When do you know when you should seek grief counselling?

by Barbara
(Stockport, UK)

A friend of mine lost her son a few months ago. She doesn't seem to be coping very well at all. I tried to get her to see someone, but she says she doesn't want to. Am I right in thinking she needs help?

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Apr 22, 2013
When to seek help from a grief counselor. . .
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Betty here: here is some general advice about when to seek help. If you think your friend is suffering from the symptoms below, perhaps she does need help. But the friendly shoulder to cry on that you are providing may be enough for her.

During the first few weeks you may be in shock. You might be numb and unable to cry. Or you may be unable to stop crying. These are normal symptoms. At first, family and friends are around and you are busy organising a funeral and settling financial affairs. There is so much to do. So many things to do that time goes by in a daze.

After the funeral when family have returned home is the time when you need a support group of close friends that you can ring when you are feeling low. They should be people who are reliable with bags full of empathy. Some people have their minister, others talk to their doctor. It is essential to have this back up. Some bereaved can't stay on their own for a few weeks. Others like their own space. You need some support and a friendly shoulder to cry on for the first few months.

Often that is all you will need.

When is help needed:

If weeping and lack of sleep stops you from seeing friends or having any quality of life at all.

If there are no calm, periods in the day when you are coping.

If you are reluctant to get out of bed or talk to friends.

If you are not eating, or if you are drinking too much.

If you are reluctant to go to your normal social groups or church and you are becoming isolated.

If any of the above apply to you, then consult your doctor and ask for a referral to a local grief counsellor.

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How can I help my friend who is suffering grief after her husband died?

by JADE
(Hong Kong )

My friend recently lost her husband, and is very withdrawn and upset. I'd like to be able to help, but really don't know what to do for the best. She doesn't want to go out or do anything. I'm a bit worried about her to be honest.

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Aug 11, 2013
How to help those who are grieving
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Let your friend know that you are there to help out if they need anything at all. Even if they don't request help at first it is a comfort to know friends have offered.

Send emails or texts every few days to ask how they are or if they want to meet up for a walk. It shows that you care and are thinking about them. Keep in touch by phone if they are now alone chatting to a friend is great therapy.

Take around a home made casserole or cake occasionally. When you're grieving you don't always eat as well as you should. Learn to be a good listener. Sometimes you will hear their sadness and anguish, but other times you will reminisce about old times. At low ebb times just be there to hold their hand or give a hug. Don't be afraid of their tears they can be healing. Being there for someone means you know when to give them space and when they need your presence.

Offer to take them for a drive, for a picnic or to a movie. Invite the to your home for a meal. If they seem to refuse all offers at first just give them time and try again. It is so easy after a loss just to crawl away into your own shell of pain. Don't give up on your friend just give a liitle space and try again.

For more ideas see my page on this site about helping others cope with grief.

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Is it appropriate to express grief through humour?

by Mary
(Rome, Italy)

My father's funeral was last week, and we all got the giggles and ended up in hysterics. There was one particular aunt who thought it was terrible and that we were being really disrespectful. I thought my Dad would have enjoyed it, and seen the funny side. But I do feel a bit bad about upsetting my aunt.

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Jun 09, 2013
Celebrate your loved one's life
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Over the years I have attended many family and friends' funerals. What remains with me are many endearing memories, often of laughter, often family recalling episodes of the deceased's life and their humour. Only this week there was much laughter at the funeral of one of Australia's well known TV personalities. Wouldn't we all like to be remembered with fun and joy not misery. Please celebrate the life your loved ones had, however long or short.

Sometimes the laughter can be hysterical and lead to tears, but this is all part of the roller coaster emotions of the grieving process. So, yes, it is very appropriate to express grief through humour and it is a widespread practice. There can be very serious parts of the service but also happy memories of the fun in their lives too.

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How do other people cope with their grief?

by Brenda
(Colchester, Essex, UK)

I would appreciate some ideas about how others are managing to cope with grief.

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May 21, 2013
How people cope with grief
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Hello Brenda, and first of all, may I say how sorry I am for your loss.

Everyone is differnet, but it can be helpful to hear how others have coped with their grief in the early days. Some talk to their loved ones' photographs, others like to attend the grave at the cemetery with flowers. One friend wrote her husband a letter daily. Another liked to take her loved one's clothes to bed each night. Some people find comfort in writing a diary through their loss and trying to describe their feelings, while others express themselves through painting music or dance. Everyone has a personal story to tell. Discussing the loved one with people who knew them well can be enormous help.

An uncle of mine was convinced that his wife’s spirit was with him all the time. He talked to her as if she was there. He coped alone for 10 years following her death and he was over 90 when he died. That was his way of coping with the loss of his beloved wife of 60 years.

It’s good to talk to friends or supportive individuals but be careful because there are unhelpful individuals who think that their loss or their grief was worse than anyone else’s. They are incapable of genuine empathy and they don’t even realise that they are probably causing a lot of hurt by a selfish thoughtless remark. Choose your friends or family members carefully and open up to those who are really good listeners.

Read the other pages on this site for lots more support and advice.

Betty

Nov 23, 2013
Coping with grief
by: Wendy

Hi Brenda,
I am so sorry for your loss.
Grief is a very individual thing. I feel you have to do it your way in your time. Friends are well meaning but unless they have been there and done that they do not know what they are talking about. If you have no counsellor of support group to share with just listen to your inner self. Take time to listen to your inner self and you will find the guidance you need. In times of severe emotion we can lose our sense of self. Feelings rush at us like a tsunami and it is difficult to find the time and mental courage to look inside ourselves. If you can do this you will find what is right for you at this point in time.
I hope this helps you a little,
Wendy

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Anyone Out There Getting Sued ?

by Fred
(San Diego)

Hello And Peace To All,
I moved in with my dear dad three years before his passing at 93. I loved him with all my heart, and was glad to help. He was in a wheel chair for almost 2 years. My 2 elder brothers, and 2 elder sisters had abandoned my father. Until, his stroke, then my sisters would visit him in the board and care facilities. My eldest sister , "Z." made our lives miserable.
I haven't been friends with these people in 25 years,but 13 weeks after his death Z, and her attorney began demanding documents from me. My attorney and I complied, but nothing satisfied her. Now, she is trying to remove me as Trustee, and the legal bills are huge. I'm getting professional psych support, but Z is telling bold faced lies about me. My attorneys believe that the case will be thrown out once we are in front of the judge. Z is a deeply disturbed woman with nothing better to do. She will eliminate our trust cash reserves out of pure spite. I think this is more painful at this time because of the holidays.
Thank-you,
Fred

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Does it really help to talk to someone about your grief?

by June
(Birmingham, Alabama)

I'm not sure whether I should tell someone how I'm feeling.

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Jun 09, 2013
A trouble shared is a trouble halved
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

The human species is a social being, from pre-school to college or work days, friends to confide in have been part of most of our lives. The timeless saying “a trouble shared is a trouble halved” has never been truer than when you're grieving following a death or separation. If you are now alone after years of company, the need to talk to someone is essential. It is also very important to choose carefully the friends you want to confide in.

Enjoy other conversations with acquaintances and neighbours and keep your problem talks to your special friends or close family member. If you are feeling low or have a problem some one else looking at it with you can really help. It may put things into perspective and add a new dimension. The more you talk about your loss the easier it is to move to acceptance. People do want to help when you are feeling low. No one knows how you feel unless you tell them. An outpouring of grief whether tears or talking is healing and an important part of the pathways we're going along.

Read some of our other pages about Dealing with Grief and the Emotions of Grief, and if you have trouble finding someone comforting to talk to perhaps consider looking for a grief support group or counsellor.

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Can grief over the death of a loved one cause physical pain or illness?

by Susan
(Bendigo, Australia)

I have been suffering from one infection after another since my daughter died in January this year, and I've been having a lot of joint pain. Is it because of the grief do you think?

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Apr 22, 2013
Yes, grieving can lead to health issues
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

First of all, may I say how sorry I am for your loss.

Whenever people describe the loss of a close friend or family member they say they get heartache. At times, this can be real pain, often caused by anxiety and panic attacks.

Depression can be common during the grieving process. Lack of sleep can be a source of distress and anxiety which can also lead to depression.

When anyone is feeling unhappy and anxious they are more prone to colds and other infections. This could be due to seeing more people and the many hugs of support, or not eating adequately during the early shock and grief. The immune system is compromised. Existing illnesses may be more noticeable, for example, blood pressure may increase.

Whenever there is a bereavement or separation the concentration span is affected. There is a tendency to have more accidents with the car or around the home.

Shock of the death of a loved one has been known to cause stroke or a heart attack in the elderly, when they have underlying illness.

So, yes grieving can lead to health issues which need to be discussed with a doctor where needed.




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Should My Son Be Forced to Visit His Mother's Graveside?

by Ian McBurney
(Scotland)

Should my teenage son be forced to visit his recently deceased mother's grave ?


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Aug 18, 2016
Everyone grieves in their own time
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Everyone grieves in their own time and way. If your son is not ready to visit his mother's grave side then it is his choice. He will accept the loss and visit in his own time.

I don't know how old your son is exactly, but you may find it useful to read some of our pages on Children and Grief and Teen Grief which you will find in the drop down menu under "Cope with Grief".

Our deepest sympathy to your family at this difficult time.

Best wishes

Betty and the Grief and Sympathy Team

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General grief question

by Lisa
(Illinois)

It's been almost 3 months since my husband passed unexpectedly. How do I know I am handling the day to day stuff normally? And why is the first year equated to being in a fog?

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Jan 09, 2018
The Fog of Grief - Shock and Numbness
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Dear Lisa

Thank you for writing to us. It is such a short time since you lost your husband, you are still in the early stages of shock and disbelief. It is difficult to define 'normal' in these circumstances.

Some people can not cope at all and need help with day today household tasks. Others find it easier to keep busy and try to do everything themselves, then they don't have to face what has happened to them. Coping with each day, surviving each day is enough of a challenge in the early stage of grief.

If you are at work are you getting the feeling that you are not coping? Do your friends or family tell you you should get help? Are you eating well? Do you get an adequate amount of sleep? Are you pain free and not depressed?

When grieving you feel anxious and worried about how you will cope alone. This is different to depression.

I feel you would instinctively know if you were not handling daily tasks adequately even if not as perfectly as you were doing.

Why do people say the first year seems to be in a fog?

Shock is a protective mechanism it helps us come to terms with very difficult episodes in our lives. The expression 'Numb with Shock, may explain this. We seem to have the ability to only let the pain of grief affect us a little bit at a time only what we can cope with slowly.

This means that everyone has a different time line on facing the acceptance of a death.
That is why at first you may feel that you are going through the motions of day today routines, but in a sort of numbness or fog.

You can read more about the fog of grief and how to cope on our page What is Shock?.

Feel free to write again by adding another comment if you'd like more clarification.

A sudden death of a loved one is very hard and we wish you all the best along the pathways of grief.

Betty and the GriefandSympathy Team.

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The meaning of dreams when grieving?

by Vivienne
(UK)

It is coming up to two years since my husband died. I push it all away during the day by keeping very busy with work etc but at night time I am having dreams about him more frequently that are very upsetting. I usually wake to find I have been crying.

The dreams are about looking for him and realising that he’s not there or him going off with another woman which he never did when he was alive!

Once I wake up I discover that I don’t feel anything again. The pain and despair these dreams cause is heartbreaking but during the day I stop myself from thinking about him because I can’t face the pain of the loss.

I presume this is all normal and part of the grieving process? My friends think I’m in denial but if I am is that such a bad thing?

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May 31, 2018
Possible denial of grief coming out in dreams?
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Dear Vivienne.

Thank you for writing to us. We are so pleased to hear that you are doing so well at work, keeping busy during the day and coping with your grief in your own way.

Yes, to dream about the missed loved one is common and it's sad to wake up and discover that the dream is reality. Two years is not a long time along the grief pathway to acceptance. My thought here is: Are you giving yourself any time during your busy lifestyle to confront your loss? Do you talk to a confidante and give yourself time to grieve in the day time?

It is very easy to push his loss aside and pretend it has not happened. The pathways of grief lead to acceptance, enjoying our life again for them and being stronger because of the love we had. Though so painful we have to confront our loss and not hide it away.

You should be proud of how you are coping and you are doing well. Don't be afraid to cry and discuss your loss with friends - they obviously care about you but an element of what they say could be true. You will confront your huge loss in your own time - acceptance will come but the pathway is very painful at times. However it has to be confronted first and all the roller coaster of emotions faced. Ask yourself honestly - are you doing this?

You can read more about denial of grief here.

Our very best wishes.
Betty
GriefandSympathy.com

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Should I attend my ex-husband's father's funeral?

by B
(Ky)

My ex-husband's father passed away and I am unsure if I should attend the funeral (I'm not able to go to visitation.) My ex-husband and I have been split for 7 years and haven't spoken in 4 years. We have a 15 year old son (who lives with his grandparents, the one that just passed.) Thank you in advance.

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Jul 03, 2017
Attend the Funeral for Your Son and the Memory of Your Father in Law
by: Betty

Thank you for your post.

Whether or not you attend your ex father-in-law's funeral depends really on the relationship you had with him over the years. If you had a good relationship then it is right that you want to attend.

Even if you sit at the back and slip away without involving yourself too much with your ex you have shown your respect to the deceased. Your son will probably be more involved with proceedings and may want you in the background for support.

At times like these old animosities should be put aside. It is the life of your father-in-law that is being remembered. I am sure you will make the correct decision for you and your son.

With best wishes
The GriefandSympathy Team.

Apr 02, 2018
Best Advice
by: Mark

This is not an easy decision as this could create complications for you, your son, your ex and your ex's family. Everyone afore mentioned needs consideration and in this case you and how you feel should probably come last. As a death of a parent/grandparent can be a very private matter and your presence could cause distress. I would recommend talking to your son first and tell them that you do not want to in any way disrupt his or his father's family in this mourning process. If your son doesn't think that is a problem then asking your son to relay to his father about how he feels about if you attended may be your next best step. If anyone in your ex's husband family has animosity towards you it could create an uneasy situation at the funeral. In which case it may be best for all concerned to opt for not attending. Further you too need to search your soul deeply for every possible motive you may have for wishing to attend. Often an ex may say something like I'm just trying to show my respect when actually it relates to something entirely different.

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Parting with my loved one's possessions

It's been just over a year since my husband passed away from cancer. I still can't believe he is gone. Maybe that is part of why I still can't find the strength to part with his clothes, cell phone, work related books and papers. My home is full of his clothes and precious other items. How can I get over the attachment to his things? I know where to donate his work clothes and such, and I know that there are so many people that can benefit from them. I know all this. I just can't get myself to part with it. They are all reminders of him. Please help.

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May 24, 2018
Clearing out the house after the loss of a husband
by: Lesley

Thank you for reaching out to us. This is a difficult one to face and a common question. Don't feel you have to part with your loved one's things if you are not ready. It is all part of the grieving process and everyone takes their own time to face these things.

We have actually got a page on the site about it, and some tips on how to go about this task when you feel the time is right:

Cleaning out house after death

All the best

Lesley
The GriefandSympathy Team.

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Self Harm after Death of Loved One

by Katy
(Birmingham)

Have you thought of harming yourself or others since the death of your loved one?

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Nov 16, 2017
Please Get Help
by: Lesley

Dear Katy

It is relatively common to think of self-harm or being angry towards others after the death of a loved one. But it is a serious thing and you should get help.

Please contact your doctor or a counsellor and ask for help.

You can also ring services such as the Samaritans (116 123) or SupportLine (01708 765 200)

There are also lots of pages on this website to help you cope with your grief.

We wish you courage and strength on your grief journey.

Lesley
The Grief and Sympathy Team

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How Do I Move On from Grief?

by Juan
(Whittier, CA)

I feel like I'm stuck. How do I shake this feeling like I'm depressed? I want to crawl under a rock and not come out.

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Apr 07, 2017
How to Move On from Grief
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Thank you for writing to us. We are sorry for your loss and want you to know that what you are feeling is the depths of grief. To want to hide away is a natural reaction, one which we have to fight. We have to make an effort to go out, see friends, avoid becoming isolated.

How do we cope when we lose someone we love? We cope because we have no other choice. We cope because our loved ones are memories in our hearts. We live for them as well, to keep their memories alive.

Grief is a tangled pathway, but you will survive and when you reach a point of acceptance you will be changed.

There is a feeling that life can't get any worse. They say that these life challenges make us stronger in the end.

Death is part of life. You will never forget your loved one. Life is never the same, but your life is precious and if you take one day at a time you will cope.

Would you have wanted your loved one to give up on their life if it had been you who had died? They would have wanted you to continue with yours and eventually find comfort for yourself.

Grief takes time. Years to achieve acceptance. Do not expect to recover in months.

Please take advice from a doctor or counsellor if you are depressed. You are not alone in feeling this.

Read some pages on our site on how to cope with your loss and keep busy each day.

Ask for support from family and friends. Go to work, continue with your hobbies. Join a support group or take up something new. There are lots of ideas for activities here.

Only you can do it. You will, for yourself. You will also do it for your loved one. To have loved and lost is better than never have known love at all.

You have started to face up to your loss by asking for help. That is a big step to take.

Feel free to write again and tell us more about how you are feeling and coping. We hope that other readers will also join in and share their thoughts.

Our best wishes

Betty
The Grief and Sympathy Team.



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Death of Boyfriend's Father

My boyfriend's father died a couple of days ago. My boyfriend is on another continent and won't be able to make it back for the service. I don't know his parents or extended family very well but I would like to express my sympathy to his mother as well as give my support to him. Is it appropriate for me to send her a sympathy card and attend the service?

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Nov 16, 2017
Your Sympathy Would Be Appreciated
by: Betty from Grief and Sympathy

Thank you for writing to us. We are sorry to hear about the loss of your boyfriend's father.

It would be kind of you to send a sympathy card and attend the service. I feel that your boyfriend and his parents would appreciate your support.

Have a look at our page: Helping Others Cope with Grief. It may assist you.

With best wishes

The Grief and Sympathy team.



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Loss of a friend

by Andrew
(London Ontario)

Ok, hoping there's enough space here, question's kind of complicated. Basically my Dad, a few years ago moved in with a good friend of his who happened to be a meth addict. This is when my Mom, still currently living there, who eventually moved out, for obvious reasons, and then it was just the 2 of them. They seemed pretty good but he also got my Dad doing a fair bit of hard drugs, and most of the family attempted to intervene. But the 'friend' was a very competent sweet talker and also reminded my Dad of his dead brother (my uncle who died of cancer maybe 7 years ago). Anyway, after a year and half of living together, the friend was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer (shitty coincidences) and ends up dying later that year. Now, also coincidentally I've been back in town and didn't know to what extent a drug addict entirely destroys a house, and my Dad has become almost solitary in his living. Now I think he's stopped with drugs, I think, but he's anti social, ungrateful, and straight up terrible to be around. This was a year and a half ago which is a bit of time, not a lot, but some. And he doesn't talk to anyone about, doesn't read about grief or listen, hasn't seen a grief counselor or psychiatrist. Nothing.

I've gotten most of the house looking a bit cleaner, but getting mixed results in whether that's actually helpful. And I cook a bunch of his food or sometimes bring him out to restaurants to, you know, get him a little social.

However at this point, I'm at a complete loss on what to do. This friend of his was less of a loss for me so I'm definitely better able to cope, but I also have people I can depend on, people who I socialize with and have life. I read and try to understand some of what I can do to help, books and videos and practice yoga just to keep my own mindset somewhat sound. Any suggestions would be helpful. He's always been distant, but this is something else, and as much as I'd like it to not be my problem, it's my Dad, so f**k my life, what to do? What to do?

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Sep 14, 2018
Getting help for your father and his grief
by: Betty from GriefandSympathy.com

Thank you for writing to us. I am sorry to hear that your father is leading such a solitary life style. You are facing a difficult situation but I am so pleased to hear that you are looking after your own health as it is important that you remain able to cope. Essentially you have taken on the role of full time carer. With taking on care of the home, cooking etc.

It would take a few sessions with a trained therapist to decide if your father is depressed or still in the stages of grieving for his friend and the loss of his wife leaving too.

He is very lucky to have you - such a caring son.
Many would have abandoned the situation you find yourself in.

Your father has adopted an introverted personality. Not knowing him it is difficult to measure how much a change this is. Is it drug withdrawal,loss of his friend or depression? Is it his choice or is he not motivated to do anything? He could have an illness.

If he is eating well, sleeping well and pain free then he has a sort of quality of life. It would be good if he would see his doctor for a check up. You could also have a chat with his doctor and discuss symptoms if he refuses to go.


Could you find a support group in your area? There are many that discuss problems related to alcohol or drug withdrawal situations for families. Talking to others coping with similar situations does help, often practical suggestions come up.

You are doing your best and often that is all we can do, though in certain situations it does not seem enough.

Your father may also want to change the situation he is in. It may be that he just hasn't the will or energy. Then he does need some sort of professional help.

Our best wishes and admiration to you for all your effort.

Betty
GriefandSympathy.com

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Loss of a brother

by Marie
(London)

I lost my brother in March 2018 this year to cancer. He was just 35 and had a 5 year old son.

I am struggling with the fact that my brother was a healthy 35 year old who visited the gym, ate healthy, never smoked in his life could get so ill. He had a 9 month illness and it was only in January this year that things went from bad to worse and we lost him 6 weeks after being told it was terminal having gone into his bones. It is an evil cruel illness and I will never get over losing my brother in this way. I have another brother and we just feel lost without our middle man in our lives.

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Sep 07, 2018
Grieving the loss of your brother
by: Betty from GriefandSympathy.com

Dear Marie

Thank you for writing to us. We are very sorry to hear about your sad loss. It is especially difficult when young children lose a loving father.

Your brother maintained a healthy life style and he is to be admired for that. However our genes play an enormous role in our lives and our susceptibility to certain diseases. This is not in our control.

It is such a short time since you lost your brother and grief is an emotional roller coaster. He has left you a wonderful legacy in your nephew so do try to be positive for him, talk to him about his daddy, take him for outings.

Focus on the positive outcomes for the boy and this will help to displace these negative emotions you get which can be overwhelming at times.

You were so blessed to have a great relationship with your brother that you miss him so much. This too is something to be positive about. Remember the good times your family had together.

Yes, it is going to be hard at times but you will get through this with the help of your other brother and this little boy. Enjoy your lives for him. Support his son and you will find peace again. It does take time to accept the huge change in your lives.

There is an article on our site written by someone who lost her brother at a similar age. I hope it may help: Grieving for My Brother

Our very best wishes
Betty from GriefandSympathy.com

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Heart Shaped Sterling Silver Pendant for Cremation Ashes, Engraved Forever Loved

Memorial Jewelry to Honour a Loved One

Check out our lovely range of memorial jewelry for any lost loved one.  Pendants, necklaces, rings or bracelets, we have them all in all kinds of styles.  Choose for yourself or buy as a sympathy gift. 

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Beautiful Memorial Trees to LAst an Eternity

What a memorial for a loved one. A tree that will live and grow for many, many years to come. 

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Hypnosis for Grief - 10 Ways It Can Help You

Try a gentle hypnotherapy track to relax the mind. Learn how self-hypnosis can help you cope with grief at any time of the day or night.  

Read more about it here. 


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