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Coping with Loss/Helping my wife cope with sudden death of Father


Hello Joanne

My name is Jared I'm a 30 years old, my wife is 29.  I had a past drug/alcohol problem which has been addressed and I have been clean and sober for a year and a half.  I was incarcerated at the time of his passing last November for a DUI I had 30 day  sentence.  During this time and any time we needed her dad he lived right down the street and helped us with our 3 young boys.  It was right in the middle of my 30 day sentence I called home and my wife answered the phone in tears and gave me the news that her father had past.  My heart broke here I am clean and sober and still not there for my wife when she needs me.  She advised me that she found him in the bathroom and he was unconscious and unresponsive she started CPR, and called 911 and the ambulance came and advised her he passed.  Well the Judge gave me a 24hr fur-low so I could be at the funeral service.  So I was able to be there the day of the funeral but I had to report back to the jail the next day.  I went back tried to be a supportive as I could over the phone and my heart just broke for her.  Women from our Church gave her company and championship and love until I got back home.  I've been home for about 3 weeks now and I know it will take time for things to get back to normal.  She has started to blame God and her prayer life has really took a hit.  She is convinced that during the CPR, she did something wrong and she if she had done it right he'd still be alive.  I try to comfort her and say the right thing I pray for her and with her even today we went to church but she just isn't herself.  I was on here searching for the right things to do or say, I know that a counselor/pastor would be a good help for her and she's been talking to friends from church but is there any books or web sites I could go to to help me better learn what to do and say and your advice would be extremely helpful.  Thanks you very much.

Dear Jared:

First, let me say how sorry I am for the loss of your father in law. When a parent passes away, especially near a holiday, it seems that things are just never the same again.  I can relate to this as my mom passed away the day after Mothers' Day 1971.  A 'happy day' for other mothers' is a day of painful memories for me.

I can fully understand your wife's pain, considering the fact that she didn't just suffer 'a hurt' but several hurts.  Not only was she in a state of depression from your incarceration, AND not only did she suffer the loss of her father BUT she was the one who found him.  She must have felt as though the world was caving in on her!

I don't want you to beat yourself up for what has happened.  You cannot change what has happened and I'm sure she understands that you are suffering as much as she.  We all, at some point, say to ourselves, "If I could just go back, I'd do this or that differently" but if we're not careful, we will let these things consume us.  I am under the impression that guilt always accompanies a sudden death.  We, the survivors, are in shock from the sudden death and naturally ask ourselves, 'What could I have done?'  Some people feel guilt because their loved one is gone and they are still 'here'.  I think 'guilt' is a part of the natural human reaction.

It is my fondest wish that she will return to prayer as this is the most powerful tool she will ever know!  Remember, please, that YOU can still pray.  You can pray for her, yourself and for your father in law.  I've noticed that some people, suffering a loss, do turn against God.  Their way of thinking is that God could have prevented this!  Other folks find themselves being drawn closer to God.  

My son in law, a soft spoken, beautiful person, died a sudden, horrible death at age 37.  I thought it was so unfair!  I prayed and prayed for understanding for myself and peace for him. I woke up one morning with a feeling of peace and, somehow, knew that Gary was where he needed to be.  I had a completely different outlook on things.  I felt that this healthy, 37 year old husband and father to my grandson, was chosen by God.  What better destination could we hope for then to be 'chosen' by God?

To answer your question, there are several books addressing the loss of a parent or a loved one.  I have a book titled, 'HANDS OF LIGHT' by Barbara Ann Brennan.  It addresses several aspects of life and I find it a very beneficial read.  Other books are available, such as, ON GRIEVING THE DEATH OF A FATHER, by Harold Ivan Smith in which he has combined stories from some well-known people to help others through their grieving process.  Another book you might find  helpful is I WASN'T READY TO SAY GOODBYE by Pamela Blair.

If you or your wife believe in the After-life, you will definitely find books written by James Van Praagh helpful.  

At present, I think something that would prove to be beneficial to both of you, would be your relentless support of your wife and her feelings.  Be there to listen to her, reassure her when she needs it and reassure yourself that you will be a good husband, friend and companion.  The past is gone and the present is here.  

I hope you will keep me informed as to your wife's (and your) progress.  It won't be easy but you are a caring, loving and strong person.  I believe your wife is strong as well and I wish you the best.  

Coping with Loss

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Joanne Flint


Dealing with the death of close family members and loss of a friend. Dealing with betrayal; how to accept it, deal with it and move on.


I lost my parents, who died less than eight months apart and a newborn son three months following the death of my mother. A year following this, my brother died suddenly and a 19 year old cousin was crushed to death in a car accident on his birthday. Now I am facing the impending death of a very good friend. I have also dealt with the death of a husband. I have found that talking with people with similiar experiences has helped me and I have been told that it has also helped them greatly.

A licensed nurse for twenty four years with several years working on a Psych ward as well as being the Executive Director and Director of Nursing Services for a Group Home for mentally ill and mentally retarded.

Awards and Honors
Awarded top clinical and top academic grade at my nursing graduation. Also was a member of the English Honors' Class while attending a local college.

Past/Present Clients
I don't share information about people with whom I talk, unless given permission. I am not a doctor, but I have given insight and hope to people just like myself.

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