Has bereavement made me weird?

(19 Posts)
cyrilthesquirrel Fri 12-Nov-04 08:38:53

I lost my mum when i was 9 in an accident and then in the last 3 years have also lost my auntie (stroke) and my cousin (hospital cock-up) who were kind of mummy-substitutes to me when I was growing up.

I am generally a outgoing and sociable person - i love my dh and dd very much; my job is fine most of the time and life is basically good. However, there is 1 thing in my life that worries me a bit and i wonder if the bereavements i've had are contributing to this.

Every time i go anywhere out of the house, esp when i'm driving, i envisage being involved in a fatal accident. On the motorway, i'm constantly aware of the slightest little error resulting in a crash. when we go out as a family, even when we're walking, i imagine dd running out into the road or dh being knocked down. Last week was particularly bad and i was convinced dh was going to die when he went out. I wouldn't say that it runs my life and it doesn't usually actually upset me too much (except for last week); it's like i accept that it might happen rather than having the kind of attitude other people who have never experienced death close up who say 'i never thought it could happen to me'.
My mum's and my cousin's deaths were wrong place wrong time kind of deaths, that could not have been predicted at all. I spsoe it's made me realise how random life is and how events can turn your world upside down without warning. It feels like i'm in a constant state of alert.

I've been seeing a counsellor recently to talk about my mum and other aspects of life and death, but i don't think it's helping really - i just talk about my family, then cry a bit but it doesn't feel like anything is being 'solved', iykwim.

can anyone relate to this at all - maybe also, has anyone had bereavement counselling and can tell me if it's worth pursuing?

OP’s posts: |
fio2 Fri 12-Nov-04 08:48:21

I am seriously thinking about having bereavement counselling, so if you do take that step, let me know how you get on.

As for the being 'weird' I dont think you are weird, I just think its a normal thing to do with greif. I am very morbid now and I do just realise that life is fragile and it can be taken very quickly. Also I do have moments of madness where I panic about losing my mum as she is the only 'parent'/blood relative I have left (apart from my kids iykwim) I worry about the road with my kids too and fret that other people dont 'watch' what they are doing! you are not alone!

I was reading an article on bereavement the other day and it said once the first stage of the shock and insanity passes, bewilderment and paranoia follows..That is certainly true in my case.

I dont think this post is particually useful!

cyrilthesquirrel Fri 12-Nov-04 09:33:11

Not at all, it's a very useful post!

that's a good way of putting it fio2 - being morbid. interested about a stage of bereavement being paranoia; i can totally see how that works, but I'm a bit worried that my mum's death was well over 20 years ago and my cousin's was over 2 years. Surely i should have moved on by now? me and dh have recently 'given up' trying to conceive our 2nd child, in that we're not monitoring it anymore, counting the days, watching what we drink, etc. it was bordering on madness what i was mentally putting myself through, and it does feel much better now. like the pressure has lifted. The counsellor I'm seeing isn't a bereavement specialist (I'm wondering if it would be better to get one more used to dealing with reactions to death?) but one valuable thing she suggested was that I was going through a kind of bereavement all the while we were unsuccessfully ttc. Maybe this has prolonged the process of bereavement?

what's your situation fio2, if you don't mind me asking? don't feel obliged to tell me!

OP’s posts: |
fio2 Fri 12-Nov-04 09:43:33

My old friend from school died 3 years ago, and 2 years ago i lost my little sister. She was only 21 and since then my dad has cut off from me (sort of like a bereavement but feels different)

it is hard losing my sister, very hard. I feel like i should have moved on now, but it doesnt go away cyril

Marina Fri 12-Nov-04 09:44:19

I think what you are describing is totally normal for a person who has experienced the type of bereavements you have, no matter how long ago they took place. Especially losing your mum as a child. Cyril, I am so sorry to hear this.
My dh lost his dad suddenly at six due to undiagnosed illness and he has had issues to do with hospitals, debt and leukaemia ever since. These became much harder for him to deal with after our second child was stillborn prematurely and we both ended up seeking bereavement counselling. Not only did it help both of us come to terms with the death of our child, but it helped both of us deal with other issues (my mother's response to Tom's death was bafflingly and upsettingly harsh, I could talk about that to the counsellor and she helped me "decode" it).
I did find with my counselling that sometimes it took re-visiting an issue more than once to feel I had resolved it, and a good counsellor will help you do that without making you feel it is old ground or you are not progressing. I think you should be prepared to do more crying and more talking, Cyril - you need to be listened to about your grief.
I think most mums entertain paranoid fantasies about all perishing in air-crashes/bizarre motoring accidents etc every time they or their partners step through the door. I ALWAYS start to panic if dh is longer at *the library* with the children on a Saturday FGS (it's at the end of our road). When you have bereavements like yours to contend with, it's even more likely you will feel this way.
Bereavement hasn't made you weird - like lots of us on here in varying circumstances, you just happen to have passed the milestone in life of losing someone close in distressing circumstances.
Do you mind my asking if you were able to talk about your mum with your dad, for example? And other relatives? Was her memory kept alive in a positive way by other family members? Were you allowed to see photos and other memorabilia?
I think a lot of my dh's extreme distress was caused by the fact that my MIL and her parents were scathing about his dad's uselessness, implying he died to inconvenience them, and that dh (who looks very like his dad) would have to be watched carefully to make sure he didn't turn out the same. He has few warm, positive memories of his dad, I so hope it is different for you Cyril.

KBear Fri 12-Nov-04 09:54:46

I understand totally your idea that you "accept that it might happen rather than having the kind of attitude other people who have never experienced death close up who say 'i never thought it could happen to me'". I have not suffered bereavement like you but my DH was involved in a hit and run accident whilst crossing the road so I feel the same way. It can happen to you so therefore you think about it more. When I see people letting their kids run near the road or run across the road I feel sick with fear. It hasn't happened to them so they don't think about it or worry about it. I think this is a perfectly natural way to feel. I also agree that talking is a good way to heal your grief and in my experience sharing your fears often reduces them. HTH

cyrilthesquirrel Fri 12-Nov-04 10:04:08

perhaps i've been a tad harsh with the counsellor i've been seeing. The time before last that i saw her i told her lots about my mum that i hadn't perhaps voiced to anyone (apart from dh) for years: that she was very vivacious and outgoing, she had lots of friends and a very 'open' attitude to people and life. I was very proud to be telling someone about this wonderful person and it actually made me realise that I've been trying to be this type of mummy for dd. There are lots of things i remember about her attitude towards us and her life that I've ben trying to emulate in my own life.

Me and my dad don't talk about my mum as much as we should I suppose, and that's my fault. When she died I was very freaked out by seeing my dad cry (i was 9) and i tried to avoid situations that would provoke this reaction. I feel awful now when i think about how hard it must have been for my dad; but there is a still a big barrier up about it (caused by me, not him).

I've made an effort to talk about my cousin with her daughter a lot (she's my god-daughter), esp when it comes to telling her things about her mum that happened before she was born. I just wish i had the guts to talk to my dad more openly about it . the thought of it panics the hell out me though and i'm ashamed of myself

OP’s posts: |
welshmum Fri 12-Nov-04 10:15:26

Hello cyril, I understand a bit of what you feel. My mum died 9 years ago and I too was so proud of her. I too have a less than straightforward relationship with my father I keep bashing away at it though because I don't want to have to berate myself with 'why didn't I try harder' thoughts if something happens to him. I'm constantly trying to create conversations with my dad to bring us closer together, I suppose I foolishly want a relationship with him like the one I had with my mum and because of the people we are that is just not possible.
I suppose I'm getting round to trying to encourage you to take a deep breath and talk to your dad. How bad can it be? Surely it's worse not to have a go?
I really sympathise with the feelings that you can't take anyone's life for granted. I know exactly what you mean. I've pencilled in an early death from breast cancer for myself (she said blackly and only half joking)
Don't know if that was helpful in any way...!

wild Fri 12-Nov-04 12:52:46

My mum died unexpectedly 3 weeks ago and I'm petrified. More than even being sad, I get a horrible panicky feeling every morning. Not petrified about anything specified but just how to get through the next task I have to do. a 'constant state of alert' sounds about right and I can't imagine how you would feel if this went on for all that time. I would try and talk to someone and see if that helps though I'd imagine ghat is scary too as it will bring back all the pain.
My thoughts are with you.

fio2 Fri 12-Nov-04 13:00:40

so sorry wil {{{}}} I remember the early days well. they were horrid, even the most simple task used to make my stomach turn. Hanging the washing out used to make me feel horrendous. i wanted to be invisible and I didnt want people to notice me at all. Panic, constant panic

wild Fri 12-Nov-04 14:22:00

Thanks Fio. I expected to feel sad, but not the fear. In a way its reassuring to hear that others have felt it too tho obviously I would not wish it on anyone.

KateandtheGirls Fri 12-Nov-04 14:43:31

So sorry to hear that wild.

Wild and Cyril - I think what you're both feeling is perfectly normal and reasonable.

My husband died suddenly and traumatically 3 years ago. I think I'm having a similar, somewhat delayed, reaction. For the first couple of years after his death I wasn't scared. I think I kind of had a "the worst has already happened to me - nothing worse can happen now, so why worry?" attitude. But recently I have been more panicky about things. I have a fear of heights that I never had before. And I'm suddenly scared of flying. Flying back from England to Florida in August I suddenly had a panic attack and kept expecting the plane to drop out of the sky. I'm going over to London for a long weekend in December and I'm worried that I'm going to experience a similar reaction. But at least I won't have my kids with me this time.

Grief is so complex that I think anything you feel is reasonable, and not weird, even if it's years after the fact.

Shimmy21 Fri 12-Nov-04 14:58:08

Cyril - so sorry about your bereavements. I have nothing to compare with how it must feel but your post reminded me of a conversation I had with work colleagues a little while ago. It turned out that all of us there (about 6 women) had exactly the same feelings you described, such as envisaging swerving into a truck while on a motorway. Several of us described feeling that 'what if' fear of just a twitch of the steering wheel. We also shared the irrational terrors of something happening to our kids. My particular one is that I am sure my ds will choke on something.As far as I know none of us at the time had been bereaved recently. Only my boss (male of course) couldn't relate to what all we women were saying and thought we were all raving mad. I hope this doesn't sound like I'm taking this lightly. I just wanted you to know that I think your fears are normal.

Dior Fri 12-Nov-04 19:35:16

Message withdrawn

Kif Fri 12-Nov-04 21:27:12

I'm not bereaved or depressed, but have very similar feelings. It's almost as though I have to 'work through' the worst case scenario to protect myself. Always get a squeeze of fear when Dh drives alone, weave when i drive because I alternately see myself hitting oncoming trafic or the verge. Got much worse with Dd. Imagine her choking on her biscuit, or me falling down the stairs with her... it's the backdrop to my life.

dawnie1 Fri 12-Nov-04 21:38:51

Do you think that you have got more fearful since having children? I definately have, I used to parachute, scuba dive, white water raft an awful lot to the extent that many of my friends thought I was a thrill seeker (up until 18 months ago) and since having my dd I keep 'seeing' accidents about to happen. I have completley changed to the point of yesterday we were about to all go out in the car (dh, dd and I) and I refused to go in the car in case we were involved in an accident and dh and I were killed - what would happen to dd then ? I made him travel separately in the other car. Its mad, I know, but I can't bear the thought of her being alone in the world. But it is definately crazy - how did I change so much in such a short time?

zippy539 Fri 12-Nov-04 21:40:53


sorry to hear you are feeling like this. I don't have any experience of bereavement but had a lot of the same feelings - esp really vivid images of awful things happening to my family. Eventually I got really panicky and ultimately went to my HV and GP. I was referred for counselling (sp?)and was told that I had something called hyper-vigilism (sp again!). Basically because of alarming/distressing incidents in my past, my brain was constantly on alert - looking for the danger in every situation. I think (to a degree) this is probably a natural reaction to parenthood but can also be provoked by trauma of various types.

I went for hypnosis and it did help to a certain extent - though I have to go back for more. Don't have any brilliant advice for you but this might be worth investigating?

cyrilthesquirrel Fri 12-Nov-04 23:12:29

thanks for all your valuable responses - it means a lot.

so sorry to hear of your recent loss, wild, and of others' losses too. life can be so tough sometimes, can't it?

I was interested about the references to parenthood, as i have my own theory about this. when dd was born i was overwhelmed with the 'nature' of it all, in that i could actually feel my instincts towards dd kicking in and it all felt very natural and almost animal too, iykwim. i found myself envisaging really bizarre things happening to us, even in the house, and i'd be constantly planning my escape routes, or ways to push dd to safety and take the brunt of the crash / explosion / terrorist attack myself (sounds mad i know, but many of you will know exactly what i mean, i know!) I felt that this again was my animal instincts working, as my child's protector, and it's true that although this has become a little less dramatic, the 'parent radar' is still up and running and probably always will be.

i think that the fear of death thing is slightly different, as it doesn't necessarily revolve around something happening to dd or who will look after her if something happens to one of us (although it's a concern, definitely). it's more like feeling like a little speck in the middle of something huge, that could be swiped away at any given moment. maybe many of the things that have happened in the world recently are adding to my fears. I've been feeling very sad about the black watch soldiers, bush getting in again (god help us all) and john peel. Drove along with tears streaming down my face today as teenage kicks was played on the radio. I don't even know if i was crying for him or me, or what.

saw my counsellor earlier on and asked what i should do to stop these feelings. she said it wasn't like a plaster on a cut and it wouldn't go away overnight, if at all. she suggest i try to put my feelings down in writing. didn't fancy poetry, so here i am! i've really appreciated reading all of the posts here - it really does help.

OP’s posts: |
wild Mon 15-Nov-04 14:04:02

Hi cyril. You certainly express yourself well so maybe writing it down is a good idea. For me the fear is completely illogical and like fio said relates to things like hanging out the washing, just the fear of not being able to operate on that kind of practical level. Music unlocks a lot of grief we bury. It is probably a good thing to release it from time to time. It is probably more important to keep feeling things than to try and stop,within a limit you can cope with. I played Abba Gold while cooking Sunday lunch as it was my mum's favourite, we had 'thank you for the music' at the cremation and I forced myself to listen to it as it would have floored me to hear it for the first time unprepared. DP came in and started really crying and hugging me, I was pretty astonished as he's normally v buttoned up. Did anything special happen last week to make you feel this way, or is a build up do you think? I also tell myself not be to afraid cos the bad thing has already happened, as KATG said. KATG I have read a few of your posts in the past and have nothing but admiration for you you are always kind and civil.
As for parenthood radar .. I did think about buying one of those metal fire escape ladders (never got round to it), and I wake up in the night if ds cries, but I tend not to have abstract worries about him. Feel sick if anything immediate happens, like he's about to launch himself off the climbing frame ...
I won't say hope you feel better, Cyril. But I hope you continue your struggle with strength and dignity and I wish you the very best.

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