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Our Other Children

Editor: Sonya Marvel
Contributors: All Members of My Mom Is A Survivor

Most parents who loose a child have other children to consider. Some put up a front in order not to upset their children. They tend to not talk about the child they lost because they don't want to upset their other children. Unknown to most, your other children are hurting, too! They need to talk about the loss of their brother or sister in order to reach closure. Good communication with your remaining children is very important to the family who is grieving. Good discussions about how you feel and listening to your other children's thoughts can be very important to the healthy welfare of your family. It is important to answer ALL of your children's questions, no matter how much it hurts. Chances are this will help in your healing process. If you don't know how to answer your child's questions or how to verbalize the answers, tell them you will find out or will think about your answer for them. Please don't forget to go back with an answer to their questions. They won't forget.

I can not really relate to this topic. John was my only child. I do have step-children. I know they were upset over John's death. I don't know how to help them. They lived with their real mother at the time although most of the time they all lived with us. I do know they had their moments of getting along with me. When John died, that all changed and they actually accepted me as their father's wife. It took a long time to get to that point.

Sonya
Mom to John
9/8/69 - 1/20/89

When we found out I was expecting our second child in November, we were all ecstatic. Our daughter, Katie had been asking for a sibling ever since she was 2 (she is 5 now). She wanted to help get things "ready" and buy baby things right away and was so disappointed to hear that it would be another 8 1/2 months before the baby made an appearance. She would even ask me everyday how I felt and if I'd drank my milk and taken my vitamins! I had even started calling her "sis" once in a while. Everything changed on Jan. 14, though. I had had some spotting and felt very tired and being a curious child, she wondered why Mommy wasn't acting right. We felt that we shouldn't shield her from the possibility of losing the baby, so we explained that Mommy had to go to the Dr. because something didn't feel right. We sent her to her aunt's house overnight for the worst of it, so she wouldn't have to see my pain. The next day, when she was brought home, I spoke to her and told her that the baby had been too sick to live in this world and had gone on to heaven. She seemed to accept this just fine and not another word was said. Until 2 weeks later. She came up to me and asked me if since the baby hadn't been born yet, could it go to heaven? I told her that yes, Mommy believed that all babies go to heaven and our baby was an angel now. She was silent for a moment, then asked, "So, if I'm real good and go to heaven someday, I'll get to meet her or him?'' I, of course, told her yes. Matter settled, so I thought. Two hours later she came up to me and said, "Mommy, I can hear the angels singing! I can't hear God, but the angels are singing! Can't you hear them?" My massive grief dissolved in that instant. I believe that the Lord used my child's blind trust and faith to help me heal. We don't speak much about the baby now, but when she has questions, she comes and asks. I truly believe that our honesty helped her in her healing process and that, though we still have "bad" days where we cry, we will go on.

Love to all,
Ivy

Through all the losses I experienced (5 miscarriages), I did have a beautiful 11 year old daughter.

My husband and I have told her about her angels including her oldest sister, Amy E. who was born on November 1, 1980 and died on November 2, 1980. My daughter understands she has siblings up in heaven. She also says she misses her big sister, Amy.

Children grieve differently than adults do. My daughter accepts it better than I do. Sometimes I feel guilty when I talk about my angels, but my daughter talks about them all the time.

November is the month in which I grieve. Amy was born at the beginning of the month and my 11 year old Julianne was born on 11/23/88. Julianne is my strength and keeps me going.

Thank you for letting me share.
Diane
Mommy to Angel Amy E. 11/1/80- 11/2/80
Mommy to 4 Miscarriages
Mommy to Julianne 11/23/88

This is a topic that I deal with everyday of my life with my surviving children whom are now 12 & 10. I lost my oldest son at age 15 to teenage suicide. I fear this nightmare will happen again, which I think is a normal reaction when you lose a child. I fear losing them to any cause of death now. I have to watch how I react to things with them now, I tend to over react and over analyze situations about them. I watch their moves, their actions, their emotional behaviors daily. I struggle with this. It has been 3+ yrs now since I lost Josh, and I know I am getting worried more and more all the time. Parts of me are fine. I know my children are all different, but I watch anyway. When my son first died, I found a wonderful group that was set up for Sibling Survivors of suicide. It was a wonderful group for my children. They stayed in it for almost 3 yrs. I knew as they grew older, their questions would be harder for me to answer, they would want to know more details about it all, and I wanted to make sure they would be okay. We honor and remember my son Josh as much as we can. Just today we planted a tree in honor of him, for we moved into a new home, and wanted to have part of him here with us too, so a tree was agreed upon. We share stories, memories and Josh is talked about often. This helps them and me. It is just inside myself that I suffer, they do not see this pain. As they grow older, and my son looks identical to Josh, it gets harder and harder at times to hold in the pain. I fear the day my surviving son turns 15, for I am sure he will look almost identical to Josh, and it breaks my heart. I don't want him to be in Josh's shadow, and I am afraid that he will grow up thinking he will have to take on some of Josh's roles. It is just a long road for my children, as it is for me. So I pray for guidance for myself as they grow. There is no book to go from, it is all for us to figure out.

Thank you
Debbie
Mother of Angel Josh ^i^
My Son, Josh

A Grief All My Own

I was a freshman at Point Loma Nazarene College when my brother, Carl, died. The news reached me hours after he had been found at the base of the radio tower. Jim, a faculty member and family friend, stuck his head inside the door of my chemistry class as I waited for class to begin and motioned me outside. I was pleasantly surprised to see him, but my smile faded as I noticed the somber expression on his face. He took my hands in his as he told me of my brother's death. I searched his face desperately waiting for his expression to break in to a grin as people will often do before they let you in on the joke, but there would be no punchline. I drew back instinctively and as I pulled away, Jim tightened his grip. I began shouting ďNo!Ē over and over until I became aware of myself once again and sunk into his hug. When I started to breathe more regularly Jim walked back into the classroom to get my backpack. I began to grow physically and emotionally numb as he led me down the stairs to his van. He asked me if I had a friend who could wait with me until I could get to the airport. I nodded indicating I did. He drove over to her classroom and I carefully looked in to see if I could find her. Fortunately she saw me and dismissed herself.

When I got to the dorm, the RA for my unit was already waiting for me. She and my friend, Heather, followed me to my room after an exchange of somber glances between them. Without much thought as to what I needed I packed a suitcase hoping I had everything I needed since I would be going home for the week. I was nearly finished packing when one of my roommates came into the room. She heard the announcement in chapel and came to see how I was handling the news. I was suddenly aware of how closely I was being watched. It was as though I had taken up residence in a fishbowl. The girls sat silently watching me, not quite knowing what else to do. I could feel their unease at not knowing what to say; afraid of saying something that would cause me to have some sort of nervous breakdown right in front of them. I desperately wanted to be alone. It was as though I were a hostess at a boring party needing to entertain my guests, but I was afraid to act anything but somber. Would they think Carl meant nothing to me if I tried to strike up meaningless conversation? I felt an emptiness growing in the pit of my stomach. I wanted to crawl in bed and curl up against the wall. Yet, all I could do was sit uncomfortably while they watched. I was the elephant in the room. My brother had just died, yet no one could state the obvious: something horrible had just happened. I didnít know it at the time, but I had experienced for the first time a reaction that was to become all to familiar to me.

After a draining week at home, I was unprepared to face my friends, roommates, and acquaintances at school. I could feel the tension as I walked into my unit. The girls watched cautiously as if waiting to see if it would be OK to approach me. I wanted to tell them about the week and about all of the painful memories my hometown triggered of my brother. Actually, I needed to talk about it, yet I knew it was better to keep it to myself. I donít know how to explain it, but people react very strangely when they hear about someoneís death. I couldnít count the frequency with which I was purposefully avoided or had someone quickly change the subject if I happened to mention my brother. I soon discovered a positive reply when asked how I was doing avoided many uncomfortable situations. Most of the time people merely asked out of a sense of obligation, not concern. Few wanted to hear how my stomach turned when I walked up to his casket and saw the bruises which ran down alongside his head and neck beneath the make up the mortician applied in an attempt to conceal them. Nor did they want to hear how my heart skipped a beat when I thought I caught a glimpse of Carl riding his skateboard down the street, only to have it break one more time when I realized it couldnít have been him. They didnít even want to hear how I found comfort in memories of him such as the time we were just little kids and had been sent to our rooms because somehow we had managed to irritated Dad. Unwilling to accept our punishment and allow our fun to come to an end we recorded ourselves giggling and set it behind our dadís chair knowing we were sure to get a reaction. We laughed hysterically when our dad heard the recording and sprang from his chair to catch us out of our rooms. I found I was truly alone in my grief aside from what I could share with my parents. I try not to get angry when I think of how others reacted to me in my grief. I, myself, reacted toward others the same way before I lost my brother. Yet, it was difficult to be forced to create a mask for the comfort of others when comfort was what I sought. Each day I ďput on a happy faceĒ and tried my best to appear together.

A few weeks after I returned to school my grief was no longer tolerated by the other girls in the unit. I could sense their irritation when I failed to get out of bed as they prepared for class. No longer was it necessary to try to comfort me. They had accepted my brotherís death and were done feeling bad. It would not have been a great shock to learn they had forgotten I had a brother. I was forced to stuff my grief for the remainder of the semester. I cried only when I was sure I was alone and knew no one would be back for a while. I carefully watched what I said as not to let anything about my brother slip into conversation. I found even sharing a good memory of Carl could set off a series of uncomfortable events. The mere mention of his name would cause my listeners to freeze. Would I break down immediately and fall to pieces at his memory? I didnít know at the time it would have been OK. No one had to understand my emotions, nor did anyone have to deal with them. I was the only one able and willing to carry myself through my grief. I had to realize I could only do what I could as I struggled with my grief and had to remind myself I would be able to do more as time passed and the impact of his death gradually became less painful. It was necessary for me to understand if I never got over his death I would also be all right as the death of a sibling is not something anyone ever truly gets over. Everyone deals with grief differently. If I were to only allow myself to grieve as much as otherís around me felt comfortable I would be quite miserable today. It has been four years since his death and I continue to miss him. I still watch what I say to others, but I donít worry so much about their reaction. I know what to expect from someone when they hear about Carl for the first time and have found ways to keep the level of discomfort for all parties at a minimum. When Carl died I struggled with what my answer would be when someone asked if I had a sibling. I didnít know how to answer. Would I say I did have a brother or would I say I had a brother? Neither answer seemed quite correct. Today I can answer the question. Carl was and always will be my brother.

My memories of him are mine to share if I wish. My grief is also mine to deal with as I need to. It is not open to the criticism of others.

By Carrie (Pueschel)
Debby
Carlsmom
In Memory of Carl Walter Pueschel

When my son Matthew died he was only 6 weeks old and had spent his whole life in NICU. My girls at the time were 4 1/2 and 2 1/2. I have always been a stay at home mom so needless to say when Matthew was in NICU for 6 weeks I was torn apart. We had to rely on friends and family to watch the girls for us. It was a horrible time for the girls. They expected me to bring home their brother a day or so after he was born and then what a shock for us all to find out he may never come home. My older daughter now 7 still talks about how upsetting it was to her that I was gone all teh time, my younger one doesnt remember too much. We talk about Matthew all the time and have pictures of him up. I have never hid my pain from them. I don't cry too much anymore and now when I do, the girls usually arent around. The first year or so, however, I would hold the girls close and we would all cry together at times. I have always been as honest as I possibly can be regarding Matthew and his death and my feelings about it. I still encourage the girls to talk about theri feelings. I think in the long run they are going to be very good sensitive friends to others. In many ways we have found the good Matthews short time with us has brought to our lives. It always warms my heart when my youngest daughter points to a picture and says "there is Matthew". She is pointing to where her heart in in the picture.

No signature

This is a very sensitive subject, especially in our family. Our loss is so recent, that everyone's grief seems to spill over on each of us. I have three surviving children. The oldest are eight and seven, and the baby is eighteen months. My oldest is dealing with the death of her sister fairly well. I try to answer any questions she may have, even if talking about the death of my darling is painful. My son, who is seven, is taking the death of his sister quite hard. He was the closest to her in age and in every other way. She was his playmate, gaming companion, and friend. They seemed to understand each other well because neither of them was "perfect" (as if any of us can make that claim). My son talks about his little sister frequently, and the only question that I am unable to answer for him is "Why did Angelina have to die?". I really wish that I knew the answer to that one. It is very important to listen to your children, answer their questions, and help them cope with their grief, even if you feel that you're being crushed under the weight of your own grief. After all, you are a survivor, but your other children are survivors as well. God Bless all of you!

Gina

We have to let our other children grieve. Our daughter, who is older helped us with the death of our son. Her faith in God and where our son is at now really is a blessing, because we all want to give our children the best. We just miss the holding and touching them in their future years, but our hearts are broken. They didn't break our hearts. They just moved in a special place in our hearts. This is what my husband told me when we learned our son died. This site is good place to talk and discuss our journey.

Jaret's Mom Val

I know that I'm not the only Mom who has lost a first born child and had other children to follow ~ but I think that it is a bit of a unique situation, for how do you let your other children know about the brother or sister they've never met.

One of the things that I did was to never put away the pictures of my child in Heaven, my precious daughter, Roberta Jo. Her pictures have always been on display in my home, and in my wallet. My sons have known her as they grew up.

My first son, had an opportunity to fly to Minneapolis and back round trip with a family friend, Dan. A distance of perhaps 6 hours driving time ~ but a long way for a child of 5.

Dennis was excited and a little nervous about being in the air, when our friend suggested he sit in the window seat and watch the clouds go. After a bit, Dennis became very excited and pointing out the window, asked Dan if he saw her!

Dan looked and looked but saw nothing but the clouds. He asked Dennis what he saw, and received this reply. "Don't you see her? She's out there on the cloud. She has long red hair and is wearing a long white dress. She is so pretty!"
Dan was still unable to see anything but the cloud ~ but told Dennis, "Yes, I see her."
Dennis then sat back in his seat, relaxed, and told Dan, "It will be be OK because Roberta Jo said she would keep me safe." He then fell promptly asleep.
On the return trip home, Dan said Dennis was like a veteran traveler and really enjoyed himself.

Scott, my second son, has always just accepted that he has a sister. He is a very gentle soul and seems to know "that she is always there for him", is the best way he has to describe what he has shared with me.

Did I question Dennis' experience on the plane all those many years ago? No. Do I question Scott's quiet belief that Roberta Jo is there for him? No.

It is because my sons have grown up knowing and knowing about their sister that I have had the strength to go on ~ to celebrate her each Dec 19th on her birthday ~ to honor her with a new ornament every year on the Christmas tree ~ and to make that journey to her earthly resting place each June 30th with a special bouquet of pink roses.

Love n Huggs,
Karen aka Blulady ~ Mother of Angel Roberta Jo
Roberta Jo's Memorial Page

I recently lost a baby, Sandra JoAnn. My daughter, who is 5 years old, was so excited about sharing a room with her baby sister. When I am really down it is my daughter who reminds me that Sandra will always be in my heart and that we can still love her. My son, who is 2 years old, also has was of comforting me, we recently went to a funeral (held in the same Chapel as Sandra's) and when we walked into the room and sat down he saw me crying and he said, "Mommy miss." I knew then that our children are more in tune with what is going on than we think they are. My older children have been my great source of strength through this whole ordeal. We should never discount what our children have to say because they can look at everything with the eyes of innocence.

Sherry
Mother to Sandra JoAnn Keast
Nov. 11, 1999
Mother to Sammantha and William

Since my other child was 19 when he lost his brother, I didn't have to put up any sort of front. However, I knew that if I fell apart so would my family. So, I cried, and I did let them know I was grieving, but I never let myself go to pieces outwardly as much as I felt it inside.

Since Arron was ever in the middle of anything exciting, we always have talked about how Arron would have loved to do this or that. We are open about the anniversary of his death and his birthday. We always call our son, or he calls us, and we talk about Arron. The one thing we always do is talk about our son to our granddaughter. We have custody of her, and she is at the age when she wants to hear all the stories of her Daddy as a child. Sometimes it is hard not to cry, so I do. It is always a tender moment because Crystal comforts ME. She has no sad memories of her father, he died when she was one. Now at five, her memories of family are of living with her Nana and Papa.

The hard questions are a head of me at the moment. Crystal is only five, and is more interested in knowing about the adventures of her father's childhood. When she gets old enough to understand that he was murdered, then it will be tough. However, we have always been honest about every thing and will continue to be so.

No, children never forget, and they need to have the answers as much as we did when we lost our child. It is easy to try to sweep it away, and act as if everything is back to normal. But it never will be. When we lose a child, or a loved one at any age, our lives are irrevocably changed and things will never be the same again.

Karron in London

I have found it very helpful to share with my 5 year old son. He understands that his baby brother isn't coming back. And we all grieve together. Most of the time my son is the first one to ask to look at his brothers pictures, etc. I have found that just being able to spend a few minutes remembering with my son, helps me to know that our Zachary won't be forgotten.

Misty

My last son died last year 1/8/99. He hurt so much by the lost of sister Judy in 1/26/93 and his brother Jim 1/18/94. It took me time to realize he hurt so much. One day I did talk to him about it (he was 47) Judy- 43 and Jim 34 so they had a closeness. He was also my support in these tragedies and then I lost my rock Ed-my last surviving child. I do have my grandchildren, Jim's daughter is 20 and a mother and when she asks questions I try to be loving and supportive. Nick is 11. Amelia is 3 Ed's daughter and I just try to be a loving grandmother.

Maggie

This is a very important topic to me. I was 6 months pregnant with my son, Noah, when I lost my daughter Rosie. It was very difficult for me to accept that I was never going to see my children play together. But more importantly, it has been very hard to be the great mother for my son that I feel I was for my daughter. I will always show Noah I love him. But it is so hard when I am most upset to find the strength to smile and play. Let's face it an 18 month old baby doesn't know why mommy is crying. He comes running over and tries to make me smile. Most of the time it works. But sometimes that makes it especially hard. I need some time to grieve. Rosie will be gone for 2 years at the end of May and I just don't feel like I am willing to accept that yet. I wish there was some way for me to tell Noah how much Rosie loved him. I do tell him often, but is there some way to make him understand? I don't know.

Thank you for writing about this very important topic.
Anne ~mom of Rosie
God Bless Rosie

From A Sibling:

My mother lost a son in 1994, leaving me with no other brothers or sisters. I didn't know who to talk to except non understanding friends. All I could tell them was that I pray to God that it doesn't happen to them. My mom and I talked about it quite a bit and my parents eventually split up. I talk sometimes to my mom and just tell my dad if I've had dreams of my brother.

I think it's very important to sit with your children and talk about the death of a sibling, or else a parent could have a troubled child on their hands.

Unsigned

When my son passed away, I found it hard at first to even tell my other son that his brother died. When I came home from the hospital the day my son died. I sat my 4-year old son down and tried to explain to him that his brother died and would not be coming back home. At first I do not think he really understood what was going on. During the funeral my son started asking alot of questions and it was really hard for me to answer him, but I told him the truth because I knew he missed his brother as well. It is really hard now to cry in front of my son because he wanders why people cry. It has been almost one year since my son died and my 4-year old still talks about him. He is always telling us how he wishes he was here to play with him. It is still hard for me today to talk to my son when he wants to talk about his brother, but I know it is something I owe to him to due, because he was a part of his life also.

Deana

When I lost my child the pain was so deep that I could not realized that others were hurting as well, my husband, my daughter... After a while I understood that my daughter not only lost her big brother, she has also lost the mother she use to know, the family circle as she knew it, etc. Before the death of my son I was a very outgoing person, always making people laugh and keeping everything together for every one in the family, after his death I'm a total different person. My husband lost as well the wife I use to be and/or the women he once married. It is like all my life changed to a "before he died" and "after he died." It's been almost six years now and I'm able to talk to my daughter and listen to all the pain she had inside. I felt so guilty when she once told me : "Mom, when my big brother died, it hurt so bad that I wanted to die, just like him." Things are better now and I'm able to be a better Mom for my daughter.

Unsigned

I lost my 2 daughters Ashley (9), and Autumn(2) and my mother June in September 1999. They were murdered by my husband. I still have 2 surviving chidren. Both boys who are spitting image of their "evil" father. I speak to my older son Justin (6) on a daily basis about his sisters, grandmother, and father. We have a very good communication relationship going on. We keep pictures of all of them up in the house and talk about them as if they are still here or at least can hear us. I really have not run into any problems yet. (Justin is in therapy because he witnessed the murders.) To meet with Justin is like meeting with any other 6 year old. I also have a 2 year old named Nicholas. He obviously doesn't understand any of this but points to the girls pictures all of the time and knows their names. It is very important to keep the lines of communication open for the surviving children because it is very easy to "lose" them in the turmoil the family is facing. If you have any questions feel free to email me.

Liz

Hello, My name is Lori Armstrong, I too agree very strongly with you on the children grieving and just how important it really is to talk about it. My granddaughter was 7 months and 21 days when she went home to the Lord. My daughter and her lived with myself from day one I have 4 other children who looked at this baby as if it were their sister, their ages are: (12) (10) (8) (16). They each had to talk everyday about our precious Karleigh. We each and everyone had to go back to the place to live immediately after her passing away. As for we were already dealing with losing our home to a fire just 5 months prior. All we had was the travel trailer to call Home. So when she died, we all had a real hard time adjusting. I am a single mom with 5 children. We, to this day, have not recovered from the loss of our home, not to mention The LOSS OF KARLEIGH. We still keep her very much alive in spirit. She will always be a part of our life.

We could not even think of it being any other way. We all cry often only because we miss her so. My 12 year old, Karleigh's mom and myself are the ones who are really struggling to keep on going. That precious lil' Angel, has touched each and everyone of us beyond imagination.

When our home burned down and we lost EVERYTHING. We still had each other, and Karleigh made us smile, one look at that happy baby, and all the pain from our home burning was not there. Well February 27, 2000 made a 1 year anniversary for Losing our home and business. Only this time we did not even have our Li'l Angel to make us happy again. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning only to find myself crying. I could not go back to sleep, so I got up and my 12 year old (Dawna) was up too crying. She didn't forget what that dreadful Day was. She too thought aloud how much better it would be if we still had Karleigh with us. That we wouldn't be so sad. Cause one look at her and instantly you would smile.

My 10 year old son (Billy ) would not cry at the funeral. He showed no emotion whatsoever.. He was so withdrawn and hearing my mother say big boys don't cry. (prior to this of course) So he held it in until the night of the funeral. After seeing and it really sunk in, he went to a friends house to stay the night and go down the river the next day, He went into the bedroom by himself and he fell apart. When my daughter's best friend walked in the room, he immediately turned around and wiped his eyes. She went over to him and asked Billy what is wrong Honey? He said nothing. I am a big boy. She said What do you mean? He said he was not supposed to cry cause grandma says only sissys cry. She explained to him that it was very good to cry, and that grown men cry too. So he went on and on about his Karleigh dying. He cried and he now expresses himself openly. I cannot express just how important it really is to talk to your children about the loss of a sibling. They can and do think all kinds of crazy things. You think how you felt confused, mixed up, ANGRY. OH SO SO ANGRY. You could not understand. You wanted to know WHY? WHY OUR BABY? WHAT COULD WE HAVE DONE TO DESERVE THIS? Why would our Heavenly Father let us hurt like this? Does God hate me? US? Why ? WHY? WHY? WHY? Even if you don't know the answers to give, please let them express and ask all the questions they need to ask, cause if not, you are looking for bigger problems in the long run. And all it takes is a little love and know in her memory you were there for her.

My 12 year old asked questions like: Do they have Moo Sticks in heaven? Do they have biscuits in heaven? Is it really all beautiful up in heaven? Do you think she can see us? Do you think she knows we are sad? Does she know I love her? Mom, I prayed that God would let me die just so I could go to heaven to be with Karleigh. So she knows she is not alone.

My 8 year old (TERIFAY) TELLS us all the time I see Karleigh. Hurry ya'll I really see her in the sky. We would go and look to see what she saw. We saw nothing. However I would never allow anyone to belittle what she saw. Because you see it helped her to believe that she saw Karleigh.

To this day we buy the Helium Balloons and each one of us set them free. The wind catches them and up and away they go. My Terifay really believes that Karleigh and her angel friends are taking them to heaven to play with all the other angels. I think that is a good way for her to express herself. So please all readers, let your kids express themselves both emotionally and thru their voice. Let their voice be heard. I know from experience you have to listen and find a answer for them.

Lori

I do have other children and many of them are special needs also adopted like their brothers were. My kids range in age from 3 five yr olds to 28yrs. I also have grandchildren that were very close to the boys. The best thing I learned was with children they will grieve at their current level at the time of the loss but also with each new developmental level they grieve again with that knowledge. Two of my children (my 17 yr old and my 9 yr old) required outside therapy and medication to help with their losses. My 9 yr old didn't even start to grieve her brother's death until 13 months after he actually died. Please advise all parents just to be there and with/for all their children. We will grieve our losses of Joey and Raphael until the day we meet them again in Heaven.

God's love and mine.
Sue

My daughter Stephanie was 14 years old when her 20 yr. old brother, Jeffrey, died of combined drug poisoning. She wrote a letter to her brother and put it in his casket. In the letter she wrote of the pain the whole family was going through, and how much she would miss him. I found some old checks of mine, that she had filled out. They were made out to God, and for the memo part, she wrote, "so Jeff can get into heaven."

It's been 10 months since my son died. My daughter finds me in tears a lot of nights. she never says anything, though. When I talk to her about my son, she'll answer me. If I start talking about my fear of loosing her, she'll say"aw mom, that's not going to happen" but she never never brings his name up first. I found a letter she wrote to her brother later, she said she hoped she didn't die before me or my mother, because she didn't think we would be able to live through loosing another child, and grandchild. I have talked with my daughter about the dangers of drugs. And with God's good grace, she won't let what happened to her brother happen to her. I try to make each day with her count, because I 'm so afraid, I'll loose her. Sometimes to the point of spoiling her. And I make sure I tell her every night how much I love her.

Sherry (Jeffrey Barr's mom)

We lost our daughter, Corinne Elizabeth, at 42 weeks for unknown reasons. I felt one of the worst parts was going home to our 3 1/2year old daughter, Brittany, and explaining that the baby she was so excited about was never coming home. My husband, who was in medical school at the time, had not cried until he sat her down on the couch next to us and began the explanation. He dealt with life and death every day, but never thought it would be for his own child. She began to sob along with us (I am sure that she did not fully comprehend everything, but she knew we were upset). She went with us to the funeral home to "meet her sister" and helped pick out toys to bury with her. I kept thinking to myself that I was so lucky to have her. There were so many days that I could have never gotten out of bed, but I had to take care of her. When I would get upset with pregnant women and new babies, I would remember back to when she was a newborn and feel guilty about the way I flaunted her around (I was so proud of her). I wonder how many moms were around who had lost their babies. Brittany has never forgotten her sister (it has been 4 1/2 years now, August 27, 1995), she will tell people all about her, even in the worst moments. She just tells people that she has a baby sister in heaven. Sometimes it startles people, but I am proud that she keeps her in her heart and mind. Brittany has a baby brother now too, John (born healthy on June 12, 1998). I would love to have all three of my children here on earth, but someday we will be a complete family in heaven.

Elizabeth

My first experience with the death of a child was in losing a younger sister. She was 11 and I was 19. I had two other younger sisters, ages 12 1/2 and 9. I was sort of "mother's helper" because I was so much older. I saw my mother's heart break, but she took the love she had for Angie and gave it totally to my sisters. I don't mean that she didn't show me love, but I became her shoulder, the one who would sit with her for hours in talking about Angie, remembering good times. In her grief, she never neglected the other girls. Of course, she had such a fear when any of us became ill.

When I lost my baby, Jamie at birth, I had my oldest one at home, he was 3. I was so glad that I had him when I came home from the hospital, I would have probably gone crazy without him. Years later, when Andy was killed, 6 years ago, my other boys were grown. But that doesn't mean they didn't need me. This has been especially true of David, who is 17 months older than Andy. He has missed his brother so much. I am able to talk to him like my mom did with me. The other son is in another state.

I recently found how just how much in pain David still is. On Andy's birthday in January, I was contacted by many friends of Andy, and mine, and from the moms in MMIAS. I was telling David the next day and he looked sad and commented, "No one ever thinks about me." He was saying that he too, is still grieving for his brother and no one thinks to send him condolences on the Heaven Day or birthday. I really felt bad. I posted this on our message board and so many of our moms sent him a card. That meant so much to both of us. He has the Sibling Survivor logo on the homepage he is working on and it is linked back to MMIAS. So, no matter what the age, the siblings need mom's love and attention, as well as the recognition from others that they are hurting in their grief too.

Rosemarie

After my son Nick died in July, 1999, my daughter Nicole ( 2 years older) jumped right back into the swing of things and just 6 weeks later couldn't wait to get back to school in Virginia. At the time, I saw it as a relief, that she would be surrounded by friends, and be so busy with school that she would heal quickly. (It also took pressure off of me - and I was glad that she was not "in my way" of my own grieving.)

What I didn't see coming, was that Nicole needed to be with us, (her mom and dad) and needed to be in a comfortable place with people that knew Nick and missed him too.

Unfortunately her friends at school never really got the chance to know her brother. and although they tried to be very supportive, this was an extremely difficult time for her. The worst part was with her being so far away from here, I couldn't see the signs and symptoms of depression.

Just 6 months after Nick's passing, Nicole was in the hospital battling depression. We have since brought her home and she has done some heavy therapy, and she is presently out of school for this semester. So our pain in expanded, and I wish that I would have been better prepared to help her grieve.

I am happy to see that there is a website for Surviving Siblings- Nicole actually had written on it when it first got started and I recall that she said that you had even written her back. I thank you so much for that - she was desperate at the time and until she can manage this pain and grief, she is still very vulnerable. So keep up the great work. Although I am not as active on this site as I would like to be, it is the place I go when I am feeling lonely and lost.

Linda

We lost our little 2-year old son just a week or so before school was to start for my (then) 8 and 11 year old boys.

Of course my mothering skills went completely away. No cooking, no cleaning, no laughs, no fun - just hurting. I tried to discuss the loss and their feelings but, even a few days after the accident, I realized that they chose to keep their grief from the outside world. Just before school started, I went to the school (without the boys knowing) and requested them to inform all teachers involved (the older boy was just entering middle school and had six teachers) of our loss and to keep in contact with me over behavior or grade problems. Many of them knew the boys, but had not connected the tragedy with them because of them having a different last name than their little brother. They were all so supportive and the boys did great in school last year.

I was surprised at the beginning of this school year when both boys' grades dropped dramatically from last year. Again, I went to the teachers and told them of our loss - again, most of them did not know because the boys would not share this with them. With this insight and with their help, we were back on top of things by the end of second quarter. Our middle school also offered a small group for "grieving" students, which my older child agreed to go to, and has found very supportive. It is also surprising at the things teachers have shared with me - my boys are now great support for other children who are suffering losses or are worried about other losses in life. I feel they have truly gained a compassion for other children's feelings through their own loss.

Anyway, I'm just saying that no matter how much you talk of your loss and sadness at home, children are not likely to share any of this with their friends and teachers. When their teachers, counselors, coaches, etc. know of the situation, they are often able to talk to the child when problems such as grades, attitudes, or just when bad days come along. When the teacher mentions that they know of their loss ( and the boys have no idea how they found out) the boys seem to feel so relieved and are able to be better students and athletes.

Their teachers and coaches have also been very supportive of me and have helped the boys realize that I will not always be the mother who forgot to sign the study guide, forgot the lunch money, forgot baseball practice, and didn't have the uniform clean.

For your other children and for yourself, let the other adults in their life know. It helps so much.

Unsigned

Recommended Reading


35 Ways to Help a Grieving Child
By The Dougy Center for Grieving Child

Review
If you know a child who has experienced the death of a mother, father, caregiver, sister, brother, or friend, you may have wondered how you can help. The thousands of grieving children and teens at The Dougy Center have taught us a lot about what does and doesn't help them. We also hear many caring parents, teachers, and adult caregivers who want to support children who are grieving but aren't sure how to go about it. In response to that concern, we've gathered together the most important stuff we've learned from the kids, and the result is this guidebook. The information in these pages is simple and practical and is drawn from the stories of the children and teenagers who have been on the front lines of grief. This guidebook addresses how to include children in decision making, what to expect from different ages of grieving children, and how to provide safe outlets for children to express emotion.

Children Grieve, Too
A Book for Families Who Have Experienced a Death

By Joy Johnson, Marvin Johnson

Review
Gives needed information to those who work with grieving children. Basic, reader friendly, and talks about what you really need to know and how children respond to grief from infancy to teen.

After the Funeral
By Jane Loretta Winsch, Pamela T. Keating (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Review
This book is a positive contribution that will help children and their families move forward towards acceptance, understanding, and hope.

Daddy's Promise
By Cindy Klein Cohen, John T. Heiney, Michael J. Gordon (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Review
Daddy's Promise is about a little boy's journey of discovery after the death of his father. Jesse is angry and filled with questions. Why did his daddy have to die? What happens when someone dies? Where do they go? Jesse's questions are answered both by his mother, and in a series of dreams where Jesse visits his father and learns about life, death and life after death.  Daddy's Promise answers common questions children have about death, as well as suggestions for coping.

Helping Children Cope With the Loss of a Loved One:
A Guide for Grownups

By William C. Kroen, Pamela Espeland (Editor)

Review
Dr. William Kroen offers sound advice, comfort and compassion to any adult helping a child cope with death. Weaving in anecdotes about real children and their families, he explains how children from infancy through age 18 perceive and react to death and offers suggestions for how to respond to children at different ages and stages. Specific strategies are offered to guide and support them through the grieving process.

Copyright/Disclaimer

This has been written by the members of My Parents Are Survivors to help us to get through the worst time of our lives. Every word of this information and feelings is copy written by the writer. That means that you can NOT use this material in any way, shape or form. Please do not ask, because permission will NOT be given. This has been written from our hearts and will not be duplicated.

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Changes last made on: Wed Jul 08, 2009