Monday, September 20, 2021

Childhood Sexual Abuse, Mom’s Murder Complicate A Daughter’s Grief

If there is something to pardon in everything, there is also something to condemn. 
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

A reader writes: My Mom was murdered a year ago. She was poisoned by my father....so not only did I lose my Mom, I lost my father as well... As one could imagine, I am not dealing with reality very well. I have and still am going through counseling on a weekly basis but the pain, rage, and guilt is still very much a part of my daily life.... there have been no arrests by the police... they tell me it is one thing to know he killed her but another thing to prove it..... he fed her fatal doses of anti-freeze over time... she died a very painful death....

I have been a huge part of the police investigation, yet they still won't give me much information on where they are with it....I just get told to remain patient....

They have brought in the major crime investigators from two nearby cities but I have this huge fear that it will become a cold case file...

My one and only sister, who has been my father's pet won't believe that he murdered her. She thinks my mom drank it herself.... it is so crazy and needless to say... I haven't seen my sister since mom's burial....

She went through all of my mom's belongings and took what she wanted and gave the rest away. The only possession of my mom's that I have is a teddy bear of hers.... Mr Bear (I call him that) has been my savior... I talk to him all the time.... Am I going crazy talking to a stuffed bear??

I've joined your online grief group, and hopefully you can give me some words of wisdom to help me through this crazy messed up world I call life.....

I guess the hardest thing that I am experiencing is will justice prevail? Will my father be held accountable for what he has done? I can deal with being alone and not having family to lean on.... I can deal with the guilt...

I am not so sure I can deal with the fact that he may never be charged. That is the biggest obstacle I am finding extremely hard to accept. Her life has to have meant more... and I will never understand why? Why her? Why not divorce? Was her life really so worthless to him???

My response: I extend my deepest sympathy to you for this unimaginable horror. I'm so very sorry ~ but also very grateful that you've found your way to our online Grief Healing Discussion Groups, where you can be surrounded by others who are familiar with the agonizing grief of losing a mother to death. And it's simply unrealistic to think that you can manage this overwhelming grief all by yourself ~ especially when you are coping not only with the loss of your mother, but also with a death by homicide, and that at the hands of your own father! Grief doesn't get much more complicated than this.

I am relieved to know that as a survivor of homicide, you are seeing a counselor on a weekly basis. In addition to that, if you haven’t done so already, I strongly encourage you to educate yourself about the subject. Read what others have experienced (see, for example, Surviving A Partner's Homicide and Surviving A Child's Homicide). Visit other websites devoted to this subject, such as Gateway to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Information and National Center for Victims of Crime. See also the many links I have listed in Coping with Traumatic Loss: Suggested Resources.

Such reading will assure you that you are not alone in this tragedy, will offer you some very practical ways to manage your grief, and will help you to recognize that if others can survive this most devastating of losses, then you can do it, too. The best thing you can do for yourself right now is to acknowledge that you cannot do this alone. You've already done that by getting yourself to a counselor, by joining our online group, and by writing to me ~ and I hope that you will follow through with some of these additional resources.

My prayer for you is that the day will come when the good memories you have of your beloved mother will outweigh the bad. As we so often point out to one another in our forums, the way you come to peace about all of this is one day at a time, and if that's too much, you work at it one hour or even one minute at a time.

You asked whether talking to your Mr. Bear is crazy, and I can assure you that it is the situation you are in that is "crazy," ~ not you. Feeling as if you are crazy is not the same as being crazy or having a mental illness. What you are feeling and experiencing is a normal reaction to this horrible, tragic event.

I know that with support and understanding, you will make it through the difficult times of outrage, sadness and longing still ahead, and I hope and pray that one day you will discover that through this horrible tragedy, your own life can be more meaningful than ever before. For now, please know that we’re all thinking of you and holding you in our hearts.

Afterword: I just want to tell you thanks for your support. I went to your site and was amazed by your dedication to helping others....One of the things that I have not mentioned is that my father molested me as a child...I have been seeing a counselor for many months and prior to my mom's death... I never told.... the guilt I carry as to maybe she would have left if I had told her is unbelievable.... I confronted my father after her death before I was informed that she was murdered...He cried and said he was so sorry and asked me what he could do to make it better..... I told him nothing could change the damage he did..... he told me he was molested as a child as this was his belief as to why he did what he did.... he pleaded with me to forgive him yet I am still so angry at him for destroying my life.... now his actions have made it so much worse.... It is a daily struggle... not only to deal with mom's murder but the pain and anxiety he has forced me to live with....It is all so much a mess..... my life that is.....I know you must be extremely busy so don't feel as though you have to reply.... thanks for listening....

My response: I am so touched by your message, and I so hope that you will continue doing whatever you can to take good care of yourself. Now that I know a bit more of your story, I want to recommend to you an absolutely fabulous book that I think you will find very helpful. I have met the author, Terry Wise, and she is truly a remarkable, wonderful person. Her book is called Waking Up: Climbing through the Darkness. (If you click on the book title, you can read Amazon's description and review of the book.) She tells of her near-fatal suicide attempt following her young husband's death from Lou Gehrig's Disease and what she learned about herself in the aftermath, with a detailed account of the work she did with her therapist to understand and heal from her depression, which stemmed from early childhood sexual abuse by her father. I simply cannot recommend this book highly enough, and I hope you'll consider ordering it. I think it will give you some hope as you continue to struggle to come to terms with all that's happened to you and all that is yet to come. At the very least, I hope you'll click on the title and read what others have to say about it. In any event, please know that you are not alone, my dear. I am thinking of you and holding you in my heart, and wishing you comfort and peace. 

Afterword (4 Months Later): After receiving all of your well wishes and support there came a river of tears....I came to the realization that even though my current situation is dreary and not looking to hopefull, there is a huge positive in all of this....YOU!

I have no clue as to how to express my thanks [to the members of the Grief Healing Discussion Groups forum]... if you only knew the impact you have had on my life....

Today is a day to be thankful.... I am.

Marty, I don't know if you are aware.... but your gift of giving to people could move mountains.. (I know tacky cliche) Your impact you have had on my life as well as many others is immeasurable. How to thank you? Well I can't thank you to the measurement you deserve... You are an angel...

And to everyone who has ever posted on the Discussion Groups site with words of encouragement.. thanks...

It is so amazing that you can put your own pain aside and reach out to others in need. 

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