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Shippy's avatar

Can we acquire a deep sadness from an event that never goes away?

Asked by Shippy (9889points) March 10th, 2012

Can this shape all our subsequent beliefs and therefore actions? No matter our age at the time?. I ask because a chain of events occurred in my life that I feel left me alienated.

First my dad passed away, then my mother and oddly an ex girlfriend in the same week. I was alone with my dad when he died and at his funeral.

I did not have a funeral for my mother because of this.I was alone too with my mom when she died. I remember some lady’s hugging me when I left and I was so grateful. But I felt completely alienated, on another planet, I’m not sure I ever came back. Came back to believe that there are humans who care.

I don’t want to have this feeling of alienation any-more though. How can I restore it? As I feel my depression started around this time.

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26 Answers

john65pennington's avatar

The assasination of President John F. Kennedy would be a good example.

We still do not have a motive or other suspects.

That was a shame.

serenade's avatar

Yes, if you don’t deal with it fully. If you take time to process it, eventually the sadness will be transformed into something more redeeming. It might take years, but it will become something else.

keobooks's avatar

I do think it’s important in these situations to seek some mental health counseling. Sometimes when things like this all happen at once, we physically lose the ability to cope and need medication to help keep things from getting too bad and to help us eventually get out of it.

If you are feeling nonstop endless despair , it may be because you passed your threshold of stress tolerance, which even if it was very high to start with it may have broken with everything happening at once. If your stress level gets too high for too long a period of time, you can slip into a deep depression that no amount of positive thinking or processing will get you out of.

Medication can physically help your brain “reboot” from that. But you will still feel horrible about the loss for a long time and may need counseling to help you get over it. But don’t just try to do it yourself. It’s not being weak to get help when you need it.

While I’ve never had a parent pass away, I had a rough time in the early 90s before there was a decent medicine for HIV/AIDS related illness. I went through a point where I had friends getting sick and dying on a monthly basis. That started to get me down. But when my totally healthy room mate was killed in a car accident completely unexpectedly, it was too much for me. I got in a funk so bad I thought I’d never get out.

I finally went in for treatment when I got so depressed that I was afraid I’d be locked in a State hospital for the rest of my life because I was so deeply down that I couldn’t function. For a while, it scared me and I was afraid to get treatment. But then I got to the point where I was like—if it’s so bad that I need to be locked up, it’s probably better that way.

It turned out that I didn’t need to be in a hospital at all. A minor antidepressant and some very serious counseling sessions helped me. The pills weren’t happy pills that made me forget my troubles. They just made recovery POSSIBLE and the counseling was more effective with it.

At the same time, while I feel much better these days, there is a small part of me that always feels the loss of all of those amazing people that died too young. There is a slight sadness that is always there, but it’s bearable. But its more like a scar than a deep wound constantly bleeding.

Sunny2's avatar

I’m so sorry for your loss. It must be really difficult to be alone and grieving. Time is probably the only thing that will heal and it may not ever be totally gone. My advice is to go where there are people with a common bond: church; community group; service club. Volunteer someplace to help others. Just being busy and among others will eventually give you a moment when you don’t think of it. Then minutes, then little by little, more time. Eventually, you will even smile. Good luck to you.And check in here to let us know how it is going. We care.

janbb's avatar

It will always linger as an echo but can you make a happier more peaceful life for yourself if you get therapy. It takes time and work; I know, I have. You mentioned that you have no money but there are social service agencies that will provide mental health services on a sliding scale. You need to do this; you cannot resolved such trauma on your own.

lonelydragon's avatar

Yes. It is possible to be happy again after such an event, but it will leave a deep impression upon us. I’ve never had a parent die, but in the early 2000’s, I was going through an emotionally abusive relationship, and not long after that ended, I was assaulted by a neighbor. Before that, I was a happy-go-lucky, innocent sort of person, but those events impaired my sense of basic trust. I became more subdued and less outgoing. I’m still more reserved than I used to be, but I was able to process the events and find happiness again after a period of time. Even though the sense of loss (of a parent, a relationship, or one’s innocence) will never completely go away, it will slowly begin to heal. Coming here and sharing your thoughts was a good first step. I agree with @janbb that counseling would be beneficial.

marinelife's avatar

That was a lot of grief in a short period of time. You don’t really want to restore your feeling of alienation. That was your body’s way of distancing you from the horror of losing so many important people in your life.

Now you are depressed. You need to work through the grief. I suggest grief counseling or a grief group.

You can get past it. Will it somehow always be part of your life? Yess. But will it be the driving force of your life? No.

majorrich's avatar

I’ve lost close friends and watched my Father die slowly from Parkinson’s (ultimately dehydration) and have days when despair can become overwhelming. I am disabled as a result of injuries from when my friends died and was holding one in my arms as he bled to death. My therapist calls it PTSD and Survivor guilt. I am on Effexor and large doses of Valium and still get no relief from the nightmares and despair attacks. I do laugh at the last words of my friend “Damn you are ugly!”

blueiiznh's avatar

I am so sorry to hear all that occured in such a short period for you. I do believe you can get past this, but with help and support of others.

Therapy to have a professional help you through

Work through the 5 stages of grief On Death and Dying

You are more than Stuck in a Moment , but with work you can get yourself out of it.

Prayers and godspeed.

Ron_C's avatar

I was the one that was with my Dad just before he died. In fact I was heading towards his house when he died and I found him sitting in the living room. I was shocked and devastated because over the years we went from father and son to friends. I called 9–11 and an ambulance crew showed up and they were wonderful, the lady medic hugged me and helped comfort me.

I had a very difficult time because on top of everything else there was a blizzard that lasted almost two weeks.

I found writing about my feelings and the answers I got here helped. The people here were wonderful and helped me settle down and accept what happened. You would think it would be easy since my dad was 93 and I was in my 60’s but it was not. My mother had died when I was very young and Dad was always a steady presence. I lost his presence and felt alone even with the rest of my family for support.

I still miss him and often think about what he would say when I face other problems. All I can say is that it gets easier to live with the loss but the loss never really goes away. I think you made a good start buy writing about it here.

Some of use suggested seeking medical help. I did because I was and possibly still am in danger. Talking does help and possibly medication. Frankly, I hate taking drugs but the doctor prescribed an aid to help me sleep without nightmares and it helped. If you are religious you may have access to a priest or preacher that can help. I know from experience that keeping it in and not talking made the problem worse.

I wish you the best and I’ll be thinking of you. Please feel free to message me if you think that talking to me will help.


janbb's avatar

@Ron_C I remember when that happened.

@Shippy Can I ask how long ago this all happened?

Ron_C's avatar

@janbb yeah, you guys were great. I never really thought that a bunch of anonymous people could care and help but you certainly did.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Time. I lost both of my parents and there will always be an echo of the loss in me.

CaptainHarley's avatar

You’re headed in the right direction. Just keep on keeping on. : ))

wundayatta's avatar

It is very common for people to fall into a kind of black hole when so many people close to you pass away so quickly. It can take years to come out of it.

The good news is that you are reaching out. That shows you are starting to try to reenter the world. Don’t be surprised about the bad days, though. There will be times when you can’t get out of bed again, but hopefully they will be farther and farther in between.

The sadness never goes away, but you do learn to live with it. Eventually you are glad it hasn’t gone away. It does have gifts for you. You will find them when you are ready to receive them.

Your alienation will be like that, too. You will make connections to people—maybe even very powerful ones. But there will also be days when you lose those. That’s just the way it is, I think. There are times when we connect, and those are always marvelous. There are times when we watch through a glass darkly. I think you can learn to enjoy… or at least appreciate those times, too. They’re pretty inevitable—at least for me. So what else can I do, but “enjoy” them?

Oddly, this was a lesson I knew back when I was 19 or so. I was happy for many years and forgot and when I got slammed by bipolar at age 51, I had no idea what to do. I’m still not sure I know what to do, but I definitely have ideas. I don’t know if they make any sense to you, but hopefully between the however many of us there are, you’ll get some ideas to help you cope and maybe some comfort. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet someone here who becomes very important to you. Good luck!

DaphneT's avatar

I’m sorry for you’re loss. Please feel hugged from me.

As for the deep abiding sadness, yes it can go on for a long time. Your coming forward even to here has put you on the path of coming to terms, so feel free to pat yourself on the back for that, it’s a good step to make. When I lost my Dad, I felt shut down, and it’s been a decade and the loss is still present, just not as overpowering. I have only just started coming to terms with the loss of my sister, and I’m only at the beginnings of doing that. I expect to lose my Mom this year, and that seems overwhelming at times, just for all the responsibilities that will come after she’s gone.

So don’t feel you have to rush to feel something other than what you feel, everyone grieves differently and not necessarily for the people that have left us, but for the changes in life this has caused.

majorrich's avatar

What I can tell you about our particular kind of pain is it never really goes away, and that in order to deal with it you have to accept it for what it is. It was a loss, or a trauma, or a horror that left an indelible mark on you; but as bamboo bends in the storm you can endeavor to let the pain pass and accept it and keep living. Almost embrace it as something that defines you as a person after the event. It isn’t easy to do. It will change you. For the better or worse depends on the serenity with which you accept your pain. Your loss will always be there. There will be a hole in your soul that won’t heal. But in accepting it and being able to share it you will find comfort in it, and sometimes find bits and pieces of the person clinging to the edges of the hole, and you will cry. These are gifts of remembrance and are painful and sweet at the same time. I am probably not the most comforting message you will read in this thread, but I can tell you that it is a road I have traveled more than many. Take comfort that you will be stronger next time around and the pains will be more familiar.

Shippy's avatar

Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful answers and links that I will look at and use. To clarify there was a “space” between my dad passing (a year) but no space between my mom and ex girlfriend. That happened within days of each other. I never really thought about the closeness of each until someone I was chatting to asked. This all happened around two and a half years ago.

Like anything it is a “long” story but when my mom passed I had to fly out of town the following day. So to cut a long story short, I never mourned her passing. I just feel this terribly sadness that I carry. In person I am quite a cheerful body, I’d hate to think anyone would see me as a “Debbie Depressing”. But underneath my cheerful exterior is this, this terrible sadness. But most of all loss of faith in people who I felt deserted me at this time. I don’t talk much in my personal life, to others. So maybe that is what drove people away I have no idea. I mean talk about sad things. I realize as I write this that, I did go “quiet”. I didn’t reach out to those who were maybe reaching out to me. People did enjoy my company and I exited life in general. So perhaps they moved on. I only realize this now. This revelation is huge. Some though didn’t answer my emails when I told them I was bipolar. Which was also around the same time (that I revealed this). I have to accept that as people cannot respond to something how I “expect” them to. It just is. But I will post that as another question. Thank you all again. You have no idea how much this means to me.

mattbrowne's avatar

There’s PTSD. If it’s not treated properly it might not go away.

wundayatta's avatar

My old college friends disappeared when they found out I was bipolar. It is common. My current set of friends are all artistic types—many in the mental health field already. They are more likely to get it and not be unable to figure out what to do. But I think it’s hard for most people with no experience of mental illness. They have no idea what to do, and so they do nothing.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Well, it doesn’t bother us if you’re bipolar. You’re our friend. : ))

wundayatta's avatar

Thank you, @CaptainHarley. That says something good about the people at Fluther. Many people here are not freaked out by mental illness.

Ron_C's avatar

I second the Captian.

wundayatta's avatar

I appreciate that, @Ron_C. Thank you.

lightsourcetrickster's avatar

I second and third Ron_C and CaptainHarley.

I seem to recall a spate of private schools being sued by old attendants. This was some years ago, it sort of snowballed into a big deal and a lot of people sued them because they went in all happy and chirpy and came out all miserable and ‘mentally damaged’. Ever since I heard about them – or at least read about them, I’ve never supported private education and it’s not something I would condone. Prison for kids essentially. Some of them even went so far as to essentially pay them to shut them up so it wouldn’t go into public knowledge that their school was a failure in ensuring the well-being of the person suing them in the first place. They can call it “out of court settlement” all they’d like, I’d call it “bribery”. Personally, I would name and shame establishments that failed to ensure the well-being and mental welfare of any child attending such a school. It does prove that there are severe instances where people undergo such mental duress that it affects them many years after the fact.

chewhorse's avatar

Know that friendship develops with how we communicate with others. There are those who refrain from getting depressed by those who express depression around them thus friendship is stifled by this type of expression. Even at your worst you should express your best and in the end your true friends will see you off.

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