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Need advice on grief

(11 Posts)
greencolorpack Thu 01-Nov-12 23:30:31

We have three children and one of them is our nephew who has been with us three years. My mother in law used to raise him from age 1 til a couple years ago. He is now 12. Mother in law is desperately ill in hospital. I have never been in his shoes, when my grandparents died I was sad but was not very close to any of them. But when MIL dies, she will leave a massive hole in the family, she lives with my ill Sil ( mother of nephew, unable to care for him herself) and we have no way of knowing how Mils passing will affect sil and her already fragile mental state and I have no way of knowing how nephew will cope with MILs death. Besides this I was raised by a very messed up emotionally repressed mother who made me feel ashamed if I cried at any funerals and she is all admiration for people who don't cry at funerals and don't openly mourn. So I know not to be like her but I tend to cry extravagantly now, probably more than I should at funerals of people I don't know well, probably cos at a young age I wasn't allowed to grieve my own gran. dh says you can't prepare for grief but I feel like I should be reading books or somehow mentally preparing for the oncoming storm in our lives. Does anyone relate to or understand where I am coming from?

Also trying to establish myself in a new business with very long hours, and dh is in a job where he doesn't get paid if he doesn't work so he is in long hours with no holidays and he is already dreading being off work/ paying for funeral. Don't know what to do about any of it, despairing, trying not to think about MIls passing but it does look pretty imminent.

Sparklyoldwhizzbangcatpusswhee Fri 02-Nov-12 00:10:51

The 3 DCs that I used to care for took got a lot of help from STARS I dont know if they cover the whole country, but definitely worth a look.

dysfunctionalme Fri 02-Nov-12 00:29:09

You sound like a lovely, caring mum and it's so nice that you are thinking of your nephew's closeness to your MIL.

Do think about your MiL's passing, you need to prepare for it so you can help your nephew to prepare. He might like to put together a book of photographs or memories of his grandmother. He needs to know he can talk about her freely.

Does she have hospice help? Hospices usually have counselling facilities
attached which are available to the sick person and their family.

Sorry for what you are going through, it sounds really tough.

ScaryFakeNails Fri 02-Nov-12 00:48:28

I don't really know about reading books I've never done it. I have had a similar situation in that I raised my niece form 4 years old, who's mother had severe mental illness and was unable to care for her. Unfortunately her father died while she was living with us, it was similar to your nephew in that she was in her teens, she wasn't massively close to him but I know she struggled. My gran recently died, who was like a second mother to me, and I have had to deal with very close grief a few times in my life so I do have some experience.

Things I think are really important is if you have the chance to prepare do. You need to discuss it with your nephew. I imagine it will be very emotional and happen over a few conversations. Are there things he would really like MIL to know, are there questions he would like to ask her. It may not be the case but I know being able to tell my gran how much I appreciated her and adored her meant a lot to me and helped me make peace. He might like to have a picture taken with her or anything really. I'm not saying make him say goodbye but try to make it so he doesn't feel he wish he said or did something that he does actually have the opportunity to.

When she does die, I think accepting that it has happened, that it is real, is one of the hardest parts. I don't know what other people will think of this but I always recommend seeing the body. On the occasions I haven't I felt very detached like it was a story I was hearing, not that it was reality and this person had died. He may burst into tears immediately, he may not cry for days. You might find that 3 months later he suddenly becomes distraught. Everyone grieves in their own way. Its ok to cry but its also important he knows its ok not to cry. It may have longer term affects, but I think as long as you maintain stability he can work through it. I really struggle with all the better place/resting in peace comments whereas others find it comforting. I think you have to just let him be and be really supportive. Remind him all the time that she loved him and she was aware that he loved her. Keep talking about her even when its hard because it will get easier.

CogitoErgoSparklers Fri 02-Nov-12 06:59:15

Is the 12yo visiting MIL? Does he know how seriously ill she is? You've had some good advice up thread but I wanted to add something else. It's easy, when someone is very sick, to get preoccupied with their death. However long she has left, however, she is still very much alive & I'm sure she'll want to make the most of that life, even if it's only to give the 12yo some reassurance and answer his questions. (I'm assuming she can still communicate).

I've known quite a few people who lost parents when they were children. The most positive person I know had lots of chances to talk to their DF while he was sick and they were there when he died. Once the raw grief subsided, he had lots of great memories. The most negative person I know had the truth about the seriousness of his DM's illness downplayed and wasn't there when the time came. I don't think he ever got over the shock or hurt at being 'protected'.

raskolnikov Fri 02-Nov-12 07:21:47

Obviously a very difficult situation OP, but you sound like a lovely, caring mum and he's very lucky to have you caring for him now. I would reiterate what's been said above and add that I firmly believe the grandparent/grandchild relationship is a very special one - I think I would also discuss with him how lucky he is to have her and to have had such a long time with her - my mum suffered a severe stroke and died before my DD was born - I wish they had known each other - the relationship would have been exceptional. If he has time now to spend with her and make a few lasting memories, that will be very special.

Lovingfreedom Fri 02-Nov-12 08:53:44

My experience had been that the children deal with death relatively well. My son's classic line 'well everybody dies don't they?' comes to mind and I don't mean it in a flippant or belittling way but hopefully as comfort that sometimes kids are more straightforward and understanding than you expect. We unfortunately had a spate of family deaths, inc suicide of a close relative and best advice I can give is to be open and honest with the DC. Answer their questions as honestly as you can
nd don't be worried about showing your own grief. My DC have asked a range of questions from the spiritual to the downright

It is a good idea to let your MIL spend time alone with your DD. Might be good for both of them. When my mum was terminally ill (before my own DC were born) she spent a lot of time with her friends young daughter. That girl who was about 10 at the time has really fond memories and its clear that her and my mum had discussed life and death together perhaps more directly than she did or could with me and my DS who we're early 20s at the time and just horrified or in denial.

Feel for you all. You will get through it. Your DD will be upset when the time comes. You all will.

I agree with earlier post too saying your MIL is still alive atm....enjoy her company now.

Take care

Lemonylemon Fri 02-Nov-12 09:26:13

Can you contact CRUSE? They offer bereavement counselling and have some counsellors who specialise in helping children. They may be able to help you.

autumnmum Fri 02-Nov-12 10:56:36

I think the fact that you are thinking about this now means that you will get through this ok. My Dad died very suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart attack. It was actually the grandkids who made the whole shock a lot easier to bear because kids seem to have an inbuilt acceptance of death that adults seem to lose. My DD asked my mum if she would consider marrying a pirate 2 weeks after my dad had died! I was very matter of fact with my kids about what had happened (no euphamisms about Grandad going to sleep). It was hard, because grief is, but we all coped. I found this website very useful

I didn't cry at my dad's funeral because I felt I could only get through the day for my Mum and my kids if I held it together, but that was just my coping mechanism. One of my SIL could have filled a lake she cried so much. the kids did see me crying at home though and they found that quite shocking, but it's no bad thing for them to realise that adults do get that upset sometimes.

just let your children and nephew know that if they need to talk, cry, get angry they can, but equally that if they don't want to that is ok as well. The most difficult people to deal with after my dad's death were the ones who were almost disappointed I wasn't in floods of tears all the time, and kept saying things like "it will hit you soon".

quietlysuggests Fri 02-Nov-12 10:59:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

greencolorpack Fri 02-Nov-12 16:34:53

Thank you for all the thoughtful replies so far, it's all given me a lot to think about. mil is compos mentis, and last night we did all go to the hospital to visit her and on the way I did say we might not have much longer with MIL. Nephew was very aceepting of it, my daughter was more upset and afraid to see her, but because mil was quite cheerful everything seemed okay again and I was back to thinking she will live forever! But it's not true. My dh didn't want the children to visit cos he thought his mum would not want to see them cos she looks so ill and poorly but I thought "don't over think this" and also that I missed a chance to see my Granpa just before he died and regretted it ever since.

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