Coping with Death

Updated on May 01, 2008
J.G. asks from Rincon, GA
18 answers

Hi my son is 14 yrs old and it as been almost 8 days since his best friend killed himself,I took him to the visiation, and funeral, let him do as he needed with the other friends, as I stayed near by with a few other Moms, my son says he is fine, I have continued to let him ( text) and talk to all his friends who all knew the young man, hoping this is a way of him healing and coping,but at night when he is asleep I stand at his door and hear my son ( talking ) to his friend,asking him over and over again WHY, How could you not talk to me about your troubles like you always have, your my best friend, and when my son is awake he does not recall the dreaming..My sons over all daily actions seem OK he is still himself, even his teachers say his the other classmates ( rock of Galibrator),Is ther something I should be watching for or am I doing this right..letting him know I am here for him, but yet giving him a bit of freedom to talk to his other friends as he needs to even if it is from the time he comes home from school til he goes to bed..Any help or advise would be grateful

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B.B.

answers from Atlanta on

Acceptance of death at any age is often difficult especially when it is your best friend. I am a 52 year old female who just lost a best friend and cousin to breast cancer. She never talked to me about it but she had it for two years before it finally took over her organs (heart and lungs) with fluid. I was angry at first, hurt and disappointed and looked for answers the same as your son is now doing. I can say now that I understand she did not want me to hurt, and worry by carrying this in my heart for that length of time, and perhaps she was so afraid she did not want to share it. And because she knew how much I loved her she needed my strength to help her through it. This has happened to me twice, once with my oldest brother and now my best friend. I did however seek counseling following my brother and discovered the strength God had given me to endure. But I also discovered something else, and that was I had carried around so much grief and stress inside of me for so many years that I did not know how it had affected me until the passing of my brother. And that is when the healing began. The counselor helped me to see my problem but God helped me to see beyond sight and supplied my need. Allow you son to talk to someone who will allow him to express what he is going through. You may even allow him to share it with you, because you are closer to him and always there. Being able to openly express what he is going through will help him deal with it in a new light. I pray he will find the comfort he needs as I did from doing the same.
God Bless and keep you and give you marvelous peace.
"Trusting in God's Promise
B. B

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D.P.

answers from Atlanta on

find a grief counselor who works with kids/ teens

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T.M.

answers from Columbia on

You are doing the right thing allowing him to sort everything out on his own while making sure he knows that you are there for him when he needs you. My daughter went through this at 15 when her cousin and very good friend killed himself. You should be aware that he is going to go through a few more stages in the next few weeks and months, some not so easy to deal with. 2 of those stages will be anger and guilt. Just continue to be there for your son. In about a month, maybe ask him if he might want to get into a support group with other teens going through the same as thing he is.

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V.M.

answers from Augusta on

I am so sorry. I know the pain of this one. I had a friend take her life. I have had a hard time dealing with it. She had called and asked for prayers several times. I prayed for her. I thought she would be alright. She never shared those thoughts with me. We had a date set up to get together and our families to play together. It happened the week before. I was devastated. We weren't best fiends but shared many memories. I will recall those memories and still cry. My heart aches for her and her family. That has been over 2 years ago. I can imagine your son is truly in pain. If they were best friends. Wow. That has to hurt. Let him know you love him and cry and that you are there for him.
Pray a lot for him.
God bless you and your precious 14 year old. What a hard age to walk through this with all the hormones and all. I will pray for him.

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S.H.

answers from Atlanta on

Please, please, please keep the lines of communication open with your son...This is a very young age to have to deal with the loss of someone whom you care about. I was 21 years old before I had to deal with the loss of a friend. It was extremely hard. If he talks to his friend in his dreams, that is how he is coping. Everyone has their own coping mechanism, and at 14 he hasn't had much experience if any dealings with death and dying. Just continue to show him how much he is loved and if he wants to talk, or vent, you are always there for him. Hope this helps. God Bless you and yours ...

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L.L.

answers from Atlanta on

I'm so very sorry to hear about your son's BF. This must be a very upsetting time for all of you. My heart went out to your family when I read your story. I have a similiar situation: When my son was 16, one of his BF's was 1 block from coming to pick up my son when he swerved off the road into a lake. He was trapped in the car underwater for several minutes until rescue could get him out. He was then in a coma in the ICU for several weeks. My son would hold vigil over his bed everyday-never wanting to leave his side and somehow I think feeling a little guilty in the fact his friend was on his way to pick up my son. My son missed several days of school to be at the hospital, it was up-n-down for awhile. I could see in my son's face how much this was hurting him, but like you, I kept the communication lines open and let him know I was there for him, I also let all his friends come to our home whenever they needed to help go through this rough time. Finally, about a month later, this poor boy lost his battle and died, I'll never forget the phone call from my son, he could barely keep it togethor, so I rushed home to be with him and just hold him while he sobbed. All the kids held a special "party" per say in this boys honor, they all attended the funeral, they visited the parents daily as to help fill that void. It was a tough time. I believe you are doing the best you can as a parent, just be there for your son, let him know its ok to grieve and that its not his fault. His friends need to grieve too, so let them talk with your son and spend time with him, its a healing process for them all. I hope this helps, I think you are doing the right thing. Take Care.

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R.L.

answers from Atlanta on

J.,
I'm sorry to hear what your son and his friends are going through. Something like that is tough at any age, especially as a teen when they are going through so many other changes.
I don't know much about how to help, but I can suggest a place to call for some guidance. The place is called THE LINK COUNSELING CENTER. They've been around for years and specialize in helping survivors of people who have committed suicide. In fact, the director lost her son many years ago to suicide. Males tend to have a harder time getting in touch with their feelings and this place should be able to help guide you on how best to handle this, identify signs to look out for regarding his coping, etc.
Good luck.
R.

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L.W.

answers from Atlanta on

Your Church (or pastor) may be able to offer some guidance. Suicide of one's friend is hard to accept at any age but especially in teens. Thank you for serving our country.

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M.H.

answers from Atlanta on

Hi J.,

My sister-in-law lost her husband to suicide and it was a very strange time in her life. I can't help you with specifics because I haven't death with this personally but what you need to remember is death by natural causes is terribly traumatic, especially to a young man this age. It is going to take a lot of time for any adjustment.

God bless you through this time and I will pray!

M.

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L.G.

answers from Spartanburg on

I am so sorry that you and your family are faced with this situation. I will be praying for you and your family. You are doing the right thing to letting him grieve in his way. I would encourage him to talk to someone even if it was not myself, maybe a coach or neighbor or friend. Also simply say I love you and it is not your fault. A lot of times people blame themselves for things because they think maybe this could have been prevented if I would have just listened or looked for signs. If someone has a plan they truly will not let anyone know what they are doing. My good friend in college's fiance killed himself. It has been years but she still has not married or moved on. This is a hard situation for all that are in it dt you will never know why. I wish your family the best and just take care of each other. Hugs. L..

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J.J.

answers from Savannah on

Hi J.! I am not sure if you called the school this morning about my daughter or not but if you did thank you. (and I mean that from the bottom of my heart) We received a call from the school today, and the counselor said that she is having suicidal thoughts...I freaked! We drove straight to the school and talked with them. We left and I had some relief and so did my daughter. Talking with them about all of this really seemed to help. Don't get me wrong,she is not completely over it, but I could tell a big difference in her attitude and personality. They recommmended her to speak with our pastor or another counselor. They even made her sign a contract....go figure. That I thought was crazy, but after awhile we talked about everything and she said "mom, I couldn't do anything even if I wanted to, they made me sign a contract" I have a copy of it and it states that basically she will not do anything like what happened last week. I felt really stupid then for thinking it was just a piece of paper and didn't mean anything, maybe this turned everything around. The school gave us a list of 4 pages of different people she can talk to. If you would like a copy of it let me know. Talking with them today, seemed to give her a new insight on life, and me too. I just want to say thank you for being there for us through all of this, and if there is ever anything we can do for you, let me know. We love you!!!! I wish you and your son the best and we will keep you all in our thoughts and prayers as we all get through this together. Remember always and forever, without GOD nothing is possible! Hopefully our kids will keep the communication open and cope and grieve and heal while keeping each other pumped up.

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K.J.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi there,
I have not had to deal with a child that lost a friend. I was the one that lost a friend. Next Monday is the anniversary of his death. He killed himself in a very graphic way so I wont go into details but I can say that this is something that will take a long time to deal with.
"talking" to his dead friend is healthy. Even if he does not remember it. When we dream our brain is still working on our emotions and dealing with what is troubling us the most. Keeping it inside is not healthy. If he is receptive I would get him into some kind of support group where he can talk to other people going through the same thing. Not necessarily the same people who knew this other boy but people that have had more time to work through this kind of situation and can give sound council. Its been 15 years and I still think about my friend, wish he could see my kids, see who I turned out.

I think the best thing you can do for your son is to be available. Let him know its okay to be sad. It okay to talk about his friend. Its okay to cry. As the clique says “Time does heal your wounds.” It takes other stuff too but time is a big part of it. Feel free to email any time.

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M.H.

answers from Atlanta on

I am soo sorry to hear about this. I know it may be expensive but have you thought about taking him to a child Psycologist? Right now, even though he says he's fine, he needs to talk to someone about his feelings. That was his Bestfriend. My heart goes out to your son and the other childs parents.

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D.S.

answers from Columbia on

J. -
My family had a very close friend take his life as well. My 16 year old daughter had a difficult time with this. At times she would just fall apart and question why. I took her to a couselor that tried greivance counseling but it did not seem to help. After 3 sessions, the couselor told me she thought my daughter was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She told me that kids that age do not see life as ever ending and by having to face death so closely and tradgically she was dealing with the fact that there is death and everyone does die. She did two sessions of EMDR "eye movement desensitization and reprocessing". Much too my surprise, it help tremendously. Do not misunderstood me, it has been almost five yers this coming May and she still has difficulty talking about it. Sometimes a song or a restaurant will bring up memories and she still has the same questions "WHY".

I would keep a close eye on your son, and remember there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving him someone to talk too. My daughter and I are very close, but she could express her hurt to the counselor without having to keep up the front that she was ok for the benefit of everyone else including me!

Good luck and my prayers are with you and the family of your son's friend.
D.

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R.C.

answers from Spartanburg on

I'm sorry to hear about what you & your son are going through. When I was 14 one of my best friend's killed herself. This was 14 years ago, before the days of email and texting, and it was over the summer. Unfortunately, she died the day before I left for church camp, but I was able to leave and go to the funeral and then had to go back to camp. Because of all that, I wasn't able to be with other friends (who knew her) at that time. I had not seen any warning signs. The week before she died we had been at a Colorguard camp. The Thursday before she died (she died on a Sunday) we had talked about summer plans and things we wanted to do together. Then, I got the phone call stating she had passed. It still hurts thinking back to all of it.

It is very good for him to talk to his friends, even "talking" to his friend in his dreams. As a matter of fact, my friend "visited" me in a dream a few days after her funeral. This is still very new for your son so the pain is still very much there. Let him talk to his friends. While it's still raw, there is a lot to talk about. As the days & weeks pass, it should start to be less & less. But talking about things is good. Back when Missy died, a lot of people didn't talk about it, afraid to offend other close friends, one of whom refused to talk about it. For that, she was really closed up for years. For me, I still have a picture of Missy sitting in a frame in my house.

I grew to be friends with her mother and it helped out on both sides. We'd send each other Christmas cards and she even took me to the cemetary for my first time. Some of my friends were very upset with me for talking to her, but she told me she appreciated it. We even invited her to our graduation where we wore ribbons in rememberance. If you can, eventually reach out to the mother. Let her know you're thinking about her. I know every situation is different and she may not want it, but she also may.

I'm sorry I have rambled, but unfortunately I have experience with this. If I can offer anything else, please let me know. I'll be thinking of you & your son.

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C.D.

answers from Myrtle Beach on

If I'm guessing right, your son is looking for an absolution that is never going to come. The world is still turning, people are still doing what they've always done, except now it all feels very strange. This is one of those tragedies that is never like they portray it in the movies.
I imagine that he feels hurt and betrayed because his friend didn't confide in him what he was feeling. When I lost a friend at that age, my feelings were a mixture of rage and guilt. You've got to remember that at this age, kids still think they're invincible and that there is no problem that can't be solved. So it's harder to understand how someone could take their own life without telling a single soul before hand. I'm sure that he is thoroughly convinced that he could have prevented this from happening. I wouldn't be surprised if he is playing things out in his head over and over again looking for some sign or signal that he missed that would have indicated that this was going to happen. When someone close to you takes their own life, you almost always blame yourself even if you know it is irrational to do so.
You are doing all the right things. You are letting him grieve with his friends and you are being supportive without smothering. The grieving process takes time. He is going to experience a roller coaster of emotions ranging from denial, to anger, to guilt, depression...but eventually he will reach the point of acceptance.
It's the ones that seem stoic that you have to watch though, because their feelings usually run the deepest. If this describes your son, be warned that it may take him longer to grieve.
In fact, it would probably be a good idea to have him talk to a professional. Some school counselors have special training in this area and can help assure that he has a normal grieving process. Sometimes things like this can turn into an unhealthy fixation (like a weeping wound that never really heals). Your son's question is very normal, but it would be healthy for him to have it answered. It's not being able to understand "WHY?" that stands between him and the end of the healing process (which is acceptance).
I'm not a counselor, but my life has been disproportionately touched by tragedy. For me, it has been a healthy experience to make the losses in my life count for something. For the first friend I lost (shooting accident), we pooled our money and bought a memorial stone for her grave. For the second friend lost, we organized a bake sale at school to help her family pay for her final expenses (she burned alive in a house fire). Neither act was anything extraordinary, but it helped a lot just knowing that there was something we could do. I think, for me anyway, that it was that feeling of helplessness and total loss that hurt the most. Having a proactive role (no matter how small) helped fill the void. And in hindsight, it was probably a healthy distraction that kept us from obsessing over the loss.
If your family is religious, the question may arise as to what will be the fate of his friend's soul. I would hope someone would not be so crass as to mention it, but sometimes people can be pretty ignorant. However, if it should come up, reassure your son that God will spare the innocent, and all children are innocent.
I'm so sorry for your loss. I know that when my daughter has been hurt, her pain becomes my pain, and sometimes worse because I can't fix it for her. Don't forget to let yourself grieve as well.
It's a little out of character for me, but I want to leave you with a prayer. A lot of people associate this prayer with addiction, but I have found that it has given me strength through all kinds of sorrow:
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I know I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

E.M.

answers from Atlanta on

Hang in there but have you thought thinking professional help for your kid? How about the school taking a professional to talk to the kids as a group? Have you talked to the other mothers to see how their kids are responding? This happen to my son and the school gave us a hand and help a lot

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D.H.

answers from Atlanta on

Sounds like you are dealing with it right. It's great that he is talking about it, it's if he didn't talk about it is when you should worry. But it sounds like he is talking about it, whether in his dreams and to his friends. If he talks to you, just listen and comment when needed. Don't tell him you know how he feels, because you don't. Everyone deals with death differently.

Is your son thinking about what his friend's parents are going through too? Does he want to go and visit his friend's parents? You could suggest that he could do something for his friend's parents..flowers, make something in remembrance of his best friend, talk to them and give them some memories that he has, etc. Just a few suggestions.

Having been where your son was once at, talking about it is the best thing and visiting the parents really helped too.

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