Not Forgetting a loved one

Can someone help me in my understanding of this situation?
My sister ( as did our whole family) lost her son to cancer after a long and terrible illness.
My sister has found a way of coping that I am trying to understand the way she copes.
My nephew, just 7 when he died was sick for more than 5 years and my sister was his carer and of course his devoted Mum.
My sister has kept herself busy and is always on the go, working instead of thinking. Her coping strategy.
This was 30 years ago. She has two grown up sons.
Every time I am with her, his name pops up in the conversation. It can be in all sorts of ways but mainly just slips in the conversation. This doesn’t just happen to me, this is to everyone who knows her, strangers she will casually chat to, never an opportunity is missed to draw experiences, events, comments about her son. Conversations are steered ……
Now, please help me shed some light into what is happening here as I want to help her.
I think, she had the fear he may be forgotten ( we never will forget this darling brave boy, ever!)
The majority of the time, it’s just a little comment ( for example, when the daffodils are out, she will comment how he loved yellow flowers….)
I am just used to her, others feel awkward when her son is mentioned so often.
Recently she has become a Grandmother and her grown up sons have both spoken to me ( they brought up the subject, I’ve never spoken to them about this before) of how she talks about their (dead) brother all the time. They say it’s ok but it must be bothering them at least a bit….why would they start talking about it?
How do I help?
Does my sister need help?
Or do we just accept that this is my sisters way……
I don’t know if I should discuss with her but don’t want to upset her;,after all I’ve not walked in her shoes.
Is this ‘unresolved’ grief ?
I just want my sister to enjoy her time with her grandchildren in the present….
I would just like to understand why she is like this and that we can help her….
I am the closest to her, I would be the one to talk to her about her coping strategy
Any advise or understanding would be much appreciated
I have done my best to help her and would like to think I have supported her over many, many years but feel that I’m out of my depth to understand what is going on in this grief cycle.

Dear Sanny

Thank you for such a detailed list of your sister’s grief which states so clearly the processes your sister has been through.

I’m not an expert but having lived for some time and experienced my own losses, two at least traumatic, I have some idea of the devastation and broken feelings you all endured.

Your sister, it seems to me, kept busy and occupied all her life to help her cope with the loss of her little boy, now, as an older lady with less to do and less demands on her time, the grief is finally emerging to the point where it seems in your words, to have become excessive.

Yes, I do think your sister needs help, but she may not see it that way. Life is never that straightforward. Why don’t you start the process by talking to a Counsellor, or The Samaritans, or someone on here as to how to approach the subject of encouraging her in dealing with her pain. I feel this is something you and her sons could bring about with gentleness. And you do sound a very thoughtful sister.

I hope you find answers,


Hello Sandy
You sound a lovely caring sister.
Was your nephew your sister’s firstborn.
It was a horrific time for your sister whose baby was only two years old when he became ill and so upsetting caring for him and that he died at such a young age. Your sister will always be in pain and sad at his birthdays, Xmas and the day he passed, she misses not being able to watch him grow up, go school, work, marry etc. I think that’s beautiful that she talks about him every day and even talks to strangers about him.
Has your Sister spoke everyday about him since he passed or just lately, if the latter then she is probably dealing with her grief now, as you said before she kept herself obsessively busy, grief catches up in the end.
Is it since she has become a Grandmother, my first grandson is 6 weeks old and I miss that my Martin never gets to see him. Your sister is happy to be a grandmother but upset too as it is painful for her that she lost her son at such a young age.
Maybe ask if your sister is struggling and what help you could give her (although you sound very supportive anyway)
Amy x

Thank you for your support
It’s a very delicate situation
I will definitely get some advice
I can’t afford to put a foot wrong and under no circumstances intend to upset my dearest sister.
I feel disloyal but if I don’t handle this with upmost sensitivity I could make things worse.
The whole reason why I have not reached out until now.

Dear Sanny

You are right to take the time to think things through as to how to help your sister, she is lucky to have someone as thoughtful and sensitive as you. I’m glad Amy responded too, at least you know you have people here who care.
Wishing you all the best as you try to sort things out.