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Tragedy and Loss

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JJW

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I've seen a lot of threads where people describe their pain from tragedy, or loss of someone they cared for. Mine would fill a book.

I was thinking about things today and realized my wife has never had to cope with anything like that. She lost her dad a few years back, but it was to ill health that comes with old age. He'd lived a complete life. Is it easier when it's like that?

She lost a half brother to suicide a few years before that. They didn't grow up together and were years different in age. Her father left when she was eight, and now that I reflect, that was her tragedy until these next ones. Maybe that made her dad's passing easier, but she coped well. As for her brother, I never saw any grief reaction. I was hurt more from it than I could see that she was.

I was fixing her computer and had to back up her hard drive to mine. A long while later I cleaned out my old files and was examining and deleting them one by one. I ran across a note she'd written to herself about her brother. She confirmed she didn't feel grief. I think she grieved over not grieving. I wondered if she didn't feel for him, or was it she just didn't know how? Are we trained to grieve?

I don't understand me. I don't understand her.

You are welcome to add you experience to this. I think there is something to be said for letting it out. Maybe you understand things that I don't. Maybe we just need to know we aren't alone.
 

Nicolelt

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I think people grieve in different ways. I had a miscarriage last Saturday (9/11), ended up in the ER on Monday night/Tuesday morning, and found out there that I was pregnant. Now my hormones are all over the place and I am physically exhausted, I just feel sickly.

It has not been fun telling people why I was in the ER, but there are some people in my life that they have the right to know (family and close friends), and I feel like they are more sad about it than me. I feel like I have to comfort them for my loss. But I don't see this as a loss. I have gone 5 years without preventing a pregnancy and nothing. Was diagnosed with PCOS, which makes it even harder to get pregnant. I didn't know I was pregnant when I went ER, and if I never went, I probably would have never known. I am kinda excited that things are hooking up in there lol.

I think for me, I didn't know I had something, so I didn't feel like I lost anything. And I think that might be where your wife is with the brother at least. I honestly won't grieve when a few of my grandparents die, I am not close to them, I have not talked to them in years. When I lost my house and dogs, I grieved....A LOT, because that was my everything.
 

vauxhallastra

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I think people grieve in different ways. I had a miscarriage last Saturday (9/11), ended up in the ER on Monday night/Tuesday morning, and found out there that I was pregnant. Now my hormones are all over the place and I am physically exhausted, I just feel sickly.

I'm very sorry to hear this.

People deal with loss in different ways. I often think about my mother's death, she died young (suicide) and I found her body, and I organised her funeral, and in all that time and since I have never cried for her. As I get older (soon I'll be older than she ever was) I want to talk about her more, when it makes less sense to do so - it was years ago, it's no big deal anymore, other people my age have lost a parent (my wife's dad died when she was only 30).

I worry that I will probably have some kind of sobbing fit when I am in my fifties, and I won't be able to explain why - for my mother who died decades ago? People will think I'm nuts.

My wife and I were actually drawn together by both having lost a close family member when we were basically children.

Life sucks, but, I've tried calling customer service. No answer.
 

vauxhallastra

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When I lost my house and dogs, I grieved....A LOT, because that was my everything.

People are often most distraught by the loss of pets, I've found. Probably understandable - you love them as much as people. They're more a part of your life than most people.
 

JJW

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I worry that I will probably have some kind of sobbing fit when I am in my fifties, and I won't be able to explain why - for my mother who died decades ago? People will think I'm nuts.
My dad and I were never close... unless he was beating me. After the crash that took his life I was awake for three days. The house was so full of relatives, all wanting to know what happened. I must have described the crash twenty times. After three days of that I need to be alone. I sat in the yard and cried for a while.

Even with having that release so many years ago, ten years later I suddenly and completely broke down. I cried all day. I don't know what triggered it. I didn't know how to love my dad, or if I ever did. But the loss built and built and then just bubbled over.

Like Nicolelt said, there is no grieving standard. No one teaches you what to do when people die.
 

Sarah G

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I don't feel very upset when people die. Sometimes I envy them (because their suffering is over) and then I feel sad for myself for thinking that way.

I feel very sad for those who are grieving, those facing their final days or hours and for those who've lost hope and don't wish to go on living.
 

JJW

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I understand those that are grieving. But I don't feel bad for the dead. Afterlife or not, they are done here. I have no belief on the matter. Belief tends to lack proof, something I have an insistence for. Though, I have an expectation that those that have died are not without us. They suffer no losses. Our reality has lost them, but theirs is unchanged.

Death only affects the living.
 

Just_another_one

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I've lost a few very important people in my life.
The first one was my best friend, I've talked about her in another post.
She was almost 17 (she would have turned 17 on the next month) and died in a car accident. It was 2007. That was the first time I lost someone so important to me, I cried all my tears but the feeling was like if it wasn't real.
I couldn't realise that "no more". "No more" was something I had never experienced before, and she was so young and full of life. She would have never finished high school, never get a driving licence, never go to college, never and ever. Too much to process.
And I still remember the cries of her grandma at the funeral.
Then I've lost my aunt in 2011. I have a quite dysfunctional family but she was the one caring and loving aunt that sometimes would replace my mother. She was the only one to bring us Christmas presents for example, her house was always warm and welcoming. She died of leukemia.
Then I've lost my dad for a lung cancer in 2013.
With my father I had a quite dysfunctional relationship. I didn't have much confidence with him, I craved for him to like me and probably he did but he just wasn't made for being a parent. He was maybe childish and selfish. We are very similar indeed, and my mother would have remembered me how similar we were everytime we had an argument. She intended to insult me, but she didn't know she made me proud.
Anyway, when he died I was in a pub with my friends. My child was just 9 months old and that was my free night. I will never forgive me for not being on his side, but if I have to tell the truth, the first feeling I had when he died was relief.
Because he was ill and suffering of course, but also because I felt I was finally free from his chains. It may sound awful, but now I hadn't to fight for his love anymore.
I didn't cry, anyway.
Then last year my ex committed suicide. He had been my very first love, from high school to the first years of university. Then we broke up and our life took different paths.
He suffered from body dismorphic disorder, probably because of an abuse when he was a child (he didn't think that was the cause but I did). He was just 30.
I don't know how I felt, maybe like the last part of my teenage years had died (the first part with my friend).
Like, here you are, now you're an adult, there's nothing left of your old self.
Just to say that every death and every grief is different. You can't control your reactions and it's not your fault.
 

Just_another_one

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Oh my god. No we are not and honestly that’s a very very strange question to even ask. I’m not trying to have a go at you or anything I just think… you should probably talk to a professional about that 😶
You and @JJW reminded me of a Judith Butler's Essay (Violence, Mourning, Politics) that handles the topic of grieving.
She speaks more specifically of grieving after the 9/11 and minorities but there are some exacts that are valid for every situations.
I think she makes some interesting points:

(I'm trying to upload the files from my mobile so I don't know if it will work)
 

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Sebiguess

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You and @JJW reminded me of a Judith Butler's Essay (Violence, Mourning, Politics) that handles the topic of grieving.
She speaks more specifically of grieving after the 9/11 and minorities but there are some exacts that are valid for every situations.
I think she makes some interesting points:

(I'm trying to upload the files from my mobile so I don't know if it will work)
She’s very wordy, going on those pages. Lots of words with very little actually being said (sorry - you obviously like her, but I don’t based on initial impression).

All I meant by my comment is that when we lose someone we love the grief is natural and unstoppable. The concept of such a thing as “learned” or “trained” grief is bizarre and honestly quite horrifying. It suggests psychopathy. That’s why I reacted to it.
 

Just_another_one

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She’s very wordy, going on those pages. Lots of words with very little actually being said (sorry - you obviously like her, but I don’t based on initial impression).

All I meant by my comment is that when we lose someone we love the grief is natural and unstoppable. The concept of such a thing as “learned” or “trained” grief is bizarre and honestly quite horrifying. It suggests psychopathy. That’s why I reacted to it.
Don't worry.

I don't think the idea of learning to grieve is so awful. We live in a society where we're taught to be always at the top of ourselves, rushing and being emotionless. There are many people who can't understand what they are feeling and why. Many times traumatic events remain in our unconsciousness and shows in other ways.
Learning to process grief is something we should allow ourself.
 

Sebiguess

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Don't worry.

I don't think the idea of learning to grieve is so awful. We live in a society where we're taught to be always at the top of ourselves, rushing and being emotionless. There are many people who can't understand what they are feeling and why. Many times traumatic events remain in our unconsciousness and shows in other ways.
Learning to process grief is something we should allow ourself.
There’s a big difference between learning to grieve and learning *how* to grieve. Speaking of which, I may have grabbed the wrong end of the stick. Maybe JJW meant the latter.
 

Slick

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She’s very wordy, going on those pages. Lots of words with very little actually being said (sorry - you obviously like her, but I don’t based on initial impression).

All I meant by my comment is that when we lose someone we love the grief is natural and unstoppable. The concept of such a thing as “learned” or “trained” grief is bizarre and honestly quite horrifying. It suggests psychopathy. That’s why I reacted to it.
I agree with you 100%... I am a multiple loss survivor, won't list those I have lost....but grief just came and stayed as long as it wanted to, until I could put it away, and put those I have lost one by one in a place in my heart I could live with.
 

JJW

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Oh my god. No we are not and honestly that’s a very very strange question to even ask. I’m not trying to have a go at you or anything I just think… you should probably talk to a professional about that 😶
I'll take responsibility for the ambiguity. It should have been stated; do we need to learn how to grieve?

The question comes from my wife's response to death. Her grandfather, a fireman, was killed in a blaze before she was born. She knew of him but there was no loss to process. She grew into adulthood never having to experience death.

My first experience with death was at age five when three boys I knew were killed while on a bicycle ride by a drunk driver. To complicate the matter, I had asked if they'd let me ride with them. They said I was too young. They were 6 and 7. I was just a little kid.

The morning after the accident my mother had heard and was upset enough that neighborhood kids were killed she discussed it with my father, me overhearing.

As she and I left the neighbor hood, I saw the scene. Massive blood puddles remained on the side of the road. I understood they were gone, but more, I understood had I been with them I'd be gone.

My wife and I process death differently. She lost a friend of thirty years to cancer. They'd been toddlers together and maintained the relationship all the while. But I saw no emotion in my wife when the girlfriend died.

So my question, semantics aside, does she not have an emotional response to death, or is it she doesn't know how to process death? Not that I expect anyone to have an answer. It's just a concern I'll never resolve.
 

Sebiguess

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I'll take responsibility for the ambiguity. It should have been stated; do we need to learn how to grieve?

The question comes from my wife's response to death. Her grandfather, a fireman, was killed in a blaze before she was born. She knew of him but there was no loss to process. She grew into adulthood never having to experience death.

My first experience with death was at age five when three boys I knew were killed while on a bicycle ride by a drunk driver. To complicate the matter, I had asked if they'd let me ride with them. They said I was too young. They were 6 and 7. I was just a little kid.

The morning after the accident my mother had heard and was upset enough that neighborhood kids were killed she discussed it with my father, me overhearing.

As she and I left the neighbor hood, I saw the scene. Massive blood puddles remained on the side of the road. I understood they were gone, but more, I understood had I been with them I'd be gone.

My wife and I process death differently. She lost a friend of thirty years to cancer. They'd been toddlers together and maintained the relationship all the while. But I saw no emotion in my wife when the girlfriend died.

So my question, semantics aside, does she not have an emotional response to death, or is it she doesn't know how to process death? Not that I expect anyone to have an answer. It's just a concern I'll never resolve.
Ah, thanks for explaining. Well, when she didn’t seem to be grieving for her brother it turned out to be because she was in fact not grieving for her brother. Sometimes things are exactly what they seem to be.

I have a friend (well, an old acquaintance would be more technically correct) who openly admitted to me that he feels no empathy, ever, for anyone. Never has and presumably never will. Honestly, it wasn’t a shock to me, by the time he told me. I knew something was sort of “missing” with him. I don’t know why (neither does he) but he just isn’t able to feel anything other than his own feelings. This doesn’t seem to affect him in any negative way - he’s happy and doesn’t crave a deeper connection at all. He just finds it curious that other people DO feel empathy.

I guess my point is just… some people are weird 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

JJW

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Empathy. I have enough for both he and I. I can't stand to witness suffering. I save rodents and bugs. I wasn't always a woose I grew into it.

Maybe lacking empathy is a blessing. I grieve at the news, especially when it involves children. I have a strong need to protect the innocent.

I wonder then, is empathy in the mind or the brain? The differences being experiences vs physical composition.

Who was it that said I need to see a professional? Been there. Never worked. :)

But I do study on these things like empathy and grief, and other psychological abnormalities. One of mine is I am fiercely connected to people in my orbit. If I change the orbit, those that were near and dear to me don't receive the same connection. Distance makes the heart go yonder. Simply put, I don't miss anyone.

I'm glad your friend that is sans empathy has a normal existence and hasn't devolved into a serial killer (but could you know?)

So, the mechanism of grief... is it entirely mental, or is there a physical requirement, a part of the brain that works better or worse in different people?
 

Sebiguess

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Empathy. I have enough for both he and I. I can't stand to witness suffering. I save rodents and bugs. I wasn't always a woose I grew into it.

Maybe lacking empathy is a blessing. I grieve at the news, especially when it involves children. I have a strong need to protect the innocent.

I wonder then, is empathy in the mind or the brain? The differences being experiences vs physical composition.

Who was it that said I need to see a professional? Been there. Never worked. :)

But I do study on these things like empathy and grief, and other psychological abnormalities. One of mine is I am fiercely connected to people in my orbit. If I change the orbit, those that were near and dear to me don't receive the same connection. Distance makes the heart go yonder. Simply put, I don't miss anyone.

I'm glad your friend that is sans empathy has a normal existence and hasn't devolved into a serial killer (but could you know?)

So, the mechanism of grief... is it entirely mental, or is there a physical requirement, a part of the brain that works better or worse in different people?
I also avoid the news. Similar reasons.

I think the term for my friend is “principled psychopath”. I can’t remember where I heard that (probably a bad TV show) but it fits. Serial killing would certainly not bother him, but he won’t do it because it’s “against the rules”. The fact that the rules are arbitrary doesn’t seem to occur to him. Or it could be that he needs rules more than he needs good reasons for them. Either way, his strict religious upbringing seems to have given him a framework that he uses in place of what you and I might call human decency.

Is lack of empathy a blessing? It has upsides, for sure, but at the same time my friend has no concept of what he’s missing. Like a man born blind, wondering what the colour orange looks like. It’s not only the negative human emotions that are shared via empathy, after all.

You asked whether empathy is in the mind or brain, and then asked a similar question about grief. I would say there has to be a physical component, because I’m a materialist (philosophically speaking). But then I suppose one would have to consider that someone with the physical equipment for empathy or grief might be able (or even forced) to “disable” them due to life experiences? 🤷🏻‍♂️
 

Bratwurst0516

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I feel, it is tied to the level of the relationship i.e.

1973-Paternal grandmother, Stroke, 59
1976-Maternal grandfather, Dementia, 63
1991-Paternal grandfather, Stroke, 81
1992-Teacher' Asst., Vehicle Accident, 25
2003-Matenal Great-Uncle, ?, 88
2008(2)-Maternal grandmother and maternal great-aunt, 93 and 96 respectively
2016-Cousin, ?, 40
2021-Woman I loved, ?, 52

I saw my grandparents' sometimes while growing up. I cried when each one of them died. The same with my cousin. Because they were all related to me.

The tech school asst., was the same age as me. But I didn't do things with him. I had very few tears about him.

The woman I loved, I talked to daily. We did a lot together. So, Not only was her death sudden. It will be harder to cope with. I keep crying about it.
 

Slick

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All losses are so different....and we all grieve differently some not at all , and for different lengths of time. People all do it differently whether they feel nothing or choose to bury it, or grieve until they can put it away somewhat. A person who feels nothing when a person who maybe they think they are close to passes is probably a little narcissistic....lacks empathy completely or just isn't capable of feeling love at all...we are all different and so are our mental and emotional difficulties...no right and no wrong here...Lack of empathy as anything else a human can't feel, may be a blessing to them, not to anyone around them...I am an Empath and feel deeply for others...I have had to learn to draw a strong boundary so that I never let their pain take over my life as it has done in the past...and it is exhausting. I have actually gotten physically sick the last time I let someone else's mental status get inside me...there needs to be a nice healthy balance of helping when you can but knowing when enough is enough...and letting others stand on their own feet...life take a lot of learning and understanding...
 

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