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Bereaved relative not coping.

(40 Posts)
Grandyma Wed 18-Jan-23 11:51:22

My aunt died in November. She was 87 and had been unwell for a long time. My uncle was her carer for many years, only in the last few months of her life accepting hospice help at home for her. He is 88 and they were married for 65 years. Myself & DH support him as much as we can as do his adult sons. The trouble is he has completely broken down. He is not sleeping or eating (is painfully thin) has no interest in doing anything. Won’t accept invitations to spend time with us or the rest of the family and seems to have just given up. He has been given antidepressants by his GP but they don’t seem to have made any difference. The community nurse calls on him but she is at a loss to know what to do as are we. Anyone have any suggestions as to how to help him. We’re so worried.

Grandyma Wed 18-Jan-23 11:54:04

I forgot to add that he is quite deaf and struggles to hear on the telephone so help lines are not helpful to him.

NotSpaghetti Wed 18-Jan-23 11:59:42

Is there a local bereavement group who may help?
They sometimes have short walks or coffee meet-ups?

MissAdventure Wed 18-Jan-23 12:06:53

It's still early days, I would say, to try and jolly someone along (for want of a better phrase, which i cant think of)

NotSpaghetti Wed 18-Jan-23 12:12:14

Another help might be a local befriending charity?

pascal30 Wed 18-Jan-23 12:16:36

It's very early days in his grieving, and he's lost his whole purpose in life.. I think you can probably only make sure that he is warm and fed at the moment and respect his need to grieve.. the antidepressants can only do so much. he needs a lot of time to grieve and all you can really do is to try to keep him safe, let him know you care and listen to him if he wishes to talk

Tenko Wed 18-Jan-23 16:04:00

Poor man , I’ve been there with my fil , he absolutely adored my mil and was totally lost and lonely without her . It’s very early days for him and there isn’t a time scale on grief . My fil went to a grief counsellor about 6 months after my mil died . He found it helped .
Just keep checking in on him , take him hot dinners . Offer to take him out shopping, for a walk or help with the garden . My fil was a lifelong Chelsea fan and my dh would go over and watch the match with him.

Theexwife Wed 18-Jan-23 16:13:47

Maybe he feels that he doesn’t want to be here without his wife.

It is grief, time may make a difference but speaking from experience outside help does not always make things any better.

It must be worrying to witness when you cannot make things better.

Lovetopaint037 Wed 18-Jan-23 17:38:42

We are in our eighties and been married 63 years. I have often said I have no wish to be hanging around without dh.

25Avalon Wed 18-Jan-23 17:42:35

Sadly when one partner dies after a long marriage the surviving partner often doesn’t live long afterwards.

busybeejay Wed 18-Jan-23 17:44:34

I have seen quite a few cases where one partner dies and the other follows fairly quickly.It is said they died of a broken heart.So sad.Barbarax

FannyCornforth Wed 18-Jan-23 17:50:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FannyCornforth Wed 18-Jan-23 17:51:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

VioletSky Wed 18-Jan-23 17:53:40

I've seen this happen a few times

I think sometimes, when our loved ones don't want to be here any more, the best thing to do is give them what quality time we have and understand, this is their choice

M0nica Wed 18-Jan-23 18:07:08

Let him be. He probably has given up, and why shouldn't he? The centre and purpose of his life has gone.

Do the family equivalent of palliative care. Make sure he is warm and gets up and goes to bed at normal times and is dressed during the day. make sure he always has easy to consume food and drink beside him. This is not a time to worry about balanced nutrition. If he likes chocolate always have it by, if he prefers cheese ditto.

Then let him be. Gradually he will recover a bit, or on the other hand he may just drift down hill until he joins his wife.

Yammy Wed 18-Jan-23 18:10:02

Just give him time he has had Christmas to contend with in his early greaving. If he does not improve I would alert the GP and see what they can suggest.

Grandyma Wed 18-Jan-23 18:20:52

Thank you for all your replies. I think it’s the knowing that we may be losing him too that is so hard to watch. As a family we’re doing everything we can think of but he just won’t make any effort. He’s had such a tough few years caring for his wife but he is healthy and as a family we’d love for him to have a few years to enjoy without the worry of his wife. The GP is involved but not able to do much. He just doesn’t know how to live without her 😢

M0nica Wed 18-Jan-23 18:41:00

Grandyma We all have to die sooner or later, and while I would neverdto anything active to hasten someone's death, as we, or our family members grow old, we have to prepare ourselves for the inevitable and while I hope your uncle discovers a reason for living and can go on to enjoy some more time in this world. If he has reached the point of having lost his wife, and feels there is nothing more to live more, be thankful if he can just just shuffle off this mortal coil and drift peacefully and painlessly into death. Many would consider that a fate devoutly to be prayed for.

Aldom Wed 18-Jan-23 18:46:36

MOnica My thoughts exactly.

Whiff Wed 18-Jan-23 19:40:46

Grandyma there is nothing you can do your uncle has lost half of himself. He's present and future died with your aunt. I know if my mom has died before my dad he wouldn't have lasted 6 months. My friends mom died and her dad 6 months later he couldn't live without her .
If you uncle has decided not to live without your aunt there is nothing you can do.

My husband died 19 years my next month . The moment he took his last breath half of me died and I haven't been whole since. I was 45 he was 47. But had our children and both parents and mother in law who needed me. The children left home 2 years after their dad died. But had 3 elderly dependants .

Your uncle and aunt where together 65 years he knows what he wants as hard as it is you have to let him grieve and if that means he fades away it's his choice. Antidepressants and any form of counselling won't help him . He knows you all love him and worry about him. But you can't make him eat or sleep if he doesn't want to. His grief is overwhelming and he can't see a way forward . His wife was his everything and now he is lost. Just be patient and don't try and force him to do what he doesn't want to do. He's not a child please don't treat like he is .

And before anyone jumps on me I do know what I am taking about .

crazyH Wed 18-Jan-23 19:50:47

Oh Whiff - that’s too young. And you are still grieving after all this time. As has been said many times, grief is the price we pay for love. Not me. I mean you. You are still young. My heart aches for you. 💔

Whiff Thu 19-Jan-23 06:27:40

CrazyH I consider myself lucky to have loved and been loved for 29 years . We found our other half when young . Some people live their whole lives and never find that. I have friends who never have. As we all know life is not fair I have had health problems my whole life but it was my fit healthy husband who died first cancer is no respecter of age. But we knew from his diagnosis he wouldn't live 5 years he lived 3. Grief like love never dies when you have found the other half of yourself. And the grief gets worse every year you just learn to cope. But even now it can be overwhelming but I learnt long ago not to fight it like I did in the early years when I thought I had to be brave for everyone else. What a fool I was as I only hurt myself. That's why I always tell people if you want to scream,shout,swear ,cry or hit a pillow do it . Plus talk to the person who has died especially if it's your other half out loud everyday I promise it helps. I have swore and blamed my husband for dieing but I just see him with that stupid grin on his face and I feel better. We are a family of atheists so don't believe we will met again. So make the best of the here and now.

He was my one and only but he does live on in our children and grandson's DNA and that gives me comfort weird I know but we have to find comfort anywhere we can.

My best friends husband died suddenly November going to his grave everyday gives her comfort and she talks to him there. They are Christians so believe they will be together again. And her faith helps her.

The longer you are a couple the harder it is to be alone. Like Grandyma's uncle. You become us not I . Took me a long time to find me again . He may never will and not want to. But it's his choice as hard as it is for loving family to see we all have free will and how we use it is up to us .

V3ra Thu 19-Jan-23 08:32:38

Grandyma I have sent you a private message xx

Greyduster Thu 19-Jan-23 08:57:30

He just doesn’t know how to live without her 😢. That just about puts it in a nutshell. I can only reiterate what MOnica said. Make sure he is comfortable and has food, even if he doesn’t want it. Encourage him to talk but effort will be beyond him now I would think. I lost my husband last year, and I often wonder what he would be like had it been him left behind and not me. We were married a long time too and were pretty much joined at the hip. My heart goes out to him. I hope he finds peace.

Commonground Thu 19-Jan-23 09:14:34

Grandyma, although I have no doubt that your intentions are well meaning your remark "a few years to enjoy without the worry of his wife" indicate that you really don't understand. Let him be. As others have said, ensure that he has everything he needs, but do not pressure him to do anything he doesn't want to. My own situation is very similar to Whiff's and her response has had me crying my eyes out this morning. Please just be kind, gentle and accepting.