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August 21, 2018 - Welcome Guest!

Advice » Hard Knocks

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How do I grieve?

Question:

I am a widow with two small children. On December 16, 2012 my husband overdosed and died. We only knew each other for five years but it was a love that, at its height, was one of the most beautiful things I will be a part of in my lifetime. Heroin took him away. I am not a drug user and at the time that he passed we were separated because of his drug use. He would always say he would be clean for our family if I would just take him back. I refused to believe him, but I never stop wondering if that would have saved him. I know logically that the guilt I carry is ridiculous, but even with that knowledge I cannot let the guilt go.

After my husband's death, I moved into my parent's house with the kids. My younger brother, Adam, lived there too. Adam was two years younger than I. In 2013 my kids and I moved to North Carolina. On January 10, 2014, at the age of 23, Adam was hit by a car on a foggy night, walking along the highway. My brother was my best friend, and even to this very day, I shed tears daily for him. I cannot stop missing him. It hurts me to the point that for almost two years now, I have to remind myself to smile and laugh. I haven't really laughed from my heart.

I feel so sad all the time. I never used to be like this - quite the opposite really. I would really like to know some ways to help myself grieve. Some days, the sadness is so large that it's impossible to leave my house. I would also like some pointers on how to talk to people about this. I cannot talk about my grief with friends or family, and it makes me feel lonely. I have tried to go to therapy, but found it very difficult to be comfortable there. I thank you in advance for the help.

"Ninja", 27-year-old woman

Answer:

Two deaths within a few years is a terrible load to carry. Your reaction is not at all unusual or pathological. In these circumstances, I would expect your grief for Adam to last at least two years, because it has compounded with having lost your husband three years previously. In the same way, the new loss has reignited the old one, which is why it feels so immediate to you.

I've had a client whose father had died 8 years before he came to me. The immediate event was the death of his father-in-law, but his main distress was grieving for his own father as if that loss had been yesterday.

Just because you didn't get much out of therapy with one helper doesn't mean you won't with another. It's like, if you didn't like the food at one restaurant, would you stop eating out, ever, or only decided not to return to that one?

I suggest you look for a grief counselor. Also, there is a wonderful book, "Seven Choices", by Elizabeth Harper Neeld. It's available in electronic format.

Now I'd like to go onto your guilt about your husband. Look up Al-Anon. It's a mutual help organization for people who care for someone with an addiction. They will make you understand that you did the only thing possible. The worst thing you could have done was to "enable" his addiction by giving in to it. By sending him off, you provided him with motivation to do something about it. However, the outcome was not in your hands but in his. He died, but this was NOT your fault. It was his bad decisions. Giving in to his addiction, enabling it, would not have made things better. Do check out the nearest Al-Anon/Alateen group. You'll find them very helpful.

My dear, there is a life ahead of you. Read that book, find that group. You can resolve your grief for your two losses, and there is a life to live.

With love,

Bob

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.

For more information visit the site or contact information page on QueenDom.

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