls me collect from school and thats it. sooner or later i know he will find a way to me. and even though this is hard and i cry everyday and feal so helpless about this i will allways love him and I want to marry him one day. it hurts me and i allways worrie i'll lose him, but i know that we are strong enough to get through this. I love him so much. I'll stand buy him allways.

Grief over lost relationship - shannon - Jan 24th 2007
I'm grieving the loss of a relationship. I dated a man for half a year and we became close. I knew about the inner workings of his heart, and he mine. I care for him deeply and he for me. We are friends. But an anger issue that he is battling is separating us. He is so grieved by his behavior. It hurts me to really see him in emotional pain as he wants to change. But, I can't subject myself to his behavior. I'm grieving the loss of the things that I hoped would be a part of my life with him. I'm grieving the loss of his beautiful eyes and his warm hugs. I'm grieving the loss of visiting him and he me and praying for each other. He has been my friend. I am so sad that this ugly thing has come between us. My heart hurts. But I know in time that I will heal and that there is a lesson to be learned in all of this. The sun will come out again.

losing a pet - Nandishi - Jan 6th 2007
I don't how to say this, but when we lost our dog Kalu on dec 20, 2006, i felt as if the world's been snatched away from me. it's been two weeks and i am still grieving, spending sleepless nights wondering why. i know people don't understand grieving over pets, but i have only ever felt this sad over death....losing someone who gave back love unconditionally.

dealing with death and it's compelling emotions. - Brenda - Dec 24th 2006
I to recently experienced death of (2) family members, of whom I was very, very close to., My own Mother, and my step-father, in which both died within 2 months of each other. I was there and took care of both of them as they both passed with Cancer. I don't know if the worse is actually over with., I'm not sure how I'm gonna react to this trauma, I went thru physical, mental and emotional trauma and I don't know if I'm ever gonna feel right again. I've never experienced dreams yet of either one of them, but I sensed alot of things that their spirits had to have brought into light. I wasn't scared at all, if at anything it was comforting to know they were looking over me, and were proud of all I tryed to do to keep them comfortable. I never again in my life hope that I have to deal with all this responsibility, and everything else that evolved from it. Losing a Loved one is hard enough, but losing two loved ones in a matter of 2 months is a much greater pain that anyone should ever have to deal with. It's been a nightmare, and instead of having people who you think would support you, you feel like the lonliest, misunderstood person alive...., once there gone that's it, there is no bringing them back, and I wish people would just wake up and appreciate the people, and their good ways, and good deeds while there alive, not when it's too late. My Mother was a good woman, she did alot for alot of people, she had a big heart, and would have gone that extra mile for anyone who treated her the same. My stepfather, he was sort of old-fashioned, set in his ways in all, but deep down inside of him he was also a wonderful person, you just had to show him truth and be real, than anyone could see he was a beautiful person with a big heart as well., and since I was my Mother's only daughter and the only step-daughter, I was made to feel like nothing I did was good enough for the rest of them, and instead of support, they just brought on more grief, which I found to be quite heartless and unbelievable!!!!, where are people's brains and hearts anymore??, instead of fighting each other we all should have used a LOVE for our parents, to help heal our hearts and our grief, but no instead they always look at the one who gets all the responsibilities as the better one, for some reason, and that's the farthest from the truth., I was asked to do these things because they felt that I was responsible enough, and knew I also had a good heart, and would give them the best care possible, and knew I wasn't lazy....So the next time someone is asked to carry thru the responsibilities that your parents, or any relative for that matter wanted, do not fill your hearts with jeoulesy, and hate, instead try to comfort each other and truly mean it!!!!!!!, because that person is hurting just as much as if not more than you.., and still has to carry out and perform to the best of their knowledge EVERYTHING., TO SEE THAT EVERYONE IS COMFORTED., and trust me it hasn't been an easy job. Some people can be so heartless and cold, and instead of thinking about themselves for 1 minute, why don't they think about others...., especially the wishes of their LOVED ONES..... my heart and brain is still hurting over all this and I hope these sibilings are happy.............

SUICIDE - jill peterson - Dec 16th 2006
I'm dealing with the loss of my brother ,my only sibling jack who committed suicide on nov 12th 2006 my greif is overwhelming

Grief - Christina - Nov 1st 2006
I think everyone greif's differently. It can take one day until a lifetime is gone. I lost my father in May 2006 and I was totally fine at the begining. He died of cancer and we knew about his illness a year before so I believe that through out that year, I felt the loss I would have in the future so when it did happen I wasn't as bad as I thought I would be. Its not like I didn't cry or feel pain, but at his funeral, I was able to help others like my mom and cousins and uncles cry on my shoulder and be strong for them. I made people laugh and smile. My father loved to joke around so maybe I brought this out for others to have a part of my father with them. They couldn't believe I did this and how I could be so strong. I know he's in a better place because he's not suffering but I want to be selfish and bring him back. I miss him so terribly now that I have dreams at night where he's alive and talk to him. I recently got engaged and loath the fact that he's not here to be as joyful as it should be right now. He was suppose to bring me down the aisle and give his little daughter to be married. But he's not. I find my self being very angry lately and lash out at everyone and to my mother. I know she doesn't need me fighting with her or hearing me fight with others but I don't know how to control my anger. Everything makes me cry. I watch cermercials, Oprah, movies, reality shows about tattoos and they all make me cry. I think when you have this kind of pain and grief or you know someone that is going through this, please be patient with them. Let them scream, yell and be upset at you even if its not your fault because they really need that one friend that can give them a hug and just let their pain out.

Middle of Nowhere - ria - Oct 27th 2006
I retired recently and somebody close to me told me that I was manifesting signs of grief over my retirement. Though I was tearful when she acknowledge this in me, at the time, I did not fully agree with her. I knew that if I submerge myself in work, I would be my normal self again. I did get part-time work, but now that the term is over, I am in the middle of nowhere. I do not know if the university will give me another teaching load. Also, now my husband and I share more time together as he has also retired. The problem is we really do not have quality conversation. You may even say there is a breakdown in communication. Reading your article helped me understand what I am going thru.

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