Advice please? ExH has died, how and what should I say to DDs?

(17 Posts)

I have DD1 from previous relationship (he was in her life for the last 6 years) who is 11 and we have 2 DDs aged 5 and 3.

The story will be all over the papers as his death was pretty horrific and not in great circumstance. I am going to tell them in the morning but I have no idea where to even begin.

They have never know anybody to die before and I don't think the younger 2 are going to understand.

Also it will be his funeral in the next week or so but I am not sure if they should be there or not. Part of me thinks as it is their dad they definitely should be but is a funeral the place for a 3 year old who won't understand what is going on or why they need to be quiet?

Thank you for any advice given.

exexpat Sat 07-Sep-13 01:17:06

So sorry that you and your DCs have to go through this.

My advice is basically to explain it to them as simply and matter-of-factly as possible, avoiding euphemisms, though leaving out any gory details you think they don't need to know.

Be prepared for the younger two, particularly the 3-year-old, not to understand and to ask lots of questions (often repeating the same ones) - but they could equally well seem initially unbothered and go straight back to playing; the questions and the reactions might start later.

I had to tell my DCs at age 8 and 3 that DH had died, and it took 3-year-old DD quite a while to get the idea that death is permanent and daddy wouldn't be coming back to life.

Winston's Wish is a childhood bereavement charity which is a very good source of advice and support.

The funeral is a difficult one, given that you were no longer together. Do you get on with his family? Do the DCs have a relationship with any grandparents, uncles, aunts etc on that side? My DCs came to the funeral, but our circumstances were rather more straightforward.

escape Sat 07-Sep-13 01:23:48

So sorry this has happened to you all, seen your previous thread and you will be reeling from this news. Don't forget yourself in all of this.
The children are very young - the eldest ones should probably be there at there ' fathers' funeral - the 3 year old ' Luckily' will know no different,.
Will you go yourself?

I still get on with his family, we were all at exSILs wedding last weekend. I will definitely be going as I believe that is what he would have wanted.

They saw him one day a week so it might take a while longer for it to sink in as it won't be a huge change for them.

He set himself on fire but I can't tell the DDs that can I, I can't even get my head around what would drive somebody to do that! But the details will be in the paper with his name and all sorts the DDs don't need to know.

We have an unusual surname, it won't take long for DD1s friends to put 2 and 2 together.

Sorry that is probably really rambled. I can't believe it has happened, it feels like its not really happening.

escape Sat 07-Sep-13 01:40:47

It's so soon, you can't be expected to think logistics. Are the girls likely to find out form someone else if you don't tell them immediately in he morning?

DD1 is grounded but does have a phone so if it is in the paper someone might text or call her.

We are supposed to be going to a friends for tea tomorrow but I can ask her not to say anything.

They normally see him on a Monday so the oldest at least will notice. We have his dog staying and I have just said exH can't look after him at the moment and they have accepted that.

escape Sat 07-Sep-13 02:03:55

I would tell your eldest, she is old enough to 'need to know' ( IYKWIM) .. I hate to type this, but I really need to log off now. Please try to get some sleep soon and face tomorrow with a clearer head, but I would keep your young lady in the loop for sure xx

Thank you it has been very kind of you to reply and it is very late!

I will speak to DD1 alone when we get the chance.

I am starting to feel tired so will try and sleep now.

Thanks again.

escape Sat 07-Sep-13 20:02:40

Three How are you today?

I'm ok thank you, I have had a couple of moments and visited a couple of his old friends to break the news.

The younger DDs are going to bed now and I am going to tell DD1. I think she will have more questions and don't want to have to tell the others more than they need to know. I will then tell the other 2 in the morning.

I am dreading it! At the moment I can kind of pretend that it hasn't happened but once they know that will be gone.

I will not tell them the cause until I have spoken to somebody from Winstons Wish or a local charity called Jeremiah's journey who also help children who have suffered a bereavement.

I was thinking of asking exPIL if they would like to see the DDs but am a bit worried that they will make light of it and upset them even more?!

Also they have told exHs DNiece that he was in a car accident but with an inquest pending and the possibility of it being in the papers I am really not sure that is a good idea?

Won't it be worse to be told one thing and then find out later on that it was all lies and actually much worse?

But then if I tell my DDs the truth as it was their son and maybe they should get final say in what they are told?

Thank you for thinking about me today, the kindness I have been shown, both on here and in rl, is gratefully received.

ohmeohmyforgotlogin Sat 07-Sep-13 20:26:42

Sorry you are having to deal with this. Children deal better with bereavement when people have been honest, acknowledge their feelings and allow their questions. Let them be involved. The instinct is to protect from the truth but don't tell lies or make up stuff like ' he has gone to sleep' as it can make them fearful of sleep if you get what I mean. They won't need all the detail. Winstons wish has a lot of online info so check that out too.

I did have a look at the Winston's Wish website and there was lots of great advice but I think that because the way he ended his life was horrific even for an adult I want advice on how to best approach it.

I am very wary as like you said I don't want to say something that will make the younger 2 more frightened in the futher. So he went to sleep and was very poorly are probably 2 I will have to avoid.

This is so difficult, I really hope that I am over thinking it and they won't be as upset as I imagine.

Leopoldina Sat 07-Sep-13 20:56:28

for 5 and 3 year olds, much of the message will need to reinforce that they are safe adn that you are safe and that you are not going to leave them and that they will be looked after. Of course they will be upset but you don't have to upset them unnecessarily by explaining too much about how and why. Speak to the exPILs and agree a consistent line.
Being blunt, they are unlikely to remember what you say, so you just have to say something that they will understand (I was told about my father by a teacher at school. All I remember is being in her room, and being collected by my grandad. NOthing anyone said has stuck)

ohmeohmyforgotlogin Sat 07-Sep-13 20:59:21

I am no expert. Maybe knowing he died of burns is enough at this stage. It is complicated by the fact that others will know the facts from the press so quite likely they will find out at some point. I was reading an article about helping children with bereavement last week and it talked of being a companion alongside them in their grief, you can't fix it so don't try, just be with them and allow them to express themselves. They might not be able to do that in words, art can be helpful. Maybe talk them though what happens at a funeral if they are going to go and if they aren't going have some kind of little ceremony they devise. Can you find some professional help? Hospices often have bereavement support services including for children. Is there one near you that could advise you on local services for kids? These are just ideas and dont really help you explain it to them but there are people who will be more help than I.

Well that was a bit weird! I have told DD1 and there was no emotion at all. She asked some questions and then said she was going to bed.

One down two to go!

Horsemad Sun 08-Sep-13 10:12:18

She's probably too shocked to ask for more info at the moment; be prepared for questions from her in the coming days.

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