Author Topic: How can I help my husband  (Read 146 times)

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Offline Gemmylou

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How can I help my husband
« on: August 03, 2018, 01:45:59 AM »
This is hard to write so i apologise if it doesnt make sense. 1 year ago my father in law died following a heart attack. We were on holiday but made it back home in time to be in intensive care when the machines were turned off. My husband was understandably upset but his father was an alcoholic and it had been a strained relationship and his death while sudden wasn't a complete surprise. Throughout the months that followed my husband helped his mum cope with her loss and I don't think he really dealt with his own loss.
6 weeks ago my mother in law phoned to explain that she wasn't feeling well and she had phoned the Dr. The Dr had visited and she was prescribed antibiotics. My husband went and collected them and settled his mum for the evening. The next day she said she wasn't feeling any better. My husband asked for the Dr again. The Dr came and got her sent to hospital. My mother in law told my husband she would phone him when she had been assessed and that he should take our son home. Paramedics assured my husband that they would phone. That was the last time he spoke to her. She had a stroke in the ambulance due to clots on both lungs which travelled to the brain. 11 months after losing his dad we found ourselves back on intensive care switching machines off for my mother in law. Understandably this has floored my husband. My strong dependable man is a shell. He has sought help from a chaplain friend of the family. We are not religious but he feels that this support helps. Today he told me that he wants to feel better and he wants to feel something more than this grief and sadness. He has previously self harmed (around 14 years ago Before I met him) which he had counselling for and to my knowledge hasn't since. I dont know what to say to him. I want to help. I want to take away his pain but I can't. My dad has been trying to help. They are very close and often go golfing together. I just feel useless. I have had to go back to work. I have a stressful job but the distraction helps me but I Come home and don't know what to say or do to help him. We have 2 children who are amazing despite being young and my son is giving him projects to help keep him busy. I'm worried he will start self harming or worse if not dealt with. Anyone had to deal with this before? Any suggestions for me to help him? Thanks all sorry it's such a long post.

Offline Karena

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Re: How can I help my husband
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2018, 12:57:00 PM »
Hi - no need to apologise for long posts.
Its really difficult to know how to help some-one when you are so close - but at least he isnt clamming up and thats a good thing - its good that he has the minister to talk too and your dad and sometimes it is easier to talk to people outside the home.
It is really early days and this is not a short term thing - you are right that in stepping up for his mum and being the strong one he is ow also re living that grief for his dad - one grief often re triggers another so he is probably grieveing for loss of them both.

All of us have had the feeling of trying to escape the grief and not feel sad all the time -i think accepting that we are grieving and actually we cant escape that is a key to understanding it.
If we broke a leg we would want to get up and walk or run but wouldnt expect to be taking part in a marathon any time soon - in the same way reducing the sadness is a slow process and happens only a bit at a time - in a way its the same thing just not a physical injury - with the leg we would expect a period to convalesce and rebuild our strength and we need to do the same with grief but because we cant see the plastercast we have less patience with ourselves.

Then there,s the guilt when we do have a good day - the first time we go out, have a laugh, forget, not the loved one we lost, but that we lost them for a few minutes and  in jumps mr guilt, and we start thinking we are in the wrong we shouldnt have done that it makes us monsters.
We dont want to forget them or let them go but we want to stop being sad all the time.and that in itself feels like a conflict.

First thing is to accept that its ok just to feel how we do at a given time, but we also need to learn to think of those we lost in terms of remebering their whole life - collecting memorys of much better times together helps the ones around the end of their life become less important.
 One way to do that might be something you can do - sugest too him that you create a memory book or box for your children - that its important to keep them as real people too their grandchildren rather than them remembering just the sadness that descended when they died - but without having got to know their granparents as people who lived long lives before that moment.
 Doing that as a familly means sharing tears,and there will be tears, but also sharing all that other stuff - funny or foolish things they did that he can tell your children about,habits they had, traditions they had - By starting to talk like that we start to remember them in a different way, less as some-one we lost - more as someone who lived, and in living shaped us -  when i lost my husband my step son dug out a pair of speedos he remembered being highly embarassed seeing his dad wear them ( it was before i knew him) - but we had a laugh over those speedos for all that we were filled with sadness too going through his stuff  - crucially we need to think of them as  some-one who would not want us to forget them but also would not want us to live the rest of out lives feeling sad about losing them.

Its not a quick process its a roller coaster journey some days will be worse than others  - anniversarys birthdays xmas etc , but perhaps its a start - initially he may refuse - say he cant bear to look at old photos etc and it is a bit soon perhaps -but if he does refuse maybe later he may see it differently. Maybe you can help by giving him an outlet for his grief too  a place to go - or a new tradition to start on those anniversarys  - not necessarilly a grave or headstone  but something else - a memorial tree,or a place with happy memories associated with his childhood where you can  take a picnic and spend familly days  - that way you are affirming the occasion but  it doesnt need to be a sad ritual just a shared one.

Mostly give him the space he needs - but that doesnt mean not being there to support him - so for example  if he is going to find an event like xmas difficult because they wont be there when they always have been before -allow him that - but suggest other ways you can spend that day without it being a disapointment for your  children  -or on the other hand he may feel the opposite and want to replicate their traditions - so go with the flow on that too but nearer the time ask him what he wants to do and if he doesnt know, sugest some ideas.

He is very lucky to have you and that you care so much and understand his being so devastated, you may be suprised the number of people whose spouses have difficulty understanding how much it affects their partners life -   its probably been a huge shock for you too so dont neglect yourself either, even if you were not close too them they were still a part of your life too. :hug:
If he is able to talk to others - and now he has you and your children in his life it is different from when he self harmed before when perhaps he didnt have those choices , so by all means keep an eye on that but try not to worry too much, that when he says he wants to feel somehing else he necessarilly means physical pain  from doing that -   give him loads of hugs and re-assurance, but also sometimes we want to escape for a while by doing something new or something normal  - so just as your children giving him projects helps. sometimes everyday stuff does - ask him to cook a meal, and do every day stuff - maybe plan a day out with the kids - he may want to talk about his grief  but not all the time - Striking the balance between that, but at the same time not making him feel you are riding roughshod over his emotions isnt easy.
You could sugest he goes to the GP to ask about bereavement counselling or contacts a bereavement help group such as cruise if you think he would be receptive too that or there is any further signs that he will self harm. 

Offline Gemmylou

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Re: How can I help my husband
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2018, 09:55:01 PM »
Thank you so much for your heartfelt reply. The way you relate grieving to recovering from a physical injury is a good analogy and 1 I will relay to my husband. He is a practical man and he may be able to use this as a way of understanding his feelings.
It is his birthday next week and an occasion I know he is dreading due to not receiving a card from his mum. I suggested that we do not send cards but he doesn't want this. He wants to face it which I suppose is good but I know he will find it hard. I am pleased he is talking to me about it. It's hard to hear sometimes and I'm terrified of saying the wrong thing so often I say nothing and just let him talk. I just hope that I'm doing the right thing. I do thank you whole heartedly for your reply.

Offline Emz2014

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Re: How can I help my husband
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2018, 08:33:27 AM »
Not much I can add to karenas great advice.

Being there listening, giving him the space to talk is so valuable.  That patience is so helpful, I found my mood could change so quickly or even be so confusing
Also ensure you have some support too.  It's not easy supporting someone else through this journey, so hope you either have a family member or friend you can talk to or we're here too xx
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. 
Hold on in there xx