The recent death of Celine Dion’s husband, followed a few days later by the death of her brother, opens questions about how grievers cope.
Sadly, one of the more frequent inquiries we get at Grief Recovery Method is from people who are hit with multiple, successive deaths of people who are important to them.
The situation with more than one major loss, only days apart, is very much in the news, as we are all now aware that Celine Dion’s brother died just two days after her husband died. Most of us have a difficult time imagining what it must be like for someone — famous or not — to be hit by two such major losses, back to back.
The death of one person who is very important to us is difficult enough to deal with — whether the death was at the end of a long illness, or was sudden — and we must adapt, within time, to the impact of the physical end of that relationship. Some people, with greater awareness of correct actions of grief recovery can adapt more quickly, but that does not mean they bypass the normal and natural emotional pain, confusion and other feelings attached to loss.
When the successive losses happen within just a few days or weeks of each other, the impact is incredibly overwhelming. The best way to explain it is to ask you to imagine you are drowning in the ocean, and that you finally manage to get your head above the water. But just as you get your head out, along comes another wave and pushes you under again. And with each successive wave it gets worse.
While we do not personally know Celine Dion, we imagine that she’s experiencing something very parallel to the analogy about the ocean and feeling pushed under again. Our hearts go out to her, and we certainly hope she has some awareness of how to deal with her grief, and that she has loving and supportive family and friends to be near her as she goes through this difficult time.
Adding to that, we can only guess that her husband, and possibly her brother, would have been two of the emotional resources she might have turned to when her heart was hurt by other losses in her life. Now, their deaths have become the primary sources of pain, and they can no longer be there as direct support for her. That can become like another of those ocean waves pushing her under.
It is no wonder that people confronted by successive deaths within a short period of time, feel as if recovery is impossible. To them it feels that way.
The bottom line is this: The issue is not the multiple deaths. The problem is that if you do not have the skills and tools to deal with the first death, then you don’t have skills or tools for the second, third, fourth or more.
Without those effective skills or tools, you can only perceive that recovery is impossible and that you will never be okay.
Again, our hearts go out to Celine and her children and others directly impacted by her husband and brother’s deaths. If we were anywhere near her, we’d just shut up and offer a hug.
From our hearts to yours,
Russell Friedman and the Grief Recovery Method Team