How did the bereaved manage years ago

In my grandparents day no one actually talked about grief. We often heard that some old lady down the road had lost her husband but we didn’t give a thought to how she felt. No one talked about it. Even when my Dad died when I was 28 I never realized how Mum must have felt as I had a busy life with family and a business. When Mum said she was lonely my siblings and I thought she was always moaning. If only I could go back in time and support her through her grief. We can only learn when our own turn comes. Thank goodness the subject of grief is no longer taboo and support sites like this one exist to help each other.


When I was a very young child in the 80s in London, there used to be this old woman who would occasionally be seen walking around with a black and white school photo of a child in a frame. Either she carried flowers, or the frame had flowers. Often I think about her. Who was she? Or who is she - when you are young, everyone over 40 looks old, but she might actually have been in her late 40s, in which case, she might still be here. Who was the child? Presumably her son. When did he die? How did he die? What happened to that woman since? If she is alive, where is she? If she died, how did she die? Did she die all alone, with no family? I hope she didn’t, I hope that there was someone to love her and help her with her grief, but probably not.

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Hi @jean2,
I am 64 and both my parents are still going reasonably strong at 96 years, Dad will be 97 in December and Mum the same next February. For the last few weeks, I have been talking to both my parents every night for about an hour, and I don’t know how I would have coped otherwise.

I think in my parents’ younger days that the attitude was to wrap up all of those intense emotions, lock them in a secure box, file them at the back of a very deep wardrobe, and put on a brave face. Do everything possible to forget about the worst event in anyone’s life, put it all behind us and move one. My Dad has said such things to me, but I - and I’m sure, many others - are simply not made that way. I know his heart is in the right place, but usually it just makes me feel worse than I was. He’s also suggested I sell our (my wife and I’s) house and move to something smaller, when all I want is to be in familiar surroundings which have memories ingrained in their bricks and mortar. How can anyone spend years, decades, with their partner, the person who knows you inside out, then simply file that away and forget about it as if it had never happened? As you say, thank goodness grief is no longer taboo - for the sanity of all of us.

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Hi Jean
What an interesting subject and I can so relate to what you are saying. I had a dear Auntie who committed suicide when still in her twenties and yet no one in my fathers large family ever mentioned her, not in front of me anyway, then it was my lovely Nan and the next year my Granddad and yet no one in that large family ever mentioned them. I was a child throughout this and not allowed to go to the funerals. To a child they might have just walked out the door and never come back and I grew up thinking that was grief and you had to just accept it. I now deeply regret not being more comfort and help to a Nan and my Mother when they lost their husbands. My mother still in her forties went away and twelve months later came back ‘cured’ of grief, or so it seemed. I never heard her speak of my father although he had been the only man in her life since childhood. To a friend who’s son was killed. I was pretty useless. I had a friend who was still crying at the loss of her husband a month later and I couldn’t understand this after all he had been dead a full month!!! How sorry I am now for being so insensitive and wish I could tell these people this now that I understand. How did our parents and grandparents ever manage to get on with their life and not show any grief.


Morning Jean
Was going through my phone downloads to free up space, found this

then for no specific reason, I came on here at this early hour and saw your post.
My mum’s elder brother died in Burma December 1943 aged 22, can’t begin to imagine my grandparents grief. It is through my gran keeping his memory alive that helped not only me but all her grandchildren know about him, Listening to her stories about him helped me find out more about him, My grandad passed in 1954 on my 4th birthday when my gran was 52. So I think this saying from Bob Marley sums up, for me anyway, how they coped after the support from their tight communities, and large families, faded. truly believe this saying holds truth today.

hope today is an improvement on yesterday and tomorrow is an improvement on today

Hi Jen,
Lovely to hear from you. I love these simple saying. They say and mean so much.
Pat xxx

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