This topic contains 7 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by cyndi 1 week, 6 days ago.
November 29, 2017 at 4:57 pm #728118
Running away from grief?
So today I found out my mom has lung cancer.
I’m numb, I think. When my sister told me, I wasn’t sad, upset, shocked surprised. Why am I not sad, upset, shocked, surprised? Why doesn’t it physically hurt like it did when I found out my dad had cancer more than 20 years ago? (He passed within 6 weeks of his diagnosis, when I was in high school.)
My mom has smoked for many years and has only recently quit. Over the last 7-10 years, we’ve seen her through a different type of cancer (hysterical sobbing in the office over that one) and a heart attack. She’s also been dealing with emphysema and related breathing problems for several months.
I haven’t found myself sad over the breathing issues either, even though I knew the implications it had for her lifespan.
I love my mom. We have a good relationship. She’s only right at 70, so not too old. So why am I not sobbing my eyes out? I will be devastated when she dies. I have teared up more thinking about why I’m not sobbing, and in typing this up, than over the actual diagnosis.
I feel like I repress so much and bury it beneath a crusty shell, unlike my sister who hangs ALL her emotions out to dry. I feel like maybe I’ve been waiting for this diagnosis for a long time, given her smoking habits. I feel like I’m broken because I’m not experiencing overwhelming sadness. I feel like I’m waiting to find out that there’s some miracle cure and that this diagnosis CAN be overcome. At the same time, I know shock and numbness are a thing. When my granddad died, my mom confessed to me after the funeral that she hadn’t cried yet. I told her that she might have mourned for him long before his actual death, because his mental state in the last months were such that there were constant crises, he needed to be in a care facility, but getting him in one would have been a MASSIVE fight. Just trying to take care of him normally was a massive fight. She had a lot of stress and sorrow even before he passed.
I’ve not found myself able to text my friends yet to tell them. Even though we don’t even know the severity, the potential progression, the treatment options yet, I just haven’t been able to put myself out there. I’m not ready for the expressions of sympathy. Instead, I’m reaching out to strangers on the internet.
Please tell me, have you experienced this numbness with earth-shattering, heart-breaking news?November 29, 2017 at 5:21 pm #728122
I’m so sorry about your mom.
What you’re feeling (or not) is 100% normal. Maybe a part of you has been expecting this, maybe you’re in shock, maybe you just haven’t fully processed everything yet. This is huge, huge news and you just found out. It’s ok that your initial reaction is no reaction. Give yourself a break. The tears and all that will come. Right now just concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other and figure out how to get through today. Don’t judge yourself so harshly. You need to be kind to yourself right now.
FWIW I am an extremely emotional person….except in a crisis. I will hear bad news and sit absolutely still while it sinks in. And then instead of crying I will jump up & start doing whatever needs to be done – phone calls, talking to doctors, cleaning up, making food. It’s only hours or days afterwards that it hits me & and I break down. Totally normal.
Hang in there.November 29, 2017 at 5:44 pm #728125
Many reasons for a different reaction when you heard about your Mom’s cancer vs learning about your Dad’s. First, you were much more vulnerable and probably less able to cope as a H.S. student when your father was diagnosed. Also, this was the first time this tragedy had struck your family. Your father was fairly young and you probably still saw him as indestructible, so it was a huge shock. With your mother, you are older, it is your second experience with a loved one and cancer, and your mother has had enough serious health problems that this wasn’t a huge surprise to you — not necessarily that you expected her to get lung cancer, but that you were expecting the next health issue shoe to drop. From your description, you also have learned to steel yourself during crises and stifle your emotional response. You weren’t like that in H.S. This comes with growing older and knowing that you are responsible for dealing with the crisis and for helping others to cope. You’ll cry later.November 29, 2017 at 8:28 pm #728131
Running away from grief
Thank you for helping me put it into perspective. I appreciate your kind words. Just typing this up was a bit cathartic. I finally emailed my closest friends.November 30, 2017 at 8:23 am #728161
Do not for one moment try to compare the two. I’m going through something similar. My dad died of a massive stroke almost 15 years ago. I cried for 24 hours straight. My stepdad (who was more of a parent than the bio dad) is going through a horrible and slow illness and although it crushes me to see him this way, and I know that we are nearing an end date, my emotions are so different, even though I love my stepdad as much or more. It’s just different. I’ve been through this trauma before. I’m a different person with a different perspective. Who knows? I’m just taking this as what it is and I’m not beating myself up for not reacting the same way because every situation has its subtle and not so subtle differences.
You’ll get through this. It’s going to suck, but it will suck differently. Take care of yourself and your fam. Be kind to yourself.November 30, 2017 at 11:03 am #728181
I’m so sorry to hear this. Like everyone said, it’s normal to be numb or to not feel emotion towards shocking or horrible news. Some people burst into tears, others are numb. Wishing you the best – hopefully, it will be an early treatable stage.December 2, 2017 at 6:54 pm #728334
Hi Running Away from Grief, FannyBrice, Ron, K, and everyone else who has commented on this post so far. My name is Astha and I’m trying to start an online class series for free where I’ll have professional (grad students, post-grad students in psych) teach topics on mental health. Grief would be a big topic that could really help many people (including myself) to learn from someone who has studied it extensively. Before I can launch this class, I need to generate interest online so that I can get a better idea of what you all would like to see in such a website, and if you would potentially take a class like this. It would be completely free, and it would be an open-discussion course where you can anonymously participate and tailor the lectures to what YOU care about. What do you all think about this idea? I really care about your input so please feel free to either comment here or message me at [email protected].December 5, 2017 at 5:55 am #728462
Please don’t be so hard on yourself. My moom spent over 20 years being seriously ill, with various ailments and surgeries. When she finally died after her second heart surgery. I almost felt a sense of relief. Her sufferings were over. I didn’t cry. I couldn’t. I had watched her deteriorate for 20 years. She was also a smoker in her earlier years- this didn’t help her conditions. I was in my late 40’s when she died. She was 75. My baby sister, 9 years younger, fell apart. It took her almost a year to cope.
You are doing the best you can. Being older now and watching your mom go through this, you understand why these things happen. The tears may or may not come. Please be gentle with yourself.