July 27, 2010,
E.W. asks from Jackson, NJ on July 26, 2010
Friend Lost Her Husband
A very good friend of mine lost her husband a little over a year ago (to cancer at 26 yrs old). They have a 3 yr old son (2 at the time of his death). She and I became friends a few months after her husband died. She never brought up his illness or how she felt about everything much, nor did I ask, because I didn't want to make her uncomfortable. Well, we have become very close and our boys are best of friends. Recently she has opened up about it more. She is having a really hard time, since the 1 yr anniversary just passed, as did her son's b-day, and father's day wasn't too long ago either. I feel horrible for her and my heart breaks for her every time I think about it. I suggested she go talk to some one, which she has, but doesn't find it very helpful. I don't know what to do to help, or make her feel better. She told me its in her head all day everyday. That she has happy moments, but the second she stops to think for a second, its there again. I guess I am just looking for any advice or experiences you may have with some one loosing a husband/father to child that is close to you. She keeps things in alot, so I feel special that I am able to be the friend she confides in. But I don't know what to say or how to help.
R.A. answers from Dallas on July 26, 2010
Oh my...First and foremost this story breaks my heart!!! I was 21 when my mom died of cancer. It was the worst thing in the world I had to go through. My best advice to you is to be there. She is now starting to trust you and starting to let you in. Just be there for her and listen. Remember the holidays, anniversary of the death, fathers day and any other important day. Send her a card and let her know she isn't alone in the grieving process. Let her know she has a friend and that she can call you anytime. As she communicates with you...ask questions. Ask her how she met him or things they liked to do. It will help her heal if she can remember the good and remember the wonderful parts of their relationship. Plus it will show her that care enough to ask questions. It always made me uncomfortable b/c I wanted to talk about my mom and some people would clam up and ignore what I said. That made it worse. My husband lost his dad a few years ago and he said the thing that helped him the most was when he was having a moment I would tell him that your dad loved you so much. He is with us and watching over our kids. I also would ask questions...I would say tell me a story about your dad so I can get to know him better. I found that he would get caught in the moment and be laughing remembering a very great memory. You can't take the pain away but by being a great friend you can sure make it a little easier. I wish you and your friend the best of luck!!!!
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J.G. answers from Cincinnati on July 26, 2010
This is so horrible, my heart goes out to her. I think that all you can do is be there for her. You can't make her feel better, you can just make her feel like she has someone. If there was a way to make things like that better, someone would be very rich off of it. We can't take the pain away, but we can make it a LITTLE more bearable.
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R.R. answers from Dallas on July 27, 2010
Two things strike me about your post. One is that she is talking to you about it. That is a huge step in the healing process. Let her talk. Ask her questions. It helps her to talk, so draw her out a little each time.
The second is the comment about it being in her head. My daughter collapsed in front of me with a heart attack at age 16. Once we went through all the medical horrors (including a heart transplant) - and things went back to "normal" - I couldn't get those seconds out of my head. I kept "seeing" her fall in my head. Like a movie clip in my head, over and over. I would cry every time I saw a helicopter, too. And I'm not an emotional type person. I finally went to the doctor because it was making my life difficult. The doctor said "oh, R., you have PTSD". He put me on anti-depressants for about 6 months and they helped SO TREMENDOUSLY.
The other thing that helped me process the whole thing was writing about it. I wrote the whole story, beginning to end. It was very cleansing and healing to type it out. Perhaps that would help her? She could write it out to share with the son down the road when he wants to know about his father.
Bless her heart, and bless you for wanting to help!
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C.S. answers from Las Vegas on July 26, 2010
It may be a bit hard on you, but just listen.
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L.A. answers from Austin on July 26, 2010
Is there hospice in your city? They have lots of grief groups. They have them for young spouses.
Just because the therapist she is working with right now is not helping, does not mean a different one or a group setting would not help. She should seek out some professional to help guide her and confirm that all that she is feeling is very normal.
It is also very normal that all of these 'firsts" are the most difficult. I too have a friend that is about to hit the 1 year mark on the unexpected death of her husband, they have 2 girls and just last night and again tonight she asked that everybody pray for them and keep them in their thoughts. This week has been incredibly difficult for her and the girls, but she is realizing, they are going to be ok.
The best thing you can do is listen to her and be there for her. Let her have any emotions she needs to have and just reasure her, you are there for her.
She will have to heal her own heart. SHe will have to figure out what she can cope with.
I have learned to ask for help. It has been very difficult, because I was raised to be the strong one. I also tell people " it is a gift to me, when they ask me to help them" and "I will honor them by asking them for help".
She is lucky to have you as a friend. I am sending you all peace.
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S.M. answers from New York on July 26, 2010
Loosing anyone to cancer is terrible and the healing process takes a really long time. This happens because you are with the person until the person pass on, to see that person suffering and knowing that it for them, leaves you really depressed. I lost my aunt who was like my mother to cancer and was so shaken by this I was in shock and had to go on anti depressants. That was six years ago and I am still having problems dealing with the nature of her death. Two years ago I witnessed my brother-in - law. Everything came back to me. My husband still have problems. he always think about it. He is also so scared because he saw his brother lying on the bed knowing that he was going to die, he was 36 yrs old. She is very scared and will think about it for a very long time. she needs to be surrounded by people constantly, pray and she needs encouragement. She will get better but it will take time but she will always be scared. she will think of it everyday that is why she needs to be with some one. Everytime my husband takes his neice and nephew out both of us are always thinking about his brother and we start to cry. Maybe if she belongs to a church she will have faith and find some peace. Also voluntary work at is rewarding and you feel better. A friend sugggested this to me at my time of loss. My heart goes out to her and her little baby. I will pray for her. God bless her.
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