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A time in need

Loss, especially unexpected loss, can be a very difficult time for families.  Jesse has previously recounted an experience of Mama Grief and we have also had a discussion on helping children deal with death.  An urbanMama just emailed us and is seeking some tips or recommendations as soon as possible:

A few days ago my father, who was a central figure in both my and my 2-year-old daughter's life, died unexpectedly of a heart attack. I am devastated. I am trying to hold it together for my daughter, but I need help. I am looking for some sort of grief support group or therapist who might specialize in this sort of thing, preferably in NE Portland. I'm also looking for ways to talk to my daughter about this. My father was the central family member in her life and she adores him.

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My dad died last year of a heart attack, so I understand. He was also a central part of mine and my daughter's life. Actually after her dad(my husband) disappeared suddenly, 2 years ago, my dad was the only male person she trusted. I tried to make sure she understood that he didn't abandon her, but I'm not sure how much she really got. It was devastating. Unfortunately, I don't really have any advice for you. I just kind of dealt with it the way I deal with everything else. I would like to know what others have to say.

I just wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss. I have such empathy for your situation.

My Dad died very unexpectedly last spring (also of a heart attack). I was devastated. It was so hard for me to comfort my children and answer all their questions while I was in a state of shock and grief myself. I am normally a pretty articulate person, but I literally couldn't talk about my Dad's death without falling apart...

A friend shared two books with me which were VERY helpful:
-- I Miss You: A First Look At Death, by Pat Thomas
-- Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children, by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen

I read these books with my children, and it helped to provide a framework for discussion. I was able to us talk about death in general, and more specifically, about the special importance of my Father's lifetime on this Earth by using some of the language contained in the books.

My kids had been accustomed to seeing their Grandpa daily, since he lived just a mile away, so they missed him terribly after his passing. But in addtion to that, I discovered that they were also very afraid that I would die, or that their Dad would die, or that one of THEM would die, too. The randomness of my Dad's death had made them feel uncertain and vulnerable, and they started to feel anxious about when/where the next death/loss would occur. We had some really good talks about this, and of course, I reassured them as much as I could. Just acknowledging their fears made them feel some comfort.

I regret that I do not have any specific counselor names to pass on to you, but I hope you are able to find someone with a kind & loving heart who will help you process this pain. Losing a parent--no matter how old we are, or what stage of life we are in--is such a lifechanging experience. But, as I sit here a year later, let me reassure you that you WILL find a way to move forward and get through this enormously difficult time.

Again, I am so very sorry for your loss.

I am so very sorry for your loss. I don't know of any therapists or groups, but a book that my entire family found extremely helpful when my nephew was killed in Iraq this past January is, "I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Death of a Loved One" by Brook Noel and Pamela Blair. It has a section also especially focused on how to help a child deal with the loss.
I really appreciated this book over the others we were given, because it addressed the fact that losing a loved one unexpectedly is different than losing someone when you have some warning...the five stages of grief change somewhat. Also, it's easy to read when you're in the fog of grief because it's composed of smaller "sections" that are easier to tackle when the idea of focusing on one task for a period of time seems impossible.
Losing my nephew has taken a bright light out of our family...we're a happy, close knit group, and although we're all helping one another get through this, it's very hard at times to see how we'll ever be our happy selves once again. Something I read in the book that really stayed with me is that it's not about "getting over" or "accepting" losing your loved one, but it's about learning to live with your new reality of life without them. I appreciated that since the idea of "accepting" losing my nephew is still something I can't picture doing. Something that has helped us cope is that every time we start crying about Mark, we try to share stories about him that make us laugh. Of course we laugh and cry at the same time, but I know it's something he would have wanted us to do. Kids are really great at helping us focus on the happy memories of the person who is gone. They always seem to zero in on the good times, which is a gift to the rest of us.
Hang in there...I am so so sorry you and your family are feeling such pain and loss. I hope you have success finding a wonderful grief therapist. Maybe your pediatrician has some recommendations for therapists that your children could meet with?
Best wishes to you and yours!

You might look into the Dougy Center. The website is www.dougy.org
They do grief counseling (group setting) with children and families, and can provide a list of individual counselors as well. The website also has quite a bit of helpful information on helping children grieve.

Hope that's helpful. Best wishes to you.

I'm very sorry for your loss and what you are going through. I know of these services but don't have first hand experience with them- http://www.providence.org/oregon/programs_and_services/hospice/e20grief_Support.htm

Best wishes to your family.

I'm so sorry. I try, but can't imagine what this must feel like. I'm so glad that your daughter was able to know and love your daddy.

Im very sorry for your loss. My mom died about 4 months ago when my baby son was just 6 months old. I miss her terribly and every day something comes up that I wish she was here to help me with, answer questions about, or just be there to talk to.

I have to second the Dougy center as a great resource. They have a "young adults" group for 20 and 30 somethings who are grieving and I have found it to be very helpful in knowing I am not alone. Also, they may have something for your daughter to help her process this loss as well.

Email me privately if you would like to chat more about this or just the grieving process. i dont really have any great insight or answers but sometimes it just helps to know there are others out there who are going thru the same thing.

Best of luck and bright blessings!

I know a wonderful therapist. I know that she specializes in Familys and Children - I am unsure if she specializes in grief. You should call and ask. I promise, you will love her. Janet Barlow 503.806.2495

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