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How to help. Please advise.

(23 Posts)
52bright Mon 11-Feb-19 19:02:15

My lovely brother died a month ago. Funeral now over and my SIL's grown up children have recently returned home. All are married, with children and live miles away or in other countries. They are lovely but have to return to work. I know they will make arrangements to be with their mother whenever they can.

I am concerned about how to support my SIL. I have rang a few times since the funeral but have only spoken once, the other times I've left messages on the answer phone which haven't been returned. She is a very private person. I want to be supportive but don't want to be intrusive.

I would do anything she wanted to support her. She could stay here or I go down. We could just talk. or walk the beaches, see a film. I have said she can ring if she wants just to talk. any time...even middle of night.

The thing is I'm not hearing from her at all and I'm worried about her. It's very early days and my husband and I think she may just want to be left alone for now. Should I ring again ...or just leave it for now? It maybe she needs some space and company or a listening ear might be more helpful later?

If I ring and she doesn't want me to she will think I am intrusive and insensitive. If I don't ring she might think we don't care. We really do. Wise gransnetters, please help.

paddyann Mon 11-Feb-19 19:09:51

Could you write to her? I know its old fashioned but a letter after a bereavement can be kept and reread and she will understand that you really do want to be there for her.Ask her to let you know when she'll be around to answer a call so you can make sure for yourself how she is .Everyone handles beareavement differently so let her make the pace and respect waht she wants .

janeainsworth Mon 11-Feb-19 19:12:42

I’m sorry about the loss of your brother, bright. You must be grieving too.

You don’t say how far away you live from your SiL, but perhaps sending her a note, suggesting lunch out, or a coffee, might be better than phoning. It sounds as though you don’t text or WhatsApp, which I think are perhaps less intrusive than phone calls.
If you're really worried, could you contact one of your nephews or nieces to see how your SiL is? They are probably worried about their Mum too, and you could be a support to them.

silverlining48 Mon 11-Feb-19 19:12:45

I am sorry to read about your brother, you must all be missing him very much.
How about writing a card to your suster in law saying what you have said here, it might be difficult for her to talk about things at present, but a card or letter is something she can read in her time and not have to immediately respond to. If you are on good terms with her children you might want to speak to them and get their thoughts.
Its clear you care, she will already know that i am sure.

silverlining48 Mon 11-Feb-19 19:14:33

great minds....or minds thinking similarly.

Baggs Mon 11-Feb-19 19:15:31

If you have rung several times without much success I think you should leave it a while before trying again. Some people don't like phone chat at the best of times.

paddyann's suggestion of a letter, or a short note in a card, is a good one.

PECS Mon 11-Feb-19 19:27:33

Condolences to you 52bright flowers
I am also someone suggesting a card or letter. Just say you are always there if she wants to meet/speak and when she is ready YOU would like to talk about your brother, share photos ..whatever you want to do/think she might like to do. Maybe if she sees it might be a 2-way process and a help for you too she will respond.

Luckygirl Mon 11-Feb-19 19:48:52

Write - a letter, a card, a noyelt - just short messages so she knows you are thinking of her but does not feel obliged to respond in any way that feels beyond her at the moment.

And lots of love to you 52bright - it is hard to lose a loved

annep1 Mon 11-Feb-19 19:59:54

Condolences 52bright You must be grieving too. A letter as suggested is probably a good idea.

Tangerine Mon 11-Feb-19 20:40:52

Try writing to her. She can read it and re-read it at her leisure.

52bright Mon 11-Feb-19 20:43:09

Thank you all so much for the lovely support on this site. I will give all of your suggestions careful thought. I think you are right Paddyanne. We must let her make the pace.

BradfordLass72 Mon 11-Feb-19 20:46:19

Yes, me too for writing.

I'd also say how much you appreciated the love she gave your darling brother.
Reiterate that whatever she wants and whatever time-frame she needs you will be there for her but will leave it to her to decide on the first move. It could take 2 years, it did with my Mum when Dad died unexpectedly at 54. She wanted no one, not even us, her daughters, to comfort her.

You may think just being there or walking on the beach will help but she may be thinking, 'all I'll do is cry constantly, if she comes here and I don't want that.'

Because crying constantly is, as you know, what you do when you loved someone very much.

Give her time.

tanith Mon 11-Feb-19 21:09:39

When I was recently bereaved I received a lovely card from a friend simply saying I’m thinking of you, call me whenever you want. It really helped knowing she was there for me.
I’m sorry about your brother it’s hard when you lose a loved one.

Doodle Mon 11-Feb-19 21:26:00

52bright my brother died 13 months ago. I have spoken to my dear SIL on Face time virtually every day since then. She is now very poorly herself in hospital and I miss having her to chat to. I think the idea of a letter is a good one. Letting her know you are there for her whenever is a nice idea. I’m sorry about your brother.

SueDonim Mon 11-Feb-19 21:30:23

I'm so sorry you've lost your brother, 52Bright. You must be so sad yourself. flowers

I agree that a note or a letter is the way to go for now, so your SIL can take things at her own speed. You could follow up with the occasional pretty or interesting postcard as a gentle 'I'm thinking of you' reminder.

BusterTank Tue 12-Feb-19 10:26:23

I would write to her and tell everything you feel . Then she can reply and tell what she wants , without feeling guilty of getting upset . Grief is a hard emotion to deal with and most people have a hard time talking about it . If she is feeling depressed after the death , it easier not to talk to anyone and shut yourself away . Reach out to her by writing , because it's always easier to write what you feel , then say it . The letter would probably make her day .

Magrithea Tue 12-Feb-19 14:01:57

52bright a letter is a lovely idea (as suggested by others) - I was once told that writing and recalling happy memories of the person who's died is a lovely way of remembering them. If she's very private she may not want to talk, leave the door open but don't pester as that may have the opposite effect.

I hope you're OK too, after all you've lost a brother who you've known all his/your life

52bright Tue 12-Feb-19 16:24:39

Thank you every one. Yes I am grieving as well as are many others. He was a very special person.

Nonnie Tue 12-Feb-19 16:45:34

Yes, a letter is a good idea but write it in a way that its all about her and not your feeling unwanted. Is there a birthday or anniversary coming up? If there is send flowers or if there isn't still send flowers and just say 'thinking of you'.

Grief is very individual and we all cope in different ways. Just make sure she knows you are thinking of her and that you care. It could be that she can't cope with your grief.

Kupari45 Wed 13-Feb-19 17:49:44

Write your Sister-in-law a letter. You could talk about your brother and things you remember about his life, and then go on to say how much you are thinking of her.
When my daughter died I found the letters from her friends gave me great comfort to know how much she was loved and thought of.
Hopefully your s-i-l will be able to read and reread your letter and draw some comfort from the fact you all care about her.

craftyone Sat 16-Feb-19 08:21:12

I am speaking from experience. It is too early for her to respond in the positive way that you hope for, she has to accept things first. Just keep on but don`t expect much response yet. She will be very glad of that constant support, very quietly and freely given. Other people soon fade away, the ones that gush and others gush but don`t help in spite of offering words, `call me if you need anything`, just words. Over time she will mentally sort the stayers from the flippant and you sound like a stayer, like my sister who still rings me several times a week 4 years after I became a widow. That is what I appreciate most

The neighbour who brought me a meal, didn`t ask, just left it for me. Meant so much because the appetite for cooking goes when the visitors have gone. If you want to give her something, then a small meal, if you can afford it some meals for one from cookfood

Yes, your husband is right, she is likely wanting to be left alone for now but don`t stop the notelets and short letters and don`t expect any response yet

bikergran Sat 16-Feb-19 09:18:54

I think when death happens you just don't want to see anyone,talk to anyone, do anything, your world just stops and stands still.

My neighbour constantly bombarded me with food.pies etc etc I just wanted to tell her to ...."go away" (in the most polite way)!! everyone is so different. its such a hard and difficult time.

TillyWhiz Wed 06-Mar-19 10:53:19

I lost my DH a month ago. The unwanted are the one who phoned with religious spiel telling me I had to accept God's wishes - not much choice there, the man who had to come and see me as he was a good friend despite not seeing my sick DH in 10 years, the acquaintances who phone and leave silences where I am supposed to fill in all the details (I don't); the wanted are all those who sent cards, letters and flowers, popped by with a cake, let my DH know they would look after me - and have, the ones who have supported us both and are there for me when I am able to see them. It has to be my agenda, not theirs.