Don't know how to help my son

(11 Posts)
bobsleighteam Mon 19-Sep-16 08:59:27

Does anyone have any experience of helping children cope with grief. My son's father passed away in may in very traumatic circumstances. My son has just started year ten in school he's almost 15. He's not going to school today (he's not been in much since it happened) he has just received an award in cadets this weekend and is an absolute mess because he is not able to tell his dad. His dad would have been so incredibly proud of him.
I don't know what to do, part of me thinks I should just allow him space to grieve and if that means missing school so be it another part of me worries he needs the normality school provides and I'm also concerned that school will soon stop being supportive and ill start getting in trouble due to his poor attendance.
Does anyone have any advice or experience they could share?

ssd Mon 19-Sep-16 10:12:37

I'm very sorry to hear that thanks

I think Winstons Wish may be helpful, or maybe they could refer you to something more appropriate for a teenager?

again, I'm sorry xx

Somerville Mon 19-Sep-16 10:34:31

I've been in this situation too, though my DC were a bit younger at the time. (Eldest is now same age as your son.)

Children who lose a parent often do miss a significant amount of time off school - or are in so much of a daze that they don't learn much even when they are there.

My DH died in November and my kids didn't really go in much between then and Christmas. In January I agreed some stuff with their schools that helped them get back in. Here's what I found helped:

- Keeping talking to the school. Updating them on why he doesn't want to go in and when you're unsure, including them in the desicion.

- Talk to the school about what they can do to help on bad days. So he feels that his grief is acknowledged, but he's not missing out on work. Him staying at home but his work being emailed through to him? A half day? Support at lunch time?

- We had an agreement that mine could miss registration and assembly that first term back. It gave them an hour more sleep at a time they were sleeping very badly (because we then also avoided rush hour traffic so journey there was faster) and avoided assemblies which so often touch on things that triggered them getting upset.

- Make sure all staff know (this was an issue when children changed year groups as yours now has). Every class teacher.

- Get a buddy group of nice kids around him school can do this.

- Talk to your son about his father's aspirations for him and his future. This has been the single most important thing for my kids.

- Don't let school forget about his grief. Ask for fort nightly meeting or at least phone call to update a key member of staff and listen to their concerns and observations too.

- In time, a good grief counsellor can help a lot. At one stage my kids were leaving early one day a week for a family therapy session altogether with a grief counsellor.

- Think about ways to celebrate successes that somehow include his father. Going to cemetery or a special place to 'tell' him is what mine like.

It's great your son has continued with cadets. Mine are sporty and having good sports coaches around them, as well as the routine of training when they could manage it, helped - I imagine cadets is similar.

bobsleighteam Mon 19-Sep-16 10:36:12

Thankyou, he has councelling set up with school although it took a while to sort out so he'd only had two sessions before school broke up.
He is rejecting all suggestions of support outside of this at the moment, saying he's fine although he's clearly not.
He set (a small controlled) fire in the garden last night saying he was trying to summon his dad then scratched his dad's name into the bedroom wall over and over.
My heart is breaking for him and I have absolutely no clue how to help him.

Somerville Mon 19-Sep-16 10:43:55

Oh bless him. That's heart breaking. sad

Don't tell him you're talking to the school: do it behind his back. Have extra support/reduced hours set up behind the scenes so that when he suddenly wants more support or hits breaking point it's already there.

Keep talking to school. Tell them what's going on at home. It sounds like he's acting normally when he's there - they need to know.

And ask them for the work he's missing - make sure staff stick notes of missed lessons in his books so he had everything he needs to revise.

School counsellor might be of limited help. Mine didn't find theirs helpful for a variety of reasons. Dd1 didn't want to let down her guard at school, so wouldn't say anything. DS didn't like the counsellor. DD2 tried hard and liked hers but the counsellor didn't know much about grief and no real progress was made.

Can you get him out of the house this afternoon? Even if it's only to the supermarket? It's great to talk about his dad, but if he's obsessively thinking about his loss it can be hard for him to break that cycle on his own.

Somerville Mon 19-Sep-16 10:50:32

As well as winston's wish, there are other charities offering support. There is a lot out there, but you have to flag your son up as needing it.

Child bereavement uk - they have a phone line that I remember calling when I was at rock bottom and getting sympathy and sensible advice.
Cruse - they have local branches and it's often possible to find grief counsellors and other support through them. They also run someone called Hope something (can't quite remember) which is for teenagers who have experienced bereavement. My DD1 has met email buddies who've also lost their dads through that.

There were also times I phoned my GP about my kids. Do that if you continue to be worried about DS today.

bobsleighteam Mon 19-Sep-16 11:00:32

Thanks again somer some useful information there. I'm in work for a couple of hours now but I'll have a read through properly later and ring round a few numbers. I think your right about having another conversation with school too. I'm going to ring them this afternoon and see if I can arrange a meeting with them.

ssd Mon 19-Sep-16 19:07:48

is there any charities that put bereaved teens together? I feel thats what your son needs, when he is eventually ready to talk to someone about his loss and how he feels, someone who actually knows how he feels

maybe ask cruse if they know any, or your gp?

bobsleighteam Wed 21-Sep-16 10:04:26

I've just spoken to school, he's not gone in again today, and they were lovely. They are going to get in touch with hope house and see if they can arrange for him to have councelling at home and they are also going to start sending work home for him.
They are putting no pressure on us at all to organise a return date for him which is a big weight off my mind as I was concerned he would be forced back. Or rather he would resist being forced back and all the extra difficulties that entails. I'm also waiting for the g.p to call me back this morning. So although it's a long road I'm at least feeling slightly less helpless and useless today.

Somerville Wed 21-Sep-16 10:58:48

Oh well done to you, and to his school.

In my experience a child's parent dying is one of the things that a school will really bend over backwards for. Sending his work home and totally taking away the pressure to attend sounds great right now.

I know it's a huge pressure on you but how lucky your son is to still have you. He'll massively recognise that some day. flowers

ssd Fri 23-Sep-16 08:03:52

I agree with somerville. well done op, am glad you feel a teeny bit more positive thanks

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