Grieving son

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by vligrl, Aug 2, 2012.

  1. vligrl

    vligrl New Member

    Looking for any suggestions on how to help my distraught and grieving 19 yr old son. A very close friend overdosed a week ago today and was buried Tuesday. The next night, last night, his ex girlfriend slams head on into a tree along with her new boyfriend and they were not wearing seatbelts. Ex girlfriend is still in ICU and has not come to. Cracked her skull, broke her get the idea.
    How do you handle so much trauma yourself let alone a young 19 year old? I am afraid for him. I don't know what to do about him going back to Jr. College, etc? Not bug him? He asked me "to let him be" when I expressed my sadness for what he is going through.
  2. pasajes4

    pasajes4 Well-Known Member

    Just be there for him. If and when he is ready, he will talk about it. Sometimes the best person to get through to our kids is someone their age. Maybe you can check in with a friend of his.
  3. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    Vligrl - I am so sorry for these traumas. I wish I had a sure-fire answer for you. My difficult child's girlfriend committed suicide 2 months ago, and the grief is just indescribable. I've tried to make sure that I'm available for him, but then trying to balance that with not suffocating him - it's been really hard. I've listened, a lot. I've offered counseling/psychiatrist, but he's adamantly against all of that. My son is not good about asking for help, thinks it's a sign of weakness, but on the other hand he really has needed help.... I try to watch for signs that he needs to talk. He did come to me once when I missed the signs, so... I guess that's good.

    I think that if he wants you to "let him be," that's okay - in moderation. Sometimes conversations with- thank you have been started because I'm struggling with my own grief for this stupid senseless loss - I think it's been helpful to let him see that I'm hurting too (the whole family is). It's given him an opportunity to talk. I have been careful about when I let him see my grief - try to time it so that it's on days that are okay for him, if that makes sense.

    I've learned a lot of things about my son - not all great - in the last 2 months. I have withheld judgement on everything - his revelations, B's choice to commit suicide, just everything. I'm simply here to listen, to let him talk it out, to share a small part of his grief.

    From a practical standpoint, I think your son needs to at least attempt going back to school. I made the mistake of okaying thank you dropping his summer classes. In hindsight, I shouldn't have, especially since school was the one place B hadn't been - everywhere else, including our home, is a reminder of her. Even if he had failed the classes, which would've been understandable, I think he should have had that some*thing* to do to keep him occupied. The first month or so, his friends really rallied, but just this afternoon we had a conversation about his anger that everyone else seems to be "moving on" - tomorrow will be 2 months since she died, and the anniversaries are a real bear.

    We've talked a lot about grief - the stages, the fact that it doesn't come and then go, but it comes *and* goes, and comes and goes. We've talked about how grief is different for everyone, and the fact that death is not a subject most people are comfortable with and how people often say exactly the wrong thing when they're just struggling to say the right thing. My son has hit the anger stage and ... it's rough. He loves her, he misses her terribly, and he is incredibly angry that she did this. Honestly - I just take it hour by hour with him, let him know I'm here, and listen, listen, listen.

    Also - sounds silly, but sleep and food. Got to make sure he's eating. Can't make him sleep, but do keep an eye on him. thank you's just starting to eat meaningfully again - I've kept the house stocked with- his favorites and also have gladly financed runs to various fast food joints - maybe not the healthiest choices, but no food versus junk food is an easy choice for me. I've talked to thank you several times about maybe seeing his regular MD for something to help him sleep - he won't do it. Again, maybe if I'd insisted he muddle through summer school it might have helped him keep a more normal sleep schedule. I don't know. I know he's up most nights, listening to music, I suspect looking at her pictures and keepsakes he has from her.

    You also need to take care of you. I realized several days after B died that I hadn't eaten since I'd heard the news. You have to do your best to take care of you so that you can be there for your son. I think counseling is reasonable - for you, for your son, whoever will go. It's horrible to watch our kids go thru this, and we want to protect them and make it easy, but I think they have to do their own grief work, with as much support as they will allow us (and others) to give.

    Gentle hugs to you - again, I'm so sorry.
  4. Calamity Jane

    Calamity Jane Well-Known Member

    That's just awful, pitiful. What a shame.
    As far as school is concerned, would online classes be an option at all, so he wouldn't have to travel to that other college?
  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Talk to the chaplain at the hospital or you own pastor if you have one. Ask them how you can help your son. If he is willing to read, they may be able to suggest and have materials for him to understand the grieving process. Or check out your local library for books you think may help.

    If he is willing to write, he can write letters to both these people stating how their actions affected his life and what he would have told them moments before the incidents if he knew what was going to happen and had the chance.

    A visit to the one friend's grave for a private conversation? He can take something to leave at the site? Take him and then stand way back out of earshot.

    Sometimes putting things in writing gives meaning and control over feelings and helps sort out feelings.

    19 years old is so tough. They don't want to feel like they are a child because they cry or grieve but still not old enough to know it is healthy for all ages to grieve and seek help to work through it. He may not understand that it would be easier to talk to a counselor since he may hold back with you so as not to hurt you more. The "I need to say this but it might upset mom" dilemma.

    Hugs to both of you.
  6. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    It's really hard to advise without a description of your son's issues. I'm sure you've said before, but I have trouble keeping track. Does he use drugs, or is it behavioral issues, depression? If you could do a signature with information about him and your family that would be really helpful.
  7. Bean

    Bean Member

    Honestly, and maybe I'm a bit jaded, but my daughter seems to experience a lot of friends dying as well (and at such a young age). But... when you surround your social circle with other addicts, thrill-seekers, users and abusers, you kind of up the likelyhood that something like that is going to happen. At this point, every time she calls me with another person that she knows who passes away, all I can say is, "That is SO sad," and "That's YOU. That's what I think of when I think of you. Could have been you."

    Honestly, that's it. I've got a HUGE bleeding heart, I am compassionate, loving and sickened by the sadness surrounding her community of people. But I also can see the risks to the lifestyle they are all choosing.