Posted by: Gigi | 2007/03/04

Needs advice about sister

My sister's husband died 3 years ago on Christmasday from cancer. She is a very "private" person in that she says she does not need to cry in front of others because it is a personal thing. it seemed that she has gotten over the loss but lately she says she can't get over it. She definetely is depressed and stressed, because she has a very demanding job and two demanding daughters. Escpecialy the one, she is 23, has a illegitemate baby and expects everything from her mom, moneywise and other, though she has a good job. I know she must go seek proffesional help, but to get her to go ... She keeps his ashes in her room, and says that some people say she must get rid of it, otherwise she won't be able to let go of all this feelings, what do you think?

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Our expert says:
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Grief is often complex and difficult, and takes far longer to deal with than the un-grieved expect. She does in deed sound as though she deserves and needs counsellign -- of the CBT ( realistic ) form, not only to deal with the grief she has apparently become stuck in, but other issues like self-esteem, and assertiveness regarding her greedy and indeservedly demanding daughter, It sounds as though she has an inaccurate idea about counselling, seeing it as "crying in front of others", perhaps as self-indulgent, rather than as a respectable activity for someone who is not entirely managing to handle their problems.
The well-meaning comments of others can be so unhelpful. When she has dealt well with her bereavement, she will be ready to do something more creative and comforting with his ashes --- simply disposing of them at this stage would probably only make her feel more bereft and desperate. That could be symbolic, too, of her fear of what a therapist / counsellor might try to do --- to force her to discard something very dear to her. Talk about counselling, preferably having looked around for someone suitable with experience of complex grief problems ( maybe identified with the help of the loca Hospice ) --- talk about how a grief counsellor is never there to make one forget about the person one lost, but to help one remember them better, but to remember them with joy and satisfaction for all that they were, rather than have one's memory contaminated by our bitterness at having lost them

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Our users say:
Posted by: Lynda | 2007/03/04

About the ashes she keeps in her bedroom. Don't pressurise her to do anything with them if she is not ready. She has a right to do with them what she wishes. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have them put in the wall of rememberance of your local cemetery. That way, she can always move them or scatter them when and where she feels appropriate. If she scatters them now someplace she is not ready to do, she can never get them back again. Until she is sure what she wants to do with them, the wall of rememberance is a good place. They place a plaque with details on the front, she chooses the wording. Perhaps she may want to focus on a part of her garden, like planting a tree or shrub/s/flowers where she can go and be with him, so to speak. It can be a memoral to him. Some people try and cope with grief in their own way, some people appear to get over it quickly or appear to be coping, others don't. Its a process and she should be encouraged to talk about it whenever she feels like, there is no time limit on when she should be over with her grieving. Her daughter's behaviour doesn't make matters better, in fact it seems perhaps the daughters behaviour may also be connected to grief in a way and she should also be encouraged to seek counselling.

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Posted by: Britty | 2007/03/04

I have a sister I am not particularly close as I find her so private she tends to shut family out but when there was a loss in our family she phoned or I would phone her and we would talk for ages about our loss - one night my sister spoke to me for ages and told me she could speak to no-one else outside the family as nobody could understand her feelings and grief as they did not know us as we knew our family, warts and alll!! Through our long phone conversations we gradually moved from grief to plain nostalga about our family and it was a change I hardly noticed until we started laughing about our past childhood. My point is just be there for your sister and maybe encourage her to talk about her husband to you and perhaps with your loving sisterly help she can move on. Its not easy dealing with grief and I really hope you can help each other.

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