My nephew (late twenties) died suddenly and unexpectedly on Friday night. Not a heavy thread - just asking for advice

(29 Posts)
handlemecarefully Sun 21-Sep-08 21:02:04

I don't need messages of condolence or sympathy - it's hard to explain, but I don't see very much at all of my brother and his family (my brother is 14 years older and left home when I was 4 to go to Uni and never returned, so we are not close). I've been a crap aunt (became an aunt when I was 12 and wasn't interested at that point...and by the time I might have been interested I felt too much time had passed for me to arrive on the scene and call myself 'auntie') and not much of a sister either....

How can I support my brother and his family who lives 200 miles away? Is there anything practical and useful I can do?

I have 2 surviving neices and 1 nephew. They are all destroyed by this. The 'kids' (they are all young adults now) are very close to each other and their parents. I am practically a stranger to them (did see them recently at a family gathering, having not seen them for a few years, and was struck by how lovely they all are...and resolved to be better at keeping in touch)

Have rung my brother - it was heart wrenching listening to him trying to keep it together and failing. I probably said all the wrong crappy things on the phone...I don't think I can be much emotional support because I simply haven't been there as an aunt or a sister, but is there anything else I can do?

OP’s posts: |
ingles2 Sun 21-Sep-08 21:04:49

I know you don't want condolences but I'm sorry anyway sad
Why don't you send you db a card, saying how lovely you thought they were recently and asking if there is anything you can do to help?

handlemecarefully Sun 21-Sep-08 21:05:55

Yes I will send a card. I suppose best thing to do is to keep the message simple rather than write an essay

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rempy Sun 21-Sep-08 21:06:03

Perhaps you could phone him again in a day or two and say what you've said here - I know I've not been close to you and your family emotionally, but I would like to help, is there anything practical I can do for you? It may be useful for someone only connected on the periphery of the situation and not emotionally devastated to do some of the more mundane tasks.

lou031205 Sun 21-Sep-08 21:06:33

You can start now smile Tragedy can wipe away the distance. Send a card - you do care, because you are posting. It doesn't need to be full of emotional clap trap, just a heart felt sincere expression of your sorrow for their loss. Perhaps a mention of how lovely it was to meet him a few years ago, and regret for not having been able to know him better.

IAteDavinaForDinner Sun 21-Sep-08 21:06:57

I agree. Send a card - keep it brief and sincere, something which acknowledges that there's distance but expressing your sympathy and offering help in any way you can.

lulumama Sun 21-Sep-08 21:07:38

i am also sorry to hear this.

write to your brother, say what you have said here, and say you know you weren;t close, but you want to be there for him.

can you offer them any practical help? pay for a food shopping delivery? help with phone calls to other relatives or people who need to know? helping with any funeral arrangements?

Majeika Sun 21-Sep-08 21:07:44

I agree with Rempy.

Tell him how you feel. That you have been crap as a sister and an aunty and that you would like to rectify that asap.......

I am sorry too. sad

What happened to your DN?

WendyWeber Sun 21-Sep-08 21:09:01

Yes, do phone him again, ASAP - as well as sending a card - it could be that the fact that you haven't been very close to your nieces & nephews in the past will make you a stronger support to them now they need one, and help you become closer to them in the future.

I'm very sorry, hmc - my nieces & nephew are this age too & it must be so terrible for the whole family sad

colacubes Sun 21-Sep-08 21:11:07

Oh hard to say what to do, I lost my best friend 5 years ago this past august, but the agony of losing a child must be astounding.

My advice would be to be his friend, let him know you care, and that you want to be there for him, be the person to listen when everyone else is busy, or be the one to make him laugh when no body else darent. I found that laughing sometimes was just what I needed even when it was completley inappropriate for everyone else!

i am sorry for your loss it has obviously affected you and maybe that can be where you start whith your family, tell them how you feel and how you want to be part of them.

handlemecarefully Sun 21-Sep-08 21:12:14

I am very much resolving to see more of them all in future if they will let me.

They don't know what happened yet - will need to be a p.m.

I will send that card tomorrow and will phone again in a couple of days. It's all very shocking

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Soapbox Sun 21-Sep-08 21:16:21

It depends on the family and their attitude to grief, but rather unconventionally I have often sent a crate of champagne to the recently bereaved with a note that at some time once the immediate pain has passed, they might wish to celebrate the life of their loved one, and that you hope the champagne will help with that

In other cases I have sent a large order of freezer food from to help them on those days when cooking seems too much of a burden.

I am very sorry for the loss of your nephew, more because you will never be able to make up for lost time with him now I hope that you do manage to find a way to do so with the rest of your brother's family

Starbear Sun 21-Sep-08 21:20:21

We all meet strangers at different points in our lives that turn into friendship. Maybe you can start by being a new friend to each other. It may or may not work. You don't have to know everything about them. Start slow, Don't feel guilty. My brother lives in Canada we rarely keep in touch. But I phone my best friend every week. Life doesn't have to conform just accept and be a good friend to those already close to you. Maybe he feels bad at times that hasn't been a good big brother to you who knows.

Elasticwoman Sun 21-Sep-08 21:31:00

Make sure you are there at the funeral. Bring floral tribute unless they specifically ask you not to.

When you see them at the funeral, listen to what they say. You may well find out then in what way you can help.

Stay in touch.

cat64 Sun 21-Sep-08 21:39:01

Message withdrawn

handlemecarefully Sun 21-Sep-08 22:03:49

There is some very helpful advice on this thread - thank you.

Soapbox - you are so right, I don't feel entitled to feel sad about this but I am a bit gutted that I will never be able to build a relationship with him.

cat64, loosing your sister must have been so difficult sad. What you say about the contact list of people - I could do that, you're right. Will phone db and will offer to do this.

I don't really want to think about it any more tonight

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handlemecarefully Sun 21-Sep-08 23:39:01

Here I am thinking about it again sad.

I'm really angry atm. Seem to be taking it out on other posters on other threads. Might just go to bed

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cornsilk Sun 21-Sep-08 23:41:47


Aero Mon 22-Sep-08 00:02:01

I'm sorry hmc. sad

I agree that both calling and sending a card is appropriate and cat64's post offers a very practical idea of something which you can offer to do for them which could be helpful. During times of grief or difficulty, I know people can find it hard saying the same thing over and over again, so the offer of calling people on their behalf may be well received.

I think if you both want it there will be opportunity to build a closer relationship with your brother and his family. All you can do is acknowledge how things have been and express how you feel now and despite everything, you do care very much and will be there for them. Grief has a way of bringing people closer together.

I'm sorry for your loss and also yours cat64.

Majeika Tue 23-Sep-08 10:50:08

How are things HMC?

AbbeyA Tue 23-Sep-08 10:58:22

Grief can bring people closer together. I would think that the support is more necessary later on when the funeral is over. Just keep the contact up with regular phone calls.

handlemecarefully Tue 23-Sep-08 12:59:17


Thanks for asking....

Ok for me, not so okay for my db and sil. They went to see him yesterday and the hospital couldn't find his body. Took them a couple of hours to sort it out - fgs angry. But when they did see him it was all worth it, he looked very peaceful and I think that was a small comfort.

Worried about them all. It's my db who is taking all the calls, apparently SIL is prostrate with grief and barely functioning sad

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Buda Tue 23-Sep-08 13:03:07

Oh HMC I am sorry. Sorry for all of you.

Can't believe the hosp! Dreadful.

handlemecarefully Tue 23-Sep-08 13:13:40

Thanks Buda

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Marina Tue 23-Sep-08 13:28:11

I have just seen this. Thinking of you all HMC XXX.
As others have said, you have been bereaved - of the possibility of building a relationship with him in future.
I lost my uncle in January and although our extended family is all very cordial the transfer of news happens entirely through the older generation. Or did until he died because now it is just my dad. Us cousins have resolved to stay in direct touch now. This was the only bright aspect of a desperately sad funeral, we all felt gutted that it took his loss to get us chatting face to face.
I hope that your db and SIL have some not-too devastating answers to what caused their son's death soon.

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