Grief Answers

Hi. I am feeling very negative and hopeless in life

Hi, Thanks for reaching out!  I'm sorry you are going through a tough time but am hopeful that you can get some things in place to help you into the right direction. Sometimes when there is a significant loss in life, particularly that of a parent, that type of grief can have a deep impact on all other aspects of life, including other interpersonal relationships.  The thing with grief as well, as a person navigates through the grieving process, there is no timetable, it isn't linear, and you can "revisit" a stage of the grief cycle at any point after a person's loss.  The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Some people never fully get to that acceptance point, and if they do, they don't stay there, and that's okay, but sometimes those people need some additional support as well.  Sometimes people fall into what is called complicated grief, which pretty much means that you are so impacted by the loss of your loved one that you have difficulty resuming other parts of your life.  This may be the case of finding difficulty seeing possibility or hope in your current or future relationships.  Feeling hopeless in any area of life is not something you want to be experiencing, particularly if you are feeling burdened by it or like you can't get out of it. Speaking to a therapist, either in person or virtually, maybe one that specializes in grief to start with, may really help you work through some issues you are experiencing with your grief and help you find ways to find hope in your future again.  They can also help you identify and prioritize what is important to you in a partner and why, and maybe help you get more of a sense of hope in that aspect as well.  It is important to address how you are feeling now, before you get into a deeper place of depression and it is harder to work out of.  Best of luck to you, and please feel free to reach out if you need anything more in the future!
Answered on 11/18/2022

How to cope with losing my wife and mom

I am very sorry that you are struggling with the loss of your wife and mom. That is a tremendous loss for you to have gone through and the way you're feeling would be expected after experiencing such life changing events. I am not sure of the circumstances of the loss of your wife and your mom and whether it happened recently or if you are still grieving these losses for quite a while now. Either way, there are specific stages of grief and loss that people go through and there isn't really a timeline on how quickly people go through the stages and sometimes they might get stuck on one particular stage. It sounds like you are in the depression or sadness stage. This stage usually comes after denial and anger. Some people start their stages of grief and loss with depression, especially is they knew the death was going to happen due to a prolonged illness. In these cases, people will actually go through the denial and anger phases while their loved one is still alive. Again, I am not sure of the circumstances of your losses and this might not apply to your situation. Usually the first year of the loss is the hardest because you experience all of the birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries without your loved one. These days that were once happy and enjoyable are now sad because your loved one isn't there to celebrate with you. This can leave a great void in your life as a result. You will also not have the same amount of enjoyment you once had with the things that made you happy in your life. You may find yourself longing to share your joy with your missing loved one but cannot which can be especially difficult. Being patient with yourself and acknowledging that the way you are feeling will not last forever but also knowing that you might not ever return to the level of happy you were before you lost your loved ones. It is important to get support from friends and other family members to help maximize the joy you feel in your life. If people offer to help or do things with you, take them up on it even if you don't feel like it at the moment. Most times you will end up feeling glad that you said yes to their offer. It is like not wanting to go to the gym but then feeling better after your workout. It is also important to look for new forms of happy that might not necessarily be associated with the memory of your loved one. This can help you to create new experiences that are unique to your life as it is now and not the way it was when your loved ones were here. Attending a grief support group might also be helpful, especially a loss of a spouse support group. These are great ways to connect with others who are experiencing the same feelings you are going through and often you can make new friends and sources of support and joy from these types of groups. Not sleeping well can make all of the symptoms you are experiencing worse so try to develop a healthy bedtime routine to get better quality sleep. This includes avoiding caffiene late in the day, minimizing your screen time a few hours before bed and refraining from watching depressing programs like the news or murder mysteries. These can stimulate your brain in a negative way and keep you from getting to sleep or being able to stay asleep. Talk to your doctor about getting a sleep aid if this situation doesn't resolve soon. Sleep is so important. Your lack of sleep might be due to not having adequate serotonin levels which can be depleted after prolonged periods of stress. Losing a spouse is actually one of the most stressful things to go through. You may want to talk to your doctor about medication to help restore your serotonin levels. This will also help with not feeling social, not enjoying your work and not feeling happy with your life.  I can't really comment to your feelings of doubt and conflict because I am not sure what these feelings are about but hopefully you can talk this through with your therapist. I am glad you are taking advantage of Better Help and getting the much needed support as you transition through this very difficult time in your life. Try to keep in mind that these feelings are temporary and it will get better but it will be difficult for a while. Let others help you if they offer and reach out for support if they haven't offered. Many times people are honored to help someone who is struggling and is so glad they were asked for support. I hope this helps to address your concerns and I hope things get better for you soon. Take care
(LCSW, CEDS, Mary, Beth, R, Blackwell)
Answered on 11/16/2022

Why aren't I finding the right friend or boyfriend? Why aren't I moving forward in life?

Hello, Hearing all of this, I would suggest seeking out a professional therapist. I think one reason is there are multiple pieces shared that would warrant its own time to process. Based on what you shared it makes sense you feel lonely and confused. I think loneliness hits harder than just being sad and often times we will wait for others rather than asking to spend time with others and maybe you do and are reaching out frequently. It sounds like major losses in your life all around and sometimes our psychological wellbeing plummets as a result. It makes sense you may be having a hard time holding up the financial end, physical and mental parts of your life based on what you've been going through. What I can help is start to guide you on how to change your situation.  The first step is noticing that you don't want the reality that is right now. There are pieces of your reality you do need to accept and others that we may need to push for change on. It's often easier to blame the world than take accountability for our own actions. This doesn't disregard the amount of loss or loneliness you experienced- those are valid and I want this to be a place where both acceptance and change can be an option in your life. I may start off with this...  What are your life worth living goals? This question is asking where do you see yourself going in a positive light? This is value-based or things you cherish about your life and want to or are moving towards. I usually use these six categories when brainstorming ideas of life worth living goals i.e. relationships, hobbies, mental and physical health, finances, spiritual and career. All are important to look at and it's important to write it specific enough that it's tangible this next year and feels clear on where you want to go. An example may be I want to increase my social circle to have a few friends to hangout with, mental health may be give time to grieve my losses. The finances may be making sure I'm working the hours I need to work and balancing work/life also. I hope this helps give you a start and I would recommend seeking out a therapist to process through all of this. It'll take more time than one post to work through what's going on currently. Best Regards, Mitchell Daas, MA, LPCC
(MA, LPCC)
Answered on 11/14/2022

How do i know if a recent connection is truly valid and not a connection out of grief?

Hello there, Thank you for reaching out for support at this sad time. Firstly I would like to say that I am sorry for your loss. It's hard losing a parent at any age, even if the passing was an expected loss.  Grief often can leave us feeling lost and isolated and overwhelmed with emotions and thoughts.  It is though, perfectly normal to feel unsure and to also experience a whole raft of conflicting and confusing emotions when you are grieving a loved one's passing.  Our grieving process is unique to each of us and with every loss that we have. Not all of us will cry or feel sad, we often can feel numb or in shock especially at the beginning of our process of grieving.  Just because others around you or you are not crying does not mean that they are feeling the loss any less. If this person is someone you have known some time and feel that you are able to trust them, then there is already a connection with them from the past, and this may mean that you already have a level of trust and also a bond with them of some sort.  What is it about this person that you are attracted to?  When we are at our most vulnerable, we look to gravitate towards those we trust the most.  This is usually family and friends and it seems that you have a safe and comforting relationship with this person.  However as there has already been a major change in your life with the passing of your parent, it may be beneficial to holding off making any big decisions in regards to your own life at this moment in time.  Try to take each day at a time and take as much time as you need to take to mourn the loss of your parent to work through the emotions and feelings associated with the loss, with the support and care from this person. Hope that this has helped you to gain some understanding of grief and loss and to also clarify your problem. Kind regards Louise
(Diploma, in, Counselling, (Integrative), Diploma, in, Hypnotherapy, Counsellor)
Answered on 11/13/2022

Does grief affect your perception of yourself?

Good afternoon - Welcome to BetterHelp. I want to welcome you to your therapeutic journey at this time. Thank you for sharing about the loss of your mother and recent episode of paranoia that is troubling you. I can understand it is difficult to open up to new people especially regarding struggles and appreciate you taking this first step. It sounds like you are at a point where you are maybe ready to deal with the loss of your mother and how it has overall affected your life to not have her physically present any longer. Sounds like you are avoidant of talking about it because it is uncomfortable and might cause emotions you do not want to deal with at this point. I typically use the trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy model of treatment to address grief in clients which is based on a gradual exposure model to help in building skills to cope with feelings while being exposed to the trauma of your loss. The model as it progressed builds to allow you to tell the story of your loss, what you have learned and how you can take care of yourself during these difficult times.  In terms of the paranoia you referenced, without more detail, I do not want to misspeak about your situation but if you choose to work with me, I want to delve more into this and see if it is connected or separate from the loss of your mother.  Paranoia can be brought on by traumatic events in a persons life. It can also be brought on by other factors prior to the death of your mother and can be exacerbated by this loss. Something that can be further explored to get a better timeline of these feelings occurring. The goal would be to identify the trigger to the paranoia to help in decreasing the severity of the onset of the paranoia that leaves you reeling as you said after the fact.  I hope this answers your question based on the information you have provided. I hope we can work together and I look forward to hopefully hearing from you soon.
(MS, LPC)
Answered on 11/10/2022

How do I overcome depression and grief?

Hello Michelle, Thank you for taking the time to reach out. You ask a wonderful question. First, I am sorry to hear about your father's death. You have a great deal on your plate right now. You are torn between caring for your mom, having a professional career, as well as your personal life. If you and I were working together in therapy, I would encourage you to work to organize these various parts of your life. You mentioned that you had a strained relationship with your dad. I would want to know more about what that means to you. It is common for someone to have mixed feelings about the death of a loved one whom they had a strained relationship with in life. Know that there are no wrong feelings in this. All the feelings you are experiencing are normal. Be patient and kind to yourself and know that it will take some time for things to get back to a sense of normalcy in your daily life. You are in the very early stages of grief.  You may also have a lot of feelings about the situation with your dad. There will be grief and sadness. You might also feel angered by him not leaving mom with appropriate financial resources. She is also grieving and you likely feel unable to help her with that pain.  Remind yourself that a death is not something that you just get over. It is something that you get through, but dad's loss will always be a part of your life story now. Find things that you enjoy doing, nurture yourself. I would encourage you to talk about the loss to someone, perhaps a therapist. Encourage mom to do the same. Count every win, each and every day. Each day that you get up, go to work, clean the house, attend to chores, go shopping, etc, is a win. Find distractions, do things that make you feel happy. Go out with friends, go to the movies, take a walk, journal, find new recipes to try. I hope that you have found this information helpful and I wish you all the best moving forward on your journey.
Answered on 11/10/2022

Why am I crying and depressed over my lost photos?

Hi,  Thank you for reaching out with your question. It sounds like you are having a really tough time and I can feel how hurt you are about losing the photographs.  It feels, to me, as though you are grieving the old job and the people involved. Because you didn't get the chance to say goodbye, there was no closure on these relationships and ultimately this could make the grief worse. We always think of grief as losing a person when they die, however, grief can come in all forms. The quick change of your job and no goodbye will result in shock and grief in your emotional system. Those photos were the only attachment you had left of that relationship, and now they have gone, which has ultimately allowed the grief to be all-consuming and overwhelming and take over your daily life.   To help with these emotions, take one day at a time. When you notice your emotions about this surfacing, pay attention to them and make space for them, which will help you to cope with them. Also, speaking to someone about how you are feeling may help. A friend, partner, colleague or therapist. Creating space to talk about your emotions will help them to flow through you so you are not stuck with them.  You could also try and focus on the positives and not the loss. Those students, who you had a good relationship with, were able to flourish in school and this is a positive thing that you made happen by being their teacher. Focusing on the loss of those photos, rather than the positive relationships you had will enhance the grief. Try switching this to thinking about the positive times you had in the school, and the new memories you will make enriching the lives of students in your new role.  Your new job may seem more challenging because you may be comparing it to the old one. It seems you were very settled and happy at the old job and focusing on the loss of that, could make the new one seem much harder as you are comparing the two.  I think allowing yourself time to grieve the loss will allow you to create healthy feelings toward the loss. This then might help with your new job going forward.  I hope this helps. If you need any further guidance, please speak to someone, we are here for you at BetterHelp. 
Answered on 11/10/2022

How to deal with grief and anger

Hello, I am very sorry to hear about the immense loss of the dad who you never knew and brother who you did have had the opportunity to know and have fond memories.  The hardest part is you didn't have an experience with your father -- whether positive or negative -- to be able to mourn. That has to make you feel confused and empty. Your loss is major because you have two very important family members that are gone from your life. It is normal to feel the five stages of grief which include shock denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, which in your case has been more enormous with your suffering that sets in. Sadness and sorrow are part of your unknown of not having you dad present in your life. This is because you do not have anything to grasp onto as you never had the ability to have that special bond that only fathers can fill. Some dad's give that affection, believe in you and provide guidance that is so needed in a young person's life. However there are dad's who may be present in your life but unable to give that special love that is needed as you grow. Although you know you were abandoned,  it is still a special kind of grief you have no knowledge of how it would have been. It is not your fault that your dad left and hopefully you do not feel blame or responsibility, you were a loving child. You may not feel that you have that strong sense of love, connection and belongingness without having a dad. Yet you do have the strength of being able to share you painful story and you can change your story because you are worthy. Therapy can help you find your way while you work on these major losses including your brother's loss which are very important to work through and find healthier ways to cope and find meaning. I want you to believe in yourself and know you can own your own memories that will help you through this difficult time. You need to show self compassion and treat yourself positively as you treat your friend, it is very crucial while you go through this suffering and grieving process.
Answered on 11/04/2022

How do I navigate this?

First, I want to validate that what you are going through is incredibly difficult due to the complexities of the families we marry into. The family is correct in saying that they have all known each other before you. Even though you come in with a role that is significant to theirs. They are correct in wanting to help and be there for the daughter at all costs. They are not correct in how they are going about it, however.  In these situations, we ask ourselves, "what is my role here?" We always have a part in how we play in any family dispute. We cannot overlook this, even when their moods are erratic and reactive and their perspectives are misguided. One thought I have when I read this was, "what happened between you and your daughter to the point where she doesn't want to go to the wedding?" You guys have been around each other for years, and now she decides to take a stand? Is there anything that can be discussed about this situation to help the individual resolve her situation on her own?  So, you are stuck in the family with people on your husband's side who have turned against you. They have revealed their hand in that they will not have your back. It is for these reasons you have to navigate with an awareness of yourself, your emotions, and thoughts, and an awareness of what in life gets your attention causing you to react in a way that could harm your chances of getting what you want.  I am not sure where your husband stands on this, but is he torn between family, between his child's mom, and also managing your relationship? I am not sure what the people in the girl's life feel about things and if they believe they are actually helping or if they are doing something to be defiant or to try to find a cause in life to justify behaviors? I am leaving you with more questions than answers, but the questions are to "navigate" what's next.   Navigation starts when we are aware of what we are navigating, practice the use of skills to cope and practice tolerance in understanding how to meet people where they are at. It's not how we navigate it but how we deal with the emotions triggered at work, school, or anywhere. Many specifics are probably not being met as expected here, but there is still a problem that you notice and then there is another way to visit this problem to be more effective.  I want you to write down what you think the problem is, really is, though. If you start to say you are angry or mad or other people made you upset, that is not the problem. The problem is what interferes with what you want in life or what interferes with things you hold very deeply. The problem is often very much in our minds and our inability to accept our role in situations. We can only control ourselves, so it is critical that we work in the one area we can work on, in us. Look at how you contributed then you can see others in this mess and ask yourself what you can do about them in your life. This isn't easy and is often not a solution to make you feel better, but you will learn to be more effective at getting what you want. 
(LCPC)
Answered on 11/04/2022

What can I do to improve my motivation and self care?

Hi Casey! Thank you so much for asking this valuable question. It is really good to hear that you are planning to improve your self care skills and build upon your intrinsic motivation. I can tell that you are preparing to make changes in your life based on your willingness to set goals for yourself. It seems like you are ready to begin the process of establishing a healthy self care routine. What would you say are your primary self care skills at this time? What are some of the first things that come to your mind? First and foremost, I want to let you know that I am truly sorry for your loss. I am sending my heartfelt condolences to you. When your dad passed away, how did you cope with the feelings that you had experienced at the time? I suspect that this loss must have been a truly challenging time for you and your family. I can only imagine what you must be going through. How are you feeling about things now? I hope that you are doing what you can to take care of yourself at this time. In your question, you mentioned that you have been having sudden changes in your overall mood, fogginess, tearfulness and feelings of being isolated. Also, you stated that you have been having trouble with sleeping and weight gain. Thank you for providing the details of your specific symptom presentation. How have you been managing these symptoms thus far? Are these symptoms impacting your ability to function in your environment, in your occupation or socially? I realize that this must have been an extremely difficult situation to deal with. Did these symptoms first arise in January, after your father passed, or had you experienced some of these things before? It appears that you are feeling like this is the best time for you to begin to make some changes. It sounds like you are ready to begin coping with the loss as well as overcome the feelings of sadness and isolation. I completely agree with your intention to allow your dad to rest peacefully. It is a really good goal to learn to manage the worried feeling that you have been having about your mental health. How often do you find yourself feeling worried? What have you been doing to address your concerns and worries? Are you feeling more worried on some days than others? What sort of things trigger your worry? What are some of the warning signs of worry? Based on what you wrote in your question, it sounds like you have come up with an action plan to further develop your self care skills in response to the loss. That sounds like a really awesome idea. Perhaps you are wondering where the best place could be to start. What steps have you made so far in identifying your strategies for self care? From my perspective, it may be beneficial for you to make a list of your hobbies, talents and interests. In my experience, it is a good idea for people to develop self care techniques based on activities that are of interest for the individual. I would like to encourage you to utilize your strengths and create a personalized self care routine that best suites your interests and assessed needs. In addition, it might be beneficial for you to look at some resources available online in order to make a list of self care skills. It is a good plan to establish a long list of self care skills in order to have many options to choose from in any given moment. I can share with you two different web links of ideas for coping skills and grounding exercises, all of which can be incorporated into your self care routine. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c154cf9372b964a03cbccdb/t/5c488d65352f534aa63aa58a/1548258661324/100+Coping+Skills.pdf https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques#physical-techniques At this time, I would like to encourage you to attend individual counseling sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Through individualized therapy appointments, you will likely gain some perspective as well as additional insight into your current experiences. In addition to one on one appointments, it seems like you could greatly benefit from attending group therapy or one of the groupinars on BetterHelp. It would be really great if you could interact with other individuals who may also be going through similar experiences. An area of focus for therapy could be on the topic of the grieving process. Identify where you are at in the stages of grief. This might give you some insight into how to manage your experience. It is completely up to you what you decide to pursue in order to heal from this experience. My hope for you is that, in the right time, you will begin to feel better about yourself and your situation. As an aspiring art therapist, I always recommend creating art work as fuel for healing. I would like to encourage you to draw a picture within a circle of your worries. Perhaps you can create a word splash of your triggers and draw a spontaneous scribble over the words. Maybe you can make a collage that depicts your relationship with your dad in a positive way. Gather some art supplies, such as colored pencils, markers and watercolor paints and draw a tree. If you draw a story, write a poem or create a mobile or a diorama, this may be useful for you in some way. It is true that emotional expression can be utilized as a driving energy force through drawing, coloring, sculpting and painting. Take some time to make art and you can turn this process into a powerful self care skill over time. Thank you again for your time in asking a question on the BetterHelp platform. I want to wish you all the best in your therapeutic journey! I hope that my response was helpful for you in some way. Have a wonderful day!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 11/01/2022

How do you think therapy can help me?

Hi Tj Thank you for reaching out to a licensed therapist, it takes strength and courage to do so. In response to your question about therapy and how it relates to what you are experiencing with anger and mood fluctuations, therapy with a licensed professional can assist many in a variety of ways. From what I am seeing, it sounds like in addition to anger it also sounds like you are experiencing some grief following your mothers passing. This is also something that therapy can assist you with.  When it comes to your anger, anger can be a result of a variety of things from depression, mood disorders, grief, anxiety, trauma and so on. Therapy can aid you in identifying the core reasons as to why this is occurring and how it is impacting you as a whole. Additionally, therapy can assist you in processing the emotions attached to the anger your experience as well as other life stressors and past experiences that may lead to additional unwanted emotions as a whole. Aside from processing the emotions, therapy is also a good source of support. Having a third party, non biased person assist you in navigating your life as well as better understanding what you feel, is another positive aspect of therapy. Furthermore, many people who deal with ongoing unwanted emotions tend to not have a variety of effective coping skills. this can be a result of many reasons from never having learned any to having a difficult time recalling them, as well as the emotions taking over which will result in employing the learned skills. A therapist can assist a client with learning effective coping skills to redirect their negative emotions, reframe their negative thinking patterns, ground themselves when feeling overly stressed, angry, anxious and so on.. these are just a few ways in which a therapist can assist with coping strategies and how to better manage anger. In regards to the grief you are experiencing. this is also something that can be done in therapy. Grief is a process that is very different for each person. For some it can be short for others it can be a long process. Either way grief can come with a variety of different emotions from joy when recalling positive moments shared with the person who has passed. Grief therapy can include processing the lost, going through the process of grief that entitles multiple stages, and being able to heal from the loss.  I hope this information helps you through this process and should you like to proceed with therapy please feel free to reach out to me and i will gladly assist you through this journey. Best wishes Elizabeth Diaz
(MS, LMHC, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 11/01/2022

How to help with feeling numb while trying to grieve your mum?

Hi Chico I am so sorry to hear that you recently lost your mum to cancer. That must be very traumatic for you, most especially because she was also your best friend so your whole world as you know it has suddenly shifted overnight and it sounds really disorientating. You have also mentioned that you are 20 years old and have taken on the house and everything that comes with that such as sorting out the bills - this feels like added responsibilities at such a young age and whilst navigating very new grief - I wonder do you have a support network that can help you in this challenging time? Perhaps a friend, colleague, neighbor or a bereavement support group in your local area or online. Often this can prove to be a really valuable source of comfort when you are experiencing grief and give you a space where you can 'lean in', express yourself freely and get help with those practicalities that come with running a home.  You may also consider seeking out some specialized bereavement counseling, the common suggestion amongst mental health professionals is to seek this kind of support after around six months or more has passed to allow the natural grieving process to take place.  It might also be helpful for you to create some space to read about the grief process, to make sense of what you are feeling. You speak about feeling numb as you are trying to grieve your mum and I wanted to reflect that this is a normal part of the grief process, you are not alone and there is support out there to help you. As a starting point, I can suggest reading about The Four Stages of Grief by Bowlby and Parkes as you may identify how you're feeling in that first stage of 'shock and numbness' which can occur very recently following your loss. You may feel like you 'shut down' and 'numb out' - this is often a temporary or transiting feeling, and a normalized coping response to enduring such a traumatic life event like bereavement.  It's really important to note that there is no 'right' way to grieve and each day may have points where you are riding the wave of numerous emotions. It can be helpful to keep a daily routine which has its core emphasis on self care such as eating healthily, taking gentle walks, journalling your feelings, keeping a sleep schedule, using a meditation app such as Headspace. You don't have to make any big decisions in the midst of grief and you can ask for support and time out.  Be kind to yourself and take each moment as it arrives and please remember that you don't have to experience these overwhelming emotions all on your own, there is compassionate support when/if you're ready to take that step. 
Answered on 10/31/2022

How to feel better after my husband's death

It is very difficult to lose someone that you have spent almost all your adult life with.   I'm sure you were a caretaker as well as your husband's health declined.  There is sometimes survivor's guilt which is feeling guilty that you remain after their death.  There is no right or wrong way to mourn.  The grief process involves stages: denial when you cannot accept they are gone, feeling depressed and angry about the loss, and eventually acceptance.   After such a long marriage, in many ways you have to reinvent yourself, which usually involves making new or using existing friendships to have others to do things with, being more involved with your daughter and her family and possibly grandchildren or great grandchildren, and finding new activities that you enjoy.  As you have had a mood disorder for a long time, you understand the highs and lows of Bipolar Disorder.  Therapy also can help you with your life changes.  A therapist can help you work through your grief, set goals, and provide support.  CBT therapy can look at your thinking patterns and help you see your emotions more as a product of thinking and behaviors.   In therapy, many people are able to change their thinking patterns and feel more motivation and empowerment.    It is important to try to put some structure in your life, find new ways to have meaningful activities.  Some people find that volunteer work helps them and also gives them more meaning and purpose.   Support can also come from churches or clubs in the community.  Some areas have senior centers where there is more opportunity to meet other people and be more involved in activities.    I know it is hard to find the motivation, but staying idle and isolated will only make the depression worse.  Sometimes you have to "fake it until you make it."    It is also important to take care of you.  Do things that you enjoy or enjoyed in the past for yourself.  Eat as healthy as possible, exercise if possible, stay involved and linked to any churches or clubs, call others and reach out, be as involved as possible with your daughter and other family members, and continue to stay connected with your psychiatric and medical physicians.    As I stated earlier, therapy would also be helpful to teach you new coping skills and help you continue to process your feelings through the grief process.   You can find meaning and purpose in your life, it just may be different than the spouse and caretaking role you had with your spouse.  I think one of the most important things is being willing to ask for help, like you are doing now.  You are not a burden to others, you need to challenge that thinking.  You have many years of wisdom and love to offer others.   I know it's hard right now, but the grief will get better.
Answered on 10/30/2022

Living with guilt

Hi Caper. Thank you for reaching out for advice. You're going through a meaningful loss. For both you and your mother. Whenever we are going through a loss, it's essential that we take time to grieve. Pets are just as much family as any human member, and I respect the magnitude of the feelings you must be having. If there is capacity for forgiveness between you and your mother, it may be helpful to explore that. Sometimes it can be very difficult to forgive ourselves without the help of someone else saying "it's okay, I'm sad about it, but I don't blame you". If you were my client I would definitely want to explore your relationship with your mother to know more about how she may react to the news and give support to you in the process of telling her what happened. I'm very sorry for your loss. People do make mistakes and accidents do happen. It certainly does not make you a bad person or a person who cannot learn, heal, forgive and be forgiven. I hope this helps.  Take care and please, consider meeting with a therapist more regularly if possible. These are heavy feelings and complex problems that we often do not have direct solutions or answers to, but are definitely approached more effectively when we have support, understanding, and reminders that we are not irredeemable or bad at our core.  This may be a useful time to connect with any system of belief/faith/worldview that allows you to connect with a source of forgiveness. If you do not have one, this may be a good occasion to explore new ideas and new points of view on topics of loss, grief, and guilt.  Throughout my experience as a therapist, I've seen people go from a place of overwhelming guilt to a place of acceptance over time. Usually the key component of moving forward is to humanize yourself. So much of this may sound easier said than done, and I'd agree that it is, but by no means is it impossible. Your family relationships and your relationship to yourself is worth the step you are taking to seek consultation and do the difficult work that comes with acceptance and forgiveness.  Take care,  Kavin 
Answered on 10/26/2022

Is there a way to deal with separation anxiety and feelings of betrayal

Hi,  It sounds like you are grieving the loss not just of the relationship with your partner but her daughter who you had formed a relationship with too, as a family unit. This could be a complex grief as you had given up everything that you had known and other significant relationships for the sake of your partner. She and her daughter have been your whole world for nearly 7 years and it is understandable that you are experiencing separation anxiety on a heightened scale. The grieving process is unique to everyone and you may be questioning everything about the relationship considering the 'whys', 'what ifs' and that sounds like a natural part of your process. Even though it may hurt trying to process the betrayal at the moment it hopefully it will pass as you move through your loss. You may feel and think many things such as deep sadness, crying lots, anger, rage, bargaining, untll reaching acceptance (not all in a specific order or symptoms). It can be tough and challenging to deal with loss and grief and time does heal. If you feel that you may get stuck in this process that is when speaking to a professional counsellor or someone close to you about it all could help you become "unstuck." If there is no point of reconciliation, then your goal may be to learn to adapt and hopefully build a new life for yourself which may or may not include a relationship with your step daughter. My advice would be to reach out to those that love and care for you to hopefully help you feel loved, get distracted and so on to help come to terms with your huge losses. If that seems too difficult and challenging right now then speaking to a counsellor could help you to untangle to emotions to get clearer and make positive steps forward.  If you believe that counselling may be useful for you now, you can speak to a counsellor.  Take Care Michelle Allen
Answered on 10/26/2022

How could I get help to initiate family reunification, reconciliation and peace?

It sounds as if there has really been a lot going on in your life over the past 2 years or so. I am sure that all of this really has changed you as a person! It sounds as if there are couple of different things going on in this situation and so I think that it would be important to find out which area you are looking at addressing. It sounds as if you may be dealing with some grief and trauma. Grief from the loss of relationships with your sons. If I understand correctly, your two youngest boys stopped talking to you due to the actions of your oldest boy? Are you looking for grief counseling and ways to deal with this situation? You cannot force anyone to do reconciliation therapy. The only aspect that you can work on is the part that you may have had some part in and the grief that goes along with the loss of that relationship.  There are therapists here on this platform that can assist you in processing through the grief of this situation with your sons. They could also help you through the grief and trauma surrounding the medical procedures that you had to undergo and the residual pain. The best way to get started is by looking through the list of available therapists and finding one that has credentials and specializations that meet your needs. It sounds like an online therapy option would be an optimal choice for you after hearing about the difficulty that you have in walking and with coordination.  Initiating therapy for yourself may assist in problem-solving some solutions, with the assistance of your therapist, that will help you be able to reach out and initiate reconciliation. Even if that is not possible, the ultimate goal will be for you to achieve peace within yourself. That way you will be able to live your best life and feel good about yourself. I hope that this has helped to answer your questions and wish you the best of luck on this journey!
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 10/23/2022

How to navigate through grief over a loved one?

Hello Hocuspocus, Thank you for taking the time and reaching out, you ask an excellent question. It sounds like you connected with this person on a very deep and intimate level. Something like this does not often happen to many people.  If you and I were working together in therapy, I would want to know more about your abrupt departure. What were the circumstances surrounding the goodbye? You also say that you are still in contact with the person, that must be very difficult. What does that look like?  Grief is the end of something. Could be a physical death, a divorce, a breakup, a move, any significant life change. Grief can cause sadness, pain, tears, guilt, just to name a few emotions.  What are your goals for the communication you still have with the person? Is there a hope for a future with them at some point? If there is, it may be that you have to adapt and adjust to a long distance relationship for now.  If you feel that this is not likely to happen, it might be best to stop the contact with them, if it causes you this much pain and sadness. Closing this door might be better for you, both now and in the long run. As long as you are in contact, these strong, intense emotions are not likely to go away.  Some strategies which may help you navigate through this would include, keeping yourself busy and engaged in activities and hobbies that you enjoy doing. Reach out to friends and/or family. Do the things that you enjoy and that make you happy. Journaling is an excellent tool. Do things that give you a sense of purpose. I would encourage you to look into finding a therapist whom you can speak with on a regular basis while you are going through this. You might find it very helpful with dealing with and processing these feelings, as well as help you make the best decision for yourself. I hope that you have found this helpful and I wish you all the best moving forward on your journey. 
Answered on 10/23/2022

I've gone through some big life changes this past year and am wondering the best way to handle it

Hello BZ, I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. Losing a sibling is a unique loss in a person's life - as sibling relationships are often one of the longest relationships we have. You have been experiencing many significant changes in your life in just a short period of time. The loss of a loved one, job changes, and relocating to a different living environment will create a great deal of upheaval. I applaud you for making every effort to connect with friends and family, as you need support from those you love and trust. Despite your efforts -- you are continuing to experience the effects of these huge events and changes in your life. You mention that you are a "tough person" and I don't doubt that. But just because you are struggling, does NOT mean you are not tough. It means you are going through significant change and our bodies and minds ARE going to react to that - there are no two ways about that. I believe if you were able let yourself up off the mat - and acknowledge that indeed you have been challenged these past several months, you might be able to be more kind and patient with yourself. The anniversary of your brother's passing is upon you - know that grief goes  beyond anniversary dates. You will experience the loss of your brother for many months to come; and that is expected and ok. How you look at your responses to these big changes is important. It is vital for you to allow yourself some time to adapt to these changes. I'm wondering what you have tried with regards to self-care. Especially in times like these -- but also as day to day preventive measures. Deep breathing and relaxation exercises often are very helpful with regard to dealing with anxiety - particularly if you've got a manager at work who is difficult to be around. In addition, it is very important to participate in some physical activity 3-4 times per week - exercise is a natural anti-depressant, and can also help with sleep and anxiety. Finally, you mention wanting to "see more positives" in your life. I want to you to go online and look for Gratitude Journals -- this will help you to look at the positives you DO have in your life - and encourage you to consider those aspects in your life on a daily basis. To be grateful for what you DO have vs the struggles you are going through.  I hope this is helpful to you. I hope you find a way to be kind to yourself, to give yourself space to grieve and adapt to these life events. Regards,  Gretchen
Answered on 10/23/2022

Why do I struggle so badly with taking care of a dying relative?

Hi Jean, Honoring and acknowledging the feelings and parts of yourself that are protective is an important part of our being emotionally healthy. It is much like receiving validation when we witness something or do something that we later have acknowledged and "Witnessed" by another human. In this case, it sounds like the wounded part of yourself recognizes, based on your experience, that your grandmother was not a good person to you and this "Part" is trying to make sure you are reminded of that. So, that part of you that is hanging onto those feelings is perhaps waiting for that validation and that recognition that your grandmother did leave wounds. I would suggest an exercise to recognize and remind yourself (actually speaking to that protective part of yourself), that you are going to be okay and that she can no longer cause harm to you. You can do this by writing a letter from your older self to your younger self, so that the part of you that is sending signals to be careful, be aware, can stop having to waive that warning flag so much. You can let that protector part of yourself know that you are well aware of what is going on now and that your grandmother will not be on this earth much longer. At the same time, you can choose whether or not you want to continue the visits with her. Can you bring someone with you that knows the history? Is it possible to have a genuine conversation with your grandmother so that perhaps she can free herself of guilt, if she is in that space; and that you can speak the truth to her. It is not uncommon to be able to have such frank conversations at the end of life stage if the person is fully cogent. We do walk gently here to recognize that she is now the vulnerable one, at least physically, and to walk that path carefully to not cause harm to her or yourself. Breaking the cycle of abuse is a tight walk and it sounds like you are trying to do that, but need to acknowledge to your protective part of yourself that you are up for the task.  It sounds like there are some anticipatory, complicated feelings of grief, which can include apathy, anger, regret, guilt and a potpourri of emotions. This might also occur after she passes. Think of how you can navigate this in a way that you can honor yourself and the emotion you still hold in reference to your grandmother, and at the end of her life, feel good about how you walked that walk. If not already, you may want to consider working with a professional through that process. Be gentle with yourself, Judea
(LISW, LCSW, MSSA)
Answered on 10/22/2022

How to process situations realistically?

Self-sabotaging can definitely get in the way of us enjoying things in our lives. Sometimes we may feel like even when things are going well, that it's too good to be true or that we don't deserve it. Things may be calm in our lives and that may feel like it won't last for long. Thus, it can lead us to do things that will not allow us to enjoy it. Sometimes this can stem from earlier times in our lives where perhaps we didn't feel deserving or where things go badly for us. Also, if people have made us believe that we are not deserving of good things then it can lead us to believe it and to have low self-esteem or not feel so great about ourselves. Self-sabotaging can also be a coping mechanism to protect ourselves. If our internal thoughts consist of something like: I do not deserve to be loved by others. Then we may do something to disrupt the peace. For example, being in a relationship that practices effective communication and feelings of safety is not necessarily comfortable for everyone to experience. If we are not accustomed to that type of relationship, we start a fight so that there is some disruption of the peace. And this will then lead us to feel sad or remind us that we cannot be happy... when we in fact may have caused the tension in the relationship. And something that was not an issue may somehow become a new issue. So being uncomfortable with calmness can definitely cause one to self-sabotage.  Now when we are dealing with self-sabotage and grief, we can see how this combination can cause heavy levels of stress. Losing something or someone that meant something to us can be intense as it can take some time for us to heal. Grief is an individual process that takes time and is unique to each person. Because there is no right or wrong way to grieve, it's important to embrace the process and allow it to take its course. And feeling a certain way about what happened is valid and understandable. It can feel extra stressful especially if we blame ourselves in any way for the loss. So it's extra important that we process our feelings as it can help decrease intense feelings and negative thoughts. But as a reminder, this can take time. But reframing some of these thoughts can be quite helpful. For instance, "I am at fault for the break-up," is an unhelpful, but also inaccurate thought. Instead, we can say, "Even though I tried my best to make the relationship work and made some mistakes, the break-up was something that was bound to happen if my partner is not willing to meet me halfway." It may take some time to get here, but it can be quite helpful to reframe to some constructive and helpful thinking. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. But one mistake doesn't define who we are or what we deserve. Just something to consider or keep in mind. After all, feeling mad or sad when you are grieving is a very normal feeling. The stages of grief consist of five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These do not necessarily go in any order, but can definitely play a role on how we feel throughout the day. Being in tune and aware of these feelings can help us process them and move forward. Also, learning to express these feelings in a way can help us feel more in control of our emotions. This can allow us to feel more at ease and less stressed about situations in our lives. Through self-exploration, we can figure out what this looks like for all of us, but it can vary from person to person. So just something for us to find ways to explore these feelings throughout our healing journey.   There are some great self-care resources out there that may be helpful to consider, such as:  1) Practical Guides for Grief: https://onedrive.live.com/view.aspx?resid=14F2075C7B009CE8!2371&ithint=file%2cdocx&authkey=!AN0JCjBcC8iASr0 2) Bearing the Unbearable by Joanne Catitorrie, PhD 3) The Grief Recovery Handbook by John W. Jamews and Russell Friedman    If you still feel like you need additional support, you're welcome to look into starting your own individual counseling services to discuss grief and the negative thoughts. I would also consider joining a grief support group as they can be quite helpful to speak to others about feelings of grief. Best of luck to you with everything on your journey to heal.
Answered on 10/22/2022