A friend experienced the death of her son-in-law, and then a week later her mother-in-law died. A month later, her Dad died. My heart goes out to her and her family.
Her grief needed and still needs to be validated and normalized. Grieving for one person and then experiencing additional deaths during that initial grief period can hamper the healing process. In addition, each subsequent death can spark previous grief reactions. The roller coaster of emotions can move at a fast and furious pace.
We have learned from working with older adults who frequently experience multiple deaths in the course of a year that it is often helpful to compartmentalize the deaths. You may not know which person to grieve for first. You may you feel guilt over missing one person more than another. Take the time to grieve each death. Each person that died was a unique person and your relationship with that person had its own distinctive qualities. In addition, you may experience secondary losses – such as the loss of your traditional family system. Where will the holidays be held? Who will you turned for this? Who will you rely on for that? You may feel often feel disoriented and confused.
Here are some additional suggestions to promote healing:
· Check frequently that you have balance in your life; rest, recreation, meditation and work.
· Be gentle with yourself. Although you may often feel overwhelmed, remind yourself that what you are going through is normal.
· Educate yourself and become familiar with the normal experiences of grieving. Be willing to engage in your own grief work.
· Remember that grieving takes time, and that experiences and emotions can recur. Be patient with yourself, and allow yourself to heal at your own pace.
· Find support from both inside and outside your family; don’t expect your family to meet all of your needs. Remember they too are grieving.
· Tell and re-tell what happened, remembering things about the loved one and the experience of their death. Good memories are also very important.
· Be aware that people grieve in different ways. Don’t measure your progress in handling grief against others.
· Hold onto hope!
Here is another woman’s story I discovered online. Harriet Hodgson describes built her own safety net here.
©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC