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Thanksgiving - My Widower Brother

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My sister-in-law passed away in April of this year. I am looking for thoughts or suggestions to help make Thanksgiving , which my wife and I are hosting, as positive an experience as possible for my brother. He and his wife came last year as we typically host and it was a very enjoyable holiday.  I'll share a few details about my brother's situation and apologize in advance if these items are not relevant:

  • His wife's death was unexpected, due to a heart condition
  • Both in their late 40's
  • No children
  • He lives in a different state so he will by flying in for the holiday
  • I consider my brother and I to have a close relationship, despite the distance


Thanks in advance,


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Hi S, it is very thoughtful of you to join our group to help understand what your brother is going through.  I lost my wife over 3 years ago. At the stage he is at (7 months since his wife passed), i was not comfortable still in most social settings, but appreciated having family around during holidays or other meaningful dates.  My best advice is to just be yourselves, but don't be offended if your brother needs a little space or down time.  I wouldn't change much from your normal routine, but be prepared to roll with it if he doesn't participate as he used to.  He's lucky to have a brother who wants to understand and help him. Good for you!

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Hi S,


I echo what PaulZ wrote. I'll add that you should initiate conversation about your sister-in-law, even if you think it makes your brother sad (he already is). Avoiding the topic to me felt alienating. Validate the emptiness. 


I wish you all a peaceful holiday full of happy memories,



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One thing that was important to me for these situtations was to have an escape plan. If your brother is staying with you, try to have a place where he can go off to for a moment, an hour, or just for the rest of the event if necessary. If he does dissappear into this place, give him some time. If you feel the need to check on him, just do that, let him know it's ok to be by himself for as long as he needs. It is great to be around people who can understand this and let you walk through your grief in whatever way you need to. Don't worry about the right words, there aren't any. 



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