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Mark_Cutler

How We Each Grieve The Loss Of A Relative - The Gay Christian Network

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Posted

I recently lost my cousin to cancer, the very same thing my dad died of in 2001. I try to handle my grief through talking to others, like my therapist. I also write poetry about my feelings for these people I've lost. I try to remember them when they were strong, like my dad when we went on fishing trips together. My mom, when I was a boy and we would go downtown to department stores. Those sort of things get me through my grief. So let's here others' views, I'm anxious to hear how other people here handle their grief.


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Mark, this is a great subject. As a retired funeral director, I can tell you, there are as many ways to deal with death as there are people. OR on the other side, not to deal with it.

Support of the closest of relatives is most necessary after the initial ten days. That is when everybody has gone home and the house begins to close in. That is when we need to make contact. Get the person out of the house, send those cards and letters, always helping them to remember the good times.

I have lost my mother when she was 55, my father at 77, and a brother at the age of 56. I dealt with it, but doing my job. Nobody, but nobody is as good at what I do than I am. If you can't believe in yourself, who's going to believe in you. That gave me the closure I needed.

I suppose my dad was the hardest. Mom's loss was devastating, but welcomed. She had suffered for so long with cancer and death was a release for her. It hurt, as all deaths hurt, but after all it was mom. Dad hurt so badly because that was the end of the family. He was all I had left and with his passing I just felt isolated and alone.

My brothers and I were close until I moved south and then we became estranged to a point. Oh, we talked on the phone and when it became time to be thinking about what to do at his death, I made the trip up to IN and helped them with his pre-arrangements.

Not a day goes by I don't think of them, but more importantly I try to maintain a relationship with my last brother. He and I are closer now than ever, because we are it and as we advance in age, we realize that one day, it will just be one. That will be a bad time for one of us.

I look forward to hearing what others will write. It isn't the dealing with death that bothers me. It is the NOT dealing with it that causes so much pain and hardship.

I don't want to monopolize the conversation, so I will end now, but if anybody wants a different perspective, please feel free to ask a question.


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Vincent_Lee_53337
Posted

Hello Mark. Very sorry of your lost. Myself has lost my dear mother just about 3 weeks ago. She was my confident, my life and inspiration. She battled a sickness for 7 years and Lord came to bring her to a peaceful place called Heaven. Every night and day, I will think of her. Her undying love is incomparable and no words could describe her. She was an Angel and forever will be. Just think of all the great time you ever shared with your loved ones and celebrate their life. Shed tears only of joy and always remember that those time you had with them only belongs to you and no one else's. Treasure and cherish every moment of them cos beautiful memories last forever.
My heartfelt condolence to you, my friend, be strong.


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Patrick, Vincent, thank you for your insights here. I write poetry and keep sort of a journal of the times I spent with my parents before their deaths. Patrick, my mom was 55 when she died, and it was sudden, a stroke. My dad was 79 when he died, but I know he no longer had to suffer. He had bone marrow cancer. I have no brothers or sisters, so Patrick I know exactly what you mean by the house seeming to close in when the last of the family is gone. That's what I felt after my dad died. Keep them coming people. I'm interested to hear from others.


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Okay here goes,
Before my father divorced my mother our relationship was over. I was 12. He suffered an anurysem (sp) when I was newly married and Stanford couldn't do the fairly simple surgery to save his life because of his extreme abuse of alcohol, so they sent him home where three days later it exploded and he died on the way to the hospital. It was Aug.31.1981

Nine months my only sister was killed in a car accident. She was a passenger as well as her best friend who used to call me "her big sis". They say my sister was dead within a hundreth of a second. How do they know. We had shared a room for 16 years. When my mom's friend called I rushed to my mom. Later that day I had to go to the scene of the accident. I've never found an accident scene so clean in my life. My sister always stuck up for the underdog and the driver, a girl her age was driving at speeds over 90 mph when an alhambra truck with glass bottles had proceeded across an intersection when this girl slammed on the breaksand yanked the wheel to the left, killing to amazing young girls, the driver walked out of the hospital 6 days later. It literally tore our part of the neighborhood apart. My sister and her friend were the babysitters of all the young kids in our area. I ended up outside every day trying to answer their questiond and comforting them. We had a special time for the children to come in with or without their parent so they could ask more questions and say goodbye. I didn't know it then but I had shoved my feelings away. I had to. When my mom went in she was so beyond consolable. Her baby was dead. When my little brother went to come in he bolted back out the door so I left my mom with family-my grandmother two Aunts and Uncles. He was sitting in the hall sobbing and crying that he couldn't see his best friend that way. A little later my mom came out and they sobbed together. Shortly after my sisters service was packed and then her friends was packed. Families moved from the nieghborhood. My oldest brother was dishonorably discharged from the service because on a layover he got so drunk he strpped naked and ran like a maniac through the airport. One woman who was very close to both teens whose son my sister babysat actually had a breakdown. I was still stuffing all this away. I had to fight the pleas from my mother to move home. She couldn't face the loss. I still stuffed it away. My husband and I divorced the same year. I still pushed everything away.
In 1989 my oldest brother went off the side of Metcalf road and slammed into a tree, they revived him but he died anyway. Ihad some friends that I was very close too (they were husband and wife) I was so much a part of their world. He ended up stabbing her to death 27 times and left the knife in her throat and then went in the backyard and shot his head off with a double barreled sawed off shotgun. My friends around me accused me of having no feelings. That wasn't true, but now I had no one to talk to so I kept everything shut down. In 2003 we lost four family member one Uncle in feb. My grandma May 2nd, my mom who had become my best friend ever became suddenly ill and I signed the paperwork to take her off the machines died on Memorial day, and my other Uncle died aug.6. By then I had climed into the bottle,any bottle that was cheap. Ibecame the executor of my mom very small estate, which had been my home for sixteen years. I had to find somewhere were I could afford to live which was Hayfork. God eventually got me out of the bottle but I was alone with nothing but my dog Boo. I had a matress pillow two blankets, no stove or microwave, no frig, lived out of an icebox for 5 years. People didn't even know I lived in that house for a good 5 years. No car. A buddy here lent me his bicycle. One day Boo got sick, I took her to the vet thinking someone had poisoned her. When I got to the clinic the next day I knew she'd only got worse she couldn't see or hear me and the vet came out amd said "I'm so sorry but something is horribly wrong and she is suffering so once again I signed papers and held her as I sobbed and sobbed. I know that a great deal of those tears were for my mom,grandma and sister. I clumpped my losses. I still do at time. I don't mourn the loss of my father or brother because they were my biggest perpatrators in my young life. I dearly miss my sister and grandma and part of my soul was permanently torn away when my mom died. All three past in May and all their birthdays are in October. Those will forever be hard and sad months. My only joy is knowing I will see them again and I will admit I have tried severl times to rush that process and evem pleaded with myLord to let me just go to my real home. I still weep. I still feel ripped off. Now my friends my age are just starting to loose parents and siblings and I will cry with them and be there after other get back to their lives.when the phone calls stop and friends quit coming. (Oh andby the way I still have two brothers left and we NEVER SPEAK. All I can say is ..........whatever) sorry this was so long and I cried as I typed so I'm sorry for any typos


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That's quite alright this was long, you had to get it out of your system somehow and to someone who would listen. That's why I put this in here, so we could all console one another on our loses. I am so very sorry for all the many losses of family members you have had. Take care


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Tonia_Docter
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This is a WONDERFUL topic for this forum! There is this fantastic children's book on death called Tear Soup (I can't remember the author) but I HIGHLY recommend it for anybody of any age. It talks about a grandmother explaining to her young grandson as to why she cries so much about the loss of his grandfather. She tells him that everybody has their own recipe for their Tear Soup and their own cooking time for their Tear Soup. No ingredients are wrong and not everybody needs to use the same ones. It even gives a list of ideas for ingredients.

I still have both of my parents but I was raised very closely by my grandparents and other extended family...I was also the caretaker for for some of them in their final days. I lost an aunt to breast cancer and just a few days before she passed I was in the hospital with her and I painted her nails (something we used to do when I was growing up) and she loved it and said that my uncle would love it...my uncle had passed a couple of years earlier, but she had them pretty for the service.

Then on Christmas Eve of 1999 I lost my paternal grandmother...my grandfather and I were her caretakers until very close to the end end when we had to put her in a home. She kept saying that she was making plans to go home for Christmas...nobody had the heart to tell her that we would all have to come visit her there...she showed us. That year that side of the family was supposed to get together on Christmas Eve and Grandma wasn't doing well so we all went to say our goodbyes and she passed that afternoon...she went home to Heaven for Christmas...just like she was planning.

My maternal grandmother went next...in the end she was living with my parents where I was a help to my mom giving her breaks and spending as much time with her as possible until she had to be moved into a hospice facility...even there I stayed most nights because she would give the sweet nurses a hard time about how clean the place was and I was the only one she would take her meds for. I remember stroking her hair until she would fall asleep. She passed the 7th of January.

I had to say my goodbyes to my paternal Grandfather before I moved out here to California...I knew that I wouldn't be able to see him again and I wasn't able to make it back for the funeral. He was such a strong and powerful influence in my life...always believing in me and supporting me...after my divorce when all of my family chose my ex-husband's side my Grandpa supported me. He supported my contract management work that I got that involved moving every 6 months and even encouraged me to start anew. He passed 2 years ago and I chose not to go back for the service...I chose to remember him for the happy memories...plus I got a DVD of his service and a video tribute album.

I have also had 3 miscarriages...I know that those angels will be waiting for me when I pass but they are pieces of me...the 3rd was from a rape and I still love that one just as much. When I was little and people would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up I said a mom and an artist. I was a published artist by the age of 5 and a foster mom to 13 kids much later.

There are other kinds of loss as well that just simmer in our pots of Tear Soup but with the support of other family or friends, therapists or other creative outlets everybody can make the perfect Tear Soup for themselves. It doesn't matter how long it takes and it doesn't matter how you grieve...all that matters is that you keep putting one foot in front of the other. The loss is always going to hurt and you are always going to miss those broken pieces of your heart...you have to be creative and start making new memories.

For my miscarriages I made a mixed medium mobile with crystals for the birthstones of the months that I lost them and I gave them each a name of love in a different language because they were lost too early to know their genders. It was prayed over by a local pastor and his wife and it hangs in my studio...I smile and feel peaceful when I look at it everyday.

I'm a big believer in living memorials or artful memorials...planting a special tree on the anniversary, making a special quilt out of their favorite t-shirts and screen printing pictures of that person when they are happy and alternating those in with the t-shirt squares or releasing balloons in their favorite colors on their birthday with a notecard attached with a little message just for them. And just because they are gone from this Earth doesn't mean that you can't talk to a picture of them...just don't let anybody tell you that you should be "over it" by now" because ONLY YOU can determine how long it will take to make YOUR Tear Soup. And above ALL else asking for help is not being weak...you are showing how much strength you have to admit that you need some support.

Sorry for writing a book.


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I have never heard of the book Tear Soup, Tonia, but it does sound like a wonderful read for someone who has lost someone. I think you are correct, when you say don't let anyone tell you, "Aren't you over it yet?" It is over when we want it to be, and maybe never. We should also keep photo books of these people, I know that along with my poetry, it helps. Sometimes it helps me to write a poem about that person, if I am looking at their picture.


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Shalom_Lamanilao
Posted

When my Mom lost her her father (my grandpa), I made the mistake of saying "You have to let him go." The phrase is somewhat similar to "Aren't you over yet?", in my opinion. What I didn't know at that time is that in a few months after, I will be eating these words!

Several months after my grandpa's death, I discovered about a death of a classmate of mine who passed away almost 10 years from now. That classmate was a good friend and a gentle soul, and the news of his passing brought me to a depression. Even as I write today, I am still sad with my classmate's sudden passing. He was way too young (he died at 18 yrs old) to die.

For me, the sadness that we experience in times of a loss of a relative, etc. may or may not go away. The way I dealt with my sadness is by simply accepting the fact that I would never ever get over my classmate's death. His memory will always trigger emotions of sadness. I know that as time goes by, the memory of his death will fade away and so will the grief. I'll just let time take its own course. In the meantime, every time I remember my classmate's death or remember him, I just simply fill my mind with joyful memories of him, his laughter, etc....I even talk to him in times of distress. I know that's a little bit crazy-town but I don't care. I believe that he is watching over me like an angel.

My sincere apologies to you, Mark. I hope that you'll find the closure that you need regarding your cousin's passing.


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Shalom. I don't think there's anything wrong with talking to your guardian angel. I talk to mine. That includes a classmate who died like yours too early in this life, she died at 19, taken tragically from this world. I do console in her when I am depressed. I remember her smile, laugh, and how she had that easy ability to make others smile and laugh with her.


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Shalom, and the rest of you, I have really enjoyed reading your missives. Being a funeral director, I have seen about everything you have mentioned.

Multiple deaths in a family is not unusual. It seemed when I would see a family, I would see them again in a short period of time ... usually in threes. That always amazed me, and I removed the phrase, "See you later," from my farewells.

I don't think it is necessary to "forget." You never forget. It is how you deal with the death afterwards. It is good to mourn. That is the minds right to deal with the loss. Nothing pissed me off more than to have a child tell the mother whose husband of 60 was lying in a casket, "Now Mom, Dad wouldn't want you t carry on like this." Damn it, it hurts! It is a pain as real as having your finger cut off. It is part of the mourning. Tears are cleansing and help start the process of recovery.

Where people make a mistake is trying to hide from grief in not viewing the body after death. It's called the realization of death. Seeing is believing and that viewing is so important. I have, over the years, dealt with families who could not view the body because of accident or some other form of death that made it impossible. Of course there are those who choose immediate cremation without any services. These folks seem to have the most difficulty in dealing with death and it haunts them for longer than it should, because they are simply not allowing their minds to wrap around the concept that someone is no longer with us.

Of course I could go on and on with situations, but I think I will end now. Just remember, it is okay to cry. It is okay to admit your feelings and it is okay to miss someone. When handled properly, these feelings of dread will pass and good memories will take their place.


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