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I haven't grieved for my mum and I don't know if it's a problem (sorry, very long post)

(12 Posts)
BecauseImWoeufIt Thu 05-Apr-07 23:52:51

On 10 April it will be 3 years since my mum died. She was only 66.

She had breast cancer, which had spread to her bones and her liver. Ironically, 2 months before the advanced (secondary) cancers were diagnosed, she had received her 5 year/all clear. She had her first bout of chemotherapy, along with Herceptin - but contracted an infection, which killed her very quickly, via total organ failure.

We went from diagnosis of the secondary cancers in February 2004 to her death in April - so it was a lot to cope with in a short space of time. Although I was very upset initially, very quickly I found that I was dealing with everything in a very calm and rational manner.

I was very, very close to my mum and always envisaged that if she died that I would be devastated. It puzzled me then, and continues to puzzle me now that I haven't fallen apart and seem not to feel anything about my loss.

I went to my GP and was referred for some counselling. The counsellor took me through what I believe is the Edinburgh test for depression, and said that she found me to be one of the most clinically sane people she had talked to. To my mind this was surely an indication that I must be completely insane! She asked me why I wanted counselling, and the best I could reply at that point was that I supposed I wanted permission to feel as I did. She granted me that permission.

I have cried on the odd occasion - the first Mother's Day took me by surprise - but otherwise I just don't seem to feel anything. Part of me remains very rational. I know that the prognosis for my mum was not good, and that even after her chemotherapy we would have been looking at a short period of time, during which she would have been in a lot of pain, and facing an inevitable decline. My mum would have hated it - she was a very, very vital person. In many ways her death was a blessed release.

Sometimes I feel that it's as though my brain/psyche - or whatever is in control of me - is regulating my emotions. It's like blowing up a balloon and very, very gradually letting the air out of it. I sometimes think this is what's happening to me - if I very, very gradually let the emotion out, then I will be able to deal with the loss more easily. There is a lot to be said for not feeling anything, to be brutally selfish, because it makes coping with it/daily life much easier.

Other times I just worry that I'm storing up mental health problems for myself in the future.

Does anyone else here have similar experiences? What did you do? Should I have more counselling?

Sorry this is so long.

JodieG1 Thu 05-Apr-07 23:56:14

Maybe you're one of those people that things hit in time? I'm like that. It took me years really to deal with my premature birth and miscarriages, I just dealt at the time ang got on with it. It always takes me years to actually confront things.

So sorry for your loss, hope you can sort through your emotions.

TKMaxx Fri 06-Apr-07 00:14:25

Hmm. I felt like that when my Dad died. I was 12 weeks pregnant with DS1 and everyone was very protective of me, and yet I felt absolutely fine - which is not at all what I had expected to feel. I have always felt fine about it. When l my mum died 5 years later though my grief was much more what I expected it to be, and seemed to include Dad too, for the first time. I did suffer a lot of anxiety then, and ended up having psychiatric help and ADs but I'm fantastically fine now, i promise! Does that sound bleak - it's not meant to...

TKMaxx Fri 06-Apr-07 00:22:40

That wasn't much help sorry. i meant to say that i think you'd know if the counselling was helping, or necessary. and therefore perhraps it isn't at the moment. other people can tell you if you seem less happy/confident than usual and that might be a good indication of whether you need to talk to an expert.

BecauseImWoeufIt Fri 06-Apr-07 00:39:40

Thanks - as far as I know, and as far as everyone else seems to deal with me, I am completely normal.

I do worry that when my dad dies that I might completely fall to pieces. I can't explain it more than feeling that my parents sort of go together - it's kind of I have a 'mummy-and-daddy', and that whilst one of them is still alive I still have both of them.

I don't know if that sounds crazy!

Thinking about JodieG1's post, I had a miscarriage between my boys, and had a very similar reaction - i.e. after the initial shock, I was very rational and very calm. Perhaps I have a very controlling/particular mechanism for these situations?

Ironically I cry at the most obvious, sentimental things. Which is partly why I thought I would be in bits.

ELF1981 Fri 06-Apr-07 10:28:30

BecauseImWoeufIt - I have been very fortunate to only experience the loss one of family member, which was my granddad who died of cancer.
I remember being at the funeral and everybody was crying and breaking down, but I just couldn't. It took me a long time to feel "normal" about it because I always expected to be the wailing type as even the AA car advert can get my crying on a soft day. I felt inhumane for not crying about my granddad, and only having the odd tear. But that's not saying it didn't hurt me, nor lessen the fact that I miss him.

I think that Jodi might be right, there are people in this world that take a long time to grieve or are able to soldier on and maybe we're just that type of person. Nothing wrong with it.

I am sorry for your loss

MissGolightly Fri 06-Apr-07 10:46:31

Hi Because, I had a very similar experience to yours in the loss of my mum to cancer, although my mum was younger. Otherwise your description of the illness could have been written by me. Like you I loved her very, very deeply and yet coped/am coping well with her death.

Here, fwiw are my feelings on the matter... sorry this is long.

Firstly, having a breakdown is NOT a sign of how much you loved your mum/grieved for her etc etc. Just because you are coping well day-to-day it doesn't lessen your love for your mum. Often the people most affected by death are, paradoxically, those who had difficult relationships with the deceased. This may be for many reasons, there may be things they wish they did differently or said when the deceased was alive, or they may have complicated feelings of relief about the death. I adored my mum, had a wonderful relationship with her and have no regrets about our life together, apart from regrets that she never met my baby son. I will always be happy and grateful to have had as much time together as we did, so my sadness is tempered with happiness.

Secondly, with cancer I think you go through a large amount of the shock and grieving on diagnosis and you spend the early years of diagnosis coming to terms with the possibility of losing your loved-one. On the surface always felt sure that my mum would pull through, it was only when I got the news that she wouldn't that I realised that deep down I had been addressing the possibility that she would not. When she finally died I felt I had been grieving for her for so many years and was now more glad than anything that she was at peace and no longer in pain.

Finally everyone deals with things in different ways. My mum was extremely stoical and had no patience with people who made mountains out of molehills. I went back to work just a few days after her death, partly because I knew it was what she would have done in the same circumstance! Every day that I am happy with my baby son and my husband I know that she would be happy for me. Every hour that I waste in tears for her, I feel she would be sad. This helps me to feel good about moving on, I don't feel obliged to cry every day because I don't think she would have wanted me to. Contrary to the soap opera image, not everyone moves through the 7 stages of bereavement in neat, dramatic steps and not everyone has to talk things through in order to cope - some people quietly work through their own feelings in their head and move on. That's fine too.

If there is one thing my mum's life and death taught me, it is that life is short and must be enjoyed to full every day. Be happy that you loved your mum and are coping well. If at any time you feel that you would like more help then seek it, but don't feel guilty just because you are living your life.

BecauseImWoeufIt Mon 09-Apr-07 15:44:48

Thank you all - your replies have really helped. It's so good to know that I'm not the only one!

Feeling a bit better about things now, although as tomorrow is the 3rd anniversary, not sure what that will bring. However, I'll be back at work, so will have things to take my mind off it a bit.

roberta3 Mon 09-Apr-07 15:57:58

Perhaps Miss Golightly has said it all but maybe this will help too.

My mum died 5 weeks ago, totally different circumstances to yours, old age but a pretty unpleasant final year.

I think your line "In many ways her death was a blessed release" says so much. When someone in such pain dies it feels like you do so much of the 'mourning' when they are ill, rather than when they've died.

I'm the one that cries at the Yellow Pages advert when they put the old cine film onto video so the elderly parents can watch it! However, when things happen in real life I seem to be a 'coper' - perhaps some people just are.

It doesn't mean that we loved our mums any less than 110%, just that we're lucky that we can continue to cope with everyday life. Yesterday was harder than other days cos Easter Sunday was always a special 'family day' but I just look at my kids running around the garden and remember that life goes on and perhaps that's the legacy that our mum's left behind - they taught us how to cope.

Sorry for rambling on!

RubyRioja Mon 09-Apr-07 16:07:25

Another vote for coping being 'normal' here. I lost both my parents whilst pregnant with dd3 and was suprised to be still standing. I think I grieved more for my Mum while she was still living than after she actually died. I did take some comfort in her receiving gold standard medical care - I could accpt that it had to be rather than raging about what else could/should have been done.

Mum died two years ago and I think (having just lost MIL) that more grief is coming out, but I think if you don't 'fight it' when it does come then cannot see why it could store up trouble.

Really c**p though isn't it?

Nonny101 Fri 17-Jul-15 11:31:28

Hi, I read your statement after I was looking online for some advice, my mum died from Cancer April of last year and I feel exactly the same as you do, my mum was given two years and was gone in 4 weeks, I have been so busy dealing with everyone else's grief that I put mine aside, now I don't know how to feel, I want to feel sad and feel like I'm a bad person because I don't and then I feel guilty for feeling this way, I also want permission to feel ok but on the other hand I also want to know that how I am feeling is normal.

I just wanted you to know that you are not alone.
Rhiannon. X

MadisonMontgomery Fri 17-Jul-15 11:40:41

You aren't the only one - I've lost my nana, my mum & my grandpa in the past 5 years and I am fine. Really fine. In fact the most upset I've been was when someone told me I wasn't sad enough & that I was going to have a nervous breakdown at some point!

I do occasionally feel a bit sad - if I'm looking at old photos or something- but I've just never felt this all-consuming grief that others seem to feel.

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