Posted by: R | 2012/11/01


HI doc, hope you are well.
It is now just over 10 years ago that we lost our brother under tragic circumstances. He was only 26. 2 years older than me. I happened to be witness on the day.
There after, family life was hell, from being a once close family. We never dealt with his passing together, I felt guilt and anger myself and went on a downward spiral. 10 years later I still feel angry and at times immense guilt, and often imagine the events exactly as it was. I don''t know why I allow myself that pain, but I will go in detail over the moment of that time.
Now my elderly father is ill, and I feel such great sadness for him as the only time I saw his loss was when we stood in church over my brothers coffin. Because after that things were just bad at home. I wonder if he has dealt with his own grief and pain. My father is a type of man who takes life as it comes, but has been dealing with a lot since my brother passed away and I left home just over a year later due to all the unrest.
As a family we never talk about our loss, although we will talk about my brother and life with him. No one has ever asked me about the details of that day and I''ve never been for trauma counselling.
I deal with all the different emotions as they come, but I feel like I''ve accepted the death, not that there is much else one can do.
Should my father pass soon, I know I will always have a heavy heart for having not seen him grieve and deal with his pain.

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Our expert says:
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Hello R. Grief is never easy to handle, especially when the person we lost was loved, young, and when they died under tragic or ambiguous circumstances.
And many families have no experience or skill at handling it optimally. Especially as we vary considerably in the manner in which we handle grief, we may find it hard to understand each other, and can misinterpret each other, too.
And there's usually a complex mix of emotions - sadness, anger, guilt ( even when it wasn't even remotely your fault ) , relief, and other shades of emotion.
Men often find it harder, as they're often taught that huge lie that men shouldn't cry or show emotion.
But it sounds as though the real, important issue now, isn't that you need to see your father mourn in a way you recognize ( he has probably done so in many ways you didn't recognize for what it was ) but that he should receive support, love and comfort now in the later stages of his own life.
He should perhaps be encouraged to feel free to talk about this and other matters if they concern him and if he wants to ; but not if he doesn't want to. Much cruelty is accidentally caused by people who think they have to drag others into talking about things they dont want to confront.
YOur local hospice program may be able to recommend a good local counsellor with special experience in grief and bereavement, who could perhaps help your dad, and/or help you to work out the best way to be helping for your dad

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