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LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Is it common to frequently regress back to the bargaining stage of grief?

Asked by LeavesNoTrace (5674points) June 1st, 2014

It’s been exactly a year and a half since my Mom passed. I’m 25 now. For the first year I was extremely distraught but kind of in “survival” mode so I don’t think the full magnitude of grief really hit me.

For the past month or so, I’ve found myself really grieving it hard. I’m functional but my work performance and attention to detail is suffering and I’m very preoccupied with sad thoughts.

Most notably I find myself having a lot of thoughts like “I would give ten years of my own life for just one more year with my Mom.” or the dreaded What Ifs? like “What would have happened to my brothers and I if she’d died when we were kids.”

Worst of all is the fact that while I’m angry at her for so many things, I also miss her terribly. :’(

These thoughts (and others) are extremely upsetting, cause me to lose sleep and make it hard for me to focus. It’s been so bad that a couple of times my boss has brought it to my attention which makes me feel terrible and fear for my career. If I lost my job due to this, I don’t know what I would do and fear it would drive me over the edge to hurt myself.

Is this normal? What should I do?

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12 Answers

filmfann's avatar

During this grieving, it is not unusual to start at rock bottom, then slowly do better for a time, then fall back. When you fall back, you will not be as low as you were initially. You improve again, then fall back to a point better than your first regression. This is called plateuing. It is a process of slow healing.

Blondesjon's avatar

You seem to be handling everything in a healthy way. It just takes a long, shitty time to get over major losses in our lives.

I am very sorry that you lost your Mom at such a young age.

hearkat's avatar

It seems that you’ve had a prolonged denial stage, since you were in “survival” mode, and able to occupy your mind with other concerns – if I recall correctly, you were moving back after being out of the country and settling into a new job. So those distractions delayed your advancement through the grieving process. We all grieve differently, and the stages are fluid, not everyone goes through them in the same order or at the same pace.

The most important thing is to give yourself opportunities to feel the emotions and process the grief. We create problems for ourselves when we try to bury our feelings because it’s uncomfortable, or because we think others will judge that we “should” be over it already.

If you have any creative outlets, try to set aside time for those. Also, considering ways to honor your mother’s contributions to your life will help you build the sense of gratitude for the time you shared and comfort in knowing that her legacy lives through you. By setting aside time to focus on your emotional health, you have a better chance of being able to focus on work and other tasks of daily life. Hang in there. <3

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Yep. The stages come in no order and can be repeated.

Bill1939's avatar

All of the advice above is sound. Few people are so fortunate as not to have issues with their parents. Even the best parent is not perfect, and personal foibles often interfere with parenting. Since you are only 25, you may not have had sufficient experience to understand the psychological dynamics that produced your mother’s action that upon recollection produces anger.

Unfortunately, such anger produces guilt, which generates the “what ifs” you are experiencing. Obviously you love and miss her very much (despite things about which you feel anger). Because you love her, I believe you know that she always wanted the best for you and that your happiness was important to her.

I suggest when unsettling thoughts arise you take three slow deep breaths and then try to recall a happy moment with your mother. The spirit of her love lives in you. By touching it, though you will always miss her, the pain of losing her will gradually diminish. My heart goes out to you.

GloPro's avatar

I believe you will be hit hard with different stages as your life progresses. Her birthday, Mother’s Day. Your wedding day, the birth of your children. It’s your mom. It will always hurt.
I’m sorry you didn’t have more time with her.

gailcalled's avatar

The intellectual codification of the stages of grief is simply a shorthand for immensely complicated feelings. There is no “normal“way of grieving. It is not a tidy process and does not have an end, dispite the use of psychobabble such as “closure.” No such thing.

Find a therapist and talk, rage, weep, reminisce, daydream, be silent and repeat as often as necessary.

marinelife's avatar

Perfectly normal. Consider seeking a grief group for processing your thoughts and helping you compartmentalize at work.

creative1's avatar

I have found talking to a counselor helps to get all the feelings out in the air instead of keeping them inside and burying them deep. They can also help provide ways of coping a bit better with the grief you are feeling. I know its hard to loose a parent, I lost my father when I was 17 and I can tell you I am 45 and still think and wonder its just that the grief has went from sad to just a sort of missing him from time to time thing,

MollyMcGuire's avatar

No. It may last for the rest of your life and come in spurts. Have you read “I Wasn’t Ready To Say Goodbye?” (Brook Noel and Pamela d. Blair, PhD) I can recommend it for you; it was recommended to me by a grief counselor.

I will say that people mean well when they say things like: time heals all, there is light at the end of the tunnel, etc. The fact is that I can be grocery shopping and have one thought and fall to my knees. It has been five years.

Mimishu1995's avatar

Why @LeavesNoTrace, what a coincident that you ask this question at this time!

I’m experiencing exactly the same thing as you too. I just don’t know what to call it, and thanks to you, now I know what it is.

Actually, several months ago I had to deal with a big betrayal, of some of my good friends. They kicked me out suddenly. When I asked for the reason, they gave me the most vauge one ever: “Because you aren’t our interest anymore”. I knew there was something bigger behind it, and I had worked out the possible reasons. I seeked for as much help as possible, as well as finding a solution myself. I clinged to the thought that our relationship could be mended, given how close we used to be. But after a while, when everything pointed to the harsh truth that nothing could be done, I gave up. It was very painful at first, but I slowly got used to it and went on with my life. But recently, when I had a conversation with a friend of mine about them, that hope was lighted up once more. I once again repeated the whole “seeking for help and finding solution” process. I found myself having thought like “I wish <one possible reason> hadn’t happened”, or “Did they leave me because they misunderstood something when they looked at my mobile phone”, or “Maybe that girl I hate talked dirt about me to them”, blah blah blah…

So your feeling is pretty normal. It happens to us from time to time.

susanc's avatar

Reading through all these kind and truthful responses, @LeavesNoTrace, I’m touched and inspired, but when I remember how frightened, disoriented and broken I was when important people in my life have died, the biggest thing that I can tell you is that it takes as long as it takes, and then it’s not as bad. And while it’s bad, it’s as intense as the relationship was while the lost person was with you. So – this was your mom, and it’s going to be a big, long process. A mom is pretty central!
For what it’s worth – you can be glad you’re a feeling person, a deeply feeling person. For what it’s worth.
You’re perfect. It’s just really, really, really hard.
love & kisses, another human being.

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