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How to handle lack of compassion when dealing with different forms of grief.


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My husband (John) suddenly lost his father in January of last year. His parents were married for 30 years and we’re very happy together. Less than 3 months after losing his father, his mother informed him that she has found a companion. John had his own reservations but understood that he had no way to understand the grief she was feeling. He let his mother know that although he didn’t understand her decision, that he respected that it is her life. He communicated with her that it would take some additional time for him to be comfortable around the new man because of his own grieving. His mother’s response said that she understood but her actions proved otherwise. She began distancing herself from our family including our 3 young children that were severely impacted by the loss of their grandfather. My husband and I tried to talk with her about the way John was feeling about the loss of his father and the struggling relationship with his mother, but she had less than zero compassion for her son and got upset about the way he was feeling instead. Since then, we have tolerated the distance between our family and her and her boyfriend. We see each other occasionally and have had some pleasant moments with them. The anniversary of John’s father’s passing was the beginning of this year.  John’s mother planned a gathering with her late husband’s family for a surprise announcement of her new engagement. Although certain people are going to think it’s too soon, no one is upset about the engagement because it is her life. The main concern at this point is that we feel like she is being extremely inconsiderate of how the people around her feel. We want to be happy for her but the way she is handling things,  (especially having a surprise engagement announcement party for her late husbands family) feels really disrespectful. I just want to know if we have a reason to feel this way. We have all tried to be understanding, supportive, and compassionate. Several people in the family are debating on whether someone needs to talk to her about this or how we should handle it. It’s gotten to the point that she is ostracizing herself from her late husband’s family and no one wants to see that happen just because she doesn’t seem to realize how she is affecting them. 

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You guys are wonderful!  I am so sorry for what your husband and you are going through, and for the loss of your FIL.  You have tried talking to her, to no avail.  She may be in a cloud, where nothing is getting through, and it may take time for her to come around.  She is not the person to count on for support in you and your husband's grief...her relationship and way of dealing with her grief are different than yours, so it may be much better for your husband to talk this over with a professional grief counselor.  She undoubtedly doesn't see the effect of her choices right now.  I want to post some articles that may be of help in understanding.  I realize this is a lot of reading, perhaps an article per day?  I hope you'll continue to check in and let us know how you are both doing!  Sending you thoughts and prayers of comfort and peace. :wub:

Grief Brain-Widows Brain
Widow Brain
Grief causes relationship to suffer
Parent dating too soon after death?
Parental Grief, helping them

And although the relationship is different, the response seems to fit...Parental death on relationship
Grief Process
Grief Healing: Coping with “Brain Fog” in Grief: Suggested Resources
Grief Healing: Helping Another in Grief: Suggested Resources
Help another in grief
Help in grief
Helping a Grieving Parent
Mourning differences
Tips for Helping The Mourner

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It is helpful knowing someone else is having a similar experience.

My Mum died form MND/ALS in December 2019. A few months later my Dad has met a woman and at Christmas time, shortly after the anniversary of her death it is announced that they are getting married. My parents were married for 56 years. My Dad is 80, I am 52. I have felt that my Dad has been very insensitive to my grief. I won't begin to tell the story, as the number of incidents are many and it would be a long story. I agree that he and my grief have been handled differently and have been on a different time frame. 

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I am so sorry for your loss, no one ever replaces our mother.  We do handle grief differently and men seem to especially have a hard time being alone.  Your dad went through anticipatory grief, being as she had ALS, and as such perhaps moved through it quicker than you would prefer, although he is by no means done with his grief just because he's met someone else.  There is no prescribed time one should "wait" but rather it's very individual.  While I would caution anyone not to move too quickly into another relationship because they may not be able to see clearly right now, deep in their grief fog, ultimately, it is up to him.  I know it's hard for you to comprehend this, my FIL announced he was "in love" just one month after Mom passed and that was hard for us but we had no choice but to accept it...they had been married 40 years.  The lady never wanted to marry but she was a wonderful woman so I'm glad we weren't resistant to her.  No one could take the place of Mom, ever.  But this lady was his companion (separate households) and always present at family get-togethers.  She definitely enrich his and our lives.  It never detracted from our love for mom or our missing her.  Mom was bedridden with cancer for the last three years of her life, I took care of her in the daytime and dad had the nighttime.

Parent dating too soon after death?
Different Ways of Grieving

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