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Kids talking about bereavement

(8 Posts)
AllyBally2 Mon 10-Jan-11 21:36:15

I'm a widower of nearly 4 yrs and have 2 boys (9 and 12) and a girl (7). While the little girl has lots of Mummy moments, the boys have hardly ever mentioned the passing of their Mum. There were tears for 30 mins when they were told, and that was it. They were very close to Mum. Mum was 42. Will they ever talk about it? Is it a boy thing? Should I encourage them to talk about it more?

HellinArcher Mon 10-Jan-11 21:57:27

Hello there. I am very sorry for your loss, and for that of your children.

I think it is surprising that both your boys have had such a muted reaction to their mother dying, especially over such a long time. Do you know why they have been so quiet in their response? Sometimes children are afraid to be upset in case it upsets their living parent, or perhaps they worry about upsetting their sister.

You could try talking to Winston's Wish or another local bereavement resource if there is one near you. It would be hard to just spring eg counselling on your boys though - do you bring up natural opportunities to talk about your wife together - eg "It would have been Mum's birthday today" or "do you remember that time we all went to the beach and Mum fell in the sea" stuff? Do you have photos of her / you all together around the place so there is still a presence?

I really don't think it is altogether healthy that they have not seemed to grieve for their Mum and they may be blocking it all up - I would definitely suggest testing the water with some professional back up.

Wishing you all the best. Not easy this widowed malarky I know. sad

AllyBally2 Mon 10-Jan-11 22:14:12

Thanks for that. Yes there are photos around of her inc a main dramatic one in the lounge of her and the kids walking in the sea in Cornwall, which I took. We all have visited the grave a few times - they are all ok with that. I was very nervous the 1st time about what to expect but they were ok. Think I'll mention the subject next time I get an opening.

DadInsteadofMum Tue 11-Jan-11 10:19:01

Hi AB

In a similar situation to you albeit 2.5 years and my kids go GBB but are almost identical in age to yours.

Two things I have noted, one: kids do not react in the the same way as adults and it is a mistake to expect them to or to try and force them to. Two: they will react in very different ways to each other.

To try and encourage them to talk might be a mistake, you might reopen a wound that was healing nicely.

I have made sure there have been plenty of opportunities for the kids to talk and made sure all the adults around them (school staff, grandparents, friends etc) know to give them time to talk if the want to but never to force the issue.

I tried to set up counselling for DS1 early on when he wasn't ready for it and it was a disaster, later on when he was ready for it he responded well.

Have you joined WAY? My kids really found it beneficial being around other kids in the same situation, not in a "lets all sit down and talk about it way" (the older ones do veryoccassionally) but more in a "hey look, I am normal, there are lots of others who have a parent who has died" kind of way.

AllyBally2 Tue 11-Jan-11 19:47:26

Thanks. Way sounds and looks good - might investigate that. Hadn't heard of it before.

exexpat Tue 11-Jan-11 23:20:28

My DCs talk about their dad quite a lot, but not about his death very often - they are DS (12) and DD (8), and he died more than four years ago. They like hearing stories about stuff he did when he was young, or talking about things we all did when he was alive.

We get occasional periods, around anniversaries etc, when they may get upset and cry, but not on a day-to-day basis. Mine have refused all offers of counselling, so I haven't pressed the point.

Do your boys not talk about their mum at all, or just not about how she died? I would say the latter would be fairly normal, but the former would worry me.

AllyBally2 Thu 13-Jan-11 22:24:07

No, they don't really talk about her at all. However they do have a lot of contact with her side of the family - aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins - more or less at every school holiday, so there may be mention of Mum there.

exexpat Fri 14-Jan-11 12:41:57

In that case, I might be inclined to 'casually' mention her a bit more - if you're talking about something, say 'do you remember that time when mum did xxx', or 'mum always used to say yyy' or whatever - it may be that they are taking their cue from you, and not mentioning her because they think they are not 'meant' to, or it will upset you, or upset their sister.

I've made a deliberate effort to make sure that my DCs know that their dad is not a taboo subject, as I have heard too many adults who lost a parent in childhood say that they were never mentioned again, and so have very few memories as they were never kept alive through talking about the dead parent.

But yes, you may be right that more of that kind of conversation goes on with her side of the family, unless they are also wary of mentioning her for fear of upsetting the children. None of DH's family live nearby, but I also make a real effort to keep in touch with as many of them as possible, and the children really like seeing all the extended family and hearing stories about what their dad was like as a boy or young man.

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