Shocked finding out someone I loved died many years ago

Discussion in 'Grief in Common Updates, Questions & Answers' started by Rob67, May 15, 2020.

  1. Rob67

    Rob67 Member

    Five months ago I found out that a girlfriend I had in high school, who I have had no contact with in the 48 years since graduation, died of cancer over 35 years ago at the age of 28. This is causing me such severe grief that I have to think there is something wrong with me. In all those decades I focused on the family I started, and have only thought about her very little, when some event reminds of "one of those times back in the day".
    The thought that she has been dead most of that time is killing me, even though she was never part of my adult life. It has been almost half a century since I have seen this girl (emphasize girl) who was 16 years ago when I last saw her. And I have been nearly obsessed by this for the five months since this shocking discovery. Is there something wrong with me?
    ainie likes this.
  2. Rob67

    Rob67 Member

    Feeling disappointed here. I don't have anyone to talk to about this. I just wanted a little feedback. That's all.
  3. ainie

    ainie Well-Known Member

    Hello Rob. You are grieving the loss of that early-in-life love. She obviously was in your heart forever. The fact that you haven't seen her doesn't erase that love. And it does not diminish your love for your family. Love multiplies- it doesn't divide. Allow yourself to grieve your loss.
  4. Rob67

    Rob67 Member

    Thank you for your response. I very much appreciate it.

    It seems absurd that I would be grieving this deeply over a girl who I have not seen in almost 50 years, and was 16 years old at the time. I have only thought about her occasionally since then, mainly just hoping she was having a good life. The shock finding out that she has been dead most of that time, 36 years to be exact, at such a young age seems to have exposed an old wound. I did not realize that she enchanted me this much, and that she did, in fact, have a permanent space in my heart.

    After high school I wrapped my memories of her, along with most of my high school experience, in a nice pretty box and put it on the shelf. Over time that box ends up on a lower shelf, and then eventually ends up in the basement somewhere. As life goes on I did not really think very much her. Then suddenly the shock of finding out she has been dead all these years grabbed that box, reached in and slammed a picture of her right in front of me. All of my old feelings about her returned, as if I just saw her yesterday. It was all consuming, and then the overwhelming grief began.

    I don't know anything about Linda (the girl I loved) after high school. I would love to know anything. Anything at all. But I feel very awkward seeking information from other high school friends on Facebook, who experienced the sorrow of her death 36 years ago. I just don't know how to go about it.
    ainie likes this.
  5. ainie

    ainie Well-Known Member

    Hi Rob. It sounds like your love was always there. Maybe just like, I suspect, my love for Mike will always exist as I go on in life and learn to live without him. It has only been 8 months and I have already had brief times when he is not in my thoughts so with an almost 50 year absence of course she would be seldom on your mind. Our minds and our hearts don't run on the same concept of time.

    This Covid19 social distancing may give you an opportunity to seek out old friends from school who would have known her. I hear many saying that with staying at home much more they have heard from people they haven't talked to in years. I have gotten calls from some old friends I had lost track of. It was not at all awkward. I found it very pleasant to talk about old times.

    On the other hand you could make a specific call and straight out tell the person that you just heard about Linda's death and want to know more about her. I'm sure they would just think you were being thoughtful and then let it go.

    We all feel the need to say "Goodbye". Do you live near where you lived back then? Maybe visiting a special place for you two and talking out your feelings to her would help. Grief is a hard thing and everyone deals with it differently and that's a good thing as we are all different. There is no right or wrong to grief...someone you loved is gone and the loss hurts. Do feel your feelings and allow your heart to express the sadness.
  6. Rob67

    Rob67 Member

    Unfortunately no. I moved 550 miles away.

    I think it would help me to move on if I knew something about her life after high school. I keep dwelling on that. I have tried researching her using, and a number of other sites. I know she was married in Illinois in 1977, but I can find no record. Same with her birth record, and death record. Illinois' death record are not in the public domain. So I don't have much hope there. I do not have an exact date of death. It is as if she never existed. I can find a ton of imformation on myself and others I know using the same tools. It is really frustrating.

    I honestly don't know what I would really do with all that information. But somehow I know it would help me.
  7. ainie

    ainie Well-Known Member

    Did you have friends that you knew in common? Is there a high school reunion ahead? Do you have siblings that live "back there"? Reach out to people who knew her.

    I think the need to find a closing chapter is very understandable. Even with the relationship dormant for so long it would remain an open .... It would leave you wondering what the rest of the story was. A love from our formative years stays with us. Many reunite with a high school sweetheart if they divorce or become widowed. I wonder if maybe we are more ourselves in our teens before we learn to conform to what the world demands. Hoping you find some answers to help.