Anyone here with experience in grief counseling

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by MidwestGal, Nov 27, 2007.

  1. MidwestGal

    MidwestGal Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2006
    Messages:
    952
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    (warning, I am a crying weepy mess as I am writing this)


    I will need to explain to my son about death, likely in the next 2 days, as two of my grandparents are not well. Grandma is in ICU her best O2 saturation is in the low 70's on 100% O2 via bi-pap (not good at all). Her condition has not got any better so the family has decided on comfort measures only, it's just a matter of time. My mom went again today to spend time with her and grandpa.

    This is my grandma we lived with and that I looked after for nearly a year. I wasn't able to travel last week or able to say my goodbyes. I know I don't deal with death well and have already called my doc and asked for an anti-depressant. I need to be able to be here for my mom. She is losing two parents not just one. I'm unsure how my son is going to act to the news. Likely, since everyone will tell me not to take him out of school, we won't get to go to any services either. I am okay with that since I would just be a mess anyhow.

    Selfishly, I am hoping both pass the same day so they don't have to grieve for their spouse. Both have been through enough the past few months and several scares. Even though grandma is having trouble breathing, she is anxious and wants to talk non-stop. Grandpa has been in uncontrollable pain for several months and physically declined.

    I am trying to mask my own sadness by remembering some of the dirty jokes I would bring up every morning to read to grandma at breakfast. It is rather funny to watch an 80 some year old woman laughing at a good not so clean joke, then ask when I was bringing the next one up that day. Then the look on my (very religious) aunts face as grandma told her the joke. LOL!

    One thing I hope my son will realize (one day) is the fact that he got to spend almost a whole year with his great grandma and see her almost daily. Most people aren't that lucky. I am greatful for the time I was able to spend with them and hope that she was happy the time we were able to spend the time together.

    I'm glad my grandparents were around long enough in my life that my son and I will have great memories to look back on. I know many people aren't as fortunate or do not have as good of relationship as our family shared.

    But, in all honesty right now that is not bringing me a lot of comfort. Part of me sinks each time, I think about how hard it is for grandma to breathe having phneumonia and hoping they are keeping her somewhat comfortable until her already weak heart finally gives despite her spunkiness and her will to try to keep everyone else laughing.

    Sorry for going on, I guess my question kind of got lost in my words and this kind of turned into a vent/reflection type post. Should I just matter of factly say to my son that great grandma is dying or wait until it happens then mention it? He knows she has been sick on and off for a long time. We spent many of times in the ICU with her. He in fact was one of the only children they let in the ICU. He understands most things at least from the medical stand point (he's 6), I'm just not sure where to go with it from there.
     
  2. D_Theophallus Kneedgroin

    D_Theophallus Kneedgroin Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,057
    Likes Received:
    0
    I was 4 when my great grandmother died. I also spent everyday with her because my mother cared for her that last year. I have so many good memories playing with her. I don't remember understanging her death, I don't remember being sad. Your son is two years older than I was and that is a lot at that age. Everyone is differnent in how they deal with this. I turn to prayer and I've said a prayer for you and you family. At my darkest moments, I read Psalm 23. I have it memorized now. It has always given me strength.
     
  3. B_tallbig

    B_tallbig New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2007
    Messages:
    994
    Likes Received:
    2
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    n/a
    Sorry to hear about that . I wish i could help you but i dont have the skills in a grief counseling.
     
  4. ManlyBanisters

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2007
    Messages:
    12,807
    Likes Received:
    8
    I have no experience of this personally - but there might be something here that can help you (I was talking to my mother just now when I read your post and she recommended it as a source). It mainly deals with children and parents - but you can extrapolate.

    I very sorry this is happening in your life, I hope you both get through it OK.
     
  5. Osiris

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Messages:
    2,725
    Likes Received:
    5
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Wherever the dolphins are going
    Once again, you are in my prayers babe. I experienced death at age 3, but I would not know the first thing about explaining death to a child. My 5 year old knows, but where he got the knowledge, I have NO idea.

    If he is anyway near as intelligent as his mother, maybe you just tell him straight up. Kids are more resiliant and a lot smarter than we think a lot of times.
     
  6. D_Theophallus Kneedgroin

    D_Theophallus Kneedgroin Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,057
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree with Osiris, be honest with your son.
     
  7. snoozan

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2006
    Messages:
    3,568
    Likes Received:
    4
    I'm really sorry to hear this. It's hard to lose a beloved family member, especially a grandparent. Anticipating it can be even worse-- knowing that it's only a matter of time but waiting and doing as much as you can for her in her final days/hours.

    Take him to the service. I don't know why it's a trend in our society right now not to take children to funerals of very close family members, but I think it's necessary. He's a little too young to comprehend the whole thing, but getting to know the ritual even at his age is important. You can't shelter him from death forever, and making it a fact of life as early as possible is good for him, not bad.

    My grandfather died when I was 5 and my aunt when I was 9 or 10. They were both beloved members of my family and I was very close to both of them the years before they died. Though I didn't understand what was going on very well at the time (when I was 5), I'm glad I was there and can remember parts of the service. As an adult, I'm glad I went to both funerals, as it's helped me accept and process their deaths even now.

    The other thing is that your son is probably well loved by many people who will be at the service. Funerals are for commemorating the dead, but they are also for comforting the living. I can imagine that your son's presence will help some of your family bear the funeral and give them some happiness at such a hard time. Children have an almost miraculous ability to help heal broken hearts.

    That's wonderful! She sounds a little like my grandma. Keep the good memories alive, write about them, celebrate them.

    I feel the same way about my son and grandmother. Right now he's 2 1/2 and she's 85, and I hope that she lives long enough that he can have really strong memories of her. He's been a Godsend for her, and she is his favorite person. He's spent at least 2 days a week with her since he was an infant, and the joy they bring each other is something I am most thankful for in my life. Before that, my grandmother was the same way with me, and she's been one of the most important influences in my life.

    Some people don't even realize how important being close to family is in these days of moving around so much, and it's so good that you've been able to do be with family for you and for your son.

    She sounds like a wonderful woman. Just keep your head up, that's all you can do, you know?

    Well, I'd probably tell him in a way that he understands. He knows she's in the hospital and all that, just tell him that she's not coming home. He'll ask questions from there, and you'll probably be able to guage what his level of understanding is and explain appropriate to that. Most likely, if I remember how I was, he won't understand all that well, which is actually probably good in a way. He really won't process it fully until he's a good deal older. However, he will remember how you handled it with him, and that's going to influence how he deals with death and other things later in his life. He will also probably be grateful that you didn't try to hide things from him. I'd be as matter of fact as possible, and not wait until it happens with all the chaos that will ensue to let him know.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Good luck, and my heart goes out to you and your family.
     
  8. SpoiledPrincess

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,167
    Likes Received:
    29
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    england
    I think it's best to be honest with him, but not overload him with information, if he asks questions answer them to the best of your ability but kids tend to ask the questions they need the answer to. If you believe in God and he asks where she'll be say she'll be with God or whatever your belief is. if you don't believe in God don't be tempted to tell him she's with the angels to placate him, I always had to tell my kids I didn't know what happened after death, it would have been easier to give them a pat answer involving heaven but wrong.
    Being brutally honest he probably won't deal with it well because you've said you don't deal with it well, but explain to him that you don't deal with it well, kids can be surprisingly strong about death, they don't understand the ramifications, they do know that great grandmother has gone and that their mum's hurting, and just as you try to support them take the support they (little as they are) can offer.
     
  9. MidwestGal

    MidwestGal Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2006
    Messages:
    952
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    thanks to everyone for the comments and advice. I will probably take advantage of the medical knowledge I gave him while we lived with her and help him to understand that her body is shutting down.

    He was there and watched me the day her heart was barely beating. He saw me doing compressions to keep her blood circulating, while I was telling the 911 operator to have the paramedics bring in the pacer. In fact it was him that brought me her portable O2 that day and a mask out of the drawer to put on her. He just knew what to do.

    From the time we moved in with her, I took every opportunity to teach him about the body and it's functions, hopefully he retained that. He clearly understood that her body needed the oxygen vs how she was confused and short of breath, when he was only 4. He always was checking her O2 was on and would put it back on her if she had forgot or tell me.

    He has watched her near death more than once, I guess I will simply tell him that her body was worn out and got tired but she will always be with him in his thoughts and memories and for him to always to try to remember the good memories that they shared together.
     
  10. B_tallbig

    B_tallbig New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2007
    Messages:
    994
    Likes Received:
    2
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    n/a
    My mom died 8 years ago when i was 18 ( i was already an adult) but i dont know how to advice you with your son at his age .
     
  11. JustAsking

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Ohio
    Snoozan and Princess have excellent advice from what I have learned about grief counseling. A six year old would benefit greatly with his own grief now and in the future if he is allowed to participate fully in the services and funeral, and be around as the adults laugh, cry, eat, reminisce and go through the whole range of their emotions.
     
  12. MidwestGal

    MidwestGal Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2006
    Messages:
    952
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    USA
    I tried talking to him and he understands about the body not working anymore but does not seem to grasp the finality of death. I fear he would just upset my great aunts and mom's siblings more if he was to attend any services. I really don't see the benefit since both of my grandparents are to be cremated....no viewing...so I don't think that will help with him not understanding the finality of death.

    He just turned 6, had me return home in the last 5 weeks, just started public school about a month ago. I think this may be adding too much to his plate other than letting him watch our gamet of emotions.

    I have a close family friend that was placed in hospice care as well. I will probably take him to her visitation when the time comes. Her husband's visitation was my first experience with death. I also know there will be many young great-great grandchildren at her funeral and it would be more acceptable to bring him there. He knows that person very well also, but can distance himself more than it being a close family member.

    I know that some of the remarks he made would have upset my mom and that bringing him probably is not the best solution. Take him to the cemetary next spring and showing him where they are buried.
     
  13. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2002
    Messages:
    83,922
    Likes Received:
    34
    Don't try to explain more than a 6-year-old can understand. Just be sure that he does understand that he has nothing to fear about Mommy going away and that you love him very much. Kids need such assurance during mysterious tragedies.
     
  14. southwest

    southwest New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2006
    Messages:
    541
    Likes Received:
    1
    My mother died of cancer earlier this year, you can only feel sad at this time, happiness is not an option, do not try to feel anything but grief is my advice for anyone at such sad times, as for the child, my sister told her youngest that nanny was with the angels and the child accepted that and there was no more problems with her. Adults and children have a different relationship to death and it is amazing how well some kids can handle big hurts. Plenty of cuddles and reassurance for the child and seek some solitude for your self and have a good cry. I know this seems crazy, but once they have gone things actually get easier, the relationship changes and you have to deal with that reality. Time is the greatest healer and things eventually get back on track. Sorry to hear your news and my heart goes out to your situation.
     
  15. bartonside

    bartonside New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2002
    Messages:
    230
    Likes Received:
    0
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    East Sussex, England
    I once read about a mother who had to explain to a young child that an older sibling who had been ill had died. She explained that sometimes people are very ill and so ill that they can't be alive any more. This seemed to me a perfect way of interpreting death in a way a young child can comprehend.
     
  16. Principessa

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2006
    Messages:
    19,494
    Likes Received:
    28
    Gender:
    Female
    I agree with JustAsking.


    I knew they were both ailing and in decline but it never occurred to me they would go around the same time! This really sucks! :frown1: Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family right now. I know it has not been easy for you lately (e.g. the last 2 years). I have no doubt you will make the right choices and do the right thing for your son. You will get through this. We are both stronger than most people realize. :cool:
     
  17. goodwood

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2005
    Messages:
    1,804
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas
    Thatgal -
    I am so sorry to hear of your news. My heart breaks for your loss. I don't know what advice to give to explain it to your son but I am confident that you will do it well. Hang in there and know that the good wishes for you and your family are extended by many here.
     
  18. bottombuddy

    bottombuddy Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
    Messages:
    481
    Likes Received:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    scotland
    unfortunately i dont have any solid advice to give but my thoughts are with you.....please be honest with your little one he will thankyou for this.

    i agree with snoozan to take him to the service......my gran died when i was 11 and i wish id have been allowed to go to her funeral......none of her grandchildren were there......i loved her so much.

    i lost my own mother just over 3 yrs ago and think it still has an affect on me......the family had to watch her deteriorate for 13 weeks and i think if anything the trauma seeing this has been worse than the death part itself as i accepted that fairly quickly.

    grandma will always be alive in your thoughts so keep sharing them with your wee boy after she is gone.
     
  19. 36DD

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2006
    Messages:
    1,790
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    6
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    U.S.
    First, let me say that my heart goes out to you...I've been there, and I am sorry you have to go through this pain. Be honest about everything with your son but don't get too elaborate with explanations. He will let you know by his questions what he can handle understanding. I also think it is most beneficial for him to be at the service...the only time I would second guess that would be in the case of open casket services...that is too difficult for even adults. It is important for him to see and hear others who knew and loved your grandma...it is important for him to see how people lean on eachother and help one another during this time, and it is important for him to hear the sadness and the laughter when people are reminiscing about her as it will help him learn about the process of death and how life must go on. I know I could not have made it through that time had I not had my other children holding me and loving me. We held on to eachother at that time and I was profoundly effected by the love I witnessed my children offering to others. Again, I am truly sorry...you will be in my prayers.
     
Draft saved Draft deleted