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How do you deal with a death in your family

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by John B. Foster, Jan 1, 2019.

  1. John B. Foster

    John B. Foster Well-Known Member

    Many people deal with death in a different manner. Some will try to lighten up the mood by cracking jokes, some others rather just be left alone so they can grieve, etc.

    How about you guys?
  2. Vombatus

    Vombatus Well-Known Member

    Be there for each other, and be tolerant and respectful of each other’s coping mechanisms.

    I’m actually going through this right now. Horrible time of year, not that any is good.
  3. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    A lot depends on whether the death was expected or whether it was sudden. If death is a reprieve from suffering, as was the case with my dad, it's a a lot easier to celebrate the life or lighten the mood with humor than if the passing is sudden. At least that's my experience.
  4. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Yep -- there's no universal answer.

    It all depends greatly on the circumstances.

    My mother died suddenly, in early January; although she had been in shaky health for a decade, she hadn't had any "crises" for three or four years, then died in her sleep at 63.

    That hit the entire family like a bomb.

    My father died seven years later, at 75, after a 4-month battle with cancer; he had an earlier go-round about 15 years before and was in full remission. He actually lived pretty healthy his last decade, especially after Mom died; he ate healthy, lost weight (from about 225 down to 175 at 6-2), did regular exercise, etc etc.

    When the second bout started, his decline was pretty fast. He told me his diagnosis on Thanksgiving and was gone by the end of January.

    With Dad, everybody knew it was coming, so the shock factor was gone.
    He'd been in a lot of pain the last few weeks so it was something of a relief.

    He stayed fully lucid until the last couple of weeks when the cancer started hitting his mental processes. He had his will all figured out, called in his attorney to have it signed and finalized, the whole deal.

    So he made it easier on us, too; he took care of most of the details.

    There is no right way for people to react, although there certainly are some very wrong ways.

    It's certainly not a time to settle old scores or "pull rank" in the family. Some cousins tried that when their parents went and it wasn't good.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  5. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry for your loss, Vomb. It sucks any time of year.

    Your first sentence is excellent advice. Just be supportive and understand that everybody is going to handle grief differently. There is no one right way to do it.

    I've told the story before about my grandmother's sister-in-law getting upset about what my brother and I were doing once we got back to the house after my grandmother's funeral. She started to yell at us and my mother shut her down. Mom didn't even raise her voice. She calmly, but forcefully, explained that she needed to mind her own business and let us deal with the loss of our grandmother in whatever way worked for us. It is one of my favorite memories of my mother, the way she stood up for us an hour or two after burying her own mother.

    For me, writing tends to help. I wrote notes to both of my parents that I put in their coffins. It was just a way to express some thoughts I had and things I wanted to say to them. I also gave the eulogy at my mother's funeral. Writing it and memorizing it gave me something to focus on when I desperately needed the distraction.
    John B. Foster and Vombatus like this.
  6. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Since both my parents died around the holidays -- my mother early January and my dad near the end of the month -- that's definitely given the holiday seasons a hard cold edge ever since.
  7. Vombatus

    Vombatus Well-Known Member


    Hope this is helping. I agree with what tap, Star and Oop said above.

    Another thing in helping is that LISTENING to each other, being there, and saying all are valid feelings are much more important than going into some kind of “fix it” mode where you try to force ideas and coping solutions that might be working for you onto others for whom they might not work at all, upset members, and make it sound like you aren’t listening.

    Each member charts their own path.

    If you do have a suggestion for someone, and I emphasize “suggestion”, couch it in terms of what is working for yourself. Do NOT say to someone that YOU SHOULD do something that might work for yourself, but might seem like it’s coming from outer space or worse seem callous or uncaring.

    My current situation was sudden, happened on 20 DEC, and we had Christmas gifts for her and from her.

    And now we are into the will and clearing out an apartment phase.

    It’s been absolutely awful.

    But, I try to remain a bit normal, which for me is checking in here occasionally, and I sincerely wish everyone here a very happy new year.

    Call family often, and get together and hug when you can. You just never know.

  8. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    One of the things that makes things easier is reconnecting with family and friends you haven't seen in a while. I used to be horrible in dealing with how to talk to people, what to say. I wrote a story on grief and grief counseling, talking to those who lead groups, those who notify people that they've lost a loved one in war, a traffic crash or some other incident. It's important to be there. Be present.
    One thing that irritates me - and I realize every family does things a certain way or wants to respect the wishes of the deceased - but not having an opportunity to congregate with family and friends to mourn. Doesn't even have to be a funeral or memorial service. It could be a gathering at a bar. Had a few times where there was no service, no nothing. So I'd do something - volunteer on projects, participate in a fundraiser dedicated to disease in a person's memory to help me get past it.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
    Vombatus likes this.
  9. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    My wife thinks I’m very bizarre about death, especially if it’s someone close to me, like my mother, who died on the 10th anniversary of 9-11. I just shut down and clear it from my consciousness. Generally that means working. Getting my mind busy again. What I don’t do is talk about it. My wife is probably right. It’s not very healthy, but it’s who I am.
    Vombatus and BurnsWhenIPee like this.
  10. BurnsWhenIPee

    BurnsWhenIPee Well-Known Member

    This is me, too.

    I'm of the opinion that, "If you can't fix it, I don't want to talk about it, I don't want to hear any ways of coping, just leave me alone and let me do my thing."

    Also very much not healthy, but not sure how long I'd last if I had to handle it like an adult.
    Vombatus and Gator like this.
  11. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    My wife things I'm strange in that she didn't see me cry the day of my mother's funeral. With my father, which had happened many years earlier, I teared up when I saw him. We all put things n the coffin with him and I just wasn't mentally prepared to see him.

    I was actually much closer to my mother, but I was more prepared to see her in the coffin because I had been through it once before.

    I never saw my mother cry when her parents died. My father was the emotional one when I was growing up. I even made a reference to this in my mother's eulogy. It was a mantra I used to get through it, to be like her and hold it together the way she always did. It just felt right to follow her example. I saved that line for whatever point in my speech I felt myself starting to crack. It may not be healthy, it's the model I had for handling grief.
    Gator and Vombatus like this.
  12. Vombatus

    Vombatus Well-Known Member

    Oh, and Ativan (Lorazepam, Valium) can be your friend to take the edge off of the emotional intensity.
    Don’t abuse it, but use as directed. It can help.
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