Digital painting of a child weeping in a pool of blood

Mental Health: Grief, Loss, and Dissociative Identity Disorder

According to the National Institute of Health, the sudden death of a family member is one of the most painful emotional experiences a person can face. “Shock, anguish, loss, anger, guilt, regret, anxiety, fear, loneliness, unhappiness, depression, intrusive images, depersonalization, and the feeling of being overwhelmed are but a few of the sentient states grieving people often describe….Healthy, generally adaptive people likely have not experienced such an emotional roller coaster, and typically find the intense, uncontrollable emotionalism of acute grief disconcerting or even shameful or frightening.

The National Institute of Health

It’s almost six weeks since the sudden death of my Sister.

I went to Richmond for her funeral and quickly returned to San Francisco.

For a few days, I was fine and resumed blogging.

Then came grief, identity confusion, immobilizing depression, anxiety,
and despair.

People with chronic mental illnesses must learn to cope with the normal stress of everyday life while managing symptoms that range from chronic pain to chronic psychosis.

Some of the everyday symptoms of Dissociative Identity Disorder are the same as normal symptoms of grief: they are dissociation, de-realization, and depersonalization.

Because I have DID I grieve on multiple levels of consciousness.

For most of our lives, my Sister was a confusing source of comfort
and pain.

Within days of her birth, our Mother grew more erratic and violent.

The history of our shared abuse made us afraid of each other.

My Sister pretended the abuse never happened.

As her Brother, I knew too much.

Photograph of a graffiti mural depicting a male with a halo of faces around his head
Dissociation, De-realization, and Depersonalization

The grief response following sudden loss is often intensified since there is little to no opportunity to prepare for the loss, say good-bye, finish unfinished business or prepare for bereavement. Families and friends are suddenly forced to face the loss of a loved one instantaneously and without warning. This type of loss can generate intense grief responses such as shock, anger, guilt, sudden depression, despair, and hopelessness.

Journey of Hearts

My alternates knew and loved my Sister in different ways.

Each grieves a different version of Sandy.

To Robby, she was a playmate.

To Bobby she was the little Sister he had to protect.

To Sara my Sister is the model for how she as an ‘inner’ sister should protect her family of brothers.

Each alternate grieves a different Sandy.

Alters also process grief and loss in age appropriate ways. Even though the main person is an adult, younger parts can grieve in ways a child would. They may not have an adult understanding of death and loss because they are, essentially, children. It’s important to acknowledge these differences and work with alters in age-appropriate ways, as you would for any other person grieving a loss.

The most agonizing and crippling grief is the child’s, Robby.

He’s lost his first and only friend.

Robby and His Grandfather
Robby and His Grandfather

(c) Rob Goldstein 2017 All Rights Reserved







25 thoughts on “Mental Health: Grief, Loss, and Dissociative Identity Disorder

  1. So very, very sorry for your loss. You do such an extraordinary job of sharing your soul. I will be thinking of you and wishing you all the best.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am so sorry to hear about your loss 😞 Thank you for taking the time and courage to share your thoughts and knowledge on DID in this post. It was really good insight.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your courage in sharing your grief and enabling us to understand the torment of your upbringing.. There are so many layers hidden beneath our skin. And so many can be traced back to our childhood..
    Your painting is fantastic.. and very descriptive both in form and in colour..
    Sending my condolences and Healing thoughts..

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Robert, you are brave to share the depths of your pain and confusion over Sandy’s death. My heart goes out to all of you. Your beautiful and extraordinary art continues the conversation and expresses not only what you may find difficult in words but we viewers see much the same way.

    I wish you healing in good time from your mother’s abuse and your sister’s death, and memories that sustain rather than destroy you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing such deep insights into your soul and past. What a trauma your mother must have left in both of you. It is already difficult to deal with a sudden loss (or any loss) when there is no mental illness. I can only imagine how much more difficult it is when there is one and then which one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One either learns how to cope with a handicap or one is destroyed by it.

      This is true of any handicap.

      Life is hard for everyone and everyone grows old, loses people and dies which means everyone will become disabled to the extent that he or she will no longer be able to survive without help
      until finally all the help in the world isn’t enough and we die.

      That’s essentially why we die. We lose the ability to survive.

      I think that when we don’t focus on that piece of our common humanity we make ourselves vulnerable to the deception that certain ‘types’ of people don’t have the right to live and thrive.

      Once we accept the premise that the pain we would never bring down on ourselves is OK to inflict on others we open our spirit to corruption.

      If I can help to erase the stereotypes of DID perpetuated by movies like ‘Split’ I will have made the world a slightly better place. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. As far as I can judge it, you are an amazing inspiration and for sure, a great support for everyong dealing with the same or similar illness.
        I think hadicaps and limitations are there to grow from it – in any way. Either to overcome it or to accept it and make something else from it or – like you – get to know what you are dealing with, learn how to deal with it and share your experience for the benefit of everyone! In the end, it is always a mission! Thank you for that!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I had never realised how many facets there would be to your grief, Robert, yet a little thought makes it obvious that it would be so.
    The painting is magnificent, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If we live long enough we will lose many people. Each loss is different.

      I’m grateful that I can articulate the experience and help others who psychiatric disabilities.

      And always grateful for the people who read my blog and give their support. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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