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How to help my spouse deal with the death of his child

Started 1304929768.94 in Among Friends | Last reply 1306099919.627 by catwhisperer

I need advise for helping my husband deal with the death of his child. I am very distraught and saddened over my stepchild's death but my husband is understandably devastated. I'm so afraid I'll say or do the wrong thing. I just want to take his pain away and I can't. This is such a horrible time for the entire family and I don't know how to help him.

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rednpurple1304945659.66310496 PostsRegistered 6/19/2008NY

First, please accept my sympathy in your great loss. The only way you can help your spouse is to be there for him, no matter what. One Day At A Time. There cannot possibly be anything worse than this devasting loss. You and your spouse are in my prayers

God Bless.

twinkies1304946153.471442 PostsRegistered 10/31/2006

he would probably be helped if he could talk to people who are going through the same thing . Other people who have suffered the loss of a child are the ones who can understand best and help him through this loss. There must be a grief counsel group nearby . Call a local hospital or a nearby funeral home to ask about a grief group that he can go to . You could go with him for moral support .

cathy from ma

SweetWood ­Max1304946584.412246 PostsRegistered 9/7/2010

I have no advice but want to offer my sympathy to you and your family at this time of such sadness

Also known as Maxs-Grandma!

Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color

Reiss19801304948020.6438218 PostsRegistered 4/15/2011Central NJ /Freehold// Long island NY

I am so sorry for your loss... There is no greater sadness then the loss of a child. God Bless your family ... everyone grieves differently , I would let him grieve and get the sadness out ... as much as he can. He must go on ...in the end that is all we can do. Take good care of each other.Update when you can.. let us know how you are doing!

A wagging tail .... and licks a plenty.. Not to mention a buddy for life! Adopt a dog or cat ..SAVE A LIFE!

irish mama1304948396.4434492 PostsRegistered 5/10/2007

I am so sorry for your loss.

I am a pediatric hospice nurse I don't know how old your step-son was or if it was a sudden death, however everyone deals with death so differently, like others have said just be there for your husband.

There are many good grief/support groups. There are some that are especially just for parents. Just keep that in the back of your mind for now. It might be to soon for your husband to even think about a group like that.

The best place to find good support groups would be your local hospice or hospital social service dept.

There are also great groups for grandparents and sibblings. Katie

sparkygirl1304985283.4174627 PostsRegistered 10/2/2006

I am so sorry for your and your husband's loss. You can not rush his grieving. He just has to do it in his own time. Just be there for him. Understand that in the coming months his moods may be a bit labile from time to time. It may take years for him to go through all the stages of grieving. The most you can do is be his best friend and try to understand what he has gone through. It's not supposed to happen this way.

catwhisper­er1304988598.4073549 PostsRegistered 12/4/2009So.CA


I am so very sorry for your loss.

My son took his own life. My DH (step-dad) did not know what to say to me, so pretty much kept quiet, though he could feel the pain I was going through. The best thing he has done for me is to just be there to listen to me express my thoughts and feelings. He told me he was there for me if I wanted to talk about it.

Group therapy is not for everyone. Some people prefer one on one with a grief counselor, but I highly recommend your DH try to seek counsel if he can afford to do so.

Be prepared for your DH to have periodic grief meltdowns as I call them. Particularly on anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays. Everyone grieves differently. There are books on grief if your DH is into reading. Let me know and I will give you some recommendations.

Again, I am so sorry for you and your DH.


dozer41304992648.943172 PostsRegistered 2/11/2006

listen to him.

let him talk about it.

if you live you will grow old.
the problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts while the stupid ones are full of confidence

ZaksGrrl1304993003.931759 PostsRegistered 4/7/2011wherever the spirits lead

People always worry about saying the wrong thing, but really it's worse to say nothing.

Be there, bring up happy memories and stories when you can, and give him some space too.

My deepest sympathies to you and your husband.

Live in the Sunshine
Swim in the Sea
Drink the Wild Air

mother bear1304999322.2733843 PostsRegistered 12/10/2010Puget Sound

Encourage him to talk about his child. Sometimes people just want to hear the name of their child spoken. If done with love, I truly doubt you will say the wrong thing. ANd be a good listener. I will keep you in my thoughts.

GrannySher­ry1305002807.676720 PostsRegistered 1/26/2010Proud So. Cal. South Bay native now in WA state

Talk about the good things you remember about the child, times you spent with him/her, etc. Say the name often.

My 10 year old grandaughter died almost 5 years ago and I would have given anything and everything to have been able to relieve the grief of my son, his wife and my older granddaughter (she was 12). We talk of her often, watch family videos, etc. and keep her memory fresh. She has a little brother who is 6 who "thinks" he remembers her!

Sadly, you can't take away the pain. It will never leave, but it time it will ease a bit. Share memories of this child often and don't be afraid to just put your arms around him and comfort him without words at times.

I'm so so sorry.

Zoologist1305029334.426046 PostsRegistered 9/3/2010

I'm so sorry for the loss of this child regardless of his age.

I agree - let him talk and really be listening. Not washing dishes, watching TV, etc., but really focus on him.

Encourage him to contact Compassionate Friends.

Know this this will change him FOREVER. He will NEVER, EVER be the same person he was prior to this event. Never.

Also, don't discount your own grief.

While on a different level, it's still grief, and still real.

I'm pretty sure Compassionate Friends will have a lot of guidance for not only how to help your dh, but also how to navigate your own feelings, etc.

The journey is just beginning. It will end only when you're both gone. Know that even years/decades from now, tears will flow for no apparent reason. The pain never lessens, you just get used to having it.

((((((((((((((((((((( hugs to you both )))))))))))))))))))))

OCGurl1305047803.5577560 PostsRegistered 8/2/2007Palm Desert, CA

Hello Marky, I am very sorry

(catwhisperer as well - so sorry)

I am in this club as well, its been 9 years for me since I lost my 21 year old son.

Life as you know it will never be the same. I wish I cold say that it would resolved fairly quickly, but this takes many years to come to terms with and to find peace within yourself to get up and smile again. It took about 6 years until I was able to wake up one morning and realize that I would survive.

I agree with the seeking counseling when he is ready or a group setting like Compassiate Friends, its is good to be with a group of people who feel like you do and who can confirm you arent going crazy.

I experienced a deep depression, and was on and off anti-depressants for the 9 years, but recently realized that it is best for me to stay on them, I take my one pill every morning and I get through my day.

I travel with friends, go out when I am up to it, work alot of hours, but everything I do now (except work, gotta keep working) I do when I feel like it, when I am up for it, I say no when I am not up for it.

It never goes away, but time does ease the pain, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries are difficult, but we get through them.

These next few months into 5 years are going to be very difficult for he and you, you will be trying to find your "new normal".

Give each other space, time to cry, time to laugh. Dont allow anyone to tell you that you should be over it by now, as you wont be, the first couple of years is a time of great emotion, ups and downs,

I am a widow going through this as I lost my DH 11 years ago to cancer, so maybe it was easier as it was just dealing with my own feelings, I understand it is so difficult for couples as each one has their own emotions.

The range of emotions is all across the board. I wish I could take that pain away from anyone as it is not the way life is supposed to happen

There is a beautiful book called "A Broken Heart Still Beats" by Anne McCracken and Mary Semel.

It is a book of quotes from many famous people who have lost a child, such as

William Shakespear, Mary Todd Lincoln, Mark Twain, Anne Lindbergh, Eric Clapton and many more,

all quotes from these people that are like you and I and your DH and many other ordinary people, however we have all lost a child.

I wish you peace, love, and pray that God will show you a path you walk down.


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violann1305052186.87313964 PostsRegistered 12/12/2004
Some people cannot talk, and for a while, cannot bear the pain of remembering. Assure him that you are there for him in his silence as well as his tears.

I didn't come here to argue.- Peg Bracken

wismiss1305054692.9632825 PostsRegistered 6/18/2008Central Illinois

Please extend my deepest sympathy to your husband. There is nothing so devastating as the loss of a child. My best friend's daughter passed away when she was 16, and my friend has shared many of her feelings and thoughts, so I will share them with you.

Everyone grieves in their own way. Some people openly weep, some remain stoic and don't let others see their pain. My friend's number one "fear" was that her child would be forgotten by others, so for her it is important that we talk about Amy and share stories, remembrances, and things like that. I always send a "thinking of you" card on her birthday and on the date of her passing.

My friend and her husband went to Compassionate Friends for a while. The husband received much from these meetings, my friend no so much, but she went as a way to support other who had lost a child and also to support her husband. Compassionate Friends may be an option if your husband is interested in sharing with others who have experienced the same type of loss.

I would, at this point, say, just be there for your husband. Let him talk if he wants to and if he chooses not to do so at this time, let him know you will be there when he is ready. Pick up your clues from him----does he want to talk, does he want to do something in her memory that you could help him with? My friend and her husband sponsor a display at Christmas time in Amy's memory, they sponsor a 5K run at a fall festival in her name, and they established a scholarship in her name at the high school she attended. There are many different ways that his child can "live on" through this type of activities. Does he want to visit the cemetery with you, by himself, or not at all at this time? Does he want to have the gravesite decorated for the different seasons?

Your post sounds like you are a very compassionate person to begin with, so I am sure that you will be able to convey to him that you are there for him in all situations.

You, your husband, the the rest of the family have my sincerest condolences and prayers for the comfort and strength that is needed now and in the many days ahead.

lucieinthe­sky1305064926.733494 PostsRegistered 3/15/2010Dallas, Tx

First, let me say how very sorry I am for your husband and you. The death of your child is most definitely the worst thing you will ever endure on this earth. Life as you have known it will never be the same. I lost my 27 year old son 12 years ago and I feel the sadness everyday. The depth of it has changed, but I know it will always be with me.

As someone else mentioned, Compassionate Friends is a wonderful organization. If you have one in your area--- in time, you might consider going to a meeting. You are not pushed to share anything that you are not comfortable sharing. It just gave me comfort being with other people who have walked the same path and understand the intense grief.

In the meantime, all you can do for your husband is listen if he wants to talk.

life is like a snowstorm.....you'll meet a lot of flakes

marky1305111979.737986 PostsRegistered 1/6/2007

Thanks everyone, for the wonderful advice. We are taking one day at a time and he seemed a little better yesterday. Of course it is all we think about. I plan on suggesting some type of counseling later on but I'm not sure he will go for it. I think I will seek help even if he doesn't just to help me deal with it and maybe learn how to be as supportive as possible to him.

Thank you for all of the wonderful thoughts and prayers. It is comforting to me to come to this board for help and my thoughts and prayers go out to all that have lost a child.

Lakk1305113994.3735253 PostsRegistered 11/1/2006

I'm so sorry. The main thing you can do is listen and just be there. I know your going through it also but all the words in the world doesn't make it better. I've been there too , my son(41) took his life 3 yrs. ago and I couldn't tell you one thing anyone has said to me in the last 3 years. It's still like yesterday but somehow we put one foot in front of the other, we have no choice. Just let him talk if he wants to, be patient, it may take a long time. Counseling, I didn't but do what's best for you, it's the worst thing a parent could ever go through and there is no manual to tell YOU how to grieve. Take your time and do it your way. We shouldn't outlive our children but we're not suppose to question God so be there for each other, it's a mighty tough road. God bless you both.

foggygrey1305121609.593164 PostsRegistered 4/17/2006BP oil spill territory


I have lost both my adult children -- not to death, but to their absolute detachment from me. I don't know which is worse. I also lost my second husband to suicide 13 years ago.

Your precious husband must be in agony. I would think that quietly letting him know that you are always there for him to listen; showing gentle affection; and telling him it's OK to cry might be some things that might assist in his grief.

I hear the word "closure" used frequently surrounding the loss of someone close and I find it totally useless. IMO one cannot "close" the door to having had a child's love or a spouse's love. It never goes away. The pain lessens over a long period of time, but it is like a wound that won't heal and is often reopened by unpleasant remarks.

Therapy also might be an option if you notice his grief is deepening or a change in behavior. You might offer to go with him. What a terrible life-altering situation to happen.

I send prayers and Light to God on you and your husband's behalf.


jackkeepoo1305122666.5331571 PostsRegistered 10/23/2007

My 7 year old daughter died 25 years ago with a malignant brain tumor. It is still an open wound that won't heal up but through God's grace, you learn how to live with the pain. The Compassionate Friends organization helped me and I still receive their newsletter to this day. I recommend you be patient with your husband and just be a listening ear if he ever wants to share his feelings. There is no way you can fix things for him but you can stand faithfully by ready to pick up the pieces when he feels overwhelmed - and those times will come. Holding on to God's promise that we will see our loved ones again has also been a great strength for me. Please realize that it will take time. He will never get over it but he can get through it, with God's help. Prayers going up for your husband - and you.

OCGurl1305134085.6077560 PostsRegistered 8/2/2007Palm Desert, CA
On 5/11/2011 marky said:

Thanks everyone, for the wonderful advice. We are taking one day at a time and he seemed a little better yesterday. Of course it is all we think about. I plan on suggesting some type of counseling later on but I'm not sure he will go for it. I think I will seek help even if he doesn't just to help me deal with it and maybe learn how to be as supportive as possible to him.

Thank you for all of the wonderful thoughts and prayers. It is comforting to me to come to this board for help and my thoughts and prayers go out to all that have lost a child.

Marky - there is also a chat forum board called "Silent Grief" that would be a good place for you and he when you are ready, just like the Q board here, but specific for parents who have lost a child, the ladies and gents there are wonderful and even if you just want to read it will help so much. It helped me in my first few years to have cyber friends that were going through the same as I.

much peace

jackkeepoo1305140789.171571 PostsRegistered 10/23/2007

To OCGURL: Where could I find the "Silent Grief" chat at? Thank you

jackkeepoo1305140943.3671571 PostsRegistered 10/23/2007

Oops, Already found the site, OCGURL! Thanks.

Siennasky1305335203.772693 PostsRegistered 10/20/2009

Irish Mama,

Bless You. It takes someone very special to be a pediatric hospice nurse. You are a blessing to many families.

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MISERABLE661305468558.524860 PostsRegistered 12/7/2010Noo Yawk

How terrible! All you can do is be there for him. He might need to cope in his own way. You might feel like your not doing much, but you are.

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"Being miserable and treating people like dirt, is every New Yorkers god given right." - The mayor from Ghostbusters 2

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