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Advice needed to best support grieving DH

(28 Posts)
withaspongeandarustyspanner Wed 03-Feb-16 23:38:23

DH lost his brother recently. His brother was older than him but young, and they were close. Understandably DH is low but the family way is to get on with and try not dwell on it or talk much about it.

I've been trying to be there, but nothing I seem to do seems to be right. This, rather stupidly, is making me feel insecure in our relationship (I know it's not about me and I'm not trying to make it so), but he's withdrawing and wants space and I'm feeling rejected (wrongly, I realise).

How do I handle this to help him? I just don't know how to help him. I'd appreciate any advice.

Neverpolishghillies Thu 04-Feb-16 00:04:39

There about 42(totally made up) stages to grief and we all go through them in our own particular order and they all take as long as they take.

Eventually the constant thundering pain has little breaks in it, those are the bits when you just remember good moments, eventually theses breaks come more often and last longer, but it will be a good while before that happens, and there's no rushing it so don't try.

Just let him know, You see his pain and you have no idea how to help, but you will keep trying, and anything he feels is valid.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 04-Feb-16 00:31:52

Thanks for your reply. I realise it's going to be a long process.

Normally, he's much more affectionate and tactile than me, and because of that, I've been more conscious of being more demonstrative. Except, it's weirded him out and he thinks I'm clingy. Maybe I am clingy. Anyway, he said he needs some space and wants to get things back to normal. So I'm sleeping in the spare room! smile (I've got a hacking cough, which is the real reason!)

FlossieTurner Thu 04-Feb-16 08:48:48

Trying to process losing someone you love and envisioning the future without them is overwhelming. It is also terrifying and he may be paralysed with shock and fear.

Quite often people can (because they have to) carry on with normal activities but their emotional resources just dry up.

Possibly he sees your acts of kindness as another drain on his emotion. You are asking him for something he just does not have.

Provide for his physical well being, but don't fuss and don't say things like "I understand"

I lost my dad when I was 21, I had two tiny children, it was about 2 years before I could feel anything. My husband must have really suffered but we got through it eventually.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 04-Feb-16 09:48:13

That's exactly what he said - he just wants to do the normal things he's always done. I think I've got it so badly wrong. I can't say I understand how he's feeling - I don't have brothers or sisters so I have no idea what he's going through at all. But what you say rings true; I feel like my clingyness is really draining him.

He's been growing more distant for the last 12 months really and that is when we found out his brother was ill. He didn't think he was though but it all makes sense.

I'd love to be really normal at home, but he's not getting on well with one of our children in particular so family time is fraught. I guess this is all part of it.

FlossieTurner Thu 04-Feb-16 11:22:52

You did not get it badly wrong. There is no right or wrong way to help a person who is grieving. People all handle loss differently.

I am not an emotion sharer so people must have thought I was very cold. My dad was so desperately sick for 2 years before he died that I could not cry for his death.

But I do cry for the life he should have shared with me. If my kids ask me about him, I find it hard to speak without welling up. He died 46 years ago.

It is a very hard situation for you and your children, as it was for my husband. Seeing someone you love being unhappy is awful, our natural instinct is to make it better. Sadly we don't have the tools for that.

One other thing I would say is. It is OK for you and your children to be angry with him. To view him as selfish, to think, "We are still here. What about us?" I don't know how old they are, but you might feel it will help them if they can speak about these angry feelings. Telling children, it is ok to feel the way they do can help them articulate their own fears.

I suggest asking on here, if anyone can recommend a book about how to help the grieving. Just make sure you read it in private. Nothing worse than someone trying to manage you.

OzzieFem Thu 04-Feb-16 13:47:34

It doesn't take much when you have lost someone close to bring grief to the surface. It could just be a stray thought, or something that he associates with his brother. Coming from a family, that gets on with it" makes it more difficult for him because he finds he cannot do this. His distancing himself is probably because he is afraid he is going to break down.

He might feel it unmanly (sigh), to discuss this with you, so perhaps a male GP could give you (not him) some advice. The reason I say you is because he might react badly at this stage to the suggestion. You could use one of the children as an excuse to go. Might also get some suggestions on the child/husband conflict as well. flowers

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 04-Feb-16 22:33:16

He's not bothered about breaking down, and he has cried on me lots, but I think he just likes to process it quietly.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 04-Feb-16 23:17:28

We've been speaking about things. He says he feels numb. He feels that it's unconnected with his brother's death. He feels that saying that it's connected feels like a cop out. He's wondering if he should move out because he thinks we'd be happier without him. sad

alltheworld Thu 04-Feb-16 23:24:17

After the shock I experienced grief like depression. I found it hard to be around people and lost all interestin things I used to enjoy. So,etc,Es o didn't want to talk about it and sometime I did and it was really hard for my friends to know what to say or do. Someone posted a really good description of grief on here saying it was like waves. Not linear stages. Has he tried bereavement counselling?

withaspongeandarustyspanner Thu 04-Feb-16 23:35:12

He's got some counselling in a couple of weeks. He has it through work anyway, so I think that will be helpful.

He has just said that he felt that he had the year to 'deal' with his brother's death and this doesn't feel like it's related. He said it just feels like a mood. He feels ambivalent about everything. He was quite happy last week and we got on well and were really affectionate. This week is totally different. I'm worried he's going to want to leave us.

LuckyBitches Fri 05-Feb-16 16:47:52

I lost my brother to illness a couple of years back (he was 28). It is quite unusual for people to die so young, and I felt pretty alone in my grief; I didn't know anyone who had also lost a sibling. I can only speak from my own experience, which was that people quite frequently said the 'wrong' thing, but that I appreciated anyone who said anything at all, however clumsy. So many people stay silent, and that's what really hurts and made me angry. So keep talking, do your best. That's all anyone can do, and he will appreciate it, even if he might not have the energy to realise or show it at the moment. I was a bit crap at showing appreciation for the support I was getting, forgetting to write people back etc. I just didn't have the brain power for it.

I also went through a long phase of feeling nothing at all, much like it sounds he is. I think I was just emotionally spent. Is he depressive normally? I read somewhere that after 6 months a person should normally start 'integrating their loss'. Obviously we all grieve differently, but that could be a useful guideline on whether or not to encourage him to seek support.


withaspongeandarustyspanner Fri 05-Feb-16 17:26:15

No - he's not normally depressive though I think he had short 'episodes' in his youth. It's really early days, too. It's only been a few months. I think he's expecting not to be feeling like this still, which I thought was a little unrealistic.

alltheworld Sat 06-Feb-16 08:03:56

My bereavement counsellor said the process could take two years. I started functioning better after two years

alltheworld Sat 06-Feb-16 08:04:57

Sorry that should say I started functioning better after six months

withaspongeandarustyspanner Sat 06-Feb-16 08:24:34

I guessed it would take a long time. DH seems to think he should be over it by now as he had a while beforehand to get used to what was going to happen. (I may be repeating myself, apologies) but I think it's one thing accepting it intellectually, and it's another thing entirely when some dies as you go back to square one and have to start dealing with it emotionally. I could be talking a load of nonsense.

It's just so confusing; sometimes DH is distant and snappy, then yesterday he was quite smiley and the children didn't seem to annoy him, which is nice. But I went to give him a kiss as I left the house and he pushed me away telling me to be careful of his sore ear. I didn't know he had a sore ear.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Sat 06-Feb-16 10:13:47

And this morning, he's still asleep. Heidi sleeping A LOT at the moment. It'll probably do him a lot of good.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Sat 06-Feb-16 10:14:53

'He is' not 'Heidi'

JerryFerry Sat 06-Feb-16 10:22:49

Grief is exhausting, and you don't know what's coming next. Different with every grief, too.

What about a little bit of counselling for yourself so you have a listening ear but are not needing to burden your husband? Your feelings matter too but it doesn't sound as though your husband is in a space where he can deal with your stuff on top of his. He will probably feel as mystified by the feelings he's experiencing as you do.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Sat 06-Feb-16 11:07:27

I think that's a pretty good idea. I just feel like he doesn't love me any more and the last thing he needs is me bleating on about it.

FlossieTurner Sat 06-Feb-16 13:04:51

It probably is not that he does not love you, more that he does not have the energy to show you he does. I hope sharing is helping you even though no one can really help your OH at the moment

withaspongeandarustyspanner Sun 07-Feb-16 08:14:49

No, he's got to get there himself. I appreciate all your advice and it has been a relief to voice some of my worries here. Thank you.

withaspongeandarustyspanner Sun 21-Feb-16 11:00:53

For those of you who answered on this thread - apparently he doesn't love me any more. He would like to move out and live separately. He has lost his feelings for me. He thinks they won't come back either.

He's convinced it's nothing to do with grief as he believes he's not grieving.

OzzieFem Sun 21-Feb-16 11:33:08

So sorry to hear that. flowers

daisychain01 Sun 21-Feb-16 17:48:38

That's so sad, withasponge.

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