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Bereavement Intricacies

SupernovaSupernova Posts: 987 Part of The Mix Family
edited August 2021 in Health & Wellbeing
This is likely going to be a very long post. I've never had counselling for bereavement but it is something that has been suggested to me many times. I wonder what sorts of things I would discuss and the intricacies involved in such a heavy topic. I've had a long time to think about and rationalise these things, but I've never actually written anything down or fully explored these issues with another person. I've lost my Dad, siblings and grandparents, and at the current stage of my life I feel very desensitised to death. I also feel somewhat guilty at the thought of using up resources provided by these counselling services, as after all this time, I figure others, who may have things worse than I could ever imagine, would be better served by that support. My circumstances inform much of my personality and situation, as it to be expected, and have led on to many of the things I struggle with, such as loneliness, poor self esteem, depression, anxiety, etc. But I will try my best to keep things on topic and relevant, and work through things chronologically.

The loss that affects me most is and likely always will be the loss of my Dad, so I'll start there, at the beginning, with all of my many, many thoughts and memories. I adored my dad, and I take after him in so many ways. I've said it before but he was the person I was closest with and most similar to. His demeanour, behaviour, speech, interests and treatment of others all resonated with me more than anybody else ever has. He was calm, rational, sensible and measured with almost everything he did, and was never the type of person to lose his patience. Anything I ever did wrong, or anything I ever struggled with, he would never be direct or angry about it. He always sat and challenged me in ways that would make me properly understand what was happening and see things from different points of view. The communication I had with him and the time I spent with him motivated me so much, and helped me become a much better person, of that I have no doubt. Unfortunately though, these facts only make things more difficult and confusing for me, as for all of his amazing qualities and the adoration I had for him, I still have so many terrible memories to go alongside.

So I was about 4 I think, when my Mum and Dad split up. I don't remember it and it doesn't affect or bother me, though I do sometimes wonder how things might have turned out if they had stayed together. I wonder this because I feel like some of my Dad's later relationships helped worsen some of his poor qualities. Things went well for a few years, and I have fond memories of being driven from my Mum's house to my Dad's in my pyjamas. I spent most of the week with my Mum and enjoyed seeing my Dad at weekends. I feel like things started to deteriorate alongside one of my Dad's relationships, as they both liked to drink alcohol, and when brought together that is the majority of what they did. They argued a lot, she liked to spend a lot of money, the relationship became very toxic, which all resulted in the relationship breaking down and leaving my Dad with a lot of issues. These issues ranged from debt, to work issues, to loneliness and most significantly heavy alcohol consumption, which only worsened with time. From the ages of about 7-9, I remember so many weekends he would barely be conscious while I was with him. I remember being alone with him in the house and looking at him while he slept in the day, sometimes wondering if he was alive or having thoughts about hurting him. While he was drinking I could barely recognise the person that I have come to adore and remember so fondly. This culminated in a few very bad situations, where he would injure himself while drunk. On one particular day when my Mum dropped me off at his house, I couldn't get inside and eventually found that he had fallen down the stairs and was collapsed against the front door. We had to call and ambulance for him, as he had dislocated his shoulder. The injury and operation he had to have caused him serious muscle and nerve damage, and was an injury he never recovered from.

My Mum often threatened that because of his behaviour she would have to stop me from seeing him. Which was scary for me, because despite his faults I still loved him and enjoyed seeing him. But with the continuation of his drinking and descent into alcoholism, I think when I was around 9 I'd had enough. He was unconscious for yet another day and I decided I agreed with my mum and didn't want to see him anymore, so I walked to my Nana's house (Dad's Side) and waited there until my mum could pick me up. After all of that I didn't actively see my Dad for years, and instead spent weekends with my Auntie, Uncle and Cousin (also Dad's side) while my Mum worked. I'm so grateful that I managed to stay so connected with my Auntie, Nana, Cousin, etc. They are / were truly wonderful people and made a very difficult situation much more bearable. During the years I spent with them I had occasional contact with my Dad and the majority of it was painful. Seeing him depressed, drunk and in pain, while his partner divorced him upset me to the point of tears one night. And resulted in some very bad arguments between my family and a lot of holes being punched in walls. I had grown very close to my Cousin in the time I had spent with him, and he was extremely angry with my Dad and how upset I was. Otherwise I had a lot, too many in fact, trips to see my father in hospital. Aside from his physical injuries and admissions due to alcohol, he also found he had a heart condition called cardiomyopathy. Heart conditions run in my family as both my Dad and Granddad died due to them, but I believe my Dad's was made much worse by his lifestyle and he ultimately died of a Pulmonary Embolism. He did eventually seek help for his alcoholism, and spent some time in rehab. Visiting him there is one of the worst experiences I've had and caused me to fall out with my Dad's other sister (Not the Auntie who looked after me), as she chastised me for crying in public after our visit with him. I'm not a confrontational person and family is family, I would like to have a proper relationship with her, but even still I doubt I'll ever forget or forgive her for that.

My Dad did eventually get sober and started getting things together again to the point where I could start seeing him. He got himself a good job, a flat and began working off all the debt he had been left with. I must have been about 12 when this happened. I would see him once a fortnight at first, then all weekend, and eventually every weekend. It was amazing to spend time with him again, especially given I was growing up. Around that time though, I had some other significant bereavements and tough situations. My Mum had met a new partner, most of her previous choices of men having been extremely poor - from those who were physically abusive towards her in front of me, to those who she argued with non stop. But her new boyfriend and eventual fiancée seemed like Mr. Perfect, and we eventually moved to live together with him and his son. I moved school to a middle school in our new town and things were relatively okay for a while. But sadly, my mum got pregnant and had a stillbirth, which caused her to become very depressed and also caused a lot of friction in our house. I felt and still feel guilty that it didn't affect me that much, but I never got to know him as my Brother, and what hurt me the most about it was seeing how depressed my Mum was during that period. Recovering from that, my Mum got pregnant with another boy and gave birth to him without issue. Things were great and I was very fond of my new baby Brother. I spent a lot of time with him and my Mum, but tragedy happened again before long, as my Brother died a cot death. I still remember at the time, I had started spending time with my Dad again, and I recall him receiving a phone call while I was with him. He broke down crying and told me that my Brother had died, and that I couldn't go back home for a while. I feel so guilty when I think about this because, it doesn't even seem real any more. I question if it actually happened even though I know it did. It was all a blur when I went back home. My Mum couldn't live in that house anymore and we moved into a rented house. There was so much pain and anger there, my Mum was suicidal and almost never got out of bed. She must have been so close to ending her life, and without me I have no doubt she would have done. My Mum's relationship was dying and we were living in a house that didn't belong to us with people we were falling out with.

They did however manage to patch things up. They bought themselves a house and agreed that they would try for another baby - something that all of us needed to bring us together after everything we'd been through. My Sister was born, and thankfully she's amazing and healthy to this day. I adore her more than anything else in this world, and I grew so close to her after my Dad passed. Again though, not all was good in life. While this was happening I found out my Dad had started drinking again. He would hide alcohol around the house, and paranoid about it I would search for and find it. Whiskey hidden in his golf bag, cider hidden under the sink. I would confront him about it and we would cry together, and he would swear to me that he would never do it again. But he always did. He would sleep all of the time, run to the bathroom to drink or to throw up. And he would occasionally be aggressive towards me. I don't want to make a bigger point of that than it is, he was not abusive, just aggressive. I was a teenager at that point, and he was drunk and injured, I wasn't in any danger from him. I merely use it as a point to highlight how he changed while drinking. He grew worse and worse, and eventually lost his job and became much more ill again. What I struggle with is that, with my more mature perspective, I understand how difficult things must have been for my Dad. To struggle so much with addiction, work tirelessly, disappoint his family and just how lonely he must have been. He never had another relationship after his divorce and he didn't see many of his friends because it would have tempted him to drink. And I was a teenager... He wanted to do and try more things with me, but I just wanted to play games and go out. I wonder if I had just done more with him, whether things wouldn't have been so bleak for him. Perhaps he wouldn't have been so lonely. Perhaps he wouldn't have struggled as much as he did.

But his drinking once again got too bad for me to condone or ignore. He had drank himself unconscious again, to the point I could barely tell if he was alive. I confronted him about it, I called him disgusting and told him that I didn't want to see him anymore, and walked away to my Cousin's flat nearby. That was the last face to face contact I ever had with him and it taints every thought I have of him. It hurts me more than I can possibly put in to words. At the same time, there was turmoil at Mum's too, as she had found out that my Sister's Dad had been cheating on her from basically the moment they met, including during the losses of my baby Brothers. So she was left with the impossible task and stress of getting her own home, while being unemployed and looking after a new born baby. I still don't know how she did it, and while we are dissimilar and in many ways distant - I have and have gained the utmost respect and admiration for her. She's truly amazing, having been through such terrible things and still managed to stay strong and provide the best should could for my Sister and I. Fast forward a few weeks after my last interaction with my Dad, I remember walking out of school with a friend. I said goodbye to him and went to my Mum's car, and when I got in she told me that my Dad had died. I recall feeling nothing... I had known it could be coming for so long, my Mum and I had even had horrible fall outs, when she correctly warned me about it. She asked me when she told me, whether I wanted to cry, or break things, or anything I wanted. I just did nothing. I went home, cried occasionally, stopped eating and spent all of my time in bed. I missed school for a while, and didn't tell a soul what had happened. I withdrew from people, even when I went back to school, and my social skills all but died along with everyone else.

Despite everything, there's only one person I would like to turn to for advice for the things I struggle with. One person I would like to talk to about my self loathing, my guilt, my regret, my shame. Only one person I think would say the right things, motivate me and give me the confidence to do and be better. And that person is obviously my Dad, someone I can never see or talk to ever again. I don't know how I can ever be truly happy or fulfilled without him in my life. It makes "getting better" seem pointless. It makes life less worth living.

But to keep things on topic, there's one more bereavement I experienced, which is both tough and strange for me. My Nana (The same one I mentioned before), passed away a couple of years ago. And at first when I was told over the phone, I felt absolutely nothing... It was just normal to me. I feel so guilty for not feeling more, as I idolised her too. The main thing that hurt me was thinking about how kind she was. A proper Christian in every sense of the word. Never touched drink or drugs and was tirelessly kind to every single person she ever met. She was with me every step of the way, and through every terrible event. And then I started to think about how she was one of the last connections I had to my Dad - one of the last who shared my pain. After I thought about that I finally felt the sadness I thought I had to. But it highlights a trend for me, and a trend that I greatly dislike about myself. Death doesn't really mean much to me any more. When people die I have valuable insight and experience with which to empathise with people, but I find it difficult to truly care.

I struggle to cry nowadays - a couple of tears and the pangs of grief (chest pains, difficulty breathing, panic) at most. But I'll admit while I've been writing this I've been crying like a baby. I understand this is an incredibly long post. If you made it this far, I can't possibly thank you enough for caring enough about me to read so much and give me your time. Thank you.
Post edited by Supernova on


  • coc0maccoc0mac Posts: 1,058 Wise Owl
    Hello @Supernova,

    Firstly, I want you to know that I have read and heard every single word of this. I am really proud of you for being open, honest, and sharing this with us here. You deserve so much love & support - I'm right here for you :heart:

    You have been through a lot. This sounds incredibly tough. What shone through in this post was what a kind, thoughtful, and understanding person you are. You are also so strong and courageous for taking the time to sit with your feelings and write them out here. You are amazing :heart:

    Grief and trauma are two things in which there is no "right" way to react. People react in all sorts of ways. Emotions can become mixed and confusing, because the situations are so emotionally demanding. So, I understand that this is easier said than done. But, try not to be too hard on yourself with the trend you have noticed. Your reaction to death does not reflect who you are as a person, at all. It is simply your mind's way of coping with intense emotions. From this post alone, I can hear how truly caring you are as a person. Nothing can ever take that away from you :blush:

    It must be so hard when the one person you want to talk to is your dad. Sending hugs your way. This idea may or may not work for you; it's simply a suggestion. But how would you feel about writing letters to your dad? To talk about your feelings and let them off your chest. Although it wouldn't be "physically" sent to him, it may be therapeutic just to write as if you were talking to him. Perhaps it could bring some clarity & comfort to your mind, as you let things off your chest and reflect on what you think he would say. There is an article that goes into more depth about writing letters to loved ones one have passed away here.

    You say that this is the first time that you've fully written everything down. This is a huge step, I'm proud of you. I'm wondering - how did this feel for you?

    I'm also wondering, how do you feel about bereavement counselling at the moment? I know that your mind is telling you otherwise, but you deserve the support 100%. No matter what anybody else has going on in their lives. You are important. You matter. You deserve to be heard and supported, always :heart:
  • amesames Posts: 24 Boards Initiate
    edited August 2021
    Hello again @Supernova

    Reading all of this, I just felt so, so proud of you. To have progressed from when you first posted your last post, and were hesitant to share how you felt, to speaking openly with a helpline, and finally to posting this (in such a short time as well!!) is honestly really impressive. I was glad to hear at the end how much of a cathartic experience writing this was for you, and I sincerely hope that this marks the beginning of a journey towards peace :)<3

    At the beginning of the post you mentioned that you feel guilty using counselling services because you feel like others may need them more. I want to reassure you that counselling is for everyone, there are no special criteria that you need to fill to make you more deserving than some one else. We all deserve the opportunity to nurture our mental health. And even if in some obscure way this weren't true, you would be absolutely deserving of the chance to talk through your past and your current mental health anyway! You've been through a lot at a young age, and trying to overcome things like bereavement and addiction all on your own is a pretty large ask of yourself. I would encourage you take any opportunities for counseling you get if you feel comfortable doing so!

    I'll be rooting for you <3:)<3

  • SupernovaSupernova Posts: 987 Part of The Mix Family
    Thank you both so much for your kind replies @coc0mac @ames it means a lot to me that you would take the time to read this.

    In terms of your suggestion of writing letters, I can certainly give it a try. It would be worth it to see if it helps at the very least. I just worry that the kind of things I would write might warrant a response. A response that I obviously won't get. :/

    As for bereavement counselling it is definitely something that I'm considering. There's clearly a lot for me to talk but I do worry that dwelling on things could make them worse. Grief holds me back from certain things but it's also clear that I need other things to give my life meaning. I don't know whether I'd be better served by addressing other problems.

    It was upsetting to write this. It's upsetting to think about in general to be honest, hence why I usually avoid it at all costs. But as @ames said it was somewhat cathartic, and it is nice to have an articulate record of things actually written down. I'll be able to refer back to this post at a later date, and hopefully while it is up, it will be of help to others.
  • SupernovaSupernova Posts: 987 Part of The Mix Family
    I find myself looking at photos of my Dad. Reading a little laminated card I still have from his funeral service. Reading what few messages I still have from him. None of it makes me feel better. I find myself guilty that I've grown apart from his side of the family, despite the fact that I cherish them. I wonder what they must think of me, given my isolation and lack of life.

    I call to mind the funeral, which I hadn't previously mentioned, because it was the first time things seemed real. I'd been grieving of course, in the period between his death and the funeral, yet what I felt at the funeral was different. I stood next to my Uncle in the front row while the service took place, all the while I retained complete composure. But when they started to bring in his coffin for him to be cremated it was like being paralysed, and I felt pain unlike anything I'd ever felt before or will ever feel again. I remember more details about that day than I want to.

    I find myself fearful and thoughtful regarding the other people I might lose. When I find myself thinking that way I think to self harm, as punishment. I think of losing my Mum and Sister, and the utter despair it would force me to feel. I think of this not only because I fear it, but also because I would finally have nothing left, and would be able to die. This is the thought that deserves punishment, and that I loathe myself for having.

    I wish things weren't so complex in the wake of his death. Relationships with family feel strained, confusing and upsetting. The matter of what he left behind is stressful and confusing to the point I don't want anything at all. I wish things were simple. I want them to go back to being simple. I don't know if I have the strength to deal with it all.
  • SupernovaSupernova Posts: 987 Part of The Mix Family
    I don't think I mentioned it here but I've actually been on a waiting list for bereavement counselling. As an update to that, it feels like I've been on the list for ages and I haven't heard a thing. It's a bit disheartening to he honest.
  • Laura_tigger82Laura_tigger82 Moderator Posts: 2,976 Boards Guru
    You are doing so well @Supernova in continuing to be open with us about what you are experiencing and how you are feeling. Not least because I can hear the pain and confusion you are in and you don't know if you have the strength to deal with it all.

    You have mentioned looking at photos of your dad and reading a card you have from his funeral service. It sounds like it doesn't make you feel better though. It sounds really tough that, although you were grieving before your dad's funeral, you felt paralysed when they started to bring in his coffin. As you described it, pain like anything you'd ever felt before or will ever feel again.

    I can hear that added to these feelings around losing your dad, you are feeling confused and concerned, particularly, around your relationships with other family members. Would you like to tell us more about this? We are here for you if you would like to talk to us more about this.

    It sounds like losing your dad has made you feel fearful and thoughtful regarding the other people you might lose - e.g., your mum and sister. The thought of losing the other people not only makes you feel fearful but it makes you think you would finally have nothing left and would be able to die. I can hear how much your mum and sister mean to you and that's really positive.

    It sounds like you haven't received the support you were hoping to have - especially bereavement counselling due to the long waiting times. Would anything, in particular, make this feel more manageable for you at the moment? Sending you hugs! <3
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  • SupernovaSupernova Posts: 987 Part of The Mix Family
    Thank you @Laura_tigger82

    To the relationships point I suppose it's easiest to say that I became very insular after my Dad died, and with it having happened when I was 15 I guess I missed out on a lot of the "standard" adolescent social interactions. What that leads to is essentially just me struggling with friendships and relationships, and being lost when it comes to any sort of a romantic relationship as well. My comfort zone is very much just being by myself, so I've not kept in touch with a lot of people as a result, be it friends or family. Yet I find myself getting very lonely and not knowing how to cope with that. Wanting more from friendships, relationships and/or a partner but being out of my depth and awkward when it comes to navigating them. It's easiest to avoid entirely and when I do push myself I find myself getting resentful towards others and myself.

    More specifically, I have a very small circle of friends and family that I feel will always be there. But even with them I find it difficult to stay in contact. I often feel guilty about that to be honest. Having said that, it always feels like I'm the one making the effort to communicate even though I'm the one who struggles with it most. Hence some of the resentment I suppose. Thankfully one of my negative relationships / interactions is over with now, since I don't have to speak to one of my horrible Aunties anymore. If there's one good thing that came out of my introverted nature it's that I don't suffer bad people, it's like they don't even exist. :D

    I suppose in terms of making things more manageable, just trying to communicate with people as much as I can, and trying to be honest about what's going on, since shame, guilt and caution make me very measured with what I share. It's difficult though, since I go from being extremely needy all the way to wanting nothing to do with anybody. Again, don't know how to navigate those ups and downs.
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