Saturday Morning Message: Helping Extended Family
Author: Carol Lane
This week's question about noticing or helping extended family through grief came from an article in the last TAPS Magazine titled "Helping a Grandparent Who Is Grieving" By Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD. As I read it, I thought about my husband's father who was the only grandparent alive when our son, Bryon, died. The picture of him sitting in our living room hardly able to speak during those early days came to mind. This article helped me understand what he might have been thinking at the time. I especially liked the section about a grandparent's grief being unique as they suffer for both their grandchild as well as their child.
Leslie, mother of Eugene, wrote a beautiful letter to her dad in the 'Answers from Survivors' section of this week's message. I can really identify with her thoughts. The emotions for me at the time were so overwhelming, it was impossible to think about anyone else. As time passes, the ideas written in this article may be helpful when talking to extended family members about your loved one. Offering to talk together when you are able might be just right to help support the healing of your family.
Would you like to see how other survivors respond to a topic or question you have? It is often helpful to read how others cope. I would love to gather some thoughts for future Saturday Morning Messages. You can also send in a song that is meaningful to your family. This week there is a blog post on the main TAPS web page called "The Dance" which talks about this song which is so special to a survivor. When it was placed on the TAPS Facebook page, it received many comments and shares. You never know how the song you send may touch others.
In addition to the ideas shared below, we can also honor our loved ones by sharing with each other through writing. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another. I encourage you to reply to the Saturday Morning Message by sending it directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. This week's question is located below my signature. Thank you to everyone responding this week and those who read this message.
QUESTION FOR NEXT WEEK'S SATURDAY MESSAGE
Next week let's send along a memory. Write a funny story about your loved one. It can be a story about anytime in your loved one's life. Sharing those recollections is so much fun and we are able to know this special person better.
♫ SONG FOR THE WEEK
Last week on the TAPS Facebook page, there was a song that seemed to be just the thing for this week's message since the topic is grandparent loss. This song had special meaning to many and it has been shared across the generations. The song "I'll Be Seeing You" sung by Rosemary Clooney is a favorite of a member of our TAPS staff.
ANSWERS FROM SURVIVORS
From Leslie, mother of Eugene:
It has taken me four years to apologize to you for ignoring your grief and pain. I knew you had a close relationship with your grandson, my son. However, I had been wrapped up in my grief. As his mom, I felt that my grief counted more than anyone else's. I was his mother. I raised him and his brother by myself. I pounded my chest and cried till tears would no longer come. I thought of myself. I did not think anyone could suffer as much as I.
I am sorry I ignored your pain.
I am sorry that I didn't respect your grief.
Your loving daughter,
From Roseanne, mother of Chris: After thinking a while about extended family grieving the loss of my son, I must now let you know I just attended a beautifully family affair, my granddaughter's baptism. There alongside her cake was a candle that read, "We know that you would be here today if heaven weren't so far away." Earlier in the week, I received a text from my brother about covering my vegetables due to possible frost. He went on to say Chris was the one who always used to remind him about such things. My extended family mentions his name and remembers the love. I'm sure behind closed doors they have moments of hurting and thoughts, wishing they would have done more.
For additional comments from survivors on this topic, visit the April 2, 2015 TAPS Facebook entry which shared the TAPS magazine article "Helping a Grandparent Who Is Grieving".