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Any advice on dealing with a close family death?
Posted: Saturday, December 26, 2020 3:32 PM
Joined: 8/22/2020
Posts: 914

My partner will be 80 in March and was the oldest of a trio of sisters. I was always envious of their close and loving relationships that they were able to maintain despite very different life paths.  Classic birth order dynamics with my partner being the most independent of the three and definitely the authority figure, especially to the middle sister who was three years younger. She died two weeks ago after a four year decline that was not recognized as Lewy body dementia until the last ten days of her life-the presentation was primarily motor and Parkinson's like symptoms.

I'm worried about helping her process this huge loss-or rather, worried that she can't process it. They talked nearly every day by telephone (lived about three hours away). And although she clearly remembers and doesn't have to be reminded that her sister has died, she is unable to recall the  details, and keeps asking over and over what happened, what disease was it, how did she get it, was there anything that could have been done differently (the answer to the last one is clearly a no, which is a blessing of sorts).  All accompanied by very understandable outbursts of tears. There was no funeral because of Covid, and she's not nearly as emotionally close to the younger surviving sister, who lives much further away.

Anyone else dealt with a similar situation, and did you find anything helpful or hurtful in the process? In stage 4-5 I deal with lots of repetition already (the origins of Covid are a current daily favorite), and I'm just concerned that she may get stuck in this very painful part of grief for a long time. If there's anything I can do now that would help I'd welcome the input.

Posted: Saturday, December 26, 2020 3:45 PM
Joined: 4/2/2018
Posts: 4011

My brother was probably in stage 6 when our only sister passed. I told his wife, and asked her if he should be told about it. She said she thought it was important, and she said she would tell him. She did tell him, but he never mentioned her death to me. I don't think he was able to hold onto that information.

You probably shouldn't start a conversation on that subject, and if she asks about it, she does not need to hear the truth if something else would make it easier for her. My guess is that if she is in stage 4-5, she will likely remember this for a while. Especially since they were so close. My condolences.

Posted: Saturday, December 26, 2020 4:09 PM
Joined: 8/22/2020
Posts: 914

Thanks Ed....and you're right, I'm definitely not bringing it up, she is. Which is understandable at two weeks for sure. Time will tell. I may have to try some diverting techniques and see if that works.
Posted: Saturday, December 26, 2020 9:06 PM
Joined: 12/17/2014
Posts: 1161

Just brainstorming here. When she brings it up, or when it's difficult to divert the topic, are there some good things she does remember about her sister, some happy thoughts about her life, that you can remind her of?

Acknowledging feelings/concerns, assurance of hearing/understanding, and mentioning an amusing time or a favorite occasion with the loved one can sometimes raise good feelings.

Wishing you blessings...