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Children please advise a mom

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To the children who lost a father unexpectedly:

Please give me advice on how to help my children.  I am trying to be strong.  Hard to stop tears.  We cry together.  I am functioning kinda....basic life skills anyway.  

Can you please tell me what helped from your other parent or what didn't help.  No worries on the dating issue.  He is not replaceable nor do I want another one.

What would you have liked to have heard from a parent?  My husband died unexpectedly due to a heart attack after a warning that he and I made a tremendous mistake on.  I have apologized to both kids and they appear to have no anger towards me.  Guess I have enough anger towards myself for all of us.  

My job is to help them.  I may not be able to help myself much but figure I would ask your advice on the RIGHT things to say.

Thanks for the information.  I am so sorry for your loss.  You guys truly are the innocents in all of this.

Edited by newnormal
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The best advice I can give you, my dear, is this: The most effective way for you to help your children with their grief at the death of their father is to take care of your own grief first. That means connecting with others who are traveling the same path (as you are doing by joining us here) and learning all you can about what is normal in grief, so you can better understand and manage your own unique reactions. As you come to know our members and read through so many of the threads on this site, you will find a wealth of information as well as personal experience ~ all of which you can draw upon to help in your own healing.

It also helps to know that everyone in a family grieves differently, depending on many different factors (e.g., personality, gender, relationship to the deceased, past experience with loss, etc.). You may find this article helpful: How We Mourn: Understanding Our Differences

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My mom has passed away quite recently (Sep)  very suddenly also from a heart attack. She was very young, 47. I don't know the age of your children, but I can give you the perspective of a 28yo daughter/sister. I feel very lost of course not only because I lost my mother, but also the model she was for me. All the experiences mother/daughter that were stolen from us. I also feel very sad for my father who lost the love of his life at age 51. He was also blaming himself. What if he had paid more attention to her father dying  at age 37 of heart attack, what if he had paid more attention to her medical exams related to a previous thrombosis. And it just broke my heart to see the desperation in his eyes and his voice. I just couldn't bear the fact that he was not only grieving, but also feeling guilty. And I just felt that it was not right to him, there was no reason. They made lots of exams and she was always in the doctors for other reasons, but this stupid heart attack couldn't be prevented. It was fast and someone even told me that this kind had a minimal chance of recovery even if she was already in the hospital, let alone having to wait 15/20 min for the ambulance. I don't know the circumstances in which you feel that you need to blame yourself, but I think that it must just complicate things and might make your children nervous for you. I've come across this and found it very interesting: http://lisabadams.com/2011/02/07/from-a-psychologists-perspective-guilt-vs-regret/ 

Also, I see that my father makes an enormous effort to show to me that he's doing ok, because he knows I'm crying everyday still... and I just wish to let him know that it's ok for me to see him sad. It won't hurt less if he's a superman. Of course is good to see that he's functioning, like you said, in everyday tasks, in taking care of himself and practical things, but it's also ok if he just want to cry a bit. I see both my brother and father trying hard to be strong because I'm not afraid to show my feelings, so I just keep telling them it's ok to also come to me when they don't feel good. You said your job is to help your children to get through this, but you're also a wife who needs time to process, who need to be taken care. I think you're stronger when you are open to each other. Don't be afraid to receive their love.

Maybe nothing that I said applies to you, so just let me know if you need to know something else from a daughter perspective.

My sincere condolences and a big hug

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I'm very sorry for your loss too.  I lost my dad when I was 29, I don't think you're ever ready to, but I guess I was more ready for my mom because she was 92 and had dementia, she needed and wanted to go by then.

Like you said, there's loss of dreams and secondary losses like role modelling.  

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Hi Deb1

Yes, you are just about the right age.  My daughter will be 24 in January and my son 27 in Dec.  I have conflicts within myself Deb.  One minute I am trying like hell to be independent of the children and the next I am resentful because I am.  My mind tells me this is my job.  My heart tells me I am not strong enough.  Which leads me to why I asked the children of this post.  You guys know.  You KNOW.  I don't and can't pretend to know.

My husband was 59.  I am 52.  He was healthy.  First surgery in his life was for a disk in his neck a year ago which he came through with flying colors.  He took no meds, didn't smoke, went to the gym every day, and ate healthy.  I smoke, eat like crap, (not heavy though-too much mental energy), and have never been to a gym. I work in the yard and do chores as I am an old farm girl. 

I am amazed the children do not blame neither their father or I for turning their word upside down.  Maybe they know I blame myself enough for an army of people as WE made the decision but guess what, I am the only one still here.  He can't be responsible as he paid the ultimate price.

I have tried Deb to do this as much as I can on my own.  We were very, very lucky.  We had a beautiful forever home that we had painted literally 1 and 1/2 days before he died.  We put in a stone walkway in April and electricity to his shop in May.  We had beehives.  We were going to have chickens.  We were going to Yellowstone which he ALWAYS wanted to see next summer.  He was two years from retiring.  We were the best we had been in years.  

Stop.  Gone.  I am imagining that while the situation may be different for your Dad, there is no doubt he too is thinking what could have, should have been.  Your parents, as did we, deserved it.  We worked hard all our lives, tried to be good parents, and WE are gone.  The family is still there.  The part that started the family is gone.  

I would like to keep in touch with you. Maybe I can help you from a parent perspective and you from daughters. I will warn you.  I have never quite seen things right so take my thoughts with a grain of salt.  My children have been taught that from an early age and know I am little off. I was raised a bit differently and have a hard time seeing things as normals do sometimes.

I moved.  We had only lived there two and half years.  Our previous home was home.  This house didn't have time yet.  3000 feet for one person with 3 and a half acres not smart financially.  We loved the house but he was not there.  Hard to build a home when he isn't there.  So, I now live in a rental near Nashville near my daughter.  Myson is in Korea and due to triggers from his fathers death will shortly be departing the army. Long story.

As far as your Dad, my  thoughts are that your Dad is conflicted as I am. I can promise you that he is crying. Just not in front in you.  If he has admitted he feels guilt, he is crying a lot as I am but men don't like to share that vulnerability.  Women just can't help it.  It just comes. It is pretty obvious he loves you a lot.  

I had no clue of any heart issue with my husband.  In fact, if you had bet me he had a heart issue, I would have put in everything.  But I would have been wrong. After extensive research, he had six abnormal EKG's of ten.  Minor,  but there was something there.  We were not told by his flight surgeon because they were minor.  I am anal and if the word abnormal crossed my husbands health, well, Katie bar the door because we were checking.  He was a pilot and was told every year he "was good to go."  Nothing else so we didnt have that chance.  Had one chance. Blew it because we didn't know.  I could have saved him and that kills me every day.  I simply didn't know he had what he had to save him if that makes any sense.  He had a premonition and an "dead" file if and when something happened to him.  We used to fight over it because the thought upset me.  It upsets me more how much I have had to use that file.  Funny how things work.

The point is if you tell me what you need, maybe I can also help you with what your Dad may need albeit from a woman point of view.  Age is different.  You are young, your whole life ahead of you.  We have a few years left but right now if your Dad is like me he is feeling very old.  Old people lose wives and husbands or they should. Not two people 51 an 52.  

Feed me your thoughts on your father Deb.  I will feed you a woman perpective of what is happening. If a male spouse is reading this, speak up.  We both know men and women don't think the same.  Lets help each other out.  

Thanks for sharing Deb.  I truly am sorry.  My daughter and I are close.  

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thank you kayc.

Newnormal, sorry for taking so long to reply to you and really want to keep in touch. I was trying to busy myself... and got it, but at time I break down. Fortunately, I have my fiancée, who really tries his best to take care of me during this period. Well, I might say it's not really a period, right? This is forever now. I know everyone says it's going to feel easier with time, but it will be there forever. I read this http://groknation.com/faith/grief-are-you-there/ from Mayim Bialik and find it very true. 

I want to know how you're doing. Have you realised that none of this is your fault? I've read in another thread what happened and I truly believe it's not yours or his fault at all. We always think it will never happen to ourselves, even when we search, check and search and check again. Besides, you never had all information available to you, you only found full results when it was not needed anymore. We just realised too late that my grandfather also passed away when he was 36 and that we should monitor that, although recent exams cleared her. What are your thoughts on that after some time has passed?

How is to live in your new house? Have you found a way to make it your home? Do you have a way to keep doing things you both did together at your home? I think it's good that it is close to your daughter. I can't imagine leaving my father alone, so I like the thought that at least my brother is half hour away from him and not 14 hours flight like me. By the way, how is your son doing? How are both of them doing, actually? And how are your plans to go to Yellowstone?

My father is coming to visit me next week and will be staying for 20 days. It will be his first time on this part here and I'm planning some short trips with him and my fiancée. But I have to say that a part of me feel guilty to have him here and have Christmas with him. He'll meet my boyfriend's parents, thing that my mom never will do. He will see where I have been the past 4 years and she won't. My mom has a great heart and I know she'd be happy for him, she knows how much he loves to travel, but that's just how I feel. I always felt weird in this kind of situation and for lack of better translation from my mother tong I'll say I feel guilty.

I also feel guilty for getting married 2 months from now. I wanted to postpone it, but my father and brother asked me to keep the date. They said that this is the date she knows and she'll come. It's not about deposits, as this is not how it works in my country, we could just easily have moved the date. But how can I be happy that day? How can I enjoy? My fiancée is the most amazing person and I truly love him and want to marry him, but how can I go on that day? How can I be a mother one day? My mom really wanted grandkids.

I have a question to you as a mother. Even when your children are not so nice, can you see they love you? You'll probably say yes, but I just feel so sad it was not every day that I spoke to my mom. She was recovering from a long lasting depression and sometimes when I spoke to her was just "are you trying to go for a walk?, "are you eating well?", things like that. The last half year we were speaking only about very trivial things, not like when I was living in the city nearby. I was the kind of daughter that always wrote long love letters on special occasions, but on everyday life I was not doing so well lately. Of course I said that love her every time we spoke, but I now feel that that's not enough. I know it might sound stupid because we all wish for that, but I just wished for more.

A big warm loving hug to you and both your children.

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Thank you Marty. I'm slowly trying to read them. I actually will have a small prayer together with my brother, father and fiancee before the ceremony, use her jewelIry and a medallion with her photo on my flower bouquet.  I just feel selfish for planning the wedding without her and also that I wont feel any joy that day. I feel that it would be better to do later on, but now is too late to do so. But thank you again for the tip.

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