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Not sure where to put this but exH is in intensive care, I feel numb!

(101 Posts)

I spoke to exMIL tonight as exH has tried to kill himself by setting his car on fire whilst sat inside. I'm sat here not really knowing what to do or think really.

I had another thread on here recently about him, I never thought he would do this.

He has been put into a coma but his mum says he is in a bad way. We have a 5 and 3 year old plus my 11 year old DD. What do I tell them?

I feel like shit! I should have made him get help! He drank up to 20 pints a day how could they have not thought this would end badly!

I have known him since I was 18, that's nearly half my life!

Shit!

feetheart Wed 11-Sep-13 12:03:40

Threedaughters - I'm so sorry you and your children are having to go through this.
Glad that the person from the children's bereavement charity has given you some support, please use them as much as you can because this will be a long, involved process with each of you fluctuating in your emotions at different times.

For what it's worth I lost my dad suddenly when I was 7 and my brother and sister were 5. He used to race go-karts and crashed during a race.
My Mum decided that it would be better if we didn't come to the funeral as she was unsure whether she would hold it together and was worried about the effect that might have on us.
What she did do was ensure that we watched the funeral procession leave, were well looked after during the service and then she took the three of us to the graveside after everyone else had gone. We were allowed to say our goodbyes then and encouraged to take something from the grave - I took a ribbon that I had taped to the end of my bed for years.
I think she handled it brilliantly and don't feel any regret that I didn't go to the actual service, I think we were as included as much as she felt she could cope with. It probably helped that she was always open and honest with us so we knew the reasons behind her decisions.

On the other hand a friend lost her husband to cancer last year and both of their boys (7 and 6) plus a number of their friends were there and it was just right - seeing them all running around outside chasing each other after the service really helped a lot of people focus on what was important.

You need to do what feels right for you and your girls.

If it's any help, inspite of losing my dad so young, I don't feel that my childhood or my life has been defined by it. It is part of me, part of who I am but really just one of the many, many things that make me who I am. That may not help you now but thought I would share it.

Memory box with all sorts of things in it is a lovely idea - I don't have anything like that and am still asking my mum basic stuff over 44 years later.

Take care.

I have spoken to somebody at a children's bereavement charity and she advised against saying it was a car accident. She said to just say that there was a fire in his car and he was too injured to survive. She also said I should say that his mind was very poorly.

When he was a live I didn't think about him very often. I might wander what was happening about the girls but that was about it. Now he isn't here he is taking up most of my thoughts.

I was thinking of saying to the girls about doing a picture or card for him. At the moment they aren't mentioning him at all.

The memory box is a lovely idea and I think I will do that. Would it be a good idea to get a couple of his bits so they can see what he like. He was a huge F1 fan so something to do with that, he really liked Heartbeat by Scouting for girls as he said it reminded him of me. He wanted to play it at our wedding but he said he wasn't allowed.

The park where they used to go is on the same street as where the incident happened. Not sure how I would feel going there.

springydafty Wed 11-Sep-13 10:51:52

It's a tricky one but I think you can explain to them the details at a later date, but that perhaps 'car accident' neatly sums it up for now? Perhaps you can explain to them later why you couldn't go into detail at the time, because of their ages?

I'm sorry if that's crap advice - I'm sure those in the know will be able to give you more informed advice. I think you can make it clear that he was very ill, though, which will prepare the way for later info.

It's such a difficult one, on top of your own (complex) grief iyswim.

springydafty Wed 11-Sep-13 10:44:03

It's weird being in the outside when you were once right at the centre. It does make you feel you have no right to grieve. But you do! You can hold conflicting emotions - none of them cancel out the others iyswim. One minute you can be raging, dismissive, cold; the next sad, sorrowful, full of regret... even longing - for what he once was to you. ime all those emotions crowd in. It's ok to go with them when they present, and let them pass through iyswim.

Thank you. It feels so unbelievable that I think people are going to presume I'm making it up.

I am definitely not going to tell them the gory details, which seem to be getting worse on a daily basis, but also I don't want to lie about it either. What happens if I say it was a car accident and then they find out it wasn't an accident at all? Will they lose confidence in me completely? DD1 knows that it involves a fire and the car but nothing else. Unfortunately we have an uncommon name and it would be so easy for her to find out.

My emotions at the moment are changing constantly. Loads of people have said they are there if I need anything but I was on the outskirts of his life while he was a live and feel I should be now. The girls are coping better than I am.

BerkshireMum Wed 11-Sep-13 10:10:43

So sorry you're going through this OP. I've seen what I assume are the the press reports and it must be so hard, at so many different levels.

Be kind to yourself. It is totally okay to grieve - for the man you knew and loved for a long time, for your DC's father and for the lost opportunity to build a better relationship (even if it is apart).

Earlier this year I supported the family of a close friend through a sudden death (very different circumstances). The youngest was the same age as your eldest. What we found, and still find, is that it's important to answer questions and to tell the truth. You don't need to give details and with-holding some information may be wise given their ages, but please make sure what you do say doesn't contradict the truth IYSWIM. As they get older, they may find out more and it's important they can trust you.

One thing you might want to do is a drawing / letter to daddy that can be placed in the coffin. It certainly helped my friends DD a little. And start a memory box. Photos obviously, but also pictures, songs, DVDs they watched with him, pictures of the park they went to with him, as it is now. Some of his favourite brand of after shave / deodorant etc.

In terms of the funeral I agree they should be given the choice. My mum was 7 when her dad died and at 69 she still bitterly regrets and resents not being allowed to go - and the feeling grew as she got older. There is no 'right' way for a child to behave at occasions like this and people will know this.

Please take care xx

springydafty Wed 11-Sep-13 09:01:26

My ex's funeral was packed to the gills, standing room only. I was quite enjoying the eulogies but thought 'who are they talking about?' because the saintly, kind deceased they were lovingly and fondly telling stories about in no way mirrored the person I had known.

I'm not sure telling the absolute truth to the kids is a good idea tbh. Perhaps say it was a car accident? Which is true, in a way. Much later they can know the details, but they are horrifying and I don't think it's a good idea for them to know the details now? I may be wrong.

I agree with iam that it can hit you harder than you expect. You've already had a taste of feeling 'outside' re the stories about the so-say devotion to his kids. You have to keep quiet about so many things and it can make you feel guilty and excluded.

iamjustlurking Tue 10-Sep-13 18:44:02

Just wanted to send my thoughts. My ex died suddenly of alcohol poisoning 6mnths ago. We separated 9 yrs ago due to his addiction.

We also met at 18 and were together 15 yrs had 3 amazing children and I so miss the man I married. Alcohol destroyed him mentally he hated what he had become and he caused so much heartache and devastation to the children especially who will never remember the man he once was.

I will never love anyone like I loved him and he never stopped loving me, but at least like your exdh he is at peace and the turmoil has ended for them.

Be kind to yourself and don't be surprised if it hits you way harder than you expect. My DC are 18,15 and 9 and it's been hard for them wondering what if, but they will and you will be ok.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Tue 10-Sep-13 13:09:05

Just read this. What a shock for you. I'm sorry it came to this. You did your very best but we can't force loved ones to make changes they don't want to make. Keep your girls close and be kind to yourself.

Jux Tue 10-Sep-13 11:57:19

Please don't worry too much about how they will cope with a funeral. Having people around them who are also sad, who cry, is very cathartic. Sharing the grief is so important. Not understanding what is going on, again imo, is less important than being there. TBH, I would just talk as if they were going, no question; "this dress would be good to wear for the funeral", "you will see X at the funeral" and so on.

I would never ever stop them going if they want but I'm not sure how well DD2 will cope with the service. I will explain it to her as best as I can but I can't force her to go.

I'm feeling a bit angry today, not with him so much as he was very ill, but with everyone who is still not willing to admit how bad he was.

There is an article in the paper where his mum is saying a lot of lovely things, some true but some are really not. Obviously she wants to remember him in the best light possible but she has said he was devoted to his children yet he saw them one day a week and never paid a penny to me. I know this was due to his addiction and am not bitter about it but all that needed to be said was that he loved them very much, at least that is true.

I feel awful thinking this but it feels like the last 3, awful, years of my life have been whitewashed somehow and he has been made to look like a saint.

I also keep thinking that if it wasn't for the alcohol we would still be together. The majority of our problems and arguments had alcohol at the root, whether that was him staying out 2 hours later than planned because someone else had bought him a pint or the fact he wouldn't get a proper job because it stopped him being able to drink.

Mixxy Tue 10-Sep-13 08:57:58

Please let all the children attend the funeral. From experience, just knowing you were present at the funeral helps figure it all out later in life. Being kept from it only adds to the mystery and unanswered questions.

You are so strong. I'm devastated for you.

onefewernow Tue 10-Sep-13 08:35:37

Three, please let them go to the funeral. We were kept away from my dads funeral as too young- I was eldest and 6- and we bitter regretted it.

DD1 saw a couple of women from MAST earlier and said she doesn't understand what happened and didn't want to say the died word. I have just spoken to her now and said there was a fire in the car and he died from his injuries. She wanted to know how it had happened but I think she is too young for the gory details. I said as she gets older she will understand.

DD2 was arguing about a towel with DD3 when they were getting out of the bath so I said the towel she had used to be daddy's. we spoke about him a little and she asked why I was talking about him. I asked if she wanted me to stop and she said yes because it was making me sad.

I'm have asked for advice about the funeral and was told to give all three of them a choice. The person I spoke to agreed with me that they shouldn't be told it is an accident as if they find out later on it will make then feel worse.

DD3 is still oblivious bless her.

IJustNeedANap Mon 09-Sep-13 10:25:29

I'm so sorry OP. Your not a fraud to grieve, you have DCs with him and even though you wasn't together he was still a part of your life. thanks

Moxiegirl Mon 09-Sep-13 09:04:52

So sorry threedaughters sad
When my ex dies (he is mentally and physically ill and has attempted suicide a few times) I will be devastated - I totally understand the cross with them then laughing thing!
Thinking of you all and be kind to yourself x

I'm worried that DD3 would act silly, she has her dads daft personality, at the funeral and it will upset some people.

She really doesn't get it. We split up initially when DD3 was a week old and we moved out when she was 3 months. There have been phases since then where she saw him quite a lot but much larger phases when she didn't see him at all.

When we were all together she was much more for me than she was him and I know he really hated that. At the wedding he was winding her up by trying to cuddle and touch me. She would scowl at him and say no my mummy. He thought it was hugely funny!

springydafty Mon 09-Sep-13 08:13:14

Well, ime you do go through a rose-tinted phase of thinking they were wonderful and 'perfect'. Part of the grieving imo, especially in the early days. It took a friend to say 'don't forget what he did to you springy' to pop the bubble.

Jux Mon 09-Sep-13 08:12:46

They very likely won't, or not think it at a particular time "dad was going to pick us up today"; they will notice a hole where he would be, and that they haven't seen him for a while, ime.

FWIW, my dd went to all family funerals (we had 7 in under 3 years at one point), she was just 10 yo for the last two.

It did help her, though the immediate after-effect was to make her emotionally wobbly and aware of the sadness of everyone. I do think that it was a good thing, as it allowed her to be sad and cry in the company of lots of other people who were also sad and crying. She also was part of the 'celebrations' (for want of a better word) after the funerals, where she could see that life goes on, and you can still laugh and feel pleasure without guilt.

Thank you. We have had the dog living with us since earlier in the year, around march time I think, because he didn't have anywhere to keep him. He went back to living with exH the week before he died.

I don't think there is anywhere else for the dog to go really. His dad might want him but in the past he has said he was too old to care for him properly.

Thank you all for you replies. I do have support in RL but I don't really want to go on about it too much as most of my friends and family didn't like him because of the way he treated me. I think my best friend is worried I'm going to lose sight of that and think of him as perfect.

The girls are happy and playing this morning so will be going to school as normal. I'm not sure if they will notice that he should have been picking them up today. The last time he had them was school holidays still so maybe they won't connect it.

springydafty Mon 09-Sep-13 00:27:18

No, there's no script for it and it does feel like you're winging it... when you're trying to come to terms with your own feelings as well as trying to do the best for your kids. I don't know much about the research but funerals do help to get it in to your head that the person has gone. It's times like this that rituals come into their own imo - I was amazed how traditional remembrance rituals came to the fore eg planting a garden. I think it's important that the children go to the funeral - perhaps keep an eye out to steer them away from any expressions of raw grief? They may also benefit from some informal rituals in the future eg going to the grave, even setting up an informal (and lovely) memorial at home; also remembering him at various times with eg a candle and a few words, poems etc. I'm sure orgs like Winstons Wish have some good ideas for ceremonies/rituals etc.

I think suicide in particular takes a lot of coming to terms with. I had a friend who committed suicide and, although I went to the funeral, it helped, about a year later, to go to the spot with a few friends (who were also similarly finding her death very hard to come to terms with) to perform a kind of informal farewell ceremony together. It felt a bit pointless at the time, especially as the weather was vile, but in hindsight it marked a turning point for all of us. We tied ribbons around a bench nearby, left flowers and said a few words.

LegoAcupuncture Sun 08-Sep-13 22:22:33

I am so sorry for your family's loss.

HeeBeeGeebies Sun 08-Sep-13 22:12:16

I think you should keep the dog too, if it's possible!

newstarticus Sun 08-Sep-13 22:01:08

My heart goes out to you all. My husband died over two years from the effects of alcoholic liver disease. We still lived together but our relationship was destroyed and I was taking steps to leave. He never tried to get help and I know now that there was nothing more I could have done to change things.

I often wondered if I had the right to grieve as I was about to divorce him. Well, of course I did. I grieved for the person he was and the fact that the drink destroyed all of that. It is a truly terrible illness that can also have a destructive impact on those affected so never feel guilty about taking time to care for yourself as well as your DCs.

exexpat Sun 08-Sep-13 22:00:26

Are you planning to keep the dog? It might be quite helpful for the DDs - not just because it was their father's, and so is a connection to him, but I think generally pets can be very helpful for bereaved children.

We didn't have a dog at the time when DH died, even though both DCs were desperate to have one, as it was not possible with our location/lifestyle. So when we had to move countries etc after DH died, I promised them we would get a dog as soon as we had a house with a garden. It took about two years to be settled enough for a dog, but he has been the best thing ever - someone for both of them to cuddle and talk to, an excuse for us all to spend time together walking him, generally a very comforting presence to have around. I wish we'd been able to get him earlier.

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