In this chapter on Crisis in Family, the death of one’s child, parent, or suicide of a close family member can cause a devastating crisis within a marriage. Mothers and fathers relate to death in different ways, which causes conflict within the marriage. Depending on the circumstances of the death, one spouse may accuse the other of not sharing in the grief, or blaming the other for the death of the child. In dealing with your partner patience should be implemented, thus allowing the other person to grieve in their own way. Most people expect that they will eventually lose a parent, however the death of a child is not foreseen.
Death of a parent can cause crisis before the parent passes if they have been terminally ill. By the time the parent dies the emotional strain, and stress from the illness may have been so draining that the crisis has already occurred. The loss of a parent can cause one to feel anger, depression, and lack of concentration. A study done on college students found that their constant reminiscing about the death of a parent or close loved one caused them to have a lower sense of psychological well-being.
Whether it is the death of a parent or child, grief is not a one-time experience that people go through and move on. For some it is a chronic sorrow where grief related feelings occur periodically throughout the rest of their lives. When you think of the way things may have been if a loved one was still here, along with on the anniversary of their passing feelings of grief become more severe. A study done by Burke in 1999 showed that after 2 to 20 years 97 percent of people who lost a loved one still showed signs of chronic sorrow. In dealing with suicide of a family member, annually there are 31,000 suicides and (75,000) attempts.
Each suicide is said to immediately affect 6 other people in the person’s life. These affects range from physical disorders like shingles (due to stress), depression (grief), and social stigma (the person is viewed as weak and the family as a failure in not being able to help the prior emotions and feelings of the family member). It has further been stated that family members that witnessed the suicide of a family member described this as the worst day of their lives. The people who are most vulnerable to suicide are: 15 to 19 years old, homosexual, or male, family history of suicide or mood disorder, substance abuse or past history of child abuse and parental sex abuse.
Therapist view suicide as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Family members often think they could have done something to prevent the suicide. However Therapist have stated that if a person wants to end their life they will and you can’t control it. Support groups can be an effective coping mechanisms, realizing that you can’t stop a person who is adamant about taking his or her own life.
This section of the chapter dealing with death of a family member holds near and dear to my heart. Due to the recent passing of my dad, I was able to relate to so many of the emotions expressed in this chapter. After being diagnosed with Chronic Heart disease and extensive open heart surgery, I watched my dad’s downward spiral for 7 months. I witnessed the hope that my mom had even when the doctors displayed hopelessness. It was difficult for me witnessing my dad’s decline on a daily bases, however for my siblings it was equally as difficult, because they wanted to be here but were not able to due to their own family and job obligations in other states.
In addition to the experiences that have been recorded in this chapter, I would like to add a few personal experiences that we endured. My dad was the eldest of 12, and we were a close knit family. However during my dad’s illness, his desire to see his siblings and other members of the family decreased. This brought about feelings of anger for them, and much of it directed against our immediate family. I noticed that sometimes family are more concerned about their feelings than those that are suffering from the illness. Even though my dad has been gone for nearly a year it still seems very current.
There is not a day that passes that I don’t think of him in some capacity. I have moments of sorrow, I have also felt moments of despair when someone else talks about their dad. There were time in church where I would just begin to cry because the song reminded me of him. I also am reminded every Sunday of the chair that he occupied when he was there. My mom and I have struggled with parting with my dad’s belongings. She has several vehicles, and does not need them all, however we want to keep them, because they belonged to my dad even though it is not the practical thing to do. We have done quite a few things to help cope with the loss of my dad.
We have had a memorial service on father’s day where we had a butterfly release ceremony. Now every time we see a butterfly it reminds us that he is not far. I also have a picture of him by my bed, on my dresser and on the refrigerator. Just these small reminders help us to cope with my dad no longer being with us on this time side of life. My mom stays really busy, with bowling, working, and church activities. She said that staying busy keeps her mind off of my dad not being with her.
It has been a great adjustment, because after 52 years of marriage and sharing everything that you do, the single life, not by choice is a stressor all by itself. Whenever I feel weary about my dad’s passing, I think of those last days and how his body had suffered so much from his illness. I would never want to be so selfish as to want him to stay here and not have the quality of life that he deserved to have. I believe that our greatest coping mechanism is the assurance that we will meet my dad in another place, not on this time side of life.