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How to Help My Sister Get Over the Death of Husband?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 10 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Sister Death Brother-in-law Bereaved

Q.

My sister has just lost her husband - it was a sudden unexpected death he was 55 and died in his sleep.

My sister has no children only me and I don't know what to do for the best to help. She and her husband were very much on their own and wanted to be that way. Just wanted some advice really.

(H.M, 15 March 2009)

A.

It can be very hard to watch the ones we love suffer a loss as devastating as the death of a spouse. Your concern about your sister, and your desire to help her, are both admirable. As her sibling, you probably have a good idea of how your sister likes to live her life and you can use this information as a segue to discuss your sister's current needs.

Very often the bereaved will not be able to answer a question as broad as "how can I help?" or "what do you need?" Instead, it can be up to loved ones to try to figure out what they can do to ease the burden. For example, if you know that your brother-in-law was the cook in their household then you might tell your sister that you'd like to bring some frozen dinners by, or suggest that the two of you attend a cookery course to get out of the house.

It may well be that you need to turn these suggestions around and make it sound like she would be doing you a favour in order for her to accept. This might be from pride, it might be because she doesn't realise she needs help or it might be that she doesn't even have the energy to spare figuring out her own schedule. Whatever the case, offering something specific is a good way to start.

Now, however, is not the time to discuss the fact that your sister does not have children and that you believe that you are all she has. Your sister obviously realises that she no longer has her own family, and if she wants to discuss this with you then chances are she will.

If your sister seems exceptionally low and you are worried about her then you might consider telling her this, using specific examples where appropriate. Sometimes people do not realise what their actions are conveying to others, and sometimes the bereaved need someone else to observe their behaviour before they realise it themselves. If you feel that professional help is needed, such as the services of a member of the clergy or a trained bereavement counsellor, then finding out information and discussing it with your sister will let her know that you care.

But remember, you can not force help on adults who do not want it. The best you can do is to help your sister in the ways that she asks, or continue to suggest ways that you would like to help. Over time it's likely that you'll both work out what part you will each play in each other's futures.

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My sister's husband passed away 4 months ago.I live in another state.I was there when he passes.I held his hand and the family prayed.She has three children 21, 22, and 26.This has been devastasting for them.I assisted my sister with all the planning.It was a beautiful service.One month later my brother in law's mom pasted away.My sister and I stayed with for 2 1/2 days as we knew the end was near.We didn't want her to be alone.Again I helped my sister plan the service.After six weeks I had to return home for appts. I could no longer delay.Now that my sister and I are apart our communication is many by phone.She usually cries and is distraught.I end up crying too.When the call ends I weep inconsolably.I am sad for the lost, my heart breaks for my sister and I worry about the kids.I get depressed.I worry.I get anxious.I want my old sister back.I know this takes time.She did attend a 6 week bereavement group.I was proud of her for going.I have suggested seeing therapist and maybe an antidepressant.We all know I can' make her do anything.She's an adult.She is inundated trying execute her mother in laws estate.I just don't know what do.I listen.I cry.I worry.I get depressed.Does any one have advice or insight?Thank you!
Gina - 9-Sep-17 @ 8:35 AM
My sister loss her Fiance 3 days before their wedding day, He passed unexpectedly of AAA. She's feeling guilty not being there with him at the hospital since he was flown into another city, sometimes she calls we laugh, something I sit on the phone when she crys, sometimes she's angry and screaming. I'm in another state and can do what I can over the phone. At times she goes not speaking to me/ family or answering us. I don't feel like I'm doing enough and feel helpless. I want to be able to talk to her through the bad days but have a hard time getting myself together and scared if I say something wrong.
Gigi - 31-Jan-17 @ 5:05 AM
My sister lost her partner of thirty years on Tuesday the 23august 2016 Colin had a massive bleed in his brain and was pronounced brain dead on the Wednesday he was on the organ donor registrar so his organs were removed on the Thursday today is Friday and she had to get his death certificate she is absolutely devastated as am I Colin was 58 years old had just sold his business and was going too slow down from his work load it all just seems so unfair my sister is just the most amazing person I love her so very much and when she gets upset I feel her pain she rang me so upset saying she did not know what she was going to do and I just don't know what to do to ease her pain they had no children it has all been so sudden
Andrea - 26-Aug-16 @ 6:02 PM
Brittany - Your Question:
My sister just lost her fiance. He died of a very unexpected heart attack at the age of 35. She has had to deal with the organ donor programs, hospitals, funeral homes, his awful family which a lot of them didn't seem to care too much and trying to get back to work. They were together 10 years and getting married in October 2016. I have been here with her off and on since February 22nd. I will be here for an additional 3 weeks then going home after the wake. I really need to get back to work but I am so worried about her. I don't know what to do when I have to go back home. I live a state away from her. I have been trying to talk her into moving to California but she wants to stay in the home they owned together. I am trying to be there for her but I feel that I am grieving also. I really don't know what I am doing because I have never had to do anything like this before. I try to make her laugh as much as I can and we are starting an exercise program together to get her some exercise and help her sleep better at nightI would very much appreciate any advice anyone has regarding this situation. She has lost her future and all I want to do is maker it better but I can't. Please. Any advice helps.

Our Response:
You sound as though you're doing a lot of good already. Once you've moved back home it would be useful for you to know that she has some kind of continued support network. Can you involve her friends or colleagues in some of the activities you're participating in together at the moment? That would perhaps ensure some continuity once you're gone. Also putting her in touch with a local grief/bereavement organisation might help her.
FacingBereavement - 1-Apr-16 @ 12:31 PM
My sister just lost her fiance. He died of a very unexpected heart attack at the age of 35. She has had to deal with the organ donor programs, hospitals, funeral homes, his awful family which a lot of them didn't seem to care too much and trying to get back to work. They were together 10 years and getting married in October 2016. I have been here with her off and on since February 22nd. I will be here for an additional 3 weeks then going home after the wake. I really need to get back to work but I am so worried about her. I don't know what to do when I have to go back home. I live a state away from her. I have been trying to talk her into moving to California but she wants to stay in the home they owned together. I am trying to be there for her but I feel that I am grieving also. I really don't know what I am doing because I have never had to do anything like this before. I try to make her laugh as much as I can and we are starting an exercise program together to get her some exercise and help her sleep better at night I would very much appreciate any advice anyone has regarding this situation. She has lost her future and all I want to do is maker it better but I can't. Please. Any advice helps.
Brittany - 30-Mar-16 @ 1:37 AM
MY FATHER LOST HIS WIFE LAST YEAR AND HE HAD SOME ISSUES WITH PARENTS IN LAW WHEN SHE WAS ILL. THEY DID NOT LET HIM SEE HER AT ALL.NOW, THEY ARE ASKING HIM FOR MORE MONEY TO PAY FOR CEMETARY MONUMENT BUT HE DOES NOT HAVE MUCH MONEY BECASUE THE WIFE LEFT HIM IN DEBT. PARENTS IN LAWS TOLD HIM THA THEY WILL TAKE HIM TO COURT TO MAKE THEM PAY THE MONUMENT. DOES ANY BOBY HAVE ANY ADVICE ON WHAT TO DO IN THIS CASE. THANKS
ANI - 18-Jan-16 @ 10:39 PM
Ask at gp andlibraryto see whst groups they have. Make sure shr gets a benifit check doneif she has any illness ask gp for home check to see if anything needs to be done to help her.Envourage her to eat maybe set one night when you vook next eeek she does tell her besns on toast is fine uf thats all she can manage.I wrote and still do but not as oft r n to my husband i told him off how much he has hurt me but also how much i love him and talk about things which happened both good and not so good. Its ok to talk to him andifshe thinkshe isa round d th a ts fine. But to take a day at a timegood days horribledaysdont push hrr but let her know you cant and dont understandhowshe feels but that both of you are thrte .Givehrr space and love she willget betterbit by bit if she fallsbacka bit tell her thats fine but to look at how far she has come.Good luck and you will all get there
milo - 6-Sep-15 @ 12:52 AM
Ilost myhusbandalmost4yrs ago,heretired in the June at65yrs he was admitted toA&E told hehad lung cancer at tea time that he alsohad braincancer 4 weektothe day hepassedaway.It islovely that you wantto support your sister but she will not want to burdenyouwith her thoughts somewouldsound really illogical.Oneofthehardest thingistogo thro' the frontdoor. If she has anyhobby or has saidshe would like to know how to do whatever encourage her to enrol at the local college.Look in the library they havelists of groups and may run one themselves explain to the teacher that she may run out for no obviousreasongoodluck.I now go to knitting and sewing groups & met lovely new friends.
milo.0 ask her gp pr - 6-Sep-15 @ 12:35 AM
My younger sister just lost her boyfriend nd they have a child together,the child is one year 6 months nd my sister is only 23 yrs old. What can I do to help help her?
Nokky - 28-Sep-14 @ 9:10 PM
I lost my husband almost 3 and half years ago, he was 11 days off 65 and he was ill for several years before he passed away. To him it would have been a relief that all the suffering was over. For myself it is so hard to move on,we were married for over 30 years, we had ups and downs like everyone else, As his illness got worse, I wished it would be over quickly for him; no more suffering. When he died it was like there was a kind of reliefthat his suffering was over, and at the same time I felt a terrible emptiness, a feeling that remains to this day. I associate it to an empty nest syndrome feeling,only worse. I have had treatment for depression and still the empty feeling remains. I have not been able to physical join in any of the things I would once enjoy doing, I have isolated myself because of this feeling.I agree that people say time is a great healer, but nobody can tell me how much time it will take. I have many things to be thankful for, none of them can make up for my loss. I have tried finding groups, as I live in an isolated area I have not found much help at all. Thanks for allowing me to express my feelings.Gerry
Gerry - 25-Aug-12 @ 5:41 AM
Please except my apologies, I get so excited at times and anxiousto reply that I fail to see all the typos I've made. Grrrrrrr I wrote mu husband of 46 died unexpectedly. This is true, but I should have written, "MY HUSBAND WHO WAS 46 YEARS OLD, DIED UNEXPECTEDLY Friends and family are there to support you but they don't understand the pain you are ring through.Instead of ring, it was supposed to be "GOING THROUGH" Time is our best friend, honestly all time does is getting us used to the idea that we awe no longer going to our spouses. I have no clue what I meant by saying that. LOL....I'm thinking that all time does is making us all get used to the idea that our loved ones will no longer come back. I will try carefully how to explain myself better so that some could at least understand what I was trying to say. Who said life was easy? God Bless
Booo - 18-Jul-12 @ 1:51 PM
I'm a young widow myself, mu husband of 46 died unexpectedly as well about a year ago. Nothing prepares you for this, and as hard as you try to understand and except, it only makes it much worse. Friends and family are there to support you but you know deep inside, they don't understand the pain you are ring through therefore you feel more alone. They say time is our best friend; honestly all time does is getting us used to the idea that we awe no longer going to our spouses. The best thing I can recommend is to join groups of people who have r is going through the same situation. It's been a year since my wonderful husband passed away, and I still have not managed to join such groups. But, I know when the time is ready, I will search for them and hopefully be able to live life a little bit better, less sadder and smile again. My prayers and thoughts are with your sister; if she needs to talk to someone who has been there, please do not hesitate to reply:) Thank You and God Bless
Booo - 18-Jul-12 @ 1:36 PM
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