My Ex-wife died today need help to explain to children.

(61 Posts)
zombieslovebrains Fri 15-Mar-13 21:37:52

Long story short and not trying to drip feed.
Got married and had 2 children DS 15 and DD11.
Due to ex's mental health problems which became apparant after DD was born she had to be sectioned for long periods of time. After spending a couple years in hospitals, she started to get better but had met someone else and decided she wanted a divorce.
So for the last 10 years the kids have lived with me. Even through the divorce we got on well, after the divorce there wasn't any major problems we always managed to work around each other so the kids could see her, we did have a few moments but they didn't last more than a week.
Fast forward to this week. Massive heart attack mid-week, never regained consiousness, died today she was only 41.
Kids don't know yet will be telling them tomorrow, not trying to sound like its all about me, it's my birthday tomorrow so it will be forever linked to their mum's death.
Still feel numb.

QOD Fri 15-Mar-13 21:40:25

I'm so sorry, how hard.
Why weren't they told at the time though? Did you only just find out?
The 15 yr old will I am sure, ask this too.

There is no easy way, they are old enough to understand death, you just have to tell them. Why not just do it now?

Sorry if this comes over insensitive.

Welovegrapes Fri 15-Mar-13 21:46:49

So sorry about this sad

I don't have advice, other than being honest, but I'm sure others will.

yani Fri 15-Mar-13 21:48:55

I'm sorry for your loss.

I would tell them calmly first thing in the morning. Give only facts. Opinions & questions can come later.

Are the grandparents still alive? It might be nice for your children to speak to them.

Wrt your bday, ask your dc if they would prefer celebrating it on Sunday.

I wish you well.

zombieslovebrains Fri 15-Mar-13 22:03:55

I found out about the heart attack Thursday morning, at that time the doctors were waiting till Monday before making any decisions.
Both sets of grandparents are still alive.
I spoke to her parents on thursday night and we felt it was best to see what was happening because we didn't want to cause more upset and I honestly think no-one was thinking straight.
I only found out about her death a couple hours ago.
We discussed about telling the kids and felt it would be better in the morning so they would have the day to process it.
I'm trying to process it now, it doesn't feel real.

pansyflimflam Fri 15-Mar-13 22:11:25

Goodness me, I am so sorry for your loss and for your children. I have nothing helpful to add really but I am just so sorry for you all. Do you have another relationship now? Do your children have any other family member to whom they could reach out, aunties and uncles?

QOD Fri 15-Mar-13 22:15:16

I'm so sorry, I was being a bit thick, she only died today.
Gosh
There's no easy way. Just tell them you've had some sad news, it's quite probable that the hospital may not have allowed them in ICU anyway, I'm just thinking your 15 yr old may have some initial distress/anger at not being able to say goodbye.
I'm only thinking about my rather hormonally stroppy 14 yr old you see.

Have a look round the net tonight, there will sadly be lots of advice sad

pansyflimflam Fri 15-Mar-13 22:21:46

Seriously a little bit of lying would not go amiss actually. Just say no one was allowed to see her in the ICU and no one assumed she would die (this is why we did not tell you yesterday) and things were being reassessed on Monday (and I was going to tell you over the weekend) but unfortunately she passed away quietly. Do stress that she died whilst asleep (whether this is true or not) The moment you find out bout these things will be logged forever so be careful about the mental images you talk about. Please be very positive about the peaceful nature of it all, personally I think this will help them hugely. Their perception of heart attacks may be (if they watch soaps and stuff) really dramatic and you have to diffuse that.

zombieslovebrains Fri 15-Mar-13 22:22:22

Uncle and Auntie on her side who are obviously devasted.
My sister is coming across tomorrow.
Spoke to various members on both sides and we all agreed that the kids come first and if they want to talk they speak to whoever they want to they are ready

pansyflimflam Fri 15-Mar-13 22:23:38

I am so pleased you have some family around you, this must be so hard for you too x

zombieslovebrains Fri 15-Mar-13 22:29:13

I did speak to her parents about taking the kids to see her, they didn't it was a good idea due to the circumstances, her mum spoke to the medical staff this morning about taking them to see her and their opinion was it wasn't a good idea because it would be to distressing.

Sunnywithshowers Fri 15-Mar-13 22:30:21

I'm sorry. how awful. No advice, but big hugs to all of you xxx

Floralnomad Fri 15-Mar-13 22:32:45

I am going to disagree and say you should tell them tonight . The eldest in particular may well be angry that he wasn't told about the heart attack at the time ( and rightly so ) ,they are going to be devastated whenever you tell them and having ' the day to process it ' is hardly relevant .im sorry if this sounds harsh ,and obviously you know your children , but they are not babies and the older one especially needs to be treated in a more adult fashion .

exexpat Fri 15-Mar-13 22:34:06

I don't know quite how children that age are likely to react (mine were 8 & 3 when DH died suddenly) but you should find that the Winston's Wish website has some useful advice. They also have a phone helpline, though I'm not sure if it operates at weekends.

With mine, I found that honesty was the most important thing, and also not expecting them to react in 'normal' ways, or putting pressure on them to talk about it when they didn't want to. In your case, their ages and the divorce and mental health issues will make it more complicated - but at least they will have a more adult understanding of death.

chocolatespiders Fri 15-Mar-13 22:34:37

So sorry sad

Are the children still awake? I would hate for them to find out on social media before you tell them.

DewDr0p Fri 15-Mar-13 22:37:12

OP I'm so sorry.

I can't personally advise you but suggest you seek advice and help from a charity called Winston's Wish who focus on helping children who have lost a parent or sibling. They are really really helpful.

Again I'm so sorry.

DewDr0p Fri 15-Mar-13 22:39:06
Portofino Fri 15-Mar-13 22:39:13

I think you should tell them tonight - if they are still up. They are big enough to know you knew. Very sorry for your loss. sad

MrsDeVere Fri 15-Mar-13 22:44:29

I'm so sorry.
Best be honest. It doesn't have to be brutal but there is no way of making it easy.

It will be awful but it has to be done.

Don't be surprised by their reaction. It may not be what you expect.

I am just so sorry you have to tell them and that they have to know.

Follow their lead. As long as they feel safe, they will come to you with their questions.
In my experience children tend to process in chunks and will often ask questions at odd times and then suddenly not want to know anymore for a while.

Winstons Wish are a good organisation for advice and resources.

zombie, I am so sorry you are finding yourself in this position - it sounds like your exW's death is a loss to you all, not just your children.

Be as honest as you possibly can. Children/young people have a highly developed bullshit radar and may hold it against anybody they perceive has not been honest with them. Of course the impulse is to protect them from hurt, but, lets face it, their mother dying IS going to hurt. You are best placed to know whether to tell them tonight or tomorrow.

Wrt to them seeing her: do give them the option. They should be allowed to say goodbye if they wish. It can be a regret later in life not to have seen for themselves much as it may be upsetting at the time.

Yy to Winston's Wish. Also CRUSE, a bereavement counselling charity, can at least signpost you towards help for children to manage their grief.

Many condolences.

Wonderland121 Fri 15-Mar-13 22:45:27

I am so sorry for your loss hmm
I agree you should tell them tonight, I lost my father when I was 13, I wouldn't have liked to have not known straight away, although of course you know your children best.

zombie, I just read back - I'd be surprised if medical staff actually advised against allowing her children to see her body. It may be more appropriate at the undertaker's rather than a hospital morgue, but I agree, your kids are that bit older and need to be given the choice.

zombieslovebrains Fri 15-Mar-13 22:58:10

Floralnoad-- I understand where your coming from, due to previous experiences I maybe have over protected them and I know it's going to be a rough time while the kids deal with it.

Chocolatespiders-- They wont find out on any social media, we must be the only people in the UK who don't do facebook, twitter or the rest of them, apart from this one and that was about head lice.

exexpat Fri 15-Mar-13 23:01:56

I think they should probably be given the option to see her at that age, though best once the undertakers have made her more presentable.

I didn't let mine see DH, even though they came to the hospital with me - he looked awful at the time, and although he looked more 'normal' after the post mortem, I though at their ages (8 & 3) it was better for them to remember him as he was when he waved them off to school that morning. But at 15 in particular your DS is old enough to decide for himself.

zombieslovebrains Fri 15-Mar-13 23:05:11

PacificDodwood--It wasn't seeing her body, sorry should of been more clear, it was while she was in ICU lots of tubes and you couldn't get near her even her mum said its not her there

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