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Three dead dads!


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Hello everyone,

I don't expect anyone will have my exact experience, but I hope you can relate to at least one or two pieces of it.

I am the mother of a 17-year-old son (only child). I remarried 5 years ago. My new husband and I were grateful that all four of our parents could be at our wedding.

My mother died on our 1 year anniversary (4/24/05). My dad held on for 3.5 more years, but he died 11/24/08. I think because he was 85 and was prepared -- and had shared that with us -- that is was not too sad. I was there when he drew his last breath.

Right after Dad died my father-in-law went into hospice. He had been suffering from Alzheimer's and had a lymphoma in his torso. Poor guy was in a lot of pain, but because of his mental faculties, couldn't even talk to us about it. We got to participate in his death, too. He died 2/26/09.

Now it is May, 2009. My son's father has been chronically ill for many years. He takes a lot of pain medications and often goes "underground" for days at a time. He misses a lot of work and sometimes doesn't even respond to our son's calls or texts. But this time, there was a reason. His sister in NY, his work, our son and I had not heard ANYTHING from him in several days.

My son and I went out Tuesday night and gave the keys to police to go in and check. Sure enough, he was dead. This was not entirely unexpected, but still a shock. He was only 57.

So here I am. I have not had time to grieve my own dad because I was dealing with my father-in-law's illness. Now I find myself really feeling this latest death a lot. I am very worried for my son. He is extremely vulnerable. He had a complicated relationship with his dad. This is just horrible for him on so many levels.

Any advice for helping a teen child deal with a parent's death, please, please share!

Thank you, MightyMom

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First, let me begin by saying how sorry I am for all your losses. I notice in your profile that it's your birthday now; that is even a hard time to observe after you have lost loved ones. Please try to see it as a cause to smile, even if only briefly, because you are still here to celebrate another year with your son.

I can relate a bit to your post. Last summer, my mom died after being ill for awhile. Her hospitalization lasted a few weeks, and we did not know at the time if she would recover or pass away.  After she died, the family was in chaos and still is in many ways. It made us all recall losing our dad, which happened many years ago.

Then in January 2009 I lost my family pet - a cat I'd had for over 17 years. Even though it was not as awful as losing a person, it still hurt a lot and reminded me of Mom's death just a few months earlier. It was also very stressful and expensive.

Later in January, my mother-in-law was hospitalized with heart problems. She had three heart attacks within 24 hours and had to be revived after each attack. My husband and I had to fly to see her, as she lives about 1000 miles from us (my brother-in-law lives near her and was already there).  We honestly thought we would lose her, as she was in critical shape in the ICU. Somehow, with surgery and subsequent therapy, she has improved enough to leave the hospital and care facility. She is staying with my brother-in-law now, and her future is still uncertain.

Having several events like this in the space of a short time span is very hard on everyone involved. I can relate to your level of shock and grief. Also, I understand your concern over your son. I was 14 when my own father passed (suddenly).  It is very tough on a family and also on a child of any age to lose a parent, since the parent has always been there since you were born. You have never known a time without them, even if they aren't always near you. The loss changes your family forever.

Personally, the symptoms I had after losing Dad included memory problems (in school especially - I had trouble passing tests even if I studied), concentration loss and feeling "numb" most of the time. Also, I was overwhelmed with new responsibilities and trying to help Mom cope. Your son may try to assist you even if he doesn't feel up to it, since he may feel responsible for you in some ways. If so, try to give him concrete ways to help - specific things he can do for you. Maybe physical things, if he is up to them, and not anything that requires a great deal of reasoning or concentration. If he seems to need counseling, seek out someone you trust.

I hope this helps a little. Let us know how you are doing. Don't be afraid to ask friends and family members for assistance; they will be glad to help you.



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