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To think that bereavement has made me cold and lacking in compassion

(90 Posts)
caramelswirl Mon 19-Jan-15 11:47:09

I was browsing through Facebook last night and one of my girls I knew at school had sadly lost her grandmother. Of course, I posted a brief message of condolence which was perfectly pleasant and fitting for the occasion.

However, the first thought that jumped into my mind was along the lines of surprise that someone my age still has a grandparent. Mine died very young, followed by both parents in my teens (separate occasions.)

To my shame, rather than sympathising with people who have lost their parent or grandparent, my instinctive thoughts often go along the lines that the person concerned should be grateful they had their <insert loved one> for so many years longer than I did.

I should add, this isn't something I ever verbalise, which is possibly why I have 'owned up' on here, and I wonder if anyone else ever has similar thoughts which they suspect do not reflect particularly well on you as a person.

formerbabe Mon 19-Jan-15 11:52:48

Like you op I lost my parents at a young age. If someone I know loses an elderly grandparent, I think 'that's a shame, sorry to hear that' but like you, I struggle to feel overwhelming sympathy.

BreconBeBuggered Mon 19-Jan-15 11:53:56

I don't think it's an unusual reaction. But whenever I catch myself thinking how unfair it was that Mrs Whoever had 40 years more life than my DM, I try to remember that DM herself had 40 years more than children I've known who have died. As have I.
Life's unfair. Death and loss are brutal. No point weighing up who had the better deal.

I think it is an aspect of the grieving process. It takes a lot longer to process the feelings than you think. My parents and grandparents are dead (I'm in my 40's) and sometimes it hits me that I have "lost out". I remember sitting in a cafe watching a mum and adult daughter chatting and feeling gutted that I never had an adult conversation with my DM (this was over 25 years after DM had died).

These events sometimes remind us of our own loss and that can bring up painful feelings we thought were long gone.

HolyTerror Mon 19-Jan-15 12:00:31

I don't think you're in the least cold, or that it's even an aspect of your own early bereavements, Caramel. I still have both my parents at 42, but never knew two of my grandparents, and lost the other two (including my father's father, who lived with us and was essentially another parent) in my teens - and I have the same thought as you with far less personal 'reason'. I don't think it's anything to be ashamed of, either.

I've had friends with abusive or absent parents admit to me their jealousy of other recently-bereaved friends who were in desperate grief - they were envious of the pain because of the loving relationship it implied. They knew they would never feel that kind of grief for a parent who ran off, never to be heard of again, when they were five.

chainedtothedesk Mon 19-Jan-15 12:05:29

I completely agree. I feel exactly the same. Worse when people express sadness about a celeb dying that they have never met. I find myself getting so wound up! Which probably makes me sound pretty heartless.

Well done for not verbalising and sharing on here. I don't think you sound cold or lacking in compassion. I'm sure your friend is very upset and will miss her grandparent but it does not compare to losing a parent.

Ev1lEdna Mon 19-Jan-15 12:06:10

I think that while I can understand that you feel this way there is another way to consider it.

I am older and lost both grandmothers this year, one of them I was particularly close to, closer to her than I am to my mother. I KNOW I was lucky to have her for so long, I know it and I am glad I had the opportunity to know this amazing woman for so long but honestly her death devastated me regardless of how lucky I was to have known her a while, I spoke to her frequently she was my 'go-to' person. I think about her every day and I miss her so much, she was a massive influence on my life. So although people are lucky to have relatives for longer they can still hurt.

That said, OP I don't think you feel that way because you are 'cold' I think you are still sad and hurt for your own loss to some extent and as such I wouldn't feel badly that you considered me lucky - but remember the fact you had grandparents longer doesn't lessen the pain of the loss.

Ev1lEdna Mon 19-Jan-15 12:07:48

I'm sure your friend is very upset and will miss her grandparent but it does not compare to losing a parent.

I think that very much depends on the relationship - some people (like me) may be closer to their grandparent.

chainedtothedesk Mon 19-Jan-15 12:08:55

Just to add, my kids have lost 3 of their 4 grandparents (they are 7 and 4). I would love for them to have had their grandparents for at least part of their childhood. Anyone who has had some kind of meaningful relationship with their grandparents for at least some of their childhood, never mind adulthood, is very fortunate in my book.

cathpip Mon 19-Jan-15 12:09:30

I feel exactly like you op, I sympathise but then my mum had 67 years and a wonderful life whereas my daughter only had's shit.

chainedtothedesk Mon 19-Jan-15 12:10:16

Ev1lEdna point taken.

Ev1lEdna Mon 19-Jan-15 12:14:01

Thanks Chainedtothedesk I know you meant nothing by it and what you said is probably true for the most part but I appreciate it smile

BarbarianMum Mon 19-Jan-15 12:15:36

Yes, I think it has a bit. You don't automatically love someone less because you've had them longer, or grieve less.

My mum lost her own mother whilst in her early 20s. When my dad lost his mother (he was 50) she struggled to acknowledge his grief because he'd had her so much longer (and so should just be grateful). Was understandable but quite fucked up to be honest.

KERALA1 Mon 19-Jan-15 12:16:00

My grandmother didn't shed a tear at her much adored dh funeral he died aged 84. She told me afterwards how dare I cry when my mother lost her dh at 42 and was left destitute with 4 young children I had a wonderful marriage for nearly 60 years.

Ev1lEdna Mon 19-Jan-15 12:17:18

Anyone who has had some kind of meaningful relationship with their grandparents for at least some of their childhood, never mind adulthood, is very fortunate in my book.

I think this is very true and I consider myself very fortunate. I completely understand the OP's point of view too. It isn't being cold or lacking in compassion, it is a perspective based on losing people at a younger age and you have every right to feel that way.

caramelswirl Mon 19-Jan-15 12:19:24

Gosh, thank you. I'm so very grateful for such lovely responses.

I think something someone posted up thread really struck a chord with me, about feeling cheated. I do, very much. I was at a friends yesterday and her Dad rang - it hurt that I can never casually take a phone call from a parent. Such a ridiculous thing to get upset about!

Life goes on, and it's as if my own loss is trivialised and dismissed by other losses (which sounds dreadfully self centred!) - sometimes I want to scream from the rooftops that these hugely significant people died and left me alone before I was ready.

I have never done so, don't worry!

Greywackejones Mon 19-Jan-15 12:22:30

Made me think of Eddie Izzard. His mum died when young.

When Diana died he (along with many others) wondered why the world went quite so over board.

His comment? "My mum died when I was a young teen (forget exact age). No one gave a fuck"

Seemed appropriate to the discussion and funny too.

LaurieFairyCake Mon 19-Jan-15 12:23:51

I think comparing griefs is futile. I am very sad on a daily basis after the death of my dog last month, he was with me every moment of every day and it's a physical pain walking round the house without him at the moment - I feel completely bereft at some point every day.

Much worse than the death of my father who I had a very distant relationship with.

You just can't compare or describe for someone else how valid their love was.

Whether it's a grandparent, parent, first boyfriend or cat it's all about its affect on the individual - and that of course is different for everyone.

LaurieFairyCake Mon 19-Jan-15 12:25:09

And you, OP have lost so, so much.

wigglesrock Mon 19-Jan-15 12:25:51

It's not ridiculous at all. I remember my mum being very sad when I had my first child that her own father had died when she was young (she was 18), that her dad hadn't got to be a grandad, never mind a great grandad.

caramelswirl Mon 19-Jan-15 12:26:23

Barbarian - ironically, the demise of my maternal grandparents was long and drawn out, beginning in perhaps 1990 when my grandfather turned 80 and ending in 1996 when my grandmother finally died. My mother, god bless her, ran herself ragged trying to cook, clean and care for them - and with the demands of teenagers too.

Tragically, she died herself just two years after her own mum died. Her mum was 84 and she (my mum) 52. I think one of her coping mechanisms during this time was drinking pretty heavily. She was a very petite woman and it led to cancer which proved terminal.

In a sense I know I have been spared the pain and agony of seeing them slowly deteriorate. I also think the myriad of feelings - guilt, relief, grief, pain - when my mum did lose her mum - contributed to the feelings and of course her own mum was very elderly.

I suppose what I am trying to express is a rift. Over the next two decades I know my peers will start to lose their parents and every time this opens up the wound a little, yet no one sees it, it was too long ago. I feel at times very disconnected from those around me! My reactions to finding out about a loss just brings me back to my own losses which really is hugely selfish.

Ev1lEdna Mon 19-Jan-15 12:32:13

Caramel I can see how hearing about other losses would open up old wounds for you and you are still grieving. You have been through a lot and it's fine and understandable to have all these feelings. Is there someone you can talk to about your losses? The fact they were a while ago does not diminish them or your feelings.

caramelswirl Mon 19-Jan-15 12:35:47

I have accessed counselling recently, and this is perhaps why I wanted to open up a little more on here (I wouldn't in real life as apart from anything else my feelings are just feelings and are never expressed in my actions or words - I think that if they were that would make me really rather horrible!)

Perhaps what it is is a desire to have those losses acknowledged. Ironically, by the time I lost my Dad, there was simply no one left to love and support me!

I do allow myself the odd "its not bloody fair" moment. Its not about invalidating anyone else grief, like you its about wanting the world to acknowledge that it's really hard to lose people when you are young. Its partly about the relationship you were never able to have with that person.

So I will acknowledge your loss. It must have been very hard for you and I would not be surprised if you felt alone and unsupported at times. I am sorry for your loss and the fact that you care enough about people's feelings to respect their grief even when you are hurting shows that you are a good person.

Floisme Mon 19-Jan-15 12:52:55

I think I know exactly what you mean. I had similar feelings after my friend's child died and I didn't feel I had any right to grieve myself because my loss was nothing in comparison to hers. But the grief just came out in other ways, including feelings of intolerance, just like you have described. I am very sorry for your loss.

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