Author Topic: Therapy for son...will it help?  (Read 1510 times)

Missing AC

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Therapy for son...will it help?
« on: January 04, 2017, 04:01:48 PM »

This is my first time posting here but have been reading other posts for weeks now.  My husband died suddenly 5 weeks ago (cardiac arrest).  He was only 43 years old and we have a 12 year old son.  The pain from losing my best friend, love of my life and co-parent has been and is still intense, but knowing that my son is hurting and missing his dad, his best friend only amplifies my pain.  I know he is hurting- I see it in his eyes and it kills me.  He can't focus on school work and is so behind because of the time he missed after his father passed plus just not being able to catch up.  I total understand- I can barely focus at work.  I am so worried for him - his feelings, his future, am I going to be able to do this by myself?  Do any of you have your kids see a therapist?  For how long?  Has it helped?  I have set-up a meeting with a therapist for my son.  I just want him to express his feelings to someone- what he is thinking, his fears, concerns. I feel like he doesn't show much emotion because he is trying to be strong for me. 

Thank you for any advice/thoughts you may have.


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  • Widowed since 10/2012 . Living in NJ
Re: Therapy for son...will it help?
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2017, 05:13:54 PM »
First sorry you have had to join us. My husband died in 2012. My boys were 12 and 14. After about a year , I suspected the youngest should see someone . He wasn't ready . Didn't want to go back , I honored his request and stopped taking him . I did get my whole family into a grief group . I go into a room with other moms and dads. My sons go into a another room, it's peer support , all in a teen age group . That has been huge we still go . This past summer my youngest asked to go see a counselor , so I found him one . He has gone a few times , and still trying to see if she is the "right fit " for him . It was huge that it was his idea to go.
A couple ideas, let the school know, in my area there is someone at the schools that reach out to the kids . Oldest actually had a group of kids that lost a parent meet during school time with this woman . Look into a group for you both , the support I have gotten is huge , also the peer thing , just so that they know they are not alone is helpful.  Please feel free to reach out if I can help with any other ideas.
"To love another person is to see the face of God "


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Re: Therapy for son...will it help?
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2017, 07:07:38 PM »
We go to a family group grief support program. We start together as a large group and have dinner and then we break up into smaller groups by age. It has been good for my girls and talking with other parents who happen to have boys have said it has helped because the kids get direct feedback and suggestions from their peers and it seems to take a better effect overall. There was a boy who was having anger and resentment issues and another boy told him that he had that problem too but he used sports to help him vent and it made him feel better, cope better. Stuff like that. We haven't tried one on one but I have felt that we haven't had the need to yet. I have resources should we need it later.


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Re: Therapy for son...will it help?
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2017, 08:29:46 PM »

I am so worried for him - his feelings, his future, am I going to be able to do this by myself? 

Do any of you have your kids see a therapist? 

For how long? 

Has it helped? 

I just want him to express his feelings to someone- what he is thinking, his fears, concerns. I feel like he doesn't show much emotion because he is trying to be strong for me. 

In order:

No, I don't think you will be able to pull this off without some type of help.

Yes, two of them.

I had the kids go for one year - they attended together. Weekly meetings for the first month. Bi-weekly for 2 months and monthly for the remainder of the year.

Your fears about him not expressing his feelings to you are, most likely, correct. He can tell you are hurting too and doesn't want to add to it.

By way of explanation: My youngest sons were 9 and 10 when their mother killed herself. My youngest found her. It was a gruesome scene. Ugh. To say they were a mess would be an understatement. School really wasn't a problem as they only had one month to go until summer vacation and frankly, their teachers took pity on them and probably just ignored the lagging schoolwork.

My youngest was so affected by what he saw that he became mute for 5 or 6 months. Honestly, not a word. Further, he followed me around like a toddler even to the point of sticking his fingers underneath the bathroom door when I was in there. I didn't allow either of them to sleep in my room but I fell asleep on the floor of their room plenty of times. My poor baby was a wreck.

I started them in therapy immediately – the week following their mother’s death. The boys had a saint of a therapist who allowed them to talk about whatever they wanted to – or not. Sometimes, they just sat there for the full hour. It was fine with her. She gave me timely updates which also served to reinforce my efforts as a widowed Dad thrust into a storm. I always knew what was bugging them or what concerns they had via her updates. As time went on, my J. began speaking again and seemed pretty well-adjusted, all things considered.

I quit the therapy for them after about a year as the provider said they would be fine and they (and I!) didn’t need her anymore.

She was right. The boys sailed through middle and high school with no more issues than any other teenage boys normally have.

Both of the boys have done just fine as young adults - J1 is now a senior in college – he’ll graduate in May with an Engineering degree. My youngest is in the US Navy stationed on a guided missile destroyer somewhere in the Pacific working as a missile technician.

They have no social/emotional/mental issues that I can see and I expect them to continue to have full, productive adult lives.

I’m convinced the therapy long ago helped them immensely.

Good luck – Mike

Ps – PM me if you wish.

The war is over for me now. But those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again, to teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life.


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Re: Therapy for son...will it help?
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2017, 11:39:28 PM »
My kids were 13, 10, and 6 when their Mom was killed in a car accident. My older two (boys) didn't want to go to a counselor. I made them go once and was told they were processing well and didn't 'have' to come back if they didn't want to, so they didn't. My youngest (a girl) enjoyed going, likely because the counselor was a woman who played games with her. She went five or six times but I stopped it because things were going well and it seemed like 'play time' rather than therapy.

If I had to do it all over again I would have insisted on longer visits for all of them. I had the 'we can handle this' mentality, even though I saw a counselor for several months.  The kids are doing well three and a half years later but once in awhile I see things that make me think there are some unresolved issues that should have been addressed earlier.  I can't go back, obviously, but seeing your post made me think of how I would have done things differently.
'I think I got some of your pickle'


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Re: Therapy for son...will it help?
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2017, 12:17:55 AM »
I am a kid therapist and trauma specialist.  And I was dealing with my own trauma, so I knew my son (age 8 ) needed an outlet.  I went to a grief group myself, the leader a widow also, which helped out.  I got my son into the hospice grief camp, surrounded him with church folks, church camp, our associate pastor and his family, and this seemed to be enough to help him through.  I didn't choose individual, as there wasn't anyone more qualified than me sadly. I was the "go to" in our rural community, except for hospice. My DH worked with the youth at church 16 yrs., so I had lots of support for my son through our church family and still do.  He did so well, but then I would get a phone call from the church camp director about things he said to his camp counselor, so then I would reach out to others for back up.  He had a buddy through hospice, too.  He went to the grief camp and other activities throughout the year, and this past year told me he was not needing it anymore.  He is now 13.   

I finally decided to date, and with my son being a teen, this is a whole new world.  I will monitor him and if needed, pursue counseling if needed as he sorts through all this, too.  It is always going to come up again as kids reprocess the loss with new life experiences and their changing brains and new abilities to think about it differently.  Process, always....

I am able to work with kids now with parental loss.  I have seen some great things happen with them and their families.  Clicking with the clinician (therapeutic rapport) is huge for any work, despite the training of the clinician or degree.  Good luck with your kids whatever you decide.


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Re: Therapy for son...will it help?
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2017, 08:29:45 AM »
My daughter was 14 and my son 12 when my DH also passed from sudden cardiac arrest.   

My 12 yr old was all for going to group counselling, my daughter adamantly against it or any therapy.  Unfortunately, the group session was almost half way through when we tried to get my son in and didn't start up again for 6 months.  By the time the 6 months had passed, he no longer wanted to attend. 

My mother passed away when I was a teen and I watched my father force my brother into therapy, it was a disaster, putting a huge strain on their relationship that never actually healed.   We did sessions together, sessions apart and my brother (he was 13) fought it ever step of the way.   I spoke with a few counselors for my kids and came to the conclusion forcing them wasn't the right way to go.

We are now 2 years out, both kids have made the honour roll at school, are active in sports and their communities, both volunteer their time and are well adapted teens.  My son hit a rough patch in November, he broke his arm and went from playing football, rugby and hockey to nothing, and struggle without that outlet.  We sat and talked about it, found other activities for him to do, other ways to express himself.   Talked about therapy. 

We do re-visit the idea of therapy every few months, over Christmas my daughter was actually receptive to the idea and wanted to go, my son had his cast off and was back to sports and doesn't.


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Re: Therapy for son...will it help?
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2017, 10:26:03 AM »
My oldest son, 13.5, has been seeing a counselor for 3 years now and continues to go. It has benefited him tremendously. My dh died just over 4 years ago. It was hardest on him. I had to force him to go at first, and we had to try a couple different counselors to find a good fit. Now he keeps going because he likes to, I don't have to force the issue.

My 12yo son hasn't seemed to need to, but I wonder sometimes. He's the quite type, but I see anger coming out more as he is hitting the almost teen years.

My 9yo daughter saw a counselor for about 2 years, just stopped recently. It also benefited her hugely. Helped her learn a lot about how to deal with her emotions.

Amy, mom to four (14,13,10,6)


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Re: Therapy for son...will it help?
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2017, 05:11:20 AM »
I have 3 kids 14,12& 5 when he died. We did a family grief group like others here discribed for 18 months. My middle DD had a therapist for 6 Months, my oldest tried several and couldn't find a good fit, found out she has adhd so that probally explains that. My youngest now almost 11 seems to need some support(grandma is dying of the same cancer dad had) so we are headed back to the family group in February. I did therapy as well for 6 months. I found it extremely useful for all of us. You do need to find the right person so if the first doesn't work try another. Your school might have resources, I would start there. 


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Re: Therapy for son...will it help?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2017, 01:08:20 AM »
My son was 6 and daughter 4 when my husband died unexpectedly in 2014. I am an advocate for therapy. We all went for the 1st year. School counselor was involved as well right after and was a big help. I took as much leave as allowed through my benefits to give myself time to get through it and so I could focus my time on the kids.

I think it was in year two where I was having some additional concerns about my son. He too didn't express much to me and think it was because he was trying to protect me. I restarted him for a while and he is  not going now. However, I always look for any signs.

I also agree with person that said its important to find a therapist that is a good fit.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2017, 01:52:48 AM by MACC »
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Missing AC

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Re: Therapy for son...will it help?
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2017, 05:45:39 PM »
Thank you all for your replies. Just to update, my son is seeing a grief counselor at the local Hospice center, it's still early and he has only gone to two sessions, so we will see how it goes.  Overall, he seems to be coping much better than I expected, so far, and definitely much better than me.