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AMA with Juliet Rosenfeld about her book on grief and bereavement - 12 noon on 10th March
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JuliaMumsnet · 07/03/2022 15:34

Hello

We’re pleased to announce an AMA with Juliet Rosenfeld on Thursday 10th March at 12 noon for one hour.

Juliet is a psychotherapist who has a particular interest in bereavement and partner loss. What is the specific grief of being widowed or the death of a spouse or partner? Why is it so difficult to live with this loss? Why do people around the grieving partner find it so hard to help them? Why does it take so much longer than people think or hope it will to adapt to this new life alone?

Why do we find it so difficult to talk about death and why do those in grief often feel so stigmatised by their sadness? How can we help the grieving? Do you ever 'get over' the death of someone that you love? What does a fear of death do to us, and with mortality so present due to the Pandemic and the present uncertain circumstances, how can we manage our anxiety about death in order to comfort those in grief and live the lives we have in the fullest way?

You may remember Juliet from two webchats in 2020 - one about grief and bereavement, after the launch of her first book, The State Of Disbelief, and one about coping with lockdown with Dr Carine Minne. She is especially interested in partner loss and how we might better understand its pervasive pain and the lengthy suffering it causes.

Now Juliet’s book, The State of Disbelief, is out in paperback with a new chapter about deaths from covid. The book has been described by The Times as “a beautifully written, profoundly moving and immersive account of grief that will bring solace to readers who have been bereaved, and guide anyone who knows them, who feels at a loss how to understand what they’re going through”.

Juliet will be able to respond to questions about all aspects of bereavement, including dealing with impending bereavement, as well as discuss her thoughts on loss, grief and mourning which she develops in her book.

Please note that Juliet works with adults only. Any posts made by Juliet on this thread will be her own opinions and not representative of any of the organisations she belongs to. She will not be able to make diagnoses online on the thread, but will be able to provide general answers/comments in response to users' posts.

Please join us here on Thursday at 12 noon to post a question, or if you can’t join us then, please post your question in advance.

As always, please remember our guidelines - one question per user, follow-ups only if there’s time and most questions have been answered, and please keep it civil. Also if one topic is dominating a thread, mods might request that people don't continue to post what's effectively the same question or point. (We may suspend the accounts of anyone who continues after we've posted to ask people to stop, so please take note.) Rest assured we will ALWAYS let the guest know that it's an area of concern to multiple users and will encourage them to engage with those questions.

Many thanks,
MNHQ

AMA with Juliet Rosenfeld about her book on grief and bereavement - 12 noon on 10th March AMA with Juliet Rosenfeld about her book on grief and bereavement - 12 noon on 10th March
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13yearslater · 07/03/2022 19:19

A Testament of Grief by Jennifer Wilkin Shaw - the most honest, painful and beautiful book about grief. Nothing surpasses.

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Overwhelmed12346 · 07/03/2022 19:26

DH has stage 4 cancer. I’m just leaving the hospital now because he has been readmitted because of another infection. I am so frightened of what comes next and can’t comprehend what is happening. (Has been very fast). I just need some hope. I need to know that the rest of my life won’t be pervasive pain and suffering. I have watched the videos on YouTube and have seen people explain that grief doesn’t get smaller, life gets bigger, but I also see so much pain on these boards and others. Everything else in my life seems to have had a template, but I don’t know how this bit is supposed to work.

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merrymelodies · 07/03/2022 19:53

My mum's husband, my stepfather, has dementia. Both are in their 80s and my
mum is terrified and stunned by what is happening. They've been together for over 50 years and my stepfather, a former HR director of a multinational, has always done everything for her - all the administration and finances - and she has no idea how to cope. The dementia seems to be progressing rapidly and we're all very concerned. When he does eventually pass away, how can I best support her emotionally?

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headspin10 · 08/03/2022 16:23

@Overwhelmed12346
I'm really so sorry to hear this. I just wanted to say that a close friend of mines husband died in an accident 6 years ago. Obviously a different situation from yours, but it was devastating and shocking.

I've seen her go through many stages afterwards and it has absolutely not all been doom and gloom. She has reached a good place now. I would honestly say she is generally happy and able to enjoy much of life, despite the grief. (This has been the case on and off for a long time/ it hasn't taken 6 yrs to reach this point for her.)

Thinking of you.

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SunnydaleHSAlumna · 08/03/2022 21:24

Does Juliet have any advice about dealing with the loss of a spouse by suicide specifically? I’m trying to support a parent, it happened ten years ago but they are still deeply affected by it and carrying a lot of guilt

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Overwhelmed12346 · 09/03/2022 07:49

Thanks @headspin10
❤️

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BillyBilly · 09/03/2022 10:56

My DH died 10 years ago. It wasn't suicide but he did have some kind of breakdown and destroyed himself through drink really. He left me with our 2 DSs aged 4 and 9. It has shaped our lives since- we are so poor: that colours everything- and DS1 has multiple mental health diagnoses and is unable to work or study aged 19. That has left me largely unable to work over the years.

DH wrecked our lives. I can't forgive him. I am still very angry at him. Because he would not accept any help at the time. He just fucked off and left us to it.

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tunnocksreturns2019 · 09/03/2022 17:33

I’m working tomorrow and can’t join but I’ll look up your books. I’m five years in from losing my DH - he died of cancer aged 37 when our DCs were 5 and 7. My eldest is about to become a teenager and struggling more than ever - he needs his dad in so many ways. It’s putting me back into a real grief pinch point. So many problems that would simply not exist if DH was still here; many others that would be so much easier to manage (eldest has ADHD and possible ASD).

Meanwhile I have less headspace than ever before as DC go to bed later, but no freedom due to the eldest’s anxiety. Plus most people have been extra focused on their own families since covid and I’m sick of asking favours anyway. It’s a hard and lonely life and people just don’t understand that it doesn’t gradually ‘get better’. My DC are growing up without an absolutely stellar father and I have lost the love of my life, and it’s utterly devastating.

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tunnocksreturns2019 · 09/03/2022 17:34

I appreciate that was a rant rather than a question Grin any tips on getting through the next few years would be most welcome!

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tunabastard · 09/03/2022 17:58

I lost my partner of 30 years 6 months ago. He was 46 and took his own life. The pain is unbearable, the guilt is enormous. I don't see any way to get through this. It comes in waves and at my lowest it can last days before I breakdown. I feel like I'm on the verge of a mental breakdown. I just don't know how to cope.

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ahfuckit · 09/03/2022 19:33

@tunabastard I have no words of wisdom but couldn't read and not acknowledge your pain. I'm so sorry.

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Elderflower14 · 10/03/2022 06:24

In the last twenty seven years Ive lost my premature son and my husband.. Seven years ago I thought I had got my happy ending with my new partner... One month in he was diagnosed with cancer and I lost him two and a half years later.... I often wonder what I've done wrong to lose so many loved ones... 💔

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MrsIglesias · 10/03/2022 11:11

Hello Juliet. I haven't lost anyone recently but enjoyed your lockdown webchat and heartfelt yet expert responses. I think you said somewhere that you don't believe in the 'stages of grief' - do you think there are patterns and/or why do you think this kind of idea is popular and comforting to people? Do you think it's helpful or unhelpful and why?

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problembottom · 10/03/2022 11:21

Hi Juliet. I sadly experienced the sudden loss of a sibling two years ago, it was a violent death.

I feel I've been coping well since the initial months of deep shock and then grief but I wonder if that's because I don't think about it most of the time. I'm not ready to look through pictures of them or anything like that and I don't talk about what happened much either.

I'm kind of trusting the pain will come out very slowly over time when I'm ready. Is this normal or should I be taking more active steps to deal with what happened? Some of my friends worry I'll "crash" at some point because I'm coping too well.

Thanks.

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JustineMumsnet · 10/03/2022 11:58

Juliet's in the building so we'll get going asap

AMA with Juliet Rosenfeld about her book on grief and bereavement - 12 noon on 10th March
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JulietRosenfeld · 10/03/2022 12:00

Hello everyone, Juliet here, and very pleased to be back at Mumsnet Towers and lovely to see Justine and Rhiannon in person.

I am getting ready to respond to your questions. I will try and reply to you all but some similar questions are coming up in the questions you've already sent so if I think it's more helpful I will address some thoughts on themes.

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AineC · 10/03/2022 12:11

My husband died in 2020, just before lockdown, after appalling suffering which lasted 5 years. I was his carer and had to cope with each successive “event” - heart attacks; stroke; cancer and vascular dementia. I was his carer 24/7 and when he died I relieved his suffering was over but also grief stricken at losing him and also very angry about how much he had gone through. In October 2021 I became very depressed and although I sought counselling I am struggling. A lot of very negative stuff from my own past has surfaced and I can’t seem to let it go.

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BlueSoul · 10/03/2022 12:11

Do you think it is ever too late to seek support for grief? I was 20 when I lost a parent to suicide. I definitely didn't follow the stages of grief, in fact I did all that I could to avoid thinking or talking about it and buried my feelings and self medicated (drinking etc).

As the 20th anniversary nears I feel like I've really let my parent down by not grieving for them. Also people around me are starting to lose parents and they look to me for support (which I understand, but find hard).

Is it too late to seek help?

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JulietRosenfeld · 10/03/2022 12:13

@Overwhelmed12346

DH has stage 4 cancer. I’m just leaving the hospital now because he has been readmitted because of another infection. I am so frightened of what comes next and can’t comprehend what is happening. (Has been very fast). I just need some hope. I need to know that the rest of my life won’t be pervasive pain and suffering. I have watched the videos on YouTube and have seen people explain that grief doesn’t get smaller, life gets bigger, but I also see so much pain on these boards and others. Everything else in my life seems to have had a template, but I don’t know how this bit is supposed to work.

I am so sorry to hear this. You are probably both still in shock. In my personal and clinical experience cancer of this type feels like it has arrived from out of space, trashing everything you could count on. Anticipatory grief, which I think is what you are feeling is hard to put into words, and hard to help, other than to say that I do know as do many others, that you have a sense of something awful about to happen. For now, I might try to be as much as possible, whatever the infection allows with your husband and telling each as much as you can about how much you love him and hopefully he is well enough to let you know, even if he finds speaking hard. I also think - and this is very practical - that if you can make sure that you are clear as possible about any plans you need to make or paperwork you need to know about then try and have those conversations however painful. Use the time if you can to remain in your couple and however you can reassuring each other of your close and deep feelings for each other. I wish you the best possible and I'll hopefully be able to come back with some more thoughts on coping in this state. I do hope you have some loving support around you too. This is very, very hard, I do know.
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IThinkIMadeItWorse · 10/03/2022 12:16

I have two friends who lost partners very suddenly and unexpectedly in the last year leaving them with primary aged children. They both live some distance away from me. Do you have any suggestions of things can I do to support them from a distance?

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JulietRosenfeld · 10/03/2022 12:21

@SunnydaleHSAlumna

Does Juliet have any advice about dealing with the loss of a spouse by suicide specifically? I’m trying to support a parent, it happened ten years ago but they are still deeply affected by it and carrying a lot of guilt

Suicide is very difficult, perhaps especially difficult for reasons that you are probably aware of but as other posters have asked about it perhaps worth saying more. There is an intensity of feeling for the person left behind by suicide which I think can feel totally overwhelming, and impossible to understand, hence the ten years not making a great deal of difference. Guilt, anger, shame and fear can all be present and this makes someone feel very frightened of course and want to 'split' it off. There can also be a lack of privacy with suicide, because of the nature of the death which makes the sufferer feel very intruded upon so this can really delay the mourning. It is often very complex and ( even) longer term when someone beloved has ended their life, and the language around suicide can still feel horribly loaded, worsening the feelings of the person who is bereaved. I do recommend UKsobs.org by the way, a good simple website, however in the meantime with your parent, the fact that you say it happened ten years ago and you are still trying to support and help them sounds the best possible way you could be showing them how much you love them. If at some point you think it would be possible for them to speak to a professional grief counsellor or therapist maybe that is a possibility, if you think the grief feels entrenched but perhaps listening, and continuing to listen is as much as can be done, for now. I'll come to this, and thank you for your question.
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JulietRosenfeld · 10/03/2022 12:27

@BillyBilly

My DH died 10 years ago. It wasn't suicide but he did have some kind of breakdown and destroyed himself through drink really. He left me with our 2 DSs aged 4 and 9. It has shaped our lives since- we are so poor: that colours everything- and DS1 has multiple mental health diagnoses and is unable to work or study aged 19. That has left me largely unable to work over the years.

DH wrecked our lives. I can't forgive him. I am still very angry at him. Because he would not accept any help at the time. He just fucked off and left us to it.

What a very sad story BillyBilly, I am so deeply sorry to hear this. Of course this must colour everything for you all and ten years is nothing in the scale of this trauma. Is there anyone you can trust to talk to about this, it sounds as if you feel very stuck although doing your absolute best looking after your son. If you don't have a friend, have you had any help in terms of counselling or therapy? I think you re saying here you really need to express how angry and bereft this has left you. I am going to link to some support services and resources at the end of this webchat. Thank you for writing today, and I wish you well.
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JulietRosenfeld · 10/03/2022 12:33

@tunnocksreturns2019

I’m working tomorrow and can’t join but I’ll look up your books. I’m five years in from losing my DH - he died of cancer aged 37 when our DCs were 5 and 7. My eldest is about to become a teenager and struggling more than ever - he needs his dad in so many ways. It’s putting me back into a real grief pinch point. So many problems that would simply not exist if DH was still here; many others that would be so much easier to manage (eldest has ADHD and possible ASD).

Meanwhile I have less headspace than ever before as DC go to bed later, but no freedom due to the eldest’s anxiety. Plus most people have been extra focused on their own families since covid and I’m sick of asking favours anyway. It’s a hard and lonely life and people just don’t understand that it doesn’t gradually ‘get better’. My DC are growing up without an absolutely stellar father and I have lost the love of my life, and it’s utterly devastating.

I can relate to much of this and thank you very much for writing, your 'stellar father' and love of your life sounds such a wonderful man. I think time is so hard to think about it when it comes to grief and bereavement, meaningless and meaningful, especially when we think of time since the date of the death. You have so much to contend with and I also think the Pandemic was very isolating for people in grief, and I have seen this in my consulting room, the bereaved felt so much more alone when everyone was confined to their homes, compounding the absence of someone dead. There isn't a timeline I can give you, as I think no-one knows how long this feeling will continue to last, not even you. I agree very often even kind people in your life don't understand there is little improvement in how you feel, just a kind of daily getting on because there is no choice. It remains as you say, utterly devastating, and I agree with you and I hear you. Yours was not a rant, this was an expression of how you feel and how horrible it continues to be without your beloved man. I am so sorry but I have listened and I send you my hope and best wishes,
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JulietRosenfeld · 10/03/2022 12:40

@tunabastard

I lost my partner of 30 years 6 months ago. He was 46 and took his own life. The pain is unbearable, the guilt is enormous. I don't see any way to get through this. It comes in waves and at my lowest it can last days before I breakdown. I feel like I'm on the verge of a mental breakdown. I just don't know how to cope.

I am so sorry to hear this. What an enormous and traumatic loss. I do think you need to talk to someone, it feels totally overwhelming. I can clearly hear this and so can all of us reading your painful words. The waves are so vivid a description, not least because it tells me how relentless this is and how they keep returning. You need someone to hold you and hear you, even if words are in short supply. Do you have a trusted friend you can say this too and just get them to hear how you are howling with pain? There is also help out there and I really want you to reach out to one of the organisations I am going to link to here because I think posting here is saying you need someone to hear this. I am sending you my very best wishes and hope you will make contact with one of the organisations on the link shortly. Thank you for being brave enough to let us know how you are feeling.
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Szyz2020 · 10/03/2022 12:43

I lost my DH many years ago. We were very happy and in love. But some years after his death I met someone new who I love and who loves me in a way that has made me re-evaluate my relationship with my late DH. He was not a bad man but with hindsight I can see so many ways in which I was not myself with him, as I am now with my new DH; he was a dominant force in our relationship and now I am truly an equal. I feel bad and guilty for making this comparison. I feel like I have an alternative narrative in my head when my late DH’s friends and family talk about how great he was. He was lovely in many ways but I’m not sure our relationship would have gone the distance if I’d woken up a bit to my status in our relationship and how he could have treated me better (not violence or control, nothing like that serious. Just my personality being subsumed by his and my wants and needs coming second to his).

I carry this with me and don’t feel I can ever admit my feelings to my friends or family and certainly not to my dc from my first marriage who were too young to remember their dad but get a picture painted for them that I don’t recognise.

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