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If you lost a parent as a teen or earlier

(45 Posts)
Answerthequestion Sun 08-Sep-19 14:37:29

How did you cope? DH has been ill a long time and I think we are coming to the end of the road. My concerns are for my children. I have known it’s coming and am as prepared as I can be and I’m confident that in time I’ll be ok.

Getting the children through this as well as I can is my priority.

We are financially secure and will not have to move house or make any noticeable changes to our day to day lives so there will be no practical changes for them to deal with.

They are pretty stable kids with no SEN. My eldest is already having counselling, middle refuses although knows it’s there the money they ask for it and youngest doesn’t need yet but I will arrange when the time is right.

I’ve always been primary caregiver and main person in their lives as DH worked a lot. I work too but only in the office 3 days a week and plan to continue this.

What tips do you have for helping them to navigate the time after it happens? I’ll join WAY when the time comes but at the moment I’m in limbo trying to keep life as Normal as possible for the kids and trying to put as many practical things in place for when we need them

BeBraveAndBeKind Sun 08-Sep-19 14:45:35

I'm so sorry to hear about your DH. It's good that you already have so many things in place to supports your children.

My dad died suddenly when I was 14. This was the late '80's and we were basically expected to get on with it. There was no counselling, no support at home and everybody just avoided mentioning it. I surpressed my grief and it's manifested as anxiety and a fear of losing people as I've got older.

What you've prepared already is great and I'd only add being led by the children. They might want to talk about him or they might not. They'll need time to process what's happening. There's also a children's Bereavement support charity called Winston's Wish who can offer some good support too.


TheMustressMhor Sun 08-Sep-19 14:46:17

My father died suddenly when I was sixteen.

It is a different situation to yours as you have known for a long time that your DH is dying.

We didn't have any noticeable lifestyle changes after my father died either but the emotional impact was immense.

It sounds like you've put as many systems in place as are possible in the circumstances.

I think one of the hardest things was trying to keep our mother psychologically secure. She was devastated. Only 49 when our father died - and I look back now and think that I thought she was elderly (!)

It's so difficult to give advice in this situation. Go with the flow when it happens and talk about your husband. Don't let any topics be taboo. I think we were sometimes worried about upsetting our mother so we avoided certain topics.

Griefmonster Sun 08-Sep-19 14:47:26

I don't have direct experience but am supporting my DNs following my sibling's sudden death. They are pre-teens. The best advice I had was - if they're not talking about it, they're not ready to talk about it. So I take this to mean to keep an eye and gently give them space and time to open up of they want to. There are also great charity's local to us and nationally e.g. Winston's Wish. I think be gentle and kind to yourself and allow everyone's grief to play out as suits each individual. There's only so much preparation you can do. But perhaps you can involve them in any discussions about funeral arrangements (appropriate to their age) for example. And just be responsive. And ask for or accept any help that is offered that they want - play dates etc. Take care.

TheMustressMhor Sun 08-Sep-19 14:49:14

Actually, now I've read the PP's answer I can see that I too suppressed my grief and became an anxious adult as a result. I hadn't thought of that before, which surprises me a bit.

I became very reliant on diazepam as an adult which was obviously not a good thing. I also needed counselling many years later.

I'm so sorry you're having to face this, OP. You will have to be so brave when your husband dies.

Annabeth67 Sun 08-Sep-19 14:51:32

I’m so incredibly sorry about your DH.

I lost my father at 11. In all honesty, it didn’t affect me at all. I’m not sure I even cried. It was more strange than upsetting for me. As you know, kids are just so resilient!

Just make sure that your DC know that if they ever need to share any feelings, you will always be there for them and they don’t need to keep anything back. Try to keep routines the same and what I found really helped was that my mum protected me and my brother from any worries or anxieties. We were very shielded and life really did just carry on as normal both when he was ill and after he’d passed.

So sorry your family is going through this

TheMustressMhor Sun 08-Sep-19 14:51:52

Our GP at the time gave my mother a huge bottle of sleeping pills. She also became dependent on them.

This is definitely something to be avoided. A few sleeping pills to help everyone over a crisis is fine. A large amount, on indefinite repeat prescription, is most certainly not.

But GPs are aware of this these days, fortunately.

thunderandsunshine01 Sun 08-Sep-19 14:54:09

It sounds like you’ve got an excellent support system in place for the kids and it’s great that you’ve started the ball rolling on it before his actual passing, as when the time comes I’m sure this will really help them through it. Just make sure you have the same level of support for yourself and don’t put your grief on a back burner. I lost my dad at 19 and the thing i puns most hard to deal with was my mum grieving.

LucieFurr Sun 08-Sep-19 14:57:33

My dad died when I was nine. There was no support, no counselling. Nothing. I wish I had a memory box and a recording of his voice.

PeppermintSoda Sun 08-Sep-19 14:57:34

My husband died unexpectedly last year. Like you we don't need to move house. It's a huge loss to us. He was a great dad and lovely guy. We'd been together 19 years. but we are coping. The children's friendships and school life haven't changed. It hasn't affected their behaviour. They enjoy school and are doing well. Dd2 started secondary school after it happened and has settled in well and made friends and enjoys school. Older dd has a lovely group of friends. I've got a good relationship with my girls (now 12 and 15, were 11 and 13 when he died) we still joke and laugh it's just there's someone missing. We are coping. They saw counsellors initially but decided not to continue. Dd2 saw a TA once a fortnight for an hour instead of PE as she needed the support. They both had red cards to be able to leave a lesson with no questions asked although they didn't use them.

PeppermintSoda Sun 08-Sep-19 15:03:47

what I found really helped was that my mum protected me and my brother from any worries or anxieties
I agree with this and I do the same. My own mum used me as an emotional crutch so I've never done that.

PeppermintSoda Sun 08-Sep-19 15:16:52

Rereading my post it looks like I'm saying my kids were completely unaffected! We were all in shock and dd2 got loads of support from her primary school (nurture groups a TA etc) Dd1 saw a counsellor. After the first couple of months the shock lessened and that's when they started to go back to enjoying friendships/school etc. Dd1 earlier than dd2

Answerthequestion Sun 08-Sep-19 15:17:26

Thanks for all your advice. I already have weekly counselling so am working through things. I don’t lean on the children at all. I acknowledge with them that it a rubbish situation but that we are all in it together. I never share my worries with them ever but am age appropriately honest with them if they ask anything which is actually rarely!

We have a close family and some wonderful friends so are very much not alone. I just worry so much about the kids not coping

Answerthequestion Sun 08-Sep-19 15:18:23

peppermintsoda how long did your girls have off school? And if you work, how long did you take off?

Wallywobbles Sun 08-Sep-19 15:19:52

Mum died when we were 7,10,14 & 16. I wish she'd left letters or a diary or something for us. I was the youngest and have almost no memories of her. She knew she was dying I think so I don't know why she didn't.

Answerthequestion Sun 08-Sep-19 15:21:21

Wally, thank you. DH has made some videos for them

Starstruck2020 Sun 08-Sep-19 15:21:25

My DF died in the 80s. I dont really want to talk about my story because I personally think it’s sad and not what you need. I think as long as you are honest, acknowledge their dad and allow them to talk about him and have some pictures of him you will be fine.

My DM did the absolute best she could and I am grateful. However in the 80s the advice was forget and move on. Their was no support like now.

Reading your thread, whilst devastating also makes me feel comforted that times have changed and your DC and others will not go though what I did

I sorry you are living this. I wish you weren’t xx

Skittlenommer Sun 08-Sep-19 15:25:30

Knowing it is coming makes the whole situation much more manageable. It still hurts of course but it takes the punch out! At least this was my experience. My sister and I were young when we lost our Mum but we were able to mentally prepare as we knew it was coming.

We didn’t take any time off, nor did Dad. Just cracked on as normal. Routine is important.

PeppermintSoda Sun 08-Sep-19 15:26:57

Dd1 chose to go back 5 days later and dd2 chose to go back 8 days later and I went back once they'd gone back.

PeppermintSoda Sun 08-Sep-19 15:31:34

Looking back dd2 was still in shock when she went back after 8 days but I was guided by when they wanted to go back. We had no idea it was coming. He was absolutely fine the day before

DishingOutDone Sun 08-Sep-19 15:47:03

I second the poster talking about Winstons Wish lots of good advice on memory boxes etc on their website too.

FiveGoMadInDorset Sun 08-Sep-19 16:02:10

DH died at the beginning of the school holidays this year, DC’s are 13 and 11. It has been tough and in some respects it would have been easier in them if it had happened at school as I have been struggling with my own grief and all the paperwork and other things which comes with a death and they haven’t had the routine of friends and school.

However they seem to be OK. We talk about Dad a lot, his things are still around the house, they were involved in planning his funeral choosing readings and songs. DS has asked to go and talk to someone and I have been in contact with a local children’s bereavement charity. DD doesn’t want to talk, she has ASD but knows that it’s there if she wants to.

I work three days a week and had 4 weeks off, by the end I was craving normality.

I have booked us a holiday at the end of October as we just need, all of us, to get away from phones paperwork and just breathe.

FiveGoMadInDorset Sun 08-Sep-19 16:03:37

And agree, they knew it was coming so alithough it was desperately sad and actually very quick at the end we had been preparing them for months for this.

Answerthequestion Sun 08-Sep-19 16:04:10

peppermintsoda I can’t even imagine the shock for you all. I’m in no shock, that all happened when he was diagnosed stage 4 completely out of the blue. I walked around in a daze for weeks but it passed, and I imagine it will pass again.

Thanks for replying. Plan to play by ear but my instinct is to follow their lead but try to keep as much routine as possible. I think their shock will be more, I don’t think any of them really think it will happen. He has a scan this week and I fully expect to have to spell it out to them after that.

ellzebellze Sun 08-Sep-19 16:10:18

My father died when I was in my early teens. We got no support whatsoever from anyone.

I really didn't cope very well at all, and couldn't face going to school for a few weeks. Someone from the education people came to the house and had a right go at me and my grieving mum.

I think things are vastly different nowadays.

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