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Raising A Surviving Child


Kelly

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This thread is to talk about the problems that a child/children may be facing when the sibling is no longer a part of their life.

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I will start out this thread...because this is now my biggest concern after losing one child. I don't want to do the wrong things with my surviving child. After the accident that took our daughter/my sons sister, we started spoiling our son. We gave him money...hand over fist. This lasted for about a year and finally my son put a stop to it. Thank God for level headed kids. But, this same level headed kid has a 'need for speed'. He loves to snowboard, boat ride, wake board, 4 wheel. He broke his back on the 4 wheeler in April, which scared the day lights out of us...obviously.

He has also been ill...quite ill, many times since his sisters accident. Ill enough that we have had him in the emergancy room multiple times, he has spent nights in the hospital...for unknown reasons. HIGH fevers for unknown reasons. Is this the bodies way of saying, "hey, I am stressed out"? I know that with me I have had reactions to my body due to the stress and am wondering if this is the way my sons body is dealing with it.

He is also having a hard time getting through his last year of school, obviously with the loss of his sister, a broken back and all the illnesses, he has missed out on quite a bit and is understandable, but I think not graduating with his class has added even more stress to a completely overloaded kid.

Denise

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alwaysmyjennifer

Ribitsmom, stress does the wildest things to our bodies. If his tests are coming up fairly normal, it may be good to contact a counselor, or if you're religious, the one overseeing where you worship. He sounds pretty sensible, but a little wild. As soon as I read the fevers, I recalled something I read in my Masters program (I have a degree in counseling) that was about this. You may very well be onto the clue. Children grief so differently than us, and it's manifested in ways only the angels can understand. If you can get a book on child grief, it may help you. I will go out later on today, and see if I find one suitable to your needs at the college.

I've had my hands full of tending to my older teenager, who has a violent, explosive temper. Since his half-sister was raped and murdered, he's been so distant. He's a speed freak, so I sold my Vette. I just couldn't let him get the keys to a 200mph car. Not at 17. He's a sophomore in college (really! at 17), so it's not like I have a lot of control anymore.

We need this thread so much, so we can get a better idea of raising our children. My youngest, now a teenager, is in counseling for grief. His Mom has dystrophy, and we don't know how long she'll be with us. He is the opposite of his brother, a sensible, level headed, compassionate child. He takes everything to heart, so his Mom's health is beating on his soul badly. I chose to limit what I told him about his sister, to spare him such pain. I fear that would have sent him sailing into oblivion. I just need to be a great Dad for him.

Take care, and rest your heart. You're a wonderful Mom to your son. My you find the peace you seek.

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AlwaysMyJennifer: Ok…here is a question for you; how do you go about getting an 18 (almost 19) year old into counseling? Directly after the accident I asked him if he would be willing to go and he said yes…but it was too soon, as I found out for myself when I went. Then I waited a short time and he then was “OK” and didn’t need it.

He is very open about talking with me about his sister and the loss and missing her, but I don’t know that he can REALLY talk to his friends about it. Everyone is so sensitive to our feelings…even us, my husband, son and I are very careful about what we talk about to each other that it limits our “healing”. I fully believe that being able to talk about Bridgette (my daughter that we lost) is very healthy for each of us but friends and family members are scared to bring up bad memories/make us sad. I understand this fear, but I don’t agree with it…any longer. I know that Brandon, (my son) needs his friends in this capacity as they were all friends with his sister also…in fact; his friends probably need to be able to talk about it also.

I am so sorry to hear that your wife is not doing well…how terribly difficult for your family that must be…my heart is with you.

As to religion…no, my husband refuses to ever step foot in a church again…he feels that it is all a farce. We are probably doing my son a disservice by not opening all the doors that we can for him…but it is sooooo difficult right now, but then you realize that you let too much time go by. You find that you have done damage without realizing it while licking our own wounds. I can see all of this…but it is so hard to change.

Denise

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alwaysmyjennifer

Denise, you could try the confrontation approach that is used in convincing addicts they need rehab. It's where three or four of those he admires and trusts are with an arbitrator, and they all try to persuade him he needs counseling. This is painful, and may push him the wrong way. I'm almost certain, but if a trusted and admired teacher or coach said something, he may start to think. He's an adult, and this has to be his decision. I think he'll make the right choice, but needs a little coaxing. Be patient and loving and above all, gentle. If he has a girlfriend, she may be a valued ally for talking him into counseling. You can even ask his friends to talk to him GENTLY about going into counseling. But these must all be one at a time. Don't overwhelm him. You may also directly tell him that he just plain needs to see this person, and take him kicking and screaming, but you won't get a positive relationship. Let him choose his counselor. This will also make it better for you both, and more trusting with the counselor relationship. He will have better results this way. Above all, be honest, be direct. He may be turning into a man, but he's still Mom's boy, and thinking like a child in many ways. Children like our honesty and direct approach.

My thoughts and prayers are with you here. Mark

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Mark: I am not sure about the “confrontation or force” approach. With my son’s personality, both of those would be a big mistake for my relationship with him. I did actually take your advice about talking to his friends. Today is the DAY…not the date, but it was a Friday night, homecoming night, which would be today, but the date is the 26th. My son is VERY cranky, grouchy, and grumpy, you name it and that is him today. He is going out with friends tonight and I pulled one friend aside and explained that Brandon is not in a great mood and to maybe explain to others that it is that time of year for him and to try to be understanding. My concern is that he will punch/fight with someone…he is in that kind of mood. I make it sound as though he is a violent person and that is actually not true at all, but since the accident he has punched 2 of his best friends in the face and knocked them down…both wouldn’t fight him and calmed him down, but my concern is that twice is too much. I did talk to him after the 2nd incident, the first I was at a loss, and the 2nd I needed to step in and explain that you never handle anger with fists. I explained that a smart person would use his brain and talk out the anger…but today he seems to just be mad at the world. I did actually tell him that he didn’t HAVE to go out tonight and he said that he might just stay home…he wasn’t sure. I want him to go out, take his mind off things try to have a good time, but not at the expense of hurting his friends. He can hurt with just his mouth too…I’m afraid he did get that from me, if I am angered I say things that can cut to the bone…not a good thing. Poor thing is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

Thanks for the advice…once we are past this date I will give great consideration to how to go about it.

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alwaysmyjennifer

Denise, my thoughts and most sincere prayers are with you today. I am so deeply sorry. May your heart have peace for today.

About anger in children. They grieve differently. Death is beyond their understanding, even at 17. Hostility is an outburst of trying to get rid of the feelings they have inside, and boys are always taught to never do that one thing (damned Lone Ranger), cry. His friends can help him so much with this, and you are the key. Just talk to each other, and always be open to their crazy ideas. You don't have to go accept anything dangerous, but be openminded.

I grew up in a violent family, and I had no adults to talk to. They didn't believe it was real. After a court document was released, they believed me, but still didn't talk to me, probably out of fear of what I could do to them at eight years old. But, I talked to kids, and they helped me survive, and grow up. Once I was an adult, I found out what a psychologist was, and saw one. It takes time and patience for everyone. I guess I said all that to simply tell you he's a resilient child, and he will find his way through the pain.

My deepest thoughts of compassion and sympathy are with you tonight. God bless you. Mark

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Thanks Mark...for ALL the infromation.

Brandon actually did well last night; He has a lot of friends that smoke pot and he hates it...so, last night his buddies were doing it again and he came home by 8pm and went to his girlfriends with a movie in his hand instead. He was still pretty grumpy when he went to his girlfriends but I know his anger shows itself differently with adults and girls...he is just grumpy. Sounds like a parent sticking up for a child, doesn't it?

As for the "he's to good to hang out with pot smokers" statement; I didn't mean it that way either, I know that at 18 he drinks but I also know that he HATES the pot smoking...he complains about them doing it all the time, very vocally. I am certainly glad I got all of that stuff out of my system as a teenager or he would be very disappointed in his mom and dad too.

As for the Crying; I understand that completely...yet I don't understand. I can honestly say that I was never a "cryer" either...until this accident that took my daughter, now it can start at any given moment. I don't understand how a "Man" can hold it in, it doesn't seem to be something that you can control, or I can't seem to control it anyway. Within the first year after the accident my son and husband did do their fair share of crying, but during the second year it seems that they resort to other methods...yep, the anger. We are (I think) very good at communication in our family. It might take a little bit for the "communication" to sink in...if I say something to Brandon like; "Do you know why your so grumpy?" and then start listing reasons that coinside with his anger and the "date", he will more than likely blow me off but then usually come back later and say, "Ya, I thought about that and it actually makes sense". His dad is great at thinking about what was said (usually bucking it when it's said)and coming back after thinking about it and saying that it makes sense...me, on the other hand, I am terrible about it. I usually want to be right. Not very open minded of me, is it?

Anyway, enough of the novel I seem to be writing. Thank you for the great information...very insightful.

Next discussion should probably start off with, "My son is drinking at 18, and how much of this is 'being a teenager' and how much is from the accident"?

Thanks, Denise

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alwaysmyjennifer

Denise, you can be so proud of this boy! He walked away from something I would have dove into at his age. At 13 I was listed in my permanent school record as a drug addict and alcoholic, in red ink. I was a mess. I've been clean since 1980. I owe it to a girlfriend, so let him have a little leeway with her, but not too much. Make him be responsible for his actions.

To deal with the anger is so touchy, yet I think you have a handle on it. His girlfriend may be your ticket on this one. Her pressure for him to behave will keep him in line. You know the influence you have over your husband, and it's the same. You ladies are such a blessing to us men, in how you make us behave. Please don't repeat that, or you'll have all men everywhere skinning me alive. lol.

To get him out of drinking will require social pressure, just like the rest. This will be tricky. He's acting a little violent, and needs reassurance that he can grieve without acting this way. He also needs to know that the pain will end. He needs reassurance of this. This will help the violent outbursts and hopefully the drinking.

Take care, and keep well. I'm thinking of you with prayers. Mark

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Mark: "You ladies are such a blessing to us men, in how you make us behave. Please don't repeat that, or you'll have all men everywhere skinning me alive. lol."

Your secret is safe with me...but can I use it to my advantage? LOL.

Seriously, you are accurate about the opposite sex having sway over the other, it is a case of trying to 'impress' the other I would assume. After marriage it would be trying not to disappoint the spouse.

As for Brandon, he has a new girlfriend and I am not seeing this one (just my impression) last long. His last girlfriend had quite a bit more sway over Brandon's actions that this one seems to, which tells me that (along with other things that i have heard said) this girlfriend is more of a passing fancy. Or is that a mothers wishfull thinking? The last girlfriend lasted a year and they broke up so she could go to school out of town...I REALLY liked her, except both of them were against having children down the road and my son is our only chance at having grandchildren...he is only 18 so I shouldn't even be thinking this at this point. But after the accident, that was exactly what my husband and I talked and thought about.

Mark...I am very proud of my son, in fact if we are talking about staying away from drugs, I am very proud of my son and the daughter we lost. Both kids were very down on drugs....drinking is another matter. But as far as that goes, I am proud of both of them in that regard also. I am sure my daughter went to parties and drank, in fact I am possitive that she did and I know that my son does, but neither of them would ever get into a vehicle that has a driver that has been drinking...I am 99% positive about that. My son and his buddies take turns being the sober driver, it is just a rule that they have. I have asked my son to come pick me up if I have had 2 drinks or more...it is just something that we have been very vocal about. We drink, I know my son drinks but you had better not EVER get into a car with a driver that has been drinking. I sound pompass...don't mean to, just very serious about this.

That, however, doesn't take care of his drinking...and I guess in a way, I have promoted drinking...I see it as a more socially acceptable past time. when I was his age it was legal, he can go into the military, vote, be tried as an adult...I am still trying to justify it. This is probably another topic all together. Isn't 18/19 old enough to drink? HMMMMM.

Denise

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alwaysmyjennifer

Denise, didn't we start drinking legally at 18? Don't get me into the 18 draft thing. . . I'm not there, at all. grrrr. I'm really showing my age now. Oooo, I'm all of 44. You are not promoting the drinking, but the repsonsibility of sensible drinking. This is a big difference. If he goes military, you may need to pray a lot for those values to remain.

Trust me on one thing, please. Grandchildren happen. I just learned my second is on the way. When they become adults, they want babies. I can't tell you what gets into them, but they do. For now, relax and try to rest yourself in that. If this one girlfriend isn't too pleasing to you, go with your instinct, and don't be afraid to say something, but be careful about how you speak. We don't want to upset him too much.

I think you are doing a fine job of raising him. Do you hear that often? I think you should be proud of yourselves as parents. You aren't just letting him go, like my parents did with me. I turned into an addict. You are teaching him responsibility, even if he does the "wrong" thing by drinking. Trust me, teenagers are going to drink, and it takes a lot to keep them from it. You are beautiful, loving parents. I'm honored to know you. Keep doing all you do.

just me, Mark

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Hi.

I am a friend of someone who lost two children in 2002. She has surviving children as well as a newcomer, a two year old boy.

I am hoping to be in the right place with my question.

How can she get help with the discipline this young child needs?

I have seen how out of control he is but haven't said anything feeling it's not my place. However, she has expressed to me that she needs help. She can't do it for fear of regretting it. She knows she needs to out of love but she also doesn't, out of love.

Could anyone hear give me advice for her or any resources to direct her?

Thank you in advance.

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I am guessing any help would depend on how old the child is, but I would suggest to her that she find a good counselor. There are those out there that specialize in children, teens, adults. Of course it would be nice if she could find someone that has experienced the loss of a sibling, or in this case multiple siblings. It does help to talk to others in an enviroment that is free from all the stress one can feel at home after such a devastating loss. One needs to see and talk to one that can help, but without know the age it is a little hard. It will be easier to get a child or teen to see someone as compared to an adult. Each situation is different and needs to be handled in different ways.

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Hi Change - I am assuming that the child is 2? is this correct...would be the "new one". I am basing my reply with assumption the child is 2. I would recommend grabbing on to anything that is stable and hang on for dear life...that is my sarcastic way of saying 2 year olds and from there on are hell on wheels...but I also know that after loosing a child you want to give in on every subject under the sun to be able to keep your surviving children happy...the problem with that is if you are giving in constantly you are going to make that child miserable along with your self and everyone else in the vacinity. This is going to sound corny and like I have nothing better to do with my life but watch day time tv...but Dr. Phil has a book that I think is called "family first" or something on that order. And it is about having a healthy family that everyone can tolerate. There are sections that deal with children that are out of control...and of course we, the parents are at fault because we are the ones that allowed them to become out of control. However, it does not go into raising surviving children after the loss of one child. If that were the case I would have stock in the book.

As Kirksdad stated, counceling is a wonderful way to find your footing. I have a teenage son...actually and adult son (18) and I found that I did quite a few things wrong after we lost our daughter and now I am afraid that the damage is done...but that would be giving up and I hate a quitter. So, I am still chugging along trying to get on the right track. All I can say with certainty is LOVE THE CHILD...you can't go wrong there.

Denise

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alwaysmyjennifer

Change, two year olds are non stop action, into everything, and only sleep to "recharge." Discipline is "No!" "Stop!" "Out!" "Off!" almost like a twenty four hour mantra. As a grandfather, I'm smiling. They're precious to a mother's heart. I also know that a two year old can grieve, and their way of grieving can be disruptive to a family. Temper tantrums, clinginess, and a reversion to the age at which the death occured are usually seen. Here is your silly and serious answer. Find a counselor who is specialized in preschool aged grief. This is not easy, but worth the search. Two year olds are fun, energetic, and also capable of a depth of grief we adults can't understand. I know a few parents who are in this situation, and they are facing it bravely. I'm not trained in child psych, so I can't be of a lot of help. My best to her. If we can help more, please feel free to write.

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Hello again.

Thank you for your replies.

Yes the child I am speaking of is two years old. He was born in 2003, well a year after their losses. Her situation is that she won't discipline him out of fear and guilt but now realizes this was wrong. Today she is more miserable because of how disruptive and out of control he is. An example is when you go out to eat with him you have to dodge food, utensils and plates!

He also screams if she doesn't let him do something. Some of this probably sounds like a normal two year old behavior but trust me it is not. He is adorable but his behavior is not. She is basically a prisoner at this point because if she takes him out she can't enjoy anything and has to go home. At home he is no better. She is constantly following him and trying to fix the "damage".

This woman is so special and doesn't deserve to live this way. I know it is hard for her and she is so beaten right now and that is why I am reaching out for her.

I will continue to watch the responses and I thank you again for yours!

Thanks

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Change ~ It is possible to turn this 2 yr old into a child everyone loves to be around...but it is the parent that needs the help...in my opinion. I understand that she lost 2 children, correct? and then has other children that survived, and then 1 year later had a baby. I think she could use a month at a spa...she has been through so much. Has she been to counceling? Will she read some books? (Like she has time?) I really do understand letting things get out of control and not noticing it until you think it is too late, but the good thing is that it is never too late. She needs to start at home...by making the toddler obey rules...if throwing food around along with plates and silver, then the toddler needs (THIS IS MY OPINION)to be taken away from the table and at 2 they understand when you tell them to calm down and then you can go back to the table. Does she have help at home? Husband or other that can help in all this? It is a lot of work.

How old were the children that she lost? Circumstances?

When my children were young...and I am talking toddler age, we had issues at the bank, military town, no drive through, half hour wait...kids hated it. I would talk all the way to the bank and promise ice cream or some such treat on the way home if they were well behaved in the bank...then I stuck to it, if they were naughty, they didn't go and I was sure they understood what they did to not go. So, bribery does work even with toddlers.

Please write back and give more information into the background...and please keep in mind that we are only parents trying to help, not the medical field.

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Is there anyone out there that reads these that has a younger child that witnessed a death? That's the challenge my husband and I have with our 6 yr old. He watched his brother Chris drown.

Chris's Mom

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ribitsmom,

Thanks.

My friend went to counseling at her church. This didn't go on too long. In fact, I would say that what happened to them really shook a lot of people's faith within that church. You go there now and all those people are pretty much gone now.

Anyway, she sought counseling for herself for a short period of time. They got brief counseling for their daughter who was 5 at the time. I don't believe her husband has had any and they have not had any family counseling. Now I have told her she should. She agrees but they are all grieving so differently that to get them all on the same page is hard.

She and I were pregnant at the same time only about 4 months apart. She went for her 17 1/2 week ultrasound to find the sex of the baby. I was keeping her kids at the time. Well, they couldn't find the heartbeat and two days later did a DNC(sp?) on Valentine's Day of all things. At that time she had two daughters at home the ages of 5 and 3.

Three weeks later, while my friend was still grieving and recovering from losing the baby her three year old had been throwing up. When she took her to the doctor he said she was dehydrated and to put her in the hospital overnight on an iv. She did and I spoke to her that night. She was going to get her things and spend the night with her. Close to midnight my phone rings and it's my friend screaming that her daughters heart stopped. They lifeflighted her to a children's hospital where she was on life support. They ran some tests and determined that blood was not getting to her brain. She died. Later they said she had brain tumors.

Sorry if this is too graphic.

To make all these matters worse, a year before any of this happened her husband had a 19 year old son who was hit by a drunk driver and killed.

Needless to say this family has been hit hard and this is why this is so hard for her. Right now she is giving in to her kids because she just wants them to be happy. She knows in the long run it won't but just can't do anything else.

I just want to help her with the little one because I am afraid of more problems for him down the road.

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Change...you sound like the worlds best friend and deserve a huge hug. I am so sorry for your friend, no one should have that many tragedies.

As for your friend with and raising the 2 year old...she know's what she needs to do, I am positive that she does. It is just a matter of making yourself do it. Like I said below and on other threads of this web site, I have been very guilty of spoiling my son...to the degree that is not healthy. After losing our daughter it was almost a natural instinct to give more to our son. We did wake up, and cut way back...but his friends when comparing what we do for our son vs. what their parents do for them, comment regularly about Brandon being so spoiled...still, even after we cut way back. Some of that may have to do with our ability to spoil, or buy for him vs there parents ability. Some of it is just spoiling. He hasn't turned into a brat (he's 18)he doesn't feel that he is better than others...he's very well rounded, very giving..very good kid. But he has more items than his friends...that he didn't need to get a job for.

So, my point, as I mentioned above, is that your friend KNOWS what she needs to do...it's just that she needs to make the choice to do it. If she doesn't do it, who is she hurting? The child, herself, her husband, her other child, friends, family...she'll make the choice, it just may take a while. (I will keep my fingers crossed, just in case, though.)

Denise

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Change: is your friend aware of this site? Does she have internet access to visit the site? there are so many bright and logical people on this site that she may find comfort or guidance for issues that you may not even be aware of in her life. I do know that I have recommended the site to many that have lost a loved one, but only one has ever visited...some are just not ready yet.

Denise

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alwaysmyjennifer

Missingchris, when I was 8, I was being asaulted by my foster "mom" and in order to save my own life, I had to do what was necessary, and she died from it. I don't like to talk about it too much, because it is gruesome, and the memories and nightmares are miserable. My uncle kept the court records for me, and gave them to me a few years ago. I have a friend here who also has a child whose father died in his presence. He was about 15 months old at the time. Children that age do grieve. If I can help, feel free to write here, or privately on my email. Mark

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alwaysmyjennifer

Change, there are many preschool teachers on this site who would be willing to help with ideas for positive direction in your friend's situation. I'm trained in Social Work, but in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and combat related issues. I never trained for children's issues. My wife was a teacher for over twenty years, so I'll talk to her. She's in hospital today, so I can't write her thoughts until tomorrow.

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I just posted this note on Loss of a Teenager but I feel that it fits in this section also; my son rolled his truck today. We were in the middle of a pretty bad storm he lost traction and flipped his truck. He landed in water that was waist deep, of course it was the drivers side that was buried in water, he needed to kick his window out to get out of the truck. It scared me and still scares me...I am so afraid that I am going to loose him also. I don't think I could handle that.

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alwaysmyjennifer

ribitsmom, that fear of losing another is so deeply engrained. Give him lots of hugs. It's scary for a young guy crashing like that. Unless there's weight in a truck, they're very loose on wet roads, or at speeds I drive (sshhh, don't tell on me). The solution is to add weight. I did to one of mine by putting lead on the spring blocks, at the ends of the axles. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Take slow deep breaths, and rejoice that he's reasonably okay.

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Alwaysmyjennifer-thanks for the advise...the truck however is TOAST, so we are now looking to go into something much safer. We weren't aware of the danger during summer months...never thought about hydroplaning, were always cautious (I know I spelled that wrong)during the winter months with added weight. He is looking at a multiple number of new vehicles. We are letting him know that we will help him out, but he needs to understand that we won't do it all. The shock has worn off and now we are just dumb founded that he wasn't injured in that accident. He walked away without a scratch. Just amazing. This website is so great, I love all the support from all of you, thanks.

Denise

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We have had one thing after another for quite some time (2 years to be exact)and as I have posted below, I have been very worried about my son. Well, today he was loading his truck (that he rolled last week) onto a flatbed trailer to haul it away, the other end of the trailer was my husbands pride and joy, his brand spanking new 3500 dually Silverado...can you see where this is going? The trailer came off the hitch and hit the back end of my husbands pride and joy. By the way, there were 8 adults, my husband included, watching and helping with this project. Well, after the truck was damaged my son started to tell me how he can't seem to do anything right...everything he does turns to sh**, I told him that it wasn't true...the whole parent thing, proud of your child and such. Well, we were interupted in our conversation. Then a little later we were talking about sleep and sleeping pills and my son said out of no where, 'I think I need to see someone about depression'. I am so happy, thrilled. I have been so worried about him. Anyway, we were interupted again and the conversation was put on hold, but I will pick it up again when he is home. Just thought I would share...Denise

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Dear ribitsmom I know the fear and panic. I lost my oldest son in February at age 19 from a car accident. My only surviving child is 16 and the way they peel off in cars with friends just frightens me. My 16 year old was involved in a car crash as a pasenger in the vehicle just a couple of weeks ago he called me from the police station the car was totalled. The police said my son was awfully lucky as he was the only one with a seatbelt on and was not taken to the hospital like the 5 other kids the hit was also on my sons side thank god he walked away with just a few bruises to the neck from the seatbelt. I was having alot of trouble already dealing with the loss of my son and this has just brought me really down I cant seem to get going again and when I hear sirons I have a panic attack.

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Rhonda68-I know what you mean about the panic attacks, I have spent so much time worried, when I hear that there has been a serious accident near bye I have to get in touch with my son immediately, when I find that he is ok then I need to call my husband...it is never ending. My son wears a necklace that was a ring of Bridgettes (our daughter that we lost) and he says it is keeping him safe...it makes me feel great that he wears it, sounds silly, I know, but it still makes me feel good.

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alwaysmyjennifer

Ribitsmom, I think your son wearing Bridgette's ring like that is a special thing, showing how much he loves his sister. I wear two birthstones on a chain for Jenni: October, her birth, and May, her death. It may look a little feminine for a man, but she's my daughter, and it reflects her life, not mine.

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AlwaysmyJennifer: What a great idea, wearing the birthstones. A local jewlery store made up a ring for my husband, me and my son with Bridgettes birthstone in them, along with diamonds. My son wears his more often than my husband and I wear ours (this is aside from the one he wears on a chain). So, I don't think it is feminine at all.

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Christmas: I have been dreading the holiday season; we have gone out of town for the holidays since the accident and this year have decided to stay in town. I have asked my son on a number of occasions about decorating, he said (with little feeling)"whatever, I don't care if we do or don't". I took this as a "I don't want to". My husband decided that HE wants to cut a tree and put up a real tree this year. My son said nothing in response to this...then, he took his Grandma to a play (school credit)and told her that we are getting a real tree, with excitement.

What is this all about, you may be wondering. I guess what I am trying to say is that I don't listen carefully enough to my son; I think he say's things because he is afraid of upsetting me, trying to allow me to do what is good for ME, instead of just SAYING what he wants.

This loss is so hard for all of us and we are all so careful to not step on toes, so to speak. In every direction we try to be cautious; we don't want anyone to become upset and what ends up happening is we all might be on the same page, want the same things, think the same thoughts but due to trying to protect the others we lose out.

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To all of us raising a surviving child-trying to get through the holidays without too much pain. This year, we are going away for Christmas. It will be the third Christmas without Bobby and I feel that our surviving son, Jimmy, who is almost 18 (how old Bobby was when he died)understands why I can't bring myself to get out the Christmas stuff with all the memories. The first year, we went back East to be with my husbands family, but it was a disaster because we were in shock and everyone wanted to pretend that it was normal Christmas....I guess we were a damper on them and some things came out that still hurt us because they didn't understand how emotionally fragile we were.

Last year, we stayed home and tried to have another "normal" Christmas, but my father was dying and pressures from my family made things difficult.

This year, I seem to be crying whenever I think about Bobby and realize that my grief has been somewhat delayed....two and a half years later. I have tried to stay strong for everyone and now I'm starting to lose it.

I know all this hasn't been easy for Jimmy. His father and I worry about him because he keeps things to himself and recently dropped out of high school because he was so far behind. Hopefully, he will get his GED in the next few months. He only has one or two friends, both former friends of his brother. He moved in his brother's room and kept everything the same and sometimes I feel like he's trying to be his brother.

I am starting to think that we should move from this house and the whole area. I keep running into people who look like they want to avoid me because they don't know what to say. I also keep running into former classmates and teammates of Bobby and keep thinking how it isn't fair that his ashes are in a box on a shelf in our house and they are out living their lives. In the first year after he died, many of his friends would stop by and that was difficult, but alright.

Now if I see one of his many old friends, I start crying.

Has anyone else experienced this?

Peace to all of us....Mary

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Mary, it has been an emotional rollercoaster for our daughter who is now 19, she was just starting high school when Kirk was killed and is now in her second year of college, but it has been very difficult for her to focus on what she needs to do because she misses her brother so much. I know the feelings of having to watch Kirk's friends grow up and move forward with their lives, my wife and I both teach so we were pretty much up close and personal to all of Kirk's friends after his death and our daughter was thrust into high school without a support group to her her through it. It was devasting to her and like so many kids that have gone through this has had a hard time since. Very high highs and very low lows and right now we are at a low. It feels like sometimes one is pulled apart because of the conflict our remaining children have to face. She had so many plans for her future that included her brother and now, like us all has to face that future with him. It is something we fight all the time.

I am sorry that Jimmy's school coundn't see past the front of their face to help him through such a hard time. If he was having a hard time attending and getting things done, my guess is his teachers, GC, and administrators didn't understand and couldn't help. That was somewhat our case for about 3 years after Kirk's death with out daughter. I know that I haven't had to go through what you are going through, but the kids really have a hard time adjusting to this new reality.

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Mary ~ I sooo know what you are talking about. As I probably posted below, my son is going to an “alternative” school because he missed so much. We lost our daughter Sept of 2003 and my son Brandon obviously missed school throughout that and when he was back to school-he wasn’t really back, plus he was ill quite often (stress related, I am sure), then he broke his back…what I am saying is that he was supposed to graduate in May of 2005 and didn’t make it. So, he thought going to the “alternative” school would help him graduate on time; this didn’t work but he should actually be completed (he will be a graduate) this month. It was not an easy process and it took some determination from Brandon, I thought he would drop out any number of times, but he’s going to make it. All I can say is, “one day at a time”. That is the only way we survived this.

We also went to my husband’s family for our first Christmas without Bridgette and it was not tons of fun, but for the life of me I can’t remember any of it. The following year we took a family trip to Jackson Hole, just my husband, son and his girlfriend, for the holidays. We didn’t exchange any gifts during this time; we did buy my son gifts but gave them to him prior to our trip. I was hoping that we would do that again this year, but we are going to chance it and stay home. We have company coming for the holidays but I think it will be ok. I haven’t decorated since my daughter’s accident and this year we will put a tree up and a few other decorations. I made through Thanksgiving much better than anticipated and I hope to make it through Christmas. We have already started shopping, I brought my son with me and we actually had a good time, of course I spent a fortune on him (not Christmas gifts) so he was in good spirits from that.

I am so sorry that you had such a difficult time last year…I hope for a little more peace for you and your family this year.

Denise

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Thanks for your replies- I was going through a down period and am feeling better about things now. Up and down. I told my husband this morning "this grief process is like living with an open wound".

We are going to have family pictures taken today, the first of the three of us since Bobby's gone....also getting a "senior" portrait for Jimmy, even though it won't be in the yearbook, at least we'll have a similar picture to put up next to Bobby's.

It blows my mind that now Jimmy is as old as Bobby was when he died...18.

Peace to all of us as our wounds heal.

Mary E.

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Reading a few of the most recent posts brings me to also respond. My son Matthew died August 2005. My younger son was to start a new college in September. He did not want to show or verbalize emotions. He started school and emersed himself in studying, working and his girlfriend. All the time, his grief was building up inside of him. One day, he blew up at his girlfriend-screaming at her. I never asked what he said-but she refused to see him. I made him talk to a minister-to get his grief verbalized and that helped him. However, his girlfriend would not talk to him. He called me one night in tears, he couldn't go on anymore. He hadn't been eating, sleeping, couldn't concentrate on his studies anymore. The next day, I called the psychiatrist at his college to see what could be done. Eventually, he was allowed to take a medical leave. However, it was up to each individual professor as to whether he would give an incomplete. All but one did. He has six months to make up the tests that he needs to. Each professor told him to do what he needed to in order to heal and when he was ready, he could take the tests. All the notes are on the computer so he can study at home (yes he's back home) He was amazed that the professors were as understanding as they were. Kirksdad, maybe you can help me with this. I don't know if it's a male thing or not, but at least in this family, the men are having a hard time verbalizing their emotions. We have come to realize that my husband's family never really showed emotions-this has passed on down to him and such, to our son. I'm trying hard to get both of them to talk but I can't get much out of them until they actually break down. Is there anything I can do to get my son, especially, to talk to me or should I leave that to the minister (which he is still seeing). If you can help, I would appreciate it. As a mother, I feel lost knowing that my children are in such pain. I also have a daughter suffering through this because none of her friends want to talk about it. She ends up hanging out at the pizza place Matthew worked and talking to his friends. It just breaks my already broken heart.

Thanks for being around.

BettyAnn

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Maskott/Bettyann-I wish I could give you a quick fix answer on how to get your hubby and son to verbalize more but I seem to have the same trouble here. My husband verbalizes...but not in a positive way. He doesn't rant and rave but his "thought" is that all the talking in the world won't change it. My thought is that he is afraid to talk or he may break.

My son on the other hand talks periodically but nothing of any depth, he will play the "remember when" game about his sister. I think I wrote earlier that I had someone from school call me concerned about Brandon, he just didn't LOOK right; I had noticed it too, he just had a very down attitude, things like never graduating, what will he do with the rest of his life and was just in a huge funk that you could actually see in his eyes and face. Well he finally asked about seeing someone and I suggested talking to someone (sorry, not in MS Word and don't want to attempt words I know I will miss-spell). Well, he has an appointment on the 12th, it took 2 months to get him in to see this doctor. But, I heard he was great. I guess it was a good thing I wasn't worried about him being suicidal, 2 months is a long wait for that.

I wish AlwaysmyJennifer had posted, he is a very wise man and seems to have great answers and a mans view point. I understand that his wife isn't doing well and hope that he is doing alright. Just wanted you to know, Mark, that I am thinking about you

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Ribitsmom...thanks for the response. I know what you mean about seeing it in their face. My husband thought he was hiding it all so well. One day he ran into a woman friend. He talked to her for awhile knowing at the end of the conversation, she didn't know about Matthew. I talked to her the next day and she immediately gave her regrets. I asked how she knew. She said she saw Jeff's face and knew something was wrong but didn't want to ask at the time. She called mutual friends to ask if they knew, and they told her. She said that even though Jeff was smiling, his eyes were sad. Sometimes, it's hard to put on a happy face.

I think it must be a male thing...when my husband broke down last week, I told him that he has to talk about it before hew completely breaks down. His response was that he didn't what to make me sad. I had to tell him that we are in this together and we need to be able to talk to one another to make it through. It's tough.

Thanks for your input.

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Maskott; I wonder why we can't talk to our spouses and children the way we should...I wonder if it is just a "guy" thing. I do know that there are times that I want to say something but don't; there are times that I want to question them (husband and son)about their feelings, but don't; there are times that I want to start bawling in front of them...but don't. Do you see, I think that we are all guilty to some degree, I think (for me and my family anyway) a lot of it has to do with trying to not upset the others. My son and husband know that if certain things are discussed that I will more than likely start crying...it isn't that I don't want to discuss my daughter, it's just that I miss her so much and when I see my husband or son miss her too it just hurts, because I hate to see them hurt. I wonder if the 'keeping quiet' is a form of protection, each of us trying to protect the others.

My son has a new girlfriend...I am not crazy about; she is very self centered, very materialistic, plus I really liked the old girlfriend. My son told her that he had an appointment with a therapist and she laughed and looked at me and said; "He's going to a shrink?" and laughed and wanted to know why. Brandon looked to me with a "?" on his face that said, "Well, what do I tell her?". I just said, "Well, I think that Brandon has been through quite a bit in the last 2 years and it won't hurt to talk to someone". She did shut up quick, but the damage was already done.

I have voiced my concerns to my son about this girl, but I have voiced them in the "You can do what you want with this information, but this is my concern" kind of way. I don't want to force him to break up with this girl but God I hope he see's the light soon. That is incorrect; I would love to be able to force him to give up this girl, but know that I can't and can only make it worse if I try.

He is a really smart and sensitive guy, he will do the best thing.

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Ribitsmom...I know what you are saying. I've tried to be very open with my family. I've cried in front of them-explaining why I was crying. I've told my husband every feeling that I have. I guess I just want them to do the same. I know it helps me and I want them to get the same help. It hurts me to see them holding in their emotions until they finally explode. Anyway...thanks for the response. It really does help to talk to others.

BettyAnn

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Denise...thanks for asking about how I am. The past few days depression has come back into my life. Slowly...it is going away. On the home front...not much has changed. Communication has become extinct. My son has decided he can't handle college right now so he's not going back this semester. I called my daughter's college and talked with a counselor. She met with her yesterday and was going to help her register today for the spring semester. I'm hoping she will continue to see the counselor during the semester. Kristin of course was not home yesterday for me to talk to her about the session.

How have you been? I think I've seen you posting on other threads.

BettyAnn

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Hi BettyAnn,

Things are actually going pretty well; my son just finished high school (a little late, but he still made it), and is thinking about further education. I think I have posted below that he was interested in the USMC, but he has finally come to terms (after another spell in the hospital with numb arms and legs) that this is not going to be his future. YIPPEE!! I can honestly say that this turn of events does not bother me.

My son did go to a councilor and we found that he has severe depression and is also ADD (which surprised me). He had a follow up appointment on the 12th of January and missed it. He knew that he had an appointment but couldn’t remember what time, so when I called at 8am to find out the time I found out that his appt. was at 8. Well, he didn’t have time to get in. The appointments here take a month to 2 months to get into. He will probably not go back…so sad, but I am pretty sure that he won’t.

Now that he has graduated he is trying to figure out the school that he will go to for further education. He isn’t interested at this point in going to a 4 year, so will probably go to a technical institute. His future (so he say’s) lies in computers and business. I am thrilled that he has found a direction that is safe. He is following in his fathers footsteps, which is perfectly fine, if he enjoys it. He has a job that will help pay for his education, actually 2 jobs that will help pay, plus he doesn’t work too many hours a week that it will overwhelm him when he has homework.

I’m not thrilled with his choices in girlfriends; the one he has chosen currently is very materialistic. I can only hope that if I just keep my mouth shut he will find his way in this area also. I don’t think I am a mom that doesn’t want her son to have any other woman in his life, I truly have loved each girl he has brought home in the past…just this one I am very concerned about, for many other reason’s than I haven’t written.

My husband is off to Australia tomorrow and then to FL on the way home from there…then home for 2 days and off to NY. He will be gone until mid Feb. This is not great for communication either.

Take care

Denise

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I'm glad things are going well for you. At least it sounds like you son is managing well. I worry about the kids making it through this. People understand a parent will grieve but I don't know if people understand that a sibling feels it just as much. They remember the times they fought, argued about borrowing clothes or were just disgusted with an attitude. Now they have to deal with not having him around to apologize to...make up for what they did or said. Anyway...I know that's what my kids are going through.

What does your husband do that has him away so much? That must be difficult. Who do you talk to when you're having a bad day (except for the people here)

I understand what you are saying about skipping the meetings with counselors. Matthew was like that with his doctors. He would have an appointment and not remember the time, so wouldn't go. Then I get a bill for the missed appointment.

Girlfriends are a similar situation. Matthew's last girlfriend was a bit controlling-but then again, maybe that's what Matthew needed. She didn't understand his illness (didn't read up on it) and wanted him off of medication. At one point she threw his medication out-luckily he realized it before it went out into the garbage cans outside. Matthew was bipolar and needed medication every day. She would take phone numbers off his phone of girls and call them to tell them not to have any contact with him. We kept our mouths shut until one night my husband saw her hit him in the face. Then we started to see him with bruises and black eyes. Then we couldn't keep quiet. I know he loved her but I couldn't see him being battered. I guess eventually he saw what she was doing-along with his illness-he broke up with her. Sometimes, I feel guilty because I know he really cared and also feel that if he was still with her, he would still be here now. I know I can't go there but I do.

I was reading the posts last week-the week I was depressed-and found my husband had posted that he was also depressed all last week. He never said a work to me-although I told him all week how I was feeling. What can you do. I know he doesn't want to make things worse for me.

Anyway...gotta go clean. Thanks for caring enough to reply. I hope you son figures out what school he wants to go through and congratulations to him on working hard enough to be able to pay for it. You have a great son there.

BettyAnn

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BettyAnn-Isn’t it almost impossible to keep your mouth shut when your child is in the middle of something that YOU KNOW is not good for him. Like your Matthew? If his girlfriend was abusive and controlling, as a parent, how do you stand by and watch your child continue in a bad situation? What if…she went over the edge, what if she became a stocker? What if…As a parent all these things go through your head (or my head) and you either have to hope for the best or put questions to your child in a way that makes them think of the future…or anything that will help our child stay safe. The problem is that you and I (and many other parents on this web site) know that no matter how hard we try, it doesn’t always work.

As for communication, your husband posts on this web site, so he is communicating. I would just read as much as you can, then you will see what you are not able to “talk” about at home. I honestly believe that communicating after losing a child is difficult due to each one trying to keep the other away from pain. As I said below, talking about my son’s education and thinking about what we are missing out with Bridgette, I started to bawl when my son left the table and my husband and I continued the conversation. However, when the tears started pouring down my face, I got up and left the table and my husband pretended that he didn’t see it. I think the reason is due to each of us trying to not upset the other. My husband was probably close to tears also and if he lost it I am sure I would have really lost it and we would feel as though we were right back at the beginning. Does this make any sense?

As for what my husband does…he is in the IT (information technology) industry. He is a business owner (with 2 others) and they own one company that is corporate development and then have built 14-16 other business around IT. They do very well, they aren’t multi-millionaires yet, but are working on it. However, what this means to us (as a family) is that my husband travels quite a bit. He is the IT guru and one of the partners is the business man and the other is actually losing a battle with Cancer, so has actually not been a part of the work force for quite some time.

Your concern about the “kids” making it through this is right on. I know that my son had a very difficult time in the beginning, and probably still does, because of the fights that he and his sister had. He commented to me after the accident that he was so mean to his sister, it broke my heart. I tried to explain that ALL siblings argue and pick on each other. What he didn’t realize was that he was also her champion, her protector. They stuck together against us (the parents) and I remember him helping her to get out the door in time to catch the bus, and the teasing that was all good natured. Yes, I remember the “not good natured” teasing too, but that fades from memory and is over shadowed by the good. Silly things like; hanging a condom from one of her posters (you know where) of hunky guys. Telling her he stuck her tooth brush in the toilet, just after she used it…he was lying, but she didn’t know that.

Keep chugging along, we will make it through…like it or not.

Denise

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The siblings are left with all the baggage that accumulated over the years. Our kids fought a lot. It wasn't that they didn't love each other, it was just the way it was. Our daughter saw us spending a lot of time trying to reason with out son and in the long run felt we were ignoring her because she was the one that was quiet and behaved, unlike him. We loved them equally, but still the time we spent with Kirk was time that was taken from her and when he died she felt so guilty about all the wasted time, still does. It was only as they both were ready to enter high school together that things were beginning to change and then he died.

I have said this before, but one night she was having a hard time and getting on us about how she was hurting too. She told us that she didn't know what she would do now because she was expecting him to be around when we died and now she would have no one. We told her that eventually she would have a family, also, but that just doesn't comfort them in the here and now. In more ways than one I am so upset with him doing what he did to hurt her. Why couldn't he have understood that his actions would lead to a changed life for everyone he loved and who loved him. His best friend and his sister have such anger issues now that weren't there when he was alive. Both of them blame themselves for not being more of a friend and not being more of a sibling. It hurts us everyday to watch that happening and I feel so helpless and clueless as to what to do. I want so much for our daughter, maybe someday it will all work its way our, but here we are years down the road and it still seems to be leading to no where. When it will end is anyones guess, but, God, I hope it is soon. Our love for him will always be there, but so too is the pain. Dealing with it will take a lot of strength, I just wonder when all the strength needed comes for everyone.

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Kirksdad...you are so right about how the children feel. Matthew was bipolar and because of his illness we spent a lot of time dealing with him. He also suffered from panic anxiety disorder. They were tired of him using this as an excuse for everything that went wrong. They were angry with him, yes, but loved him so much. Matthew and our other son had been best friends until a little squabble drifted them apart a few years ago. It's hard enough to lose a person in your family but to feel guilty about all of the little squabbles, the mean thoughts, all make the grief even harder. Parents deal with all of the "what if", "could have", "should have", but so do the siblings. Both my children were home with Matthew when he died and they have to deal with "why didn't I", "if I only had". Now, not only do I have to deal with my grief but also have to help them through this also. It makes me very tired.

BettyAnn

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