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grieving for a parent you can't remember

(5 Posts)
scripsi Sat 24-Aug-13 17:00:03

My father died when I was two years old. My mother refused to speak about him (or let anyone else speak about him) and was grief stricken and heavily medicated all of my childhood. She died when I was in my early teens. I grieved for my mother at the time (I was an only child and her death hit me very hard) but I have never grieved for my father).
Some time ago I had CBT (for ongoing issues of anxiety and depression) and a passing comment from the counsellor at the end of our course of sessions was that I should process the grief from my father's death.
As I sort of fell into the role of my mother's carer and never wanted to upset her, I never pushed for information about him and I know very little. I have one of his possessions and one photo of him. I know that his parents are dead and that he was an only child. My mother had no contact with his family as he didn't have close living relatives, though I am sure he had extended family who I could trace (who might be able to tell me what he was like).
I feel a bit of a fraud posting this in bereavement but I wonder how I could grieve and process the emotions. I was always a very anxious and depressed child which I guess could be linked to that early experience of his death? And also the aftermath with my mother falling apart. I have a sense of guilt and sadness that I can't remember him at all. I was always fascinated when I saw friends with their fathers. How do babies/toddlers experience bereavement?
I am not sure where I am going with this but I would be really grateful for any insights into the effects of bereavement on small children and also how I might process the bereavement.

Tortington Sat 24-Aug-13 17:06:57

similar situation, only child,m dad died when i was 4, don't remember him. I am a very pragmatic person whioch is often misconstrude as pessamistic.

My mother had mental health issues - her behaviour affect me greatly, when she died, it really hit me - although tbh i didn't particularly like her.

thoughts on my dad were - sad for the things i don't know - and i have no one to ask. things like, what was his favourate band or song. what were his political views etc.

however i also think - this was a man i didn't know. it is very easy for people like you and i to put them on a pedestal - they could have turned out to be shits as much as they could have turned out to be saints.

I have to say though, i really dont understand processing grief from a person you didn't know. I can understand sadness, and longing and wondering but not grief. Sorry to be blunt, but i think if you are not careful you could get into a situation where you are just creating emotional dramas for yourself that simply are not there

scripsi Sat 24-Aug-13 17:16:51

Thanks Tortington, wise words and really interesting to hear from someone with a similar experience. I have never put him on a pedestal as I have nothing to go on though like you I often wonder what music he liked etc. I certainly don't want to create dramas and worry about that too, but as I have always had problems with depression and anxiety I wondered if understanding a little of what happened with me and perhaps processing it would help.

Tortington Sat 24-Aug-13 17:31:41

it may, i am a more of an onwards and upwards kind of girl.

i have suffered from v. bad depression some years ago and when i hit rock bottom - which took a while, i decided to plan what i wanted from life, make short term and long term goals and how to get there. in my situation, isolation was a huge factor, so short term goals were as simple as getting out of the house, taking a class in...anything when i had the money and the babysitters etc. I can't see a lot of difference between dwelling on death and processing it - especially if you suffer from depression - it seems an aid to your own demise - however an addendum to this would be that we are all different.

scripsi Sat 24-Aug-13 17:54:40

thanks Tortington. I think I had always assumed that I was unaffected by the death but perhaps realisation of a link with later problems might be enough. I agree the onwards and upwards approach is a good one!

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