What's the worst grief you've ever experienced?

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What's the worst grief you've ever experienced?--Al

-- Al Schroeder (al.schroeder@nashville.com), April 21, 2000


I can't give a definitive answer to that yet, maybe never will be able to.

My mother's early death when I was twenty two years old, and my oldest daughter's suicide attempt which left her brain damaged and handicapped.

Mom left when I was a young man and hers was my first experience of some one very close to me dying.

My daughter's tragedy occurred when I was in my early fifties. Although she herself is happy, speechless and living in an assisted living, house where she is very content, I miss what she could have been. My wife has not been able to console herself very well and that hurts me.

No pity parties here, but I just can't compare the two griefs.

-- Denver doug (ionoi@webtv.net), April 21, 2000.

I watched my grandmother die. I stood there as she peacefully went into a sleep she would never awaken from. I was very young at the time, but I still remember it so clearly. It still makes me break down to think about it too much. She was a wonderfully sweet woman. And of course, I will remember her forever.

-- Jen (invisiblegirl@kittymail.com), April 21, 2000.

April 30th will mark the 27th "anniversary" of my older sister's death. It came five days after my 7th birthday and barely a month before Pam would have turned 11. As she crossed a busy street she was struck by a hit and run drunk driver while my older brother Randy (then 9) watched. He would have suffered the same fate if a witness had not grabbed him as he tried to run out into the street after Pam was hit.

Each member of my family dealt with grief in their own way. My way was to suppress it for many years. When it couldn't stay suppressed any longer it came out and smacked me in the face with a vengence. I'm still not entirely sure how my parents and my two brothers and two surviving sisters dealt with their grief. I haven't asked them because I don't want to cause them pain.

While the pain is less sharp, Pam's death still affects me deeply, as does the thought that Randy witnessed it and felt guilty for many years for not being able to save her. I can't begin to imagine the hell that he went through.

I love you, Pam. I'll always miss you.

-- Carol (webgal@ordinarygoddess.com), April 22, 2000.

I know my answer should be my brother's death, but it's not, I can't tell you why, maybe I haven't quite dealt with it yet. My Grandmother's death was hard, I love her very much, but she was a month shy of eighty, lived a full life and I expect to see her again one day. My uncle's death was difficult, because of some family differences that didn't involve me I was not called even after he asked for me on his death bed. My uncle however was in his nineties, he too had lived a full and wonderful life, one of those self made fellas, up until a month before his death, he was still volunteering at the "old folks" home, playing piano for them!! His wife's death when I was 17 was a hard hit as well, she was my cheerleader. But I think the worst grief I have ever experienced wasn't a death, but my mother's stroke. I was really young and everything in our lives changed at that time. While I am thankful she lived, I grieve the woman who was lost in the stroke. The stroke left her completely paralized on the right side, without bladder control and unable to speak. My mom had/has a great sence of humor, one of the "off the wall" kind and I really don't remember her being able to share it. She laughs now, but there are times when I can see it in her eyes, she has something to share that she cannot. I don't remember much about my mom, before her stroke, I remember the morning she had the first stroke and the last words I heard her speak, "I'm cold" as she entered the bathroom outside my bedroom door. I remember hearing the commotion in the kitchen and watching the violent stroke ripple through her body, in fact, I have a curler that fell from her hair tucked away. I tried to hold her up in the chair while she was siezing and my father dialed the emergency number (pre 911 days). My grandmother who lived with us managed to prevent my mom from hitting the floor, and I ran to get my older brothers for help. There was really nothing any of us could do, but wait for the paramedics. I remember reassuring our dalmation that everything was alright. I didn't get to see my mom for several days while she was in the ICU, but when I did, she was a different woman, not quite there the same way, it took years of her recovery for her but for awhile I was a bit afraid of her. She spent some time in a rehab hospital and the people there could be extremely frightening. I didn't exactly have a wonderful parental unit to hold up the home front (but if a real emergency came up I could always get a hold of him at the bar), so basically I was on my own from 9 years old on, that was interesting, it made things more interesting when my sister abandonned her son and I got to take care of him too. I think however the whole experience made me strong, I take action and take care of. I grieve that I never had the opportunity to know my mom as she was, to share with her things from her life that I couldn't experience, I grieve more that I missed the opportunity to grow up with a mother to guide me. I learned most things on my own and the hard way. My mother is really incredible, now 17 years later, she still has trouble speaking (for the most part sans a couple words, she can't) and her right arm is paralized, but she's never missed the birth of any of my children (even when she had to travel 2000 miles to be here) and she has even come out to be with us when my son under went major surgery. She now cares for my father since his stroke (not nearly so massive as hers, but you know how men are when they're sick). She's great!!

-- Glenna B. Yarnot (Glennab@home.com), April 22, 2000.

The worst grief so far isn't a death but the end of my relationship with my parents recently. My 3 year old daughter told me after the bath one night that a cousin of hers who is 17 had 'touched her vagina and bum".This set off a whole chain of events in our immediate family as you can well imagine but it also brought up for me my own sexual abuse at the hands of my grandfather when I was about the same age. Anyway, the whole family took the position "How dare you accuse him, of course she's making it up, it didn't happen..." When my mother and I finally had it out over the phone I asked her if she thought I was making it up as well, about what had happened to me she said "Yes, I do, haven't you heard about false memory syndrome?" This is a woman whom I have loved and admired through the years, who I thought loved me. I feel like my entire family has been taken by the body snatchers, they're these pod people who look and sound like my family, but they're....different!It's such a profound loss, not only to me but to my 2 children. I was just hiding Easter eggs for my kids and remembering waking up as a kid and finding them all over the house and I was overwhelmed with grief, even the good memories are tainted for me right now, I feel sort of like a hollow chocolate bunny.

-- kimnelles (Kim@loupomanti.com), April 23, 2000.

I thought the bottom dropped out of my world when my best friend died of a heart attack in 1986. It was a terrible year, learning about grief, and about letting go. Reading all I could about death and dying. Settling his estate. Feeling so alone. Having the feeling that this was all supposed to be teaching me something, but not able to figure out what I should be learning.

Ten years later, on May 18, 1996, our youngest son was killed in an automobile accident. And I finally figured out what I was supposed to be learning--that you can grieve but you heal; the person you lost becomes a part of you and you go on. I had learned my lessons well enough to help get the rest of the family through David's death. I was proud of how we all wept together, talked together, hugged a lot and supported ourselves through the pain of the loss of David.

We had pretty much returned to whatever was our "new normal," 3 years later on April 20, 1999 when our middle son Paul died. Paul was the kid I was the closest to. He was the one around whom most of the family activity revolved (he was a singer and actor, so was always performing and it was his shows that brought us all together physically, as we would come from wherever to see him). When Paul died, I kind of lost a grip on the control I'd had that got us through David's death. We're coping, but I've lost my focus. THIS is the most difficult thing I've had to deal with, the sharpest pain, the biggest loss.

Last night the city where we live dedicated a plaza in Paul's memory and the dedication involved the showing of the last production he did, interspersed with live music that he would have performed if he were here. At the end of the show, his best friend, a graphics designer, showed me a painting he's been working on this past year. He calls it his "Thursday therapy." The painting depicts every day of his life (he's 30). Each day is a square about 1/4" on a side. From birth until the day he met Paul all the squares are white. He and Paul met in kindergarten and from there until the day Paul died the squares are brightly colored, fun shapes, sparkles, etc. On the day Paul died, the square become black and the next 365 squares are all black. I completely lost it last night and woke up this morning thinking about that painting and am still crying about it. It says it all.

-- Bev Sykes (basykes@dcn.davis.ca.us), April 23, 2000.

My father is a cocaine/heroin addict. He ignored me throughout my childhood until my teens-when I was old enough to smoke pot with. We were close for a few years, he told me about one girlfriend dying of a cocaine overdose, and how he shot someone once in a drug house. He doesn't know if he killed the guy or not. After high school I enrolled in college. I did well, but had a three year relationship with a man 6 years older than me, on crack. Every time I tried to leave him he followed me everywhere. The last time I left he threatened to kill me. I got a restraining order and started to date another addict. I finally left him, broke off contact with my father, and broke that cycle. I'm in a normal healthy marriage now and teaching. I'm still the caretaker of my family-loaning my mom and stepdad money, trying to stop family members from getting high, etc. Wherever my father is, I hold no grudges. I know he does the things he does out of his addiction, and I hope that under that mass of addiction/dysfunction, that he carries a little love for me somewhere. When I have children, I will give them all the love that he wasn't able to give me.

-- AJ (joijoijoi@hotmail.com), April 23, 2000.

My father died when I was 8, I'm now 16. I still don't believe I've dealt with it. I don't know how to. He died in a motorcyle accident. The worst thing is I don't feel anyone understands it. I myself don't understand it. The thing I'm most afraid of is when we finally do meet again I won't recognise him.

-- Courtney (musioc@hotmail.com), April 23, 2000.

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