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To feel heartbroken when I look in my daughter's eyes

(13 Posts)
Ilovegeorgeclooney Sun 09-Feb-14 18:00:01

My DH died suddenly just over 3 years ago. It was completely unexpected. DD1 and DS are naturally missing him but coping( 18 and 17 at the time) but DD2 is so sad. She is in her first year at uni now and when I look at photos she sends me/posts her eyes reveal the deep sadness she feels. Whatever the circumstances her eyes show her misery. She is at Oxford, beautiful and popular yet her eyes show her sadness. When I talk to her she says how difficult life can be and she has had counselling but she says she feels there is an emotional barrier she cannot break through and it makes her feel so isolated. AIBU to feel we need to be more open as a society about grief?

bethcutler13 Sun 09-Feb-14 18:13:29

My dad died when I was young, 10 to be exact so it's a little different. In fact grief is totally different for everyone as I'm sure you know. All I can say is I never dealt with my father's death, instead I forget (without meaning to) all my childhood memories, like a mental block I can not control. My grief comes out in my personality and I can not feel anything anymore. All I can say is it is good she still feels and realises her pain, it's a place to start, recognising that you are struggling and she should continue with her counselling until she feels she truly understands what she feels and why.
I hope I make sense, I feel for you all. X

Musicaltheatremum Sun 09-Feb-14 18:17:54

Grief in a teenager is so hard to deal with. I lost my husband 2 years ago with a brain tumour. My daughter was nearly 19 and my son 16 and a half. My daughter was away from home and seemed ok at first but then slumped into depression which fortunately she has recovered from. My son, now 18 is away at uni and I do worry about him. He never really got the chance to grieve as he went back to school 3 days after the funeral and had big exams 8 weeks later. He had to drop a subject and didn't make it into medicine which he wanted to do. He finds it very difficult to speak about his feelings and I know he mises his dad a lot as he never had a "normal" relationship with him as he was ill from when he was 4 and the last 5 years of his life had a lot of memory problems.

I spoke to a patient of mine who lost her father aged 17 and she (now aged 40) said she still grieves as a teenager.

I think it takes a very clever counsellor to get through to teenagers. I still struggle, as must you and I think all you can do is be there and be supportive. I think coming up to the 2nd anniversary is harder than the first as everyone seems to expect you to be normal by now.

Hope she just continues to talk to you.

Shonajoy Sun 09-Feb-14 18:19:19

I'm so sorry. The good thing is though she's talking about it, and expressing her grief to you, that's wonderful she can share that with you. All you can do is make sure and impress upon her she's not alone which I'm sure you are doing, and spend time with her doing new things. Ask her how she feels about counselling- she may be worried she upsets you if she says too much but I doubt it the way she's open.

TiredFeet Sun 09-Feb-14 18:19:50

Yanbu. Every sympathy. It must be so tough for you to watch her go through this.
My first boyfriend died when I was at uni and I found it an incredibly tough place to be. So many others seemed so young and unable to relate, it was like there was a big wall between me and them. It helped when I made a close friend who was in similar circumstances,but then neither of us were in a good place to support the other. No real words of advice although it did help me to see more of my family and home friends than I might otherwise have done.

MoreSkyThanWeNeed Sun 09-Feb-14 18:21:33

I'm so sorry for you all.
I have no advice I'm afraid, but I think it's good that you are both able to talk about it and that she seems to be able to vocalise and express her pain to you, rather than bottling it up.
I wish you and your family all the best x

joanofarchitrave Sun 09-Feb-14 18:29:40

YANBU. She will be surrounded by young people who will be unable to imagine her grief, or because of the lack of openness you describe, will not be able to share their experience with her.

I would really encourage her to ask for more therapy. Most GP practices in university towns have one or more partners who take a special interest in student health, and a lot will have a special interest in mental health. If she hasn't found her GP helpful in the past, she doesn't have to stay with them. There are some really good services in Oxford mental health, although they are patchy like all services, but it's worth her exploring this.

Are her brother and sister able to visit her? If she is able to talk to her family, that's really fab and a tribute to you. Maybe they could go and see her on a random Monday or something and just hang out with her in the evening. Maybe being able to talk in her college environment would help her feel that the barrier isn't insurmountable.

Sleepingbunnies Sun 09-Feb-14 18:31:33

I lost my mum when I was 4. I don't think Iv ever dealt with it. I lock it away and it only comes out occasionally. sad

ProfPlumSpeaking Sun 09-Feb-14 18:36:46

YANBU it must be heartbreaking for your DD to have lost her father so young. Added to that, Oxford is a very high pressure environment and students there (as anywhere, indeed, but particularly there) can be depressed for other reasons too, not necessarily reactive. Oxbridge is infamous for its rates of student depression. Luckily there is an increasing awareness of this and support systems in place. It is good that your DD is having counselling. Perhaps she would also benefit from going back to her GP and maybe looking into CBT too?

I don't want this to come out wrong but please be careful before you assume that your DD is solely suffering from grief - there are probably all sorts of factors at play, and it may be that she will heavily rely on your support to get help. She may not want her depression prejudged as grief for her father as that may make her feel unable to articulate other things that are making her sad as she may feel guilty that, say, splitting up with a boyfriend, or essay pressure, are also getting her down when she is very aware that you are focusing on your DH's death and might see those matters as trivial in comparison. That just might make it difficult for your DD to share other (in her mind possibly less worthy) background to feeling miserable, including no reason at all (it happens sad sometimes as a biological process).

Gosh, it's hard. She is clearly lucky to have you there, noticing and caring. Good luck x

Cheesyslice Sun 09-Feb-14 19:28:19

I lost my mum when I was 15. I didn't grieve properly and it has destroyed me. It has affected me in so, so many ways. I don't even realise how severely it has impacted me until I think about it and some of the things I do now.

YANBU to want society to be more open about grief. I'm so, so sorry for your loss. thanks

MrsDeVere Sun 09-Feb-14 19:32:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

manicinsomniac Sun 09-Feb-14 19:33:56

I'm so sorry for what your family has been/is going through.

Sadly, I think it is so much more common to not deal with grief properly when you experience the loss young. My Dad died when I was a little older than your children were (22) but I almost refused to acknowledge it. I didn't cry at the funeral and I didn't even go to the crematorium. I was in my first year of teaching and went back to work just 2 days after he died, taking one other day for the funeral. It was easier to cope if I just pretended it hadn't happened (I was living on the other side of the country which made it easier). I still don't talk about him easily now.

It is only now that I have a close, but much older, friend who is dying that I am suddenly finding I am an emotional wreck. I am projecting massively and sometimes, if I am holding his hand at the hospital I am suddenly unclear on whether it's my Dad or my friend if that makes sense.

So I think your daughter will get there. But in her own time and it may need a lesser grief to help her process this larger one.

NorthernLurker Sun 09-Feb-14 19:37:02

I think you are right OP and yes we should talk more about grief and how long a process grieving is. Tbh I think it sounds like you and dd2 are doing ok. You are being honest with each other and she has sought help. Her father's death is still impacting on her, as to be expected, but she is aware of that impact. Try not to worry. Just keep talking.

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