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Don't know how to feel 
Started by BettyH
20 May 2015, 10:33 PM

I lost my siser to cancer eight months ago and am still grieving her loss.  Yesterday, her husband of 45 years told me in confidence that he is seeing someone.  I was gob smacked but tried to be positive.  My brother-in-law is a great guy and I love him like a brother but this has been on my mind all day and because he asked me not to tell anyone I cannot talk to anyone about it.  I want him to be happy and like he said, he is not dead, but I think if it was maybe a year from now I would be more accepting of this news.  For some reason, I feel betrayed for my sister.  Has anyone else had this experience and am I wrong to feel this way?
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Reply by NatR
21 May 2015, 1:51 AM

Dear BettyH,

welcome to the forum, I am always sad though to know that members join us because of grief loss and heart ache in their lives

my sympathies to you on the loss of your sister.

i am a senior myself, and I have bumped into this particular situation a few times and it boggles my mind to agree with you - that sometimes after losing a loved one - the surviving partner can move into a relationship a lot quicker than most people would like.

as much as it hurts, as much as it may seem too soon - I don't think you can really know what goes on in their minds.  Sometimes when a partner dies - the aloneness seems to be unbearable - and for whatever reason - a new relationship develops

Yep it's really hard to understand - but as much as it irks us / we all make our own decisions and it could be - as simple as - I was so happy, I was loved and in love, and now I am alone, and who knows what tomorrow brings?

i think that women and men often handle loss differently - women need a lot more time to work through things - and deal with feelings, and so much more - and I don't mean that men don't feel or care / but they seem to be able to pick up the pieces a lot quicker after a loss.

i am rambling here - talking purely from my own observations.
I once dated s msn who had lost his wife a few months earlier - and we hit it off, we had several great years together - but the first couple of years were tough.  He loved his wife. He often mistakenly called me by her name ( old habits die hard) and I did my best to help him Through 

so, it is possible that you may not see the intimate and sad times  that your brother in law will possibly go through - but I bet he will have a few tough tones - and it's not just black and white 

i I hope my rambling thoughts help just a little  
of coursd that's just one scenario that could happen
I just want you to realize that all those years didn't disappear - your sister is still in his heart - and your support or acceptance of what he does - will help.

i look forward to hearing from you again - and at least have your thoughts back on what I wrote;)

in the meantime please continue to post your thoughts and keep the conversation going . It's certainly a learning place for me too - typing messages back and forth 

wishing you a peaceful evening. 

NatR 😊

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Reply by Tian
21 May 2015, 12:23 PM

Dear BettyH

I also extend my condolences to you on the loss of your sister.

I think your feelings about your brother-in-law's new relationship are understandable. But do you think that if it had been delayed for a year it would make all that much of a difference? I would think that what would be most jarring is that he would be involved in a relationship with someone other than your sister rather than how long it took. As you said, he is a great guy and for 45 years he showed himself to be a devoted husband. I imagine that realistically you know he's not betraying your sister or replacing her. But seeing him involved with someone else is an obvious reminder that your sister is gone, both for you and for him and I'm sure that's still a void for both of you. I wouldn't characterize it as wrong but natural that all this is painful for you. But I think you can give the guy a break.

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Reply by Nouce
21 May 2015, 1:04 PM

Dear BettyH,

The "life goes on" challenge is so hard for those who grieve. I'm the second wife of a man who is now dying with cancer (he lost his first wife to cancer), and his daughters, now adults, still sometimes look at me and I know they feel sad or cheated because their mother is not here. How you are feeling is absolutley normal, and you shouldn't beat up on yourself.

I do know that my husband's brother in law, who was overcome with grief at his sister's death (they were very close) came to Pablo and told him that Pablo had his blessing to begin another relationship. That was very  meaningful to Pablo.

In my experience especially men tend to hurry ahead, maybe because they aren't as skilled in living with feelings. But I'm very sure that your brother-in-law will never forget or diminish the love he had for your sister.  I'm glad you can bring your questions here to a safe place, knowing that we all hold each other in the midst of complexity.



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Reply by BettyH
21 May 2015, 2:02 PM

Thank you all for your support.  I have known for a long time that some men who are widowed tend to become involved in new relationships quickly.  I know that my brother-in-law loved my sister and that he was devastated by her passing which is why I was shocked to hear that he had moved on so quickly.  I did give him my blessing when he told me but after I had time to absorb the news I felt let down because I never expected it to happen.  But, as you say, life goes on.

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Reply by Mark99
21 May 2015, 2:13 PM

I am so sorry for your loss and the struggle to find direction or a place to land with the swirling emotions. This is a place where you can share and open up as you explore your thoughts, feelings, and sense of loss. I know because this was a resource for me.


Grief is highly personal for each of us. As someone said it is a fingerprint, we all grief uniquely and in an idiosyncratic way. No way is right. No way is wrong. It is what it is. The key to grief that was told to me right after Donna passed was that you do not run from it nor deny its rightful place in your world. I found for me and this is for me but has a universal sense to it, you charge at it. Tackle it everyday. Think of the loss the memories the feelings the emotions. It becomes familiar and understood. Below is a section from a blog post I did


Following her [Donna] death my choice was to be an active participant in my grieving and mourning. I promised myself I would not shy away from emotions or feelings. I charged into this knowing full well it was with her, for her, for me, and for us. There will be no end to this, no closure because I choose to live with my emotions and the reality of grieving. A good friend sent me this which captures a view:


"Freud (I was told) used the word CATHEXIS to talk about attachment. My supervisor talked about the process of grief being the work of "DECATHEXIS" and that is the tying off the threads (the warp & the woof) of the tapestry of the relationship. All the threads that make up that tapestry have to be tied off, the tapestry completed. The tapestry remains and is preserved  through that tying off of the threads that formed the relationship. And it's hard, time-consuming work."

My take away? I am creating a tapestry of memories and emotions that I will finish and carry it with me like the Bedouin's moving from one place to another safe knowing they have all that they need to thrive. It is a comforter not a shroud.


I say this because as we reflect on what we feel and know it becomes our experience. It is something new. And learning is the only thing that we as humans do that changes our consciousness. We grow. But that exercise in learning and growing is better and accelerated when we share with others. Their experiences shape ours and improve our ability to learn and grow. Glad you are here. 


Finally, grief is an ever changing avatar. It is with us sometimes all day every day sometimes it comes to visit to let us know we are vulnerable. It is there for you if you embrace it and share it. 


Here are some podcasts I did on grief




Sorry about the brother in law. That is his path and we should make no judgement but accept has his fingerprint no matter how smudgy it feels.
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Reply by NatR
21 May 2015, 2:17 PM

Morning Bettyh and everyone,

i think you are right  in that life does go on and we are unique in how we do manage that "going on" part.  

What works for  you or me will be different from your brother in law - and so on.

i am learning that my downfall is in getting knotted up in how someone else and their behaviour makes Me feel.

i am trying to learn, when a realization hits me - that in the end I can only manage my own life and all that goes on in it ( and not always successfully I might add)
but we do get smarter as we get older just by the experiences we have, the people who surround us and often I still have to admit that I can be stubborn and not always see things from the other point of view.

its that part that I will keep working on;) 
i learn from each person who posts here....thank you
hugs and have a good morning, then go have a good afternoon;)  
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Reply by Mark99
29 May 2015, 6:31 PM

Untangling The Memories of Grief and Loss

What have I found on my path? No much. So much. That’s the reality of this whole process. In the middle of it you can’t see trees, forest, or squirrels. All you do is search. And from the daily reflection you gain a sort of vantage point and see a horizon. 



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