View Full Version : Grief and other people
12-27-2010, 03:29 PM
So I have been thinking about this a lot and talking to my friends who actually understand the place I am in and this is what I came up with. In difficult/life-and-death circumstances there are three groups of people. There are the ones who know how to deal with it, the ones who don't know how to deal with it, and the ones who don't want to deal with it.
Group no. 1 is a great blessing to me, I love them, and they are my lifeline. There are very few of them.
With group no. 2 I need to be ready to facilitate their grief and help them grieve my/their loss.
With group no. 3 some of them I need to confront and some of them are just a bunch of jerks who won't care regardless what I do or say so I just need to forgive them and move on.
My question is, does anyone have helpful suggestions about how to deal with group no. 2, any recommendations for books, materials, websites, etc. I just picked up Elizabeth Kubler-Ross On Death and Dying at the library and was wondering what else there might be out there.
Thanks guys and happy New Year!
12-27-2010, 04:32 PM
Wow. It's a hard question because even within category two there are so many personalities and characters. I don't have a book to offer up. What I have is this...I do have a close friend who fit category 2, ...and I confess I've been there myself. Most people don't change quickly, and whether the problem is not knowing what to say to you, or the difficulty is their own fear of suffering, really may not matter.
I felt totally clumsy and inarticulate when faced with someone dying or grieving a death. In knowing something of your own beliefs, I'd refer to Job, who was comforted by his friends as long as they said nothing and simply sat with him silently. Therefore, when I sense that feeling in others now, I try to speak honestly but without much emotion, in order to set the atmosphere for their comfort.. and I really am not up for a lot of crying and that kind of thing. I find that they are watching me for cues. Sometimes I tell them that while I receive a lot of comfort, Phil is given less. Caregivers often are given less and are bearing very heavy burdens, as you know. I try to send some toward him. I also try to wave off their obvious struggling for words, since as I said, I know what it's like not to have nice appropriate things to say.
Fear actually is more difficult. It's visceral, and in the case of my friend, no one she loved was ever going to die. Illogical, but her way of disregarding death or even suffering. When she saw me early into my diagnosis, she kept talking about trivia until I simply broke into the conversation, and laid it out plainly without any emotion. She cried, saying she couldn't handle it, and I told her she'd have to. I let it go until the next visit, and brought it up again, telling her how I was dealing with whatever was happening. This continued for a while, but slowly she began to talk. Lately she's wanting seriously to do anything she can, with nothing out of bounds.
Sadly, whatever the category two folks failed in the past cannot be redeemed, meaning we don't get a second chance to go back and re-do... but I think that trying to be matter of fact while being honest in your sharing can bring them around now, hopefully while you still need them.
One more idea just flashed through my head. Could you ask anyone who is very good in dealing with your grief (a category one person) to be a go-between of sorts, to let any of the category two people know what you are going through, and what, if anything, they could do which would be helpful? I believe there are often people who would be delighted to help if they only knew what to offer.
Wishing you more helpful, easy folks to make the journey less difficult. And I am very sorry you are having this to face.
12-27-2010, 07:51 PM
Another thing I've found... sometimes we stay in touch with people because we think it is what we are "supposed" to do.. But you know what.. it is not your job to have deal with their issues, or nurture them through their issues. This is time to take care of YOU. I've come to be a strong believer in "you can't fix them all" and if being around someone uses more of my energy than I have to give.. then I choose not to deal with them right now. And yes... that very much includes relatives and in-laws.
12-27-2010, 09:00 PM
Your compassion in wanting to help others deal with their grief is such a good thing. My experience is similar to Ann's and yours. So many folks (including me for most of my life) feel unsure about how to respond to or deal with death and dying. I also agree with Katie C's comments; however, for the folks you feel compelled to try and help, I have just a couple thoughts to add to Ann’s insights.
I tend to be outgoing and upbeat, so I use that to reach-out and break the ice, so to speak. Nothing forced or deeply emotional; no depressed, OMG I’m dying of ALS David; just my normal me. That one simple act has gone a long way towards making folks more comfortable and open. From there; patience, honesty, calm compassion and gentle facilitation seems to work well. I taught college for twenty years, which has helped. To be sure, it’s more about the other person than you. You’re helping and supporting them and perhaps - in time - they’ll be better able to do the same for you and others.
Regarding books, here’s a suggestion from perhaps a slightly different angle, Tuesday’s with Morrie, by Mitch Albom. Perhaps you’re familiar with the book. True story and a good read that was a NYTimes bestseller. It’s not a self-help book, but it has much to offer and discuss regarding life and death, dealing with others’ mortality and your own, and even ALS. Anyone who enjoys a good read – especially non-fiction – would appreciate the book. Perhaps you could recommend it to some of the folks you want to help as a way of starting a meaningful conversation. Just a thought.
12-27-2010, 09:09 PM
I just remembered I was given a book after my mother died. Tomorrow when I'm up and around I'll post the title/author. I'm sure Katie's on target about the folks who have a lot of issues, when the time left is short...or when for valid reasons you can't deal with it. I have a couple of long term friends I can no longer spend any time with since my role will always be to listen, while they never have followed my advice-- meaning there's no point in my talking (my speech is going) or listening--which takes a lot of strength, and their lives remain the same. I think there are relationships (your "group number 3" perhaps) you need to hold off until later.
My personal view is that parents (our in-laws as well as our own) have to be given time with whoever is ill. If any of them are among your group number two folks, (and I hope they aren't) then they need special license to have trouble accepting such bad news. I'll post the book info tomorrow.
Marjorie R. Wilcox
12-27-2010, 09:23 PM
I think learning all you can about the disease is the best factor for those in the 2nd catagory.... and coming here to learn how people react and cope.. ... an education and an awakening. Bless you all.
12-28-2010, 09:51 AM
The book I was given is called Letters from Heaven, by Claire Cloninger but I see it listed online as written by Mark Winter (if you want to look at it and reviews). Whether it is helpful or not would depend on the beliefs of whoever is grieving.
01-01-2011, 02:18 PM
I just finished Tuesdays with Morrie. I LOVE that book! Thank you so much for recommending it. It truly resonated with my heart and solidified how I feel about things. I told my husband about it and I hope he will find the strength to read it. I also borrowed another book by Morrie Schwartz and I can't wait to start reading that one. You are absolutely right about everything... thanks again!
01-10-2011, 02:14 PM
this is actually the first time i'm writing outside my journals. my 40 y.o. husband is dying of als in a nursing home 45 mins from our home. our 3 y.o. daughter and i have been left by everyone. my "family," my husband's family, and all the friends i thought i had, have completely jumped ship. there are no more phone calls, no visits, literally no one. you're fortunate to have 3 groups of people in existence for you. i haven't had a conversation with another human being in 5 days. my baby and i have each other and that is literally it.
01-10-2011, 02:29 PM
I am so so sorry mats loot. It's so unfair. Sometimes I just hate this big big world with all the oceans in the way! I wish I could give you hug and say I care. Give me a P M if you ever just want to talk and let it all out. I don't understand why people jump ship like that. It makes no sense and shows a large amount if selfishness.
01-10-2011, 02:32 PM
Welcome to the forum. Sorry about your husband!
Your situation is typical of a lot of pALS and cALS. However, if you wish, you have us to talk to!
01-10-2011, 02:59 PM
Sorry about the disappearing act with family and friends, that happens to alot of us. Welcome to the forum and maybe you can find friends and help here.
01-10-2011, 03:07 PM
How sad it is when a woman who has a dying husband and a babe to look after gets ignored by all, you will NOT be ignored here, I have found everyone here to be the MOST compassionate people, big HUG you.
01-10-2011, 06:09 PM
thank you, this is actually the most support i've received in the 3 endless years that i've been here in hell.
Well thank God you have found us then! Keep it coming folks...
Let it out. Youve been holding it all in for 3years. Thats not healthy for you.
We get it. We are living it everyday, too.
01-10-2011, 09:28 PM
My mother tried to start all that crying stuff and I cut that right off. I just said there was a time fir tears and now is not it. She dried up pretty quick, since she knows I won't put up with that.
I think that with the #2 type group, how you handle things is how they will. They can grieve on their own time, your is too precious to waste on emotions that have no good purpose.
I wish I was near you so I could help and hug you. But we are always here for you.
01-11-2011, 12:09 PM
when our baby was 2, i was her full time care, as well as the only caregiver for my bedridden husband. we had no visiting nurses, hospice, nothing. now he has a vent and has been placed in a nursing home (against our will). i've been trying to get him back home, which is what he wants, but don't know where to begin. i'm all my 3 year old daughter has now and i'm afraid if i ask for help from the wrong place or show the depth of my fear and sadness, my daughter will be taken from me. i'm to the point of wondering if i can rent a friend for a few months to help get us through this.
01-11-2011, 04:07 PM
You are NOT alone. We are all here to care,comfort and listen to you.
Also praying for you and your family. Blessings, Pat
01-11-2011, 06:22 PM
Category 3 people can become Category 1.
Probably they can go in the other direction too, but at least they tried for awhile.
Sometimes caregivers go through all 3 in the same day too! I know, have BTDT.
But they who remain stuck in Cat 3....yes, prob best you forget them.