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Old 06-30-2018, 09:21 AM
 
3,490 posts, read 5,026,387 times
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Hi all. I'm in a situation that I'm sure isn't unique, so I thought someone here might have some insight into how they've dealt with it.

My brother's wife passed away suddenly (relatively young, diabetes complications and other ailments). But, it hasn't been a typical situation of a family coming together to grieve in the same manner. No one in my family was able to get along very well with his wife. She had been diagnosed with a variety of mental illnesses, and though we all wanted to sympathize with what was not her fault, I felt that he was in an abusive situation. She didn't want him to have friends, or do anything outside of the house beyond going to work. She sometimes didn't want him to go to work and insisted he stay home, but it was the only way to pay her medical bills. She didn't want him to do anything with his family unless she was involved, and she had to dictate what that was. She once convinced him to put two of their pets outside in the cold, knowing they wouldn't survive, because she wanted new pets and they were running out of room. I found it very difficult to look past these things, and had distanced myself from her, which, by extension, meant him as well.

Now we all want to be supportive of him as he's grieving, but we don't feel the same way he does. Her death was tragic but we are all not in mourning in the way that he is. We've been trying to help him in the house, take him to dinner, etc., but we don't share the same feelings. My parents suggested he see a grief counselor; I'm not sure if he's planning to go through with that or not. Helping him through this can be challenging--he was already a very negative, very condescending kind of person to others. I've wondered if he has expressed himself that way out of frustration for a very difficult situation. Sometimes I will spend time with him and go home upset because of things he's said about me, or about women in general. At the same time, if I were going through such a loss, I know that he would try to help me, whether or not he liked my spouse.

I don't really have a question so much as a desire for words of encouragement, or insight if you've been in a similar situation. Thanks so much for reading.
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Old 06-30-2018, 12:27 PM
 
Location: Wisconsin
16,302 posts, read 15,595,148 times
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My husband passed away several months ago. What I have found to be the most helpful was attending a weekly widow/widower grief support group (sponsored by a local hospice group). Almost everyone in the group has mentioned how no matter how much their family and friends love them and help them no one understands their grief like a fellow widow/widower. They have two groups, one for people whose spouse died less than 12 to 15 months earlier and a different (second stage) group for people whose spouses passed away longer ago.

Everyone's grief is different. But, you can't get over the grief of losing a long time spouse quickly. There are men in our group whose spouses passed away four or five months ago and still can barely speak to others in the group because they are crying so hard.

One of my relatives lost his wife unexpectedly, he attended weekly counseling/grief share sessions (through a religious group) for well over a year before he was ready to be on his own without that support.

Just continue doing the things that you are doing to help your loved one. If you suspect that he is falling into depression please help him get to a doctor for help. I was shocked at how many people have shared (months later) that they seriously considered suicide in the first weeks and months after their spouse passed. And, these were people who have mentioned good friends, loving families, loving children and sometimes even grandchildren helping them through their grief.

Of course, you are not mourning the way he is mourning. No one can imagine the depths of despair and loneliness that happen when you lose the love of your life. Everything has changed in your brother's life. Just help him as best as you can help him to survive.

Last edited by germaine2626; 06-30-2018 at 12:37 PM..
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Old 06-30-2018, 02:46 PM
 
Location: on the wind
3,753 posts, read 1,377,970 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by germaine2626 View Post

Everyone's grief is different. But, you can't get over the grief of losing a long time spouse quickly.

Just continue doing the things that you are doing to help your loved one.

Of course, you are not mourning the way he is mourning. No one can imagine the depths of despair and loneliness that happen when you lose the love of your life.
++++ The take homes. No one had the same relationship your brother did with his wife. She had difficulties so he was obviously very invested and devoted to her for his own reasons. You can make sure he knows you are available if he needs something, even just to listen. Do it in a sympathetic non-judgmental manner. If he feels he has to defend his wife, even her memory, from other family he may disconnect. Probably not what you want at all. Your relationship with his wife wasn't the same, your memories of that person are not the same, but the differences really don't matter now. She's not going to change in his mind. It will take time for him to adjust to a very different life and there is no deadline for doing so.
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Old 07-01-2018, 11:43 AM
 
Location: Arizona
5,539 posts, read 4,689,534 times
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He's been told about a grief counselor and probably knew before hand so don't mention that again. He will blame you if it doesn't "work". He will say you nagged him about it.


You should be there for him. Meals, a chance to talk, or whatever he seems to need. I would put a stop to some of the things he says to you. A grieving person doesn't get a free pass to say whatever they want. You give them a pass on some things but nothing that is intentionally insulting.
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Old 07-01-2018, 02:07 PM
 
3,490 posts, read 5,026,387 times
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Thanks to those who responded so far. I appreciate your thoughts/insight. Also, thanks to the moderator who chose to move the thread. I didn't think of it as being about grieving, since I'm not the one who is grieving, but in an indirect sort of way, that's at the heart of the matter.
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Old 07-01-2018, 04:36 PM
 
Location: Somewhere in northern Alabama
16,702 posts, read 50,742,266 times
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It helps in such situations to clarify the dynamics and motivations of everyone involved. What is readily apparent from your posts is that you are not grieving the death at all, and it is likely that the rest of the family is not as well. In recognizing that, you also recognize that you are not experiencing the same depth of emotions and changes and grief as your brother. There is nothing wrong with that, and empathy demands that you do not live the ersatz grief or emotions of others, but instead recognize the emotions that may be being felt and be generally supportive without "owning" those emotions.

Bluntly, the relationship between your brother and his wife is not an issue of division at this point unless someone makes it so. Your personal distaste for her has no place in any of the support you offer your brother. His recognition of her not being generally embraced by the family will have long since become apparent to him, and he may try to reach some better understanding of the reasons now that she is dead. Handling that with tact may be difficult.

If it does come up, it may be best to stick to relating actual personal interactions you may have had with her, and strictly avoid any generalizations or hearsay, deferring that to others.

"Sometimes I will spend time with him and go home upset because of things he's said about me, or about women in general." When he is talking about you personally in a way that upsets you, there may be boundary issues involved. You don't give enough indication of what has been said to say much more than that, nor have you indicated your overall relationship with your brother or the family dynamics.

Be very aware of your reasons for wanting to offer your brother support. If you find you are doing it simply out of a sense of required duty, but your heart is not in it, that will show. Be honest with your brother and with yourself. If your concern is negatively clouded by your own experiences, it may be better to step back, or offer support in some other fashion. If you want to offer non-judgmental support, you can do that while still setting boundaries that certain subjects are off-limits.
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Old 07-01-2018, 04:54 PM
 
3,490 posts, read 5,026,387 times
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harry_chickpea, your post gives me a lot to reflect on moving forward and deciding how best to go about things without making anything worse. Thank you!
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Old 07-01-2018, 05:41 PM
 
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
33,933 posts, read 42,118,581 times
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If i understand...You are sorry for your brother’s loss, but you seem to think that he is better off that his wife is dead. He may be better off.

You need to just be supportive and keep your opinion about his dead wood, dead wife who nobody liked, to yourself.
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Old 07-01-2018, 05:58 PM
 
Location: Eugene, Oregon
6,884 posts, read 2,097,261 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
If i understand...You are sorry for your brotherís loss, but you seem to think that he is better off that his wife is dead. He may be better off.

You need to just be supportive and keep your opinion about his dead wood, dead wife who nobody liked, to yourself.

I think it's likely that many of us are thinking that in the long run, your brother will be better off. But as stated in the post above, you certainly don't want to express that thought to your brother or to anyone else, who might tell him that you said it.
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Old 07-01-2018, 08:47 PM
 
16,749 posts, read 19,421,645 times
Reputation: 33094
Quote:
Originally Posted by germaine2626 View Post
My husband passed away several months ago. What I have found to be the most helpful was attending a weekly widow/widower grief support group (sponsored by a local hospice group). Almost everyone in the group has mentioned how no matter how much their family and friends love them and help them no one understands their grief like a fellow widow/widower. They have two groups, one for people whose spouse died less than 12 to 15 months earlier and a different (second stage) group for people whose spouses passed away longer ago.

Everyone's grief is different. But, you can't get over the grief of losing a long time spouse quickly. There are men in our group whose spouses passed away four or five months ago and still can barely speak to others in the group because they are crying so hard.

One of my relatives lost his wife unexpectedly, he attended weekly counseling/grief share sessions (through a religious group) for well over a year before he was ready to be on his own without that support.

Just continue doing the things that you are doing to help your loved one. If you suspect that he is falling into depression please help him get to a doctor for help. I was shocked at how many people have shared (months later) that they seriously considered suicide in the first weeks and months after their spouse passed. And, these were people who have mentioned good friends, loving families, loving children and sometimes even grandchildren helping them through their grief.

Of course, you are not mourning the way he is mourning. No one can imagine the depths of despair and loneliness that happen when you lose the love of your life. Everything has changed in your brother's life. Just help him as best as you can help him to survive.
Good comments.

I would add it is not recommended to go to a support group for at least 2 or 3 months, the grief is too raw and it is too much for the individual to take in other people's losses. I know I went to a group and was later asked to volunteer. Those who came right after the loss ended up dropping out after one or two sessions.

Something to keep in mind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gentlearts View Post
If i understand...You are sorry for your brotherís loss, but you seem to think that he is better off that his wife is dead. He may be better off.

You need to just be supportive and keep your opinion about his dead wood, dead wife who nobody liked, to yourself.




Absolutely, what the OP or any other family member thought of her, keep it to yourself.
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