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On Grief and Grieving...


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I'm still thinking about a reply Nick wrote in the thread "Bad Dreams" and I am focused on anger...I am SO angry...think I have been for so very long and didn't even realize it...it's just a part of me and it hides beneath my outside persona of a happy "normal" self... I actually think it is what fuels my advocacy work.

Those of you who have lost your parents long ago (and had a really good relationship with them) when does the anger go away? Or the loneliness?

I've always been fiercly independant except when it came to relying on my parents emotionally....I can't see myself depending on anyone else now to take the place of what they were to me.

Grief is such a misunderstood process and it's complicated and very individual to a person and their type of loss...

And the preconceptions about grieving and the "stages" and what is normal or not, may actually hinder the healing process....

What I want to know is how some of you have dealt with acceptance and moving forward. I want to know your opinions on what is grief and what is considered depression....

I remember going in to the doctor a few months after my mom died for a check up and I asked him if I was "depressed" and he said..no, you are just so very sad...you lost your mom!

You actually CAN be sad and not labeled depressed...lol.

But I lost my dad 4 years ago, and I lost my mom 11 months and 20 days ago...and I am angry...I am sad and still angry about it.

Like a functioning alcoholic...I am great getting things done...I work well, I take care of my kids and play with them and stay involved with what they are doing. I smile whenever anyone is looking my way. I speak to people over the phone and by e-mail- have normal conversations with my spouse...get up and get dressed and take care of myself everyday.....

But underneath it all I am so angry....and I am so lonely..and somedays I'm just really sad.

I guess what I am looking for is someone to tell me how to get thru it and how to move forward...I am looking for someone to give me the steps and show me how it's done. I want someone to take away this anger and replace it with acceptance and understanding...I want someone to stop the loneliness I feel, even when I am in a crowded room.

OK- I know all that's impossible. But I had to ask.

Thanks for letting me vent. It is one of those days....


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Hi Katie,

I understand the anger. I haven't lost both parents but I have lost my mom and I understand the feeling that no one can ever replace her. I feel angry too. Angry that I was robbed of precious time with her. Getting to know her on new levels. Her getting to know me as a mom and watching my kids grow up. Like you, I can multi-task with the best of them and on the outside people think I have it all figured out. I don't know how many people have told me how strong I am when really, most of the time, I feel like I am just going through the motions of my everyday life. I am trying to find a way to make sense of what happened and I know in my heart it will never make sense to me. I am a planner and this was definately not in my plans. I am so angry that I couldn't stop this from happening. I am so sorry that any of us have to go through this. I am so sorry I don't have any answers for you but I can relate on some level to what you are feeling. I wish none of us had to go through this. Praying tomorrow is a better day.


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Katie, I am so sad for your pain. First I would recommend you get evaluated for depression. I went to a mental health physician, not just asking my family doctor. I have clinical depression which is forever, I use medication and that is fine with me. It keeps me functioning. It is important to know if that is underlying your grief. When my mom died 11 years ago it took 6 mo. to realize she wasn't coming back and I was very sad for a year or so. Then I slowly started to "feel better". I absolutely believe in one on one counseling. My counselor started a cancer counseling center years ago and now works at our Women's Clinic. I have gone to her off and on over the years, she helps me understand why I feel the way I do.

Since Rod died she encourages me to reach out to friends and family which it sounds like you are doing. But we need more help. I wouldn't trade her help for anything. It is an effort most days, I also put on the happy face but if anyone who is close to me asks how I am, I tell them. If it is just someone like a patient or store person, I say "quite well". We all probably do that.

Also, after once reading the stages of grief, I put it away and just go through it however it comes to me. Within the past 3 weeks I've accepted that Rod is gone forever until I go to him in Heaven.

I hope you gain something from this post, I really care about you and pray you can become who you were before all these sad losses.


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Thanks Jill,

The one thing that does help is knowing you arne't alone and that others feel the same...lets you know you aren't crazy...

I'm a planner too...so I know what you're saying.

Thanks again,


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yes, it is a process that is different for everyone.

Barb, I'm not depressed- I've seen someone just to make sure since those lines of sadness and depression can cross....I'm just grieving with all that entails, and it's worse before the anniversaries of certain things, as each of you know.

It was as if I was just getting thru the loss of my dad, and life was becoming a new normal, when I was blindsided with my moms sudden death...

It takes time....problem is, I'm not a very patient person.

Thank you guys for the replies and the PMs.

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I lost my father first

after two years, we moved in

with my mother, by that time

she was 78 years old, we stayed

with her till she died from an

accident ten years later.(1975)

Beautiful years.

I still miss her and when Mike was

alive I don't think one day passed

without us talking about her and

missing her.

Now I'm alone and miss Mike and Mom

so much........not depressed, just

missing and needing them.

So I got the habit of talking aloud

to them when the feeling is too much

for me.......



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If there are "phases", I've definitely entered the anger phase. Not just anger at my mom being gone, but at the disease itself and what her real chances of long-term survival were from the minute she was diagnosed.

I think it's a national travesty that more isn't done for lung cancer. Is it the stigma of smoking associated with some of the people who get it? That didn't seem to keep alot of money and advances from being made in HIV/AIDS research and the stigma attached to it initially.

Also, anger when I read this board and see all the wonderful people who have fought so hard and lost; people so young who get the disease or who even lose their parents when they're still so young.

I think while my mom was still alive, I clung to the hopeful, successful stories of long-term survival without reoccurence, but I've come to realize there certainly is not nearly enough of those.

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The anger fuels me too. And it lies beneath an otherwise happy exterior.

My emotional profile:

I'm SO sad.

I'm a little lost.

I still feel the same desperation to help mom I felt on diagnosis day...even though there is nothing I've been able to do for her for 15 months now.

I'm lonely...so so lonely, and that isn't a reflection on Keri...she's the best wife in the world...but there could be 20 of her and I'd still feel lonely.

I feel cheated.

I'm actually not depressed.

I'm not experiencing anxiety.

And all of this has me PISSED OFF!!!

I get it.

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I'm angry right now and my Mom is still here so I can't even imagine how I will feel when my Mom is gone much less both my parents. It is so unfair and I'm not sure how you get to the point that you accept it and the sadness goes away. A parent/child relationship is so special and there is no one who loves you like your parents. That unconditional love and there is that inner child that still wants Mommy or Daddy. I don't know what to say Katie except that you have a wonderful family and friends and I guess in time the sadness might go away????

Thinking of you


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I'm glad you asked these questions. I guess these ideas haunt me, too, and I don't even know how to ask.

I don't have the anger, just the aching loneliness. It really isn't even enough to say Mom was my best friend. She was my mom--loved me unconditionally, and I could say anything to her. I was at her house every day, and I could whine about work, etc. every day and she never got tired of me (or hid it very well). If she were here I could talk to her about my fears and worries with my DH being jobless, and the struggles he is facing. I don't feel like I can talk as openly to him--don't want to stress him out. I just don't feel like I have "that person" any more. I miss her so much. I get through each day, and smile whenever I can, but I am always lonely inside. I wonder when/if/how that will go away.

We'll just have to keep leaning on each other!


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Have you gone to an in-person grief group? One of the groups I recently started is run by a non profit center that just handles grief groups. They split the groups up according to age and type of loss (it's for kids too). There's something very helpful about actually sitting in a group and talking with people who have experienced the same loss you have.

About the anger. One of my friends who lost her husband about a year and a half ago said she finally had to seek one-on-one counseling for her anger. She said she didn't even know she was angry, it was her adult children who told her she needed help. She now says that she realizes she was stuck in it. She still struggles with it, but she's worked through many of the feelings (and, of course, has learned that she's not alone).

You're such an awesome person, Katie. You've been through so much and have done so much in the midst of your losses. We all love you!

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"KatieB"]yes, it is a process that is different for everyone.

Barb, I'm not depressed- I've seen someone just to make sure since those lines of sadness and depression can cross....I'm just grieving with all that entails, and it's worse before the anniversaries of certain things, as each of you know.

Katie, see someone else. One of the signs of depression is profound sadness and I can feel your despondency through your posts. I think,like pain, there are different levels of depression and it's best to stay on top of it before it becomes full blown.

I'm grieving, sad and depressed and I'm not ashamed to scream it at the top of my lungs! Celexa and Xanax have been my friends since about six months after my Dad's diagnosis. Are the meds helping? I don't know. Maybe it's the placebo effect but I'm not rocking in a corner as I thought I would be. I was only close to my Dad and to lose such a special person in my life two-fold would send me out searching for the biggest rock to get under.

I find it absolutely amazing you function at all, let alone at the high levels that you do. Sometimes fierce independence can be disadvantageous and we have to realize we can't always do it alone. Take care Katie, as others have said, we love you and need you!

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Katie, I also find myself so sad at times that I think it will overtake my life if I let it. I think that is when depression sets in. You have lost both of your parents for crying out loud you have every right to be sad,mad,lonely,frustrated and maybe even a little crazy. I think that people in general need to lable things (feelings) and group them together under one name when really it is so much more than that. You are amazing and I thank God each day for you and all that you do here to help us all in this process. You are entitled to your "bad" days and know that you will have good days too

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Thanks everyone,

Sheri I did take Celexa for 3 months after my mom died and it didn't help...actually I didn't feel any different- just couldn't cry anymore. When the Doctor told me to stop, still didn't feel any different. But I could finally cry and that was exactly what I needed. And I have seen other Dr.s and I'm not depressed. I Do get a bit anxious at times, but nothing unordinary.

I love everything about my life, I just miss my parents in it.

These holidays and anniversaries remind me of how traumatic my mom's sudden death was and how horrible my siblings were (come out of the woodwork) and abused me during this time. It's a long story but some of you know me and know about it.

I got a great PM this morning from someone who really gets it too.

She mentioned how from Sept-Dec it was one anniversary or one holiday after another for her....which keeps us in this "pit" and feeling every emotion even more intensely and brings our grief to the fore-front.

It's the same for me. My dad passed Sept, 6, add in ALL the holidays and both my kids birthdays, and then my moms death in January and there's no escaping feeling their absence.

If I could skip Sept-Jan, I think I'd be just fine. :wink:

It takes time.....I know.

Thank you all so much for the replies and the PMs.


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Katie, I typed this awesome response last night and the internet went down. :x Anyway, I get it too. I'm still early in the grieving process, but I still get it. And I'm angry too. At these darn diseases that robbed us of our loved ones. And I'm tired of people looking at me with that pity in their eyes and asking how I'm doing. How would folks react if I really told them that I'm so sad my heart hurts and it's all I can do to get through the day?

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Katie: I do not write much on this site but I read daily and you always are so positive with your respones to all, so that tells me you do have it together.

Grieving is hard for all people and we all grieve in different ways. I lost both of my parents a year apart. My Dad passed In Jan. 2005 and my mom the following Feb. 2006, so you talk about pain, it was hard. They were married 62 years, so I knew that once one died the other might be close behind but I did not want to accept that reality. My parents were the best all of my life and were my strength, they were always there for me no matter what I did or needed, and never ask questions.

I never thought my dad would go first because my mom was the frail one and my dad took care of her, but that took a toll on his health, plus he had prostate cancer. When he passed I then had to move my mom in with me and I took care of her for the next year, so I really never had time to grieve the loss of my dad, so when mom passed, I cannot begin to tell the anger, sadness all the other emotions I felt. And then in June 2006 my husband was dx with lc, so my whole world fell apart.

I have been dealing with this lc since 2006 and now they tell us that my husbands has maybe 6 months. Am I angry, you bet I am but everyday I have to talk to myself and I tell my dad, Why did you leave me? I need you so bad now and then I hear this voice that says, no, you are strong, I raised you to be and God will carry you every step of the way, just like he has these last 3 years. There is not a day that goes by that I do not cry in my car and that helps because I have to be strong and positive for my husband.

I am sorry if I did not give you any good advice, but you are not alone and no, I am not depressed. I work, take care of my husband and maintain a daily life of dealing with lc. I have all the same things that you said you go through. Now, when God calls my husband home, that will be another story, that I try not to think about but I know in my heart I will have to deal with that eventually, and God will help me. It is strange but I always feel my parents presence when I feel bad. I have wonderful friends who let me vent and they are great.

So you hang in there and I think by you writing what you did helped a lot of us express our feelings.

Thinking of all the ones who have lost loved ones and may God watch over all. Kathy

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It is strange but I always feel my parents presence when I feel bad. I have wonderful friends who let me vent and they are great.

Thank you for replying, Kathy. It's good to know we aren't alone and can lean on each other and I am honored you came out and posted to my thread.

I'm saying a prayer for you and your husband.


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Oh (((Katie))),

I don't know how to even respond to your emotions and sincerely wish I did. Maybe I did end up being angry after I lost my Mom, but somehow didn't recognize it for what it was. I know I became edgier as a human being. Deep sadness was there and I didn't really feel like I had closure or acceptance until my Dad died five years later. Weird, huh? On some level his death brought the whole wad of crap full circle and I was finally able have some peace in my soul. That I remember distinctly.

I so wish I could offer my emotions, but as time, life, age, struggles, and more loss has crossed my threshold, I don't have the memory function that I once did. I do remember coming to a time when I could think about my folks and see the happy memories instead of how they died. My situation was similar to yours, but with the parent's reversed. My Mom had the long drawn-out cancer fight and my Dad went quickly.

I also leaned on my folks emotionally and that was a huge void. It goes back to the old saying, "that which does not kill you, makes you stronger." I had to look inward to rely on myself and my husband.

It's all so muddy now and I'm sorry I can't help you more. Sending hugs, prayers, and hopes for some peace for you.


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Wow, katie and Nick, you guys soudn like your writing my autobiography for me. Although I've not lost a parent, this whole cancer thing has had me angry for quite a long time now. I hated it before Colleen got sick I hate it more now. Sometimes I feel selfish that I have these feelings, as I'm not the one who is sick, but they are there. I to try to put on the fresh outside face. To those who don't know me I appear strong and together fighting a great fight. To those close, I feel they see me as a mess, simply because I open up to them. Problem is none of them have ever been here so some of the feelings we have are abnormal to them.

I wish there was an answer, and there may be. I don't have it. I don't have the steps, or a process, or anything like that. I spend most of my time blocking it out, occupying my mind with other stuff. Running away from it on a treadmill everyday, trying to punch it away on the heavy bag, thinking that the more weights I lift the easier it will be for me to hold it back.

It just doesn't work. it's always there, it always seems not fair. And anger breads anger. My anger at cancer affects me this way, and I in turn become angry at the way I'm acting. But most of all, I'm just angry that I am forced to sit on the sidelines and coach the fight, when I'm used to playing.

Oh there's anger, and I underestand it. I wish I could help, but I can't. Just wanted to let you know that I understand so well how you feel, and I pray that this all does get easier at some point.

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I'm one of the folks on the board who has lost both parents. My father when i was 18 and he was 61, then my mother 19 years later when she was 80. I've got to say I didn't really have a 'peer' group as it were, since I didn't know many 30-somethings who lost both parents. I'm not sure I can add anything to what folks have already said other than to say that I found myself dealing with clinical depression (which is not forever in most people by the way) that didn't manifest itself for about 15 years after my dad died. Though in the end, my therapist and I think that was really what it was tied to. That may not give any help as to 'when will this get better' but I should say it isn't like I was non-functioning all that time. Just that the grieving process is strange and while the "stages" of grief are well documented, what many don't get is that everyone goes through those stages differently, at different rates and it is not at all unusually to go back through them.

I do think you have what is known in the biz as "complicated grief", based on the issues that you have ongoing with your siblings. That makes this all a whole different beast. I found comfort in my siblings, you have found more pain. I can not even imagine that.

I will say that sitting here 20+ years after my dad died, I still miss him terribly. Somedays to the point of it incapcitating me, but those days are rare. Usually it is just a quiet sense of loss. My sister being sick has made me miss both my folks even more, though I can't imagine them having to see their daughter fighting the way she is. But I know what a great support they would be to her if they were here. And I know that no matter how old I am, I could always cry on my dad's shoulder. I don't have the same anger, but that could be due to the situation of my folks deaths. While I miss my mother so very much, at 80 years old I had to say that it wasn't a 'tragic' death. As my brother used to say of her "she lived a lovely life, in fascinating times and did wonderful things", we could all have led such a life. With my father I do feel cheated, but we don't know what killed him so anger at a disease isn't really possible. I was mad at him for a long time, and I didn't go to church for years after his death, mad at God for taking him so early. So I guess there was that anger, and I would say it was several years before it passed.

I am so sorry for the pain you are feeling now and reading your posts I really think that so much of it is the way your siblings have behaved. I think that a lot of the anger and pain and sadness are normal parts of losing our parents (and I at least had 19 yrs to get used to not having my dad before I dealt with losing Mum). But your pain and anger are greatly compounded by your siblings and I have no advice on that, other than I wish you peace and maybe retroactive only-child-dum?? ;)

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Wow, you mirrored all of my feelings lately. You describe what this feels like so well, and you have the same thoughts and questions I do, and I think many of us have. When DO things become "normal"? When WILL we be able to live without this great underlying sadness that continues to prick away at our everyday lives? I feel like I'm in a life raft in the middle of a giant ocean, and I know there are all manner of creatures underneath that can hurt me, but I must stay afloat. And while I'm staying afloat I can still have some joy, some fun, etc...but...

Yes, we go about our lives, we function, we love our children and find joy in them, 90% of her time is spent being "normal"...but under it all there is this anger, this deep pit, this gaping hole in our hearts and souls. It just jumps out and bites you in the butt every day, at any given time. When my husband lost his mom 10 years ago, he compared it to losing a limb, literally a piece of him, a part of who he is. I thought I totally understood what he was saying, but it was not until I lost my own mom that I realized how really true his statement was.

We can all talk about honoring our parents, that they are with us in spirit, moving on for their sake, etc...and I do believe in that...but how do we get there? Will this undercurrent of loss ever subside? Will we ever feel the same talking to people that have not lost a parent, feeling that envy that they still have their moms (my two best friends), knowing they don't understand really that I'm not as fine as I appear? That someday they will understand, and I don't ever wish that on them?

And it's true that the second year is almost as hard as the first, if not harder. You start to look forward as well as back, and that is even more painful, I think...

I was talking to my uncle the other night, who is still devastated over losing my mom...and I asked him, will this get easier? (Their beloved dad, my grandfather, died at 46 years old.) My uncle responded, "Michele, I miss him more every day. It gets harder as I get older." And it's been almost 50 years. Not what I wanted to hear.

Sorry, I know this isn't very supportive for you, but I really feel what you are saying, what you are asking.

My sister is due to have a baby in a month, and underlying all the joy is the anger, the unfairness of it all. I am pissed. Not only should my sister have my mom here, but my MOM should be able to be here! I try to take care of my sister like my mom would have, with lots of phone calls and concern and visiting, but it's so hard...

Beyond all this I will say, Katie, you have done so much already just by having this website. I think it really helps those that feel the way we do. I keep coming back, I know that...

Hugs, hugs and more hugs...

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