Extended Family Member
Our extended family members form an important part of who we are.
Different feelings after the death of a relative
The death of a relative often means losing someone who loved us unconditionally. This can be very painful.
Anger and regret
If you had a difficult or estranged relationship with the person, you might feel a sense of longing for a connection that never was. It’s also normal to feel strong regrets for not spending enough time with them when they were alive.
You may feel like you’ve lost a part of your family history or that your place in the world has been changed.
Fear of death
The death of an extended family member can bring home the inevitability of our own death, and perhaps make it seem nearer than it was before.
If you rarely saw the person who died, you may occasionally find yourself thinking they are still alive. It can then be very upsetting when you realise this isn’t true.
Feeling your grief doesn’t matter
When someone dies, it is common for people to focus their support on the parents, partner or children. Extended family members can sometimes be left to feel their grief doesn’t matter. Professionals call this ‘disenfranchised grief’ and can be very upsetting.
Allow room for your feelings
Whether you’re feeling shocked, sad, confused or nothing at all it’s important to allow space for your feelings. It’s totally okay to feel how you feel.
Talk to someone
Talking to someone about your family member can be really helpful. Try talking to other relatives who knew the person – you might find they’re feeling the same way as you. You can also get in touch with us and we can help you make sense of how you’re feeling. Find out the ways we can support you.
Find ways to remember them
It helps to find ways to remember your family member, and keep them as part of your life. This might mean holding an event in their honour, making a memory box or special album of pictures. This helps to maintain the bond you had with the person. You can find more suggestions on ways to remember someone here.
Plan ahead on anniversaries
Birthdays, anniversaries and religious festivals are difficult when someone dies. It helps to think in advance about how you are going to manage. Read our tips on coping with birthdays.
Write about your feelings
Journaling and letter writing are proven techniques for dealing with thoughts and feelings after a death. Learn more about keeping a grief journal.