Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: anywhere, usa
want to help a friend who has lost a child-
Hello----I am really hoping for some advice---This is a kind-of long story, in order to get in all the details----so please read and bear with me. It is a Death/Dying story---but may belong on the Grief/Loss Board---if it needs to be moved, feel free---I wasn't 100% sure where to put it.
A dear friend of mine, married about 9 years ago---to a man w/ 2 daughters, whose mother had passed away (from a medical condition). She adopted the 2 girls legally through the courts, and they were LEARNING to get along as a family-----The oldest was entering her pre-teen years when they met, and was having issues with the whole "having a new MOm, who isn't her MOM, but wanted to BE her MOm"----BUT they were learning to be a family and get along. The oldest could remember her birth MOm and had many memories of her mother. The youngest just had a few memories of her Mom--but would be a little "difficult" at times with my friend--just to back up her sister.
I always thought my friend pushed a little too much to "be" the new Mom---BUt I didn't feel it was my place to tell her that---they were trying to learn to be a family of their own.
Flash forward to the Summer of 2005-----My friend had had a baby by then, whom the girls adored----and was a "miracle" baby to my friend, as she had a chemical pregnancy and a tubal pregnancy previously.
The oldest girl went to a friends house, and that girl's mother allowed the two girls to go for a ride to a grocery store with 2 boys----They never made it to the store----They were all 4 killed in a horrific crash----My friend and her husband were not notified until almost 10 hours after the crash---as their daughter was only 14, and did not have any ID on her.
A week of funerals followed for all 4 kids----and LOTS of anger towards the mother who allowed the girls to get in the car with the boys. Lots of media coverage in our area----local news at all 4 funerals.
For the next 6-12 months, my friend spoke at many local schools, and organizations to spread the awareness of teen drivers and errors they make.
I thought, how great---she is focusing her grief in a positive way. Her husband was drowning his grief in alcohol ( he had lost his wife at a young age and now his daughter----its not that uncommon to see something like that happen)......The other daughter was left feeling like she would never measure up to this sister that was killed. The older child was very loved---good student, popular, outgoing-----The younger sister---very tomboy, not so good in school, etc---Its just how things are----I am 100% opposite of my sister-----and everyone in my family realizes this and does not compare us, and never did, even though we are now adults----
I have tried talking to my friend---and telling her that she cannot throw this other child up at the younger daughter all the the time....their house has become a shrine to the child that is gone---every holiday turns into a "memorial" to the lost daughter----and I am SO worried about their two children who ARE alive. The daughter has so many issues, understandably---low self esteem, overweight, she is picked on a LOT at school----so very many issues.
And the baby, who is now 3, has developmental issues----that they do not even realize---he cannot talk in sentences, he is not potty trained, he screams instead of asking for things that he wants, and he still "toddles" instead of walks, he has never slept in his own bed---he sleeps in the parents room.
Going back to the parents----the husband has a lot of emotional issues, stemming from the loss of his 1st wife, and now his daughter----he and his wife ( my friend) bring out the worst in each other these days----They say horrible things to each other---and he has a LOT of contempt for her, b/c she has really acted distraught and grieved very much for this loss---and he doesnt feel that she has that "right" , as she had only known the girl for 7 years, half her life, as he likes to say, when she passed----and that she could never feel the emotional pain he feels, as it was his daughter. I will not say whether I feel that he is right or wrong---But I will say that she feels that her grief is the exact same as his, or anyone else who has lost a child.
As I said that they are constantly making comments to the daughter, they are also very determined to make the baby feel like he "knew" his older sister. He was 6 months old when she passed----I am afraid he is going to feel resentful to them, for pushing this unknown sibling in his face every chance they get.
Unfortunately, in the office where my friend and I work, we have had several co-workers lose children to tragic deaths. But she is the only one who constantly reminds people she lost a child. She wears a shirt with the daughters picture on it---it makes people quite uncomfortable, but no one would ever say anything to her, as neither would I. She request that we wear buttons with the daughters picture on it, on each anniversary of her death, and her birthday. She insists that she not work on these days, as its just too painful. I understand that-----But part of me says, that she needs to be around us and others to get her mind off of the situation.
The other women in our office, that have lost children, have taken their losses in positive directions----two of them hold walks for their children each year, and raise money for charities-----and I know----all deal differently---which is fine.
She is not a very private person---she does not mind everone knowing her business------I have found her to be a very self absorbed person, since this happened---and though she may ask about how my day is or what is going on in my life, she manages to turn the focus right back around to her.
I am fine with that----as I do not require alot of attention----nor do I enjoy it----HOWEVER-----I am at a point in my life, where I have a Grandmother who is dying of cancer----and I also have another Grandmother who I am slowly losing to Alzheimer's.
I WANT to help her heal----i know, you NEVER "get over" the death of a child----But I also know, from my own education and personal background, that you DO "move on" and learn to cope with the situation. I am afraind that she and her husband are not doing that----and I am afraid of the harm that could come to their children's sense of worth. Even Mother's Day this year, when she should have been celebrating her day with the two fabulous kids she has, she was focusing on the child she lost.
I want to help her---and I want to say the right things----and i REALLY hope I have not come off as harsh-----I am NOT the only one in my office who feels this way---but no one is going to say anything to her.
We are coming up on an anniversary again-----and I just dont know that I have the strength this year to say the right things-----she will tell me she is having a bad day, and thats completely understandable----I will say what seems to be right at the time--and normally she thanks me and says she feels better-----but just do to my own personal life this year, I dont know if I have the mind set to handle this this year.
ANy ideas----what to say, what to do???
Any help would be great---Thanks.
and my sympathies and heartfelt condolences to all who have suffered losses.