How do I deal with my wife's grief?

Especially for parents whose sons or daughters died by suicide.

How do I deal with my wife's grief?

Postby Stormn » Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:32 pm

My stepson took his own life on November 9, 2010. He was just shy of his fifteenth birthday. I came home from work and found him on our bedroom floor. He shot himself. As most of you have experienced, my wife was devistated. The two of them were great friends on top of being mother and son. They had been taking dancing lessons together for quite sometime.
Our first seven years together, we spent most of our time with each other. She took up dancing, with her son, and started going to dance functions with her dance friends. Approximately eight months after his death, my wife became more and more involved with dancing. A couple of nights a week turned into four or five nights a week. She goes to law school during the day and heads straight to the dance studio from school. I understand she finds comfort in dancing and it helps her deal with her grief. In counseling, she said she is not the same person she use to be. I understand that also. She has told numerous people I am the love of her life and I feel the same way about her, but I am having a real hard time understanding this new person she has become.
She doesn't seem to care about spending any time with me anymore. Dancing has become her priority. She will help out at the dance studio anytime she is asked. She attends every function she finds out about. Almost every month, the four or five nights has turned into six nights. I really miss spending time with her.
We have been to a counselor. The counselor focusses on her grief and making her feel better. I am all for that. I just wish there was some balance to her dealing with the grief by dancing and our marriage. She seems happy with all the time she spends dancing, but I am miserable because I get to spend little time with the woman I love so much. She is very loving the little bit of time we spend together, but I feel like dancing is the number one in her life right now. I am really having a hard time with the way she has changed.
Would love to hear other's experiences to help me through this.
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Re: How do I deal with my wife's grief?

Postby Bereaved1 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:02 pm

Dear Stormn, I am very sorry you are suffering, but, I think it's your own grief you have to deal with. Being in love with an absent person is very painful. With courage and working with your own counselor, you will be able to do what you need to do.
"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." Anais Nin
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Re: How do I deal with my wife's grief?

Postby marigold » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:37 pm

That is very good advice. I would say, too, if you can, ask if you can start dancing or go to all the functions and watch.

The other thing, is, I don't think that you can truly understand, unfortunately. I read that it's best to say something like: I can never understand your grief, but I want to be here for you, what can I do?

If you Google grief support, you can find different things to say and do that will help.

We will never be the same because of suicide, so we have to discover who that new person is. The first year is a time of shock. I'm 6 years out and still stabilizing.

The DSM lists the stress level of surviving a suicide as catastrophic. Catastrophic stress levels -- well, as a person who got Fibromyaligia from my grief most likely, I would say that exercise is a great way to stay physically healthy during the immense grief.

Keep reaching out -- it's hard but you can do it.
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Re: How do I deal with my wife's grief?

Postby Bereaved1 » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:54 pm

Wow! thank you Marigold. I have been through 7 Catastrophes through suicide alone. Thank you for sharing that. I guess I'm doing ok in spite of my shortcomings.
"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." Anais Nin
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Re: How do I deal with my wife's grief?

Postby marigold » Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:25 pm

Yep, it's listed in there as catastrophic. You are so welcome, it feels good to know that sharing that helped you! It sure did validate for me, too, what I was going through.

My H, too, has had to deal with my grief. He's been patient and there have been some rough patches. We almost split up this year, just too much stress. But, we keep trying, that's all we can do, yanno?

It does help when he says to me: It was a tragedy. Her thinking got distorted and she made a mistake and unfortunately she can't take it back.

It really calms me down when I get into thinking that I killed her somehow and that I let her down. He always says it calmly and firmly and it helps soothe me and stop the thoughts and pain.

Many hugs.
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Re: How do I deal with my wife's grief?

Postby Bereaved1 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 4:45 am

Thanks Marigold. I'm researching why WE need validation. I think it's because we are more empathic than ordinary people. We have uncommon sense. There IS more stress these days than most people can stand. I'm trying to see and encourage the good in people, not focus on the negative. Just pointing out error thinking and letting the person learn for themselves seems to be enough. I try to catch my own thoughts before they spiral downwards into fear and panic. It's possible to survive and thrive, maintaining integrity. Don Miguel Ruiz' writing has been very helpful, especially THE MASTERY OF LOVE - There's a good interview with him at http://www.spiritofmaat.com/archive/apr1/ruiz.htm#fn Hug you back...
"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." Anais Nin
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Re: How do I deal with my wife's grief?

Postby psyquestor » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:06 am

Storm, I am so sorry you have lost someone you care about to suicide. As the person who found him, I wonder how you are doing?

Yes, she lost a son and my heart aches for her, but you too have been through a trauma. It's true that many marriages fail after the loss of a loved one, but finding common ground can help keep you together. You have to learn about who you both have become after this; as it has changed you both. I'm glad you are getting counselling but it seems that you are not getting what YOU need from the sessions. Be honest with the therapist. Tell her you want to be supportive but you have fears. Only then can she begin to help mend what has happened to your marriage.

Let your wife know you love her and are happy she has found something that keeps her going, but you also need to spend time together. She may not have the energy right now to cope with anything more than just getting through the next day. Be prepared for that.

I was with my (now) husband for two years before I lost my son to suicide. He tried to be there for me and reach out, but I was so utterly crushed that I couldn't feel him there. I put up walls to insulate myself from further hurts; I just barely functioned. I started to lose my own battle with depression and complicated grief. He walked out and told me he needed to be happy again. He was suffocating in my grief. That was three months after my son passed and it was my wake up call. I sought help through therapy and medications. I had been seeing a therapist, but she wasn't helping. I got a NEW therapist who works better for me and for US. We are still together and were married last August. If not for that wake up call [which was harsh btw and I don't recommend that exact course] I would probably not be here now.

I wish you the best.
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I thought I would lay down and die after losing my Son to suicide.
Instead I chose to fight the monster that killed him.
http://www.afsp.org

Hold On, Pain Ends
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Re: How do I deal with my wife's grief?

Postby briansfolks » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:19 am

Stormn,
I am sorry for your family, you have been through so much. I find it so different than our situation. We lost our 28 year old son to a gunshot 7 weeks ago, since the funeral, my wife has withdrawn. She does not want to go out in public at all. She avoids it like the plague. We have not been to church since we walked out following the pallbearers. I have done the errands from the get-go. I am not sure how to handle my wife's grief, it has affected her deeper than anyone. She has made progress, but it would do her some good to chew out our son's wife for what events led up to him pulling the trigger.( They were not getting along because of her mental issues...Paranoid Personality Disorder that were ignored by her parents causing her to falsely accuse our son of cheating on her and such.) Oh, I have moments when I still breakdown and cry my eyes out, but I try to be alone when that happens. It appears good that your wife is keeping busy, that sure helped me, didn't have any choice but to get busy with clean-up, funeral planning and cemetery details, I also have a job to keep. She must get some comfort in helping with the dance studio, yet you need noogie too. Hopefully she will soon get enough of that and things will balance out, I'm hoping for the same here, but I worry nonetheless.
Grief is said to take it's own path through the survivors lives, but oh, how I hate it.
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