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Parenting The Second Time Around

by Louise

How can I effectively help my 14 year old grand child accept the fact that she will not be parented by her mother ever.

We love each other but there is a void in her that is in denial. Her mom is deceased for four years now,she will not involve herself in any conversations about mom and I know she has some issues to sort out.

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Loosing A Child: Parenting A Grandchild

by: Annie Desantis

Hi Louise,
Loosing a child and loosing a Mom is one of the hardest things to deal with. As a parent, we never expect to outlive our children, and kids tend to think their parents will always be there. Your Granddaughter is lucky to have you in her life. Parenting for the second time round, is not something you would have expected to have to do, and comes with a different set of challenges.

People grieve in different ways, and at a different pace. Your Granddaughter may have a very different process to you in dealing with her grief, and it may be something she will have to deal with again when she is older. Kids seldom like things confronted and made a big deal out of, like you need to sit down and talk about your mother, or you have issues etc.

Just be aware that your grief may be a load your Granddaughter can't take on board. She is already struggling with her own, and if she feels responsible for your sadness too, then maybe that is why she avoids conversations about her Mom. Your need to share maybe just as strong as her need to keep it to herself. Your pain may well be overwhelming for her, if she acknowledges it.

So what can you do? Firstly respect her right not to want to talk about her Mom. She has to be ready and may never want to do the big talk it all out cathartic grieving. It may just be teeny tiny little steps for her.

Keep it simple, and real in terms of expressing your own grief or sadness, but without it being a burden on your Granddaughter. Make sure you have support and people you can go to to unload and share your pain. Not only have you had to deal with your own grief, you are deeply concerned about her, you have to deal with all the issues of raising a child again, and that can raise all sort of strong feelings for you, the unfairness, the burden, having to put on hold all the plans you had for your own future. Clearly you love your Granddaughter and are doing a wonderful job of raising her but it isn't always easy.

It may be that you are not the right person for her to talk to about her Mom, that you are too close, she is probably aware of your pain, and perhaps your expectations or wishes that she face it and deal with the loss, are seen as pushing her where she does not want to go yet. If she feels pressured to deal with it the way you think she should then she will shut you out more.

I am wondering if there are other people in her life that she can talk to, a close friend, another family member, school counselor. The issue of counseling or therapy is a tricky one with a teenager, and I wouldn't suggest it from the position of, "you have stuff to sort out about your mother, maybe you should see a counselor," but rather if she is having trouble with other things, like school or fitting in etc, then suggesting extra support to help her cope with that can be opening the door a crack for a counselor or therapist to talk with her.

Part Two Follows . . . .

Loosing A Child: Parenting A Grandchild - Part Two

by: Anonymous

Does this mean not to talk about your daughter? Not at all, but do it without the expectation of her participating. Just little things, like whenever I cook this dinner it makes me think of your Mom, this was one of her favorite meals. I miss having her around. But don't ask her questions, just leave it for her to contribute or not. And just be aware that you are not constantly bringing her into the conversation. Your Granddaughter needs to feel she can just be present and talk day to day simple stuff without the issue of her Mom's death intruding into everything.

If you show your grand daughter how you deal with the loss, she may choose to do some of the things you do, but she may not choose to do them until she is an adult!

On the anniversary of your daughter's death you can have a remembering day - do the things she loved to do, or go to the places you shared when she was alive. Have a family picnic down the beach and write messages to her in the sand, or put them in bottles. Make it a celebration of her life, or if you need to unload strong feelings, yell into the wind, writing on the sand and letting it wash away. You can have it as a small family occasion, or just the two of you. If she does not want to join you then respect that and do something yourself that makes it meaningful for you.

If your grand daughter is willing to be involved, maybe plant a tree together, or make a collage or poster or scrapbook some photos of her. Your Granddaughter may have some ideas on what she would like to do to celebrate her Mom's life. If you focus on making it a celebration, rather than the pain of her going then that may open a door for her to participate.

Sometimes kids are much more matter of fact around death. I don't know whether it was sudden or if you had some time to process her dying, and got to say goodbye - but sometimes kids can take a lot more in their stride than adults do.

The most important thing, is to keep the communication happening, about anything. The more she talks to you about her day to day life, the more she is coming to terms with it. If she is getting more withdrawn and you have some serious concerns about her behavior, then it may be time to involve a counselor. But if she is happy to chat with you, help you cook a meal, do things with you, then your relationship together is more important than how she processes her grief.

Part Three Follows . . . .

Losing A Child: Parenting A Grandchild - Part Three

by: Annie Desantis

Her Mom, Your Daughter, is still with you, you are your daughter's Mother, much of who she was came from you, and her daughter will have a lot in her also. You both carry her in your hearts, the essence that is her will always be in you. Find ways to draw on her energy and wisdom, it doesn't have to be a final letting go. Many people talk to a loved one who has died, or write to them. Using a journal to record memories or sharing the day to day challenges of parenting a teenager.

A journal may even be something your grand daughter might use. To write out her feelings or even just recording her thoughts or favorite songs. But again, don't give it to her with the expectation she uses it to explore her grief. Maybe just on her next Birthday or Christmas, include a beautiful blank book, and she can choose what she records in it.

Your Daughter's death has given you a wonderful, though sometimes challenging, gift, her daughter. Focus on building on the strong bond and love that you have for each other, share as many fun times together as possible, and that will give her a solid foundation of love to be able to open the lid on the grief when she is ready.

You are doing a wonderful job, I am sure somewhere, your daughter knows her daughter is in the best possible hands.

Go Gently,
Annie Desantis

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