Dear Annie: I cannot believe I am asking for advice. Here goes! My mom, with whom I was very close, passed away 21 months ago. Annie, my life has never been the same.
I cared for Mom when she became unexpectedly ill. I witnessed her last breath. By all accounts, I should be happy that I was the loving daughter and did right by Mom and the family.
I was attending a hospice grief group; then COVID-19 happened. Since then, my life has spiraled downward and out of control. I no longer find peace, happiness or contentment within myself — or anything else, for that matter. I have dived back into an unhealthy lifestyle of sex addiction, from which I had been in recovery for seven years. I use false intimacy with strangers to mask my pain. I’m married to a wonderful man, but I have taken up with an emotionally toxic man who is also an alcoholic. I’m living in two separate worlds. And yes, I am under the care of a psychiatrist and take medication for my depression and bipolar disorder, to no avail.
How do I stop running and face my mom’s death head on? I fear I am stuck in the anger stage of mourning. I read your advice column every day. I am hoping you can give me some sound advice. — Missing Mom
Dear Missing: Please, friend, stop telling yourself that you “should be happy.” Honor your grief. You lost your mom. Of course you’re devastated. Grief is the natural response when someone we love dies.
You mentioned that you’re seeing a psychiatrist. I’d also encourage you to see a therapist who specializes in grief and addiction. It sounds as though the hospice group was helpful to you in the past. While in-person options are still limited, consider exploring online grief support communities, such as the forums at https://www.grieving.com. Depending on your age, you might also like to check out The Dinner Party, which is an online platform that connects people in their 20s and 30s who are grieving the death of a loved one (https://www.thedinnerparty.org).
Also, I encourage you to read the book “It’s OK That You’re Not OK,” by grief counselor Megan Devine. You might also get something out of “Wild,” a memoir by Cheryl Strayed, about her journey through addiction and recovery in the years following the loss of her mother. Words can’t express how sorry I am for the death of your dear mom.