There are many mourners when a family member or a friend dies If they are not part of the immediate family they often do not receive the attention they need. I call them "invisible mourners". We need to recognize the changes in their lives and help them deal with these as well as with their feelings not only immediately after the death but over time as well.
Grief is not an illness. Mourners have emotional reactions to the death of someone close to them. In additon they need to understand how the death changes their lives and learn to deal with these changes. Mourners need the support of friends, family and others in their community. To help we all need to see grief as a life cycle event. We need to educate our community.
There is a need to develop a new normal in a school that is grieving. Children need to learn a vocabulary for what they are feeling and help each other understand that there is no straight line as they cope.
Relationship to the deceased makes a difference in how various mourners respond. Each group deals differently. Where a member was killed, families grief is more intense and extended over time.. Help is important but more important over time There is no quick healing as they deal with their own pain, their other children's pain and the unreality of what has happened
Having children write down what they remember about the deceased and sharing it in regular family meetings is one way of following these changes and helping children understand that what they are experiencing is appropriate.
It was with some excitement that I read the article on men and grief in the July 25th edition of the New York Times. It mentioned Widower: When Men Are Left Alone, which I had written with Scott Campbell, a text that is now 20 years old and still very relevant.