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Loss of One Parent or Both


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#1 JessTheDreamer

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 12:25 PM

Hi. Just wondering when the pain should subside after the loss of one parent or both. I still have both of mine, so I wouldn't know. Does it depend on the person? 

 

My main character murdered both his parents unintentionally. It was a shock, of course, and it scarred him deep. Two years later, he's still having nightmares, he's still releasing his anger through his bad boy reputation and taking it out on classmates, authority, doors and walls... He's had some counselling in the past, but none that stuck. He still bottles up the emotions and hates himself for it. He misses them terribly. Is this plausible? Have any of you refused or found it hard to let go after so long?

 

Thanks. :)

 

-Jess


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#2 Jeanne

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 01:21 PM

As a former facilitator of a grief support group, I can tell you that the grief process doesn't work to a calendar. A lot of factors are at play here. What is the age of your MC? A teenager or 20-something who accidentally kills both of his parents would have what they call grief cycles. When a young person suffers a major loss, other major life changes--such as moving into adolescence or getting married--can resurrect the worst feelings of grief. Each growth period requires a new phase of adjustment. So, if your character was still in elementary school or jr. high, he may very well feel new grief two years later.

 

One way to think about this is in the category of firsts or milestones: The first Christmas without the parents; the first birthday without the parents; the parents' wedding anniversary; the day your MC gets his driver's license; the character's first date to the prom; the day he graduates from high school, etc. Each and every one of those moments could resurrect the grief.

 

An older adult may suffer more from survivor's guilt, depending on the circumstances of the deaths. An adult's grief tends to linger in anger for shorter periods and be more concentrated in sadness and depression.

 

It's also useful to remember that grief is more than just anger or acting out. It's also manifested as deep sadness, emotional paralysis (unable to make decisions), longing for the past, and ineffective communication--both verbally and in writing.

 

As for losing one's parents, my parents died a month and half apart from natural causes when I was in my 40s. It was definitely a shock. My mother's death wasn't unexpected (she had Alzheimer's disease), but my father's death was quite sudden. I was an only child, so I was left to fend with my grief, the rapid burial/cremation of two parents, and the settlement two estates. Fortunately, my husband was tremendously supportive. I don't think I would have gotten through it without him.

 

Hope that helps answer your questions a little.

 

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#3 JessTheDreamer

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 02:16 PM

As a former facilitator of a grief support group, I can tell you that the grief process doesn't work to a calendar. A lot of factors are at play here. What is the age of your MC? A teenager or 20-something who accidentally kills both of his parents would have what they call grief cycles. When a young person suffers a major loss, other major life changes--such as moving into adolescence or getting married--can resurrect the worst feelings of grief. Each growth period requires a new phase of adjustment. So, if your character was still in elementary school or jr. high, he may very well feel new grief two years later.

 

One way to think about this is in the category of firsts or milestones: The first Christmas without the parents; the first birthday without the parents; the parents' wedding anniversary; the day your MC gets his driver's license; the character's first date to the prom; the day he graduates from high school, etc. Each and every one of those moments could resurrect the grief.

 

An older adult may suffer more from survivor's guilt, depending on the circumstances of the deaths. An adult's grief tends to linger in anger for shorter periods and be more concentrated in sadness and depression.

 

It's also useful to remember that grief is more than just anger or acting out. It's also manifested as deep sadness, emotional paralysis (unable to make decisions), longing for the past, and ineffective communication--both verbally and in writing.

 

As for losing one's parents, my parents died a month and half apart from natural causes when I was in my 40s. It was definitely a shock. My mother's death wasn't unexpected (she had Alzheimer's disease), but my father's death was quite sudden. I was an only child, so I was left to fend with my grief, the rapid burial/cremation of two parents, and the settlement two estates. Fortunately, my husband was tremendously supportive. I don't think I would have gotten through it without him.

 

Hope that helps answer your questions a little.

 

Jeanne

 

Thank you so so so so so much, Jeanne! This was extremely helpful. :biggrin:

 

And I'm truly sorry for your loss. 

 

-Jess 


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#4 Temperance Elisabeth

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 07:09 PM

I lost my mother to uterine cancer in April of 2005. Eight years before that I lost my son to severe injuries that he suffered in a car accident. I was present when both died. When my son died I was not able to cope with it and essentially I blocked out much of his memory to "save" myself. I guess that's the best way to put it. When my Mom died I felt everything and it also drudged up a lot of the pain I'd hidden away and not dealt with when my son died. My Mom's death has been harder on me, in a sense, and even to this day I feel lost. Everyone is different. Some people deal with death and move on. They are able to miss their loved one without it causing major psychological damage, and some are not. Some have to avoid it completely. 

 

I would say his level of grief is going to depend on his characteristics, emotional stability, and the nature of the relationship that he had with his parents. All of that plays a part.

 

There are some days when I completely lose it, and others when I am able to deal with it. It all depends. I wrote a blog entry back in May that might be helpful to you. You can view it from my profile.

 

Hope that helps. :)


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#5 JessTheDreamer

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Posted 08 August 2013 - 07:45 PM

I lost my mother to uterine cancer in April of 2005. Eight years before that I lost my son to severe injuries that he suffered in a car accident. I was present when both died. When my son died I was not able to cope with it and essentially I blocked out much of his memory to "save" myself. I guess that's the best way to put it. When my Mom died I felt everything and it also drudged up a lot of the pain I'd hidden away and not dealt with when my son died. My Mom's death has been harder on me, in a sense, and even to this day I feel lost. Everyone is different. Some people deal with death and move on. They are able to miss their loved one without it causing major psychological damage, and some are not. Some have to avoid it completely. 

 

I would say his level of grief is going to depend on his characteristics, emotional stability, and the nature of the relationship that he had with his parents. All of that plays a part.

 

There are some days when I completely lose it, and others when I am able to deal with it. It all depends. I wrote a blog entry back in May that might be helpful to you. You can view it from my profile.

 

Hope that helps. :)

 

Oh, I am terribly sorry for your losses.  :sad:

 

And thank you, you've helped a lot. I'll see if I can check out that blog. 

 

-Jess


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Synopsis:
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Write on. ツ


#6 annab3lla

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 12:48 PM

I agree with the others that it can really depend on the person. It's definitely plausible that your MC would still be suffering all that two years later.

 

My husband lost each of his parents a year apart - his mom when he was 26 and his dad when he was 27. He suffered from severe grief and depression for probably 3 or 4 years afterward. Now, 6 or 7 years later, he is doing much much better. But even still, mother's day, father's day and Christmas can all still cause those feelings to well up again.

 

Everyone is different though, and many others suffer less severe and less-drawn-out grief. If you're worried that readers might be skeptical, it would be pretty easy to add some details that make it even more believable, such as the recent occurrence of one of those "firsts" Jeanne mentioned. Or circumstances that make it impossible to forget, such as still living in his parents' house. Or having a relative that won't stop bringing it up. Or a picture of them that he has hung beside his bed to remind himself that since it was his fault he will make sure he never forgets. Etc.



#7 mwsinclair

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 01:03 PM

I can't add a whole lot to this. My father passed away four years ago, but he'd been in deteriorating health for many years, so in some ways it was a blessing. Not that I was happy about it, of course.

 

I'm aware that the New York Life Foundation has a funding focus on bereavement for children who lose a parent. There are guides and camps and lots of resources. They might be able to help you in your research. But I think what you've learned here is quite helpful, too.



#8 AQCrew

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 03:03 PM

Wow.  Just wow.  

 

Thanks everyone for some incredibly emotional posting and personal sharing.  

 

This community is truly exceptional.



#9 JessTheDreamer

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 06:51 PM

Wow.  Just wow.  

 

Thanks everyone for some incredibly emotional posting and personal sharing.  

 

This community is truly exceptional.

 

Yes! Thank you so much for your responses; they're a lot of help to me. And my heart goes out to all of you. 

 

-Jess


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It would mean A LOT if you could check these out:

 
Queries:
Thralldom-->>-->>-->>--http://agentquerycon...528#entry132528
Duplicate: Undead-->>--http://agentquerycon...-urban-fantasy/
 
Synopsis:
Thralldom-->>-->>-->>--http://agentquerycon...a-dark-fantasy/

Write on. ツ


#10 Jemi

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Posted 09 August 2013 - 07:40 PM

As a teacher I've had several students who've lost parents during the year or having been dealing with that loss while in my class. It's incredibly tough. In a lot of ways 2 years is a pretty short time for someone to learn to deal with/live with the guilt of causing those deaths. I'd think it would be so traumatizing that it could be a life long procress to learn to really accept and deal with it. For the most part in my experience kids learn to shove their grief to the inside during the day. They still want to fit in, they still have the same anxieties and they want to be like everyone else - even more now. Sometimes the grief shoves its way back out and shows up as jealousy or anger over things that wouldn't normally bother them. sometimes they withdraw more than normal. Sometimes they put up such a thick shell you'd never know anything was unusual. The acting out you describe I've seen and I've seen it last longer than a couple of years so yes, it's definitely feasible. Hope that helps :)



#11 TansyRagwort

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 08:25 PM

If this helps at all, I lost my mother when I was a teenager. My siblings and I all handled it differently.

My sister never talked to anyone about it and uses sweet memories to handle things. She keeps things of my mothers and does things to remind herself of our mom.

My brother claims he accepted it before she died. I don't really believe him because afterwards he struggled with an addiction and blamed our father for a lot of it.

As for myself, I threw myself back into schooling and life until eventually my body couldn't handle the stress and emotions and I broke down. I had heart attack like anxiety attacks. I panicked at reminders of my past. Almost a year later I was diagnosed with PTSD. It's been nine years now and I still suffer some of the effects. I tried counseling back then but hated the counselor and felt it did nothing for me. The best support I got was eventually my hubby and from a trauma support group in college.

Your story sounds very realistic to me. Even at two years it felt fresh and too recent.

If there's anything I can answer for you or help with, let me know. I have even, unfortunately, witnessed a gruesome death. S if I can use my experience to help somehow someone else, I'd love to do that.

I hope that helps somehow.

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#12 lyael

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 05:02 PM

Hi Jess,

 

You've had some wonderful responses that I was glad to read.  What a good question.

 

I'll just point out (lawyerly need for precision :) ) that if your mc killed his parents unintentionally, it wasn't "murder". By definition, murder requires intent. 



#13 Jepenipi

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 05:25 PM

  • I don't know if you got what you needed from all the above posts....but I wanted to add that if he accidentally did this, he would most likely suffer from PTSD.....if you no longer need advice I wont bother elaborating, if you want me to I will....





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