Helping a grieving child

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Helping a grieving child
Thu, 09-05-2013 - 1:31pm

My dad died Monday night, right before D started classes (first year). His death was expected, and we all went to Seattle to hang out with him and say goodbye at the end of July. Nonethless, it's hard for all of us, but especially for DD who is embarking on this new college adventure, trying new subjects, and trying to make new friends. The first year dean emailed her professors, and I emailed the coordinator for the RAs, and everyone has been very nice to her.

Still, she's kind of a wreck and wants to know when this awful feeling will pass. I don't know what to say. I did go down there (we're less than an hour away even if the traffic is bad) and take her off campus to buy art supplies for her drawing class, and that seemed to help a little. I know she can take a short leave, but neither she nor I think this is a good idea, as it will just make things worse when she has to catch up. (We have some experience with this from soph year in HS!)

Has anyone else been thru something similar?


Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Thu, 09-05-2013 - 2:07pm

My mom died unexpectedly, in my house, when my girls were 9 & 12.  They were VERY close to her, as was I, and things were very sad for a while.  I actually was back in college myself at the time.
The best way is to acknowledge that everyone is hurting, and that being sad is normal.  But keeping busy, keeping up with life, makes the hurt more manageable.  Sitting around doing nothing except thinking about how sad you are, does not help.  I think that carrying on is the best idea

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Thu, 09-05-2013 - 2:29pm

My ds was very close with my parents (albeit 300 miles away) and they both passed unexpectedly when he was 15, nineteen days apart. He acted all stoic but I knew he felt something.  It's been a little over 5 years and he FINALLY broke down this summer.  Serious meltdown.  So I guess for him it just took a very long time to be able to let go.  I think he's still hurting but knows how we felt/feel now too - he just didn't talk about it for this long. I think finally opening up let him realize we also feel things this much later as well, and that's ok, and so is talking about it.  I'd say just be there, be open, tell her everyone grieves in their own way, and there's no 'wrong' way, no time limit, and that you'll always be there to talk.  Hugs to all.


Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Thu, 09-05-2013 - 4:23pm

My condolences on the loss of your father. Even when its expected or a blessing for someone who is suffering it is never easy for those who remain. Good mom for worrying about your dd, but how are YOU doing?

I second the advice of both previous posters. It will take time for the intense sadness to go away, but eventually it will diminish. There's no "right" way to grieve so its okay to feel however she feels. 

My dad died 20 years ago, my mom 9 yrs ago and my brother 3 yrs ago. I still miss all of them, sometimes to the point of tears. I may go days or weeks without thinking of any of them, then other times one or all are on my mind. When my mom died I got an excellent bit of advice: to be aware that the first year will be the hardest as each holiday or significant date arrives. After that first year, it starts getting easier and less sad.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Thu, 09-05-2013 - 7:53pm

I have no advice to add.  I just wanted to say sorry for your loss.  Even when you expect someone to pass away, it's still hard.  My best friend's mother died last week & she was 91 but my friend was still very sad.  I also think it's hard when you're young & maybe the 1st death in the family? (I don't know if that's true for your DD.)  My favorite grandma died unexpectedly when I was in high school & it was the first death I had been exposed to so it was hard & a shock.  My DD is 24 and has lost 3 grandparents & an uncle.

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Fri, 09-06-2013 - 9:14am

Hugs!  No real advice, just condolences to you and the family.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-13-1999
Fri, 09-06-2013 - 10:54am

I'm so sorry.   As everyone else has already said, even when it's expected, the death of someone you love is a very hard blow.   The intense sadness takes time to recede and it's got to be even harder for your dd who is also dealing with the unfamiliarity of a new life.

Has she thought about talking to a counselor or chaplain on campus?  That might be really helpful to her.

My sincere condolences on the loss of your dad.  As heartbreaking as it is to lose him, it's a testament to him that he was so loved by his grandchild.

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Fri, 09-06-2013 - 2:10pm

I have no advice that hasn't already been given.  My condolences to you on the loss of your father.

I lost my mom six years ago, and it was three months before I had a good cry over it.  Up until that point, I had kept telling myself, "Not going to cry, have to be strong, old people die and I'm not going through anything everyone else doesn't go through, etc." 

As I get older, I look more and more and MORE like her, so I barely miss her anymore.  I just look in the mirror and there she is.

Community Leader
Registered: 12-16-2003
Fri, 09-06-2013 - 9:58pm

I am so sorry about your loss.

Ramona  Mom to 2 great kids and wife to one wonderful hubby since 1990!

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-07-2004
Sun, 09-08-2013 - 12:15pm

My Mom passed  away almost 13 years ago and my girls (8 and 11 at the time) still talk about missing her.  My youngest has said that at times of stress or scary things she can feel her presence and smell her smell.  They aren't sad about it anymore, but she isn't forgotten.  I hope in time your DD can smile when her grandfather comes to mind.  Maybe she could draw something in art class in memory of him?  My sympathies to your family.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-27-1998
Sun, 09-08-2013 - 8:45pm

Thanks, all, for your kind words. I think she's doing better. She did talk to a counselor, and then wrote an essay about our family, which she said was very cathartic.

I do think grieving comes in waves and it will take time for all of us to process this loss.