Advice on How to Cope when someone close dies

My Parents Died within Three years of each other

I experienced one of the worst forms of bereavement in my late teenage years. Both my mum and dad died, very unexpectantly of heart attacks at the ages of 58 and 63. They died within three years of each other, mum in 1993 and then dad in 1996. Their deaths were both a complete shock.

Dad dying was the toughest. Everyone was still incredibly raw from mum dying three years earlier and surprisingly that shock hadn’t prompted my dad into writing a will or sorting out anything for when he died. My dad hadn’t coped well by himself, he very soon re-married. My then step-mother was left with a funeral to arrange nine months after their marriage has taken place.

The ceremony

I remember his funeral well, dad was in the services for his entire adult life. He joined the marines at 18, moved onto the army and then ended his career with the ministry of defence. He retired at 60 and had three short years to enjoy his retirement before he died. The funeral was a celebration of his life and his achievements in service and as a football referee and cricket umpire. He refereed the Manchester United Busby babes. The ‘Last Post’ was played on the bugle and ‘You’ll never walk alone’ was played as we left. I cannot listen to that song without the tears flowing.

Dad was cremated, who knew if this was his wish? None of us went to the cremation ceremony as there had been the full church send off. Maybe we didn’t go because the crematorium was a 60-minute drive away? Dad’s ashes were buried in the ground next to my mums in a graveyard in Penzance where they had lived together for 30 years. Room had been left on my mum’s gravestone to include my dad. One could then assume this was his wish to be buried with my mum.

It was an extremely tough time for everyone involved in the organisation of the funeral. Trying not to upset children, his wife and his friends was a huge challenge and it was never going to be perfect, because we were making it up as we went along. Guessing what dad would have wanted. And the cost. No money had been set aside for these costs.

Talk to People Whom can help

Firstly, the funeral plan is one of the first things that needs to be organised all whilst the death of your loved one is so fresh. There are companies such as who can make the funeral organisation process so much easier. You can search for local funeral directors and there is a very helpful call centre who can help you with the many things that need to be organised.

Talk to Your Family

Easier said than done but do talk with your close family. About the arrangements for the funeral to ensure that everyone is involved and their wishes are included. But also talk about your loved ones who have died, talk about happy memories, things you loved about them. We did a lot of this initially and discovered so much about our parents that we hadn’t previously known.

Take Time to Recover

Grief feels like a physical pain, but a pain that can go on for a long time. You must take the time needed to recover and try to mend your mind. And when I say time and I mean let people know that you are grieving and that it might affect decisions you make or things you do. You most likely must return to normal work/family life but letting people know that you are grieving will help to explain behaviour. Talking to people will really make a huge difference.

Talk to a Grief Councillor

I didn’t do this and really wish I had soon after the death of my parents. It hit me hard and has had many repercussions throughout my adult life. Talking to someone soon after the event would have really helped with feelings of abandonment, of ‘why me’, feelings that I still struggle with twenty years later. There are many brilliant grief organisations, I support Grief Encounter with regular donations, a charity that helps children who have been bereaved.

Time is a Healer

Yes, time is a healer, but that amount of time is different for everyone. So just bear with your grief. Be prepared for it to come and hit you at the most unexpected times which could be one day, one week, one year or twenty years later. Grief eventually affects you less and less.

This is a collaborative post.


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Lynn Beattie

Aka Mrs MummyPenny

Personal Finance Expert

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2 Responses

  1. hya my name is Martin and I’ve had what i can only describe as 2 years of utterly unbelievable torture and mental trauma and i think i may almost certainly be suffering from PTSD and I’ve also suffered depression since my father died on 6th November 1982 i was 15 years old and had just opened the front door and stepped inside and i then saw my father lying down in his usual place in front of the fire and had been watching game for a laugh and at the same time my mother had come through from the kitchen and told me to tell my friends that i needed to stay in the house and they should go away without me. i went back to the living room and that was when my mother told me that she had heard my dad Ian laughing loudly at one of the sketches on the show then all of a sudden she heard him kind of gurgling and then heard the noise people call the death rattle and that was when reality and realisation really hit me hard as i thought he was just sleeping but he wasn’t so I’m pretty sure that was when i started going off the rails but i didn’t really do any bad or nasty things or anything like that i just started smoking, drinking, sniffing glue and taking drugs of all kinds and when i look back i see i was really escaping from the reality of my life and circumstances and basically I’ve never truly stopped trying to escape from reality of how many traumatic experiences that have had such an impact on my life but that’s the beginning lots of things have happened over the past 37 years but on the 7th December 2019 i woke up that horrible and devastating morning and gave my wife who was only 47 a nudge to wake her but i got no reply so i opened 1 of her eyes and looked at her and said hello is anyone in there still no response but remember she was still warm and her eyes were crystal clear and so alive looking so i stopped cuddling her and tried to roll her onto her side and that was when my entire life, beliefs and all hope of everything just imploded as i tried to roll her, her arm wasn’t floppy it was straight and stiff with rigour mortise i haven’t recovered and never will 14 years together and not a single day apart we had something really truly spectacular and to me people really only love certain things about their partner and try to change or stop them doing things that they don’t like but not me and Anna true love is when you realise that you love even the things you disliked about them because you realise that is who they are and it’s a case of take me as i am or not at all and do not try to change me we were very lucky to have found each other as true love and passion etc is something that most people don’t find ever so there i was a bubbling crumpled devastated human being without any hope whatsoever and still feeling that way now and certainly can’t see it changing at all, so i was left alone with 2 dogs and an 83 Year old very unwell and disabled women to look after and feed etc myself as i have nobody else in my so called alleged family of aunts and uncles and cousins who could not find the amount of time away from their lives and i really do understand that and that they have their own families and problems to deal with so me and my stonedeaf disabled and very elderly mother had to just get on with it and it was the hardest 2 yrs of my life and the stress and struggling to just exist not living we were existing so on the 24th December 2021 my mother passed away in her sleep aged 85 and none of them had any insurance policies at all so no financial assistance was to be had for funerals etc i get universal credit which wasn’t much after the carer’s benefit was deducted from it and now i don’t get carers any more and if i thought 7th Dec 2019 to 24th Dec 2021 was tough and hard it was a piece of cake compared to the past couple of months I’ve always made sure my dogs had something to eat but there were times when i went 3 nearly 4 days without any food at all and i did that on to many occasions I’ve lost 2 stones in just over 2 months and i have my own religious beliefs and suicide is not an option in my church but that doesn’t mean that i have ever stopped thinking about the day my life will finally be over and how will i go i can only believe that i will go quickly and painlessly and the only hope i have is it’ll happen in my sleep. so that’s basically my life story and the trauma of death I’ve seen and experienced so when people say I’ve had it hard all my life and many people do have it worse off than me and i empathise with those people. life isn’t easy and none of us asked to be here well not that we can remember anyway but we will all just have to keep on struggling on until we either drop or can’t do it anymore because of illness or disability so that concludes my story of grief and the moral is there is no moral just get on with it and stop whining

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