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How to deal with loss?

  1. Jun 28, 2007 #1

    turbo

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    The father of one of my best friends (and I have known them both for about 40 years) died today in a traffic accident. My friend thinks that his dad may have dozed off during a drive to a medical appointment, but we may never know. I found out through phone calls from family members and was really depressed and hesitated calling him all day until my wife told me that I had a responsibility to call him. I did, and he ended up consoling me as much as I consoled him. Bill's dad was a scary-smart guy who was a whiz in mathematics and physics and held top-tier security clearances all through the cold war. For Ivan's benefit, this guy steadfastly insisted that the Earth had been visited by extraterrestrial life-forms for all the time that I knew him, and his security clearances and access to "odd" stuff would have put him in a position to know. I could not beat his youngest dilettante son at chess, (much less him!) and very few people could approach his domination at bridge. I've lost a nice guy and a real positive influence. His kids (50-65+ years old approximately) are spread all over the country and plans for a memorial service are sketchy at best. I've offered some basic services (arranging meetings with real-estate agents, etc) but I'm at a loss to what might be valuable/comfortable to an extended family that is strung out across the county.

    Suggestions are welcome.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2007
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  3. Jun 28, 2007 #2

    Danger

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    Don't go trying to track everyone down. Just be available to those who seek out your help.
    Try to get some humour into the situation. I don't mean like cracking jokes about it, but rather get reminiscences going about some of the funny things that the guy was involved in. A good laugh or two really makes people feel better.
    Most important, though, is just listen. People almost always have the need to let out whatever it is they're feeling. Prompt the conversation along as necessary, but let them vent without interruption.
    My condolensces for your loss.
     
  4. Jun 28, 2007 #3

    turbo

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    Thanks, Danger. This is a tough one for me. A couple of his children are very close to me (personally, not geographically), one is much older and one who is closer geographically than others who may or may not really give a crap about their dad's demise.
     
  5. Jun 28, 2007 #4
    I'm really sorry to hear about your loss Turbo, that is an awful thing to happen. I guess all I can really suggest is to just be there for them, I know there was a few kids in my class who lost parents and they never really seemed to want to be the subject of sympathy and pity, but seemed to appreciate just having people there to be with them. Maybe if you have any pictures, special memories...ect you could put them together on a cd or scrapbook or something and give it to them a little later, they might appreciate that.
     
  6. Jun 28, 2007 #5
    All I can say is......nothing.


    The only way to deal with loss is with time. Time really does heal all wounds.


    I feel weird about posting this on a public forum, but this is supposedly anonymous. But anyway, recently my 21 year old cousin committed suicide and there is definitely nothing you can say to a grieving mother who lost her child in the prime of their life that will comfort her. It is just something that she has to deal with on her own for a very very very long time. The longer you ask why it happened the longer it will take to get over it. Just remember the good times.
     
  7. Jun 29, 2007 #6
    Well, his 'kids' are not really kids at all. They are old men. That being said I would just inform them of their fathers passing and thats about it. If they want to talk about it, thats cool. If they dont, they dont.
     
  8. Jun 29, 2007 #7

    turbo

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    Thanks for the suggestions, friends. I have planned a private party/BBQ with the two sons that I am closest friends with - they will come up in a week or so. One of them has an only son who is coming up today or tomorrow to close up the house, and I have lined up a real-estate agent to get it on the market as soon as they have established power of attorney, etc. I have offered to pitch in and do things that need to be done locally, since they all live so far away.
     
  9. Jun 29, 2007 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    Sorry to hear about your friend Turbo.

    It sounds like you are doing what you can. I think your BBQ is a good idea and will provide an opportunity to remember the good times.

    I'm heading down to Ca for my friends funeral next Tuesday. It hasn't been a good week, has it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2007
  10. Jun 29, 2007 #9

    turbo

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    Not for a couple of us. Al was one of the smartest, widely-read, and kindest persons that I have known, and in 40 years he and I and his children and have never spoken a cross word. Trust and respect. I'll miss the patriarch.
     
  11. Jun 29, 2007 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    In thirty years, Jim and I only exchanged angry words once. And of all things... only a few years ago we got into a big fight about Vietnam!!! :rofl:

    Oh yes, and he caught me smoking on a high school field trip. :biggrin:
    He was my physics teacher.
     
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2007
  12. Jun 29, 2007 #11

    turbo

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    Al was a first-generation immigrant who clawed his way up through the educational ranks, and he and I were often at loggerheads about politics, sociology, UFOlogy, party affiliations, public policy, etc, but we were always personally close and respectful. When his wife died of cancer about a decade ago, I was devastated. She was a devout Quaker and she always treated everyone with the utmost respect and care. She and my mother were the two most wonderful women that I have ever known (leaving my wife to take up the torch, and that's a big burden!!). I love their children (though cyrus calls them "old men") because I grew up with them and shared so much with them. The only son of my closest friend showed up yesterday to try to secure the house, and he swung by this morning to visit and we spent almost an hour talking about his grandfather. We're going to hook up on Sunday so I can use my truck and my labor to help him get some of the more personal/valuable stuff in storage to reduce the bad consequences of break-ins. We're good. Things were pretty bad yesterday - at least I can be a local point of influence to take some pressure off the family.
     
  13. Jun 30, 2007 #12
    His kids are 55-60 years old, those are old men by any standards!

    Hope all goes well though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2007
  14. Jun 30, 2007 #13

    turbo

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    I am 55. My father is 81 and he walks 5-6 miles per day. When you hit 55, you won't consider yourself an old man - you'll still have aspirations and goals, unless you are so vain and shallow that you spend all your time longing to be younger. Until then, I suggest that you show your elders some respect.
     
  15. Jun 30, 2007 #14

    Danger

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    I guess that a lot of us are in the same range. At least, Ivan, Integral, Hypatia, Evo and Astro are roughly contemporaries.
    I'm 51, W will be 56 in August, my mother is 94 (and was living in her house by herself until we had to move her to a nursing home in November), and if my father was still alive he would have been 106 at the beginning of this month.
    There seems to be various stages of dealing with death, depending upon the ages of both the deceased and the survivor, but every individual instance is different.
     
  16. Jun 30, 2007 #15

    Astronuc

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    That's the right thing to do. One can't erase another's pain - but one can be supportive and help another deal with it somewhat.

    I've been through it with my brother's death and that of friends and colleagues. It was nice to hear from people about the interactions they had with my brother, who died just after starting his promising medical practice. He was an OB/GYN and qualified surgeon, and had been in practice 5 months when diagnosed with AML-5 leukemia. It was nice to hear from the women he helped deliver - but it was also a reminder of what was lost.

    Just be available to support one's friends and family members.
     
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