Dear Barb – don’t Expect Everyone to Grieve the Same Way

Dear Barb:

I am in my early twenties and have been having a hard time since my mother died. She was diagnosed with breast cancer about 10 years ago and went through treatment. Fortunately she was well for a long time. All of a sudden the cancer came back and the doctor said there was nothing more they could do for her. Even though our family had lived with the possibility of this happening, I guess I never really thought it would end like this.

My dad seems to be coping better than anybody else. In fact, it has only been nine months since mom died and he’s already been on a date with another woman. I find it tough to see him with another woman. I just don’t think I will ever be able to get over this grief. I can’t stop thinking of all the things I will miss with my mother, like my wedding, my children. I really need some advice. Thanks.

Nancy

Hi, Nancy. Losing a parent at such a young age can be very traumatic. No matter what the circumstances we can never be totally prepared to lose someone. On the other hand, as our parents age we seem to have more time to adjust to the inevitable. Even though you and your family were living with your mother’s cancer, she was able to survive for quite a while and as you say seemed to be well. Therefore it would be easy to convince yourself she was going to beat it.

Perhaps because you were so young when your mother became ill you didn’t fully understand her prognosis, whereas your father was probably more involved with her treatment and subsequently more aware of what was happening. I know it bothers you to see your father with someone else, but do you think your mother would have wanted him to be alone for the rest of his life? Probably not.

Grief is very personal and people experience it in unique ways. You need to give yourself time to heal. Your mother will always be with you, as you are a part of each other. Sometimes it helps to speak to others who have experienced similar circumstances. Therefore I would suggest you talk with your family doctor about joining a support group in your area, or perhaps see a grief counsellor.

Try to remember the good times you shared with your mother. I know this is going to sound like a cliché but time heals all wounds?it really does!

Email your questions to voice@voicemagazine.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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