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Explaining the behaviour of grieving relatives to a teenager

(5 Posts)
Notsoskinnyminny Sun 13-Nov-16 15:58:09

My XH was estranged from his children and family for many years. He was always referred to as being a disgrace/embarrassment to the family. Any misbehaviour from nephews was met with we'd expect that from DS because of who his dad is but not you - etc, etc.

Sadly, he recently took his own life. My DCs, and especially DS, are struggling with all the unasked questions that will never be answered. They've just been to visit their GM (I'm no longer welcome in her house even though we visited each other several times a week before he died but am doing my best to make sure contact continues) and can't understand why, to quote DS, they're now referring to their dad as the greatest man that ever lived.

I've tried explaining that people act in different ways when they're greiving and to give them time but DS sees thing in a very black and white way and said all they've done is slag him off for years but if he was so great why didn't he want to see me or why didn't they take me to see him. Counselling has been offered but his response was 'I don't need someone to tell me my dad's dead'.

I'm at a loss to know what to do to hep him. Has anyone got any suggestions/advice?

PerspicaciaTick Sun 13-Nov-16 16:18:10

I would explain to him that his dad's relatives have a lifetime of memories, of happy times, of when his dad was a little boy and of shared experiences which they are mourning. His dad evidently grew-up to become someone who was difficult to deal with, but that doesn't mean that the love for the child/friend/son was wiped away by the more recent bad stuff. At the moment they are focusing on the good things, trying to find the things they can celebrate and regretting the fact that his life was not all they may have hoped it would be and that he will never have a chance now to doing things differently/better. Tell him that if he made stupid choices, you would be disappointed and angry but you would still love him - because feeling and relationships are very complicated.

Would someone like Winston's Wish be more approachable than a "Counsellor"?
I'd also think about buying Michael Rosen's Sad Book (written after the death of his adult son), which looks at grief and how people handle it.

Notsoskinnyminny Sun 13-Nov-16 16:36:03

Thanks I'll have a look into Winston's Wish - the counselling was offered by our GP.

I think what he's struggling with is all the contradictions. He's grown up hearing nothing but negative comments about his dad - even when he was child he was the one who would misbehave/have a tantrum/get into trouble at school. When his dad severed all contact he was told he was better off with him out of his life as he'd only drag DS down the same route.

PerspicaciaTick Sun 13-Nov-16 16:42:40

It must be very confusing for him and hard for him to feel able to express how he is feeling around people when his experiences don't seem to match up to what they are now saying.

Ifailed Sun 13-Nov-16 16:51:00

I think you have really hit the nail on the head with your first post. DP's brother killed himself a decade or so ago, not the best dad or husband but suddenly everyone was talking about him as if he was the greatest person in the world. It's a way of coping for those left alive; they will have so many upsetting feelings and may even blame themselves for the previous errant behaviour.
OP. maybe counselling is too soon for now for your DS, as it's clearly not about explaining that his dad is dead, but helping him come to terms with his own feelings. I think all you can do is be there for him and when you think the time is right, bring it up again.

Best Wishes for you all.

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