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OT: Prolonged Grief and Depression

Old 11-24-2015, 05:33 PM
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OT: Prolonged Grief and Depression

As the days grow shorter and colder, I've found myself sliding further into a state of depression. Since my mother passed away at the end of June, I haven't been the same person.

I suppose it's folly to think that the death of a parent wouldn't change us. In my case, Mom's loss has made me reconsider my priorities, my values, and what really matters in this life. At the same time, my dreams have become very troubling. Mom pops up in my dreams quite often these days, and the other night, I dreamt that I was at her funeral (again). I knelt down in front of her casket at the cemetery, touched it, and then woke up shaking.

I've also had recurring dreams about the first girl I really, really cared about when I was 16-17 years old. I won't go into that history too far...but what I will say is her parents split up at the beginning of high school, her mother kind of went off the deep end, and she was looking for love in all the wrong ways and doing things with boys that were really sad. When I was told about all of this by a mutual friend, I decided I wasn't going to be a part of that problem and instead of dating, crashing and burning (and we would have), we remained close friends after high school for a number of years until life took us in different directions.

And that happens when we get into our twenties. The circles we have in our late teens do not stay the same, and in my case, when I met my mentor at age 24, my life changed in a way that I didn't expect when I was in my teens (another long story). Those changes took me away from who and what I'd known before. If it wasn't for my mentor, I wouldn't be what I am.

He died 5 years ago. Someone else extremely important to me died 3 years ago. And now, there's Mom. We don't simply grieve the person we just lost. We grieve everyone before that person, too. I think the biggest takeaway from all of this loss is just how transient, fleeting, and capricious our existence is. Here one moment, gone the next. All we are is a Dirac delta function on the axis of time. A blip. The only thing we have any control over is how we spend that time and who we spend it with.

A girl I grew up with came to Mom's wake, and I hadn't seen her in close to 30 years. She and I have reconnected, which is really cool. Another old friend of mine from my late teens came to Mom's funeral. He's now the chief of my town's fire department. We got together a couple of weeks ago for drinks and had a blast. It was really good to reconnect as men and find common ground in what we're currently doing professionally. I'm also spending more time with my cousins than I have in years.

And yet, despite me reconnecting with old friends, extended family, and all my other friends, I still feel this emptiness.

Part of it, if I'm to be honest, is the result of my own choices. I've spent a lot of time and energy focusing on my career and on my education over the past 10 years, and for most of that timeframe, I've refused the entertain the possibility of romantic love. And when I did entertain that possibility, it did not go well for me. So for a while, I was content with professional advancement and academic achievement. That worked for me quite well.

Until Mom died.

And since then, I've had to wrestle with a lot of uncomfortable questions. Like, is it possible for any woman to love me for me, warts and all? Is it possible that I can put what happened with my AXGF in a place where I can trust someone another woman romantically again? Am I solid enough a person such that I can recognize a dysfunctional woman when I spend time with one, but I concurrently don't overreact negatively to something she may do or say? Am I simply, at age 46, damaged goods? When will I stop being absolutely terrified of being badly hurt again?

There are no easy answers. I'm resigned to the fact that this sorting out process is going to take an appreciable amount of time. Thankfully, I'm not going through this alone; my clinician and I have been seeing each other quite a bit more frequently than we have in some time. I've committed to sorting all of this out. I'm now open to the possibility that I can find love again and have it be both enduring and healthy. And I'm in writing mode on acoustic guitar again, which has always been my preferred method of dealing with emotional pain.

Anyways...just sharing. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.
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Old 11-24-2015, 06:20 PM
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My condolences on losing your mom. I don't know how it feels and I don't wan to imagine.

In terms of finding someone: be the best you, you can be, and date a lot of women (not one at a time) you will find one to settle with.
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Old 11-24-2015, 07:30 PM
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yes you will!
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Old 11-24-2015, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by zoso77 View Post
We don't simply grieve the person we just lost. We grieve everyone before that person, too..... When will I stop being absolutely terrified of being badly hurt again?
Just a guess, but you'll stop fearing pain when you've healed from it and you're not there yet. I don't think you've even had enough time to form a scab. And don't underestimate the recovery process from your surgery. Pain is pain. Compounded, it can be sheer torture.

Wishing you many blessings and all the best.
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Old 11-25-2015, 02:51 PM
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Dear Zoso
You are always a tower of strength for the rest of us. Kinda surprising to see you so down. Thanks for being honest and reaching out.

I think part of your struggle to realize meaning in this life has to do with your age. I have known a lot of people who go through this without the losses you have had. I am 56 now, and accepting of the fact that I am on the downhill side. Getting there happens different times for different people.

I am going out on a limb now to share something with you. The majority of people I have loved are dead now. I am the oldest surviving member of my family of origin. What has helped me immensely in coping with this and life in general, is my chosen spirituality. The only thing I will say about it here, is that our white American culture has a habit of forgetting people who have died. I look at this as a weakness.

If you would like to know particulars about what I am talking about, PM me, and I'll be glad to share.
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Old 11-25-2015, 05:58 PM
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Am I simply, at age 46, damaged goods? When will I stop being absolutely terrified of being badly hurt again?
Damaged goods? Nope, you are grieving and feeling the pain of loss, of your mother...which triggers the pain of other losses in your life. Grief is normal and as much as it hurts, healthy. There is no time frame but facing it as you are doing is a good way to process your feelings so that soon you can begin to heal.

When will you stop being terrified? When you look fear in the eye and walk through it, replacing it instead with faith...faith in yourself, that you ARE a wonderful person worthy of love and happiness...faith in the process of life, that it goes on and leads us out of the darkness and back into the light...faith in another person who won't need to prove her trustworthiness, you will just "know" it.

I am so sorry you are going through this Zoso, life hurts sometimes, and I am so sorry for the loss of you mother. I too miss my own yet I feel her presence every day and hear her words when I need them most. One day soon you will understand what I just said because you too will sense the presence of your mother as life proceeds.

Happy Thanksgiving, Zoso, may you find peace and joy soon, when the time is right and you are ready.

Hugs
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Old 11-26-2015, 06:59 AM
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I'm sorry you are feeling down, Zoso. I think we all feel that way
time to time.I'm not going to launch into my ad-nauseating
(yeah....I just made that concatenation up!) cheerleading schtick
and just speak from the heart.

We get no brownie points here. No brown-nosers siddling
up to teacher for a gold star next to their name. No one knows
who we are and that is the only way you are EVER going to
hear what is in peoples true hearts.

I'm sorry you lost your Mom. At 55, it won't be too long
before mine is gone, too. We lose people and it hurts. But it
beats the alternative of never having crossed paths with them.

You are great, Zoso. Over the years I've watched you
comfort people you will never meet. The influx of walking
wounded never stops here, and neither do you. Your
accomplishments are profound. You have a talent/love for
music. My talent is limited to listening to 400 songs on
my iphone.

From what I can gather you are a master of (hard!) arts
(MSEE type) that to be honest I was never able to be
smart enough to be. Differential equations showed me
who was boss and I found an alternate way to make a living.

Romantic love? Being alone?
These are concerns of all mankind.
Suppose you find 'the one'?

Then almost lose her in the ER like I did last week.
With her choking on the gurney I would have changed
places with you in a HEARTBEAT. You will find love,
my friend....because you have a good heart.

You tell it straight to those that come here.
So I am going to tell it straight to you, Zoso. I've been on this planet
a decade longer than you have (kid!!!!!!) ; and in all my journeys
the only thing I have found that has any value at all is the
kindness one holds in their heart for others.

You lost your Mom. Soon I will lose mine. Thats the deal we
make with life for the privilege of living. If we're lucky
( and I have been very, Very lucky).......we get to cross paths
with greatness.

I consider my crossing paths with you, on of all things
a hermetically anonymous website, a part of that greatness.
And on this day of thanks, I thank you,Zoso. I thank you
for your wit, your honesty, and your gentle good humor.
It is no small thing, this willingness to be human-----
in fact it is probably the greatest thing.

I'm not surrounded by family today.
In fact I'm in a cold hotel room 3000 miles away from
home-----and won't get home until tomorrow.

Highs, lows, differences in pressure that determine that sometimes life sucks,and sometimes it blows. I don't give a damn either way. It is good hearts that make the difference. Good hearts like you, Zoso.

Thank you for that today, my friend.
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Old 11-26-2015, 09:22 AM
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Zoso, have not been on in a while and your post with it's honesty and vulnerability touched me more than you will ever know. Thank you for saying it better than I ever could--and yes, it is the way you say...lost my Dad 15 years ago...and it was as you say--although I simply had to keep charging on with 5 children under the age of 18. Lost my son 25 years ago and had to keep charging on due to the responsibilities that were there then...children, a really sick parent (Dad), a mom I felt called to help as is not one who is capable of compassionate care; turned from my professional business nature and became a caregiver in all of this...and now...am back in my professional business arena and it seems as if life is fuller, more complete, and that I have grown...through those who loved me and who I love and through, as Vale says...those who have kindness in their hearts...most significantly, those here...including yourself, who helped me pick myself up last year when I hit the worst bottom in years because the weight of the long-carried depression, the loneliness, some real life events that brought disappointment...a job lost, a family separated by geography and negative emotions...showed me so much kindness that I could not give up and started again...when I truly didn't know I had it in me (for the first time in my life).

There is much wisdom in all the posts above, so will not repeat...however, you are an awesome and fabulous person; you speak truth and are kind and giving...it simply doesn't get any better than that. I like to think that the time I spent grieving my Dad's loss was related to the native traditions of believing that the spirits of those who have gone before are integrated into our own souls after their passing...and that the pain is that of understanding more and learning more and incorporating more into our lives than ever before (no matter what age we are).

Sending you warmth and gratitude for who you are and all you did for me...and that the memory of some of your words, continues on giving in some of the low moments--one particular one was a suggestion to get a bottle and bring home some of the sand from the beach I went to for reflection and solace...and it is still on my 'to do' list and will get done...and when completed...the gratitude in my heart will continue--to Zoso.
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Old 11-26-2015, 05:56 PM
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Guys...

I must admit my eyes got a little bit moist reading some of these responses. Words fail when it comes to expressing my gratitude for your kindness.

On a Mom related note...I spent my Thanksgiving at my brother's today and had a lot of fun. He's quite a good cook. He also has a Thanksgiving tradition that while he prepares dinner, he indulges in a Manhattan (or two). He shared a story that his love of Manhattans (and cooking) can be directly traced to our mother. When I was quite little, my family would go to one of our local restaurants for dinner, and according to my brother, Mom would order a Manhattan and give the cherry to him. The cherry, of course, absorbed all the alcohol.

I thought this was hilarious. Mom's not around to defend herself, obviously, but if she were, I highly doubt my brother would have shared this story. Such was Mom's forceful presence.

She has left quite a legacy: 4 sons, all college educated, 2 of us have our Masters degrees, and 2 of us are presidents of their respective businesses. Not to mention 5 grandchildren. We all miss her. But at least she's with our father.

God bless you all on this day.
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Old 11-26-2015, 09:33 PM
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Can't add much to the wise words before me. Your honesty in posting and therefore the ability to let yourself be vulnerable sure sound like you are on a healing path. Really glad you are reaching out and getting the support you need. The struggle with depression sometimes is the feeling itself makes it feel hopeless to bother.

Based on the first sentence of your post, you may want to think about some Vitamin D3 through these cold, dark months. It's made a huge difference for me.

Glad you had a nice holiday with your family and treasured memories of your mom.
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Old 11-27-2015, 09:56 AM
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I know you, as well as everyone else that's been through the same, will find love and trust again. To me it sounds like you are going through the roughest part and will soon be ready to receive the partner that will give you and make you want to give everything that you want and then some. You have so much to offer the person who will give what you need in return, and that person will have so much gratitude for what you have to bring to the relationship and you will know that you've finally made the best partner choice possible.
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Old 11-27-2015, 04:03 PM
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Zoso wrote of his Mom:
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
She has left quite a legacy: 4 sons, all college educated, 2 of us have our Masters degrees, and 2 of us are presidents of their respective businesses. Not to mention 5 grandchildren. We all miss her. But at least she's with our father.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Sadness that she is gone is more than understandable, as long as it is
tempered by gratefulness that she left such a profound and positive legacy
to humanity. Now she can rest as a woman who has finished her work here
and can lay down in peace---secure in her honor.

May the rest of us be as fortunate as her.
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Old 11-28-2015, 07:12 AM
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zoso ... you have touched the lives of so many here as I am sure you do with family, friends, business and through your music.

That is the measure of a life well lived.

We are here to let you know how much you affect all of us. You seem to have that way of cutting thru the bs and getting straight to the point. And that's exactly what most people here need. Honesty. Clear statements/questions. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. We can all identify with what you write.

A wonderful lady will enter your life when you least expect it. She will have warts of her own. It's easy to look past those scars to see someone like yourself looking back at you. Hugs to you, mom lives on thru you and your siblings.
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Old 12-02-2015, 07:18 AM
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Zoso,
You truly have my deepest sympathy for the loss of your Mom! I know I personally try to keep the thought that one day I will have to live without mine tucked as far away as possible. My mom gives me more validation in life then I can possibly explain. It sounds like your mom was pretty amazing and she raised some pretty impressive boys who grew into even more impressive, accomplished and outstanding Men. That's one lady that will be hard to compete with and has set the standard for who you may place all women up against, (not so much a bad thing). Often Moms are the glue that hold a family together so its great that even in the darkness of her passing you have maintained a solid connection with family and have re-established new/old connections that are giving you support through this journey. I know that in the very short time that I have been apart of this support forum, your words have given me a posture that I didn't know I could still muster. You offer so much strength and renewed faith in life and it's possibilities, not to mention the support you give that keeps so many of us going. I can only hope and pray that you get that in return! I find myself wondering the same things about love and trust and for some reason its much easier to tell someone else all the things that you need to hear and eventually accept than it is to tell ourselves.
Not only is it possible to be loved "warts and all" it is those flaws that you see, that will be what another will fall in love with first! It is this truth that gives me comfort. I hope that when your princess comes along she is worthy of the King she has found! Thank you for being the support we have all needed and please know that we are here to do just that for you! Even if we aren't as elegant at it as you.

Sarah
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Old 12-02-2015, 07:57 AM
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Zoso77, I hope I word this correctly. I'm sorry you've been feeling down. The holidays are tough for many people. It's understandable that this first holiday season without your mom will be difficult and make you miss her even more. I believe that she will always be with you in spirit, though. She will continue to live through you (and your siblings) as long as your keep her memory and her legacy alive.

I share the same thoughts as you. I'm 42 and have never been married. I never wanted to settle... I watched all my friends get married over the years, and some of their marriages have lasted, and some haven't. Some of my friends were on their second and third marriages before they were 40 years old! I always wanted to wait until I found "the one." I thought I had finally found that partner in my ex. Now that that's gone, I find myself having the same questions and doubts that you expressed. I fear that it will be difficult to trust a man again. I fear that I will overreact at what I perceive to be the slightest "red flag" in someone, and end up pushing someone away who could have been really good for me. I fear that I am too damaged to be in a real relationship ever again. But at the end of the day, I'm surrounded by many other good people who love me and who I can trust. I try to focus on that when I'm feeling sad, insecure with myself, or doubtful about my future. I'm very fortunate to have such people in my life. I also believe that time really does heal wounds. As long as I continue to work on myself, and be the best person I can be, I'll be in a really good place if I choose to be romantically involved again someday.

You've gone out of your way to help total strangers who have walked, or are walking, the same path as you. It's tragic circumstances that brought us all here, but you have been a shining light for so many people as we have fought our way through the darkness. You give straightforward, clear advice, in a caring way that has never made me feel defensive or attacked. You have a special gift in your way with words, that has helped countless numbers of people whom you have never met. You have a lot to offer to the right person. You are not damaged goods! Keep your head up, and remember that there are many people who care about you and love you for who you are.
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Old 12-02-2015, 10:31 AM
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Zoso, of course you will! 46? You're still a spring-chicken! Don't lose faith, good things come to you when you least expect it.
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