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happiness

Death of a loved one

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A 34 year old friend of mind lost the love of his life in February when she died suddenly due to a heart defect. There weren't married yet, but were making plans. Now he's doing a bunch of crazy shit like posting messages to her on Facebook every day as if she can read them from "wherever she is up there," and after obtaning her mothers's blessing, declared that he's marrying her posthumously to stay committed to her until they reunite in the afterlife. So far I've kept my opinion on this to myself, but sooner or later I am going to have to express some view of it one way or the other—I've already showed a lack of support by not "liking" his "marriage" announcement. It's obvious that he's in an unbelievable mount of pain, having lost his #1 value, and is trying to deal with it somehow. What should a rational person in his shoes do? I see three options: 1) Try to find love again, hard as it is, 2) Stay alive, but resolve never to love again, and 3) commit suicide. Is there a correct answer?

Edited by happiness

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Oh come on, he's just trying to keep her memory alive. There is no reason you can't be supportive of your friend.

 

In fact, if I were your friend and I read this post, I would seriously question the value of your friendship.

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A sudden death so young will always be extremely disorienting. Most people have some rough long-term view of how their life will unfold: not in the details, but in the general category and direction. The view fits integrates with one's purpose in life (or purposes -- plural -- as most would see it). A death means the plans (the concrete one) are wrecked. It's not uncommon for one reaction to be a defiant: "this doesn't change anything... I will stick to my plan". Denial? Sure, but like any emotional reaction, it has its place as long as it does not get out of hand.

I agree with the other posters: as a friend, your role right now is to be supportive. Perhaps read up on the "stages of grief", to understand the process. Do not try to rush things. For this to play out over a year would be unsurprising. I'd say: watch your friend and support him all the way to the point where he reaches a phase of depression and self-pity. That will be the most difficult, because the nature of that phase is to push people away by pissing them off. If you value the friendship, stick with that too, and you will hopefully see it wane. That would be the time to help him to the final stage: acceptance.

JASKN and Boydstun like this

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8 hours ago, happiness said:

A 34 year old friend of mind lost the love of his life in February when she died suddenly due to a heart defect. There weren't married yet, but were making plans. Now he's doing a bunch of crazy shit like posting messages to her on Facebook every day as if she can read them from "wherever she is up there," and after obtaning her mothers's blessing, declared that he's marrying her posthumously to stay committed to her until they reunite in the afterlife. So far I've kept my opinion on this to myself, but sooner or later I am going to have to express some view of it one way or the other—I've already showed a lack of support by not "liking" his "marriage" announcement. It's obvious that he's in an unbelievable mount of pain, having lost his #1 value, and is trying to deal with it somehow. What should a rational person in his shoes do? I see three options: 1) Try to find love again, hard as it is, 2) Stay alive, but resolve never to love again, and 3) commit suicide. Is there a correct answer?

There are in actuality a multitude of options, some of which are variants of, for now (and perhaps thinking long term is not possible yet...):  Trying to live through the pain of the loss, keeping her memory alive, being true to her and what she saw and loved about him, honoring the gifts she gave to him by not throwing them all away, taking it day by day and waiting for the time when the fog of pain will start to lift.

Give your friend a little time to be crazy, but if you believe he is doing something now which he will regret later, then your self-interest in his end-in-himself interests, requires that you not support him in doing something which is life defeating and possibly require your diplomatic attempts to dissuade him from doing them.  You must be careful of course to keep in mind that people do generally know what is best for themselves... although in such a state this depends greatly on the context and the person.  You should be careful also, that in addition to your nor supporting his life-diminishing actions that you also positively support him in ways which are life-affirming, (Since paradoxically withdrawal of support for life-diminishing acts may itself have life-diminishing effects if he feels you have abandoned him in his time of need etc.)  

Simply acknowledging his unprecedented level of pain and the greatness of his loss are of most importance for now. 

 

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If you seek to be supportive, the best thing to do would be to recognize that your friend has received psychological trauma. It sounds like he is reacting in a really maladaptive way. You can encourage him to see a psychologist, or a counselor, who is trained to be able to help people overcome or cope with psychological trauma. You don't need to be his therapist to be supportive - if he is a strong value for you, your calm or rational state of mind can help ground him. 

In a situation like this, people don't actually generally know what is best for themselves. He is in an unstable state of mind probably.

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