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Can anyone advise me on not being... impatient with DS over this (CW, death)

29 replies

ReanimatedSGB · 08/11/2018 08:29

My oldest friend moved abroad with his wife, 10 years ago, when DS was a toddler. I have kept in touch with the couple via email, social media etc though we have never had the money to go and visit them. DS has heard me talk about them from time to time so 'knows' who they are, etc (the wife of the couple was my birth partner and baby sat him a lot, so if anything he knows her better than her H).

My friend had cancer, and died yesterday. DS is quite a lot more upset than I would have expected. I am being nice and comforting him but a bit of me is thinking, come on, you are over-reacting, you can't really remember him that well.It's not a case of this being DS' first encounter with death, either: both his grandfathers have died and several of my friends, including one he knew quite well.

(As to having lost a lot of friends and relatives, It's not a matter of me being hugely unlucky - I am in my 50s so the longer you go on, the more people you lose; both DS Dad and I were older parents and our parents were older parents...)

Any tips on comforting DS without being too 'Pull yourself together' about it?

OP posts:
RandomMess · 08/11/2018 08:32

Is it more that DS is the age now where he understands the finality of death plus he's more emotional with hormones

MysweetAudrina · 08/11/2018 08:39

Maybe its his age and also because they are friends of yours which means they are likely to be the same age as you and if your friend died then so could you or your dh and he might thinking of something like that as it is different with old people, children might have more of an expectation that they will die. Something is upsetting him so I would just comfort him a talk to him and listen to him.

SuperstarDJ · 08/11/2018 08:41

Agree with above poster - maybe it’s the realisation that it could’ve been you rather than your friend that is upsetting him.

SassitudeandSparkle · 08/11/2018 08:44

It's possibly his first loss of someone near to his own parent's age that he was close to. Someone he knows (or remembers) well as being a similar age and stage of life to his parents.

ExFury · 08/11/2018 08:48

As well as the point about him thinking about you sometimes it’s the next death that affects you the most.

When my nana died (she brought me up) I was upset but there was so much going on it didn’t hit so hard. Next death I dealt with was a neighbour I barely knew and I was inconsolable. It was awhile before I realised it was actually adelayed reaction.

zzzzz · 08/11/2018 08:53

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CherryPavlova · 08/11/2018 08:57

I wouldn’t overindulge him. We’ve a tendency to allow children to dwell on sadness now and sentimentality is very different from the grief of losing someone close.
Tell him, yes it’s sad because they were younger than most people but we all die eventually. Then distract him to something more positive.

MrsStrowman · 08/11/2018 09:00

It could be at PPs have said it's one of your peers so it makes him think it could've been you, but also he's lost a lot of people in his fairly short life and this child be bringing back memories of that

zzzzz · 08/11/2018 09:01

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MumW · 08/11/2018 09:01

It might not be the death of this specific person but more the fact that your friend has died and the realisation that they are the same age as you.

It might not be the first death he's experienced but possibly the first where his and your mortality have hit home.

YetAnotherSpartacus · 08/11/2018 09:03

Allow him to express compassion and send the 'wife of the couple' a sympathy card and maybe a small gift?

LordPickle · 08/11/2018 09:03

I was like this as a child. I was incredibly empathic and would cry about deaths of people I didn't know or was too young to remember. I have vivid memories of crying about my grandfather who died when I was 4. I felt more sad for my father's loss of his dad than I did for myself. No advice, but your DS may be experiencing empathy the than anything?

Miljah · 08/11/2018 09:09


Given his age (early/mid teen?) it's probably hormonal.

I recall my step-grandmother's funeral (in her late 80s). I was chatting to my cousin who I hadn't seen for ages, probably a good couple of years, when he apologised saying he had to go and comfort his DDs who were with his wife. The pair of them were sobbing their hearts out. They were 20 and 23, and they hadn't see their step-GM since primary school age, and then, maybe 2 or 3 times.....

It was most odd.

Spam88 · 08/11/2018 09:13

Deaths can affect people in weird ways. Someone my DH worked with a little while ago died recently. I'd never met him, couldn't pick him out of a line up, but my DH always spoke fondly of him and I just kept randomly bursting in to tears over it for a few days after finding out 🤷‍♀️ so I'd agree with PP that it's probably not as simple as being upset at that persons death, but I wouldn't expect him to be able to understand or verbalise what's actually upsetting him, given that I'm an adult and I couldn't!

Sorry for your loss OP Thanks

Cornettoninja · 08/11/2018 09:17

Death and grief are tricky ones, emotions are largely uncontrollable and can be surprising even to the person feeling them.

Have you talked to him? Asked him why the death of this particular person has affected him so much. Your ds may not be able to completely articulate the whys but talking and examining the situation can’t hurt.

Abitlost2015 · 08/11/2018 09:23

I would finger your reaction more strange than his. Death IS a big thing and it is normal to feel upset. Maybe he worries you may die, maybe he feels sad for the wife, maybe he considered them close family and feels a sense of loss himself. It is ok to feel shaken by death and over time he will feel better. I’d say letting him talk about how he feels is the way to help him but if you are not comfortable managing negative emotions and would like him to get over this quickly that may not be a choice for you.

Ali1cedowntherabbithole · 08/11/2018 09:29

I’m sorry that your friend has died and that you are worrying about your DS whilst having to work though your own feelings.

I think PP who suggested that he may be projecting about what would happen if you or his DF died may have something. It’s also possible that he is “reprocessing” for want of a better phrase previous bereavements.

Grief is a funny thing, circumstances meant I experienced a lot of losses as a young child, which I dealt with at the time as far as my emotional maturity let me. (As a 5 yo told some pretty devastating news, I said “ok, can I ride my bike now”). Later on I revisited those bereavements and reprocessed them again and again, through the lens of an older child, a teenager, a young adult, a mother etc...

The triggers for reprocessing varied, sometimes another bereavement, sometimes a news story, sometimes good news that placed my losses in sharp relief. The triggers were / are not always obvious and could seem irrational, but ultimately I couldn’t dodge them. Emotions get you like that.

I’ve no idea what is really going on with you DS of course, I just wanted to try to explain that it might not just be about your friend. My advice would be to encourage DS to talk if he wants to and let him know that you can’t grieve wrongly. It is what it is and you feel how you feel.

If it doesn’t pass after a short while bereavement counselling maybe something just to keep at the back of your mind.

Missingstreetlife · 08/11/2018 09:37

Sorry about your friend.
She was your birth partner, a significant figure to him? He feels they were like family/godparents perhaps, maybe he thought he would meet them.
You can never tell how a death will affect you or why, look at the princess Diana phenomena, or how people cope ok when someone dies, then go to pieces later over a 'smaller' loss.
Some importance you are not aware of, or trigger for something. Let him talk, or drawing can help. Talk about friend yourself, winstons wish are good charity for bereaved children but I'd say it will pass, well within normal range, card to wife a good idea. Your boy may be special to her too

shearwater · 08/11/2018 09:44

It could be pent-up emotion, finding an outlet. Sometimes something triggers me to cry and I really weep, more than I should sensibly over whatever it was. It's a release.

Sympathise, lots of hugs, talk about your friend, perhaps look at some photos of when DS was little? Then get him to suggest something (more fun) you might do together. Just spend some time together.

blueskiesandforests · 08/11/2018 09:46

I agree MySweet probably has it right - your friend, who was your age died therefore you might die. That's what's probably hit your son even if he can't articulate it (he may not want to say it in so many words as that would be too real).

Without meaning to be harsh - grandparents dying is in the natural order of things and happens to peers, it's sad and they're missed but it's not world shattering. The idea your parent could die, especially if youre still dependant, is world shattering.

Loonoon · 08/11/2018 09:50

Sometimes we cope with truly terrible situations well at the time only for a relatively minor event later to trigger all the overwhelming feelings we repressed originally. Could that be what has happened here OP? That the death of a minor figure in his life has triggered delayed grieving for other people?

Your son’s feelings might seem OTT to you but you can’t change them. You need to be able to support him whilst also caring for yourself and grieving your friend in your own way and time. Easier said than done I’m sure.

I’m very sorry for your loss, I am also in my fifties and life just seems to have become a long round of funerals at the moment but they are mostly older people which makes it easier to deal with. I am dreading the first loss of a peer.

ErrolTheDragon · 08/11/2018 09:53

Thankssorry for your loss, and that it's affecting your DS like this.

It's probably along the lines of what PP have already said, but I think if it was my DC I'd want to sit down with them, give them a hug and gently say something along the lines of, this seems to have hit you harder than I'd have expected - grief is a strange thing so its ok to feel how you feel, but I wanted to check there's nothing else bothering you. And that it may be good for them to talk about how they feel, with you or someone else, definitely don't bottle it up.

SummerGems · 08/11/2018 10:01

I read this initially and then while I was reading the replies I remembered when I was a child someone I had met only once died suddenly, and when my mum told me about it I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. It was very odd, and when I think back to it I still can’t quite make it out, apart from to think that it was the first time I really grasped this idea of death and how someone can be here one minute and the next gone for ever.

I didn’t cry over it but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It gradually just faded and the next time someone I knew died although the feelings of shock were there they weren’t nearly so intense.

Perhaps talk to him about how he feels and how while it is very sad, death is unfortunately something we all go through at some point. And that just because one person he knows has died doesn’t change anything for him.

ladybee28 · 08/11/2018 10:05

I was struck by the word in the thread title - you said 'impatient'.

It has only been a day.

If he's still torn up about it in two weeks' time, that's one thing, but processing a death in a day at that age is a lot to ask.

It might also help him if you 'model' what processing something like this looks like.

When it's his turn (hopefully far off in the future) to deal with the passing of a friend, how would you like him to be able to go about it in an emotionally healthy way, and how can you use this time to show him?

KatherinaMinola · 08/11/2018 10:14

Sorry for your loss. I agree with PP that it is likely to be that this death has touched a wellspring of other griefs (for the grandparents, perhaps). In the same way that going to a funeral reminds us of all other funerals.

And yes, perhaps that sense of the generational gap cushion being removed, in that this is a death of someone of your age.

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