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Continued from...Grief & the ripple effect

The ripple effect is all the stuff that changes or the experiences that occur, as a consequence to the person passing.

Family role changes; most people I have spoken to about this, would agree that roles changing within the family is a thing. A big thing! When an individual passes, roles within the family change; people are moved up or down the rank by choice or default. It doesn’t necessarily happen out of any bad intent. Certain things need taking care of, that’s just fact and someone has to do it. If the person who passed always mowed the grass, someone else needs to now do it. The issue can be when there is a lack of communication around it this re-organising. One person presumes and does… the other takes issue with that… oh it can be a minefield for disaster. My advice is to talk, make a plan, gather opinions, listen with an open mind, don’t let things fester and be mindful if you are the one ‘looking after’ things, that you’re not the one causing an issue by accident.

Other people’s reaction to your bereavement, or lack of! The people around you, family and friends, react from a place of their own position on grief. Hence you will find some people react in a way that leaves you wondering what the hell is going on? Why are they so absent from me? Maybe they didn’t visit your loved one when they were sick, maybe they didn’t send a card, come to the funeral, ring you, whatever… Well, it’s actually nothing to do with you, more than what it has to do with them and their comfort, or not, being around you and your grief. I know that this explanation is hard to hear, and I’m not saying you have to condone their behaviour, I’m merely giving an explanation as to why it may be so. Personally, I deal with things better if I can understand the ‘why’ behind it. This explanation helped me in my grief when I felt people reacted in a way other than I expected them to. And you have a choice as to how to deal with this, you don’t have to condone it, you are allowed to express your needs. I just want you to know that it may be better for you not to take it personally and jump to conclusions straight away, let alone act on those assumed conclusions. Let time pass. Assess it from their angle. Breathe.

Dealing with the logistics of tidying up their bits and pieces. When someone passes, there is always something that needs tidying up, sorting out etc. Whether it’s their car, their name on the Electricity bill or their clothes in the wardrobe… it all needs doing. Some things need doing very quickly, others can wait. Be sensible here. My advice is to only do what must be done in the immediate future. Let some time pass. Let you heart settle before you make a rash decision. When my grandmother died several years ago, I had some lovely text messages on my phone from people who had heard she passed. I read these so much in the first few days that I decided the only way to stop was to delete them. I was not capable, at that point, to recognise that the need to read them would naturally subside and that this was in fact a comfort behaviour I was using to cope with my grief. It wasn’t long before I regretted my decision but now there was nothing I could do.

Family business uncovered; when someone passes, a will may need to be read. This can cause massive pressure and digs up any number of emotions depending on how family stuff was dealt with up to that point… If everything was transparent and communicated clearly then mostly it should work out ok. Even if not everyone is in agreement with the will, I believe transparency is massively important. If surprises arise that upset you, remember to stay calm, keep perspective. Pause. Let time pass before you react and, in the meantime, do your best to not add fuel to the fire.

I think the key message here is to pause, breathe and not react immediately, out of haste and raw emotion. Remember that everyone is just doing their best with the skills they have and based on the story of their life so far, and that is different for everyone.

What is also different in every case is the ripple effect that happens. Every family is different, a different number of members, with each being a unique character, all carrying unique stories and baggage, all just doing their best in dealing with their grief.

Stay grounded and breathe.

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