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Dealing with Death in the family

I lost my mother on March 18th and I’m finally able to write about it. That’s right; the woman who gave me life passed away and left me “in a ‘fog’.”[1]

My mother was only 70 years old and no one even knew she was seriously ill until about four weeks beforehand. I know there are worse ways to lose someone, but it’s always difficult to recover.

“Famous psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said grief has five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.”[2] I don’t remember if I did any bargaining, but I definitely experienced the other four.

“How could I deny death even though I knew it happened?” I asked myself. But, after thinking about it, I answered my own question. I think I denied that tragedy had struck until I nearly collapsed after passing my mother’s casket for the final viewing. Anger soon raised its head in the guise of feeling “abandoned.” It took me a week to recognize this emotion and another week or two to admit it. I’m 52 years old, and I was “angry” with my now dead mother for “leaving.” Depression may have started as soon as I received the bad news, but it hit me full force after realizing my anger and admitting this to one of my sisters. Acceptance is the hardest part because acknowledgment of your mother’s death means you have to figure out how to deal with never seeing her again. Of course, if you believe you will meet again in heaven, acceptance comes a little easier.

If you experienced a recent death in your family, I advise you to seek help. Don’t grieve alone! Talk to your minister or priest, find a grief counselor, and/or speak with your family and friends. In “Life After Death: What to do …,” Kim Carolan suggests going to a “grief group.”[3] Even sharing feelings with siblings helps, believe me. My husband and my pastor were and still are very supportive.

In “Couples dealing with death,” Eleanor Turner describes how a spouse or significant other can best help their partner deal with a family death. One of her suggestions is to “Celebrate the one they’ve lost.”[4] Remember the good times with your loved one. Write a short speech or poem to be read during the funeral. My family found dozens of old photos of Mom at different ages and made a collage at the funeral home.

If you are the one who has to plan the funeral, read “What to Do When Somebody Dies.” It’s by someone in the United Kingdom, but it gives an excellent example of what to do and what to expect during and after funeral arrangements.

For those of you living in or near Evansville, Newburgh, or Tell City, IN OR near Henderson and Owensboro, KY; I have compiled a list of sites below where you can find Grief Support. Please check online and/or in your phone book if you live elsewhere.

Evansville and Newburgh, IN

Psychology Today, Therapy Directory

Evansville Grief Support Groups

Catholic Charities of Evansville

Perinatal Bereavement Support Group

Crossroads Christian Church

Grief Counseling, USA

Tell City, IN and Hardinsburg, KY

Southern Hills Counseling, Perry County

Health Grades

Henderson, Dixon, and Madisonville, KY

Henderson, KY Grief Support Groups

Dixon, KY Grief Counseling

Psychology Today, Therapy Directory

Grief Support – Henderson and Evansville

Owensboro, KY

Hospice of Western Kentucky

Owensboro, KY Grief Support Groups

Grief Counselors of Owensboro, KY


[1] Ranney, Carol A. “Memory loss after a death in the family.”

[2] Weddington, Diane. “Grieving a Mother’s Death.”

[3] Carolan, Kim. “Life After Death: What to do ….”

[4] Turner, Eleanor. “Couples dealing with death.”

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