The situation: Late last week my husband’s four year old nephew burned to death in a fire. Now, this is not a plee for sympathy–if I wanted that, this would be in MPSIMS. To be frank, neither my husband or I had much contact with the child, and so are not feeling personal loss, beyond what is normal when such a tragedy happens to anyone.
Our main concern is my mother in law. She is absolutly devastated, and I don’t know what to do. She has poor coping skills under normal circumstances, and in a case like this is literally falling into pieces. She absolutly worshiped this boy when he was alive. Of course, all grandpartents do, but in her case she was devoted solely to this boy and his sister (who lived) in a way that was unusual–even before his death she had romantasized thier relationship a great deal: ‘Skye is the only one that really loves me’ sort of thing. Her relationship with her grandson was truly the center of her life, and none of the otherrelationships in her life–not with her estranged husband, her children, her siblings–was even in the same ballpark. Even her relationship with the little sister has always been in terms of the primary relationship withthe grandson (becasue he was born frst, I think, not becasue of gender) I have never heard her refer to the girl by any other name than "little sissy’ in fact.
I am trying to say that while overwhelming grief in this situation is normal, the circumstances surrounding it make it even more complicated. At this point we are concerned she may take her own life, and if not that, she may never even make a partial recovery–and your mid-50s is much to young to retreat into a grief cocoon. There may have been one suicide attempt already, and (I am a little foggy on the details–we weren’t there for this) apparently my sister-in-law and her husband left her alone for a few minutes to run to the store and came back to find feces all over the living room. She is truly going mad with grief and I don’t know what to do. We will have to leave her alone eventually.
My quesstions for the teeming millions are:
The doctor prescribed some nerve pills, I don’t know which type. Should I encourage her to take them and for how long? There is actually a problem there where the parents of the child may have gone through the whole week’s supply over the weekend, but the doctor would probably prescribe more.
Is any sort of professional consoling a good idea, and if so, when should it start? Should I try and find a group that I can take her to this week or is it better to wait until she is past the raving grief phase and is a little more collected.
Does anyone have any general advice on a situation like this? We are feeling totally overwhelemed, and I worry that if we don’t do the right thing in these first weeks she may never recover.