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grieving sister in law

(29 Posts)
travelsafar Sun 29-Sep-19 08:17:53

How can i help my dearest SIL. My youngest brother died on her birthday last year just before Christmas. I think things are really starting to hit home. She has been keeping herself busy doing stuff in the house, then there was the birth of a new grandchild and she had booked a holiday with others for next month but due to TC collapse that is now not happening. MY dear brother's birthday is coming up soon plus the 1st anniversary of his death and her 1st birthday without him. Combined with the darker evenings and the winter months looming i think she is starting to feel really down. I stay in touch and go see her as much as i can and she is going on holiday with myself and my sister next year. I just feel so much for her and want to help her but not sure what to do. Any advise please. sad

dragonfly46 Sun 29-Sep-19 08:26:27

I have not been in this situation so cannot really advise but I would say just let her know you are always there for her. Of course you are grieving too for your brother and I find this is not a happy time of year. If you live close maybe you could start a hobby together or go to classes. There are lots of things starting up now.

Auntieflo Sun 29-Sep-19 08:48:13

Travelsafar i think that the staying in touch is probably the most important. Just popping round and giving her a hug.
When my dear friend lost her daughter, at 21, I would get the urge to see her, and just go. She often asked if I was psychic, because she had been wanting to see me.
Just do as your heart prompts, she will appreciate you for loving her so much.

sodapop Sun 29-Sep-19 09:08:07

I agree with Auntieflo keeping in touch with your sister in law is the best way to help her.
Phone calls,visits,out for a coffee etc will be a great support.

NotSpaghetti Sun 29-Sep-19 09:52:20

My dear friend’s husband died early this year. She is miserable all the time except when busy. She says her home is hollow and cold. I cannot see her very often but I do call quite a lot. Sometimes I phone when I know she is likely to be out as she has told me that opening the door to nothing is very hard. This way I can just say “hello” and “ thinking of you”, I know she appreciates the friendly voice just saying hello. She has told me she sometimes plays messages more than once to fill the void.

Cruse bereavement care is supportive in many areas. I wonder what your sister in law has near her?

I am so sorry for her loss. Those of us with happy relationships, like me, feel so lucky to still have them. When I think of my friend I feel as you do for your sister in law. Just “being there” is all we can do.
I have told my friend I am happy to get up in the night to chat if she feels desperate. I mean it. She knows it. She has not called me in the night but I have had several calls where she will mostly weep. She says this helps as she hates weeping to her children. 🙁

I think I am helping just by being available and acknowledging her on-going pain. Together we have accepted that the loss of someone deeply loved is inevitably harder than someone we don’t feel so close to and the pain is for the “absence” of that something good.
She does have a strong and close family and she’s keeping herself pretty busy. I hope, in time, the pain will lessen. I can’t help feel this is the end result of their deep and enduring love they had for each other. At least they had that. Some never do.

Just remind your sister in law that you care. Calls, little letters, a few flowers, more regular contact. All these will help.... but look after yourself too.

SueDonim Sun 29-Sep-19 11:11:31

That's hard for you, too, Travelsafar, having lost your brother. flowers I lost my sister earlier this year and it's been awful. It was my birthday this week and to not receive a card from her was like a punch in the stomach.

Have you thought of making some nice plans for the day of your SIL's birthday/your brother's anniversary? You could say to her that your brother wouldn't her to be miserable and would like the thought of you doing something together.

I'd suggest doing something new to you both, too, not visiting old haunts or anything. It will stimulate your minds and there'll be something to chat about later. Your brother can still be included as in 'Oh, he would have loved/hated this place, wouldn't he?'

I also think little and often is the way to go in the lead up to the date. Quick texts to your SIL, photos of anything you see in your day that's amusing or interesting etc.

Marmight Sun 29-Sep-19 11:31:22

Sadly I’ve been in this position. Still am in fact. It’s ongoing. Just be there for her. Lots of contact so long as she wants it. Invitations out to different places. She may gradually want/need to visit places where there are memories in the future. As for the looming anniversaries.... everyone is different. I have to be out doing something - anything preferably with family. Be lead by her. On the 1st anniversary I went to Paris with the DDs as it was his fav place. We had fun and reminisced and we were away from home which was good. The first Christmas was awful, with DDs in-laws, who did their best as did I. It’s the realisation that life has totally changed and can never be as it was but gradually she’ll come to some form of terms with her new existence and carve out a new way of living. I feel for her and for all in this position many of whom are on GN

LondonGranny Sun 29-Sep-19 11:37:04

A chap I know whose mother died too young and unexpectedly marks both the date of her death and her birthday by doing something lovely with his family which he says has helped enormously and means there are are more happy memories associated with her memory year upon year. I'm not saying he skips around with joy in the lead-up to those dates or that he doesn't feel grief but he says it's really helped.

Eglantine21 Sun 29-Sep-19 11:58:06

Having just been through the sudden illness and death of a close family member, my advice is to ask her and to really listen to what she says.

I’m feeling so strongly about this I’m even thinking of starting a separate thread.

Often people do what would comfort or help them and actually end up making it worse for the person they are trying to help.

For me those constant reminders like here’s a rose bush to plant to remind you, let’s go to the tea shop she loved, here’s a framed photo of her in happier times, lets have a long chat about her are all agony upon agony.

I want distraction. My grief I deal with on my own.

So just a plea to everyone to really find out and go with what will help that individual.

Doodle Sun 29-Sep-19 13:31:38

It’s really difficult eglantine to know what is the right thing to do. Often we get told ignoring the lost loved one or not talking about them hurts others now you are saying that remembering them hurts too. I guess each person has their own way of dealing with grief and we are all too scared to upset people but perhaps we should all just ask. What is it we can do to help and what would help you and what would upset you?

Eglantine21 Sun 29-Sep-19 13:37:40

Absolutely Doodle. Just ask -and then accept the answer. Not “Of course, if that’s what you want. But I’ve just .........”

Esspee Sun 29-Sep-19 13:38:58

Anniversaries are particularly hard. Try to ensure she is occupied around those times, not just anniversary phone calls which open up wounds but getting her out and doing things.
I think you are a SIL to cherish.

Luckygirl Sun 29-Sep-19 13:40:56

So sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. I am sure you are doing the right thing by your SIL just by keeping in touch. The worst thing is when people vanish, and do not stay i n touch, probably through embarrassment or not knowing what to say.

Judy54 Mon 30-Sep-19 14:31:49

Dear travelsfar I empathize with your situation as you are also grieving for your Brother. Just be there for each other and continue to support each other. I lost my darling Brother (my only sibling) 5 years ago and am lucky to have a Sister in Law who is an absolute diamond. We live three hundred miles apart but we speak to each other every week always ending our conversation with I love you. I feel privileged to have her in my life and would do anything for her as she would for me.

BradfordLass72 Tue 01-Oct-19 06:30:05

Is there any chance of her coming to stay with you for a day or two, so you can do lovely things together to commemorate his life?

A photo scrap book; taking flowers to his memorial site; deciding on a donation to some local charity in his name.

And of course the normal things such as talking about him; good times and bad.

That was the one thing Mum could not do when Dad died and which she desperately wanted to do.
No one had any idea what she was going through but you and your sister in law love the same precious man. flowers

Rosina Tue 01-Oct-19 10:06:40

You sound so kind and sympathetic towards her feelings that I am sure you are a really big help. You are sharing the grief too; perhaps ask her if there is anything she would like to do at this time.

Eglantine21 Tue 01-Oct-19 10:12:02

Yes please ask.

You see Bradford Lass, although you would mean well in a lovely way, your suggestions would be my nightmare.

She might rather do something totally different where she doesn’t have to think about him at all.

And that would be right for her.

Please, please ask!

jaylucy Tue 01-Oct-19 10:13:42

Personally, I have found the 1st anniversary of anything after someone close has passed away are the hardest but once the actual day has passed and you realise that you have coped, you realise that life does go on without them.
I would keep in touch with her, perhaps send her flowers or if you can visit, take a couple of bunches so she can take one bunch to wherever he is resting.
Could you arrange to meet her for lunch or even book a pamper treatment - even just a manicure on one of the days? I know that TC are contacting everyone that has booked with them, bit by bit, so she should be able to book another holiday soon - may not be in the same place but she should be able to still have that holiday.

TillyWhiz Tue 01-Oct-19 10:19:27

My DH died this year and what has kept me sane is the ongoing support from friends. I would suggest you ask her if she would like an outing and suggest somewhere. Let the decision be hers. I turn nothing down but we are all at different stages. If anyone gets too intense in what I should do, I find it too much and tuck myself back into my bolthole, home!

Jennist Tue 01-Oct-19 10:24:35

I agree with Eglatine, by not wishing to keep remembering all the time.
There is a place for grief. As a widow, as some of you will have experienced, I was faced with multiple problems. There are lots of things to sort out.
The most precious thing one can do for the bereaved , or indeed anybody dealing with a hard situation is to keep in touch and make them feel as though they are part of your lives.
I have actually had panic attacks when I have felt alone. This feeling can happen even if you have a wide social circle.
It's so hard to face tragedy. One can do much to get back on your feet, but the support of friends and family makes a remarkable difference.
Saying to people that one can call them anytime is ok as far as it goes, but making a concrete plan is the gold standard; meetups, holiday and trip plans and regular phone calls. My late cousin's partner and I have spoken most Sundays. It was invaluable as my young son had cancer and my cousin had dementia. This has gone on for 17 years.

Jaycee5 Tue 01-Oct-19 11:01:59

It sounds as if you are doing what you need to do. Keeping in regular contact. Understanding that she will be down sometimes. Giving her something to look forward to with the holiday. I would say carry on doing what you are doing and make sure that she know that she can contact you whenever she wants and as often as she needs to.

4allweknow Tue 01-Oct-19 11:20:44

My Dad died on my birthday and for years I could not face the day. All the celebrating seemed so false. Worst was at work where birthdays were always acknowledged and I didn't want to gave to explain why I couldn't be jolly, jolly. Be there for your SIL. You too will be able to share some grief at the loss of your DB. Her birthday will be insignificant for many years. You are making plans, all good to help her look forward. Having experienced by Dad and very recently the loss of my daughter I would say do not avoid speaking about your DB, mention him often, be prepared to listen to any reaction but also gauge when you should turn conversation should change. Very difficult but grief is a very hard part of life.

Saggi Tue 01-Oct-19 11:27:36

MY sisters youngest son was 29 when he died on MY daughters 19 th birthday. He was her favourite cousin and she loved him dearly. She would not ,or could not celebrate her birthday for 5 years...even her 21st went by ...although we did try to make it special. She does celebrate her birthday again now....she had two kids of her own and they like to see her have a good time and presents of course. But I know ‘she is putting on a face’ for everybody. It’s been 23years since his death ....and she still plays down her birthday in deference to Jay...I know she does . You just can’t not think of these things...and people have to cope the best they can. There are only 365 days in a year and these crossovers of life and death must inevitably happen.

Newquay Tue 01-Oct-19 12:24:07

I’ve had the same difficulty with my dear sister who lost her husband 15 years far too young. It sometimes feels nothing I say or do is right. She won’t tell her sons how she really feels and they seem unaware. I’m often the “whipping boy “ which is tough.
I heard grief never goes away-you learn to accommodate it.
Mercifully her first DGS was born on her DH’s birthday so it’s now a happy day.
Sadly, life has to go on for us all. Bereavement is something we all have to come to terms with as best we can.

Kim19 Tue 01-Oct-19 13:33:51

On my husband's first birthday after his death, I just knew I had to do something completely different, lively and new. I ended up in a bingo hall, of all places, but it met my criteria perfectly. I got home to find son No 2 sitting all alone clutching a red rose. He hadn't known what to do either. The remainder of our evening together was wonderful.