Lost My Son to Cancer - Feeling So Guilty

by A Mother
(California)

Hi,
Thank you for creating this page!

I lost my 19 yrs old son to cancer 9 months back. He was in college when diagnosed and we brought him home and within 10 months he left us. We never imagined he will not survive.

He was doing good until last 3 months. My husband was mostly with him in the hospital for the last three months. I used to visit him 2-3 times a week. I have other child who has bit of autism who won't leave me alone longer. But, I feel so guilty of not visiting my son more often that these thought come in my mind anytime and very often and I would cry. I feel why I did not take sabbatical from work and visit my son every day when my other child was in school. Not only this, I remember each and every time I scolded my son since he was a child and feel so bad - why did I do that?

There are many other things, I don't know how to stop thinking so negatively. I know I am a normal parent and behaved like a normal parent but if I knew he was with us for a short time, I would have cared for him so much.

Thank you so much for reading.

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Nov 30, 2015
A Mother's Love
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Thank you for writing to us. The loss of a child is one of the worst things that can happen. It is such a short time since it happened that your pain and grief are natural emotions. Raw and challenging as they may be, they are a part of the grieving process.

Your feelings of guilt are very common symptoms during the pathways of grief. Your son had achieved at school, got a place in college and I am sure he realised you loved him. As a parent there must have been many occasions when you needed to challenge his behaviour. You know these guilty feelings are irrational, but it is so easy to blame yourself.

He was a much loved son, whose father and mother visited him often each week, yes, he knew you cared. Remember you were doing what you did to support the family unit and keep homelife on an even keel, whilst going through the very difficult period of your son's illness.

You did what you felt was best for the family at the time, that is all we can ever do. You are very brave, and caring for your child whilst grieving for another is not easy. Don't add to your difficulties by being hard on yourself.

Our thoughts and wishes are with you. I suggest you read our page on guilt and grief too.

You will cope with your grief. You are at the early stages now, so give yourself time.

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How do you answer: “how many children do you have?” when you have lost a child?

by Jenny
(Atlanta, USA)

I had a little girl who died at birth two years ago and I have 2 other children, a boy and a girl. I find it so difficult to answer this question, as I don't want to talk about the loss of my little girl in every casual conversation, but at the same time, it's so painful to say 2 children and it makes me feel so guilty.

I'd be interested in knowing what do other people say?

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Jun 09, 2013
Every child is precious
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

This query is often an innocent conversation piece. How well you know the person asking can often help you decide how to answer. There is nothing to stop you saying I have had three children and leave it at that. If they know you well and follow up that you only have two children then you can explain why. It makes you feel better that you have not missed out your beloved lost child. I said I had had three children often and in my own thoughts remembered the one that was lost, even though the people asking did not follow up on it.

How you feel about this question is the most important issue here. No one is asking how many children do you have alive, so just be honest. Admit to the number of children you have given birth to, then there is no conflict, no feeling of guilt because you felt you had omitted your beloved child. Be prepared to give an explanation if they ask, if the situation is appropriate to discuss it.


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My beautiful daughter is dead and I feel the same

by Linda
(Boca Raton, Fl. )

My daughter was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in March of 2015. I knew it was fatal and I watched her suffer until August 16, 2015. I was called to her bedside ..she was in hospice care at her home. My denial was over the top. When I knelt at her bedside I touched her and the nurse screamed "You can't touch her because of the pain" Her arms went up in the air and I felt nothing...just numb.

She could no longer see...her eyes were open and glazed over...I whispered in her ear that mommy was here and that I loved her more than anything.

30 seconds later she was dead. I passed out and when I came to my son had carried me outside...I was numb. I was in shock as I understand it. I have not cried for more than 1 time for 30 seconds. That was more than a year ago and I still ask GOD to bring her back. All words...no emotion.
What can I do to come back to life?

Linda

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May 20, 2016
You will feel the grief when you are ready
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Dear Linda,

Thank you for writing to us and we are so sorry for your distressing loss. Sometimes the reality of such a huge loss is too difficult to accept.

To let your emotions take over and really allow yourself to cry would be to accept what has happened and you have not been able to do it yet. It is not unusual for this to happen. The fact that you have written to us is a good start.

When the enormity of your loss finally gets past this shock and numbness you may find that the tears arrive and you may feel inconsolable. But these tears are cleansing, so don't be afraid of them. The shock you are experiencing, is you protecting yourself, the length of time varies with everyone.

A friend was in a lecture group with us one day. We were talking about loss of a mother. She was suddenly in floods of tears even though it was many years since her loss. It was because she had never grieved. She had moved home and had children to care for so it was easy to pretend it hadn't happened. To talk about it and relieve all the pent up emotions is healing.

You will do it when you are ready. You will do it for your daughter so that you can start to remember all the happy times you shared together. You will do it to be thankful for all the many years you were lucky to have her. To remember all the precious moments.

One day we will remember their love with wonder not grief.

My very best wishes

Betty from the GriefandSympathy team.

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Lost my Son to a Motorcyle Accident - How Do I Cope?

by kim
(milton wa)

My 19 yy old son Brandon Died due to a motorcycle accident... How do I go the rest of my life feeling like this every day. I wake up wanting to call him or invite him for dinner, songs on the radio, friend of his I pass. What do I do with me, my life included him. I can't just change it. I don't want to...I want him back

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Sep 27, 2016
Coping with the Loss of a Son
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Thank you for writing to us, we are so sorry to hear about your tragic loss.

Losing a child or young person is unimaginable. Brandon must have been a major part of your life and coming to terms with day to day routines without him is the most difficult part of the grieving process. It is not easy. Seeing his friends or wanting to tell him about your day, are now painful experiences.

All we want is to see them again, talk to them, but sadly that is just not possible.

Some find comfort in writing to the loved and one putting down all their thoughts. Others find talking to a photograph helps a little. You had a wonderful son for 18 years and will never forget him. Eventually it will be easier to think about him without this pain that you are feeling. Give yourself time to come to terms with your loss, find a support group or good friend that you can talk to.

Try to fill your days with work or hobbies so your mind can be focused on other things for a while in the day. Grief is the price we pay for love, but we would not have been without their love.

You will cope for your own sake but also for Brandon's. He would not have wanted you to be so sad. This despair you're feeling is natural, and although you may not realise it at the moment, it will get easier to bear. You will not forget this terrible loss but coming to terms with it is the best any of us can do.

There are many pages on the site about loss of a child and how to cope with stages of grief. I hope you find some help in them.

Our very best wishes the Grief and Sympathy team.

Sep 28, 2016
Meaning of Grief
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Dear Kim

When I read your message I wished I had a magic wand that I could wave to take away some of the pain your feeling, sadly I have not.

The latest page on the site describes the meaning of grief and it may help you to understand what you are going through.

Occasionally in life it is a huge privilege to have known someone special and their memory will be with you forever. In time you will be able to remember Brandon's love with wonder not sorrow.

Our thoughts are with you.
Betty


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Grieving an estranged adult child

by JILL
(BRISTOL UK)

Does anyone else have experience of grieving intensely for the loss of estrangement from a child who has turned against them?

I have been plunged into a pit of depression and grief by my 31-year-old daughter, who has severed contact with me after several years of limited communication. I love her dearly, but she has struggled with psychotic depression and seems to blame me. I am so sad. How do I get over it?

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Apr 03, 2019
Estrangement is a form of grief
by: Betty from GriefandSympathy

Dear Jill

Thank you for writing to us. We are very sorry to hear about the situation you find yourself in. It is a very sad time for you, unfortunately a common occurrence. I have two good friends who find themselves with the same problem and the grief you must be feeling is very real.

There will be feelings of guilt - "Did I do all I could to help"? Feelings of uselessness -"What can I do to resolve this"? Your daughter must be feeling sad too, to have made this decision. She obviously has some unresolved grievances that you don't understand. We can hurt people without ever knowing how or why they misunderstood our behavior.

Bringing children into this world and seeing them grow is a wonderful but difficult process. We can only ever do what we think is for the best at the time, all us of can get it wrong some of the time.

Accept that what you are feeling is grief with all that entails - shock, anxiety, even anger at times. Remember that your daughter has had a lot of health problems to cope with and may need space and time herself.

What you do to cope with this, is, take a day at a time and get on with your life. Try to keep up with friends and other family members. Talk about your feelings to a trusted friend. Don't avoid company and go to the movies or out to meals with friends. Your life has to go on no matter how difficult that may seem at the moment.

When we lose a loved one we have no choice but to get on with our life - it is precious too. Your daughter may come back in her own time - make it clear that you will always be there for her.

There are many pages on coping with grief on our and you may find some useful. Loved ones do not always have to die for you to feel this grief.

You are reaching out for help and that is a good start.
If you are still struggling and can't find help among friends or family or from our pages, you might find the online counselling service we recommend useful. You can read about it at the bottom of the page.

Betty
www.griefandsympathy.com
We wish you well.

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Lost My Daughter to Cancer During Covid 19

by Anon
(Anon)

Lost my 27 year old daughter to cancer and feel torn. Yes she felt unwell for the past 2 weeks but treatment was stopped 2 months ago because of Covid...this also meant that she didn't get appointments or see doctors etc. because of lockdown.

She was scared to go to the hospital because of Covid and even rang to ask for advice. She was told possible infection and prescribed antibiotics.

I just feel that she was let down by the lack of support for a pre existing condition. While I understand that resources are stretched by Covid I can't be the only one to have lost someone in these circumstances. I still feel angry but shitty for feeling this way because while A&E moved mountains to try to help her it may not have been necessary had she still had normal access to the cancer unit.

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May 02, 2020
Loss during Covid 19
by: Betty from GriefandSympathy

Hi

I am so very sorry for your loss and cannot begin to understand just how traumatic this has been for you. To lose a child is one of life's great tragedies and in the middle of this pandemic crisis it has created added problems. You will feel angry and wonder whether she would have been better off with continued treatment. However cancer treatments do affect the immune system and so they were probably being cautious for that reason too. Do talk to her specialist about how you feel and talk about her diagnosis and prognosis. It might be that nothing could have helped.

Grief is a painful process and there is no time limit, but we eventually learn to accept our loss. When your child is ill there is a wish that you could take on the sickness for them, we expect them to outlive us. It is a shock and huge sadness when our children leave us first. I do hope that you have friends and family to talk with on the phone and discuss your feelings. You may need extra help from a counselor, GP or grief support group. There are lots of possibilities on the internet during this lock down.

See our pages on:
Online Grief Support Groups
How to Find Grief Support

Grief is the price we pay for love and no one would ever want to miss that love, though the loss is so painful. We wish you strength and courage.

Betty from Grief and Sympathy.

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Do you have any references about an overdose death?

by Rita Curtiss
(Winsted, CT )

My son, Ryan, died last summer, from a massive drug overdose. He was a single father. He also struggled with severe depression and anxiety. This is my second child, I have lost. And, at the same time, I have recently gotten divorced after my only marriage of 20 years. The grief is overwhelming at times. My heart is shattered. I am desperately trying to put the broken pieces of it back together.

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Jan 17, 2023
Grieving multiple losses
by: Lesley from GriefandSympathy.com

Dear Rita

I'm so sorry to hear of your terrible losses. While I don't have any reference specific to a drugs overdose, we do have a page helping people with multiple losses here:

https://www.griefandsympathy.com/grieving-multiple-losses.html

We also have a page on coping with divorce here:

https://www.griefandsympathy.com/effectsofdivorce.html

I suggest you read many of the pages on our website under the tab "Coping with Grief". There are lots of general pages of advice on dealing with the grieving process. The Self Care and Online Grief Support information may be helpful to you as well.

We wish you strength on your grief journey.

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Loss of my only son

by Shirley
(Tampa, Florida)

My 11 yr old son and I were in a car accident a month ago. He unfortunately did not make it out alive in the hospital. I blame myself for what happened and had hope to have died with him. The pain has been unbearable and have had suicidal thoughts but I know I won't act up on it becuase of my two older daughters and grandson.

The guilt and grief is slowly killing me inside. I don't know how to move forward with life without my son/bestfriend. I feel so lost, alone, and angry at myself and the world. I've dealt with many deaths but this one hit me the hardest and I don't think I can ever recover from this.

I just don't understand why I'm being punished like this. What did I do so wrong that I have to keep going through this?

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Jun 08, 2021
Coping with tragic loss of your son
by: Betty from GriefandSympathy

Dear Shirley,

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your precious son and your grief is massive because of the guilt you also feel.

An accident is not your fault. They happen to all of us, but it is so sad that it was your son who had to take the terrible result of it. Again not your fault.

To lose a child is one of the worst things that can happen in life. Grief for someone you love can not be rushed and yes, it does take time to come to terms with the loss and adjust to life without them.

The positive you have in life is your other family, daughters and grandchildren. You can concentrate on them and
become part of their lives and, as you said, cope with your grief for their sakes.

Do not be too isolated in your grief. Ask for help, talk to a good friend or counsellor, join a support group.

Writing to us and saying that you will concentrate on your other family means that you do have the ability to cope.

You were so lucky to have had such a great relationship with your son. The price we pay for love is grief. He was a major part of your life and your grief will not be rushed.

Our thoughts are with you at this difficult time of your life, we hope some of the pages on loss of a child to be found on our site may help.

We also recommend the beautiful book 'Bearing the Unbearable' by Joanne Cacciatore. She lost a child at a very young age, and she helps many people with this grief. She has many practical and mindful ways to cope and learn to live with the daily challenges of grief.

Betty from Grief and Sympathy.

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Loss of my baby brother back in 2005

I was born in 2002, so when my baby brother was born in 2005 & died on the same day, I didn't understand it well enough to mourn at the time.

Growing up, I never cried about losing my baby brother because he was gone before I could even make memories with him. His death just never affected me.

Now that I'm older, the realization has begun to settle in and I find myself wondering how different as a person would I have been had he lived?

Would I have gotten my driver's license earlier, learned to cook faster, just overall grown into an adult faster if he were around?

Although we never had any memories, I can't help but start heavily missing him and crying and hating the world for taking him away so early.

I want to know if anyone has advice for dealing with this type of loss with zero memories attached, just full of "what ifs" that I feel robbed from.

My mom went to therapy to deal with his loss but my dad refused to go to therapy, so I'm afraid to bring up this topic with them and make them sad.

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Nov 12, 2021
The Grief of What Ifs
by: Lesley from GriefandSympathy

Hi

Lesley here. Thank you for reaching out to us.

What you are going through is quite common when you have experienced the loss of a sibling you never knew. In fact, it happened to my mother, Betty, the main author of our website. She says she often used to wonder what her lost brother would have been like.

I think you have now reached an age where you are able to think things through, and to understand more of what your parents went through. Also, we have all been through such a lot of stress and grief with the pandemic and we are constantly bombarded with doom and gloom due to climate change, natural disasters etc. This makes us more susceptible to sadness and grief.

I would say don't be afraid to talk to your parents about it. I think they may be comforted to know that you care, and understand more now about how they must have felt.

Grief is always better out than in. Even if it makes them sad, it is good to feel our feelings. It helps us to process them and accept them.

Sharing memories of your brother's very short life, may well be healing for all of you.

Another good way of getting your feelings out is to write them down. I'm publishing a series of articles about grief journaling very shortly, so sign up to our newsletter at the bottom of the page and you'll receive an email when they come out.

All the best

Lesley
Editor, www.griefandsympathy.com


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Where to get help: 


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Do you feel alone and sad with no support and no idea how to move forward?  It can be tough when you are stuck in grief to find the motivation to get the most out of your precious life. 

Online counseling can help by giving you that support so you don't feel so alone. You can have someone to talk to anytime you like, a kind and understanding person who will help you to find meaning in life again, to treasure the memories of your loved one without being overwhelmed and to enjoy your activities, family and friends again.


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Try a gentle hypnotherapy track to relax the mind. Learn how self-hypnosis can help you cope with grief at any time of the day or night.  

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