Grief Questions and Queries: You searched. We responded.

So, I don’t know how many of you out there understand the inner-workings of the Internet. In summary: it’s complicated. When Litsa and I set out to create this blog we knew nothing and to this day it’s a game of trial and error. We get by.

Anyhow, one of the fun parts of having a blog hosted by WordPress is the ‘stats’ page which is basically a page on the backend of our website that says – today some people looked at your site and this is where they came from or what they searched for to find you. A much wiser blog-person would probably analyze these statistics and use them to their advantage in an effort to reach a wider audience. Sadly, we don’t have time for grief-blog domination because, so little time and so many versions of Just Dance.

Anyhow, we aren’t totally wasting the information because today, for the first time ever, we are setting out to give the people what they want. You see, in browsing through the ‘search terms’ that led people to WYG (for those of you who don’t know ‘search terms’ are the words you type into a search engine like ‘Google’) it’s come to our attention that there are many people being referred to us even though we don’t have the answers they are seeking. This is a wrong that just simply must be righted so in today’s post I will provide you answers to all your Internet queries and grief questions. Here we go…

Does grief make your crazy

“Complete list of things that come with grief”

Shock, numbness, sadness, despair, loneliness, isolation, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, irritability, anger, increased or decreased appetite, fatigue or sleeplessness, guilt, regret, depression, anxiety, crying, headaches, weakness, aches, pains, yearning, worry, frustration, detachment, isolation, questioning faith – oh my!

Unfortunately, there’s just no way to predict how someone will react to grief and the range of ‘normal’ is huge. Your grief won’t necessarily look like anyone else’s nor will it follow the same timeline. Yes, grief makes you crazy.

If you’re worried about your grief being ‘abnormal’ you can check out this post on Normal vs Not so Normal Grief.

“Inspirational words of sympathy”

Well, I don’t have any inspirational words of sympathy, but I do have some insight. In the immediate aftermath of grief, genuine words of kindness and compassion will resonate far deeper with a griever than an inspirational platitude.

This is not to say your friend or family member won’t identify with an inspirational quote now or in the future, but in an effort to let them know you really care, we suggest looking inward instead of quoting the nearest motivational calendar.

“What theories help with bereavement”

All kinds! In pop culture, we most frequently hear about Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief, but there’s a good chance a different grief theory will resonate more with you. It’s important to remember these are just theories, not absolute truth. A theory is based on a hypothesis (an educated guess), and while there may be research to support the theory, quite often there is also research to refute it. With that in mind, I urge you to check out our library of posts breaking down some of the more popular grief theories. Also ,I think this PDF is kind of helpful.

“Harry Potter Horcrux”

Yeah, sorry all of you Harry Potter fans looking to unlock the secrets of the ‘Horcrux’ and instead finding our Harry Potter Grief Model. Google search gone awry.

Please allow me to point you in the direction of this Harry Potter wiki, which will happily address all your muggle questions.

“My husband died and my kids aren’t supportive of me”

Hmmm…this is a tough one. Are they just not sympathetic to your grief? Pushing you to move on? Not everyone understands the complicated emotions of grief, especially if they haven’t experienced grief themselves. Perhaps they need a better understanding of what you’re going through. Have you tried to communicate your feelings? Are they open and interested in talking? If so, then I suggest trying to be honest and straightforward with them about your feelings. If they are just too focused on themselves to listen or care, then perhaps you need to adjust your expectations. Sometimes we look to the wrong people for support and understanding, you may want to check out our post on Support System Superlatives for more on this.

Another important point, if your husband was also their father or someone they were close with then they are grieving as well. Believe it or not, a death in the family can often drive people further apart instead of bringing them together. There are many reasons why this is true, but one of the main reasons is because everyone grieves differently and it can be hard for brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters to understand why their family members are acting so odd. Grief makes us self-centered, which makes it even more difficult to step outside of oneself and into another’s shoes. Conflicts arise with regards to how, what, and when to deal with belongings, emotions, dating, holidays, etc. This post on family fighting after a death may be helpful if you find you’re experiencing some of these conflicts.

“We could run away from grief”

You could try! We’ll be here when it catches up to you.

“Sympathy message for illness”

Regardless of the type of illness, don’t assume you know how your friend or family member is making sense of it. For example, when I hear someone has Pancreatic Cancer I immediately assume the worst because this was my experience with my mother’s illness. However, I have no way of knowing what their experience will be and their outlook may be very positive regardless of prognosis.

Just tell your loved one you are thinking of them and, if appropriate, offer to help with something specific like rides to doctors appointments, carpool, meals, or mowing the lawn. If this is a long-term illness, there is a good chance your friend or family member will want things to stay as ‘normal’ as possible so they may decline your help at this time. The important thing is that you offered and that they know you’re there for them if they ever need you.

“Things I wish someone would tell me about life”

Everything you need to know is right here…

“Feeling someone else’s grief”

Grief brings up a lot of unexpected emotions for those close to the death and even for those twice removed. I will point out that you aren’t feeling “someone else’s” grief, you are feeling your own grief. Don’t worry, it’s normal to have an emotional response to a death even if it’s someone you hardly knew. Here are a few reasons why…

  • When you see friends and family struggle with a death, you empathize with them. It hurts to see the people you love hurting.
  • When someone dies you might imagine what it would be like if that same loss happened to you.
  • Death, in any context, often forces you to grapple with existential questions about your own mortality.
  • It can also make you feel vulnerable by reminding you how fragile life is and how it can change in the blink of an eye.
  • If you have experienced a death in the past, the death of someone else can bring up new and old grief emotions.

“I hate the comment closure when someone dies”

Same. There is no such thing as ‘closure’ when it comes to grief, you simply learn to live a life without your loved one. You should strive to make peace with the loss and find ways to integrate your loved one’s memory into your life, but don’t expect to get over it.

“When someone passes away is it normal to feel scared or crazy?”

Yes and yes. Check out our post on the many ways grief makes you crazy.

“How to accept my father’s looming death at age 94”

There is no ‘how-to’ for finding acceptance for an impending death. I’m sure others would tell you “Oh well at least he lived a long life”, but really this doesn’t make things any easier. More of him to miss I say. I guess all I can say is, I’m sorry you’re worried about this. It’s also worth noting, it’s not uncommon to start grieving for someone before their death. This post on anticipatory loss addresses this type of grief.

“My boyfriend says he will not compete for my love how to make him regret saying that”

Giiiirrrl….you’re playing with fire. I have absolutely no clue why Google thought we might be able to answer your question, perhaps their algorithm senses my inner vixen.

“Gifts to give sister on wedding day after father has passed away”

Well, clearly you want to find something sentimental and meaningful. Do you have anything of your fathers that your sister could use as her something old? A cufflink? Could you make something out of an old tie? Okay, I know I’m not crafty either so thank heavens for Pinterest. This is what I got when I typed in ‘Dad’s old tie”

Do you have any of your father’s written words like a letter, card, or e-mail? When I was pregnant with my first daughter I was longing for advice from my deceased mother, my sister-in-law knew this and sent me a copy of the letter my mother sent her when she was pregnant with her first child. My mom liked to write long letters and it detailed everything an expectant mother needs to know. For me, it was a treasure.

If not, do you remember any advice your father gave you? Write a letter to your sister and include his words of wisdom. When my little sister got married my father incorporated some advice my mother gave me before my wedding day into the ceremony. Is there an opportunity during the ceremony or reception to include something like this?

How about old jokes or sayings? Write one on a piece of paper and slip it to your sister when she least expects it. We’re trying to make her cry here, right???

“What if you made a griever feel bad? How to fix it?”

It sounds like you didn’t mean to, so just say you’re sorry. You might explain that you weren’t sure what to say and you know you chose the wrong thing. You might explain that you really just wanted them to know you are there for them and care. If you are worried about doing it face to face, send a card or a letter. Just reach out and in time, when emotions aren’t as high, there’s a good chance your friend will forgive and forget.

“What will be your wish when you come to know you are going to die”

Most likely it will be to not die. After that, I will wish that my family knows I loved them and that I want them to be at peace with my death. Unless I’m 90 and they’ve put me in a home and forgotten about me, then I want them to know to watch out cause they’re getting a haunting.

“Must I ask my boyfriend about his wife?”

Is she alive or dead? In either case, I would say yes. If she is deceased, then there’s a good chance that he has a lifetime of memories with her and that she and her death has had some sort of impact on who he is today. She still exists in his memory and, if he has kids, her memory will continue to have an impact on the family as a whole. When someone dies they don’t just disappear so it would probably show a lot of class and care for you to acknowledge her and it will let your boyfriend know it’s okay to bring her up.

If she is alive..well then I might just want to know what’s going on with that situation. That’s just me.

“I still feel guilty about not being with my husband when he died”

I’m sorry, whether or not there is anything you could have done to predict or change these circumstances, I understand feeling guilty about not being there to hold your husband’s hand. Guilt is a very normal thing to feel after someone dies, Litsa wrote a post about this you might find helpful.

“Booze is good”

I must first point out the fact that alcohol is not a very constructive coping tool and abusing alcohol is never good. But yes, booze is quite good.

“Where to send passport when someone dies”

Here’s what you can do with a passport after someone dies…

  • You can keep it in your possession as a memento if you so choose.
  • You can send it in to be canceled and then have it returned to you. You can do this by mailing the passport in along with the Certificate of Death. For the canceled passport to be returned to you, include a letter stating your request.
  • Lastly, you can just send it in to be canceled and destroyed.

Send passports to be canceled to:

Attention CLASP
1111 19th St NW, Suite 500
Washington, D.C. 20036

Keep on Googling those grief questions and we’ll keep answering them even though you never directly asked us to. While you’re here, you may as well subscribe to receive our posts straight to your e-mail inbox.

 

March 2, 2018

13 responses on "Grief Questions and Queries: You searched. We responded."

  1. After taking care 24/7of my mother, just checking out of my life, I got no support from my brothers and sister only distant help. After two years I can’t face them or see them. They were all I head after my husband died. They are not there almost ever. I was left to clear up and sort out everything she ownedz. It’s killing me. What can I do? All it is , is alone with memories.

  2. I lost my husband 1 year ago due to lung cancer. We had 6 kids. I also have some health issues which put me on a disability check. I want to be with my husband and forget this miserable life. My grandson has been diagnosed with cancer, and my best friend died six months after my husband. I do not have a purpose here anymore and I feel so hurt. I have chosen to isolate myself with my dog. Is this normal?

  3. Nathalie HimmelrichAugust 7, 2014 at 3:46 pmReply

    Dear Eleanor and Litsa,
    I’d love to send you some chapters of my forthcoming book for peer review. What email address may I send it to?

  4. I definitely will! Publication date should be 1 Sept 2014!

  5. Thank you so much Natalie! Please let us know when your books comes out- we would love to check it out.

  6. Great post, Eleanor.
    You both are doing great work and your site is a fantastic place with a huge amount of details. I will definitely add your site as a resource in my forthcoming book “Grieving Parents – Surviving Loss As A Couple”
    Thank you, Nathalie

  7. Rose,

    Learning to deal with the things you can’t change is never easy! Just focus on loving them like crazy every day. I sincerely hope you find a way to deal with fear and anxiety, you deserve to live a life of peace and happiness.

    Eleanor

  8. Thank you so much for your advice Eleanor.I have been thinking of getting counseling for some time.I really need to get some professional help.I have one son who is 24 and another who is 28.They love their Harleys and dirt bikes and really fast cars.I cannot stop them from living their lives.They are good to me and I love them with all my heart.I really need to get over this fear.I definitely will be looking for a good councillor.Thanks again.

  9. Rose,

    I’m sorry you’ve been living with this fear and anxiety for so long. Of course after loosing someone in such a sudden and traumatic way it is very normal to experience feelings like this. It’s hard for me to give you any good advice because I don’t know the details of your situation, but if you feel like you’ve been living with these feelings for years I feel like I should ask whether you’ve taken the step to see a counselor? No one should have to deal with the stress of extreme fear and anxiety for so long and a professional might be able to help you dig into some of this and develop tools for copings.

    Eleanor

  10. I had tree sons I lost one in a car accident seventeen years ago.Now I am so
    afraid of losing another one it makes me ill just thinking about it.How do I get over this constant fear I am living with?

  11. Wonderful list and responses! Thanks for sharing!

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