Gransnet forums


How can I help my grandson

(21 Posts)
Trisher123 Wed 06-Jan-21 21:43:01

Hi. My 'daughter in law' died in September - she was a lovely person, but a long time alcoholic, and died because of this. My grandson (13) lives with my son and ex husband. My son took him to her grave today, to take her some flowers, as it was her birthday, but he said he didn't get out of the car, and hasn't been to the graveside since the funeral. He doesn't talk about her - we ask - how are you feeling - and he says - okay - and that is it really. He didn't have a very good life with his mother when he lived with her when he was young, as although she absolutely loved him, because of the alcohol, she didn't look after him properly. Could anyone please help me and our family help my grandson. He gets on really well with his dad, and he is a very laid back type of lad, but I feel he needs to talk about her. He was very ill when he was a baby, and had meningitis 3 times before the age of 4, which has made him deaf in one ear, and he has a condition where his bones in one side of the neck didn't grow properly, so he hasn't had a brilliant start.

paddyanne Wed 06-Jan-21 21:57:26

Maybe he just doesn't need to go to the grave? I have never visited a grave of any family member ,I dont believe its necessary as I dont believe they are there ,I think that when the light leaves their eyes the person has gone .
Dont try to force him into your or anyone elses way of grieving he's likely to do it in his own time in his own way .Lots of people dont cry even for their mother its not uncommon.

Hithere Wed 06-Jan-21 22:11:19

I agree with paddyanne
May I ask what kind of help you are looking for?

MissAdventure Wed 06-Jan-21 22:16:21

My grandsons have both refused counselling since their mum died, and I sometimes think they could do with some, but they flatly refuse.

They just don't think they need it, so I have to accept that.

We also don't have a grave or anything to visit, because none of us want to.

morethan2 Wed 06-Jan-21 22:17:43

Firstly I’m so sorry your having to witness such sorrow. I’m hoping to share any advice you get. My three grandchildren had a very loving mother who had a long painful death in July
It was her birthday this week and they never acknowledged it. They refused to talk about their mum. If asked they reply the same as your grandson “okay” or “good” it’s obvious to all and sundry that they are not ‘okay’ or ‘good’ I so worried about them and feel we have no where to turn for advice or help. School and G.Ps are not available because of the lockdown. I don’t want to worry my son too much as he’s still in a bit of a state. Neither you or I can force them to talk. I did think talking to the school might be helpful so you might suggest that to his dad once school opens again. I do try to talk a little bit about positive things their mum did or the fact that something reminds me of her. I have photos of her in my living room. You might try the same. I’m hoping that in time they may ‘open up’ a little. I’m not sure I’ve been very helpful. Perhaps all we can do is be there and love them

Peasblossom Wed 06-Jan-21 22:38:22

Please consider it possible that he does talk to other people. Those who are not also emotionally involved in this loss. I know that when my husband died my children talked to their friends and their friends parents and, some time later, to their partners.

I also know that my MIL made my grieving even more difficult by her need to talk to me about her pain.

Sometimes sharing in grief with others who are hurting is not what’s needed.

And sometimes what you need to say is not what you would want those close to you to hear.

Visits to the grave are only for those who take comfort from them.

Trisher123 Wed 06-Jan-21 22:45:42

thank you all so much for your replies. My darling son, and ex husband also don't talk about their feelings, but I just feel talking helps so much. I also try to be positive about his mum with him, but am not sure how he felt about her, ie resented her because of her addiction, that drink was more important than he was. It's so sad.

MissAdventure Wed 06-Jan-21 22:53:52

He probably isn't sure how he feels, himself.
Perhaps he needs to sort out his own feelings first before he'll open up.
Perhaps he never will.

I do understand how you feel.

When people ask how my grandchildren are, I'm never sure what to say because I honestly don't know.

This kind of situation doesn't come with instructions, sadly.

FlexibleFriend Wed 06-Jan-21 23:12:35

My mum died when I was 14 after a two year battle with leukaemia and I did have an older sister who was married and two brothers but didn't talk to anyone about how I was feeling etc. I was really close to my Dad and no doubt worried him sick but honestly I just wanted to get on with my life. I avoided anyone who wanted to know how I felt and wanted to talk, frankly. Good for them I just wanted my mates who talked about normal teenage stuff. Thankfully back then no one contacted the school as only my close mates knew what I was going through and that's how I liked it. I neither wanted or needed to talk and emerged from it all as a pretty clued up teenager who knew what she would and wouldn't tolerate and have never suffered from lack of talking to anyone. To top it all my Dad died two years later and I had that to deal with too. It certainly didn't mean I didn't love or miss them, of course I did. Honestly, trust him when he says he's fine, he should know. Just let him know if he wants to talk at any time you'll be there, just don't be surprised if he never wants to. I also have never felt the need to visit a grave and really don't see the point.

TwiceAsNice Wed 06-Jan-21 23:20:03

Everyone including children grieve in their own way at their own pace and don’t need to visit a grave if it’s not helpful to them. If your grandson doesn’t want to talk to you tell him about Cruse Bereavement Care which has a website with a section for young people where he can “talk” to other teenagers on an interactive chat room with others teenagers who have lost family/friends. It’s a secure site so is safe to use. Other sections of the website have information about grief which you all might find helpful. Winstons Wish , based in Cheltenham gives help and information and offers groups for bereaved children ( not applicable at the moment of course but could maybe be accessed in future more normal times.

GrannySomerset Wed 06-Jan-21 23:25:23

My mother died when I was 16 and I didn’t cry about it until seven years later when my daughter was born. A combination of post partum blues and a difficult delivery somehow gave me permission to let it all out, something I was unable to do while coping with growing up without her. Your grandson has loving family who understand what he has been through without needing to talk about it, and it may well be that this is the best way forward for him. As long as his mother is not erased from his life and is remembered now and again he will probably be fine.

MissAdventure Wed 06-Jan-21 23:54:06

My boys are like flexiblefriend I think.

They just want a normal teen life, which, considering what they had to witness, isn't really surprising.

fevertree Thu 07-Jan-21 07:57:46

Trisher123 I too am so sorry for you and for other posters whose grandchildren had parents who died. My heart goes out to you.

Because your 'daughter-in-law' died due to alcoholism, look at the Adfam website, they support the families of addicts including to alcohol. They have forums too and you may find specific help there.

They have a Bereaved by Addiction booklet which is also for children.


Genty Thu 07-Jan-21 08:59:30

Sometimes we smother children over the loss of a parent, by continually asking them how they are and what they want to do etc. I found that just by telling children that you know its a very difficult time for them and you are there whenever they need to talk. They will eventually come to you.

BlueBelle Thu 07-Jan-21 09:52:48

You feel he should talk but it’s not your needs, he has found his way of dealing with it you say he’s laid back and gets on well with his Dad and obviously you too so leave it be.

He has obviously dealt with his loss or else he would be playing up or being depressed

He doesn’t need to keep being reminded of it by going to the grave he has told his dad without using words (by staying in the car) that that is not for him let him make his own decisions and way of managing his loss

It’s very important to go along with his needs and not your belief of his needs

Dee1012 Thu 07-Jan-21 10:01:30

Al-Anon are also really good for family support.

My friend lost one of her parents due to alcoholism and although there was love, there was a lot of anger and resentment too....I think that all you can do is offer love and support and allow him to grieve in his own way.

sodapop Thu 07-Jan-21 11:54:40

Your grandson has indeed had a difficult start to his life Trisher so very sad.
As others have said I think you need to allow you grandson time to adjust in his own way. Let him know you are there if he does want to talk, Al-anon would offer good advice I'm sure. I wish him well for the future.

Trisher123 Thu 07-Jan-21 21:54:44

Thank you all for being so helpful. I will certainly take most of what you say on board. My grandson is loved and adored by our family, so hopefully this will really help him. THANK YOU.

welbeck Thu 07-Jan-21 22:21:04

i agree totally with Flexible and Bluebelle above.
not everyone wants to talk, esp about personal matters, feelings. nor should he be expected to do so. it is not a mistake, or failure, or avoidance.
it is he being himself.
it is not always helpful to talk about things. he is growing up in his own way.
i think because in the past it was not done to talk about feelings, and that could cause problems, so the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction, where there is almost a requirement to talk about personal matters. we have to respect the dignity of each person's individuality, not have a conformist mindset.
not sure i have expressed what i mean properly.

Luckygirl Thu 07-Jan-21 22:39:41

I feel he needs to talk about her - I am not sure that you are right about this. I think it is important for him to know that he can talk about her if he wishes to; but he may not be ready yet.

I googled "organisations for bereaved children" and came up with lots. It may be that, even if he does not want to engage with any of these himself, they might be able to give you advice about his reactions and how best to help him.

We all react differently to death - I know my DDs take great comfort from their visits to my OH's grave; but I struggle with it and often do not find it helpful.

I hope that you manage to find the right way forward for your DGS - basically he needs to just know that you love him.

crazyH Thu 07-Jan-21 22:49:19

flowers flowers flowers