General Category => General Discussion => Topic started by: Pep on July 04, 2020, 11:45:03 PM

Title: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Pep on July 04, 2020, 11:45:03 PM
Hello.... i am 40 now. Wife with two kids. Until four weeks ago i didnt talk to anyone about my loss. That person im talking to now is a councellor. She is helping. My brother lets me use his house in private for an hour while i whatsapp video call with her.

So what happened 30 years ago in 1990?. Well i was 10 at the time and lost my eldest sister to breast cancer. She was married and she was about 25 (she passed away while pregnant with twins! I cant imagine what her husband went through!!!). Then in 1995 i lost my dad to cancer (about a couple months before my GCSEs).

I don't really know how i did it, but i scraped by, then onto college, then off to uni. I managed to get a degree in engineering but after i graduated, i lost my last sister to cancer in 2004 (she was married and in her 30s!).

I just ploughed on in life. Head down, work, sleep, eat. That kind of thing. Then i meet a girl... get married, have two kids. All healthy.

Then about a couple months ago, it was my sisters 50th birthday anniversary. My wife said i should see a counsellor as i was acting strange. I knew i was out of character. Basically it all started coming out. I grieve and cry about every other day now. I dreaded fathers day and i dreaded having my birthday yesterday. I'm different around my family now. Im just sad all the time and i feel trapped in my own home. Its like ive just lost them all in a car crash or something (or not... i dont really know). I would say this is the first time i have grieved. My councellor is giving me good advise, there is no pressure to make decisions which is great.

I just thought i would share my life because if there is someone reading this who has "delayed" grieving (if its a thing)... then take comfort that you are not alone. I dont know what the answer is... but maybe my post might help you. I've never liked the saying "time is a healer". But thats because i never gave myself time or space to grieve. I wish i grieved each time. Then maybe the pain now wouldn't be so bad now.

Hugs to all.

Oh. Not sure if im allowed to post this but i love the lyrics in "Waltzing Along" .  :smiley:
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Sandra61 on July 05, 2020, 01:17:18 PM
Oh, Pep, what a heart-wrenching story! So much loss at such young ages, both for you and those you lost. No wonder you are struggling. I am not sure you know how to grieve anyway when you are so young. I am not saying we ever reach an age when we do know how to grieve, but I feel in my own experience of close losses, that I am learning to deal with it better the older I get. It is still terrible and stressful and hard to recover, but somehow, I feel like I am starting to understand it better; all the tangle of emotions, guilt, misery, isolation, sadness, anger, the tendency to feel irritated and annoyed with others, love and regret and the longing for happier days when they were still here and the horrible reality of not being able to see or speak to them again. It is all so complicated and so hard, but the more of life you see, I think the more you learn to be able to get it into proportion in relation to the world and the rest of your life.

Grief never leaves you; you learn to live with it. You find strategies to fall back on to help you when you are struggling with it. For me it was having flowers around. They cheered me up a bit and reminded me there are still good things in the world and their scent somehow helped me feel better. I walk in the park too and find it helps to sit on a bench there to try to come to terms with all that has happened. Having nature around you helps and the inscriptions on the benches remind me that love never dies and people continue to be remembered and loved by those who knew them. It is a calming and healing place to sit to do that with greenery all around you. But I also try to do something each week that gets me out of the house, makes me think about something else and engage with life again and ensures I have something to look forward to doing.

I am glad the counselling is helping, and I am glad you have posted on this website because talking really helps too and when I came here, what also really helped me was finding that others understand and knew what I was going through. Everyone here has lost someone and has been through and continues to go through this terrible journey, so they will all understand what you are feeling.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve and no timescale for it either. Life goes on and that is one of the hardest things to grasp sometimes. I felt like the world should have stopped and couldn't understand how things could just keep going on as normal around me, when this terrible disaster of the loss of someone I loved so much had occurred. You are left feeling like you are in another universe, removed from everything that is going on around you and that the planet itself should stop and acknowledge the loss; not just you! But of course, that never happens.

You are not alone here, and we will help as best we can, if you feel like posting again. I am sure there are indeed others who have postponed the grieving process like you. Perhaps it is the mind's way of protecting us until we are able and ready to begin to process it. Whatever the reason, I wish you well. Keep at it. You have to express it and allow yourself to feel it sooner or later in order to heal. It may not be a quick process and I think is something we all spend the rest of our lives dealing with to a greater or lesser degree really. There are good days and bad days, better and worse days, but you only have to get through them one at a time and you learn that even on the worst ones, you know that there will be better ones to come, once again. So you have hope.

I find what helps me is to remember that I was lucky to have the person with me while I did and to recognise the treasure of memories they left me and the privilege of knowing them for the time they were here. They left me great memories, some not so great ones too, but they all make us stronger and these special people help make us who we are, so we are their legacy in a way and would not be the same people without having had them in our lives, so in a way, they never leave us, because they are part of us; part of who we are.

The way I see it, those who loved us would still want us to be happy and to have lives that are the best they can be, so, as they are not here to make that happen for us anymore, it is up to us to do it for them and have as good a life as we can, so that, if we ever meet again, we will have lots to tell them and make them proud of us and what we did after they were gone.

Good luck and keep talking.  :hearts: :hug:
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Karena on July 05, 2020, 04:49:44 PM
Hi Pep - thankyou for your post and for your wishes to give hope to others - sometimes on this horrendous journey just knowing we are not alone in how we have reacted is enough to give us a break from our own self punishment or fear that there is something wrong with ours.
I am also glad you are having counseling and it is helping.

I strongly believe there is such a thing as delayed grief and often i think when the loss occurs for a younger person.
It may not be the case with you but often older people will try to protect the young from their own grief and to "act normal" around them - i can fully understand why they do that because it is in all our instincts to protect our children as , having now got your own, you will know only too well.
There was some-one here in the past who was actually forbidden  to mention his mum who had died when he was a child,  by another relative because it would "upset his dad" and so in his mind he bore the responsibility not only to smother his own grief but also to reduce his dads.
Adults dont want to cry in front of their children  its a natural instinct yet by not crying  and pretending ourselves - acting as normal as we can,  perhaps we are not showing them that grief is normal and that its ok to grieve.

I think alongside grief there is  shock - and to have your family die one after the other like that must have been an amalgamation of that shock - shock isnt something we experience only when it happens out of the blue with no warning but with cancer - with strokes with anything of that nature and even after we have been told what the outcome will be, we often keep ourselves functioning  by an internal belief or  hope that it will turn out to be a wrong diagnosis or there will be a last minute cure or statistically - not this time it cant happen to my family again. That hope even while we know really that it is false is what we have while we are caring for some-one, visiting them in hospital - painting on the visitors smile.My husband died after a second stroke and i told myself he had survived one and recovered and he could do it again. He was moved onto  a general ward into a side room - i had been in that same room before the first time i was widowed - i asked why he hadnt been transferred to the stroke ward and the junior doctor said they would see how things were in the morning  - in the morning - so there was hope if there was going to be a morning maybe there was an afternoon and more days to follow  then i saw the nurses face the look she gave him  and at that moment knew there  wasn't - but even then clung to hope because it was all i had to cling too and so when he died a couple of hours later it still became shock.

How we react too that is physical as Sandra says our brain responses have a part to play - the survival fight or flight response becomes the most important thing too our brain  - the rest we process later once the situation has reduced - and even though it isnt our survival that is physically threatened at that time the brain doesnt know the difference and  the problem is we dont always process it and and  how we react can again be determined by how those around us do.

At 13 i witnessed a horrific crash where over 20 people died - a girl guide with a first badge i did what i could which was in truth very little.The professionals arrived and took over and i walked away and walked home - and told my family who were very concerned but as soon as the news came on about it the TV went off i didn't see a news broadcast for weeks and that was their instinct to protect me but that then played into my brains reluctance to deal with it. I  went back to school and didnt talk about it at all - i didnt forget it, but life moved on i didnt recognise i hadnt dealt with it. - More than twenty years later in a pub, a conversation came up about it and one of those present was a retired ambulanceman who had been there and he described what had happened - i knew what had happened i was there, but it was as though i had gone back to the day and i was seeing the scene for the first time - it wasn't grief as such,  i hadn't known anyone involved - but those grief  symptoms were suddenly there - shock,  guilt, - feeling i hadn't done enough - made the wrong decisions about who to go too first - I forgot i was a 13 year old at the time and took on a guilt that maybe a professional who had made an error like that probably would, anger as finally with an understanding of why it happened because of brake failure and cost cutting i had somewhere in my head to direct it.
Its not the same as losing those you love, i know that but its a similar physical and mental reaction and the delay is, i think, for the same reasons.

Why now for you  - well even if it started before that,the last few months have had us all afraid for ourselves and for our family, we have lived and breathed that fear day in day out with no respite - the usual outlets are not available - work/friends/pub etc and all those very personal losses have been announced as statistics - a calculation of what is acceptable or not acceptable in terms of numbers - comparison charts and numbers in thousands and too us thats thousands of famillys that are now going to be grieving- its so difficult to imagine for us who have been on this journey and to detach our own pain from those lives when they are presented like that -Our immediate familly have beome our all - more time with each other more time with the children and for many thats been a bonus but also brought them even closer.I think perhaps again within our subconsciousness knowing the pain it creates  we recognise it can happen again so very easilly so we try to shield ourselves, withdraw from our family,  because we are afraid of that pain ask ourselves how many more times can we endure it before we break. Its not something we can do of course but its a normal reaction perhaps to try too -to tell ourselves if we dont love as much  we dont hurt as much = something that isnt possible so we are in conflict between head that says step away and heart that wont let us - our body doesnt know how to respond to what our brain is telling us - and so the dark clouds descend

As time goes on your councilor will probably give you some ideas of coping mechanisms - we are not trained counselors just people who found ourselves here after our own loss but maybe have found ways that helped us and we are not all the same what works for some doesnt for others.

As Sandra says find a calm space - somewhere to not only process loss but also to escape grief for a moment - the sun on your face, a birdsong, colour of a leaf sound of waves  anything to give yourself a break no matter how temporary  because those temporary moments are something you can build up and store to focus on in your mind when your thoughts are at their blackest and use to remind yourself that it isnt always black you had that moment and so there can be others.

You can use a physical object too - i have a gemstone bracelet bought on a beach in a beautiful location - I put it on the sand so it was washed by the sea a pebble from a beach that is small enough to carry in a pocket just some small thing that is physically present in a lighter moment   - wearing it and touching it reminds me that  i was there and that it was a moment that was very special  there was a light shining then and once you see a glimmer of light even if its dark again now, you can find a light again.

I have lost two  friends over the last few weeks - but i know that the people here are still here and will still remind me of that light - and use  here to write because as well as shared experience with others just the act of writing can help us make sense of our feelings - often those we cant vocalize we can write down and it helps to write and it helps to read it back as well because sometimes we think we haven't moved forward in any way and then looking back on what we wrote earlier see that we have.
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Pep on July 05, 2020, 10:39:05 PM
Thanks for the support. I didnt think i would get a response... Athough what has happened is sad... i do seek comfort of good memories.

Karena... you witnessed that horrific crash... im speechless. I just hope you are not too hard on yourself. But you have sparked something.. read on....

At the time of losing my first sister, i remember being taken to see her in her open casket.... (at 10!). Then at 15, i saw my dad in his open casket. Then when i lost my second sister, i thought, "Well i'll just go this morning, see her, back for lunch, then go out on my bike". It was a sad time but i didnt think anything of it! How someone can gain that much "experience" and be like that. I dont beat myself up over it but its not everyday this happens!

Im from an italian background so at the age of ten i thought it must be a cultural thing to see an open casket and children are encouraged to do so. The problem was that i wasn't in italy absorbing and living life as they do with friends or others like me. Im not sure if its had a profound effect on me (thinking about it)

And thanks Sandra, regarding a token piece to remember someone by... I remember having a fight with my brother after we lost dad. We were going through his things and i managed to bag his triumph toledo car key and keyring   it was metal and had "Mafia staff car" debossed in it next to a 1930s car. On the back is where the key had worn away the polish. "They come as a pair" i screamed at him and just took them both. I still have them on my car keys now!
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Sandra61 on July 06, 2020, 12:42:41 AM
I hope those car key fobs help, Pep. I suspect they do. Perhaps you wanted them so much to help you feel your dad was still close to you. Again, I think this is something we all feel to some extent. It is hard clearing out the things of someone you have lost and often, I can only do it a little at a time. It feels like you are losing a little bit more of them with every item that goes.

I am not much in favour of viewing the body of someone I have lost and have never done it. My mother and brother both went to see my dad in an open casket, but I chose not to. I felt I would rather have in my mind the last image of him when he was alive still and also that he was not there really anymore in his body and that the body was just the remaining shell. It is a personal thing for each of us and others may feel differently, so again, there is no right or wrong way. You just need to do what is right for you. I hope it helped you.

I know some people keep a memory book or jar to help them get through grief and do wonder if this might be something that might help you. They write down little episodes that come to mind about times they spent with the person they have lost or character traits, the person's smile, little things they said or what made them laugh, little things you remember happening etc. Then when they are missing them, they pull out one of the scraps of paper at random to relive that memory, which hopefully makes them smile. Grief isn't all about misery and sadness, but also about the joys of remembering and being grateful for having known someone and having had them in your life. I think you need a balance and this might help.

Wishing you well on this journey, Pep.  :hug:
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Karena on July 06, 2020, 02:02:06 PM
Its a good few years now since the recall of that accident came back and it has faded again now probably because i have dealt with it and i do recognize that i was little more than a child with no first aid kit just a badge that in no way reflects the reality of a situation and that i was probably in shock myself - not a paramedic  with years of training equipment available and a pre warning of the scene i wasn't to blame and i think that affirmation wasn't something i had made before but rather squashed the idea because taking it out and examining it was not something i could have done at that age so my mind protected me from it by blocking it. 

i think a memory book may help as well and something to share with your own children - because when you do that you will be sharing the things you want to remember - not the sadness at losing them. - sit down with them find some old photos but tell them the happy stories about the person - the things they got up too as children - the sayings they used the things they were good at and the things they were not so good at - the people they were.

I think viewing a body is a cultural thing -and of course our culture - our belief system will affect our re-action too something. The open casket seems to be common in the catholic tradition as well - and for some its a comfort  as they  see a loved one at peace and they appear to be sleeping. I have done it once and it wasn't at all like that to me, and i wouldnt do it again and i wouldnt advocate a child going necessarily either.To me it felt   that their soul or spirit just  wasn't there - and in this case it was the heavy metal fan with his metallica t shirts now wrapped in blue silk and wearing a suit - so out of character and so wrong for him, that was upsetting too - because his parents had made the arrangements and how different generations perceive what should be, is different but also who their child was  too them is different  to who he is to others and as you say if the setting was wrong then your perception would also have been affected.

With hindsight  that absence of soul could also be taken to mean it has simply  left their body which is no longer of use and is still around us - that's not just a religious or spiritual thing but also scientifically   we know that energy doesn't leave the earth it moves and changes form  but is never lost - and if a persons vitality -their energy,  is the same as their soul or spirit then that continues some where in some form - so i dont need to see their physical body knowing that - if it makes sense.
To give you an example as well as to how children can perceive things a girl of 9 at the time, had been too her grandads funeral - and it was a burial - and she told me she was worried that her grandad who she thought was a good person might be a bad person  and when i asked why she said it was because you go up to heaven and down to hell and being buried is going down - what do you say to that when it isnt your child and you know they are a religious family i ended up putting it in her mums hands to explain - she was horrified that her daughter was thinking that and it was resolved  - but sometimes we have no idea what they are really thinking and unless they can explain and be heard and then reassured  - so actually yes i think those early funerals could have at least contributed too your situation now.

I wouldn't rule out children at a funeral service - but with my grand kids and friends kids, knowing they were going and not wanting their last memory of their grandad who had always been so much fun to be of sadness,  we gave everyone a daffodil to float down the nearby  river after the church service - and of course with kids and water its always going to end up fun - so what they remember now is the daffodils and the "party" food after that - we also told them later they could send a flower or a note to grandad that way anytime - poor grandad has had some interesting things sent down the river too him over the years  (they know not plastic or junk) including 3 docked lambs tails but again he would have laughed so that's fine by me and it makes that remembering a happier thing by remembering their whole lives even if they were short ones and not just the end of their life.
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Pep on July 06, 2020, 06:58:51 PM
Isnt it annoying when you are left out of conversations regarding... well anything. Work is one thing but close family is another ball game. Like that metallica fan not being buried in his/her favourite t-shirt. More people would of celebrated his life more than just saying... "that wasn't him/her" "why the suit" or why the "skirt".

I remember gowing up never being included in conversations. Running off to my room when there was arguments. Saying silly things just to get noticed. I got used to not joining in and family got used to me not being around. To the extent that when we lost my last sister (i was 24) we all went to see Father Canon Lynch at the local church. Everyone was there. My mum, brother and brother in law. They all started talking about my sisters lovely white headstone that was being made and where she will be buried. I went absolutely mental at everyone that i hadn't been included in those discussions. I though it would of been nice for her to be buried next to my other sister who was in a double gravestone.

Thats how it starts.

Maybe i shouldnt of gone to uni
Maybe i should of spemt more time with her
Maybe i shouldnt of played with lego so much
Maybe i should of cummunicated better
Maybe my secondary school should of asked if i wanted councelling from the age of 11 or whatever.

But that key fob... nah... that was battle of the brothers. Only thing i fought for. Probably because i went to the allotment with dad more than my brother did.

I may come across as argumentative and a shouty person? Maybe?. Hey, im italian... who isn't. I like to think i'm gentle to all and my wife and i have never had an argiment... but i hide my arguments in my head. Dangerous i know.
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Pep on July 07, 2020, 08:27:34 AM
Hi Karena, i will keep that idea of "floating a daffodil down a river" (or something like that) up my sleeve. That is really good advice because we always think about how the children would cope and although services are, lets face it, boring for kids... it gives something for the adults to look forward to, too.

Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Karena on July 07, 2020, 10:40:00 AM
 No i dont think you are shouty,  and withdrawing is a natural thing to do when you are not shouty but live in a shouty household. It isnt a personality flaw for either side  just different personalities under one roof.- but also remember your familly were grieving for her too -imagine as a mum  losing your child so young then losing the support of her husband and how angry she must have felt. For them the white headstone was probably a big thing and for your brother in law maybe he felt he wanted to be added too it when his turn came - if you had been part of the discussions you would have understood better why that decision was made and not shouted - but its not your fault that you wernt included. 
It doesn't mean they were not proud when you went to university and achieved so much even if they didnt say it - because people often are afraid of education - that it will take their little boy away from them and that it will make you a snob - My mum went through that coming from a mill family and choosing to train as a teacher - but at the same time they probably also bragged too the neighbors and their friends when you went.
They should have included you in the discussions but it probably didnt occur too them - so their reaction was defensive - shouting in reply to your shouting - that does sound Italian to me but then i dont know any better than the stereotype (lol)  but seriously  it also sounds like something that can happen in any culture in any familly given the emotions running so high at that time.

You are right swallowing an argument isnt healthy i am guilty of that too, but if you do so by withdrawing or not answering it also can become more frustrating for the other person -  there is an in between of thinking about why you disagree whether your emotional reaction is valid - whether it is important in the big scheme of things what the other persons view is -  seeing both sides and then discussing things calmly.
Not always do able though - my soon to be ex son in law has just accused me of being evil and using wiitchcraft  because i grow herbs and worse - of bringing my evil  witchcraft into his house by buying his daughter the "room on the broom"  book - two years after the event -perhaps if he had expressed his concerns earlier that particular one could have been avoided -  some things cannot be discussed calmly when they do come out  and sometimes even i am capable of not doing so. (lol).

You are doing the right thing going to counselling, and your wife is a very wise lady for suggesting it, the fact she was able to talk to you about how you were behaving and feeling also speaks volumes about the loving relationship you have between you and your brother is giving you the space to do it which is also a good thing - i think he probably forgave the key fob argument long ago. :hug:

Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Emz2014 on July 08, 2020, 03:37:42 PM
I've just read your original post  :hug: I think big positive life events can trigger an unresolved grief too. My dad lost his mum at a young age, and had to take on alot of responsibility. Shortly after I was born he was extremely ill, I believe they said it was likely connected - a big life change trigger. Our bodies have a way of making us listen to feelings

 :hug:  it is possible to heal and learn ways to cope

Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Sandra61 on July 08, 2020, 05:24:23 PM
Ah Pep, the blame game is one we all play! We can always find something, whatever the circumstances, to ask ourselves 'why didn't I do this or that' or 'if only I had done this or that, then that might not have happened'. Honestly, we all do it! That's why we feel guilty, because we always think things might have been different if we had done things differently, but that isn't necessarily so.
As Karena says, even the way we see things or remember things, can be thought of totally differently by someone else! In the end, we do whatever seems right at the time.

Peace didn't always reign between my parents either and like you, if there was an argument, I would hide away and get upset. I doubt that that means the family got used to you not being around. It may have worried them to think you didn't like to see upset, but I am pretty sure they would have thought about that, even if it wasn't discussed in front of you. Family members generally do care about one another more than they let on. Probably because they don't know how to say it without sounding soft!

I suspect the upset over the grave stone might have been the result of them simply having thought about what they wanted in relation to their own grief. In my view, it is perhaps best to allow some time to pass before you make decisions about gravestones, so that those who are left behind have a little time to heal first and can have more rational discussions about it with one another once they have recovered a little from the initial shock and upset. I also think it's easy to lose sight of how others might be feeling when your own mind is so full of your own feelings and hurt.

You are right that not saying what you think is dangerous. Mind you, saying what you think can be equally dangerous! I think there is a lot to be said for a quiet and sensible discussion about things. Perhaps that is partly what has brought you to  where you are now? If you bottle up all those unsaid things they only eat away at you inside and then end up getting vented in ways you regret later or end up harming you, in the way you describe now. Maybe this is what you have learned to do over time and so you still do it with your own family now? Perhaps it's time to make a gentle attempt to change that?
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Pep on July 08, 2020, 06:59:31 PM
I think i may of mislead you guys.... the headstone was the catalyst. I should of emphasised that i just didn't want my two sisters to be in two different plots at the cemetary. My first sister is buried in a double gravestone (ready for her widowed husband i guess. But thirty years on he is about 55 now and proabably with a new family). nobody could answer me when i asked them if anyone discussed putting our two sisters side by side. Maybe calling the widowed husband and asking if sister number two could take his place?. Neither did anybody say " this is what she wanted". Just silence. It started off all calm. Nobody could have a conversation... just silence.... thats when i lost it.

And Emz... what do you mean "just read my first post". It was only a couple days ago!  :rofl: Only joking.... its great to have you. And for you to write what you did.... My wife thinks having our second child has effected me. I havent been quite right and havent been able to put a finger in it. You might be on to something...

Im off to read "Room on the Broom" to my son now :)
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Pep on July 08, 2020, 07:49:32 PM
Just to add.... i think the real reason i lost it was because it was a fleeting thought of "now she is going to be on her own too". (But three graves across from my dad). And my first sister is one grave away from my aunty. (Who incidently is my dads sister who he lost a year before his daughter... my first sister who we lost) so imagine what my dad went through. His sister then his eldest daughter one year after the other.

I think i am making sense here???


My mum got married by proxy (so the story goes. She never talks about it) . And was a difficult mother to live with. Everyday the arguments were about moving back to italy. She can't now she says, "because my daughters are here". So we all thought "its only mother being difficult".

If you do a "This is your life" episode on TV on my mum.... that will make for a good saturday night tv tear jerker.

And what was the point of saying that? Well... i forgave her many years ago. Out of all of us.. (my family that is) she is the one that needed listening to long ago. Add more pain to it... she is now losing all her family in italy . She cant go to visit even if she wanted to. She had an argument with the italian consolate in london 10 years ago so they refused to send her a passport. There is some humour in there somewhere.

Someone is giggling out there i just know it!
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Pep on July 10, 2020, 07:42:44 PM
Thankyou all for you kind responses. There is a lot to take in. I find myself re-reading all my posts and all replies. And what is good is that i am finding that you are reading and paying attention to not only my posts but to all. (Yes, i have read some other threads too).

It seems i am just starting my "journey". I have these supressed feelings that are just itching to get out of the box (that i hid somewhere). Hmmm... the box is the only metaphor i can think of at the moment. Its like that box has been throbbing for a fair few years (30) and seeing a councellor has open the box up... but only slightly.

I wonder whats inside? There is fear, but there may be happiness... and peace. So i'm going to have a good old rummage around and see what pops up next. I may put things back in ready to tackle another day but i know i will have this open box with me for a while. But what i wont do is lock it again and throw away the key.

Thank you all again for your kind words.

But i wont be leaving you as you are helping. And I hope i am helping others too. P

Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Karena on July 13, 2020, 06:06:18 PM
 :hug: i think its important to take things out of that box and look at them again  but only when you feel ready and not all at the same time.But its also important to give yourself a break and leave the lid closed for some respite as well - spend that time with the loved ones who are here - go for walks go to the seaside - fly a kite put on your wellies and go jump in puddles with your kids ( theyre a great excuse for so many simple childish pleasures)
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Sandra61 on July 14, 2020, 10:24:32 AM
I'm glad talking here and reading responses is helping you, Pep. Grief is a box that refuses to stay shut in my experience and indeed can pop open and surprise you at the most unexpected moments!

Keep working through it. It's a healthy thing to do, even if a painful one and you will find some peace and some happy memories in there. Good luck! Come back and let us know how you are getting on or if you want to discuss anything any time. It helps to get an alternative opinions sometimes.  :hearts:
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Pep on July 14, 2020, 02:30:19 PM

This box metaphor actually came from an ex army squaddy who i work with. He has PTSD (mild but has it). Anyway, i approached him only last friday regarding me seeing my family in open caskets... he had to sit me down to say the least and he went through his experiences of getting help.

My point to everyone is, i couldn't believe how being open to people does help. They give a different perspective. (It was a deliberate act to approach him though!)

I previously mentioned about my dads key i nabbed from my brother. Well as i was walking away from my chat with said colleague, i looked at those keys of my dads and thought "these are the keys to the box". 25 years since loosing dad and they were in my hand all along.

How cheesy but so apt.
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Karena on July 14, 2020, 04:06:43 PM
 :hug: no not cheesy but a good metaphor.
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Pep on October 03, 2020, 10:36:50 PM
Hello all!

It seems that my loss had affected my life and it is now still doing it. I never really thought about it but photos of my lost family make me well up. I just cant deal looking at them. I never put any up in my home. My Brother has one on his mantlepiece. BAM!. A photo of four of us siblings taken when I was 8/9.

My councellor asked me that it would be nice to see some photo's. She gave up after the third time she asked. Although she wasn't insisting (and I really mean it when I say that), it just felt like my head was going to explode. "In your own time then" she said. That was four weeks ago. No rush. Relax. Another day. Dont have to.

I'm still processing it all. I wont say that I wish someone had given me advice straight after losing my Dad or Sisters. And do you know why I wont? Because they probably did!. And I didn't listen or I just got on with life. I was young. One chap at work said to me last year "how did you get throught it all... How are you still standing?".

My counsellor is opening things up and she is helping. She talks about the following.

I can accept that I have lost them. But I still always ask "Why them?". "Why us?". "Why me?"

"Look after number one"
I need to work a few things out. I think I know what she means by that

"Find peace"


The problem with me is that i'm an Engineer and Engineers have to analyse the question before answering it. I get chewed up on this far too long. But here is the thing. You don't have to be an Engineer to be screwed up with a question like that!. Find Peace. What exactly does that mean? Another day perhaps.

The biggest issue I am dealing with is this.

On my graduation, my family came to the university to celebrate the day. I can remember vividly my Mum being there and my Brother being there (This was 25 years ago). But I DO NOT RECALL my Sister being there. AT ALL! I started to doubt that she went at all.... Until I came across a photo that I had forgotten about. There was me and my Sister smiling to the camera. I dont think I ever cried like that before.

And that is why photo's are an issue. Because I just don't remember the moment.
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Karena on October 05, 2020, 02:04:55 PM
 :hug:As an engineer you will know that sometimes when the machine goes wrong you think you know what the problem is get a spare part etc and then find it isnt fixed that easilly and sometimes you have to take the whole thing apart piece by piece then re-assemble it and it might be one little thing you find or lots of things  - a nut thats loose a sheared bolt a spark plug that isnt sparking a loose wire - The photo confirms your sister was there so thats one thing  a tiny thing thats fixed now, you may not remember it just as with the machine you may not remember you got the spark plug from a different supplier to normal because it was years ago -and when you were young and had other things on your mind anyway - graduating can be nerve wracking maybe you are focused on just getting through that - on not losing the hat or tripping over your gown more than your family at the time and thats perfectly understandable .

To me acceptance isnt just accepting they are gone its not that simple to me acceptance is accepting that you will always grieve for them and that will always be part of you but it is never the whole of you because you will also start to look at the ways they enriched your life when they were here 0 that spark plug lasted years it kept the machine going so it gave you value even though it is now broken and grief isnt just loss when its brocken but appreciating its worth when it wasnt.

You would expect that Peace only happens when you fix the machine and it runs like new - better even - except you are not a machine but even if you were peace is accepting it sometimes doesnt fix quite the same way.

We had a camper van we went all over in it his hat was always on the dash board and when he died i really wanted to keep it so the hat stayed there and i hung on too the van.  The drivers window developed a mind of its own - sometimes you had to drive over a bump to get it to work sometimes it could go down for no apparent reason at all without me touching the switch - and i did the things i am supposed to do - checked the wires and connectors changed the fuse - had others double check my checks but it still did it.

Peace to me is living with that  seeing it as a characteristic - even seeing humour in it sometimes - the rest of the machine performed well i got a lot of fun from having the van i was not going to scrap the van because i couldnt fix the window just as i wasnt going to try and forget the good memorys because sometimes they made me sob.
In the same way grief is like the window once you have taken everything apart and fixed what you can fix there may still be a flaw a window which occasionally goes up or down without you instructing it with the button or expecting it to do it in a certain place or situation  - an emotional window - something that will make you cry especially on a bad day (try 40 minutes on the M6 with lowered drivers window in a blizzard) but also something that  can make you smile too - and i would be driving along telling him to mend the blinkin window as though he was still there.
So now you have the answer too a question, you know your sister was there you know she was proud enough of you to turn up and share that moment and yes the photo made you cry and opened that emotional window and  thats ok crying is ok but it also clarified something you have wondered about perhaps fixed one of those many other little brocken parts.

Eventually the bottom fell out of the van i was devastated even though it was on the cards it felt like i was losing the final part of him or of him and me and our lives together and i thought about changing it for a sensible car something completely different more fitting to my age blah blah blah  so i took it to someone who re-uses the parts off them for other vans the same make  = and now the engine is in another van the gear box in another the raisng roof on another all the functioning parts are still functioning just not in the same place and in the same system they once were.
But the passenger and driver seats are in the one they happened to be selling and were happy to swap over when i ( much less sensibly) dumped the sensible car idea and bought that, and his hat is on the dashboard and his photo on the sun blind so he still travels with me and i imagine the parts of the new van his comments would have been less than complimentary on - the palm leaf curtains and dolphin decals and in my head i hear the comments on the conversion i built that he would have liked but guess what its the passenger window this time sometimes it has has a mind of its own.

I am not comparing your grief to a mechanical thing or something as trivial as a faulty window, just trying to look at it from an engineers point of view - I could have seen nothing but the faulty window in that old van and that could have made the whole van something much more negative but i accepted it and found peace in accepting that the flawed window would always be part of it but it didn't spoil the van it didn't remove those good memorys out of the van  and as time went  on and the van no longer functioned  i could still take part of it with me as i moved forward and made it more mine with my own decor ideas he still travels with me - but the window is still there maybe a bit further away but still doing its thing and thats fine, thats a mechanical flaw thats part of the van and part of me.
Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Pep on February 11, 2021, 06:04:09 PM
I became a member on this forum six(ish) months ago to help me deal with my grieving... my emotions... my anger... my pain.

It has occurred to me that I haven't come across anyone else here that has spoken about losing a brother or sister. I mean, I think I have to acknowledge this because losing my two sisters is all I talk about in my counselling sessions. Am I looking for someone out there to talk about sibling loss? Or my delayed grieving (so she calls it)? I don't know.

I'm not really sure about this but is losing a brother or sister different to losing a mum, or a dad? Again, I don't know (i've lost my dad, too, so its all just a jumble in my head). Is the loss of a sister or brother far too complicated or too deep to talk about?

My counsellor asked me.. "What do you need to move on with your life, Pep"? In my head I was thinking "my need is not available to me anymore. I need my sister's to get me through this but they are not here". I just couldn't bear saying it out loud. So is that what would of happened? Saying it out loud would of made me "Accept" they are not here. Is this my fight in life now? That I have to say it accept it?

And then I thought a couple of days later... How do I know what my 'needs' are? Isn't it always a big sister who always tells their little brother exactly what they need? And that's my wish, to just be told what I need from a sister.

Even though I will probably ignore it (as little brothers do).

Title: Re: 30, 25 and 16 years later...
Post by: Sandra61 on February 12, 2021, 12:49:04 AM
The closest I have come to losing a sister, Pep, was when a close school friend died when we were both sixteen years old. She died of bone marrow cancer. We used to walk home from school together. She was funny, very clever, brave during her illness, which at times was very painful and I could not take in then how someone so young and full of life could be struck down and die that way. I felt angry, scared and did not know how to accept it. I was also full of admiration for her for somehow getting through that time. Her parents were naturally protective of her, so I didn't see her more than once or twice when she was actually in hospital and I missed her, but I remember how broken her family was after she passed. I remember too even now, more than forty years on, how she looked and how much I liked her and how well we got on, how clever and typically sixteen she was too. The tragedy of it still pains me.

I know it's not the same as losing a true sibling and perhaps you haven't heard from anyone here who has also lost a sibling because thankfully, it is so rare to lose someone at such a young age and losing a sibling early is probably quite a rare event, but, for me, I still think of her often and still miss her and it strikes me often too, how I have had all these extra years that she did not, even though we were the same age when she died. So, how lucky are we who survive and get to keep the gift of life and a future that they did not have.

I'm not sure about your counselor's question. How are you supposed to know what you might need to move on with your life? isn't that why you go; to try to help you find out because you don't have the answers to that? I wouldn't have found that helpful. I don't think really that there is anything you need to be able to move on with your own life other than the ability to live with the loss and for me, at least, the pain of that is never far away and always present to a degree, but it's the learning to live with it and, yes, 'accept' that there are some things you will never know about how the loss occurred or why, that makes that difficult, but accepting that there will always be unanswered questions and a hole in your life where those you love should still have been is the hardest thing to find a way to do. So for me, trying to let go of the anger and  bear the not knowing parts have helped make it possible for me to move forward (I would not say move on, because to me that implies leaving those events and the memories of that time behind and I don't think we can ever fully do that), but moving forward in the knowledge that those unknown factors will inevitably always remain and the pain of loss will never really pass, but instead become part of me, is what has helped me to move forward. For me, it's about understanding that I am lucky because I still have my life and it's about learning to live with the person those events have made of me and accept that the new traits they have resulted in, in terms of the changes to my personality and outlook on life, are simply now part of who I am. So if it is a matter of acceptance, for me, I have had to learn to accept myself as I am now and accept the mysteries and questions I have, will never be resolved, in this life at least. That's a hard thing to do.

I don't know if any of this helps, but hope you find your way forward in time. Of course you want your sisters back and that is what you can't have. None of us can keep hold of the past or have the present that we would want, if disaster had not struck, so we have to learn to live with the present we have. I believe the Americans call it 'rolling with the punches'. Maybe we have to learn to do that before we can move  forward.