Page 26 - 2016 Autumn-Winter Issue
P. 26

Dear Dr. Heidi,                                                                                                                  © Galyna Andrushko/

“My 20-year-old and 18-year-old sons think that I shouldn’t attend support
group meetings because it makes me grieve too much. I sometimes feel like
they should grieve more with me, but they don’t want to talk about their sister
who died two years ago. It seems like our grief should bring us together, not
separate us. Is there something I can do to make them understand that I need
more support from them?”

Dear Parent,
One of the difficult things about losing a family member, is that we all grieve
differently, and sometimes bereaved siblings handle loss very different then bereaved
parents. What you are describing in your family is a fairly common problem. Research shows that attending grief support
groups can be very beneficial. However, in your case it sounds like your grief is upsetting your kids. While I don’t advocate
not grieving in front of your boys, what I will say is that if you are grieving excessively in front of them it may be disturbing
to them. They have lost their sister, and they may worry that they will lose you too. In fact, losing a sibling is a double loss,
because we’ve lost not only our sibling, but the parents we once knew. We want to help our parents, but we are at a loss about
what to do, because we have never seen them so vulnerable.
Being a teenager and a young adult is difficult given the best of situations, but when you add a sibling death to it, it can feel
pretty unbearable. This is a time where we are trying to separate from our parents and have our own identity. Most kids this
age are not able to give their parents the support that they would like, because they are overwhelmed by their own loss. Often
parents want their kids to grieve more openly; however, most siblings prefer not to grieve with their parents. Although your
boys may not look like they’re grieving, internally they are often on an emotional rollercoaster. The siblings I work with want
their parents to know that even if they are not talking to them about their loss, they are grieving. Your boys may be giving you
as much support as they can right now. Reach out to other bereaved parents, share your struggles with them and get their
support. Continue to attend your support group meetings, despite how your boys feel about them. Be compassionate with
yourself and your boys, and hold fast to the idea that both you and your boys are doing the best you can right now under the
most difficult circumstances.

     How I Found Hope ...

               Going to The Compassionate Friends and making ‘connections’ with
               others who understood what I was going through gave me the feeling of

                                                                       Joan Dauphinee, Caitlin’s stepmom

2 6 |We Need Not Walk Alone
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