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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5111
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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Bereavement

Customer Question

I lost my sister to Cancer nearly 4 years ago and I feel like now I am finally dealing with it. I think I have been burying myself in fundraising and helping others since then. Now I feel like no one understands me and I am worthless, do I need help?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.


First, let me say I can imagine how difficult this situation must be for you. You have identified yourSELF as a sister now for 4 years. A sister in grief. And you've dealt with it (from what you say) by "burying" yourself...burying your SELF. First, let me express my condolences on the loss of your sister. But now also let me say that grief is not an on-off switch. Grief goes on, it continues. Just like your love for your sister continues. But it must go through stages.


And you're somewhere in the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of grief. Let me paste them in here. I think it will help you, as you clearly are not in one stage only, but feeling at least two stages simultaneously as the holidays have come upon you. See where you find yourself in these stages. This version is not specific to your situation, but I hope you see the essence of each step here:


1-Denial-"this can't be happening to me", looking for the former spouse in familiar places, or if it is death, setting the table for the person or acting as if they are still in living there. No crying. Not accepting or even acknowledging the loss.

2-Anger-"why me?", feelings of wanting to fight back or get even with spouse of divorce, for death, anger at the deceased, blaming them for leaving.

3-Bargaining-bargaining often takes place before the loss. Attempting to make deals with the spouse who is leaving, or attempting to make deals with God to stop or change the loss. Begging, wishing, praying for them to come back.

4-Depression-overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self pity, mourning loss of person as well as the hopes, dreams and plans for the future. Feeling lack of control, feeling numb. Perhaps feeling suicidal.

5-Acceptance-there is a difference between resignation and acceptance. You have to accept the loss, not just try to bear it quietly. Realization that it takes two to make or break a marriage. Realization that the person is gone (in death) that it is not their fault, they didn't leave you on purpose. (even in cases of suicide, often the deceased person, was not in their right frame of mind) Finding the good that can come out of the pain of loss, finding comfort and healing. Our goals turn toward personal growth. Stay with fond memories of person.

You ask about psychotherapy as if it would be a sign of helplessness on your part. I would recommend you have a different view of it: you are growing; you are emerging from a period in you life that needs much reflection and perhaps reorientation. Doing that with a professional who's trained in this area is a wonderful opportunity to get help and coaching.

The NHS is not very comprehensive or quick with therapy, so you might want to contact a psychotherapist on your own and see if they will work on a sliding scale. If your doctor isn't able to refer to anyone, here is the web address for the UK association of humanistic psychotherapists. Here's the web site; they have a search for therapists there.

http://www.ahpp.org/

Here is the British Psychology Society's directory:

http://www.bps.org.uk/bpslegacy/dcp

YOu write that you're not confident having face to face therapy. If so, you might consider therapy using Skype. I work with that type of therapy and you can ask me about it. It allows you to be at home and yet having a therapy session.

Let's focus though on your moving forward in your life. You're a young woman; you're clearly emerging from those 4 years of 'burying' yourself. Well, then this is your opportunity to decide what your life will look like, who you will be, who will fill it. This is your opportunity to find Mr. Right, for example. Let's look at how you would do that. And you can apply the same principles to making new friends, other parts of your new identity you wish to create.

Okay, finding Mr. Right:

Now for your life. Why do I say your life? Because you are not going to find Mr. Right by just looking for "a guy". You've got to treat finding Mr. Right as part of living YOUR life. You are clearly a woman with values. You are not looking simply for sexual gratification. You are looking for a human being who wants to share his life with you and who values who you are.

That's why we're going to focus on goals, strategies, and plans. I want you to take a sheet of paper or on the computer if you prefer and on that paper write your Healthy Relationship Goals. Examples: make 3 close friends in the next 3 months; or go on dates with interesting men at least 4 times in the next 3 months, etc. So you see they don't need to even be goals for just relationships with men, but can be social relationships. Because the more social you are, the more you build your ability to express yourself socially instead of just career wise, the more you will feel comfortable expressing yourself to Mr. Right on a date. You need to feel comfortable sharing your inner self with other people on lots of different levels: acquaintances, friends, confidantes, and dates.

Next, I need you to take another sheet or underneath the goals in the same sheet write Strategies for my Healthy Relationship Goals. For each of the Goals, I want you to write strategies. For example, if your goal is to go out 4 times in 3 months, strategies might be: I want to identify the type of interests men you'd be interested in would have. Then I want to ask yourself where would they go to fulfill those interests. For example, if an interesting man needs to be someone who is into fitness, then he would be a member of a fitness club. If he needs to like art, then he would be a member of the Art Museum and go to gallery openings. If he needs to be spiritually oriented, then he might need to be attending church or a meditation class.

Then, you need to write on a separate piece of paper or underneath each Goal and Strategy: Plans for how to succeed with your strategies. So to continue the example above, you might write: my plan is to go to the 6 most popular fitness studios and check them out to see what their membership looks like and what kind of activities are there. Or for art, I plan to join the Art Museum and to go to an art opening at a gallery at least twice per month and maybe 3 times. Or if you are interested in religion, checking out 3 congregations for active ones that have social events.

These are examples of strategies and plans. I'm trying to focus you on your life interests. What do you want to do to further your having a meaningful life? Remember, Mr. Right needs to fit into what's meaningful to you, so look for him in activities that bring out what's meaningful in your life.

The feeling of loss has led to you your loss of your total identity and that is painful. But it is the reality of your world now. This painful situation also represents an opportunity. These are the ideas I want you to think about and take up in therapy.

I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. You can continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

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