Posted by: Jody Glynn Patrick | 10/31/2015

Mother wants to open discussion with her grieving children about their deceased sister. Can you advise?

nothings rightThis is from Hillary, who asked me to post it in the hope that other parents would comment with their experiences.

Hillary: “I don’t understand why my children don’t talk about Katja, their elder sister who died 24 months ago. Sometimes it hurts me so much, I feel as though they don’t care. My sons are 18, 17 and 15 and my daughter is 14. Our beautiful Katja was killed in a car accident on 16 Nov 2013 at the age of 19. I feel that we could support each other better by sharing and talking. I feel alone in my awful pain.”

Thank you for any support you can give her now. Soon I’ll write another blog post about sibling grief. In the meantime, I’d appreciate any comments you might offer to her. I want to do a little additional research to give her the best ideas I can as to how to respect their desires and at the same time, do what she feels she wants to do as their mother to help them (and the entire family) through this tragic time.

Jody


Responses

  1. I know it’s been 2 years, but that is a short time. Everyone is different. My son died at age 25 in 2004. His sister is 2 years older.

    Have we talked about it? Kind of, but not really. We both know that we are still hurting and will always be hurting. There really isn’t much to say except we wish it had never happened… We will say his name and talk about old times, but not much to say about his death. He had a son, 18 months old at the time of his death. We have never really talked about his death with his son who is a young teen now. However, we do talk about what his father did when he was his age – again memories and the past.

    I guess it is probably easier for us all to deal with his life before he died, than to deal with his death. We wish he were still here with us, but he is not. His death was and is a bad moment in time. His life was good and we all loved him. We can talk about his life before he died, but that’s as far as we go.

    We have basically each found it easier to deal with learning how to live with our sorrow quietly and within ourselves. Have we each buried the pain, no, I don’t think so, but we know that in order to go on, we cannot think about his death too much or for too long. It is too hard and sad and nothing we can do about it.

    Have we dealt with his death in a healthy way? Not sure, however, we are living without drugs or counseling. We are helping others around us. We work, we play, we live and yet inside we still hurt. That hurt will never go away. How could it? I lost a son, my daughter lost her only brother…

  2. I know it’s been 2 years, but that is a short time. Everyone is different. My son died at age 25 in 2004. His sister is 2 years older that he, 27 when he died. Have we talked about it? Kind of, but not really. We both know that we are still hurting and will always be hurting. There really isn’t much to say except we wish it had never happened… We will say his name and talk about old times, but not much to say about his death. He had a son, 18 months old at the time of his death. We have never really talked about his death with his son who is a young teen now. However, we do talk about what his father did when he was his age – again memories and the past.

    I guess it is probably easier for us all to deal with his life before he died, than to deal with his death. We wish he were still here with us, but he is not. His death was and is a bad moment in time. His life was good and we all loved him. We can talk about his life before he died, but that’s as far as we go.

    We have basically each found it easier to deal with learning how to live with our sorrow quietly and within ourselves. Have we each buried the pain, no, I don’t think so, but we know that in order to go on, we cannot think about his death too much or for too long. It is too hard and sad and nothing we can do about it.

    Have we dealt with his death in a healthy way? Not sure, however, we are living without drugs or counseling. We are helping others around us. We work, we play, we live and yet inside we still hurt. That hurt will never go away. How could it? I lost a son, my daughter lost her only brother…

  3. I Was hoping to find information regarding this same issue. We lost our son to speeding red-light driver who then proceeded another 15 feet into the marked cross my sweet fourteen year old son was in with the right of way, hitting our love at 50 plus miles an hour and killing him instantly, when I think of him as his mom, its been 3 long months and it rips me to emotional pieces, I have a 19 year old son and a daughter almost 21 still living at home while going to college. I cannot let them hear me cry, and my older son I cannot mention my younger sons name, my daughter is complicated sometimes she speaks of him, often she cries quietly and softly for him. We are all so devastated, my husband a big, strong man is heart broken yet he is supportive and helpful to our kids but the two of us parents ache so much and deal with it differently, he handling it much better then me on the outside but when he awakes in the morning, when he gets home from working, it’s clear he’s been crying day after day on his way home. Meanwhile I feel emotionally broken, drenched in a sorrow i can’t even quite accept in my heart, it is as though my mind won’t let me connect the reality in the mind to the love in my heart, when it happens I cry so hard, so loud and then I shut down completely and curl up in a ball. I feel as though I’m rather alone in this horrid journey and because I am not permitted to fall apart at home for the sake of others, I just keep wondering how I and we will ever be able to put back together the millions of pieces our hearts are broken in, so I hope someone can provide some information of how in the world to move forward, knowing every morning is another day of waking up to a reality that this is not just a long, log, long drawn-out nightmare, where does a family even begin to lift the others when everyone is doing their ?best in their own way?

  4. I lost my beloved son, Stephen over six years ago. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him. I still cry very easily and I always will. Stephen was my youngest son of seven children. At 19, he and his girlfriend were killed by a drunk driver. Each of his siblings hurt terribly over his loss. We will talk and occasionally share about how we are coping with his tragic departure from us. We don’t live close to each other so we can only talk by phone or by email, so I know that I am not aware of the full impact on their lives.

    My daughter, Rachael, had to go to the morgue to identify her baby brother. She became seriously ill and lost a lot of weight afterwards. She even blamed herself for his death because he was staying with her the night it happened.

    My daughter, Julia was appointed to set up a DUI Victims Panel. His story is told on a video that is presented at court appointed meetings to educate drivers on the tragic impact to others that Driving Under the Influence can have.

    My daughter, Samantha was deeply crushed when she lost her brother. She was very close to Stephen. Samantha sings and writes Christian music and is an artist. She had difficulty expressing herself for several years because of his death.

    My youngest daughter, Savannah lives with me. For the first few years she slept with a Tee-shirt that was Stephen’s. Sometimes, I could hear her cry softly at night.

    My two sons, Christopher and Michael suffer silently. They are strong for the rest of us. Michael’s wife got Michael into counseling to help him cope. Christopher is my oldest child. He calls me every weekend now to visit with me over the telephone.

    Sometimes I think that some of my children forget how much his loss hurts me as his mother. It hurt me when one of my daughters gave away toys that were Stephen’s that had been passed on to her three sons. I saw them posted on her Facebook page and I started to cry. She lives in another state or I would have rushed over to take them. She said that she had given away a bunch of toys and didn’t know some of them were his. She did keep at least one toy that she knew was his.

    A few years ago, I saw photos of his best friend’s wedding. Stephen should have been his Best Man. His friend has a beautiful little girl now. Stephen had just joined the Army with another of his close friends. That friend has gone and come back from Afghanistan and is now out of the military and has started a family. I never got to see Stephen graduate from Boot Camp. I will never see Stephen get married or have my grandchildren. It is all so painful.

  5. I found my only daughter who was 16 hanging in her wardrobe on the 3rd of March this year. I would like to pay tribute to her.

    • I’m so very sorry for this horrific situation for you. You can email photos, words, poetry, anything you want to be put up as a memorial to her to me directly and I’ll post it. We can do this for any parent who would like to create a memorial for their child in the “Our Children” section. I’ll privately send you my personal email to help.

    • I am so very sorry for the loss of your precious daughter

      • mrsmorrison9, I’m so sorry for the lose of your daughter and for the additional horror of you finding her. Last year on this date, 11/02/14, we returned home to find that my 18 yr. old son had shot himself. I share your pain and weep for you as well.

  6. Dearest Hillary,
    We lost our Son, Christopher, to a horrific suicide Jan 2011. He was 32 years and 6 months old to the day. He has an older Sister that has a difficult time dealing with it still. She told me once that if she let herself cry too much she may not be able to stop. I believe that she tries to protect me from her pain. We were all very close. He was the rock of our family. I cry every day and I probably always will. Sometimes his father and I cry together.
    Everyone has their own way of dealing. It’s such a personal grief even in a
    close family. I don’t think there are any easy answers for you. Just know that
    your children are grieving the only way they know how. I am sure they love you very much. I too, know how alone you can feel. There is an empty place in your heart that will never be right again and there is nothing you or any one can do about it. It just is. I am so very sorry this happened to you and your family. God bless you all. Please know you are in my prayers.

    • God bless you and your family and thank you for sharing your experience.

  7. I can understand your frustration – I lost my daughter at 17, then my husband committed suicide and then I lost my best friend my Dad. Although there are not siblings involved I find it frustrating that my Mom and my sister also simply won’t open up – they seem emotionally closed off – I think perhaps that is their defense against their own grief so I don’t push them to talk – I know that in their own way they are trying to deal with it – but it would be so much easier for me if we could all talk but I know they are not comfortable talking about it – grief steals so much from all of us – my thoughts are with you – and with our daughters who I know are watching us every minute – and they are proud of us. Take care and if you want to talk I am always here for you I feel totally alone too – Janice

  8. Your story is so very very sad. Yes, our precious daughters are always here with us and proud of us for getting up and getting through each day. Do you have any faith, or belief in God? I’ve found it to be a great comfort. Not long before Katja’s accident she talked to me about how strongly she felt about when someone dies, their love never does, if they love someone strongly….their love lives with them. Not a typical Katja conversation, it came quite out of the blue, but she knew that I felt that way about it.

  9. Dear Hillary, my precious daughter Lindsay was killed 30 months ago. I have still not been able to go back to work. I recently was devastated by something one of my closest friends said, and complained to another friend about the insensitivity of it. This second friend said to me, “You have to understand that your sadness is so overwhelming for your friends, and it makes us sad for you, and we don’t know how to help you, so that makes us sad and we say ridiculous things because we don’t know what else to do or say.” I think with Katja’s siblings, they may not talk about her to you because, for one thing, they fear upsetting you or making you sadder than you are, and secondly, young people may not have the words to express the depth of their rage, emotion or sorrow, and may actually be afraid that once they unleash the genie, they will never be able to put it back in the bottle. My own son is 31,desperately misses his sister, his closest friend, yet finds that the ONLY person he can talk to about her is me. This is because he feels a responsibility not to intrude on others’ happiness or well-being, and doesn’t want to be perceived by them as only this sad person who has dealt with so much loss. The only person my son will express emotion to about Lindsay’s death is me. I worry that he is bottling so much up inside that one day, he will end up with PTSD or some major emotional disturbance. Many good hospice programmes have family or sibling counselling to deal with a catastrophic loss; sometimes the school districts also have counsellors on hand, From your message, it’s not clear whether you have attempted to open the discussion with Katja’s siblings. Perhaps it might help or open the conversation for you to tell them how you feel and that you are worried they are forgetting their sister or that they are afraid of upsetting you, also that it’s healthy to cry, and sometimes helps not to cry alone but to cry together. I am sure you will find that they just don’t know the way or the words to speak about her without making you sad, or to express their own feelings. The other thing that I have been very careful about is to try to make sure my son doesn’t feel in my own overwhelming and constant grief that it is only my daughter that mattered or that she was the more beloved precious child. I try very hard not to make him feel “invisible” in my grief, and to let him know as often as I can that he is deeply loved and just as precious to me as the child that is lost. I make sure photographs of him are prominent in our home as well as photos of my daughter or my little “shrine” for her. Our other children need to know that we “see” them and they are ever-present, priceless and priorities in our eyes. I’m sure you and your husband are trying your best to do this but I know I have to make it a conscious effort. I am so deeply sorry for your tragic loss of your beautiful daughter, Katja. My heart goes out to you and your family and everyone who responded.

  10. My heart breaks as I read the stories of your beloved children. My daughter Marissa died 31 1/2 years ago at the age of 15 after jumping from a car. Her brother Rick was 19. Rick was not living at home at the time of her death, so whenever he came home I would want to talk with him about Missy. He said to me, Mom, if all you are going to do is cry when I come home, I’m not coming home any more. I guess I realized then that he was grieving in his own way and probably thought he hurt me if he talked about Missy. For several years afterwards I was so worried about his welfare as he did some really really dumb things (I don’t think he cared if he would die doing those things). I know for you parents that are feeling this horrible grief now that you think it will never get better. I’m not sure “better” is the right term but time does heal the open wound. Scars will be there forever. You don’t want to forget your child! After all these years I still think of her every day (she will be 15 forever) but now I can think of our lives together while she was with us without great pain. Our son married and has 3 girls, one he named after Missy.

    I am so sorry….

  11. Thank you so much for your comments. Part of the reason for my anxiety over the children is the situation and character of my ex husband. He percieves counselling as ‘weak’ and refused the children counselling, even when ordered in court, after our very traumatic divorce. He tried to alienate my sons (resulting in the fact that I barely saw them for 24 months) but ultimately he wasn’t successful. He refused all contact with my darling Katja as he percieved her ‘siding’ with me. Needless to say…..a lot of pain there. Katja was hurt by that – yes – but she and I had counselling and she had me and my total dedication and love, and her little sister too. Then the boys started coming back (after a lot of hard work). He has told the children that they musn’t have counselling. So…..with that history, I am extra vigilant of their emotional well being. I am very open and, despite all this c**p, my sons are sensitive, kind boys – praise the Lord.I have said to Carina that I don’t want her to ever feel that I love Katja more than her, it’s just that she’s not here for me to show my love to anymore.Because Katja was so brilliant academically and my eldest son messed up his results a bit last year, I also made a point of saying to him that he was just as clever as Katja, most definitely, but he didn’t study nearly as hard as she had. He did acknowledge this.
    From what I’m reading, they need time and space to find their way through this pain and loss. Thank you and bless all of you…. I am so sorry for the loss of your precious children.

  12. I am sorry about your loss and having to deal with a ex who seems to think it is his way or the highway. I lost my son Sean in June 2015. He was 24 yrs old and was also in a car wreck. His sisters are 17 and 16 and were close to him. I to am worried at the way they seem to just not want to say much about Sean, They also get upset when I cry which makes me feel bad but I can not help it. I think everyone grieves differently but as mothers there is no bond quite like the bond of a mother and her child. Teens are moody and unpredictable with all the hormones surging anyway and I suppose a tragic accident makes it worse. I finally told my teens I am sorry I cry a lot but I will always be there for them if they need to talk or cry and it will not make be any worse in my grief than I already am. I have reached out to lots of support groups because I do feel alone within my family with my grief. I do believe that when kids grow up and have their own children they will understand better,thought we could all lean on each other in the family unit and was really shocked at the fact that even my husband was impatient at times. Thanks for sharing your story because I do not feel alone in dealing with my grief.

  13. Dear Angela…. I’m so very sorry to hear about your son. I think loss and grief are lonely, it is a lonely journey. But they are always with us, urging us on, to be living for them, to be strong. As their mothers, we have the closest bond imaginable, so we probably are the closest in grief. I think my children can put ‘it’ out of their minds and carry on. Perhaps your two girls share some moments together, that you don’t know about? My Katja’s memorial stone was just put into place yesterday, 16th November is her anniversary date, it will be 24 months. The stone is so beautiful, so perfect, and having my words and prayers next to where her body lies makes me feel good. My children will come down with me, and many of her friends on the 16th…..but I’m not sure my eldest two sons will be with us. If not…..so be it. They may come over later, drop by….they get anxious about how to ‘act’ in a group setting, with their grief. They might cry and feel embarassed in front of others. That is what I feel, its not that we have talked about this. My 15 year old son and my daughter Carina come to everything with me. But yes, they are all moody and hormonal teenagers, and teenagers also are very selfish. Try not to feel too alone, Sean is always with you, and so is God.


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