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In your experience/opinion, when does grief become unhealthy?

I have been thinking a lot about grief lately, as I prepare for my mother's death, and deal with anticipatory grief, etc. I want to know what to expect, roughly. And I know every situation is different, but it helps to hear others' experiences.

A few weeks ago I was discussing this with an old friend. He lost his father about ten years ago and he lost his mother five years ago. (They were both in their late 70s or early 80s, I believe.) We had a long conversation about what life is like after parents are gone, and he told me, five years out, he still cries daily and is still not anywhere near over his grief. He said that his sisters have all moved on, more or less, and kind of left him alone in his grief, which has just been more isolating. They think he needs to move on, too.

I'm not judging his experience one way or another. But in terms of what to expect ... I know one never gets over the loss of their parents. Yet I don't want to be five years out and still grieving to the point of crying every day, either. That seems like an incredible burden. And I don't think my mother would want that for me.

Does anyone have thoughts about this?

by Anonymousreply 39Last Wednesday at 4:27 PM

Check this thread out. Amazing responses, both brutal and tender.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 1Last Saturday at 2:47 AM

Just yesterday I was ruminating about “Promising Young Woman”, and this very question. Some people just can’t move on, and it’s not healthy. I’d say that when a person is crying every day, years after the loss, it’s not healthy. Sometimes acute grief catches us, but chronic grief is unproductive.

I suppose there’s one grief I give a lot of leeway to, and that’s losing a child.

by Anonymousreply 2Last Saturday at 3:14 AM

My old friend grief. I unexpectedly lost my oldest brother when I was 23. Carried that inside for years. 15 years later something clicked and it was over. I still get wistful thinking about everything he missed, such as watching his kids grow up. It doesn’t blindside me anymore. Now I try to see it as a motivation. Living life to the best of my ability for as long as I can. He didn’t get to, so I better. Some days I actually do.

Wishing your friend well OP. I hope he gets to the other side of it eventually. Surely that’s what his parents would want.

by Anonymousreply 3Last Saturday at 4:25 AM

Thanks, r3. My mother lost her older brother in her early 40s (not exactly the same, I know) and I think it hit her much harder than the deaths of her parents, and stayed with her much longer. I was around 13 when he died, and I remember going with my mother and grandmother to his grave about ... six months after he died. When my grandmother, who was having mobility issues at this point, finally reached the headstone, she looked at it and wept like I've never heard anyone weep before.

And yes, I hope my friend gets through it too. I didn't realize how much he was struggling, although I also put on a brave face most of the time regarding my mom. I mentioned to him at one point during our conversation, "Well, we have to survive, because we don't have a choice." And he replied, "Yes, but I sometimes feel the downside is ... you survive."

by Anonymousreply 4Last Saturday at 4:51 AM

The one thing I am going to try to remember is that my parents would not want me to completely fall apart after their deaths. I know we can't control how we react to grief, but they worked hard to give me a good life, and I want to honor them by living that life.

by Anonymousreply 5Last Saturday at 6:42 AM

[quote]I suppose there’s one grief I give a lot of leeway to, and that’s losing a child.

I agree r2. One way I comfort myself when thinking about the death of a parent is by remembering that it's the natural order of things, and nearly every person must endure it, in one form or another.

Losing a child is a very different type of loss.

by Anonymousreply 6Last Saturday at 10:22 AM

It not the "grief" that is or becomes unhealthy.

It's the way someone deals with and processes that grief, or most likely doesn't, that is or isn't healthy or productive.

It's not a question of getting over it or how much is enough time, it's a function of HOW the person is handling it.

It can be unhealthy after two days if the approach to processing it is to numb yourself with drugs and alcohol into a catatonic state 24x7.

by Anonymousreply 7Last Saturday at 10:31 AM

Lost my mother rather suddenly seven years ago and it destroyed me. I think about her every day and though I don’t cry every day, the tears come easily at certain times, like the anniversary of her death. Still, I would say that I am in a good place regarding her death. And frankly, grieve as long as you need. Losing a parent creates a huge hole and you won’t know how you will feel or react until it happens.

by Anonymousreply 8Last Saturday at 10:34 AM

R7, I just came here to say something similar, and I absolutely agree with you.

My uncle’s wife passed away, he couldn’t handle it, started drinking (more), lost his job, house, relationships with friends and family.

My cousin lost her son due to a heart condition and she did the opposite, went back to school and became a cardiologist. I don’t think that it’s about one of them grieving “more” than the other person, but it’s all about the way people deal with life and lemons.

by Anonymousreply 9Last Saturday at 10:40 AM

I took care of my Mom 24/7 for the last 12 years of her life, so I went through the anticipatory grief. I thought I was prepared for her death but it was a huge shock and hit me hard when it happened. I went through the guilt - " I should have done this, or that," but my friends all assured me I had done everything possible for her and then some. It did take about a year to readjust to life without her. Now I am glad that I spent so much time with her. I have no guilt or regrets. My sister's, who did nothing to help, have to live with that fact. Though I suppose it doesn't bother them at all.

by Anonymousreply 10Last Saturday at 10:41 AM

OP here.

I struggled with alcohol (and to a lesser degree blow) in my 20s. r7's scenario scares me a bit. But my mother has been declining for many years, and I have not had the urge to go back to drinking or using in that time, so I hope it's a good sign I can cope when the end comes. In a sense, I've already lost my mom.

But at the same time, I also don't want to get stuck grieving, even if I'm coping in healthy ways.

by Anonymousreply 11Last Saturday at 10:50 AM

R11 :hug:

by Anonymousreply 12Last Saturday at 11:14 AM

Grief is a personal, individual journey.

Don't try to judge anyone else's grief process if you can avoid it.

Grief makes everyone a little crazy...

Try to make your own process as healthy and productive as you can - reach out for support, get help when you need it

by Anonymousreply 13Last Saturday at 11:27 AM

OP, you're already grieving your mother, IMO, which is OK.

by Anonymousreply 14Last Saturday at 11:32 AM

Father: Died suddenly when I was in my mid-20s. I cried every day for about a year.

Mother: Diagnosed with cancer and lived for a year after her diagnosis. I didn't cry much when she died. I had already been grieving (and crying) for a year. (Starting from when I found out she had terminal cancer). Also, it's different when your second parent dies. You're "experienced."

by Anonymousreply 15Last Saturday at 11:35 AM

When my mother was in the earlier stages of her illness, I remember thinking, "I don't know what I'm going to do without my mom."

Now she is all but gone -- at least, the person who was my mother is gone -- and I have found a way to survive.

I'm hoping in some small, tiny, maybe almost imperceptible way, going through years and years of slow motion grief will make the months and years after her death a bit easier.

by Anonymousreply 16Last Saturday at 12:36 PM

It's hard to say, OP, given that we don't know your friend, but grieving like that over parents who died of old age sounds excessive and if he's aware of it, it sounds like he's reaching out to you for help and maybe encourage him to do so.

I say this with an asterisk, because it may just be that your friend is someone who cries at the drop of a hat and other than good five minute cry once a day he's processed everything normally.

It does seem that older gay men who are single tend to take the death of a parent much harder versus their married siblings who have children and spouses to focus on.

by Anonymousreply 17Last Saturday at 12:49 PM

Wish I had some advice or consolation, OP darling, but I’m pleased to see the posters above have been eloquent and reassuring in their guidance.

Really I’m terrible when it comes to coping with grief. So far I’m lucky enough and young enough to still have my parents both in good health, and I haven’t had a friend or lover die on me yet either (there again, I’ve got no friends and never had a lover, so...). My grandparents bar one are gone, and it doesn’t bother me. I have taken the death of pets very hard, entering a low-grade isolating depression for months when my last dog died.

As a teen, I took the near-fatal illness of my cousin extremely and embarrassingly badly, to the point that in the end it was a more damaging ordeal for me than it was for him long term—he took a year off, recovered and went about his full happy life with renewed gusto; I couldn’t get past the horror and shock of seeing him try to kill himself and almost die, and didn’t emerge from a deep depression for a decade. I still can’t quite forget the haunting images and dark feelings that emerged. Honestly I would say it scarred me for life, and has negatively (possibly permanently?) impacted my life and relationships. I should have had intensive consistent high-grade therapy for a couple of years after it happened to help me work through it, but I couldn’t afford it at the time and had no support (I can’t afford it now, either). I regret how I handled it and how the people around me handled it, and as a result I believe that guidance and open communication during a grieving process are crucial. Don’t do what I did, which is bottle it up, deny deny deny, self-abuse, hide away from the world in your room, and bury yourself in work/study/mindless internet use—it really doesn’t work.

by Anonymousreply 18Last Saturday at 12:55 PM

r17 he is unpartnered and childless, and I do think that's part of it. But he's also not the type of person you'd expect to cry easily. To add to the situation, his beloved cat of seventeen years died last winter, right before everything shut down. That cat was a huge part of his life, and that loss is also something he's really struggling with.

And like a lot of gay men -- I'll add myself to this list -- he was very close to his mom.

by Anonymousreply 19Last Saturday at 12:55 PM

Yeah. Just like hoarding can become unhealthy. It's almost like survivor's guilt.

by Anonymousreply 20Last Saturday at 12:56 PM

Hoarding is something I fear, r20. I have never had hoarding tendencies (well, except books) but I notice that MANY times on Hoarders, the hoarding behavior begins after the death of a parent.

I had a friend in high school whose mother had died when he was in third grade. And almost immediately, his father stopped taking care of the house and began to hoard. It was a disaster. It was almost his way of creating a time capsule of the time when she was still alive.

by Anonymousreply 21Last Saturday at 1:00 PM

As an aside, I have long wanted to get a cat to keep me company since I live alone. But ... honestly ... after watching how upset my friend still is about losing his cat, over a year later, I am really rethinking the prospect.

I don't want to set myself up for an inevitable and painful loss one day.

by Anonymousreply 22Last Monday at 11:23 AM

I don't think grief ever ends, it just (hopefully) gets easier to deal with. My brother died unexpectedly when I was 26 and he was 32. I was a mess for about a year. It still stings occasionally, but you get used to the pain. It's like an old scar that you have to scratch every once in a while. It shouldn't be an open wound for the rest of your life.

by Anonymousreply 23Last Monday at 11:30 AM

To use two examples of DL faves, I think Meghan McCain and Prince Harry have dealt with their parents deaths in extremely unhealthy ways

by Anonymousreply 24Last Monday at 11:32 AM

Lol r24

by Anonymousreply 25Last Monday at 11:33 AM

I believe grief is mainly about the regret of not resolving any lingering issues with the deceased. As long one carries that particular burden it will express itself through grief.

Grief counseling, a shrink, hell even some witch performing an elaborate ritual or a psychic acting as medium to give the grieving client peace of mind, could help.

by Anonymousreply 26Last Monday at 11:41 AM

[quote] hell even some witch performing an elaborate ritual

This made me laugh, lol. You are right, though. Sometimes the grieving need a ritual - a tangible process, like spreading ashes or burning old mementos - to truly let go.

by Anonymousreply 27Last Monday at 11:45 AM

R26 I agree. R23 here. My brother and I always had issues in our relationship, but the last time I saw him (3 months before his accident), we turned a real corner and were getting closer. I was looking forward to that...and then...fate was a bitch.

I hate that, but I had to make peace with it. You have to, or you'll go nuts

by Anonymousreply 28Last Monday at 11:52 AM

Thanks r26/r28

by Anonymousreply 29Last Monday at 12:09 PM

As an aside: do you think it's more difficult to lose one's parents if you yourself are unpartnered? I was thinking about this today. If you don't have a partner/husband, then your relationship with your parent(s) is often the most important relationship in your life. Maybe that's why it's so hard to lose a parent in that situation.

by Anonymousreply 30Last Wednesday at 2:36 PM

No one can dictate to another person how they should grieve. But if that grief is affecting your mental/physical health & the livelihood of you & your children than it's a problem.

by Anonymousreply 31Last Wednesday at 2:43 PM

I like the work by David Kessler. Here he talks about anticipatory grief.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 32Last Wednesday at 2:58 PM

Cries every day for 5 years. What a fucking wimp. Is there an asteroid that can destroy this fucking pussy. Jesus Christ.

by Anonymousreply 33Last Wednesday at 2:58 PM

You sound lovely, r33

by Anonymousreply 34Last Wednesday at 3:02 PM

I can assure the nutcase at R33 that NO ONE will so much as bat an eyelash when she kicks the bucket.

by Anonymousreply 35Last Wednesday at 3:04 PM

Shut up R33.

by Anonymousreply 36Last Wednesday at 3:08 PM

This a thread full of fucking babies and wimps. Grow up, pussies.

by Anonymousreply 37Last Wednesday at 3:20 PM

Our beloved Princess Diana has been gone for nearly 24 years now, but not a day goes that I don't think about her and the horrific and tragic loss she was for the entire world.

by Anonymousreply 38Last Wednesday at 3:51 PM

My father died while I was in college and, not having had to experience any major family deaths in my life up to that point, that one hit really hard. I tried to be strong for my mother and sister and always try to lighten the mood if I could and I only cried maybe twice that first week of his death. I went back to school and suddenly stopped attending classes and mostly left the apartment to get food and then watch TV. I'd still turn in my work and do everything I was supposed to, but my drive was lacking. I was sleepwalking through most of my days. It took my friends getting me out and forcing me to remain human that kept me going.

Even with their love and support, I did feel as if I was coasting by for the next 5 or 6 years of my life after college. I'm not sure if that's supposed to happen to everyone in their 20's no matter what, but I felt incredibly unmotivated. Maybe because I no longer had him to make proud.

As the years went on, I did find myself focusing on it less and less. The important part is to keep moving. Take at least a month or two and try to get it out as much as you can. Don't bottle it up. Fuck being strong. Acknowledge the emotion and confront it so you can move on.

by Anonymousreply 39Last Wednesday at 4:27 PM
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