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How Can I Help Her?


JessicaVAM
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Hello, I don't have much time so forgive me if I am posting something someone has already posted. (just point me to that direction to answer my question if that is the case). Last Saturday, my husband's sister lost 2 of her 6 children to someone who was driving under the influence. She only had 6 kids because she wanted a girl so bad, and her sixth one was finally the girl she wanted, and she was one of the ones who passed away at 4 years old. The other was her 8 year old son. She also lost her husband in the crash as well.

I am the world's worst about death. Up until the day I had my son's I didn't give much thought to it and I don't know how to help people who are in so much pain. We were not very close, I can't recall even carrying on a conversation with her. Would I be out of line to say she could call anytime day or night, if she needed someone to talk to? What else can I possibly do for her? She lives 3 hours away so trying to do something physically for her, I'm not sure we'd be able to much since I am in school all summer. Is it ok to try and recommend her go to a support group? I don't know if its too soon for her to even care about something like that right now.

What would you do if you wanted to help? I know there isn't much that could take away the pain, but what is there that I can do to show her I'd like to still try?

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Hi JessicaVAM! I am so sorry for this tragedy:(:). Every person is different in how they specifically need care, but there are some known stages of grief. I imagine your sister in law is going through horrible shock. Are there things you can do to support her physical needs? I can't imagine how she can function right now to put food on the table and care for the family. Can you pay for a housekeeper or at least have food sent over? We have "Super Suppers" here, where you can have prepared frozen meals sent. Sending calm activities to occupy the children might help.

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Jessica,

That is terrible and crushing news. What a huge tragedy. All I can tell you is to try to be there for you sister in ways that you are able to do. I know she is three hours distant and that is very long. However, phone calls, a visit: I mean, as I try to think of suggestions they all seem rather lame. Follow your heart and do what seems right to you.

I am so very sorry for your suffering and that of your sister.

Please do not apologize for posting and, in fact, we all want to hear from you a lot more so that we can at least offer you some support in this tragic time.

Allan

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Well, thats the thing. I personally am not suffering over this. My thing about death is it comes as a shock, and once the shock is over, I'm over it. When I get sad with death is when I know someone I care about is torn up over it. I didn't even cry when I found out my grandmother had died and was at her funeral. I cried when I saw my little brother crying as he was carrying her. Then, well the water works came.. but not for my grandmother, because I know she's better off than all of us.

Also, I don't know my sister in law. I've heard VERY VERY VERY little and all of it was not good at all. My thing was, that since I know I can be so not upset about the death of her kids, I could help her cause I don't have any kind of attachment and could listen without losing it myself.

What I don't understand is how torn up my husband is over this. He couldn't even tell the kids apart and to tell you the truth, if you had asked me.. I would have told you he didn't really love them but, now he's a total wreck. I was getting frustrated because no one understood that I could not grasp why he was so torn up about kids he didn't even know. Had it been the other way around, I wouldn't have been this torn up. But he's brought me down for an entire week because he has been upset, and last night it all boiled over when I thought after the funeral he'd have closure and well, didn't. He came home worse than before (I couldn't go because of school) and completely brought me down. Everyone around me was making me feel like this horrible person because I just was over being sad for these kids I had only laid eyes on once 2 years ago, and wasn't even introduced! Yes, it was a horrible senseless thing that should have been prevented because he had priors of assault and threatening to kill others and there were reports of the truck drinking wildly before the wreck and police did not catch up to him in time, but GEEZ, how long do I have to be sucked into this?

I think males crying (really when I care about that particular male) is the absolute WORST thing in the world. You know something has happened if a man is crying.

I have tried to tell my husband that I just don't understand how he could be so torn up. I felt like no one was on my end of reasoning and even my own mother was basically telling me I was a heartless person for not understanding why he's upset and why I was wanting to just forget it. To me, there is nothing I can do, his sister will miss what would have been, but really their future would not have impacted mine or my husband's much, so why dwell? I believe they are having the best time that none of us could imagine up in Heaven and the only reason to be sad is that they got there before we got to.

The man is being held on priors (warrants for his arrest for 2 months before this one), hasn't been charged with vehicular homicide yet, but they are still investigating it.

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi Jessica,

Sorry, I misread your post: I thought this was your sister. Anyway, I can understand your husband's reaction because, I suspect, it has more to do with the extent of the tragedy more than anything. Anyway, we each react in different ways and there is no right or wrong to this.

Allan :)

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yes, I would like to help in the situation, but for I guess what others would see as my own selfishness, even though I don't see it that way, I was tired of being brought down by something I did not completely understand why he'd be so heart broken over.

The entire time we've ever been together, I truthfully was under the impression he would not give 2 cents to save his own sister's life. *Note* this is his step sister, but because their parents were together so long, they see each other as brother and sister, which I understand makes it just as strong a bond because I had step siblings.

Even the way he talked made me completely believe his sister didn't give much care to any of her 6 children except for the girl. Had you asked me before this, I'd have told you, no, I don't think my husband loves those kids.

So for him to be so torn up was completely shocking to me. But because I get brought down when people I care about are upset, I was in this constant state of being torn up for my husband, and at the same time completely consumed by guilt that I was in the least not sad for these people I did not know. I have no friends to confide in, so I had to just be completely shaking crying myself to sleep sad everyday for a week over people I did not know. I mean, I was having a hard time even functioning turning the day because of all this. I couldn't do my homework, or concentrate in class or anything because I was so racked with guilt and sadness for my husband. It just got to the point where I couldn't tell anyone, even my own mother was telling me I should feel some kind of sadness for them, and I finally just channeled it all to anger. I don't completely understand what it would be like to lose 3 people I loved dearly that way, and I wanted her to know I would be there, but to see/hear her cry versus my husband, wouldn't be so terrible. I wanted to just let her know if she wanted someone, even just to be silent, so she would feel not so alone, she could get a hold of me anytime. I do realize no one can take that feeling of being alone away at all, but again, at least I could ATTEMPT.

So either way, it all blew up because I thought funerals were supposed to bring closer and all it did was make my husband worse. Yes I do understand it could be regret for what he did not do, but he more admitted he was just putting himself in his sister's position and thinking it was our sons instead of her kids and thats why he was so upset. I basically told him to just thank God it was not our kids and quit thinking that way. He told me how dare I be so upset that he was upset (because by this point I was just tired of being so flipping upset over this) and he said that I would think he was an SOB if it were the other way around. Which is completely false because I wouldn't be upset. You have to be INSANELY close to me for me to be crushed over your passing. My grandmother helped raise me and was over every single day and I did not cry once except to see my brother crying. But now he feels like he can't talk to me at all about it, when all I was trying to say to him was PLEASE quit dwelling over it constantly, that he had more than just me to talk to (his mom, dad, friends) , but I had NO ONE... repeat: NO ONE. I have no friends (or even really many aquaintances for that matter), my family members were basically telling me I was a bad person for the way I felt to release any feelings I have to anyone. I finally had to get a hold of my dad, who hardly ever answers his phone and just vent on him. The only person in this world that doesn't judge me and I can only get a hold of him once every few months if I'm lucky. Luckily he answered.

Either way, just an update.. She hasn't called. I told my husband to call her this weekend that is coming up to see how she's doing because I'm not sure but she might have gone back to work? Either way I plan on reminding him. Out of all the bad that happened, some small good did happen. My husband no longer thinks its such a minor thing to drink and drive. In fact, he had a buddy who drank and put his 3 small girls in the car and got into a small wreck and he actually had sympathy for him. My husband got mad when I didn't give the guy slack for it, and now he completely understands. So no more drinking and driving and he will not support anyone who dares do it! HURRAY. Another thing is my husband has FINALLY slowed down. No more passing in a no passing zone at 95 miles an hour with me and our boys in the vehicle. He keeps the speed limit, and passes in passing zones and keeps his eyes more on the road than on the side of the road looking for deer!

But when he finally calls his sister this weekend, we'll see if she's doing alright. I don't know if trying to tell her she can call is appropriate because I've told her like twice now. I also have heard about her personality, and I'm not sure she's the type who would appreciate someone she doesn't know except their name calling out of the blue. But who knows! Let me know if ya'll know if people are usually ok with that kind of thing even with people they barely know!

Thanks! And if you read this and think I'm selfish, it is not the way I am trying to come across, I really usually show a lot of compassion for people, but death is one of those things I don't know why... I'm numb to it for humans (except some), and torn up for with animals. As a kid I used to believe I could kill a person with no remorse. I know different now, because I know every person has a mother or someone who cares for them. But I am rambling so I'll shut up now!! :D But really I just need to know an approach to help out. I keep trying to explain to my husband he can talk to me about it, but to give me a day or so to process stuff. I have to "self heal" I guess you could say.. and harboring it all at once just overloads me. I'm a very lonely person already, I can't have other sadness hit me without slightly losing my grip on functioning normally.

Edited by JessicaVAM
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Many people do not understand death, until it is comes close to home. Death is: final, permanent and irreversible. And, it tends to bring enormous changes, especially when the tragedy is severe and/or premature. This tragedy is, most certainly, both.

There are few words. The main thing, as so often in life, is being there. Doing whatever needs to be done, whenever it needs to be done, however it needs to be done. Get in touch and keep in touch -- if she wants. She will, in one way or another, tell you what she wants/needs.

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Guest ASchwartz

Hi JessicaVam,

Actually, I want to congratulate you for your honesty in dealing with this situation. It takes courage to admit to your feelings and to stand up to the type of pressure you have been under: having people tell you what you "should feel."

In terms of your husband I will say what I said before, everyone deals with death differently.

Along those lines, there are a couple of things you and everyone else should know about death:

1. It is common for people to experience anger when death occurs. When relatives who die are not close to a person their death can feel like an inconvenience. Harsh? No, just honest. Then, took, it is common to feel angry AT those who just died: "how dare they leave me!"

2. It is very common for people to feel hyper-sexual when someone dies. Selfish? Not at all. Sex is life, the opposite of death. Many decades ago, a divorced and unfriendly couple, no longer in touch with each other, tragically suffered the death of their 19 year old son. When the former married met, the fell into one anothers arms and spent the night having sex. The marriage did NOT revive, but, this was their way of coping with an unbelieble tragedy. Some people go out and have sex with anyone, with many anyones.

My point is for you to be more gentle with yourself and with the way your husband reacted and is reacting.

Comments and questions??

Allan

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Thanks for everyone's comments. I basically finally told my husband exactly what I said on this post. I don't think he is comfortable enough to still say anything to me, but I repeated that he could talk to me, just don't expect me to be the only source to run to. That I could not personally handle that.

To the whole hyper sexual thing, does that mean that I should be extra cautious about my husband wanting to leave 3 hours early for work or something? (hasn't happened, but an example) I mean, I'm not a jealous person so I completely trust him, but are you saying that its common for people to sleep with others even when they normally wouldn't? I mean even if they are married?

I think this tragedy has also put some perspective on my sister in law. For the first time in who knows when, she actually sent her own father (while we were there thats why we know) wishes for a happy father's day. I found out she has someone living with her to help her out, and my husband never called (go figure! he never calls anyone!!)

Thanks to everyone again!

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