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Grief, and my wedding.

SpaffySpaffy Fuck the ZeroRegistered User regular
edited October 2021 in Help / Advice Forum
Two days ago I lost my mum, suddenly, after a 9 year battle with cancer. I say 'suddenly' because whilst she has never been in remission, she has spent probably 6 of those 9 years perfectly healthy, and had not been sick recently.

But a tumour in her lymph node near her throat grew wildly out of control in the past month, between regular scans so it was missed. She started deteriorating at around 8am on Saturday morning, I was at the hospital holding her hand by 11.30, and by 12 she had passed away.

She was 67. I'm 37.

I loved her deeply and completely.

The real kick in the balls? I get married in 4 days.

What I suppose I am looking for is guidance on how the hell I am supposed to move forward. I am an absolute mess, rapidly bouncing between being nearly hysterical, feeling strangely calm and normal, and then wracked with guilt for practically forgetting she has died. I don't know where I want to be, who I want to be with (or whether I want to be alone), or what I want to be doing. I feel drastically different hour to hour, in various states of distress, each producing different urges of how to make myself feel better.

We are going ahead with the wedding and 120 people who love me are going to be showering me with support, but all I can think about is how I might lose my shit and ruin the day for my wife-to-be. I think of my dad sitting at the top-table without her beside him and my heart breaks. I think of her missing our first dance and I start sobbing. I think of the day my wife has always dreamed about and we have been anticipating for nearly two years becoming a day of sadness and all I feel is panic.

I'm an alcoholic in recovery so you'd better believe I'll be hitting up some meetings this week. This is, I suppose, the ultimate test for my sobriety and I sure as hell don't want a drink right now so that is at least one positive thing to come out of all this. But the problem with AA is that sometimes they suck at helping with normal problems like the devastation of losing your mother.

I am so excited to be married. But I'm worried my grief will ruin my wedding for my wife. What do I do?

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Spaffy on


  • MorblitzMorblitz Registered User regular
    edited October 2021
    Hi there.
    First I'm really sorry for your loss. Cancer sucks. My dad has it and I suppose is in a similiar situation. As far as we know it won't be the thing that 'gets him' but where I live our medical system can at times be crap and through their mishandling, my dad's health has suffered. He is getting good care now, though.

    My advice I suppose would be to embrace your grief. I heard a good way to sum grief up recently. Grief is the cost of loving someone.

    It can't just be shelved.

    However, don't feel guilty. Your mother, I'm sure, was excited for your wedding. She would want you to carry on. You are taking her with you. You have nothing to feel guilty about. You are not dishonoring her or insulting her if you focus on the wedding. People have to go to work when loved ones pass away. There are things we are unable to stop the wheels of motion for. And that's okay.

    Even if you are overcome with grief, even at the altar. That's okay. It's grief, but it's also a happy day. You can feel both things.

    I wonder if it's worth having a family member or yourself if you're up for it just putting a notice out, potentially dedicating the wedding to your mother or even just some kind of notice. Something that lets people know that while it's a happy day, you are carrying something with you which might show, and for them to show understanding and support.
    Maybe have a family member with you or your best man close by if you do feel overwhelmed to keep a hand on your shoulder and support you.

    You will not ruin the wedding for your wife. Please don't feel guilty about that.

    Congratulations. It will be a lovely day, no matter what happens.

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  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    You will not ruin the wedding for your wife. Weddings don't have to be perfect, that's just marketing from the wedding industry. Talk to her about it before the day. Make sure you have a plan for if you need to retreat to your car for a bit or something. You will probably cry and that's nothing to be ashamed of: it's an emotional time.

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  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    I'm so sorry for your loss

    Don't worry about ruining your wedding. There are 120 people coming who love and support you and will do so for two reasons now.

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  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    Sorry for your loss.

    Assuming you're in the US, since this is a very cultural thing around death and loss.

    I would go ahead with the wedding. I wouldn't make it a memorial service, but it should acknowledge your loss and be a celebration of your marriage and of her life.

    Maybe have a nice display with pictures/videos of her with a book that people can write down memories. Or an iPad and keyboard, whatever is done these days. People want to know how to respond and not upset anyone so by giving them a place to share, they'll know it's ok to take about her.

    You'll want a very good support person(s) who can let everyone who is coming what to expect. They should email everyone and let them know about your mom, that the wedding is still happening, and that they should think of a good memory they had of her or of your family.

    And day of, someone should be assigned to help out there plus others to help with the usual wedding stuff.

    I know it's dumb to say, but good job with the AA and stay strong. And don't worry about 'ruining' things, unless your guests are a bunch of a-holes, everyone will be understanding is there for you.

  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    So sorry for your loss.

    My advice would be, don't try to hide or suppress your grief too much. You can be happy and sad at the same time. It's a big day, just allow yourself to experience it fully.

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  • zepherinzepherin Russian warship, go fuck yourself Registered User regular
    From a practical standpoint. I would ask my soon to be wife to take over everything on the wedding front so you can help with preparations for your mother's funeral. "Hey babe, I'm really excited to be married to you, can you please take care of the last minute stuff. I've got my suit ready, and I don't think I'm going to do it up for a bachelor party, but that would really help me out. Tell me if you need some extra hands to do some lifting."

    Not to lean into cultural stereotypes, but it's likely that she is making the lions share of the decisions anyways, your just freeing up some of your time to grieve your mom and help with that end of things. And that's ok. If you want to acknowledge it at the wedding you can, if you don't want to and want to enjoy the wedding that's ok too. Everyone's grieving process is different.

    Do not worry about your grief messing up your wedding. Worry about your in-laws messing up your wedding by changing things and not telling you or your wife.

  • CiriraCirira IowaRegistered User regular
    edited October 2021
    The day of the wedding you may be too busy to have a moment to stop and think about it. My mother had a heart attack the day of my wedding and I learned about it about an hour before the ceremony. I had a few minutes to process it and let my wife know that I might be slightly distracted because of things. My wife was fine with it and even offered to postpone our wedding (which I declined). Once the whole process started I don't really remember most of the day. The ceremony, photography beforehand and afterwards, and the reception all took so much of my focus that everything seemed like a blur until it was done. We went and visited my Mom after everything was done to make sure she was okay which my wife was more than fine with.

    I know it's not quite the same, but I would talk to your fiance and let her know how you're feeling. She should understand and this is something that she should be there for and be able to help you through. Good luck Spaffy, take the time you need and your bride will understand.

    Cirira on
  • CorvusCorvus . VancouverRegistered User regular
    Hi, so I lost a parent to cancer 16 years ago, and I was a wreck for about a year. Don't feel bad about your grief, and don't feel guilty for it. You've just experienced a massive emotional trauma. It's going to feel raw for a while, and no one should expect you to be over it or shove it down during the wedding. You just have to move forward one day or one hour at a time. In regards to the wedding, the most important thing here is to talk to your fiancée about how you're feeling, if you have not already done so.

    On the loss of a parent, with a decade and a half of distance, I can say that for me at least it gets easier to bear. I often think of it as going from a wound to a scar. Still sucks though.

  • RiboflavinRiboflavin Registered User regular
    You're free to grieve. I think your mom would want you to be happy on your wedding day. I'm not trying to be corny but I'd take a picture of your mom or some object she had that means mom to you and put it in your pocket at the wedding and take mom with you and remember she would want you to be happy.

  • LabelLabel Registered User regular
    edited October 2021
    I'll second talking through this with the other people involved, and making a concrete plan for how to give yourself and others the space you all may need to grieve.

    I'd be looking for a separate room (or tent) to be a quiet space to retreat into. I would want to specifically carve out scheduled time in the busy day to actually go there for a bit and use it. Maybe multiple times.

    I'd probably want whatever door people to be filling people in as they arrive, of the news and whatever steps they may take in relation to it (precautions and guidelines, signing book, whatever.) People don't always get information, and having someone dedicated to informing people as they arrive can be important redundancy.

    Perhaps if you have an especially close and emotionally adept friend (who is not already busy) they can have the job of specifically helping you out on the day. Making sure you get meals and drink water, watch to see if you're getting overwhelmed and need some space, helping manage that relative talking to you that you could really use some space from right now, etc. Keeping track of whatever your schedule is for you, so that you don't have to. Whatever needs to be done so that you and/or your wife can be as present or as separate as you need to be, throughout the day.

    Weddings are one of those things that are often quite stressful even if everything is going well. Death of a parent is also one of those things that can be overwhelming no matter how (relatively) well it goes.

    You are getting both at the same time. You have permission to be something other than "the perfect host."

    I'm sorry your mother has passed away. I know from my own mother's passing, it does get easier with time.

    Label on
  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Awful news Spaffy

    All I can really add to folks here is that even if it's emotional, you won't ruin your wedding with true feelings. Try to stay present and focus on her, and all the rest of the excellent advice so far.

    And even if it's a complete and utter nightmare of a day, your bride will understand. Bel and I a testament to how ultimately irrelevant to your marriage a legendary disaster of a wedding will be.

  • darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    fuck me... big hugs dude, my wedding anniversary was yesterday, I can't image going through that. You got this though, it will be an emotional day all around but you will literally be surrounded by people who care and love you. There is no better place to be.

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  • SpaffySpaffy Fuck the Zero Registered User regular
    edited October 2021
    Thank you so much for your responses, everyone.

    It's now 10.47pm on the eve of the wedding and I'm making the final touches to my speech and feeling much better.

    We just had an evening where the two families came together and it was really joyful. My wife's family have welcomed my father in with open arms (there was never much chance for them to get to know each other properly in lockdown). My father was without my mum, but by no means alone.

    We have decided that my father's oldest friend will join us at the top table to support him, and my sister will be by his side at any moment where it would usually be mum.

    The support from my friends and extended family has been absolutely incredible. Never in my life have I felt so loved and supported.

    I know that however tomorrow pans out, it will be incredibly emotional and meaningful.

    But I'm also now pretty sure it's gonna be a shitload of fun.

    Spaffy on
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  • SpaffySpaffy Fuck the Zero Registered User regular
    edited October 2021
    It was a SHITLOAD of fun.

    There was also sadness... but it was able to exist alongside all the happiness.

    I was able to deliver my speech and it felt beautiful to feel the support from the room around me... but I was able to hold it together, and then still be able to move on to talking about my wife in what was (I hope) a funny and heartfelt way.

    My family were able to hold it together, as was I, and we all held hands. But tonight, me and my dad watched a video of the speech back and cried together for about half an hour, and that felt ok too.

    I know it's all just words on a page, but those of you who replied really did help me a lot. Like a lot a lot.

    Spaffy on
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  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies drinking coffee in the mountain cabinRegistered User regular
    I'm so glad!

  • SpaffySpaffy Fuck the Zero Registered User regular
    edited October 2021

    Spaffy on
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  • AthenorAthenor Battle Hardened Optimist The Skies of HiigaraRegistered User regular
    You are quite spiffy, Spaffy!

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  • SpaffySpaffy Fuck the Zero Registered User regular
    So, an update.

    Nearly exactly 9 months to the day after my mom died, just as I was starting to feel close to "normal" again... my dad passed away. Sudden cardiac arrest caused by undiagnosed heart disease.

    Hell of a fucking year

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  • knitdanknitdan In ur base Killin ur guysRegistered User regular
    My condolences, Spaffy.

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  • CelloCello Registered User regular
    Jesus Christ, Spaffy, I am so so sorry

    Please take care of yourself

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  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    You know, I don't really believe in a higher power or God of any kind, but sometimes - rarely - I hear about someone who has just an absurd series of awful, awful things happen in their life where I consider, for just a moment, that maybe there is a God and he's just an utter bastard.

    Look, there's no guideline for the traumatic lows and vibrant highs you've had in the last nine months. I can't imagine what it feels like to suffer the loss of both of your parents so suddenly while at the same time getting married to a person who clearly lights up your life as evidenced above.

    Keep yourself open to the support of your wife, your family and friends, and continue to focus on your sobriety. I can't offer any platitudes, but I can tell you that one day at a time it will get better. Inch by inch it will. Just remember, you don't have to make it to 'normal' - you just have to make it to tomorrow.

    I am so sorry.

    I am in the business of saving lives.
  • SpaffySpaffy Fuck the Zero Registered User regular
    edited November 2023
    Eyes up, guardian.


    Spaffy on
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