Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: nowhere near Kansas
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I'm going to approach this from two sides.
First of all, my mother passed in January after a 2.5 year battle with cancer. As LaLaLa says, the first week was very very busy putting together photo collages, sorting through Mom's things, the viewing and the funeral. I live far away, so there were aspects in which I didn't quite feel like I could relax & let things out until we got back home.
Every person goes through the stages of grief differently. Every time is different, too. My grandfather's death four years ago was harder than my grandmother's last year. With my grandmother last year and my mother this year, it's taken me several weeks/months before it hit hard. My grandma was very obviously ready to go. My mother was fighting right to the very end.
I am the wage-earner in our family, so I have to get up most days to go to work. I've had one night where I thought I would call in sick the next day... but I guess I got enough rest that come morning I knew I could make it through the day.
The other perspective:
My mother-in-law started chemotherapy within weeks of my mother's death. She also is fighting this hard, and determined to live through it. It's an aggressive cancer, and I hope things work out for her. Right now, DH has been handling things just fine. Right now she's well enough to visit, well enough to help babysit still, and I think DH is taking the optimistic approach.
If the family knows she has days to live, is she in hospice care? Hospice should provide the whole family with good information about what to expect, about the grief process, and about what to do. We had a hospice aid every day, and the nurses nearly every day. There was also a social worker who came to help the family.
The funeral home had resources, the parish priest (minister, rabbi, imam, etc. as appropriate) has resources. Use them.
There are grief support groups out there. Any of the above may be able to refer you to one. I got referrals through a corporate benefit... that I haven't opened up and looked at going to yet.
Grief takes its own time. Most of the funerals I've attended in adulthood, people I was close to, hit hard for a few months, then things get better, and then it hits hard again about the anniversary, and then it's... I wouldn't say "done", but the "new normal" is familiar then. But just because that's my pattern does not mean it will be his.
Unitarian Universalist Pagan