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Compound Grief and PTSD

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From the U.S.: I started to write my life story but then realized it would take 10 pages so I will try to sum it up best I can. I had a really bad childhood full of neglect , abuse, abandonment and family mental illnesses. I always had anxiety as a child but was able to mask it as I thought people would think there was something wrong with me.

As I got older the anxiety grew stronger and longer and full blown panic attacks were becoming the norm. I sought out therapy and meds to help with symptoms. At one point My life was going pretty well and I was happily married and managing life but the fairy tale failed.

20 years of marriage was gone in a flash when I found out my husband was not only cheating on me for the last few years of our marriage but one of them just happened to be my only friend at the time. So He ended up moving out ,I lost my only friend, and I was on my own for the very first time since I was a kid. Scared to death is how I describe it, and so Now the anxiety is kicking in hard. There I was again scratching and clawing trying to make it on my own.

The next event was my 13 year old beloved kitty passed away in my arms, I was so beside myself and so now the grief , depression and anxiety are on high , Just trying to make it on my own and then have my cat die just sent me over what I thought at the time was the edge but apparently it wasn’t.

months after that my mother passed away at Thanksgiving and I just fell apart. I ended up in the hospital. After that It took several months to even get in the I’m gonna be okay stage, but guess what, yep! it happened again. my bf moved away without notice, my brother died, my aunt died and now my dog is ill and I have to put her to sleep.

I have no friends or family by me to help with any burden or support , I have seen therapists, CBT, meditation ,medications, online support, exercise. I am at my whits end as to how to get through this.

Thanks for any help

Compound Grief and PTSD

Answered by on -


What a terrible cascade of events! I don’t wonder that you are finding it difficult to be hopeful. There are no words that can make this better. I can only offer my sincere condolences for your losses and perhaps some suggestions.

I’m very glad that you have been trying various ways to help yourself. I hope you continue to do the basics to keep your body healthy (good diet, enough sleep, exercise) and to calm your mind (meditation, therapy, support group). Sometimes it takes a long time to see results but please have faith that those things will pay off.

I hope you have stayed with a therapist throughout this ordeal. The constancy of someone you trust can be an important support through such difficult times. When we don’t have natural supports, a paid helper can be an important anchor until we can develop the friendships we all need.

You do need people. It’s the most important factor in keeping someone afloat through hard times. Those people don’t need to be buddies, at least at first. You just need to be around other people who are life-affirming. For that reason, I suggest you look around for a place to volunteer where there are other people who share your interests.

Do not volunteer at something where you are the only person sitting in an office stuffing envelopes. You need to participate with a group of people who are working together to achieve a goal. I’m thinking of something like Habitat for Humanity or your local Food Bank or being part of a group that organizes a walk for a cause. Working with other people is a low-key way to get to know them. Often a friendship or two develops over time. And meanwhile, you are doing something you can feel good about.

I know that it may seem like I’m asking a lot of you when you are feeling so alone and down. But if you wait until you feel better to get involved, you could be alone and lonely longer than you should be. There is substantial research that shows that volunteering helps with depression and offers a powerful boost to someone’s self-esteem. I hope you will give it a chance.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Compound Grief and PTSD

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Compound Grief and PTSD. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 3, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 21 Apr 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.