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Old 07-22-2011, 11:24 PM
Location: blew the popstand
80 posts, read 86,038 times
Reputation: 76


I don't know if this belongs better in this forum or in relationships... I took relationships to be more about romantic relationships. Please move it if it's not in the right place.

So I'm in my late 20's. My only sibling died a few years ago, tragically (at that age, aren't they all?). I put my life on hold (meaning I didn't continue on with school or move away as I had planned/had a job lined up/etc) to stay in town near my (divorced) parents and make sure they were taking care of themselves, etc.

I have since moved away and have continued on with my life, gone back to school, yadda, yadda.


I talk with my mom nearly everyday. Sometimes we talk about sibling, but in like a weird detached way... like we're talking about something we saw in a movie. I don't know, it's hard to explain. I did some trauma/grief counseling and it helped, mom is resistant.

I know my mom hurts. I'm sure she thinks about it everyday, maybe not all day every day, but probably at least once a day. I will never know what she's feeling. I'm sure some of it is guilt. I think she's resistant to counseling/whatever because the pain is all she has left, I think she's afraid that to reduce/deal with that pain will be to diminish the existence of sibling.

I have no idea how to talk to her about her feelings, her emotions. I don't think she knows how to talk to me about them. I'm like an emotionally stunted person anyway, and I don't like to deal with emotions (mine or any one else's) and it's really easy for me to talk about loss, death, whatever in either a morbidly humorous way or in a "clinical" way. But some days, I wish I could talk to her, to tell her she can talk to me. To listen to her, to help her. At the same time, I fear how much I will hurt if/when she does start talking to me. I can only imagine how her heart aches.

Something set me off tonight and I'm just sitting here ... does anyone know how to open that door- to let my mom know she can talk to me if she wants to? I'm at a total loss on how to do that so any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks
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Old 07-23-2011, 12:30 AM
1,846 posts, read 2,640,291 times
Reputation: 2489
First of all I am sorry for your loss...

I also have only one sibling and she is my twin..our circumstances are a bit a different since she and I were adopted so she is my only link in this world, something I knowI am biologically tied to aside from our children...

When I think about her passing? I cringe and panic...I fear I would fall apart since she is my other half and I hers...

As far as my parents? I know the way they feel about us and they would fall apart as well...
My mother is very emotionally in tune with her feelings and can speak about the death of her parents and they have passed on for many years and she still gets choked up when she talks about them..

My father is stoic...his eyes get watery from time to time when we talk about mama and papa...but he never grieved the way we thought he would..

As to how to approach it? Is bring it up, make it a good endearing memory..especially from the younger days, a family trip, something funny she did or said...sometimes stating that you are available to "talk" about a loved one who has passed is to talk of them but really talk about them..

The place you were, the smells, the expressions, the laughter, how much you miss them...
Again I am so sorry for your loss
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Old 07-23-2011, 06:02 AM
43,012 posts, read 88,958,716 times
Reputation: 30256
I'm so sorry for your loss too.

My husband is similar to you. He definitely has difficulty dealing with emotions. Early in our marriage, I endured the loss of both parents and a sister. I'm sure it was difficult for him to watch me grieve since he lost both his parents when he was a teenager. His Godmother once told me about the gathering at the family house after the funeral. My husband didn't say a word, went outside and sat by himself.

After being married to him for almost 20 years, I'm trying to imagine how he would broach this. With his siblings, I'm almost certain he would enlist the help of others. He will call other siblings and say, "I'm concerned about so-and-so." This gets the more feelings oriented siblings involved. You haven't mentioned your father. I'm thinking he is a good place to start as far as getting others involved.

When I was grieving, he mostly listened to me. When I cried, he'd sometimes hug me, put an arm around me, rest his hand on me. Sometimes he'd just sit there and listen. I don't recall him ever having much to say---just being there for me. One day, a few years after my father died, I started crying at bedtime (the pain takes years to get under control and often sneaks up when I least expect it), and I wailed, "When will it stop hurting?!?!" He simply responded, "It never does stop hurting." Weirdly, that moment really made a difference in my life. I stopped trying/waiting to feel "normal" and started to learn how to live with my feelings of loss.

My mother's older brother died when he was 18. She told me that she felt alone---she was invisible to her parents through their years of grieving. She felt that all they talked about was her brother, how they missed him, how wonderful he was, etc. But that was how she felt as a young teen. She had a great relationship with them. I don't ever recall either of my grandparents talking about her brother, their son, throughout my entire life.

My reason for sharing about how my mother felt after losing her brother is because I'm wondering if your mother is holding back for your sake. I've had friends who have completely ignored their living children because they can't overcome their grief. Perhaps your mother isn't opening up to you because she is trying to respect your feelings, your place as a surviving child. Just a thought.

I'm sure your mother knows you better than anyone. If you merely said, "Mom, I want you to know that I'm here to listen if you ever want to talk about him," I'm sure that would be enough for her. She'd understand that you're opening the door for her.
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Old 07-23-2011, 09:35 PM
Location: blew the popstand
80 posts, read 86,038 times
Reputation: 76
Yeah, my dad has died already too, he was even worse at dealing with emotions than I am.

I'm afraid if I take the route and talk with other family, mom will feel like we're "ganging up" on her.

Hopes, I hadn't really thought of what you brought up-- that maybe she's trying to respect me/my individuality-- that's something to consider. I sometimes wonder if the fact that I'm still alive is more painful to her than if I weren't, I wonder if talking to me hurts her.

And no, it never stops hurting, but in time it usually hurts less or differently. Sibling and I were not close, so I know that what I feel is not even comparable to what Mom feels. I have some guilt about the death and about our poor relationship, but for the most part, it just is, and I accept that. I just don't want Mom to feel like she has to go through it alone. I don't want to regret not trying to be there for her (although late).
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