Death in the semi-close family. How am I supposed to act?

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katwithhat
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27 Mar 2012, 2:51 pm

My uncle passed away last night and I'm not sure how I am supposed to be acting. We were not that close and it had been over a year since I've even seen him. This makes it kind of hard because the 21st of this month, 4 years ago, was the anniversary of my step dad's passing and my mother is kind of a mess. I don't want to seem uncaring and mean, but I cannot turn on emotions that are not there. Any suggestions on how to help comfort and "be there" for family members? Anything I should be doing?


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impulse94
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27 Mar 2012, 3:04 pm

Everyone grieves in a different way. Don't let anyone say how you "should" be acting. Don't act at all. Just feel what you feel, or lack thereof. Something may hit you in several days or even months from now (or maybe not at all).



questor
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27 Mar 2012, 4:12 pm

Be polite, and serious about it. And even if you are not into physical contact, give your mom a hug once in a while. It won't kill you, and she's hurting right now, so she needs a hug. :cry:


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psychegots
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27 Mar 2012, 4:14 pm

If you're not that sad (I would not be) that is kind of great since you can really be there for your mom! Help her out around the house and possibly with all the other stuff that has to be taken care of with regards to the departed.



Marcia
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27 Mar 2012, 4:18 pm

I'm a church minister so I conduct a lot of funerals, many of them for non-church people and spend a lot of time with bereaved families. In every family individual members are grieving to a greater or lesser degree, depending on how close they were to the deceased. From what you say I wouldn't expect you to be greatly affected by your uncle's death, but instead affected more by your mother's grief.

In terms of what to say to visitors or people who mention your uncle's death it would be appropriate for you to say that it's sad, and that it has been hard on your mother, particularly the timing of it. You don't need to pretend to be greatly affected yourself, but acknowledge how it affects others who are close to you.

Try to help your mother by listening to her talk if that's what she wants, ask if there are any practical things you can do - food shopping, household chores, that kind of thing.



Callista
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27 Mar 2012, 4:26 pm

I think I understand the situation. I was in a similar one. My uncle also passed away a few years ago, and we hadn't been close enough for me to go into a state of grief--what I experienced was more a sort of wistful sadness and wishing that he had lived longer because I thought it unfair that someone should die in their forties. I didn't cry, because I wasn't sad enough to cry. It was more like I just needed some time to readjust my view of the world to one without him in it.

The social protocol when people are grieving is mostly just to be there for them, ask them if you can do anything to help them and then really do what they ask you to do. Things considered "hurtful" are joking about death or laughing at any ironic aspects of that death in particular; you are also expected not to bring up any negative aspects of the deceased person's personality or lifestyle too soon after their death.

Grief can affect someone almost like a physical illness. They are more tired, they find it harder to concentrate, they recover more slowly from colds and such. Some people lose their appetite. Other people go into a paradoxical high-energy state. Sometimes people want to talk, sometimes they avoid talking about it at first because they hate crying and they know they'll cry if they talk about it. Sometimes they don't cry at all--especially men, because they're expected to be strong for their families. The full range is pretty much normal. A lot of the same things you'd do to help someone who's physically sick you can also do to help someone who's grieving. Like, you can make them food, or go and hang with them to keep them company.

Your family members know each other better than I know them, of course. So, here's another possibility: Find someone who knows you have an ASD and is usually pretty cool with it. Ask them something along the lines of, "I know my mom is hurting, I want to help her, but I'm scared I'll make it worse. How do I help her?" They should give you some decent advice.


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katwithhat
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27 Mar 2012, 4:58 pm

Thank you for the replies, everybody. My step dad is the only other death I have dealt with since I was a child. For him, it was instinct, sadness and grief that told me how to respond. I'm just a little confused on this one because we were not close. I am always the one to say something wrong or at the wrong time, so this has helped.


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jcsesecuneta
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29 Mar 2012, 10:41 pm

Marcia wrote:
I'm a church minister so I conduct a lot of funerals, many of them for non-church people and spend a lot of time with bereaved families. In every family individual members are grieving to a greater or lesser degree, depending on how close they were to the deceased. From what you say I wouldn't expect you to be greatly affected by your uncle's death, but instead affected more by your mother's grief.

In terms of what to say to visitors or people who mention your uncle's death it would be appropriate for you to say that it's sad, and that it has been hard on your mother, particularly the timing of it. You don't need to pretend to be greatly affected yourself, but acknowledge how it affects others who are close to you.

Try to help your mother by listening to her talk if that's what she wants, ask if there are any practical things you can do - food shopping, household chores, that kind of thing.


God Bless you! Thank you very much for those pointers, it's the very reason why I avoid going to funerals when I got older, because my relatives expects me to help -- but I don't know what to say or how to act, in fact, I kept on smiling and saying thank you.

Example:
Visitor: condolence
Me: thank you (then smiling)
or most of the times
Me: ahh, umm... anything you want? drinks? snacks?

With your tips, it is more appropriate and not weird to go by:
Visitor: condolence
Me: he's a good person, a loss in the family, please have a sit.....


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New-Yorker
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29 Mar 2012, 10:56 pm

If you don't feel like crying, you don't have to cry. Just be polite to your uncle's immediate family, express your sympathy with them. If you think of saying something but are unsure of whether it's appropriate, better avoid it. Silence can be worth more than words.