I Felt A Physical Indescribable Pain
by Deb Sims, MS,RNCS,LCSW
Hi, I've been going through some changes lately that I don't understand.
Well, My older sister and her husband and two sons were killed last year on April 24th. My sister raised me until the time when I became 13. When she died, I cried but I felt bad crying because her only surviving daughter, who is 10, was there as well as all the other family members. I felt I had to be strong for them and not show them how much it hurt. I mean I felt a physical undescriable pain. And for the past year I've cried on and off, not fully, because the only time I can let go is when I've had something to drink. I promised not to drink any more, since I never really drank until she/they got killed.
But now I'm feeling so disconnected, and I want to cry so bad, but I just get this knot in my throut and I feel so empty and almost like a hypocrite because I couldn't do it before--cry that is. I feel that if I cry, people look at me as if it has been long enough already--that I should have let go by now. That might not actually be their feelings, but I feel that way. I never had a family member who was so close to me die before--much less four family members.
Well, so my question is: "What can I do to feel more in tune with my feelings and stop pretending that everything is all right with me? I don't feel all right. I have always had a really bad temper, but ever since this thing happened, I haven't even been able to show how mad and hurt I am. I'm afraid to talk to my little niece; I don't know why. I'm going to be 32 May 10, and I'm just so confused about everything now. Any good suggestions?
I'm so sorry for the loss of your sister and her family. Of course you have a right to grieve, but it sounds like because of guilt and responsibility you haven't been able to grieve.
When I was 12 my father died. The other family members told me that I had to be strong for my Mother. I'm 51 and it took a long time for me to be able to grieve because of my sense of responsibility to her.
First, in your case, not only was she your sister, but she helped raise you so she filled that mother role also. Next, you lost your brother-in-law and nephews; that is another horrible loss. This is the one year anniversary month of their deaths. It is a very common time to remember and experience unresolved grief.
Last, take it from one who lost a parent, no one did me any favors by pretending to be strong. Instead, I missed out on being able to cry with anyone, to honor my father's memory, and to know others were hurting also. You do not have to pretend for your niece; just be real. She's lost as much as you have. Grief is grief and each person's journey with it is individual. But it is still a journey and one not to be avoided; otherwise, you never heal and you can't help anyone else.
It may be time to find a grief counselor or pastor to talk to about this. You need a safe place to be allowed to do your grieving. But please don't feel you have to be so strong that you don't show your feelings. Take it from one who has lived through this--all it does is delay the process. Grieving is a way of honoring the life of someone you loved. One possible suggestion would be to get out pictures from the past of your sister and let yourself remember her. If your niece wishes, you can do this together, as a recognition that it's been a year. Let yourselves cry together in love and honor of who this family was to you.
And please come visit our chat room for those grieving or our message board. You'll find you aren't alone. Again, I am so sorry for your loss. And notice I said "your loss" because it is that too.
Debbie Sims is a Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist in Adult Psychiatric Nursing, has a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She maintains a private practice in counseling but her devotion is to her position as Editor for Beyond Indigo an Internet web site for those who are grieving.