Really didn't know what to put as the subject here.
A friend of mine - not a close friend to be honest, but someone I knew through my DD and liked very much - died very suddenly on Sunday. She has a husband and three children age 17, 14 and 12. The 12 year old is my DD's friend. They were close at primary school but started different secondary schools last September. We live in the same village which is quite a close-knit community.
They have no other family and, as I'm not currently working, I've been around and able to offer support.
I'm switching between spending time with the youngest child - talking about her mum, how she feels about going back to school, making contact with a local bereavement support charity etc - and trying to give some emotional and practical help to the dad.
Tomorrow I've offered to sit down with him and draw up a list of everything that needs to be done, along with some sort of timeframe, so that he can think about who he wants to involve in various decisions, what tasks he does and doesn't want to do himself and that sort of thing. This evening, he felt rather as if he was drowning in decisions and visitors for his kids so I hope this will help a little.
I guess I'm just looking for any tips as to how I can help him. Any big dos or don'ts? And any advice about how to support the children, especially the youngest who I know best? As I said there are no grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins.
It sounds as though you are doing a sterling job - how lucky they are to have you around and bothered enough to post on Mumsnet ) I think the best support is just being there, offering your time and allowing them to talk, taking the twelve year old on shopping trips etc. I'm sorry I don't have any better advice, it's not something I have much experience of, except that my mum was orphaned at twelve and just needed kindness and an outlet to talk about things (which she didn't really get - was sent to live with a very Victorian aunt). Remember to take time out for yourself so that you don't wear yourself out. Perhaps the dad would find it helpful to join Mumsnet himself? x
Hi BerkshireMum. You sound like a wonderful friend. The main tip I have is to contact Winston's Wish who will offer support to the children as well as giving you and their father lots of useful information:
I hope this leaflet about death and children (including adolescents) might be helpful. You sound absolutely lovely. My experience is that there may feel like a mountain of things to sort all at once, but to take it gently and slowly in the beginning, concentrating on the most pressing issues first- the funeral, I suppose. I hope that doesn't sound banal; it's based on my own experiences of energetically helpful people wanting me to make decisions about a million things when I was just trying to get through the funeral and then once that was out of the way, I had headspace to move on to other things related to the death.