I am not sure why I am upset. Help me unpick this please

(38 Posts)
Pagwatch Tue 13-Aug-13 15:38:20

To give some context, my sister died a few months ago. We had a very difficult relationship but I saw her in the hours before she died and said goodbye.

I took my mother to visit her birthplace this weekend as she is 80 this month. She has not been 'home' for a decade. I have not been there since I was a child.
We visited her mothers grave. She also told me that it is also the grave of her first son who died a few hours old.
It's hard to explain but I was really shocked. I didn't react but supported mum but I can't stop thinking about it.
I never really thought of ths first child as 'real' - it was like history if that makes sense. Suddenly I was standing at a graveside thinking about this baby - my eldest brother.

I think ths is about my sister and loss but it feels disproportionate. And I feel awful being so upset about a baby I never knew when I am trying to move on from the loss of a sister I knew for 50 years.
Is this weird?

ParkerTheThief Tue 13-Aug-13 15:46:16

I think grief takes us down unexpected paths and often we react in a way that surprises us. Sometimes our conflicted feelings manifest themselves via another outlet.

I've just reread that and I realise it sounds stupid, but I hope it makes sense.

Also, sorry for your losses..

Pagwatch Tue 13-Aug-13 15:48:54

No, that's helpful. Thank you.

I think there is a certain displacement . I am so upset about so many aspects of my sisters death but it feels uncomfortable.
Maybe this new yet old grief is simpler.

I don't understand. It just feels a bit overwhelming. And I fel so tired.

UnitedZingDom Tue 13-Aug-13 15:51:46

Pag so sorry for your lossessad

I think grief itself is weird, but within grief everything goes - if that makes sense.
maybe you find it hard to mourn your sister, and the shock of hearing about your brother dying as a baby is kind of a channel, through which your pain and anger and sadness can find a way out.

thanks thanks thanks

(my phone's running our of battery, but I'll be back.)

UnitedZingDom Tue 13-Aug-13 15:52:24


nextphase Tue 13-Aug-13 15:52:54

No, my lovely. Its not weird. Its grief.
Its your way of dealing with the changes your life has undergone in the past very months, and how that affects your thoughts / memories about what has happened in the past is personal to you.
The loss of a sibling stinks. And, if those around you are anything like those around me (although I suspect I'm 15-20 years younger than you - my Mum is 60), just don't know how to react. The loss of a sibling is not something they have considered, or know how to deal with, so they assume your not too badly affected by it.
You have every right to react how you need to to get over your losses.
I hope it gets easier for you soon.

I've started with a totally un-MN message, so lets end with {{hugs}} and flowers

lemontwist Tue 13-Aug-13 15:54:37

First of all, sorry for your loss.
My mum had a still born sibling. She was fairly young at the time and remembers her mum being pregnant, talk of a baby, then she went into hospital but came back sad and emptyhanded. Thats pretty much all my mum knows as it was never spoken of and both her parents have been dead for some time. I know that she thinks about her and does still grieve in a way of thinking 'what if?' and also remembering the sadness at the time
Of course its natural to think of these things and be sad and seeing your brothers grave must have made it suddenly real for you. Sorry I've not really said anything helpful, just that its normal and will get easier.

UnitedZingDom Tue 13-Aug-13 15:56:42

another though is that perhaps it's regret of what you missed by not knowing him, growing up with him

maybe you think that the two of you would have been best friends. or that perhaps your relationship with your late sister would have been different.

have you got other siblings?

nextphase Tue 13-Aug-13 15:58:23

opps thanks

Pagwatch Tue 13-Aug-13 16:02:36

Gosh yes.
That's it. It because is the same loss.
I have a brother I was not close to because he died which is tragic.
Buti had a sister who I was not close to because of stupid things happening over decades.
Two siblings I had zero relationship with. What a waste.

I have other siblings. Different relationships with all of them but we are all trying to be in touch more.

You are all so helpful,thank you.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pagwatch Tue 13-Aug-13 16:11:14

That's true Beer.
I understood that she was a very young girl who lost her child in a way I never really grasped before. I knew some of this stuff in my head but hadn't understood it before.

The fact that he is not mentioned on the gravestone was so sad but she said 'he's been with my mum all this time'. It was heart breaking. Her mum had died when my mum was 11. All that loss.

magimedi Tue 13-Aug-13 17:46:03

I agree with Parker . You just don't know how or when grief is going to hit you. It's different for everyone.

All that loss - you summed it up.

My sympathy to you & your Mum.

Pagwatch Tue 13-Aug-13 17:50:59

Thank you. You are all so kind
I have had a proper massive snotty cry. I feel a bit less confused. It's a process I suppose.
Thank you x

Pagwatch Tue 13-Aug-13 17:53:15

smile I have had no children since lunch time. I have curled up on the sofa with chocolate and mn. It's a mini therapy thing.

nextphase Tue 13-Aug-13 17:55:59

Yep, chocolate is a good theripist.
Don't underestimate how often you might need to go back for a revisit over the next few weeks and months.
And sometimes you may need more than chocolate.


TallulahBetty Tue 13-Aug-13 17:57:35

I found out only a few years ago that my grandparents lost a child aged 5. If it wasn't for that, my dad would not have been born and therefore neither would i. It feels weird but it plays on my mind and i'm not sure why.

Sorry for your loss OP.

ParkerTheThief Tue 13-Aug-13 17:57:43

I think sometimes a big, gasping snotty cry is required and I say that as someone who hates crying and hardly ever does.

As so many people have said grief can be very odd and confusing. Coupled with that is an expectation of how you think you should feel that doesn't always match up to how you actually feel which can lend to you feeling even more confused.

GibberTheMonkey Tue 13-Aug-13 18:02:08

I too have an older brother who died as a baby.
I found it sad before but since I've had children I occasionally find myself crying about it. Not upset for myself or the baby that died as such but more for the pain my parents must have gone through now I have some inkling of how it must have felt.

Everything gets so mixed up in the pot of emotions though. After I had my dd prematurely and traumatically I had counselling. I didn't cry for the first few sessions. We talked about the birth, the worry and fear, my fear of losing her like my mum had my brother but it wasn't until I talked about our dog who had died exactly a month after dd was born that I broke down. Seems mad really, I wasn't sadder about him than I was dds miscarried twin or my brother but it was the stress point that gave way.
I'm not sure what I'm saying here really but trying to show how everything we are and feel is so mixed up we can't divide emotions up into compartments.


Pagwatch Tue 13-Aug-13 18:04:53

Yes, I hate crying and rarely do it but it was strangely comforting.

I am going to have to revisit I know. I hadn't seen my sister for 8 years. I stopped engaging with her. She was difficult, aggresive, fiercely confrontational and said some of the worst things any human being has ever said to me, including that I caused my sons autism.
When I saw her all I could see was her at 13
She had been vibrant, amazing, intimidating but just a force of nature. Over the years that twisted and she became this dark soul.
I miss the girl. I miss her. I just miss all that - all that 'should have been' and I can't stop.
I kissed her head. She couldn't speak, she was in pain but she looked at me and everything between 13 and that moment felt ridiculous.
I miss her.

UnitedZingDom Tue 13-Aug-13 18:23:57


I have no wise words.
my dad died 3 years ago.
so many regrets, so many "if onlys".

Pagwatch Tue 13-Aug-13 18:52:40

That's kind Zing
Tbh other people just understanding is amazingly helpful
I am sorry for your loss x

UnitedZingDom Tue 13-Aug-13 18:54:53


Pagwatch Tue 13-Aug-13 18:58:02

God yes
<assumes the position>
<puckers up>

<went too far>

UnitedZingDom Tue 13-Aug-13 19:00:48

no, never to far - although I don't like touching boobsgrin

so big hug here I come!

UnitedZingDom Tue 13-Aug-13 19:01:13

<snogs Pag>

Pagwatch Tue 13-Aug-13 19:02:06


mignonette Tue 13-Aug-13 19:06:05

Sisters are special. Even the stroppy ones grin... It is right and good that you should grieve for her and miss her.

As for the brother you never knew. That is what you may be grieving for; the chance you never got to know him. Sometimes when a relationship with an existing sibling/relative has been a difficult one, we can project our fantasies of a 'perfect' relationship onto somebody else. This may or may not be happening with your baby brother and the idea of him being unknown to you. As Ben Jonson said 'In short measure life may perfect be'.

I have lost my Father, Father In Law and beloved cat all in the last year. Grief can be very messy, muddled and unpredictable.

Go with the flow Pag. Love to you xx

Pagwatch Tue 13-Aug-13 19:20:10

Thanks Mignonette x

FairPhyllis Tue 13-Aug-13 19:29:52

Sometimes it's quite a shock to realise your parents have a deep emotional attachment you haven't really thought about - maybe seeing the baby's grave in the context of your sister's death brought it home that for your mum he is every bit her child as much as you and your sister.


celticclan Tue 13-Aug-13 20:41:14

I had an uncle who died when he was 6 years old in an accident. My grandmother had photos of him displayed in her house and my mum sometimes spoke of him. It felt sad but no more as he died before I was born.

As I've got older I think of the pain that my grandmother and mother must have felt and sometimes I feel very sad for their loss. I think about him and try to imagine what he was like.

UnitedZingDom Wed 14-Aug-13 14:22:24

pag how are you today?

does it feel like you have more of an insight of what's going on and why?
(dare I say epiphany)

having a better understanding will not take away the heart ache sadly, but knowing what causes the extra pain might just help you feel less confused.

it will be a long journey. I think the first of everything is the hardest...

more hugs coming your way (hug) (hug) (hug)

Pagwatch Wed 14-Aug-13 17:01:44

Hi ,
Yes - I am feeling better today, less strung out.
Ihad to make the jump fom the things I knew in my head to the things I truly understood . I think it was just a lot of grief and baggage all wrapped up together.

Having all the kind and intelligent comments on here helped me feel more rational and much less isolated, if that makes sense.

The downside is I am utterly knackered smile

You are all so incredibly kind.i appreciate it enormously, especially those sharing their own experiences of grief.

<<hugs it out>> thanks

Abra1d Wed 14-Aug-13 17:03:28

I haven't even had a bereavement but if I suddenly found out my mother had given birth to a baby who'd died I would feel very, very weird indeed.

UnitedZingDom Wed 14-Aug-13 18:12:13

Abra let me jump into say that's how I read it at first as well.

but I'm pretty sure Pagwatch knew about the baby - as a fact, as part of her family "history" as she put it.

I think what was so shocking for her is not the news of finding out about him for the first time, but being confronted with the reality of the short existence of that baby - especially at a time of mourning the very recent loss of her sister.

but you are right, that scenario would be awful too.
a friend of mine didn't know for almost 50 years that her mother was adopted- which caused an awful lot of pain and regret and shock etc! things like that are hard to take.

Pag no wonder you are exhausted, poor you. I think that letting yourself grieve is very important. any way, anywhere and as long as it takes. I hope you have lots of RL support.

And I also think about your poor mum. she must be in pieces.sad

Pagwatch Wed 14-Aug-13 20:17:26

Yes, I found out as a teenager.
It was something that my mum talked about but not often. She told some of us but I am the 7th child and I think it was just one of those things - I never knew. Everyone that knew assumed that everyone else did but mum didn't talk about it much.
Don't forget, ths was 60 years ago and, in that place back then, a lost baby was something you moved on from. You were told 'never mind. Try again'. She talks now of how her arms ached.
I think the whole thing was awful for her - a private grief between her and my dad. While I knew this baby was born and died it never felt tangible - no date, no grave.
It was the grave that suddenly made him seem real in a way he never had before. Seeing his grave just months after burying her daughter must have been so hard for mum.

I am knackered. It's true smile

UnitedZingDom Wed 14-Aug-13 23:44:05


last week we decided to go for baby number 7.....good choice I hear you say!smile

everlong Thu 15-Aug-13 09:00:26

Grief is the strangest thing. It's never transparent.
You've had a lot to cope with and it takes it's toll. Glad that you are feeling a little better.

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