by Chaplain Julia Rajtar, MAPS, BCC
I called a friend whose wife died this summer, and as we were talking he surprised me by saying, “my dad died only a month after Sally, and my mom, three weeks after my dad.” By the time he finished his sentence, I think I had dropped the phone or at least my jaw! Three deaths, of people whom he had a very close relationship with, all in a very short period of time, according to him is, “just too much to take!”
When we grieve the death of someone we love, there are ripple effects of that death. Ripple effects, like a stone thrown into the water, can include all the other losses we experience as a result of that death. For my friend, when his wife died, he lost his friend, partner, caregiver to their child, love of his life, and more. Barely beginning to identify and grieve those losses, compiled with the roles he has had to assume since she died, like single parent, caregiver, cook, launderer, can be overwhelming. Scarcely able to get up and get going, after his wife’s death, trying to begin to live with the reality of her death, and getting the phone call that his father has died, was just too much! His whole body reeling from this second blow to his system, he says “I’m not sure how to get through this.” Only three weeks later, already coping with “too much”, his mom dies. The image of a snowball, rolling down a hill, growing at an alarming rate as it accumulates snow and debris while hurling down the hill, until it comes crashing down into a wall, is a metaphor that comes to mind.
How do you hold on, and what do you hold on too, when the world you knew, the people who were there for you, whom you depended on, who were your family and support, are no longer there? At times like this it is helpful and important to seek professional support. Seek a licensed counselor, if possible, someone who specializes in grief counseling. There is no shame in reaching out for support. Tears, sadness, confusion, anger, and other thoughts and emotions are difficult to bear when we experience grief of one person and can cause us to come crashing down, like the snowball, when experiencing multiple deaths. This is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation. Struggling with the death of three people in a short period of time, is a normal reaction to an unheard of situation, yet it does happen. Reach out for the guidance of a counselor to provide you with compassion, support and the listening you need to ride on the stormy waters of grief. A grief support group can also be helpful later on, once you have met with a professional.
Seeking a Professional Counselor
- Check with your work place employee assistance program(EAP)
- Check the internet for counseling services near you
- Ask others who have experienced death, if they might recommend a counselor
Bakken-Young Grief Resource
- Bakken-Young Grief Support Group (The next group begins Monday, Oct. 22, 6pm.) Please see our Grief Support/Calendar of Events page: https://bakken-young.com/events/ for more information