How do you find strength when coping with grief alone?

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  • #21436

    Dear Community,

    Hoping the act of simply writing this post will help the topic title! Like everyone here, I am experiencing deep grief over the loss of my anchor, my confidant, my supporter, my beautiful mother 2 months ago from lung cancer. Just when I thought I was getting ‘over it’, my husband’s bladder cancer which we endured/survived last year has returned to his lungs. Whilst it’s early days, the prospect of losing him as well is too much to bear. So rightly or wrongly, I write the below as a coping piece should his prognosis get worse so I can deal with it. (Having said that, the journey with cancer and what I perceive to be the issue is also a type of grieving even if they survive!)

    I recently read Susan Sandberg’s book “OPtion B”. She lost her husband suddenly and wrote the book to help other through the grieving process.
    Her points are good-in line with many other people’s writing on the subject. However, most of the important healing exercises, involve people. She has a massive network!
    I on the other hand, live in a rural community with no kids of my own (2 step children in their 20’s).
    No family in the state I live in. Husband’s family (Mother and Brother and my husbands’ kids) are useless with a capital U. The whole family is on the spectrum so not a hell of a lot of support to be found there, we barely speak to eachother. My father (no real relationship) is also on the spectrum/emotionally defunct. Friends are fewer due to Covid and my remote location so I dont see them very often. I also stopped trying with so many as my Husband gave me such a full life and I thrive on deep, meaningful connections which rules out so many people!

    My issue is, I feel utterly alone and helpless with the prospect of being alone or simply without the 2 most important people in my life. The friends I do have and my interstate sister-in-law on my side, seem too busy with kids, work, etc that I don’t even feel I can tell them of my grief and my husband’s news. I think it’s common to feel you are a burden to people if all you seemingly do is cry and be ‘down’. (Nina Simone said it better!) I certainly feel this and more acutely when I do open up to someone and then….nothing. No follow up. I see a therapist once a fortnight for an hour but that’s hardly a comfort for the time in between. I had to give up my dream job during Mums decline and subsequently have lost any sense of joy and hope. Finding it very hard to motivate myself to exercise, be creative (was a painter) as there is nothing and no one I can find to make me feel any more than ‘just okay’. IS everything up to me to fix?

    In addition to the socially-motivated healing practices of: making connections, ‘getting out there’ and seeking comfort from your ‘circle’ etc , Sandberg also talked about finding new purpose and gratitude as well as envisaging a bright(er) future. Maybe It’s all too sudden to think about conquering these things but I feel these are near impossible and just make me angry. The only real support and joy I had in life-my mum and husband are now in the balance, I have no clue where to find new reserves of these life giving elements. Maybe I’m too selfish to want to help others in this emotional state, be grateful for the ‘times we had’ and think of a bright future?? AM I missing something? She makes it all sound so achievable. Is it just my thinking that is the problem? Or is it just f^^ing hard doing it solo? What else can make you feel better when you feel, in your soul, alone and blank?
    I’m only 41 and thought this was going to be the best decade… I could really do with some ideas as to where and how to find strength.
    Thanks everyone and apologies for the long winded story!..

Viewing 10 replies - 1 through 10 (of 13 total)
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  • #21630

    Hi @teew
    Thanks for reaching out! Seems we are all in a similar boat with the lonliness, otherwise we wouldnt be here! That is so true about having people you can talk to about ‘stuff’ but you can struggle and feel isolated in your grief state. I went to see a friend yesterday and just couldn’t tell them. I just wanted to leave. So I ate cheese and left. Good friends will come to recognize that you are struggling and to let you come to them when you need but a true friend will know what you need. Everyone is just too busy though-thats all i hear. BUT! I have this forum!! I love your idea of making art for special friends and family. I will try harder at that. Do you make NFT’s?? You also sound quite young judging by your comment about ‘fellow 18yo’s’. Had you not said that I would have thought you far older. You have seemingly ‘handled’ your fathers passing incredibly well (That is not a glib statement). Your words and sentiments are very mature and I am in awe. Well done you!
    Big hugs or handshakes or whatever you need! You are not alone either.


    Dear Kate,
    thank you for your response and I see that so many are reaching out through their pain to yours …..and as dear Moon says we just know others are sitting beside us here….sometimes/most of the time truthfully I’m so damn depleted I can’t even string my thoughts together enough to come on here and respond so please understand (I know you do) if it takes me a while, actually I’d been writing over a few days and then lost it all somehow, so had to try and remember!!
    Thank you so much for asking about connecting, I have filled out the form so I suppose wait and see…..hopefully we can talk soon…
    A week of no washing!! Try my house not cleaned at all since, I just go outside and weed then I don’t have to feel guilty and mad….that’s how it is when you’ve NO family that cares…
    I’m so sad that so many of us here have similar situations when it comes to lack of family support, it just makes it impossible to function as you can just feel so invisible and especially your beloved person that everyone has forgotten , I find that really disturbing, I just feel like screaming it’s an outrage….
    I know what you mean ,as many here will also say ,we don’t have anything to give and that’s okay because it’s honest, I was also thinking as I read the saddest tales here, seems to me that we have been the givers forever and now we need help!!HELP!! I understand asking makes us feel tragic and it’s true, I am so tired of what I feel is badgering people for attention and care, or just some thoughtful kind word, which may just pick me up in that moment, just makes me feel more hopeless than I already am…..and then I see all these bereft people here giving to each other , the kind words , and encouragement ,we so need to try to trust again ( trust shattered by grief then by other people who just don’t understand….I actually read somewhere that this is a second grief (it’s a thing), which only redoubles our pain….
    Our horrific pain, is the deepest love and I’m finding it impossible to bare.
    So for today much kindness and care to you all


    Hi Kate, and everyone grieving. Thank you for being so open and honest, I appreciate that so much, there’s quite a few of here who have no other avenue to express themselves, and would go quietly crazy if we felt like the only one going through this. I joined this forum to connect with others, maybe even sort of journal, because I know even if you don’t receive replies, there are people sitting at home reading and silently wiping their tears alongside us.
    I remember so many long nights at the children’s hospital, just sitting silently beside another parent underneath a tree, just trying to breath, sharing a look, or a quick conversation, that only those who know, understands.
    I might ‘dump’ a lot of songs in my thread, but I have no doubt many resonate, with many xx


    Dear Moon,
    Thank you for your words. You are correct in saying that this forum and people like you are making the (seemingly endless) journey of grief a bit more bearable. I am also very saddened to hear about your loss. You sound so strong. Your son was lucky to have you. I hope you have support from family and friends?
    I told my husband about this forum. I don’t think he understood it and like most people, think that it’s full of people ‘grief dumping’ with no real action plan. I can see his point but yet another example of people who just expect you to pick YOURSELF up and dust yourself off because they haven’t yet had to endure the pain (and probably never will as he has no deep connections with his family or friends-just me!).
    So one side I want to club him but as he’s so darned practical, I can’t help but agree that I (and others perhaps) do need to suggest things that are of help?. I wonder what you do when you experience the ebb of grief about to take hold of you?
    A lot of people suggest writing a diary type thing. I haven’t found that to work – yet – but I think this is pretty close to a journal. So take that husband!-these forums are very constructive – this isn’t JUST a forum to release sadness, all these words are helping to organize our brains and we will be able to look back on these letters to each other and see that we are growing-even though we don’t feel it most of the time. A problem shared is a problem halved as well.
    So I thank you again and will be here for you when and if you need. I wonder where you live?-would be great to all catch up one day and release some doves or something! Mum was an avid bird watcher-we used to sit for hours just watching.
    I do find gardening to be of some use-we have acres of garden so there’s always something that needs to be done. And it’s also great to get out – somewhere with not many people and that inspires a new project/idea like a gallery, market or for me a salvage yard! First time in a LONG time I could see bits of a future. See, not feel. The ‘passion’ for life will hopefully come with the doing?!
    I planted a tree for Mum last week and made a tree guard. It’s taken all of 4 hours for the cows to eat all the lower branches and almost get their head stuck in the guard. Mum!! Shoo them away!! Hope she finds it amusing to watch!
    Take care all you lovely people and I know it sounds corny but when the sun shines, try and think of the warmth you feel as if were our loved ones giving us their beautiful hugs.


    Hello @katevm

    Firstly, i want to say that i can relate to a lot of the things you are saying. I definitely agree that the grief experienced with a loved one that has cancer is as real- even if they survive- than if they were to die. My grandfather did die from cancer in April, but the anticipatory grief leading up to it and seeing his condition deteriorate was worse than when he actually passed. In fact, when he died everyone was just relieved that the pain stopped like he wanted it to.

    I also really relate to having people around, but not having people around. The death of someone is so complicated and it is really really hard to know who will be helpful to talk to. I have a few friends that i can rant to about things that are bothering me, but it is so different when it comes to death. How can i talk to fellow 18 year olds about my dad who committed suicide when they have their own dad’s still alive, or do not have a good relationship with them? All i can get is the “i am sorry”, “is there anything i can do?” and “i know you miss him, he was a great guy”. Although kind, it is just so hard to find people that understand.

    On your point about motivation… I am also really unmotivated to exercise. Sometimes i will just sit inside for weeks on end because it is too hard to face the world. And because i am depressed and nothing seems worth it, my creativity is also stumped (i create characters and digital paintings). I also think it is well enough to say to find the good in life and have goals and things, but sometimes grief blocks all that out, so i dont think u should beat yourself up about not having that seemingly “easy” ability to switch to that frame of mind. You are going through a lot, and it is super hard to see through the fog. Be kind to yourself and i think it is crucial to focus just as much on the things you need for your mental health, as well as the non negotiable parts of your life.

    It seems like online forums and things are going to be your best bet of connecting with people! I personally post art on instagram, and something that has helped me get more motivated to keep making art is requests from family and friends. Maybe u could surprise one of your good friends with a painting of something of their choice (for example, i drew my great uncle’s cats for him). I would recommend telling them you are making it though so that they can get excited and fuel your motivation!

    I hope that helps, and I am very sorry for your loss, as well as the awful anticipatory grief you are experiencing 🙁


    Hi Kate, you are not alone in this, not anymore, you’ll find many of us sought support here because of the lack of family and friends.
    I think it’s very brave of you to reach out and share. I’m sorry you lost your mum so recently, I cared for my father during his last weeks so can relate.
    I too, know all about anticipated grief, as I lived with it for 10 years…then beyond belief it actually happened, my 19yr old son died just 7 mths ago.
    Rejection of a double lung transplant, after battling leukaemia, bone marrow transplant, there’s quite a few of us here who understand what cancer treatment really is like.
    I totally get your fears with your husbands cancer metastising to his lungs, but please try not to compare his prognosis with your mum.
    Every single body is unique and responds differently to different meds. Never ever give up hope xxx


    Hi @katevm and @debsayge,

    The connections we find in grief have the power to really build community, find solidarity and find joy again.

    If you both fill out the form here we can then connect you both via email.

    It sounds like you both are expanding around and with your grief and I can see the commitment you both have to fostering connection. Its wonderful.

    Keep writing – we are here


    Hey Deb,
    Always lovely to hear from you! And @VM_Cleo-I will try and join the next group via Zoom as I live near Daylesford on a small farm, a bit like you Deb!
    PS @VM_Cleo, can I give @debsayge my email somehow as it’s just us two nattering away!!?

    I was thinking this morning that I probably shouldn’t have expected many people on this forum to share their thoughts on the subject of coping alone because I am exactly how you said it Deb-We’re all Desperate!!!-Desperate for any cure, sign, or words that will take even a little of the pain away!! Desperate to be heard amongst what feels like a closed loop out there. And desperate people who are struggling emotionally, physically, mentally and domestically (the washing has waited for a week now!) do NOT have a lot to spare. IN the same way that I don’t have a lot to spare others. Moreover, I don’t even think I have advice for anyone. Some of my cures are not healthy ones! I will try and help others when and where I can. I guess it’s also important not to equate my grief with anyone elses and vice versa. It’s all relative so I don’t need to feel like I wouldn’t inderstand losing 2 parents or a child, etc. We can all help by just being here and letting it out..

    Sorry to hear about your Mum. That’s a tough one as in my experience, you can’t make people care if they really haven’t displayed much since now! Maybe they don’t know how to but I’m pretty sure you’d know that much by now? my Dad is a narcissict and is only displaying ‘care’ because he wants attention.
    My mother in law is emotionless. My husband rang her last night and didn’t tell her that he was going in for a PET scan today because “she doesn’t care, so whats the point”.
    Just want to break something..!! SHe didn’t ring us ONCE when he went through 3 months chemo and 2 months of recovery from surgery. Even though she is a nice lady, seriously, WTF.
    So I get it. It’s f”ed up and I feel sorry for these people that are missing out on true love and care.

    Losing a loved one is two fold. There’s the pain of missing them and not being able to enjoy the future with them and then there is the loss of joy in yourself and the struggle to find ANYTHING that will make you feel SOMETHING!! I think I’m just repeating myself here but the joy (maybe or maybe not) can be found in and through others that just aren’t to be found in my life. Maybe the key is to be more forward and asking for a freakin hug now and then? BUt that would just make me feel tragic!!

    Reading your letters help Deb so please feel free write anytime and whatever! Don’t ever worry about repeating yourself-exhibit A here. I would put a post out on FB for a grief network. If you’re not into all that stuff, ask the Neighbourhood centre to do it for you.? Even if you get one, that might help? I would come but its a 2 hr drive!?
    Youre never alone.



    Hello @katevm,

    I really hear the pain and lonliness of grief that you are currently feeling, I want to start off by saying thank you. Thank you for being brave and sharing the loss of your wonderful mum and the ongoing cancer scare with your husband – it sounds incredibly difficult – I don’t know how you do it! Anticipatory grief is as diffuclt as grieiving someone who has past, and to be experiencing both of those at the same time sounds really isolating.

    To write about your thoughts on grief is not whiney, not in the slightest – it is incredibly powerful. Again, a testament to your strength. I’m sorry it has taken us so long to get back to you.

    I wonder how you are going since you wrote this post? Those things that used to bring us joy seem really difficult after loss. I would really love to hear anymore book recommendations – or even more Nina Simone songs! It sounds as if the creativity within you never really left!

    Griefline has just announced that their support groups are open to everyone, no matter what state you live in – which I thought may be useful to you –

    Support groups

    Again, Thank you for reaching out, keep writing or even try calling us 1300 845 745 between 6am-12am AEDT – we are listening!


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