Grief, loneliness and feeling numb (@kitboga)

In a lot of ways I’m lucky. I’m 25 and I’ve only lost one family member (my Grandad) and a few pets in the past. It was still difficult but sort of more expected and normal? Last year I lost my Uncle/Godfather (65) to Covid. I live in a different country from most of my family but the same country as him so I was the only one who could attend his funeral and I’m incredibly grateful I could even though it was so hard doing it without the rest of my family. Unfortunately there was more to come.

To go back a little I moved countries to start a PhD about two years ago. A month after I moved, one of my best friends from home told me they had found a brain tumour. They found it during a routine eye exam so they caught it super early. My friend had brain surgery and then several rounds of chemo over a year and a half. It went really really well, even better than doctors were expecting. He finished chemo at Christmas last year. I couldn’t travel home due to Covid so I was video chatting with him while he took one of his last doses.

Fast forward a year and he’s now dead. A few months ago, his tumour suddenly started growing again and a few weeks later, he was gone. I managed to visit home during the summer and I was supposed to go for a walk with him but he cancelled because he was feeling ill. That was the start of the end but neither of us knew it then. I never saw him again until the funeral. He was 31 and it feels so far from normal or expected. He had a whole life still ahead of him. I’m grateful that I was able to come home for the funeral, to say some sort of goodbye.

But a few days later I had to go back and suddenly I was in another country, across the sea from my family and my grief. I felt so unbelievably lonely. I had felt like that before during my final year of my degree and my master’s. It had been one of the toughest times in my life and my friend had been the one had got me through it, who had been there for me, always sending me cute animal pics when I was stressed or depressed. He’s the one I would have turned to for support but now who do I turn to when he’s dead? I havnt made any friends like that yet and my family are so far away.

I feel so alone and like I don’t know what to do with my grief. I want to feel it more than I do, to honour him and remember him but I feel like I’m accidentally burying it somehow. I feel so numb. I’ve been depressed before and it doesn’t feel like that. I don’t feel bad or sad but I also can’t feel excited. I’ve been involved in some things that I know would’ve filled me with joy before but I can’t feel it and that frustrates me even more and now it’s Christmas and I’ve managed to make it home amidst the craziness to be with my family but I can’t feel any of the joy I usually get from Christmas. I don’t know what to do or if it will just take time?

P.s. thank you @kitboga I found your streams during this awful time and you actually manage to make me laugh. I’ve even felt that elusive spark of joy every now and then during your streams so at least I know it’s possible. Your streams are such a comfort and I always look forward to them. They help me be around myself and to feel a little less alone so keep being you Kit :heart:

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I am so sorry for your loss. 31 is incredibly young and that just be such a shock and so devastating for you.

I think that finding a way to honor him is a great idea but please don’t put too much pressure on yourself or try to rush anything. Grief hits everyone differently and it’s going to take time to sit with it and process it before you’re really going to know what to do.

It’s OK to be grieving through the holidays and not feeling festive at the moment. Just try to do some little nice things for yourself especially if you can do them in a way that would make your friend smile.

I don’t have a lot to add just know that another person heard your story and appreciates you for sharing it. You’ll get through this just make sure you do it at your pace. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

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From: ᏒᎧᏕᎥᏋ

Hi @Bronzescale Thank you for sharing your story of grief, my heart goes out to you and I wish I could give you a hug. You said that you don’t know what to do with your grief, so I wanted to touch on that. Have you thought about looking for a grief support group in your area? Sometimes, it’s good to be around other people who can relate to you and can offer up support. I hope that you find peace ~Mystrose

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From: eloquentpetrichor

Hello, Bronzescale! Thank you so much for sharing your story :hrtlegolove:

It sounds like the last couple years have been, just wow, I’m so sorry for your losses. I cannot imagine losing a best friend and so young. That’s a pain no one should have to feel. And I’m sorry that you are not finding any joy in being with family this Christmas.

I feel like all of my words are so inadequate for what I want to express to you. I just wish I could wrap you in a hug and suck all of your sadness and grief away. I hope you are able to get some hugs like that from your family this Christmas and I hope you find someone you trust enough to talk to about everything you are feeling. You deserve to have someone to talk to about everything you are going through: a friend, family member, therapist, someone. We’re always here for you as well but it isn’t the same as someone to talk to and hold you as you grieve. I hope you find that

massive hugsand all the love :hrtlegolove: :hrtlegolove: :hrtlegolove:

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From: Lisalovesfeathers

Hi Friend, Thank you for posting and sharing your story here with us, I am so sorry for your loss. There are no words that can change the situation that you have found yourself in and its tragic, the loss of your friend has left a big hole in your life and that sort of loss stays with you for a long time but it does start to lessen over that time, Grief is very hard but you have to go through it, someone here once said that grief is the price you pay for loving people and that is such a true statement and I think we would all agree that we would never change our moments and memories with our friends for the chance not to grieve. If you can get the chance to speak with a grief councellor I would encourage you to do so as I think it would be beneficial to you. You and your friend clearly had a wonderful relationship and I am pretty certain that he would not want you to live a joyless life. Trust in the process and give yourself grace and things will start to soon feel brighter. We are here whenever you need us. Much love lisa. x

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Thank you so much for everyone’s replies. It’s really warmed my heart to read all of the kind and understanding words. I’m very thankful to have found this forum because it’s made me feel very seen and heard. I’m autistic so I’m usually very open and (diplomatically) honest with the people around me even about mental health stuff but for some reason I felt like I couldn’t talk about this stuff as much as I needed to so this was a really nice opportunity.

I have done therapy in the past as needed and I did have some grief counselling after my Uncles death last year but perhaps I should look into it again. I had never even thought about a support group. Covid may make that a bit more awkward atm (I’m in the UK) but definitely worth looking at. I guess I sort of sometimes feel like maybe it’s not a big enough deal for something like that but I know if my friend said that, I would point out how silly that is.

Grief is weird because everyone else forgets that you are still carrying it and like I almost feel like I’m attention seeking if I talk about it or remind them that it’s still a thing for me, like I’m looking for sympathy. I even struggle to admit this to myself because I think it makes me sound like an asshole but if there’s anywhere I can say it, I guess it’s here. I really wish every now and then, like not often, just every once in a while someone would ask me how I’m doing with it. How I’m feeling about that specifically. I guess because then it gives me permission to talk about it.

He was so incredibly young and so am I for a loss like that. It’s hard because none of my friends have had similar experiences, they can’t really understand how it feels.

It also sucks because we hadn’t been as close since I moved, just because of distance and we both have busy lives so a big part of me regrets that. It also means I’ve forgotten some things about him and it almost makes me feel like a fraud because I’m calling him a close friend and he was one but I can’t remember certain things or how he might react in this specific situation. I know it doesn’t matter but yeah, it’s just nice to admit that to the universe.

I plan on taking advantage of being home and I’m going to visit his grave tomorrow and bring some flowers. At least then I can actually physically do something that feels like it might help.

Anyway thanks again everyone, really appreciate the support and advice and hope everyone else is doing ok over this holiday period.

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Also I love this about grief being the price you pay for love, it’s so true. It reminds me of that quote from Wandavision ‘What is grief, if not love persevering?’ Myself and my friend were both big Marvel fans and we were theorising weekly about Wandavision as it came out so the quote feels even more suitable. I wrote it in his funeral book.

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Dear @Bronzescale,

I’ve been willing to respond to you a little while ago, but your initial post was hitting too close to home. Now it is the same with what you have shared afterwards in your replies, and I truly wanted to thank you for this, because it has been helping a random stranger like me to feel less alone in my grief during the holidays.

To share a bit of context, I have lost my brother 3 years ago. It will be 4 years next February. He had rare tumors developping, which was a symptom of a rare genetic disease that we didn’t know was running into our family, through generations. The tumors were very aggressive, and as much as doctors tried to help for 3 months, his health declined very drastically after his first chemo session. As I was living in a different country, we talked through Skype while he was in hospital. Doctors were also very unsure of his diagnosis - we only knew about the genetic disease after his death, so the whole process while he was still alive was a real mess. I’ve sent him a letter, which he read during his first chemo to give himself some encouragement.

All of this happened very quickly and we were all torn regarding how to feel, not knowing what he really had. No one was ready to lose him so suddenly. He was 33. I only saw him when he was already in an artificial coma, during his last day. He was also always there for me. We had this weird relationship when we wouldn’t necessarily tell each other “I love you” directly or very often, but, there was a lot of affection between us. We would send each other the music we love and discovered. We would talk about history, politics, sociology together for hours. I had the best vacations of my life with him. He was always very encouraging for my sister and I through our life projects. He was a pillar of safety and love to me, and I felt very lost after losing him.

I want you to know, @Bronzescale, that every single emotion you feel is not abnormal during a time of grief. Feeling depressed, sad, numb, lost, angry - it all makes sense, it all has a reason to be. Losing someone we love so dearly and at such a young age feels completely unnatural. It is brutal. Heartbreaking. It doesn’t make any sense, which makes it very challenging, for the ones who remain, to keep on living and compose with the lack of meaning. We are never prepared to lose someone, but it is still a little more logical for our mind to process the loss of someone who was old than someone who had yet to live. It’s not how we envision life and time. It’s not how it should be, and it feels helpless sometimes to deal with this reality.

I also feel so much of what you have said about the difficulty to find space to grieve and be heard. The train of life keeps going, but to us, something stopped. We need time to compose with this wounded part of our heart. It can be hurtful to see that people who are close to us check less and less on us, as if as time goes by, we would have fully processed what happened and wouldn’t be hurting anymore. But pain remains. Not the same way, not always at the same intensity, not as something that prevent us to live. Yet it’s still there.

It feels sometimes that we are somehow expected to move on, or even to forget the ones we lost. Of course anyone who has experienced a loss in their life know that it isn’t how it works, but still there are these unfair expectations on our shoulders when we are grieving, to the point of feeling like a burden when we say their name again.

I feel that, no grief is ever the same as relationships are absolutely unique and made of different circumstances. As time goes by, each year and each anniversary is unique too. With the grief of the loss itself, there are so many layers of grief on top of it. Little by little, we learn to compose with all of them. We keep carrying the love for two. We learn to give our loved ones a different place in our life. We learn to honor them and how much they impacted us positively. Somehow, we carry their own voice for them. We let the world know how wonderful they were.

I want you to know that you now have friends right here who understand what you are going through, even if your pain and experiences are your own. You are not alone. I hope going to the grave of your friend has helped a little bit to reconnect with yourself in a way you needed during this holiday season. It is beautiful to see how much love there was, and still is, between both of you. Your friend must have been such a wonderful human being.

You are both in my thoughts. Whenever you need to share what’s on your heart, please know that you have a space right here. :hrtlegolove:

PS - To add another quote to yours, which I love dearly, here are two that have continuously helped me through my own grief:

“You are not where you used to be, but you are everywhere that I am.” (poorly translated by me, from french writer V.Hugo to his beloved daughter whom he lost to a tragic accident).

"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.” - Tolkien.