Multiple losses of very close family members

by Jean L.
(Eugene, OR, USA)

In the past nine years, I have lost my: Husband of 29 years, Father in law, Mom, favorite Auntie, Brother in Law, dearest Mother in law and Sister. Also my health, career and only Child, a Son moved across country. I am overwhelmed with grief and am now suffering from depression and anxiety. I feel that these profound losses came faster than I could grieve them. Each loss piled up on the other (some with only three months apart) with sorrow restimulated from the previous one. Since I lost my Husband first, I was a widow trying to handle all the others without my life partner and our mutual support. Fortunately I had two years to mourn my Husband before my Mom died yet there was months of caregiving and Hospice for both.

My question is, how to now walk the grief journey with each one without getting more overwhelmed? One at a time? I thought after my Husband died, I learned the tools to grieve in a deep and healthy way. But now, I am simply overloaded, still in shock and not sure where to start. Just let the tears flow and do the very best at self-care and compassion until I can see my way clear?

I am seeing a licensed counselor about 3 times a month but it doesn't feel like enough. I'm blessed with special, dear friends as well as good widow friends but no one who has experienced numerous losses. Most of the time, I feel pretty lonely trying to get through this and heal.

Your thoughts and guidance would so very appreciated.

Comments for Multiple losses of very close family members

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Oct 11, 2017
Coping with Multiple Losses
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Dear Jean

Thank you for writing to us. You have certainly been at the sharp end of the slings and arrows of life's misfortunes. You are correct in saying that not many of your friends can understand your huge losses, very few suffer in this way. It is not surprising that you are suffering anxiety and depression now. I am so pleased to hear that you are going to a counselor and have a group of friends.

However you may need to talk to someone more than monthly to discuss how you are feeling or you might need a change of counselor if you feel that it is not helping. Try someone different, or there are online specialists who you can contact at any time. Just a friendly voice to cry with or get some angry feelings out of the way. Why did this have to happen to me? etc, and all those negative feelings need an outlet.

Yes, crying helps and yes having a rant gets you calmer through these difficult times, but much easier when a support person helps you.

Also have a look at our page about bereavement and PTSD in case you feel you are suffering any of those symptoms. Don't be afraid of asking for help from your doctor who may be able to refer you to a psychologist if you feel it would help.

I hope that your son moving away is not a final thing, but just the empty nest syndrome you are feeling.

You can then be pleased for his future as our children do need to find their own way in life. They usually come back at some point.

None of us can rely on others to make us happy, it has to come from our own inner strengths and being comfortable about ourselves. You had so much time visiting sick relatives and hospices that you should be proud of all the support you gave your loved ones, not everyone can do that.

You have spent so much of your life being a wife, mother, daughter or going to work. Now is the time for you.

Try to look at it as your special time and look at creating a bucket list of what you wanted to do but did not have time.

The fact that you are having counseling and written to us for help, means you are trying hard but at this moment you just need more support on a regular basis. You will cope but the journey is not an easy one.

Our very best wishes to you.

The Grief and Sympathy Team

Oct 12, 2017
by: Jean L

You have given me an incredible gift: acknowledgement of the depth of my grief from the multiple family losses in my life recently. How grateful I am for your compassion and understanding of this healing journey I am taking. I was feeling somewhat alone in realizing that this is a very significant and pretty traumatic situation which few can even comprehend. Most people expect me to be the same cheerful and sociable person I was by now and be back to normal.
I cherish the friends and acquaintances that offer support and gentle kindness even if they have not experienced this.
Even in the midst of these losses, I feel hope that I can heal, for there is love, help and support. I know with good self-care, I have the strength inside me to go forward one step at a time.
Thank you so much for your wonderful website and commitment to help people as they grieve.

Oct 21, 2017
I can Identify with you
by: Anonymous

Hello Jean,

I am sorry about all your losses. I can certainly identify with your losses. I lost my dear Husband of 54 years just a few months ago, also we lost our only child in 1989.

All my family is gone except for some cousins who are not in touch.

I live alone and have anxiety, loneliness, depression. I go to support groups but have never met or bonded with anyone like me, the people attending so far have all family. I am the odd one out. I try to go out every day and walk and eat well mostly except for breakfast.

My dear husband worried about me being left alone before he died. Take care of yourself.

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