Dear Patricia Marie,

I don't know what to do, or where to go for help. I keep having panic attacks, and can't go on feeling this way for much longer. My daughter aged 13, died 6 months ago, after suffering a devastating degenerative condition. She gave me the greatest purpose in life, and now she's no longer here, I feel lonely and abandoned. When my daughter was alive, I received much support from my family and friends.

However, since she's been gone, I have hardly any understanding from my close ones. In fact, if I mention my daughter, the conversation soon changes, leaving me feeling frustrated and tearful. I am lucky to have another child, and a caring husband, but he gets annoyed with me for expecting too much from people. I am very close to my mother, but as soon as I mention my daughter, she becomes extremely upset, so I withdraw from opening up about my feelings. Can I please ask you, am I wrong for expecting others to be there for me?

Patricia Marie says...

The loss of a child is the most devastating experience a parent can face, and you should not be expected to 'get over' the pain it causes at any stage.
For 13 years you took care of your daughter who was totally dependant on you, and as you so rightly say, gave you a purpose. I make a heartfelt request to you to see that your purpose as a mother still goes on with your living child.

Let me ask you not to see your husband as annoyed, nor your friends as lacking compassion. It's not uncommon for friends to pull away during a grieving period, simply because they often do not know what to say. Have you considered that they could be feeling guilty if they have children who are all alive and well? They may well want to help, but don't know how. Tell them what you need, and don't push your husband away, as he too is having to deal with his own grief, as indeed is your mother who seems to be struggling to come to terms with the loss of her granddaughter. Your quarrel is not with them, but with what life has thrown at you - taking your beautiful daughter from you. Whilst you have every right to feel angry, by expressing it to others, you will only be hurting yourself.

Counselling won't bring your daughter back. Nothing will. But it will allow you to explore the feelings that you are clearly needing and wanting to express. Grief can feel very lonely, even when your loved ones are close. I think you would benefit greatly from attending a bereavement group, as sharing your sorrow with others who are going through similar experiences could be comforting, and will help you to feel understood. And I urge you to see your G.P for help with your panic attacks.

When you are feeling lonely and wanting to feel close to your daughter, perhaps light a candle and enjoy those special memories you have - which can never be taken from you.
Your life is forever changed - but it's not over. You must feel at this moment that you won't ever recover from your loss, but be patient, and allow yourself time to heal. I believe with the right help and support, you may begin to find a way forward that acknowledges and continues to incorporate the love you will always feel for your daughter.

Cruse offer bereavement support groups in most areas: 0844 477 9400