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Question
Posted by: shona | 2010/04/30

normal behaviour

how normal is the following behaviour?
Someone lost their sister just over a year ago in a motor vehicle accident. Her brother in law was also in the car he passed away two weeks after her sister. She herself was in hospital at the time, under going surgery and tests to determine wether she had cancer of the liver. Her sister was killed a day after her surgery. She was not allowed to attend the funeral of either of them as her doctor said she was too weak at the time.

When the ashes were scattered, she was not allowed to go, because she was still too weak. When the information was relayed to her in hospital, a day or two after everyone else knew (under doctors instructions), she told me she did not know, “ how”  to process the information. She was herself in such a bad place. Tired, confused, anxious, test after test was being done on her to determine if cancer was present or not. She has children and a daughter of 17, she was wondering if she was going to be leaving them etc. The information that her sister had died was very very surreal to her. She did not cry much while in hospital. She said surrounded by strangers, in a bad place herself, she really can only say that she did not know what to do with the information.

On her way home from the hospital she cried a lot for the first time. Over the past year, she cries from time to time. She has visited the cross on the side of the road where the accident happened and tried to work through things. Wrote her sister a long letter on the anniversary of the accident and released it into the sky attached to a helium balloon. She said this made her feel much better.
But now, what left is, she has her sister’ s number on her cell phone. She said she will never erase. From time to time sends her sister a sms, (very few). Her sisters name was Theresa. When she needs to contact someone else on her cell that falls under the “ T”  contacts, she will make sure her eyes don’ t make contact with the name “ Theresa” , but go quickly to the other T that she needs to contact. She said it hurts to see the number, but won’ t take it off.

She created a memorial website for her sister she goes there from time to time and lights and candle for her sister and leaves a message. So do other members of the family.

She has the last two sms’ s on her cell that her sister sent her the day before she died and I know that it is extremely precious to her, and if she had to lose the phone it would kill her to have lost the sms’ s.

Surely, all this is PERFECTLY normal. We are asking you because her husband asked that we ask a counsellor because as far as he is concerned she should not be leaving messages on the website, or releasing balloons or leaving her number on the phone etc. He says, that’ s because she has not dealt with reality. And she MUST deal with reality. He points out he lost his brother whom was 23 years old and he GOT OVER IT, and her sister was 62 so she must deal with it and accept it.

She feels, she is working through things very nicely although still hurts a lot and that each one deals with things differently, that was his way to deal with it and this is her way.

What is your honest opinion on the above,
Shona.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Could not the funeral, and especially the ashes scattering, have been delayed until she was well enough to attend ?
Strangem, isn't it, the arrogance of those who perhaps feel less deeply, or are lucky enough to cope with deep felings better than others, who refuse to understand how others react differently from them ?
Anyhow, it's unfortunate that her doctors, probably with the best of intentions, may not have been as helpful as they thought, in helping her to handle the awful news of the loss of her sister - a psychiatric or at least a social worker referral at that point would have been good medical practice - not because she was or is psychiatrically ill, but because she was in a complexly disturbing situation that would be severely challenging to any normal person, and could have benefitted from expert assistance.
Right now, seeing a counsellor with proper experience of grief, might help her, and could help to get her husband to understand her painfully normal progress through these difficulties. Ironically, ,amy grief therapists would have suggesyed the helium balloon idea and similar techniques - apparently she devised a well recognized and respected technique all on her own. Seeing a counsellor could help her to resolve her grief more successfully, and to convince her husband to respect how she chooses to do that

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Our users say:
Posted by: cybershrink | 2010/04/30

Could not the funeral, and especially the ashes scattering, have been delayed until she was well enough to attend ?
Strangem, isn't it, the arrogance of those who perhaps feel less deeply, or are lucky enough to cope with deep felings better than others, who refuse to understand how others react differently from them ?
Anyhow, it's unfortunate that her doctors, probably with the best of intentions, may not have been as helpful as they thought, in helping her to handle the awful news of the loss of her sister - a psychiatric or at least a social worker referral at that point would have been good medical practice - not because she was or is psychiatrically ill, but because she was in a complexly disturbing situation that would be severely challenging to any normal person, and could have benefitted from expert assistance.
Right now, seeing a counsellor with proper experience of grief, might help her, and could help to get her husband to understand her painfully normal progress through these difficulties. Ironically, ,amy grief therapists would have suggesyed the helium balloon idea and similar techniques - apparently she devised a well recognized and respected technique all on her own. Seeing a counsellor could help her to resolve her grief more successfully, and to convince her husband to respect how she chooses to do that

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