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How Do I Help My Mother And Brother?

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I lost my beautiful father 2 weeks ago to a heart attack. Besides my own pain I also have to see my mother and bother hurt in ways I could never have imagined. My father was an exceptional human being and a hero to my brother and I. He was also the love of my mother's life. My mother is young (only 53) and my father was only 57. She tries to stay strong for us, but I can see that the pain is eating her up from the inside. I travel a lot for my work, and I feel so guilty that I can't be there for her in ways that my father could. The same goes for my brother... He is 28 and used to work for my dad in the family business. I can see he is lost and just needs my father's guidance, but I feel utterly incapable of filling his shoes.

How do I help these amazing two people with a loss so painful that its hard to describe?

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Eli, my dear, I'm so sorry to learn of the death of your dear father. From what you've said about him, I'm sure he was a remarkable man who is dearly loved.

I understand and appreciate your concern for your mother and your brother, but bear in mind that you're each mourning different losses, since the relationship you each have with your dad is unique to every one of you. So in addition to caring for your mother and your brother, be sure to give yourself permission to mourn the death of your father.

Simply stated, the best way to take care of your mother's and your brother's grief is to take care of your own grief first. That means learning all you can about what is normal (and therefore to be expected) in grief, so you'll be better prepared to understand your own reactions, as well as those of your family members, and you'll have a better idea of what you can do to manage them.

A good place to start might be for you to read these articles:

Grief: Understanding The Process

Helping A Grieving Parent

Helping Another in Grief

Baby Boomers' Grief

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I am sorry for the loss of your father, Eli. Perhaps the very best advice given to you was caring for yourself first. I know this to be true having suffered several losses in a short period of time. I have learned that when a loved one dies and that loved one was spouse. father, brother or sister each one grieves in their own role.


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I am so sorry for your loss. Sometimes we can't fill another's shoes, perhaps that is life's tribute to them and how irreplaceable they are. I felt that way when my MIL died and still do after all these years. Yes, as Anne says, you start by taking care of yourself.

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