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ginahunt3 February 10th, 2014 01:22

Still need closure
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I lost my best friend in a car accident on 11/23/13. I am having such a hard time "accepting" it. I know she's gone but it's not real to me yet. I think it's because we the funeral home couldn't make her presentable enough to have a viewing. I am the kind of person who needs to see it to believe it and all I was able to see was an urn with a picture of her. I keep looking at the photos that were in the paper but that's not the same thing. All I can see there are the cars and a sheet over her body. I know it sounds morbid but I really need to see her body in order to really let it sink in. I even thought about going to the police department and asking to see the pictures from the scene. They probably won't let me but I need to do something before I drive myself crazy. I even called her phone so I could record her voicemail greeting. Now I can hear her voice still. I am 41 years old and I feel like a child. I don't know what to do anymore.

hazelharris February 10th, 2014 03:27

hi my friend i'm so sorry you are still being traumatised by your friends accident on reading your message i think this is taking over your mind wanting to find closure on seeing her remains well in my opinion if you did would be a big mistake because in it's place would be the vision and that would be flooding your mind instead I think it's one of the hardest things in grieving to remove our loved ones moments of passing from our mind we go over and over it like it's still happening when it's not it's in the past when we can accept this it's the first step on our road to overcoming grief
as you are suffering so much you are adding torture to your wounds by listening to her voice there is a time when you will be able to listen in the future when your stronger but not now it tells me you want and need to feel this pain I'm sorry but your friend is now in heaven but remember where she is she is happy she is loved and still loves you all try to do something more constructive for her family i know you care for them everything you do is from the love the two of you shared try to take comfort in this Thinking of you and i do hope the days will get better for you soon xxxx

j's daughter February 10th, 2014 11:08

Hello ginahunt3,

I'm glad you let us share your pain and grief, and I am so sorry for your loss of your friend. I agree with Hazel that you need a positive last image that stays with you, not the vision of your friend in the accident. It will take a while, and perhaps deliberate work on your part to bring that about.

Two things helped me, and perhaps might help you:

First, reach back into your memories for a happy time. In 2010 I held my mother in my arms as she took her last breaths, and that image stays with me. It's a sorrowful picture. But to balance that, I also have the memory of a few days before her death, when my mother gestured me to her bedside, and whispered "thank you." The first words she had spoken in many weeks, and the last she was to speak, but she managed that much for me. That picture stays with me, and is full of love. That's the sort of memory you will want to have with you as you go on from this point.

Can you picture a moment when you and your friend were laughing at something? Can you remember the sound of her laughter, the expression on her face? Try for good memories.

The memories show that your friend is with you in spirit. It's still very early days for you and it might be a while before you are able to do it, and do it without tears, but in time you might realize you are your friend's eyes and ears. Your experience of the world is your friend's.

I remember walking past a little park on my way to the grocery store, a park I would pass with my Mom so often. At first, the sight brought tears to my eyes, as I thought of my mother no longer seeing the trees, hearing the sound of children in the park, feeling the warmth of the sun on her face. Now I know she sees and hears and feels what I do. I won't say the pain is gone completely, but it is mixed with joy for having shared experiences.

You will come to that, in time. Remembering experiences shared with your friend, and remembering them with a sad / happy feeling. For now, there is pain and tears. In time, there will be smiles, too. And happier memories.

I think you have to deliberately work at it. Do you have one memory of one time you and your friend were laughing together?

The second thing that helped me was writing out my pain in a letter to my Mom after her death. I missed her terribly. Still do. There had been just the two of us for so many years, and then she was gone from sight. Somehow, though, writing to her established a new relationship, a connection that is still with me, going into four years after her passing.

For your friend, and for your eyes only, you might try a letter. It might be rambling and incoherent and tear-filled and joyous — depends on the memories it calls up. I don't use the word "closure" and I'm not sure we get to that stage after someone passes from our sight. I don't think we ever leave them behind. But I do believe we can get to a place of acceptance.

I also believe we get there each in our own way, in our own time. And it does take time. Instead of looking for pictures of your friend's last moments, can you look for pictures to hold in your mind of good times? Can you make new moments, and know you are sharing them in spirit with your friend?

I believe in something I read once: The greatest gift we can give to those who have left us is to live fully in their place. I also believe we can tell them we're doing that, and they will hear us, and know we remember them.

Let us know how it goes.

hazelharris February 10th, 2014 14:15

hi j' daughter (c) lovely words and such good advice as usual and it bought back a similar memory i had last year i was walking the dogs round the park just like darren used to i thought same old park same trees bushes every thing the same as before he passed away how can it all be here when inside me everything is different i sat on the hill in tears and a whole lot of butterflies danced over me and the dogs danced about with them and it made me laugh as i sat watching them and for the first time i felt hope and a feeling i could cope again i suppose we all at the beginning of our grief can't understand why everything is as it was before why we are rooted to the moment like time has stood still how can the world roll on without them but it does and we have to go forward as it's so easy to stay there rooted to the past Its all the good memories that help us through the days reminding us that life was good is good and will be again one day
always in my thoughts my friend xxxxxx

j's daughter February 10th, 2014 16:29

Oh, Hazel ... your memories bring out one of mine: I remember my first day going back to work after my mother's death. I was riding the train downtown and I remember being amazed that no one on the train seemed to notice that my mother was gone! Surely the world must somehow be able to see that? People in their own worlds with their own concerns ... My life was completely changed and no one else noticed!

You're right. Time seems to stand still for us, but the rest of the world just goes on around us. It shows, I guess, that memories and experiences belong to the people who share them with us. We can describe something to others, but no one else can feel what we feel.

I think we have to be very deliberate about making memories while we have the chance. It's our memories of the good times that sustain us long after we've parted from the ones we remember. I also believe that somehow they know we are remembering, and they are smiling, because they remember the good times, too.

Hazel, your husband, and gina your friend, deserve to be smiling. They need first to see you smiling to be able to do that. They need to know you are remembering them with joy, not just with sorrow and pain. I know it takes time, but the time will come.

ginahunt3 February 11th, 2014 00:08

Thank you both for your kind words. I do have alot of good memories and I think of them often. She was an everyday part of my life. She lived next door to me so I look out the window and expect to see her truck then I remember I won't ever see it again. We were so close that when her mom was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, she called me from the Dr's office crying even before her siblings knew anything. We were soul sisters from the moment we met. I always got along better with men than women and she told me the same thing about herself. We were so much alike. We found out we went to the same high school but I'ma year older so we weren't In any classes together. We even dated the same guy when we were in our thirties! Everytime something happens in my life I think to myself that I have to call her and then I think who am I supposed to call now? It may sound silly but if when one of us got sick we would tell the other "I think I'm dying" and the other would tell them "You better take me with you. You're not leaving me hear to deal with these people I.E. our friends and neighbors, by myself" and I keep thinking that she left and didn't take me too. Anyway, I guess I'm just gonna have to wait till it gets easier. Well thanks for listening and taking the time to respond. I really appreciate it.

j's daughter February 11th, 2014 08:11

gina, that's the point, I think. Part of it is waiting for time to help, yes, but part of it, too, is actively, deliberately ... what? Wading in, I think. Saying to grief, okay, I'm here, I'm sad beyond measure, I'm living in a room where the walls are made of tears and memories. And you grab at a good memory and cry your way through it. Don't stand at the edge of grief and wait for the abyss to get smaller so you can step over it. Wade in.

You ask, "who am I supposed to call now?" Call your friend. Tell your friend what's just happened that you want to share with her. Sounds odd, perhaps. But try it, see if it makes things easier to share something, good or bad, that's just happened. In other days, you would have called each other to share the news. Now you've likely more news to tell, but you still can talk to your friend. And if you're angry at her for leaving first, tell her that. Get it out.

You mentioned earlier that you want "closure." You somehow want to accept that your friend is gone. Maybe it will be a while before that feeling happens, if ever, because the spirit of your friend, your memories of your life together, won't ever be gone. If one of you moved away, you'd still want to be in touch. In time, it might happen — it will happen, if you work to turn it in that direction — you will relax into knowing your friend is still with you in your memories of her, and all that you shared is still with you. In a way, your friend has just moved away out of sight. You can still be in touch, still keep her up to date on your life.

Not to the point of crazy. Not out loud, so other people think you've lost it. But quietly, gently, include your friend in your life, rather than leaving her behind.

Another thing I've read: "Those whom we love and lose are no longer where they were before. They are now wherever we are."

Yes, it will take time, and yes, time will help ease the awful, physical pain and emptiness. Yes, in time, you will smile (and no, don't feel guilty about smiling when your friend is not there).

Practice saying, "I wish you were here, because if you were, I'd tell you about ..." You finish the thought.

You are in my thoughts, ginahunt3. I've been where you are now. I can't take away your pain, because it's yours to carry. But I can promise you, you don't have to go through it alone.

ginahunt3 February 12th, 2014 01:23

That's just it. What you said about accepting the grief, being that her death was so sudden and unexpected I can't even grieve properly. I've been in shock and disbelief since that day. I'm just numb. Not feeling too much of anything because I keep thinking that this is all a bad dream and she's gonna walk through my front door any minute now. I know that's not going to happen but it all happened so fast. One minute she was here going about her routine and the next minute she didn't exist anymore. I do still talk to her thats not ever gonna change but I don't get the response anymore. I miss the advice she gave me and giving her advice on her life. I miss the stupid little texts she sent me a hundred times a day and I miss sending her pictures of my 3 y.o. grandson and calling her to come outside because he wants to see her and then waiting forever because she always had something sidetrack her. I just miss having that connection with her. I miss her. I live in a city with a high murder rate and over the years we've been to many funerals together. We watched these kids grow up and then they were killed and we were always devastated by it.
We always get shirts with their pictures on it and wear them to the funeral. The last one was 10/30/12 and after that funeral she said to me that she's not getting another shirt. She was tired of burying people we care about. It's kind of ironic that the next shirt I got had her picture on it. My grandson asks for her all the time and I cry when I tell him that she got sick and had to go away for awhile. Those are the times that the anger kicks in most. She was supposed to watch him grow up and be a part of his life. Then I start thinking that she left me and I wasn't ready for her to go. I still need her. Does that sound selfish? I'm sorry for rambling about all of this. I just need to get it out . Anyway I'm getting a tattoo in her memory but I am having a hard time deciding what to get. I was going to get her name and the dates but I really want more. Some kind of symbol that defines our friendship and what we meant to eachother. Do you have any suggestions? Ok, time to end this for tonight. Thank you again for being there. I really appreciate it.

j's daughter February 12th, 2014 08:46

Hi gina,

First, a thing to remember is that I am here. Others are here for you, too. Second, you're not "rambling," you are sharing your pain, and that's just the thing you need to do. I doubt it makes the pain less for you, but it does at least get it out where we can look at it, deal with it.

About the tattoo ... maybe hold off on that thought for a bit. You want to be sure you honor your friend in the right way. My personal preference would not be dates that remind me of a person's passing, but rather something that symbolizes an ongoing relationship, a connection that might have changed, but still goes on. (A tattoo of a tiny link, perhaps? One that you will see the significance of, and anyone else would wonder what it means?) But perhaps wait for a bit. If it's meant to be, then an idea will occur to you, and you'll recognize it's just the thing!

Your own assessment of things is telling. It says where you're at with this. It is awfully early days if your friend died only in November last year. Just a few months. My mother, my best friend, had Alzheimer's disease and a few complicating factors. I knew when she was diagnosed in 2007 that I would lose her. I looked after her at home, rather than putting her in a nursing home. I saw day by day over 3 years that she was gradually pulling away, both physically and cognitively, and would one day go. I had time to grieve all along the way, every day, before she actually died. We said our goodbyes long before the goodbye time came. I don't feel anything was left unsaid. And yet, it was too soon for her to go, too. Any time would have been too soon.

With you and your friend it was different. Your friend went suddenly, quickly, and you might feel you didn't have a chance to say a proper goodbye. Something is missing, you might think. Something is unfinished.

I recognize the feeling you describe: I waited to hear my Mom's key in the lock, just as you expect your friend to come through the door any minute. It takes a while to accept that it won't happen, takes a while to stop looking at the door expecting it to open. And it was months and months before the physical pain of loss began to subside, before I started to notice that there is actually a world around me again. So please be gentle with yourself, cut yourself some slack. Don't expect too much too early.

Hard to know what to tell your grandson. Three years old is a bit young to understand that someone won't be coming back, but not too young, I think, for him to know that Grandma is sad at her friend being gone. You can honestly tell him you miss her, you can safely cry in his presence, I think. It lets him know it's okay to be sad, to miss someone. And it gives him a chance to comfort you, which is what he likely wants to be doing, even if he doesn't yet understand it all.

I think grief is an active process. We move into grieving once we get past shaking our head in disbelief. You're on the verge of grief. I also think we grieve our losses in our own way, so you'll go through the process in your own way, in your own time. But remember, you needn't go through it alone. There are touchstones along the way, markers, so to speak, left by others a step or two ahead of you on the grief path.

I'm not a professional counsellor of any sort. Just a woman who has lost friends along the way, and family. I have no family left: my mother was the last to go, in 2010. I lost 2 brothers before that, and my father. So I know a bit about loss, and the dark times.

I think you are taking a step forward to talk about your loss. In my view, we need to get the sorrow out, so we can deal with it. I will tell you, more than 3 years after my Mom's passing, there are still days I dissove into tears and pretty much write the rest of the day off. So, expect to be sad for a while to come. It is, as I say, a process, and there will be good days and ... the other times.

Back to the tattoo thing. I understand the need to have a remembrance. I set up a corner of the dresser in the bedroom as somewhere I could spend a few minutes when I needed it. A picture of my mother, some of her favourite jewellery, a small vase of her favourite flowers (yellow sweetheart roses). For you, it might be the tattoo. It sounds to me that the main idea was the bond between you. That's why I suggested a link as a symbol of that. Don't know given the permanence of tattoos, you might want to start with a piece of jewellery. A necklace, maybe? A jeweller or someone who fashions these things might make you a link symbol that you could wear on a chain?

I know the first nice weather after my first winter without my Mom, I wanted to get out walking. I bought a locket, put Mom's picture inside it, and we went for a walk in the sunshine, the two of us. Me doing the actual walking, and my mother along for company, in my mind.

Take your time. Let yourself feel the loss. Let the tears come, and then let them come again. I think I've created one whole new ocean with my tears, but the world can do with another ocean, so cry away.

By all means, talk it out. In time, you might find, going back to the idea of "closure," that what you mean is not to leave your friend behind, but to include her in your life in a new way. There will always be a connection as long as there will always be memories. That's painful, but comforting, too.

It's a process, gina. Take a deep breath. Have a cup of tea. You're well started. Your friend was very lucky to have had your friendship. It worked both ways, you know?

I think I remember an earlier posting of yours, when you talked about your friend's son, and his difficulty with her death. How is he doing? I've wondered.

Please keep writing. If I can help just by listening, I am here.

ginahunt3 February 12th, 2014 23:57

Thank you so much for your kind words they are a comfort to me. I read your bio last night and see that you were a hospice nurse. My friend was a visiting hospice nurse. Thats a bit of a coincidence. Let me start by addressing the tattoo. There is one that has a link for us. About 2 yrs ago she said she wanted to get a chinese symbol on the inside of her wrist but she wasn't sure what, now we have a mutual friend (a guy) that we are very good friends with. They had an on again off again relstionship. They were in love with eachother but he didn't want to commit because of the life he lives. He said he didn't want to hurt her. I said it's because he usually goes out with younger girls who NEED him and he didn't want an independant woman. Anyway to make a long story short I suggested she get the symbol for independent. I found a picture of it online for her and that is what she got. So I was thinking about getting the same thing in on my wrist too with her name over the top of it. I found some beautiful ones online. I got a memorial cross with my grandparents names on it last year so Iddon't want another cross but they have praying hands or angel wings or something along those lines too. Then I spoke with her son and her brother and one of her sisters and they all thought I should get the word 'Bitch' because we always called eachother that (just in a kidding way) but other people thought it would be disrespectful. Her whole family thought it was a good idea because if I walked down the street and she came out and saw me she would yell it down the street. That was just us. We loved eachother like sisters so and we could say anything to eachother without hurt feelings. As for her son, he's doing ok. At 15 he shouldn't have to go through this. Did I mention that his birthday was the day before the accident? She was an awesome mother. She raised them right. They are both good kids and being a single parent is no easy task especially where we live. You either get sucked in by the streets or walk the right path and most kids around here get sucked in. He's got a girlfriend now. They are so cute together.
There is something I could use some advice on. It's been on my mind since she's been gone and I don't know what I should do. OK now this may get confusing so read slowly. The guy I spoke about before and her were trying to have a baby about 2 yrs ago. Like I said, they were in love. Anyway, she got pregnant but she decided not to keep it. She had some good reasonslike she just started a new job and a few other things but she never told him. Now he is at my house every day and sometimes he talks about them trying to conceive. Nobody around here knew about their 'relationship'. He lives on the same street we do and people gossip so they kept it a secret. Me and my husband and kids knew but that was it..I'm the only one who knew she was pregnant. It's really bothering me now. I kind of want to tell him. I don't think I would tell him that she terminated her pregnancy. I would tell him she miscarried. For some reason I think it would make him feel better but I don't want to betray her trust. I know she's gone so it won't hurt her but it's really been on my mind alot. Ifeel guilty for not telling him and I think he would feel better if he knew. What should I do?

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