As often happens in circumstances of multiple deaths, some of the family members suffered complications with grief recovery. Grief recovery is painful and is predicated upon love. Losing two women within one week is an experience that no one ever wants to endure, especially a parent.
The mother told me that she was retiring from her work. The experience of losing her girls has changed her focus and she craves more time with her grandchildren than her work allows. The loss of her two daughters within one week caused her to contemplate the fragility of life and the lack of guarantee we have of its continuance. Although it is impossible to reclaim time with her daughters, she does not want to lose time with her grandchildren. She is a grandmother who has not yet reached retirement age, however, feels quality time with her grandchildren supersedes her opportunity for retirement income. She has therefore prioritized their needs above her own and requested early retirement. Loss will do that to you. Death opens your eyes and allows you to see what is most important in life. The death of two daughters has allowed her to see that her time with her grandchildren is her most valuable gift in life; both to give and to receive. She has taken steps to cultivate it before it too slips away.
We spoke of her third daughter. This girl lost both of her sisters within one week; a devastating blow. She suddenly went from being one of three sisters, to being an only surviving adult child. Her experience has been challenging for her. She has withdrawn from her friends, from her family, and from her life as it was before the death of her sisters. She no longer communicates with her mother and her mother is heartbroken. I can only imagine the pain both of these women are experiencing.
My client, the mother, feels as though she has lost three daughters. Painfully, two of her daughters are in the ground, and she can no longer see or speak to them. Even more unbearable, however, is to see her third daughter, living, shopping in town, and know that she looks upon her with disdain and refuses to acknowledge your existence. She yearns to touch her daughter, to feel her warmth, and breathe in her sweet fragrance. She desires to express her love and devotion to her, and pull her close to her heart and kiss her forehead. She wants to mother her daughter, but her daughter does not want to be mothered.
I have not spoken to the living daughter, but I imagine her suffering, although different, is no less painful and confusing than experienced by her mother. She has lost both of her sisters. When she sees her mother, I imagine the reality of her loss rushes into her heart and becomes so unbearable that it stifles her breath. I do not know why she refuses to see or speak to her mother, but I do know that grief changes a person. It changes a person’s life. The experience of losing both of your siblings within the same week most certainly would change your life. The pain and fear it would bring might be insurmountable. I have multiple siblings; I cannot imagine losing them within the same week and becoming my parent’s only surviving child. The depth of pain and fear I would suffer might indeed cause me to react in an irrational or inexplicable manner. The energy investment for recovery might draw upon my health. It might draw upon my ability to function and interact with my friends and family. The familiarity of warmth from those I love might be too much to experience and cause me to withdraw from them. It might seem as though I am angry with them, when in reality, my love for them causes me incredible pain. Pain that presently might be too devastating to survive. I might not be able to express my behavior to them adequately, and my silence might alienate me from them. My solitude and their perception of it, might compound into reclusiveness and create a vicious cycle of misunderstanding and rejection within their hearts toward me. My grief may render me incapable of resolving these additional complications developing with the living. I might see myself as inadequate, reeling in a pit of despair and not know where to turn for assistance. The complications of multiple losses may be more than I can overcome and I might need help or counseling to recover.
The point is that I do not know why this daughter is acting as she is, I am merely speculating. My experience as a Certified Grief Counselor, however, suggests to me that it is probable that she is reacting to grief and unable to control her life, her fears, and her pain. I hope that she recovers. I hope that if she needs assistance or counseling, she receives it. Grief is painful enough without suffering additional complications. I pray that this family will understand their experience and be able to draw together and provide for their needs as they travel through the difficult journey of grief recovery; that they will embrace the spirit of forgiveness, that resolution will find its way into their souls, and that peace will one day return to their homes.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, certified grief counselor, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.