Please let him be dead, he is after all, DEAD!

So there’s this guy I knew. Let’s call him John. He married his HS sweetie, 20 odd years ago. We’ll call her John’s Wife. They had 4 kids.

John was a great guy, almost universally loved. Coached the Jr. High team, all the guys he coached grew up into Fine Young Men. One of his sons narrowly missed winning a state championship at the family sport.

About 3 years ago, John got a diagnosis of all kinds of cancers and was told to make his affairs orderly, because he had mere months. A bit over two years later, John finally passed away, in his own home surrounded by friends and family. While it was incredibly painful for him, it was actually a wonderful peaceful death. John’s incredible spirit, openness and humor made it an easy thing for people to be around him right til the end.

Weeks before he died, John was on the sidelines while his 2nd son DID win the state championship in the family sport. Very touching moment that was written up in the local papers.

The funeral was immense. Never have I seen so many kids from 13, up to their early 20’s stand and bawl uncontrollably.

Now, I am not unsympathetic, nor am I hardhearted, but here’s my issue…

His wife refuses to let the poor man die. It’s been 15 months since he died, and life in her home is as if he might walk in at any moment. Her kids have accepted life without dad.

But mom? Well, next Wednesday, she’s having a birthday party for him. As she did last year, only a couple months after his funeral. When I say birthday, I mean balloons, cake, singing Happy Birthday, etc

The new home they bought right before he was diagnosed is still wearing the Contractor White paint. Know why? Well, John never decided what colors to do the rooms in, so we haven’t painted yet. Perhaps he’ll give us a clue at the party, eh?

His ashes were divided up amongst his kids, his wife and a few close friends, who have been told to bring them to the party, so that all the various containers might sit together on the mantle for the singing of happy birthday. No shit.

It goes on.

You talk to her and if John comes up, it’s not in the past tense. “John says…” or “John always does…”

I told mutual friends I wouldn’t make the birthday party. I’d do anything for her and the family at the drop of a hat, and have. But that just seems…I don’t know, a bit skeevy to play along with. Besides, what if he blows out the candles?

I’m with you, Mr. Bus Guy. This is pretty creepy. I’m all for expressing grief in the manner that one needs, but there’s also moving on, particularly since she has kids who need her. And a birthday party is a bit much!

Minor correction I just caught - just over ONE year ago he died, after TWO years of fighting.

Admit it. This is what is really bothering you.

Really. There’s an awful, awful prank in that somewhere.

But I’m with you, man. That’s terribly creepy. I really feel sorry for this poor woman, but someone may want to suggest grief counseling or something. She needs help getting on with her life with her kids.

Now, that would be really cool! I’d go to a dead guy’s party to see that. But seriously, this is creepy. John’s wife seems to be having a little trouble letting go. I wonder if anyone else will go to the “party.”

Birthday party for a dead guy. :confused: :eek:

The woman is so lost in her greif and probably the past, that she is afraid to move on. She probably does not know how to move on. She’s probably never made a decision in her life and now that your friend is gone, doesn’t even comprehend this is an option.

She needs grief counseling. For the good of her children to see that life goes on.

Gah! The kids are supposed to bring the ashes are invited to the birthday party!?

I’ve told my loved ones many at time that I’d prefer to be cremated, but if I thought for even a second that my cremains[sup]TM[/sup] would be part of a posthumous birthday celebration, I’d quickly change my tune.

Pine box. Find me a shady plot somewheres. Bring me some nice flowers or something once in a while. Yep. But NO BIRTHDAY PARTIES.

More seriously, Shirley is right: the lady needs grief counseling–not well-intended friends telling her to move on (not that I would accuse the OP of that), but genuine professional support. If the kids are pretty much grown and out of the house, they should suggest it. If the suggestion does not work, they might even consider going witjh their mom to a few sessions, just so it does not look like they are treating her as nuts.

Come on folks. At least the family is not ingesting the ashes every year. :eek:
I agree with the counseling charge.

I select cremation too. And let the mortician dispose of the ashes as he sees fit. If the mortician refuses, take the damned stufr and throw it in the river, or alongside the road, or in a flower bed.

I’m with writer H. Allen Smith whose instructions were that he be cremated and the ashes shot from the ‘guns’ used to make Puffed Wheat.

Aren’t there stages of grief, and acceptance is one of them? She hasn’t hit that stage yet.

The Simpsons writers didn’t make those stages up, did they?

I agree with all the calls for professional counseling - that’s kind of what prompted me to write this. Someone’s planning to have that talk with her soon.

The kids are 22, 19, 16 and 14. The youngest is the girl, who is the one we all fear for. She’s adopted the attitude that mom doesn’t even notice her around the house, consequently on any given night, she’s at one of 2 or 3 different friend’s homes for the night. Fortunately, the friends are all good friends of the family and the daughter is watched like a hawk, plus she’s a good kid - not likely to run off and do anything dumb.

Of her brothers, only the oldest is any good with her, the other two treat her like second class because she wasn’t a 'rassler.

Remember that Olympic beach volleyball player who had her mother’s ashes mixed in with the sand at the pit?

This is significantly weirder than that.

Seriously – the woman clearly needs some help with moving on. Are you close enough to anyone in the family to make that suggestion?

In addition to the professional counseling: If you are close enough to make the suggestion, could you suggest that instead of a “birthday party”, making it more of a “John Memorial”? A time to meet, go through old pictures, share memories of the person and talk about good times, but not so much a cake and candles? That could be a way to still acknowledge the grief and loss she feels without making it something creepy where she’s still acting like he’s there.

Of course, she may completely not go for the suggestion.

I’m close to the family, but another friend who’s closer and I were talking about this last night because he’s pretty concerned too. He’s going to sit her down and have the “now seriously…” talk.

This week she held a golf outing to raise money for a scholarship she’s establishing in his name. A great thought, well attended and everyone there was a friend of his and was there for the cause. OK, and the golf, but still…

That’s the kind of thing we want to get through to her would be a better avenue for her grief, something to celebrate John without getting creepy about it. And yeah, there at the lunch following golf was a whole display of pictures that a lot of us stood around and remembered him by.

Then during her speech, she brought up the party and invited everyone. Ever see 80 golfers sober up instantly?

Everyone mourns differently.

My mother made birthday cakes for my sister’s birthday for years after she died. The urn with her ashes sat on top of the TV for at least a decade. My mother was comforted by keeping her memory close. Even now - 22 years after she was killed in a car wreck - my mother has rituals and memories she does on her birthday and the day she died.

Of course, it’s miserably hard on the rest of us. But hey, who are we to say how she mourns?

Everyone has their own methods of handling grief. Some cry a lot, some want to be isolated, some get angry. Not everyone goes through all the stages. She is definitely in denial, and probably still in shock, too. It might be an unconscious psychological defense mechanism to keep her from losing her mind or having a breakdown. I agree she really needs to talk to a counsellor - she probably realizes it deep down, but doesn’t want to bring it up b/c she’s afraid the pain might be too much for her to handle.

Of course…but there is a 14 YO daughter I worry about. And I remember how vulnerable 14 is - it’s the year I found out I was adopted.

It must be incredibly painful to lose a spouse in a truly good marriage – I’m talking about a marriage of soulmates, where two people together make something better than the sum of them separately.

In the past couple of years, I’ve seen two widows just give up and die within a year of the death of their husbands. Both were strong women with wonderful marriages. I think the loss was just too much for them, that they realized it was unlikely they would ever again have a love that was the center of their being, and life seemed impossibly empty without it.

Another woman (“Betty”) lost her beloved husband of many years, and she’s hung on only because her eight grown children have made sure she did. One of her daughters (and grandchildren) lives right down the street from her; the daughter’s kind of a mess, so Betty not only always has someone close, but she knows she’s needed. The other children call and visit a LOT. Betty and her husband loved to travel, and since his death, the children take Betty along on every vacation; she probably gets to take four or five nice vacations every year. But when you’re with her, all she talks about is her deceased husband.

It’s possible that John’s wife would not be doing even as well as she is if she weren’t hanging on for the sake of her youngest child.

Grief is a way of holding on to the person you’ve lost. The decision to start letting go of the grief can feel like a betrayal of the loved one. A year is not much time to grieve over the loss of the center of your life (I’ve spent longer than that pining over a failed love affair). But there is a child involved here, one who needs her mother desperately right now. I hope that John’s wife can be persuaded to get counselling so that she can find the strength to take care of her daughter.

Also, I recommend this book How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies