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After seven years of challenging but fulfilling caregiving for my dad, he made a peaceful transition three months ago. I prepared for this. However, what has me in shock is the insensitive and cruel reactions of some friends. I haven't seen my so called best friend in the three months since he died. I'm only child and mom went first but few understand that. Many people avoid me now and my boyfriend hung up on me three days before Christmas and we haven't spoken since. I've tried to have little to no expectations but I feel very angry and shocked by some of this. I have a good life in many ways, I work on myself and feel I'm more than a label... More than an adult orphan. Hard to get thru grief when I feel like I'm losing more friends and the pain isn't understood. I was raised to have manners and say " I'm sorry for your loss." Some can't even muster that. Going to try a grief support group but nothing right now and it hurts sooo bad!!!!

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What does this abandonment mean? Why do most people stop calling or seeing someone that has lost a loved one? If we find out maybe like everything else we can prepare for this & prevent it.

Conversely I have a girlfriend in my area that I used to love to talk to on the phone & she was actually my eldest son's godmother. We were very close at that time. She lost her husband in a freak accident about 5 years ago & it doesn't matter how often I try to email her or call her she never responds & I miss the friendship. I never knew her husband that well. I just loved her. Can't get back in touch.

So I do wonder & in fact have found it confusing & maybe a little insulting that now that he is gone she won't have anything to do with me. I have tried many times maybe every few months to reach out. Nothing.
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He hardened so nothing could ever hurt again. He even stands differently.
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My son is 25 but was just graduating college when mom moved in & her mind moved out.

I am very disappointed to hear in these shares that friends & family desert those who have lost a loved one to death in the same way we hear often that they desert those who have lost a loved one to alzheimer's. I was hoping that the desertion was due to feeling awkward about mental issues like AD or not wanting to be called upon to visit the patient or help out.

Apparently the desertion is due to any kind of loss close to you. But in answer to above poster my son had lost too many immediate family members not to death but to family splits & father desertion and when Grandma came with alzheimer's I don't know why but he changed overnight from the sweetest people pleaser to an expletive I can't spell here. He checked out emotionally. He & I had endured 3 years of domestic abuse from the ones who moved out & I became his rock as single moms do & you would think he would understand mom needing me but it was just too many deserting him. Some of the emotional distance happened gradually but his temperament & meanness changed overnight. If you had known him as a child & adolescent you couldn't believe it was the same person.
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If you have a church or community that offers grief counseling, I would recommend it. After my husband passed, I was surprised to find so many of our friends who simply ignored me. I'm over it now, but only wish that I had engaged in grief counseling. Like Nancy Reagan said, the pain never goes away. My suggestion is to move on, make new friends, get involved with new things and be comfortble with yourself, by yourself. It can be wonderful.
So very sorry for your loss, HawkWings.
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Meant good, not could - sorry.
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I think it's just another symptom of a self centered society. It sounds as if they are jealous of all the attention that your father received. A bereavement group is could and even a group for caregivers would be understanding of how you feel. One of these days all these people who ignored you will be facing similar situation and don't be surprised when the call on YOU to lend them a shoulder to cry on. Seems there are many people out there like that.
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Cee Cee sorry to hear that. Yes sometimes we have to let go and I didn't realize how hard it was going to be. Death seems to test relationships in all sorts of ways. I hope you are doing ok. I think we all have the right to let go of relationships that are hurting us. Here's to replacing them w more positive ones.
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Neither of them has been attending church regularly either and I do. It helps w the grieving and is very important to me. We simply have different values in many ways and it seems we are growing apart. Focusing on what needs to be done is a good antidote I've found. It leaves very little time to be sad.
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My family was always friendly until the day my father died seven years ago. I have not had any relationship with them and they have literally just dropped my son and I, his only daughtor, next door neighbor for 12 years, and say horrible things about us. I have finally decided that it's there problem and I refuse the cruelty they want to inflict because they are the miserable ones. Money might keep a roof over your head but it does not mean you have a heart or a soul!! Family is my son and myself and they don't get to take up rent for free in my head anymore, It took me 7 long years to discover this, Good Luck!!
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Change does shake you, and a lot of change shakes you a lot. Glad to hear you sound so positive now, keep in touch.
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Hawk sounds like you're finding some inner strength and it looks good on you! Hugs... Keep heeling and make yourself number 1...
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Hi thanks for the answers. Both parents were cremated and neither wanted any kind of service. I was more than happy to do whatever dad wanted but it was very solitary and hard on me. No opportunity for any kind of ritual or chance for people to come to me. Both best friend and boyfriend like to drink a lot more than I do (I can't actually cause it usually makes me sick.) I have kept strong boundaries w both of them because of that but somehow it's always worked until now.
If these relationships fade or end I'm ok w it. It's just been an overwhelming amount of change all at once. My father always used to say my best friend was " flaky". Lol. He was right. I've known her since we were nine so it's been a long friendship but I'm looking forward to new people coming into my life.
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How old is your son, Kathleen? Your posts above are terribly sad to read, but they open up - if you'll forgive me - a very interesting aspect of caregiving that perhaps we don't consider enough: what the impact of our looking after our parents might be on our children.
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I really think that if the world understood the real toll that alzheimer's takes on entire families there would be more support available. My son had such promise. He would have helped alot of people. That will not happen now. I actually wish he would get some counseling but that would prolly not be allowed with his wife.
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Because of my son's internal painful self-journey he was especially vulnerable to the wrong kind of girl. She quit her only work the day she got the engagement ring. She & her mother told my son things about our family & put our family in such a bad light to my son over & over that he started accusing us all of very painful things at an especially tough time for us. I was only squeezed into his wedding at the last minute after verbally abusive emails were sent to me over the summer. No one including the fiance were aware Grandma had died during the summer. He never shared that with her. Once I was willing to express that everything I had ever done raising him was wrong I was allowed to see him marry.

I am the only one that saw his attitude & behavior while mom lived here. I know when the transformation of pain occured & what it was based on. In 2 weeks he moved out to his own house. It has been downhill since. When you look at the wedding pics he looks so miserable & she looks so happy you almost can't stand to look at them.
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I have found some people can't stand to be reminded of their own mortality. Since I am bathing in it everyday I can't understand the concept. However, I have had 2 great losses this past summer. My mother died on July 27, 2013. My youngest son did not pass away but as it has affected my life he may have by now & I wouldn't even know about it. I do not know if he still has the same job, lives at the same house, has the same wife I saw him marry in October 2013. I don't mean to be over-dramatic but I only have the eldest son & his wife as my grown children now. I am an only child as well & have no extended family in the state I live in or nearby. I have 22 first cousins but we are scattered around the country. My husband & father of both sons moved out in 2000. I have been alone for many years & am okay with that. When mom & dad had to move near me because of alzheimer's my youngest son was still living at home & just graduating college. As soon as mom (grandma) moved in & he could see her frailties I lost him as my son. I don't know why. He wouldn't talk about it but he went through a very painful self-journey of his own watching his Grandma suffer. It was almost as if it was too much for him having lost his father & older brother at 12 & then lose Grandma to this plus the fact that my parents would now be my sole focus (not him). All too much for him to internalize or work out. He didn't know how to properly work it through but I knew how he felt losing so many key people in his life. He has since married and his older brother, father & I never hear from him. We wouldn't know if he died or got sick. He lives 10 mins. away from me.

I can't explain what happens when you are a caregiver or there is a family loss like this but I know there isn't much you can do about it because I have tried everything. My dad is still living but went through medical "hell" recently & is declining in ill-health. I had very few people in my life because of a small family & have lost most of them due to no fault of my own. My ex-husband has a 101 yr. old mother & he is an only child. He will not face her mortality or his own & it is affecting my survival, my sons survival & his mother's care.

People need to face that at some age they will die & make preparations. I believe that is all you are facing. As for support groups I don't know. It will depend on the groups available & the ppl in them. I would say take care of yourself.

This too shall pass.

If I could lose the only son I was a single mom for because my parents got alzheimer's & needed me - then one died - he talks to us even less now because she died then who knows why anything happens. I still would love to know but his new wife & her family scare me so much that I am glad I am not speaking with him. The wedding was unpleasant as were it's preparations.
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Jeanne, your advice as always is humane and thoughtful. I was especially interested in your comments on the rituals of mourning, and the trade-off between having defined paths laid out for us and having the freedom to choose how we deal individually with life events.

Speaking for myself, only, I regret the loss of formal ritual. In the case of mourning, we need that schedule laid out for us that says: "don't expect to feel better for at least a week, then a month, then a year. After that, we'll see." I do feel it's one of the babies that got thrown out with the bathwater.
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My husband died 15 months ago. His memorial service was on the day of the biggest snowfall of the year. Many friends were unable to attend, but all send cards with personal messages. I responded to each of them. A few people close to me reached out to include me in social activities. These were not necessary better friends than the others, but more experienced in dealing with people in mourning. Most people, after expressing their sympathy, allowed me to make the next contact. I never felt abandoned.

Back a century or so there were expectations that were well understood by society. I was surprised to learn that the black arm band and other markings of mourning was not really a sign of respect for the deceased, but a signal to others that this person was fragile emotionally, and needed to be treated gently.

We don't have such well-defined expectations today, which is a good thing in many ways, but it also means we don't quite know what our roles should be relating to someone who has recently lost a loved one.

I can't imagine why your boyfriend hung up on you. Perhaps your grief-driven behavior was strange and upsetting to him, and he never really learned what to expect and how to relate to it. (Or maybe he is a jerk and doesn't really deserve you. I don't know him.)

Try not to hold what you perceive as "abandonment" against your friends. When you are ready, reach out to them and re-establish social relationships.

You will never stop missing your dad, but the pain will become a less central part of your life. Give yourself time to heal. Get help from a grief support group and/or a personal counsellor if you need help dealing with the pain. You deserve to find peace, and to be ready to resume your social life.
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the only true friend i have was there to help me thru the worst of times. i told another she could help me or gtf out of my life forever. she chose the latter and im good with that. burning bridges is never wise but that was a paper, or holographic bridge anyway.
the old timeless comparison; a friend will bail you out of jail. the true friend will be locked up with you and in it up to their eyeballs.
i know im not making any sense. its the internet, i dont have to.. you just hurl crap in 360 degrees and then duck..
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I have to agree that a bereavement group would be a big help. My friends have all headed for the hills a number of years ago when my parents' health started to deteriorate; I basically am pretty much on my own, just husband and I. Older sister who is POA is useless. It is depressing, disheartening and makes me incredibly angry. Wish I were dead. I pray I die soon because I am sick and tired of living such a draining, unfufilled, burdensome life. Mom and dad are physically robust and with any luck they will outlive me. Death cannot come soon enough.
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I also lost my dad recently my closest friend texted me? that's it? never called up to see how I was? other friends couldn't do enough but I wanted to be alone. ive just found out that my friend now has a boyfriend and since she met him shes not available anymore? Eh shes no longer my friend! I know from past experiences ie a divorce that true friends are there for you no matter what and the same goes for boyfriends. Grieve for your dad then move on and make some new friends genuine ones. No matter what crap ive had in my life ive always been there for my friends and I expect the same from them. To be honest my friends are a lot more understanding of my caring than my family are? how sad is that! so sorry for your loss I still don't feel that ive had time to grieve for dad while caring for mum but I do know hes around me and I hope looking out for me!
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Lifes too short
Love the people who treat you right!
Forget about the others!
Believe everything happens for a reason!
I know the feeling also:0(
Hang in there, be strong,make new friends, build a new life, life is wonderful.
XO
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You r not alone. I take care of my mom. I am thankful for every moment with her. Thru this experience many friends have peeled away from me. Thats ok!! I know i am doing the right thing! I am grateful to have her today. and i know i live one day at a time. If ever u have doubts of your wonderful care taking..lemme know.
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I am sorry for your loss, but know that many people find it difficult to deal with death knowing they will have the same happen to them. They feel uncomfortable with their own feelings and then you are grieving, and it is typical that most do not know what to say. Write each of them a little note to thank them for being there for you in your period with your father, do not ask them for anything, just a thank you - I'll be okay type of note. Then wait. They are being respectful by not wanting to bother you in your grief and most people will leave you alone until you give them permission that you are okay. Who wants to be around someone who will cry, talk about...you get the picture? Let some time pass, and if they do not return, then find some new friends. Best wishes!
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Hi Hawkwings7,

I'm so sorry. Your suffered a big loss and your life has suddenly changed but those closest to you don't know how to react. A counselor / therapist will be able to help you through your grief and examine what is happening in your relationships. Your boyfriend hung up on you but you don't explain what preceded that so it's hard to see what's going on.

GayleV's thoughts are similar to mine. Perhaps your best friend no longer feels close to you. Or perhaps she has no idea what you need right now. I urge you to join the support group soon and start therapy to work through where your life is going now. You need to connect to others who understand.
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My dear one, This is a very hard time for you. Let yourself feel toward yourself as you would to a small child. Feel the love and protection and caring for your own dear self. Feel the pleasure of just being able to breath. Drop down into your senses - seeing beauty, hearing sounds. In some way we are and always will be alone but at the same time connected to all that is. Let yourself rest when you want; do not have expectations of yourself and do only what you want to do. Treat yourself, get to know yourself. We are each such a mystery and such a challenge to ourselves. I am feeling loving and protective toward you. I wish I could hold and hug you. You are a magic being.
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(I sure wish there was a preview or edit feature on this site. As it is, please forgive all the typos and errors in that post.)
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A bereavement group would be very helpful. You can find such groups by contacting a local hospital, hospice, or a religious organization. The help and support you need right now cannot be supplied by people who have never experienced what you have been through. Please take care of yourself, and don't worry about fair-weather friends.
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Pain is contagious, and it can make those around you remember their own grief, which they have learned to set aside. Griefwork is a very personal journey, but remember your loved one and speak to him often. He would want you to be happy.
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Caregiving is overwhelming and time consuming. It's entirely possible that you spent so much time doing it, that the rest of life went on without you.
And without you noticing how little you were part of it. Now you have all this unoccupied time and you feel abandoned. But in reality, the rest of the people in your live haven't changed at all. They are living as they always have. You are the one who's different. Yes they should have said, "I'm sorry for your loss". When it happened. Not every time they talk to you now. It's been three months, and while you are still grieving, you can't expect others to continue to act like it just happened. Nor expect them to suddenly move in and fill all the empty space in your life. And if that is what you expect, they people may actually be avoiding you. But I get the feeling that they are only going about life as usual. In the past you would have been way too busy for them. Now you have all t his time and it feels like avoidance. It's just MHO but you really might benefit from some counseling. You're impulse to attend that support group is a good one. Follow it.
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