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Webchat with psychotherapist Juliet Rosenfeld on bereavement, Wednesday 17 June at 8.30pm
47

BojanaMumsnet · 15/06/2020 14:18

Hello

We’re pleased to announce a webchat with Juliet Rosenfeld on Wednesday 17 June at 8.30pm.

Juliet Rosenfeld is a psychotherapist working in private practice in North London and Trustee of the UKCP. She is a member of the BACP and UKCP and a Patron of Camden Psychotherapy Unit where she trained with patients. She qualified in 2012 and has written for various publications on therapy and bereavement. Most recently she published her first book, The State Of Disbelief (Short Books 2020) about the impact of bereavement clinically and personally when her husband Andrew died in 2015. The State of Disbelief was 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 webchat, but will be able to provide general answers/comments in response to users' posts.

Please join us here on Wednesday at 8.30pm to post a question, or if you can’t join us then, please post up 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

Webchat with psychotherapist Juliet Rosenfeld on bereavement, Wednesday 17 June at 8.30pm
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Pianostrings · 15/06/2020 22:16

I won't be around Weds evening so wanted to ask if Juliet has any advice on how to cope with watching a loved have a very traumatic death.

A family member has been seriously ill for some time. It has obviously been very sad coming to terms with the fact she will die prematurely but over the course of her illness I've done a lot of grieving and had come to terms with the fact I would lose her.

Her death is essentially taking a long time and is involving her suffering terribly. I want the details to remain private because they are horrible but the pandemic has complicated things in terms of her getting the right care and she was very let down by a doctor who was involved at an earlier stage of the end part of her illness.

The longer the situation has gone on the more out of my depth I've felt in terms of coping. It is unbearable watching someone experiencing severe pain and not being able to change it. I am at a stage where even after she dies I feel I will struggle because it's been so traumatic. I have no idea how to cope. I am just focusing on getting through things a day at a time right now. I appreciate many people die difficult deaths even nowadays, unfortunately, but even her current hospice team are shocked by the errors that were made and the level of suffering she's endured as a result.

I'm sure there isn't an easy answer but I would love advice on how to cope and not be broken by this.

Thank you

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WellThisIsShit · 15/06/2020 23:12

How to cope with the way people shun you when you are going through a traumatic time? When instead of supporting, friends dump you instead?

M

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3468jackie · 16/06/2020 03:55

My father died last January after a long struggle with parkinsons. My mother has dementia and is in a nursing home we were advised not to tell her he was dead as she wouldn't remember and be upset each time she asked about him, as a result of this we have had toie and pretend he is OK in hospital when she asked about him. It is very upsetting for me and I have not been able to mourn his passing due to this also since this has happened I feel very nervous and scared a lot of the time. I have had to handle my son being diagnosed with autism this last year too and have had a lot of appointments with doctors for the last few years due to my parents ill health. Is feeling scared and nervous a sign of grief

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WashYourFins · 16/06/2020 07:58

Hi Juliet, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer out the blue and died within weeks, over 3 years ago. My mother is in the same place now as she was in the first weeks after his death. She won't get counselling, and doesn't want to take the antidepressants her GP prescribed. She's in her early 70s. I've tried all sorts to help her, but keep hitting a brick wall. Is there anything you can suggest? Thank you.

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Lucky20 · 16/06/2020 10:51

I will echo 3468jackie's question; in a similar position myself, but for me it's how to deal with guilt.

Guilt at not telling mum and guilt that you feel you didn't do enough to help dad (who passed away during lockdown).

Guilt about what you've said/not said/ done/not done.
Thank you

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cordialqueen · 16/06/2020 11:53

Hi Juliet.
I wanted to ask how best to support a SO who seems traumatised after a sudden bereavement of a close family
Member when he shuts down , does not want to talk, see people , not eating or sleeping and terribly angry. He says he is depressed and is reliving old traumas.
He refuses medication. It has only been six weeks.He is good to express his emotions coherently and has self awareness to know what is going on around him.Any advice welcome. He will not let me in and has all but pushed me away.
Thank you .

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Purplealienpuke · 16/06/2020 20:34

Juliet, my mother died 3 weeks ago.
I wasn't able to be there at the end because of covid and living so far away. I thought I had more time.
We have had her funeral and I still feel detached. Unable to accept my mum is gone. I didn't see her in the hospital as my siblings did (they didn't make it in time either) and I didn't want to see her at the funeral directors.
I just feel empty.
Is this normal?

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crosser62 · 16/06/2020 20:53

Hi Juliette,
My issue is with historic sudden out of the blue death by suicide of a close family member.
I was 16 at the time.
It was the most profoundly traumatic, influential and painful event of my life.
I have experienced loss and trauma since but these events have not caused me the pain that that one single event caused/causes me.
From that day to this I am still very much affected over 30 years on.

There was no counselling at that time. Do you think there would be anything to be gained to seek out counselling now so very far down the line?

Also it is said often “I will never get over it “ I have never got over it, is this normal so very long after the event?
Many thanks x

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Pieinthesky24 · 17/06/2020 09:06

Hello Juliet
I lost my young husband 1 year ago. I find it hard to put in to words the devastation and loss I feel for myself and my young children.
Sometimes it's unbearable and it continues.
I have a lovely family and good friends but they are now thinking I should be ok after 1 year.
The messages of support have stopped and family think I should be back to normal. My sister has compared it to losing our elderly mother.
How can I deal/cope with this?
Thank you

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chergar · 17/06/2020 12:23

My dad died last year while working away and I don't think I have accepted it, I keep expecting him to walk in the door or phone me, I think he is still working away and I will see him again, i cannot accept that he is gone and never coming back. I was sad when it first happened and had a terrible time for a few months but now it just doesn't seem real, I am in denial, I constantly dream about him and wake up confused and have to take time to gather my thoughts and work out if he really is dead or not. Is this normal after 16 months?

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ilovesooty · 17/06/2020 18:06

Hi Juliet

I'm sorry I won't be able to make the live webchat. What impact can you see Covid-19 having on the provision of bereavement counselling and do you think the government should be taking steps to provide experienced paid bereavement counsellors under the NHS rather than expecting volunteers and trainees with bereavement charities to help distressed and traumatised bereaved people?

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LadyJaffleton · 17/06/2020 18:41

A dear friend has just told me they are terminally ill and have about four months left. Do you have any advice on coping with the anticipatory grief I am feeling, ways to support my friend and any thing I can do to prepare for after losing them. I feel completely out of my depth and bewildered and can't imagine life without my lovely friend at the moment. Thanks in advance

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colouringindoors · 17/06/2020 20:00

My dear sister in law lost her husband unexpectedly to suicide 18 months ago. She's still totally devastated and says it still feels like yesterday. She feels so guilty. Do you have any advice for me in supporting her? Thank you.

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Puddingnpie · 17/06/2020 20:31

My mother died just over a week ago at home. She had previously had hospice care but wanted to die at home. It was a very traumatic death - took 4 days and she was in a lot of pain. At one point we realised the driver had stopped working (loose connection) and the pain she was, and the words she said, are unbearable for me to.recall. it took a few days for them to get the correct dose of meds to allow her to die peacefully.
Im now wracked with trauma and guilt at how she died, so much so that i think it's preventing me from grieving. How do i move on?

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Charley50 · 17/06/2020 20:39

My dearly loved brother took his own life many years ago in his twenties. I grieved deeply and then assimilated my grief and I'm fine now. I remember him fondly and without much pain any more (unless I want to, then I listen to certain songs, or look at photos, or read his letters).

However I feel like I will never grieve for anyone else like how I grieved for him. I have had other friends and family die since then and not felt much at all. Is this common? Sometimes I feel like I must be a sociopath. I actuality worry about this.

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JulietRosenfeld · 17/06/2020 20:42

Good evening everyone,

Thanks for your questions. I will do my best to respond to all of them.

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JulietRosenfeld · 17/06/2020 20:44

@Pianostrings

I won't be around Weds evening so wanted to ask if Juliet has any advice on how to cope with watching a loved have a very traumatic death.

A family member has been seriously ill for some time. It has obviously been very sad coming to terms with the fact she will die prematurely but over the course of her illness I've done a lot of grieving and had come to terms with the fact I would lose her.

Her death is essentially taking a long time and is involving her suffering terribly. I want the details to remain private because they are horrible but the pandemic has complicated things in terms of her getting the right care and she was very let down by a doctor who was involved at an earlier stage of the end part of her illness.

The longer the situation has gone on the more out of my depth I've felt in terms of coping. It is unbearable watching someone experiencing severe pain and not being able to change it. I am at a stage where even after she dies I feel I will struggle because it's been so traumatic. I have no idea how to cope. I am just focusing on getting through things a day at a time right now. I appreciate many people die difficult deaths even nowadays, unfortunately, but even her current hospice team are shocked by the errors that were made and the level of suffering she's endured as a result.

I'm sure there isn't an easy answer but I would love advice on how to cope and not be broken by this.

Thank you

Dear Pianostrings,

This sounds deeply painful, and more so that you feel things were not done as well as possible, it becomes even harder to tolerate.

I think feeling ‘out of your depth’ is par for the course of close bereavement, as events take on a surreal quality, and it becomes harder to believe ‘this is actually happening.’ I found your thoughtful and measured take very impressive for what it is worth. I agree that there is no easy answer but in a way, the fact that you are already so in touch with how horrific this is, is good. You also have accepted that your precious person is going to die of this illness which shows me you are not living in denial.

This tendency to denial, I think, and my book is testimony to it, makes a bad situation much worse. Living with hope, and reality where possible is about as good as it can be. Denial really does make everything so, so much harder.

Try not to worry about being broken by it, and keep doing what you are doing which is staying in the present, and thinking it through, writing things down if that helps, talking to someone trusted, venting, if you have someone who can really hear you. I am very sorry you have this to cope with and in due course, but only when you feel you are ready, going to talk to someone might be worthwhile. It may also be worth bearing in mind that long afterwards, you and your family might gain some clarity from a medico-legal investigation of where things went wrong because sometimes one’s fantasies are even worse than the reality.
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JulietRosenfeld · 17/06/2020 20:47

@WellThisIsShit

How to cope with the way people shun you when you are going through a traumatic time? When instead of supporting, friends dump you instead?

M

Dear Well,
I think one of the problems with bereavement is that it is both very tiring for those around the sufferer, and brings up all sorts of unexpected and uncomfortable feelings that have lain hidden for ages. People react differently towards others who are faced with traumatic times - they can feel anxious of being clumsy and making it worse, or they can feel frightened or even that they will make you feel worse by talking about it with you. It is important to try and remember that this is more to do with THEM rather than you. Maybe it is their own frightened or angry resentfulness and who knows, even envy at you getting all sorts of attention, albeit for very distressing reasons.

I think one of the things that happens with the bereaved is to be left feeling so utterly vulnerable and woundable that it is unthinkable someone might want to harm us more. One thing to remember is that to some people, for their own unresolved issues, the vulnerable are more attackable.
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JulietRosenfeld · 17/06/2020 20:49

@3468jackie

My father died last January after a long struggle with parkinsons. My mother has dementia and is in a nursing home we were advised not to tell her he was dead as she wouldn't remember and be upset each time she asked about him, as a result of this we have had toie and pretend he is OK in hospital when she asked about him. It is very upsetting for me and I have not been able to mourn his passing due to this also since this has happened I feel very nervous and scared a lot of the time. I have had to handle my son being diagnosed with autism this last year too and have had a lot of appointments with doctors for the last few years due to my parents ill health. Is feeling scared and nervous a sign of grief

Dear Jackie, what a very difficult situation you found yourself in, how hard. I think you are right when you say you cannot mourn him as you need to. It would be totally impossible. You are overwhelmed with this and your son’s diagnosis and have your mother to look after too Such a lot, and I would see feeling scared and nervous as a completely normal response to all of this. Can you find support anywhere, maybe talking to a therapist might be a good thing to do, if it is possible? At the end of this webchat I will post links which might help with finding therapy, whether short or long term NHS or private it does sound as if you could really do with some help. I’m sending you my sympathy and thank you for getting in touch.
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JulietRosenfeld · 17/06/2020 20:52

@WashYourFins

Hi Juliet, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer out the blue and died within weeks, over 3 years ago. My mother is in the same place now as she was in the first weeks after his death. She won't get counselling, and doesn't want to take the antidepressants her GP prescribed. She's in her early 70s. I've tried all sorts to help her, but keep hitting a brick wall. Is there anything you can suggest? Thank you.

Dear Washyourfins

This sounds very traumatic, only 3 weeks from diagnosis to death - , and out of the blue must have felt utterly catastrophic and from what it sounds like, your mother is very stuck and very shocked.

Do you have the kind of relationship where you could talk about how she is feeling? Could you contact the GP and ask him/her to see your mother and perhaps encourage her to have a talk during the appointment? Is therapy a possibility? Three years on it sounds as if she needs something to help her process the shocking and terrible event. It sounds as if she has frozen in the shock and cannot face letting go, perhaps out of a worry that she would betray him if she allowed herself to mourn him and recover. You say nothing about your parents’ marriage but this is often key to understanding how grief takes some people apart, and a skilled listener could be really important in helping her make sense. I will post links at the end of this webchat. Thank you for writing and I send you and her my best.
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SouthWestmom · 17/06/2020 20:53

Hi I'm (like a pp) someone who was bereaved at 16 (my dad died suddenly, no support for children then, just crack on and be nice to your mum). I'm now, hundreds of years later, of an age where my friends parents are dying.

I don't care. I'm still so bitter that their parents got to see them grow up, grandkids, help them through life that it is so difficult. It's almost like he's died again.

Like a pp, is counselling or therapy a good idea?

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JulietRosenfeld · 17/06/2020 20:53

@Lucky20

I will echo 3468jackie's question; in a similar position myself, but for me it's how to deal with guilt.

Guilt at not telling mum and guilt that you feel you didn't do enough to help dad (who passed away during lockdown).

Guilt about what you've said/not said/ done/not done.
Thank you

Dear Lucky

Guilt, the great and consistent accompaniment to death. Not having diagnosed a disease, not having stopped it, cured it, prevented it. I hear all of this in your email. And I am so sorry.

I think it is what accompanies grief, despite our rational minds knowing that we have played no part, nor I am sure in your case, not having done everything you could. It’s really hard and I can’t offer you solace other than to say, I know what guilt feels like and eventually it does ease and pass. This guilt appears to be closely connected with a sense of betraying the lost person - or, in this case, also your mum, as it provides ‘punishment’ for not having prevented all of it from happening.
I wrote about this in my book, in my case, feeling for a year or more a tremendous guilt that I could not have picked up my husband’s tumour earlier, have got him better help, have fed him the right food to destroy the lung cancer that of course, no-one could have foreseen or stopped. I think guilt is part of grief, the sense of disbelief that accompanies the death of someone you love. It is perhaps unavoidable. There is nothing that can really change the guilt, but I hope people around you are telling you, again and again, that there is nothing more that you could have done.
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JulietRosenfeld · 17/06/2020 20:55

@cordialqueen

Hi Juliet.
I wanted to ask how best to support a SO who seems traumatised after a sudden bereavement of a close family
Member when he shuts down , does not want to talk, see people , not eating or sleeping and terribly angry. He says he is depressed and is reliving old traumas.
He refuses medication. It has only been six weeks.He is good to express his emotions coherently and has self awareness to know what is going on around him.Any advice welcome. He will not let me in and has all but pushed me away.
Thank you .

Hi Cordialqueen, six weeks is really no time. Although it probably feels like a life time to you. The bereaved can be very, very difficult to be around and need infinite patience. I think of traumatic bereavement as more like a car crash, and in doing so, I think it becomes more possible to think of someone as needing very careful tending and almost everything done for them. It may be that he just needs you to be there for him, holding him, supporting and loving him, whilst making no demands of him - it is very early days and he should soon be able to hear your advice for him to seek help, especially if this loss has mobilised old traumas for him. It will be very hard for you to keep being the strong one at the moment when the relationship won’t feel equally balanced. At the moment you are the carer and he is the dependent. It won’t be always this way and with time you should retrieve the flexibility within these positions between you. Good luck and stay strong.
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JulietRosenfeld · 17/06/2020 20:57

@Purplealienpuke

Juliet, my mother died 3 weeks ago.
I wasn't able to be there at the end because of covid and living so far away. I thought I had more time.
We have had her funeral and I still feel detached. Unable to accept my mum is gone. I didn't see her in the hospital as my siblings did (they didn't make it in time either) and I didn't want to see her at the funeral directors.
I just feel empty.
Is this normal?

Dear Purple,
I am so sorry. This is traumatic. Hopefully you and your siblings will be able to come together as soon as possible to share your different experiences of what happened to your mother. It might help you to hear their experience of having seen her and alleviate some of your distress at having missed seeing her - maybe. Is it normal to feel empty? Yes, of course it is. This is an extraordinary trauma the rapidity with which it happened and your poor mind having to catch up with the turmoil of emotions you are going through. I am glad you wrote in tonight. This shows that you are aware of the overwhelming shock of what has just happened. Feeling empty is one of the mind's ways of coping with something utterly unacceptable. I hope very much you will be able to have good communications with your siblings and other loved ones at this time because when your mind ceases to feel empty it will fill with very sad and painful feelings that you will really need someone else to share with you. I wish you the very best and I am so sorry to hear of your terrible shock.
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JulietRosenfeld · 17/06/2020 21:06

@crosser62

Hi Juliette,
My issue is with historic sudden out of the blue death by suicide of a close family member.
I was 16 at the time.
It was the most profoundly traumatic, influential and painful event of my life.
I have experienced loss and trauma since but these events have not caused me the pain that that one single event caused/causes me.
From that day to this I am still very much affected over 30 years on.

There was no counselling at that time. Do you think there would be anything to be gained to seek out counselling now so very far down the line?

Also it is said often “I will never get over it “ I have never got over it, is this normal so very long after the event?
Many thanks x

Dear Crosser
Such a shock you will have experienced when you were at such a tender age too, stirring up terrible feelings at the time. for you and yours - and then you describe further traumas in your. life - these may well have had cumulative effects although your mind tends to focus on the one huge devastating event. It is never too late to seek help - I have seen a patient who first presented when he was 92 years old and you can't imagine how much good it did him. Feelings that we accumulate during our lives do not have a sense of time as we consciously have - they are all there in our minds, old ones and new ones and professional help now is a really positive step you could take. I really wish you well.
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