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Help with Grief (please be kind)


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My brother died by suicide on January 1st. I'm a mess. I'm so so angry - not at him. It's a complicated situation and I'm full of guilt - but I'm really overcome with anger at another player involved. I feel like burning the bridge between us to the ground, but I'm not sure that's what I want long term. But I'm just so full of rage. 

Also, but separately, my brother-in-law and his wife  did not acknowledge my loss in anyway (for 6 whole weeks) until I got a text from my SIL on Saturday. I'm so, so hurt by this. I don't know where to go with that pain either. ETA: they live 15 minutes away and we've always been reasonably close. Thoughts on how to handle this part?

How do you handle such intense grief and pain? Any suggestions? I'm taking it out on my husband and family and I don't want to be this person. I feel so lost. 

Edited by hippymamato3
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I'm so sorry for your loss. It's so very hard.  And I'm sorry you're not getting the support that you need. Is this brother (the one who ghosted you for weeks) biologically related to the one who passed away? Was he overcome with his own grief that he couldn't manage, or was he just being thoughtless?

I would recommend a therapist or a grief group. Likely there are some groups that are made of those who are left behind from suicide. 

Again, I'm so very sorry. And anger is super common in these situations. Good for you that you are able to be self aware enough to know that the anger is not everyone elses' fault and that this is an expression of your grief. 

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I am so sorry.

Because loss of a loved by suicide adds so many more layers to the grief and pain, it would really help if you could find a grief counselor skilled in this area who can help walk you through all this.

Alliance for Hope is an organization of support for those suffering loss of someone close to them from suicide. This web page is where to start; click on the "new survivors" link to read suggestions of how to cope in these early days. Then there are links for books that may be of help; a community forum; a search engine to help find a local support group; and the ability of phone/skype consultations with professionals if there is no support nearby locally.

May you be granted peace in the midst of this terrible storm. Warmest regards, Lori D.

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You keep going because the world keeps spinning, whether you want it to or not.  A few thoughts (having also lost a loved one by suicide):

1. It's ok to be angry. It's even ok if some day you feel really angry at him.  You get to feel whatever the heck you are feeling.  You don't need to apologize for it, or explain it, or whatever.  Feeling is a healthy part of grieving, and I think danger creeps in when we don't allow ourselves to feel.

2.  People don't know how to handle others who are grieving.  We do a crap job as a society at grieving and we no longer have the customs (like wearing mourning colors) to know how to deal with it all.  When people don't know what to say or do, they ignore you because they don't want to feel uncomfortable themselves.  It's not fair, it really sucks, and in my own experience, friendships have both been born and died on big turning points like this.   You can either choose to say, "thanks" to SIL and let it go or you can choose to point out that you felt hurt by their neglect. "This has been so very painful. I have felt really alone because no one reached out to me in those early days and weeks."  

3. My caveat to #1 and #2 is while we get to feel whatever we want to, it's not helpful to lash out at others.  If you want support, taking out your negative feelings on others only drives them away.  I am not saying that you have done that, would do that, or whatever....I'm just telling you what I had to tell myself daily to not implode a bunch of family situations on my own.  I highly recommend baseball bats, breaking dishes, kickboxing, whatever you need to do physically to work through the hormones of anger.  I used to throw ice at my back fence. You get the double joy of breaking the bag up into pieces with a knife or wooden spoon plus hurling it.  

4. Expect to need a year to feel fully yourself again, at minimum.  Seriously.  

5. Counseling. 

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I’m so, so sorry. I agree with Lori D’s recommendation to seek assistance from people who truly understand the complications of this type of loss. Anger is also very common in grief and loss that is outside of the typical order of nature. I have been in that place and I was not a lovely person for a while. 

I understand your anger, too, at those who avoided you. I have experienced something similar and I don’t know that I really forgive that betrayal. I am not friends with those people anymore. The best I could do is look at them as immature people and so I see it as their deficit; I didn’t “deserve” that treatment. 

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I am so sorry for your loss.  If you want to talk, we are here. 

I think you need to feel your feelings and whatever you are feeling is ok.   I would give yourself time, grief is a process and it takes lots of twists and turns. I think that yes in general we are not good with death.  We don't know how to support someone who is dealing with it.  I know that dealing with death and loss is probably a lot worse during a pandemic.   

I am not sure how to handle your BIL and his wife. I am sorry that they didn't reach out.  

Is there a support group for people who have lost someone to suicide that you can contact?  Or do you have a therapist? 

Is there anything that you can do to get some rage out?   Scream?   Go on a run.   Punch some pillows.  Turn the music up load and sing....

I had no idea about what this other person did.  I am not saying to leave them in your life or cut them out.  Whatever you decide is the best thing for you.  I would just give some space to that relationship until you figure out what you want to do.  Without having them in your life for awhile you can see what you need. 

Sending some more hugs. 

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I am so so sorry.  
 

I probably would tell  BIL and SIL how hurt I was by their lack of sympathy.  Try to keep the anger out of your voice...I do not do well with that but I know it is important to speak measured if you want to be heard.

 

As for the rest...well I know that grief can take a long time and your only sibling is a big deal to lose.  The brother I was raised with is very very different from me but I would be devastated if he killed himself.  And if I thought anyone had played a part in that I can imagine my rage would be difficult to contain. But my life experience has taught me that not containing rage only always makes things worse.  
 

My therapy has always been my friends and a couple of forums I trust.  My experience with therapists has been not so great.  But YMMV. 

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I'm so sorry for your loss.  Losing a sibling is hard.  A grief recovery support group might offer you some comfort and help.  Is there a Grief Share group near you?  If not, you might ask the funeral home or local churches if they know of a support group that might help.  ETA:  I looked, and some Grief Share groups are meeting online now.  You might be able to join one even if it's not local. 

Regarding your BIL and wife, did either of them speak to your dh?  If so, they may have felt like they did reach out, even if they didn't speak to you directly.  Even if they didn't speak to your dh, though, it doesn't mean they don't care.  Sometimes when there's a death, others who feel sad for you may not say anything because they genuinely don't know what to say, don't want to intrude, don't want to make you feel bad all over again by bringing it up, etc.  I know it's hard, but I encourage you to try to give them some slack on this one, if you possibly can.  When you are in a better place emotionally and feel you are able to discuss it with them calmly, you could let them know you wished they'd reached out sooner.  

Edited by klmama
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I am so so sorry for your loss

Anger is one of the stages of grief. It is normal to feel very angry. 

I wouldn't recommend talking to inlaws about how hurt you are at the moment. Wait a few months. In intense grief and anger you may say things you might regret later. 

I lost my father to suicide when I was a child

Huge hugs

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2 hours ago, hippymamato3 said:

My brother died by suicide on January 1st. I'm a mess. I'm so so angry - not at him. It's a complicated situation and I'm full of guilt - but I'm really overcome with anger at another player involved. I feel like burning the bridge between us to the ground, but I'm not sure that's what I want long term. But I'm just so full of rage. 

Also, but separately, my brother-in-law and his wife  did not acknowledge my loss in anyway (for 6 whole weeks) until I got a text from my SIL on Saturday. I'm so, so hurt by this. I don't know where to go with that pain either. ETA: they live 15 minutes away and we've always been reasonably close. Thoughts on how to handle this part?

How do you handle such intense grief and pain? Any suggestions? I'm taking it out on my husband and family and I don't want to be this person. I feel so lost. 

I'm so sorry for your loss.

It is hard to know what to say and your BIL and his wife may not have known what to say and been scared to say anything.  Especially, with a suicide, it seems so much harder to know what to say.

I'm so, so sorry.  

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I am so, so sorry for your loss.
 

I have lost important people to suicide in the last 18 mos or so - three of them - and it’s just so hard to process.  Therapy is a good thing, grief support.  I have a friend who lost someone close to her the same way several years ago, and it helped to talk to her.  
 

Sending hugs.

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I'm so sorry for your loss. 

I lost a BIL traumatically (not suicide--and I know that adds so much to the grief).  Anger is part of grief. Even, if it happens at some point, anger at the person who died can be part of it for many. It was for me. I felt guilty about that at the time--but it was part of moving through the grief for me. All feelings are ok. 

People are really bad at knowing what to do with other's grief. If you decide you need your in laws to know you are hurt, I'd perhaps have your husband tell them, just to take the emotion out. I imagine they didn't know what to say or do and made the mistake of just avoiding. I'm sorry that hurt got piled on. 

 I would not make decisions about relationships, contact (or anything big) right now.

Therapy helped here.  

I'll pray for you as you grieve. 

 

Edited by sbgrace
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I'm very sorry for  your loss.

Please think this through very carefully before burning bridges - not for the inlaws sakes - but children?  other innocent standbys?  who might become collateral damage.  You don't want other relatives to have to choose sides.    It just causes a lot of tension all around.

My father died by suicide when I was 12.    Long story short -  his mother took her anger and grief out on my mom.   - except we kids were caught in the crossfire.  She later calmed down, and did have some contact with us - but it was always awkward, and the damage was done.  She died five years after he did.

do they have particularly harsh beliefs about those who die by suicide?  that may have played into their behavior.

eta: and then there is just the problem that some people are profoundly uncomfortable with death, and don't know what to do.  That's why we have conventions for these things - but there are many who want to throw those conventions away.  but, they're not replacing them with anything, and when someone dies - they don't know what to do, so they do nothing.

Edited by gardenmom5
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I'm so very sorry for your loss.

As far as your BIL and wife...  If their general character is one that you trust, then it's likely that their silence resulted from just not knowing the right words or correct actions, and believing that you'd probably want privacy and space.   I'd let it go.   Sometime in the future when emotions are less raw, you can tell them that it would have been fine if they had contacted you right away, and in fact, you would have welcomed it. 

I also wonder if they might have reached out to your dh already and meant that to be for the both of you.

Edited by J-rap
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1 hour ago, J-rap said:

 

I also wonder if they might have reached out to your dh already and meant that to be for the both of you.

They did not. DH told them after about 2 weeks that I was very hurt that I hadn't heard from them. I still didn't hear from them. 

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I am so very sorry for your loss, and also that you are not getting the support you need and deserve.

You've gotten good counsel.

It takes so much time to process. Support, counseling, connections with others who knew and cherished him... and also, inevitably, time.

Holding you in the light.

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I’m so sorry, hippymama.

I agree that a grieving group or forum could help you navigate this better. Your intense feelings during this are completely understandable. At the very least, having others available who will listen can be helpful.

Something else that might help you with intense feelings is the free Mood Meter app. It was designed to help develop emotional granularity which is defined here, from the link below:

Quote

Label them [feelings, moods] accurately. Brackett says neuroscience supports the notion that “if you can name it, you can tame it.” Possessing a nuanced and specific vocabulary around emotions, what researchers call “emotional granularity,” has been found to be its own form of regulation. Prompt children to move beyond simple labels like sad or mad. Are they annoyed, disappointed or frustrated instead? Being able to accurately describe how we are feeling is an important way to get our needs met, says Brackett.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/10/23/how-manage-intense-emotions-both-your-childs-your-own/

This is not a quick process but over time might help you during moments of intense emotions.

Many hugs to you. ((( )))

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So sorry for your loss. 

As for your BIL and his wife, if they are like me they would not know what to say and probably afraid to say the wrong thing so they freeze up. Natural death is easier to acknowledge but suicide has so many layers people freeze up. I say this from experience sadly.

You should not have to, but if you can and I would say much later, please let them know how you feel. My friend did and it was a kindness to me because it taught me to look outside myself when I saw myself as an empathetic person. But we all can do better and often it takes the ones who should be supported to teach us.  

Meanwhile, please be gentle with yourself. Please go to grief counseling, therapy, journal and do whatever it takes. 

I will hold you in my prayers. 

 

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Thank you to everyone who responded. I have sent an email request to find out more information about a suicide loss grief support group that is somewhat local to me. I feel less full of rage today, and more just irritable. I don't like who I am right now. 

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image.png.bfe39824fc9c8cd8e5da193acb8faf8e.png

 

So sorry for your loss.  

Anger (and related emotions) are very much part of the Grief Cycle as it was defined defined by Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.  

Allow yourself to feel the anger, both at your brother, and also at the loss of the trusting relationships that you had and which have been broken by people disappointing you.   It is perfectly normal and OK to feel anger.  What your brother and the partner and your family did is hurtful, whatever their motivations and reasons.  

(((hugs))) as you go through this painful and difficult time.

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I'm so, so sorry.

I just finished a true story -- a memoir -- called The Comfort Food Diaries by Emily Nunn. The author's brother committed suicide and she was emotionally leveled, and ended up changing her entire life. (She was the food columnist at the New Yorker for many years.)

You are not alone.

Edited by Alicia64
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I am so sorry for your loss. 

I understand feeling hurt and betrayed by your in-laws. I don't know how to make that pain go away. But know that your pain is completely justified and I hope it will go away in time. (This is the part I keep writing and deleting because I can't say it right--just know that I am on your side). 

 

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2 minutes ago, Alicia64 said:

I'm so, so sorry.

I just finished a true story -- a memoir -- called The Comfort Food Diaries by Emily Nunn. The author's brother committed suicide and she was emotionally leveled her, and ended up changing her entire life. (She was the food columnist at the New Yorker for many years.)

You are not alone.

I was just coming back to post a similar thought.  I went through something 18 months ago that was horrific for me.  I am never going to be the same.  So @hippiemamato3 I don't know if that will make you feel better or worse, but I think when I acknowledged to myself that I was permanently changed I was able to start looking toward the future.  Of course, this for you is all VERY fresh.  Jan 1 was only 6 weeks ago.   It will take some time to feel some sense of normalcy.  

Even now I have days of such rage at certain people that I just want to scream.  I called a good friend who knows the whole story and she was able to talk me down.  It really is amazing how a good long chat with someone who will challenge you to be the best you can be will help so much.

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19 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

I was just coming back to post a similar thought.  I went through something 18 months ago that was horrific for me.  I am never going to be the same.  So @hippiemamato3 I don't know if that will make you feel better or worse, but I think when I acknowledged to myself that I was permanently changed I was able to start looking toward the future.  Of course, this for you is all VERY fresh.  Jan 1 was only 6 weeks ago.   It will take some time to feel some sense of normalcy.  

Even now I have days of such rage at certain people that I just want to scream.  I called a good friend who knows the whole story and she was able to talk me down.  It really is amazing how a good long chat with someone who will challenge you to be the best you can be will help so much.

Yes, there will always be a "before" and and "after". 

The after will be good as well, but it will be different. It may take awhile for you to be able to see the good in your after, but it will grow there, I promise. 

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1 hour ago, hippymamato3 said:

Thank you to everyone who responded. I have sent an email request to find out more information about a suicide loss grief support group that is somewhat local to me. I feel less full of rage today, and more just irritable. I don't like who I am right now. 

Good for you! Taking that step to seek support is hard, and going through the process of unpacking all of your thoughts, feelings, reactions to events will also be hard, but it is so helpful that you know you don't want to stay stuck in the stage you are in right now.

((((hugs)))) -- and be gentle with yourself as you go through all of these different emotions, sometimes several times in a single day. Deep slow breaths. One step at a time. Rest and heal.

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18 hours ago, Melissa in Australia said:

I am so so sorry for your loss

Anger is one of the stages of grief. It is normal to feel very angry. 

I wouldn't recommend talking to inlaws about how hurt you are at the moment. Wait a few months. In intense grief and anger you may say things you might regret later. 

I lost my father to suicide when I was a child

Huge hugs

I agree with Melissa. Don't talk to them yet.

I lost a cousin to suicide.  For me, I felt far more anger with that grief than losing my Dad, FIL or grandparents.  It still hurts in a different way.  But the anger did go away, the grief becomes less all consuming.

I am so, so sorry OP that you lost your brother this way. My aunt was helped a lot by an organization that is particular to suicide. 

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6 hours ago, hippymamato3 said:

Thank you to everyone who responded. I have sent an email request to find out more information about a suicide loss grief support group that is somewhat local to me. I feel less full of rage today, and more just irritable. I don't like who I am right now. 

I posted before I saw this. I'm glad you reached out like this.

Don't be too hard on yourself.  I'm glad today was better.

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Hippymama, I am so sorry.  I don't know what it is like to lose a sibling from suicide, but my only sibling died four years ago from cancer and so many people that I thought were going to support me ran away or ignored me (or worst of all, purposefully hurt me) during my time of grief and need.  I forgave some and restarted a relationship with them, others I just forgave in my heart but I couldn't re-establish a relationship with them.  It took therapy and reading many books on forgiveness and grief (especially out of order grief).  My two favorite books are (and I recommend them to lots of people!) It's OK that You're Not OK and The Book of Forgiveness.  They gave me understanding of the cruddy way our society deals with grief and the tools to give me the ability to forgive people who hurt me during my active time of grief.  

If you want to talk, I am a great listener and would be honored to talk to you.  Please PM me if you want to connect.

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11 hours ago, Hannah said:

 

Allow yourself to feel the anger, both at your brother, and also at the loss of the trusting relationships that you had and which have been broken by people disappointing you.   It is perfectly normal and OK to feel anger.  What your brother and the partner and your family did is hurtful, whatever their motivations and reasons.  

 

Is it weird that I'm not angry with my brother at all? I wonder if it is. 

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35 minutes ago, hippymamato3 said:

Is it weird that I'm not angry with my brother at all? I wonder if it is. 

I don't think it's weird.  It never occurred to me to be angry at my dad. (and I wasn't.)

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I am so sorry for your loss.  My nephew committed suicide in October and I feel like my whole world has been knocked off of its axis.  I have been alternately angry at him and everyone I have ever known.  I have found that many people, people that I know care about me, just dont know what to say to me anymore after the initial condolences, especially with the societal taboo that exists around suicide.  I even struggle with it because how many times can I ask my sister "How are You".  Of course, she is devastated.  It seems like the most worthless question and I think its common for people to struggle.  I have been trying to take my own advice to my sister and my mother, to try not to make what could be long lasting decisions in the midst of this debilitating grief.  I, myself, can only get through one day at a time, and honestly, its one minute at a time.  I have no idea if anything I just said is helpful or if I am just rambling, but know you are not alone.  

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6 hours ago, hippymamato3 said:

Is it weird that I'm not angry with my brother at all? I wonder if it is. 

I don't think it is weird.  We've had people close to us die from suicide and I don't think we've ever felt anger towards them...just deep sorrow.  

@littlebug42 I am very sorry for your loss.  

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7 hours ago, hippymamato3 said:

Is it weird that I'm not angry with my brother at all? I wonder if it is. 

No, I don't think its weird at all.  You can feel sad about losing him, but at the same time compassionate to the despair that drove him to suicide. 

I believe that anger is a basic "flight, fight or freeze" response which is driven by fear and mostly stems from feeling threatened, attacked. frustrated, vulnerable or powerless.  It is a response to feeling pain or of anticipating pain.  Anger fires one up to take action (fight) to eliminate the pain in some way.

So, in the case of feeling angry at someone you love taking their own life, the pain could stem from feeling betrayed or powerless or a similar emotion.  If you don't have that emotion, then there is no need for anger.

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1 hour ago, Hannah said:

No, I don't think its weird at all.  You can feel sad about losing him, but at the same time compassionate to the despair that drove him to suicide. 

I believe that anger is a basic "flight, fight or freeze" response which is driven by fear and mostly stems from feeling threatened, attacked. frustrated, vulnerable or powerless.  It is a response to feeling pain or of anticipating pain.  Anger fires one up to take action (fight) to eliminate the pain in some way.

So, in the case of feeling angry at someone you love taking their own life, the pain could stem from feeling betrayed or powerless or a similar emotion.  If you don't have that emotion, then there is no need for anger.

I agree with this completely.

However, you may feel anger at your brother at some point. Try not to judge yourself if you do. Look to see if it stems from any of the emotions Hannah listed. 

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