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marytim

Sister going through a tough time

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My sister is under complicated grief as her husband passed a few months back. I really want to help her. She is just 29 years old and she needs to live her life. She quit her job a few days ago and is now sitting at her home all alone. Last day my mom and I visited her home and we were shocked to see her. I think she didn't have a good sleep after brother-in-law's loss. There are dark circles under her eyes and it seems like she didn't wash her hair for weeks, even her room was untidy. My mom cleaned her room and asked her to take a shower. We are really worried about her and we tried to convince her to stay with us but she said she needs to be alone for some more days. Since her situation is becoming worse I'm thinking of taking her for a complicated grief treatment from cbt associates in Toronto. Will that be useful? I even thought of taking her for a small vacation but she rejected it so I dropped the plan. Is there anything else that I can do to help my sister?  

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I lost my husband on May 17,2016, it is very hard, the best thing you can do for your sister is be there to listen to her and let her know you care about her, you can not fix her pain, there is no fixing grief it is a journey we must go through at her own pace she will hopefully find her way, when you lose your soulmate you lose a part of you, you need people just to listen,offer a shoulder  cry on, sometimes it is nice just to know you can cry and not have someone tell you how to make the pain go away, I know you want to help the best thing is just be there in her presence let her cry,vent if she has to it will be hard but grief is hard everyone has their own way of dealing, if she feels like it would help her maybe she could get a counselor but that is her choice,right now she is trying to figure out how to go on without her love some days just getting out of bed is an accomplishment to us, you could let her know you will be over on a certain day to do a specific thing for her, try to stay away from sayings like" If you need anything let me know" because the one thing we feel we need we can't have, and sometimes we are not sure what we need. My heart goes out to her I hope she finds some peace in her journey

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She is very lucky to have you and your mom that care for her.  Try to leave "should" out of your vocabulary when speaking to her, remembering that this is all normal grief response.  It's going to be a long haul.  I'm glad you're getting her grief help, but understand that nothing cures grief, it is something we carry and work through the rest of our lives.  A few months is a drop in the bucket...it's been eleven years for me.  I have had to work hard at my grief, it takes time and effort.  I got grief counseling, did art therapy, journaled, did things to honor him and so much more.  It took me probably three years just to process my grief, but it's something I carry inside of me now.  I've learned to cope and adjust but nothing about it was quick or easy.  Every day I think about him and miss him, it's just how it is, he was the most wonderful man in the world and our love was extraordinary and amazing.

Like Robin said, just be there and listen to her, no judgment, no cliches.

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I'm so sorry to learn of your sister's tragic loss ~ and how good of you to be concerned and wanting so desperately to help.

You don't say how your brother-in-law died. If he was in hospice care, your sister has available to her 13 months of bereavement support at no cost to her, and you could call the hospice's Bereavement Services office to ask for someone to reach out to her.

I understand your thinking of "taking her for complicated grief treatment" ~ but that depends on her willingness to go, and it is based on the assumption that her grief is "complicated." Without a thorough assessment by a qualified therapist who knows and understands the grief process and what is outside the range of "normal," it is difficult to say whether your sister's grief is "complicated." (See, for example, What Is Complicated Grief?) Normal grief can leave us feeling, behaving and looking quite "crazy" ~ not only to ourselves but to those who care about us ~ and yet in most instances, grief is a normal response to significant loss, and how it manifests itself depends on lots of individual factors (e.g., personality, gender, age, past experience with loss, usual coping mechanisms, available support, degree of attachment to the one who was lost, etc.)

I agree completely with the suggestions already offered by Robin and Kay ~ and I also think it may help you to learn more about the normal grief process, so you're in a better position to understand and evaluate your sister's responses. Here are some resources that may help:

Grief: Understanding The Process

Common Myths and Misconceptions About Grief

Helping Another in Grief

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