Christina recalls how she coped with the sudden deaths of her sister and brother-in-law.
My sister died five months ago, almost exactly five months ago, and it was a very sudden, accidental death that no one was expecting. Her husband had died two months before that from cancer. So that was almost easier in a sense because everybody in the family was prepared. He had been sick for several months and had been preparing himself to die. And so by the time he went, it was partially a lot of sadness and grief, but also a feeling of relief for his sake that he wasn’t suffering anymore.
When my sister died it was sudden, accidental, a mistake, is kind of how we thought. They had two young sons, and it made it even more tragic. It was a devastating loss and sort of unreal for a long time, and the grief experience has been very interesting because five months out, I am just barely beginning to feel it.
Because I had three children of my own and I was pregnant and ended up taking on two more children and that now I had six children, I had to pull it together. I had to keep myself together in order to help them with their grief, especially my two new sons, my nephews who lost their mom and their dad within two months and what that did to them.
So I really felt like I had to hold it together for them, and I am just realizing now how much I was in shock for all those months. I lost another sister actually 14 years ago to cancer, and that was a totally different grief experience. I kind of held it together for two months, and then after two months I started to have physical symptoms. I had a toothache, and I was clinching my jaw, and I had stomach problems, and finally I realized they were all grief experienced physically.
But this time I had, with this loss of my sister a few months ago, it’s been way more intense and impacted my life in so many areas because of taking on her children that, I don’t know, like I said, it’s just barely starting to come, and what I am feeling now is sadness and anger and confusion and even a loss of identity, kind of not knowing who I am anymore. It’s just a very complex thing – grief.
And the problem with the grief is that there’s no one way to do it. And I am a psychologist and I know, I specialize in grief. I help people with grief all the time. But it doesn’t prevent me from having it myself, and it doesn’t make, just because I know about what grief is supposed to look like, it doesn’t mean that my pattern of grief is going to follow that pattern. In fact, everybody is going to have a completely different experience with grief.
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