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Author Topic: Pain of losing parents verses spouse  (Read 5360 times)
SoCal2010
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« on: August 08, 2009, 12:21:19 PM »

I'm just curious after reading so many of the posts here. Those of you who have lost your spouses or SO, have you also lost your parents? Or are your parents helping you through?

I'm just curious if losing a spouse is a harder grief than losing parents. I have never been married so I can't relate to the loss of a spouse. To me it seems like the loss of a parent is harder in some ways. I understand it's ALL hard. I'm just curious because some people here who are having a very hard time losing a spouse didn't express having as hard a time losing a parent. So I'm wondering if there's a different in the type of grief.
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teppuM999
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« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2009, 01:11:04 PM »

speaking as a person who has not lost a parent, i can't really say much about this, but i think that losing a spouse/SO is DIFFERENT; i wont speculate at which is harder.
there is no scale of suffering, and attempting to create one is hurtful to people. people who lose parents and people who lose spouses/SOs have lost SOMEONE of importance. people who lose a parent don't hurt more or less than those who lose another close person, like a sibling, a best friend, or a spouse/SO.
the difference i would think with parents is that most of the time they are preparing their kids for life as adults and, inevitably, without them.
it's an "understood" matter of life that your parents will get old and die.
it's understood that your spouse/SO will die, since we are all mortal, but in its own way it's not expected.
with your spouse, it's all "tomorrow, next year, the future." having children, getting old together. none of that stuff is expected with a parent. with your SO you create something to look forward to, a life. children that you want and pick names for become real people in your mind.
if a spouse/SO dies before that stuff is accomplished, you not only feel the death of the spouse/SO, but the loss of the FUTURE as you knew it, you feel the "deaths" of the kids who will never be born.
atleast that's how it is for me.
i never knew my father, so in a way he died a long time ago.
if my mom dies before me, i will be sad, but at the same time, i think i'm a bit more prepared for something like that. if you're a kid who experienced alot of losses/deaths growing up, you begin to deal with "what will i do if my parent dies, instead of someone else?"
matthew dying on what was essentially the first day of the rest of our LIFE... that is something that i don't know if i will ever come to terms with.
parents getting older and dying is the "natural law" for lack of a better term. and even though you know a spouse/SO will eventually also die, i think it's a really different experience.
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"Donít say we have come now to the end. White shores are calling. You and I will meet again. And youíll be here in my arms, just sleeping."
SoCal2010
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« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2009, 01:22:10 PM »

I'm not talking about a scale of suffering. I'm just noticing that this board is a little different in most the other boards I'm posting on since I usually post on only parent loss boards. So I'm wondering if there are certain differences for people who have lost both and experienced it.

In other words, does the grief that happens after a loss have more to do with the type of loss (SO, parent, sibling) or the person who is grieving. Do people who are having a hard time dealing with a SO loss, have the same experience once they lose other people. Maybe all the things we're expressing here are just our individual ways of grieving that will happen everytime we lose someone. I don't know, I just think about stuff like this now.
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littleha
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« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2009, 01:22:49 PM »

Hi Socal. I lost my wife of 32 yrs on May 11th. She was 18 and I was 21 when we married. My heart is ripped out of me at this time. I lost my parents and my one brother so I am all that is left of my immediate family. My father died when I  was 27 yrs old of a heart attack. That hurt a lot inside and I still think of him on occasion but that happened 27yrs ago. My mother died when I was 41yrs old. The grief was not as hard as she had suffered immensely for the previous 25 yrs with rheumatoid  arthritis and she was not happy at all after my father died. I think she was in a happier place afterward. My brother and I were never close but I still grieved. I lived with my wife longer than with my parents and my wife new my deepest feeling, the ones you never tell a parent. Having gone through all of these my personal feeling is that this one is the worst time of my life and I still do not know how I will be able to move on completely. My 2 grown boys (25 and 28) are like I was when a parent died. They grieve but still have their own lives to live. My life has been shattered in 2. One half has been ripped away from me. My whole purpose in life gone. That purpose was to love and take care of my wife. This is only my opinion and I am sure there are different views out there. I think it depends on how close you were to the one you loose.
Hope this helps littleha
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teppuM999
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« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2009, 01:28:45 PM »

littleha makes a really good point -- your spouse/SO is someone who knows you better than anyone else. matthew knew things about me that no one else on the planet knew. not even my mom. matthew knew the most basic, deeply personal, and sometimes scary things about me, and he loved me anyway.

finding someone of your own free will, and feeling so close to them that you choose to bond yourself to them in such a serious way... i dunno...

i've experienced alot of death throughout my life; most of my family members have died. one aunt, two uncles who i was close to. my aunt was my closest loss until matthew. she was like a sister i didn't have. we were very similar, almost weirdly so, and i still get reminded of that to this day. she taught me to play piano. she was 30 when she died, and it was completely by surprise. my two uncles were both very sick from their childhood, so while it was sad that they died, i knew that they wouldn't have to suffer from their illnesses anymore.

i did not take it well at all when my aunt died. but it was still nothing quite like what i'm feeling over matthew. that is something else altogether. matthew represented everything i'd wanted out of life, he was the person who knew me the best, he represented a future and a purpose for my life. and now that's gone.

edit to add:
the grief experience is very personal, and it is probably some combination of alot of factors -- the relationship, the manner of loss (i think sudden death gives you a different experience than a prolonged death due to illness), the personality of the person left behind, etc etc.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2009, 01:34:05 PM by teppuM999 » Logged


"Donít say we have come now to the end. White shores are calling. You and I will meet again. And youíll be here in my arms, just sleeping."
sevenofwands
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« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2009, 01:33:54 PM »

Teppu:

You express that so very well. It is, I would think, a different experience.  I have lost both my parents, Dad died some years before my Mum.  The loss is still very acute, no matter what the age, evidently.  But as you say, one sort of expects one's parents will grow old and die one day, much as we would want them to live forever.  
You are correct: spouses are not immortal, but the dynamics of a relationship with a spouse are bound to be somewhat different from that with one's parents.  And no two spousal (or partner) relationships are the same.  They run allong the line of good, bad and indifferent.  
I honestly think the degree of spousal dependency has a lot to do with the extent of the grief.  
With our parents we generally move on when we grow up, or we move away, or even move abroad.  Sure, we still keep in touch, and visit, and spend holidays with the parents, but with a spouse/partner we are with him (her)  all the time.  
What happens, I think, in some cases (hope I am putting this right!) is that someone marries a spouse as a surrogate parent, not as another adult with whom one intends to set up home and spend one's life.  That sort of dynamic can surely lead to grief on many levels.


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teppuM999
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« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2009, 01:38:29 PM »

in some cases that certainly happens with spouses. in some cases people never get married because their parents dont like any of their boy/girlfriends. in some cases people marry for money or any number of other things.
though i doubt that's the majority of cases. psychology would have us believe that we're all looking for our parents over again, but i don't necessary agree with that.

matthew, to me, was the most liberating person i knew. he was someone who wanted to watch out for me, but without smothering me or making me into a clone of himself. he was someone i could take care of, too, without feeling like i had to take care of EVERYTHING. he didn't try to transform himself into my new father or into my son, he treated me like a fully functional adult who could make her own decisions. he was guy who loved me and thought we could do alot of great things together.
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"Donít say we have come now to the end. White shores are calling. You and I will meet again. And youíll be here in my arms, just sleeping."
sevenofwands
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« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2009, 01:46:43 PM »

I don't agree either, Teppu, that we are looking to marry our parents! Definitely not.  Mind you, not to say that some people might not be looking to do that........ 

Your second paragraph is such a wonderful summary of what a healthy relationship looks like.  Your Matthew was one of a kind, as you say. 

Best to you
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georgiapeaches
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« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2009, 05:13:09 PM »

Socal,
I lost my father 10 years ago, I lost my husband last year and my mother 4 months later, they were all great shocks to me, all devestating. My fathers death, he fell off the roof of his house, was accidental, I think he would have lived well into his 90's My husband should still be here, no uestions asked (you see what letter is missing on my keyboard) and my mother also would have lived into her 90's if it wasnt for the colon cancer. Its all pain no matter how you look at it. My kids have lost their parent and grandparents and I lost both my parents at 43 and my husband, so I just feel pain and my heart and brain dont distinguish wheather the pain is worse with my parents or my husband it just hurts. Thats the only way I can explain it.

georgia.
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laurenE
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« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2009, 07:00:07 PM »

Autum Leaves,

pain is pain.  You would not tell someone who broke their right arm,  that your left arm hurts more (or less) than his.    

Our grief  and how long we will grieve is determined by many things....personality type,  our mental health at the time of the loss,  how the death occured,  what the relationship was like with the person who died, etc.  

Look up the term "complicated grief" and I think you will find your answer.

   Grief can become 'complicated' and prolonged if the death occured suddenly w/o warning (suicide, murder, car accident, etc).    It can also become "complicated" if the relationship with the person who died was a difficult and painful one.  It can also become complicated if the survivor was struggling with mental illness  at the time of the loss.  And it can become complicated if there have been multiple major losses in a persons life, or PTSD, etc.

I dont think it is wise to compare  types of grief here.  As I said,  we are all in pain here and need support, healing, and love.   Thats all that matters. 

« Last Edit: August 08, 2009, 07:01:51 PM by laurenE » Logged
SoCal2010
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« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2009, 07:38:48 PM »

I dont think it is wise to compare  types of grief here.  As I said,  we are all in pain here and need support, healing, and love.   Thats all that matters. 

As I wrote in the first post, I know it ALL hard no matter what loss. And I've read all about complicated grief and grief in general. But I think it's okay to talk about different aspects of grief. People who don't want to add anything just shouldn't post on the topic.
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tsurandy
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« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2009, 08:19:57 PM »

I would have to say that the pain of either is devastating, I didn't lose a spouse, I lost my mother, she was my best friend.  It has been less than a year but most everyone around me thinks I should be "healed", I will never heal, Mama lived with me, a part of my life has been taken, a void will always exist.
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« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2009, 08:24:00 PM »

I agree with Lauren, pain is pain and it is hard sometimes for family to comfort each other regardless of the loss but one of the saddest things Ive ever seen was a 102 year old mother, this is fact, crying beside a Hospice bed for her 73 yr old son ( my brother in law)  dying of cancer - it still burns my soul to remember that because that is the absolute depth of grief there ever could be.
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SoCal2010
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« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2009, 08:58:30 PM »

one of the saddest things Ive ever seen was a 102 year old mother, this is fact, crying beside a Hospice bed for her 73 yr old son ( my brother in law)  dying of cancer - it still burns my soul to remember that because that is the absolute depth of grief there ever could be.

That makes my heart ache. My Aunt lost her child at 9 years old. I don't know how she was able to survive it.

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teppuM999
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« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2009, 09:07:09 PM »

i also agree with lauren, it's not good to try to compare grief
that wasn't my intention, i was just trying to explain why losing a spouse/SO can be complex (from my perspective)
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"Donít say we have come now to the end. White shores are calling. You and I will meet again. And youíll be here in my arms, just sleeping."
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