Post # 1
Some of you may have read my posts last year about losing my Mother-In-Law following a car accident.
Things have been coming in waves since then – I think about her and what happened, and our awful 17 days in the hospital every single day. I try not to dwell on it but it is always there in the back of my mind. For the most part I think I’m doing okay day-to-day.
I have two questions really for people who’ve gone through this before. I want to support my SO as much as possible. As the months go on we don’t talk about his mum’s accident/death much at all – it’s obviously a horrible thing to discuss/dwell on and there isn’t really anything to say other than how awful and sad the whole experience was. When we speak about his mum it’s more anecdotal stuff about her life, things she liked, memories etc. That being said, it feels weird that we don’t talk about it much, because I know we must both think about it every single day.
I don’t want to repeatedly ask him ‘are you okay’ all the time but I worry that I’m not doing enough for him if I don’t? Obviously if I think he seems down I will ask how he is, but I don’t want him to think I’m tip-toeing around him or constantly bringing him back to that state of mind if he’s doing okay. Bleh, I just don’t know what the right thing is to do. Any advice is a
My second question is – it’s his mum’s birthday and Mother’s Day (UK) in the same week next month. Double whammy of shittiness.
I feel like I want to honour this somehow but I can’t figure out what to do. Me and my SO are quite minimalist so I don’t feel like he will appreciate any of the ‘grief trinkets’ I’ve seen online (things with nice quotes on etc) and we have a lot of photos of her already.
I’ve bought my SIL and MIL’s sisters (aunties in law?) small handpainted sunflower pins on Etsy. That was MIL’s favourite flower.
I don’t know what to do for my SO and Father-In-Law. These things seem a lot harder for men as there’s a lot of understated jewellery/gifts for women, but nothing similar for men. I’m thinking I could either get them each a bunch of fresh sunflowers, or a framed painting of something sunflower themed? A plant would be nice but neither of them are great at keeping plants alive, so that’s not the best omen.
If you’ve gone through this please could you let me know what gifts (if any) you appreciated, or what people could have done for you on these milestones to help?
Post # 2
- Wedding: February 2018 - UK
I like the idea of the bunch of sunflowers. My Nan also had her birthday around Mother’s Day, so the first year after she died was awful for my mum. She gets a bunch of my nan’s favourite flowers every year for her, it’s a nice reminder and tribute without getting more and more clutter every year
I think in terms of talking about her, all you can really do is let him know you’re there any time he wants to talk about it. My husband lost his father a few years back, and it took a while before he was able to talk about it more comfortably. The whole thing is still pretty fresh, it can take a really long time before the emotions start to settle.
Im really sorry you’re both having to go through this xx
Post # 3
I’m so sorry for your loss. My sister was killed in a car accident when we were in high school and honestly I wouldn’t want any stuff on anniversaries, birthdays, etc. The thing that always helped me the most was when people weren’t afraid to bring her up in conversation and didn’t look sad or awkward if I did. If a situation triggers a funny memory of her it’s great to share it! As for anniversaries my oldest friend in the world (who I don’t talk to/see as often as I’d like) will always just text me an “I love you” on the day my sister died. It seems SO simple and small but most of the people in my life now never knew my sister – the fact that someone who did remembers to take a little time out of her day every year to say “I see you, I miss her too, and I’m thinking of you” means the world to me. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
Post # 4
- Wedding: June 2017 - A vineyard
I would probably ask your SO what he thinks. I lost my mom when I was 19 so its been over a decade now. I personally do NOT like to bring up my mom very much because she was extremely mentally ill and while no longer very physically abusive after her stroke she became emotionally abusive instead. So usually I do not speak of her because it triggers me. My dad usually liked to buy a bouquet of flowers for her birthday though. That was probably most of our acknowledgment of her during the year. We definitely don’t acknowledge her death date but if one of us is sad on it the rest of us understand and leave them alone about it. But I understand most people’s mom’s don’t necessarily have the issues my mom did so they probably feel differently than we do.
So I guess my reccomendation is just a small bouquet of flowers if you want to do something. Doesn’t have to be huge and fancy. Just something small to say you remember. I would also still ask though. Because they may not even want that. But maybe they might really like it. You never know.
I’m very sorry about your Mother-In-Law. Losing a parent can be quite difficult 🙁
Post # 5
My dad died in a car accident two years ago. I just like people to acknowledge him or me on the death anniversary. I’m always super sad on that day and on his birthday and my husband I think just understands to give me space to be sad. I’ve also given myself my own traditions to honor my dad on his anniversary and on his birthday, and my husband isn’t involved in those per se. None of my in laws have done anything I’ve for me so it’s really thoughtful of you to want to do something for them as the birthday approaches. I think the flowers is a nice gesture.
I think for supporting your husband day to day, it sounds like you’re doing a good job. There’s only so much you can talk about it. I’m two years out from it and I can’t even think about my dad without crying much less talking to someone about what happened. Just be nice and supportive I guess is the advice.
Post # 6
Thanks everyone. It’s good to hear your experiences, and I’m really sorry to hear about your lost loved ones.
I think you’re probably right about asking my SO whether we should get a nice bunch of sunflowers in. I don’t want to trigger him if he would rather not openly acknowledge the milestones, as it’s hardly going to be a ‘happy’ surprise anyway if I did it without his input.
I will probably order some sunflowers for my Father-In-Law too. Luckily he isn’t alone as my SIL lives with him (she is ill with cancer, as if things could not get even worse) so they will be supporting each other on MIL’s birthday/Mother’s Day.
I just thought the sunflower pins were nice and would be appreciated by my SIL and MIL’s sisters, but I didn’t want to single them out without doing anything for my SO and his dad.
Post # 7
You have a good heart and gift giving seems to be your love language. I would just caution you that these kind of things are not expected for every occassion, especially when it comes to losses. I definitely would not do the memorial “gifts” after this first year. However, flowers, card, calls and text messages are still good ideas.
Lost my mom two years ago, and I think at first the fear of forgetting or guilt of moving on, you feel like you have to consciously hold onto her. Then as time goes on you realize it will never go away but things also get better. You think of the good times and try to imagine what she would have said in a similar situation. Having someone who will listen when you want to share memories is a great comfort.
Post # 8
Loss and grief are some of the worst parts of life that I can think of. My mom died 31 yrs ago from lung cancer, dad died eight yrs ago from old age, and I lost a sister three years ago in very mysterious and awful circumstances. Honestly, for me at least the grief never completely goes away, though time does help.
Your loss is very recent and the circumstances were so horrible for everyone that I can imagine everyone is still hurting very much from this loss. I can imagine that your husband just can’t talk about his feelings much right now. Are there any grief support groups in your area? If so I can definitely recommend that as a place where one can cry without others judging, and one can share his/her feelings and feel understood. It is also a way to support others who are grieving. You might suggest this to your husband, and if he is not interested, perhaps you would be interested in going anyway.
I personally ignore anniversaries of deaths as much as possible. On lost loved ones’ birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc., I try to maybe cook one of their favorite foods or something like that. In the general day-to-day, I always try to concentrate on good memories of the person, and I try to avoid thinking about the awful circumstances of the loss since it accomplishes absolutely nothing except to make you feel awful.
Since your Mother-In-Law loved sunflowers, I really think that a bunch of sunflowers is a nice way to remember her. I’m so very sorry for your loss.
Post # 9
I’m so sorry for your loss. I think the best thing you can do is acknowledge these anniversaries coming up and just say, “what can I do to support you during this time?”
My father died last month of covid, and I really appreciate my friends who are simply there for me, even if they don’t mention the loss and instead just check in or tell me about a show I’d like.
Post # 10
I have a suspicion that you and your husband handle grief in different ways. I think so long as he knows you are always there if he wants to talk about it, you’re fine & don’t need to keep asking him. (I know I would personally find it difficult if someone kept wanting to bring up a tragic event.)
He also might find it helpful to attend a grief support group or speak with a counselor.
Have you asked him what, if anything, he would like to do for her upcoming birthday/Mother’s Day? He might not want to do anything this year (or subsequent years) as it might be too painful or raw. He might not want to acknowledge it but might want something for distraction. He might want something quiet and low key, such as cooking/eating a favorite family recipe.
Post # 11
thanks bee. I definitely don’t think I would give gifts every year, and certainly not for her death anniversary, but it just feels right to mark this first birthday/mother’s day without her somehow 🙁
hi bee, its difficult to say if we’re different in our handling of grief to be honest. I’ve never lost a parent so I don’t want to presume how I would handle it. I don’t think I would appreciate being asked all the time either, I’m just second guessing myself and wanting to check I’m not doing anything wrong by NOT bringing it up with him.
It just feels like a strange taboo to go through such a huge traumatic event, and then neither of us mention it for days/weeks at a time, even though I know we are both thinking about it. I also know that there is very little to be gained by discussing it – it’s just depressing. I guess I’m just checking in whether this is normal or not as I’ve never gone through it before, and I want to check that I’m supporting him by being present physically and emotionally even if it is unspoken 🙁
Post # 12
thanks bee and I’m so sorry for your losses. He would be open to grief support/counselling but I know he’d much rather do that kind of stuff in person which just isn’t possible right now. It’s definitely something I want to investigate further though.
I’m so sorry about your father, thank you for your input it means a lot
Post # 13
My sister passed away 14 years ago this month from ALS. It wasn’t an unexpected accident, but her disease progressed so rapidly that it sometimes felt like it. She felt her first symptoms, numbness and tingling in her feet, on February 14 2005, she was diagnosed February 13 2006 and she passed away February 9 2007. Those 2 years were such a traumatic experience for my family and after she passed it felt like we all suffered from PTSD. It took a long time for anything to feel normal again.
I would imagine the sudden loss of a loved one would feel similar. Grief is such a multi facited process and no 2 people experience it the same way. And the added layer of the shock of an unexpected loss only complicates it. Your husband may have no idea what he needs to help him through this process.
My suggestion would be to take your ques from him. Just ask him if he would like to mark the day for his father in some special way. How he responds to that can probably inform you as to how he would feel about something special for himself on that day.
Post # 14
It’s so hard to lose parents. I lost my mother and grandmother this year. My husband lost his parents about a decade ago. You might each need counseling to deal with your grief. I say that but I haven’t gone to counseling with these losses yet. I did go to counseling after my husband’s parents died. I was close to them and it was very sad to lose them. That ended up leading to some depression.
I personally don’t think I would want any gifts for Mother’s Day or for my mom’s birthday. I think just some kind words would be helpful. “I know this must be difficult for you–how can I support you?” The wound is so fresh and there is no way to force yourself to process death. From what I understand the feeling of loss is always there. My husband still misses his parents and is still sad about their passing. I guess he is just more used to it now. The loss of my mom and grandmother is more fresh and some days are harder than others.
Post # 15
First off, you’re doing a great job supporting your husband through this horrific time. Never forget that.
As someone who has lost a parent, my biggest advice is just be there. Let him know you’re there if he wants to talk, but also give him the time and space he needs to grieve. My partner was there when my mother died and has always shown me they are here to listen, share sweet memories, or just sit in silence.
I personally do not mark the anniversary of my mother’s passing because though it was a life-altering day for me, it was just one horrible day out of a lifetime of beautiful ones we shared. Instead, I celebrate her birthday in my own small way. Typically I’ll make a meal she enjoyed, or go to the beach which she loved. My partner will also bring home a little something she loved for us to share like gourmet chocolates or Cracker Jack. I don’t like going all out but I do like to do something to honor her birthday. Mother’s Day here in the US is also the same month so every once in a while I’ll be in a poor mood, but usually I’ll just treat it like any other day. My mother knew I loved her every day of her life and continue to do so even though she’s passed on, so I don’t feel that I need to do anything huge. Again, my partner will bring home a small treat, or a small bouquet of flowers for us to enjoy. I think just showing that your loved one is loved and missed and you’re there for your husband is all that’s needed.
Sending you all lots of love and healing.