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What on earth can I do here?(17 Posts)
Tragically, in the last 6 months, DH has lost his father, mother and brother in this order. He finds it very difficult to let anyone help him and I'm so worried about the consequences of this.
To cut a long story short, he comes from a military background - British father, Argentinian mother. He has 2 brothers and they were all sent from Argentina to school in the UK as soon as they hit the age of 7. After this, they only really saw their mother twice a year. I come from Southern Italy and grew up within a very close extended family, so this kind of lifestyle has always sermed very odd to me.
They all ended doing a stint in the British military in some capacity. DH was in Afghanistan with the marines when I met him. These days we have 3 children and he has various companies.
DH has always had a quite distant and formal relationship with his father - however, when he dropped dead very suddenly in Jan this year it was a huge shock for everyone. Then in March, DH had the horrendous shock of finding his mother dead when he had called round to bring her to our house. They had become very close I later years, since she had become estranged from his father, and he had bought her a house in the same road as us about 7 years ago. She was only 66 when she died and had been in fine health all her life.
DH was also very close with his elder brother. Unfortunately, the two of them were involved in a rock climbing accident in India, about 5 years ago. His brothers leg was so badly injured that he had to have it amputated. Since the he has really struggled. He basically had a breakdown and became dependent on alcohol / drugs. He died from an overdose a few months ago, leaving a wife and 2 children (they live in NY).
DH has obviously been to all the funerals, made speeches etc, but has not taken a day of work throughout all this. I'm sure he hadn't even cried. I am very worried that this can't be normal. He feels responsible for his brother's death as he was the only other one climbing with him, but he speaks about it in very matter of fact terms. I fear he may be heading for a breakdown.
Has anyone else experienced anything like this ?
Sounds to me like the military training has a lot to answer for.
I'm sorry for all his losses. So difficult. Be careful not to say he isn't reacting normally. There is no normal with grief. Everyone does it differently due to their life experiences. Support him in his choice of getting on with things.
I work with a guy like this ex military, runs his life and family like he is still in the forces. He doesn't even take any holidays from work just gives them up .
Gosh that's a lot for him to have suffered in a short space of time. Is there any reason you think he's heading for a breakdown though? Maybe that's just how he is, my dh is similar although he hasn't had to cope with all that. I guess all you can do is be there incase he does want to talk, don't force it though.
Thankyou - yes I am being very careful as I know he has to get through things in his own way. I just can't believe all this could have happened in 6 months. He has always been very full on with work anyway, but I do think he needs to give himself some space right now.
Also he was saying in bed last night that he feels responsible for his brother losing his leg and the whole chain of events after that.
It could be post traumatic stress given everything described and a visit to your GP might be in order or some form of counselling/talking therapy swiftly organised for him.
Guilt is sometimes one way of dealing with unprocessed grief. Its so sad for you and for him. Hope he gets the help he needs.
Thankyou Pallasthena. Yes that's exactly what I was thinking, but god knows how I would get him to the GP.
I don't want to make him sound as if lives in some kind of totally detached robotic mode. Actually, when he's at home he's generally very relaxed and he's very affectionate with the kids and me. He has a great group of friends he does boxing with which I think helps him unwind. He does all sorts of things to balance out work actually and he really values his friends and family. I do worry though that his brother was exactly the same and we saw how quickly it all went wrong for him.
Hi I'm very sorry to hear all this - it does sound very difficult. To me your post just screams out everything that is wrong with the British public school system. Especially if your DH was sent there at 7 from a foreign country! The same thing happened to my DH ( though at least his parents were in UK) and he's often spoken about how you learn to shut your feelings down at a very young age. It's the only way to survive the homesickness really, but the effects persist into later life for sure.
It's very hard to deconstruct this kind of coping mechanism, particularly in men. Very sad story about his brother and how awful to have found his mother like that. It's great that he has you and his kids though. Just be as supportive as you can and you will all get him through.
Thankyou Espresso - I think you are exactly right.
Could you confidentially contact SSafa to ask what help is available for ex-servicemen? They may have pathways to specific types of help that your GP wouldn't.
Your post has made me think actually as my DH is similar in many ways. I think men who are full on all the time about work, sports / hobbies and everything else are often running away from something. If they're still then they have to think. It can be very difficult as a DW or partner to this kind of man as you don't seem to have much choice but to hang on for the ride. And you can feel shut out sometimes too because they are hard-wired to never show any vulnerability.
blankmind - I will check out the link, thankyou.
Feeling much more positive today. DH away on a business trip since yesterday ( hence the mumsneting)! and I think everything had just all just got to me.
Espresso - yes I think I have been feeling a bit shut out and it's confusing. Anyway, he's home this weekend so will just try and chill out as a family and focus on the positives. Thanks again.
The fact that he talked to you about feeling responsible for the accident might indicate that he does need to talk but finds it very hard. I think you just need to be very watchful for moments when he may open up and be available to him. He really has been through a lot so it could hit him hard at some point quite unexpectedly.
My SIL is a bereavement counsellor and has hardly any male clients, seems they just can't do that thing even though it helps most people.
Thankyou Matilda for your wise words. I will try and follow his cues because I feel he will need to talk about things in his own way at some stage. 3 funerals in 6 months of direct family members is a lot for anyone. Of course, we have talked to the kids about it all. DS (13) came to all 3 funerals. Our youngest (7) is still asking lots of questions at random times about where do people go when they're dead, etc. DH has been fantastic with them actually.
Anyway, I'm hoping that the rest of this year can be about consolidation. Thanks again.
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