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Please help me understand DH

(12 Posts)
LisMcA Sun 10-Jul-11 23:02:16

My DFil died at the beginning of June, he was 64. He had been ill for a long time, 10 years or so, heart problems, then bowel cancer and more recently a stroke in October 10. Since October DH was basically waiting for the "call" that came early June. We travelled the 2 hours to our home town with our 6 week old DS and saw FIL in the respite home. He died the next morning. We had the funeral and got back to normal(as normal as life is with a newborn).

I'm worried about DH. He is a reflecter, things don't register with him whilst they are happening. He just put his "work head" on to get through the funeral while dealing with MIL & SIL. They are/were hard work, rightly so. I know grief is a personal thing, but I think DH is bottling everything up. Putting on a brave face because he thinks he needs to for the baby/me.

The relationship between DH and his parents is a difficult one. ILs both have had their problems with alcohol and prior to DH meeting me, their relationship was basically non existent. Family is very important to me so I made sure we visited.

DH has described his dads passing as a relief and has mentioned that he was glad they had some semblance of a relationship whilst he was ill. He also found comfort in his dad meeting our DS.

I've tried to get him to talk to me about his dad, we went through old photos, but I felt how uncomfortable he was so didn't push it. When people offer their condolences he feels really awkward because to him he's "fine", and doesn't think he deserves their, for want of a better word, pity.

Do I just leave him and when he's ready he'll talk? I feel as if this is an elephant in the room and I'm waiting for him to break. I'm just worried and I don't know what to do for him.

Sorry if this is garbled and all over the place.

LoveBeingAbleToNamechange Sun 10-Jul-11 23:08:06

Bless you. I would leave him to come to you, as long as he knows he can in his own way.

mamalovebird Sun 10-Jul-11 23:12:29

Hi Lis

Your DH's relationship with his parents sounds very much like mine. Both my parents were/are heavy drinkers. Our relationship was very on/off and I felt like I was more of an inconvenience rather than a valued child. But I still loved them because they were my parents and all I knew.

When my dad died it was a weird feeling of sadness and relief. Coupled with revelations of siblings I never knew about I was a mess. It took me many years to come to terms with it but counselling really helped. Have you suggested this to your DH? If he's reflective type, like me, he'll be trying to make sense of it all.

Don't know what else to suggest as I was single at the time and had no dependants.

It's still very early if you FIL died earlier this month. He's probably thinking about all the things he should have done or said and doesn't want to burden you with it.

You're doing the best thing by supporting him x

bushymcbush Sun 10-Jul-11 23:22:51

It sounds as if encouraging him to talk will perhaps push him further into the protective shell he has built for himself. He has talked to some extent hasn't he - talked about the comfort he got from sharing his newborn with his dad, etc. That's good. That's positive.

It's very very early on to expect him to start really working through his grief to be honest. My DH lost his mum 22 years ago and his dad 14 years ago. He still talks about his feelings now. I remember when his dad died, just before our wedding, and my DH went on as normal for months. The grief started to properly manifest itself maybe a year or two later, and still rears its head quite regularly now. The important thing is that he knows I am willing to listen to him anytime - whether it's been months or minutes since his last outpouring.

Just give him 'permission' to deal with it in his own way, and be there for him if and when he is ready to really talk. I'm not at all surprised that he hasn't reached that time yet.

SpringchickenGoldBrass Mon 11-Jul-11 00:58:21

Leave him to get on with it. Really, leave him to get on with it.. It's hurtful, harmful and wrong to try to push someone into grieving in the way you think they should. By all means and certainly let him know that you are there if he wants to talk about it or cry or whatever, but other than that, respect him and allow him his dignity and whatever way he finds peace of mind, as long as that doesn't involve aggression towards you or the rest of the family.

LisMcA Mon 11-Jul-11 08:40:40

I'm not trying to push him into anything SGB, and I actually find your post quite hurtful.

I'm worried about him, he isn't himself, he's trying to be, but there is something there that's not right. I know we are both very different when it comes to feelings, which is exactly why I haven't "sat him down and demanded" he tells me how he feels.

I've never had to deal with something like this before, which is I why I came here.

BecauseImWorthIt Mon 11-Jul-11 08:52:57

I agree with SGB, I'm afraid.

Everyone deals with grief differently and you can't make him grieve the way you think he should.

I truly understand how worried you are about him, and you have made it clear to him that you are there for him, if and when he wants to talk. But you also need to realise that he may not want to talk about it. He may simply not feel that he needs to talk about it.

My mum died 7 years ago, at the age of 66. She was ill with advanced breast cancer, so her prognosis was not great - I don't know how many years she would have had left with us - but she died very suddenly from an infection contracted when she was having chemotherapy.

So although we knew she was going to die, when she did, it was very sudden and unexpected.

We were very close - spoke every day on the phone, sometimes more than once.

I cried when we were in the hospital with her, and was a bit tearful in the days afterwards, but I never actually broke down in the way that other people did - or in the way that was evidently expected of me.

I never have done ever since, and I haven't experienced the overwhelming grief that other people talk about experiencing when they are bereaved. I found this very difficult, as I had expected to be totally devastated when she died, given how close we were.

So I went for some bereavement counselling. The most useful thing with this was when the counsellor asked me why I was there. I realised that actually what I needed was to be given permission to be the way I was - to not suffer overwhelming grief and to not break down in tears.

I have no idea why I reacted to losing my mum in this way. But it is very hurtful when people clearly think you are callous or 'wrong' if you aren't in a wailing heap. I know that members of my own family think I'm very cold. We went to visit relatives in Canada a couple of months after she died, and I kept being asked to talk about her. People would put on a specific tone of voice, with a sympathetic face, and come and put their arms around me, clearly giving me permission to (and obviously expecting me to) weep and wail. The more this happened, the more uncomfortable I felt - and it was actually very patronising and insulting). I couldn't 'perform' the way they were expecting me to. I was also very aware that they were judging me, and deciding that I couldn't have loved my mother very much if I didn't behave in this kind of way, which really hurt.

The counsellor's view of me was that I had actually been processing my bereavement in the years during her cancer, and that (especially as we had a very good relationship) had been able to come to terms with it in my own way.

You sound like you have a very good relationship with your DH, and so my best advice to you is to take your lead from him. Be kind to him, but let him do what seems right for him and please don't force him or push the issue.

I'm sorry for your loss.

LisMcA Mon 11-Jul-11 09:03:16

BecauseImWorthIt, thank you for sharing that, I'm sorry for your loss. It makes sense what you said about processing your grief while your mum was ill. Looking back, I think DH did that. I don't think either of us are ourselves at the moment after everything that's happened, the baby etc. He knows I'm here for if or when he needs me. I just wanted some somene to help me understand how he's dealing with it and your post does that.

SGB, sorry for my previous post.

BecauseImWorthIt Mon 11-Jul-11 09:11:33

To be honest, I'd be more worried if you said your DH was himself! Given that you have a new baby and he's just lost one of his parents, of course he will not be 'normal'!

These are two of the most stressful things that can happen to any of us. Please don't consider moving house in the next few months grin

LisMcA Mon 11-Jul-11 09:19:03

Oh god! I wouldn't cope, never mind DH! Firmly rooted where we are!!

lavandes Mon 11-Jul-11 09:33:49

Hi Lisa. Our son died suddenly last year. The one thing I have learnt is that everyone grieves differently. While I am very 'open' about it -I cry, get very angry, am calm for a while then out of nowhere I am in bits again - my husband is the opposite. He doesn't want to talk about it. If I didn't mention our son I don't think he ever would. He went back to work after only 2 weeks he said that was the only way he could cope. I found his ability to cope like this upsetting at first but now I understand that is his way of coping. He has said that he misses our son just as much as I do but the only way he can deal with it is to 'get on with it'. Personally I think it is a 'man' thing. I have had 15 months to think about this. It is still very early days for you. xx

wompoopigeon Mon 11-Jul-11 13:49:16

Lis, I just wanted to say that the advice you have had on this thread is very good, including from SGB (who has suffered her own loss recently so knows what she is talking about).
My dad died a couple of weeks ago, and like your DH, I have not crashed. I feel awkward receiving condolences as I am not as sad as people seem to want. My dad had been ill for a long time, like your FIL, and I had already grieved his loss, especially during the long hours sat by the bed in ICU. I loved him and miss him, but the fact I am getting on with life doesn't mean I am bottling things up, need to talk, need presents (I have had lots of presents which is lovely but a bit weird frankly) or that a crash is round the corner.
Everyone grieves differently and we all have other things to concentrate on, in my case a pg, my toddler, work and supporting my mother. You sound terrifically caring and so I hope you are able to give your DH the space and support he needs to accept his father's death and get on with life.

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