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Lost and confused

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I haven’t been on this site in such a long time.  But here I am once again looking for answers.  Or, I should say, I guess I’m looking for guidance.  


Almost Four weeks ago my grandson’s mother committed suicide.  She left behind my 3 1/2 year old little grandson.  And it is ripping my heart out. 


My heart and my gut always kinda knew that she was struggling with some kind of mental illness. Even though her family always blamed her depression on my son.  At the time of her death  My son wasn’t together with her any more.  They haven’t been together in 3 years.  


My son and my grandson are living with me now.  I’m so thankful that I can be there for them in this way.  But at the same time, I’m really struggling with so much anger towards her.  My heart also hurts for her. And it hurts that she was in such a deep dark place. But the anger far outweighs the hurt for her.  How could she do this to him? Now he’s left behind without a mommy.  And I don’t understand it!


As far as I know she Never once reached out and asked for help.  And I’m angry about that.  Why didn’t she call the crisis hotline?  Or Why didn’t she just run out in the middle of the street and scream for help?   Instead, she just wrote a sticky note saying “I’m sorry”. And one that said “I love you G”.  And sticky notes expressing “his likes and dislikes”.  Wasn’t he worth more than a sticky note?   


I know I don’t understand mental illness.  But here I am left with no choice but to try to figure it out.  Figure out how to be here for my grandson.   And also to try to Figure out how to be here for my son.  Who was still in love with her.  


Its getting harder and harder hearing my little grandson say “My mommy is dead”.  And he repeats it over and over throughout the day.  Now he relates anything and everything that isn’t working with it being dead.  If his toy needs new batteries, he says his toy is dead.  Apparently her family explained his mommy’s death to him this way.  That’s not the way that I would have explained it to him.  I’m angry about that too.  But Who am I to say what is the right way or wrong way to explain it to him.  I just know I wouldn’t have.  


If I’m this confused and full of emotions, I can’t even begin to imagine what my little grandson is going through.  I know I’m really angry that she has filled his little heart with these emotions now.  


Thank you for listening to an old timer.  I lost my husband suddenly almost 7 years ago.  I depended on the old forum to help me get through my worst days.  Now here I am looking for help in another kind of way.  


I always said it’s the ones who are left behind that have to learn how to move forward.  











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4 hours ago, UnforgettableU said:

 How could she do this to him? Now he’s left behind without a mommy.  And I don’t understand it!



I know I don’t understand mental illness.  But here I am left with no choice but to try to figure it out. 

Without a doubt, this all is huge mess - perhaps I may be able to shed a small measure of understanding as I have lived through it myself.


My wife shot herself while me and my boys, age 8 and 9, were out of town for the weekend. Everyone knew she was mentally unstable, she did too, but nothing was able to help her even though we all did all we could to nurse her back to a healthy mindset. She set up the situation in such a fashion as to guarantee my youngest would find her body. He did. What healthy person does that? 


As hurt and shocked as I was, I, like you, was most concerned by how the boys would handle all of this and how would their lives unfold without their mother. It consumed my thoughts for months. I won't go through the litany of trials and ups and downs but I will cut to the chase: with your son's (and your's!)  tender care, your grandson will be okay. Oh yes, it will take time. But with piles of love and patience from both of you, he will turn out to be a fine young man that suffered an unspeakably tragic event. 


As to understanding how she could do this - the sad fact of the matter is there is no understanding. All of my late wife's doctors and even the coroner stated repeatedly - a suicidal person will always find a way, if they are committed, and normally balanced folks will never understand the mindstorms of the truly afflicted. We just can't.


I pray in time you will find peace with this.


PM me if you like.


Best wishes - Mike

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I am so sorry you are having to go through this, but grateful you can be there for your son and grandchild. As someone who has been through a huge loss you know how people can scatter so you just being there is so important. 


I’ve had depression off and on for most of my life. I’ve never been formally treated. Why? Crappy healthcare, fear of stigma/pre-existing condition on my records, unwillingness to be chemically altered, cost of therapy. I think it’s an illness many try to self-medicate in both positive and negative ways. I’ve had periods of suicidal ideation. I can tell you in those moments I was in a great deal of pain and felt that removing myself from this world would be doing those close to me a favor- it can be a pain in the ass dealing with the mentally ill- in addition to ending my own suffering. It seemed... a logical conclusion. But here’s the thing- I have never reached the level of sickness to actually complete suicide, so I can only imagine that kind of pain. I know mental illness is harder to understand than physical illness, but the sad truth is that both can be terminal. 


I am wondering if people with very young children in the parenting section could be helpful to you? I do remember when my goddaughter was that age she was very fixated on death when we played with her toys, even with having two parents in the home. 

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  • 1 month later...

Hi UnforgettableU,


So sorry my reply is so delayed, and you’ve already had some good insights from Portside and Bunny. I just wanted to send my send my warmest wishes that your son and grandson can help your grandson through his loss.

On the subject of your anger and understanding, both are totally appropriate. I too felt deep anger toward my first husband during times when he appeared to be intentionally harming himself, and ultimately killing himself, from addiction to alcohol. However, as I read more and more on the mental illness battle that many addicts and those who die from suicide face, I realized that I if I was to be angry at anything, it was his illness that caused the insane “choices”. 

I also wanted to comment on helping your grandson deal with the loss of his Mom. Sadly my sweet husband, WifeLess passed away and our grandson, who is 10 years old was quite close to him. it occurred to me that I didn’t know very well how to help a child with understanding loss and handling their grief and so I talked to my own therapist about it. She referred me to some books and a bereavement manual from a children’s agency and I’ve excerpted some of the most helpful information for me here:

Talking to Children about Death
It is important to talk to children about death in simple but matter of fact terms. Normalize death (it happens to everyone and every living thing but usually when we are very old) and be clear about what it means. If death is not discussed at all, it becomes scarier when it affects a child’s life. There are many wonderful books, some of which are listed in this manual, that help families explain death and dying to children. Here are some helpful suggestions about how to talk to children about death:
Strategies for Talking to Children Ages 2-6
1. Start Early: Talk about death starting at an early age by using everyday examples from TV or
the death of animals.This will help them view death as part of the natural life cycle.
2. Tell It How It Is: Use simple, truthful words like “dead,” “dying,” “died,” “buried,” or “cremated.” Dead means not moving, not breathing, not seeing, and not feeling. The person’s or animal’s body does not work anymore. Though it may sound nicer to you to use phrases that make death sound less final, it can be very confusing to the child.

Examples of confusing explanations:
“We lost him.”
Child’s response: Let’s go look for him! Can’t the police help? If I’m lost, will they look for me?
“He passed away.”
Child’s response: Where is away? Can we go there?
“She went for a long trip.”
Child’s response: Where did she go? When will she get back? What do you mean she’s not coming back if it’s just a trip?
“We had to put Fluffy to sleep.”
Child’s response: Why isn’t he waking up like I do? Will I be able to wake up? (Sleeping means dead, so I’d better not go to sleep.)
“God took her from us.”
Child’s response: Why would God do that? You’re not supposed to take things from other people. I want to take her back!
“God wanted Dad in heaven with him.”
Child’s response: God takes people from us. How could God love us?


3. Tell The Truth: Do not “protect” a child from someone who is dying. Be honest about what is happening (in age appropriate terms) and let them see you express your emotions. Define new words they may be hearing.

4. Encourage Questions: Ask for questions the child may have but do not volunteer complex information the child has not asked. Tell them the main facts and do answer all of their questions simply and promptly. If you don’t know, it’s ok to say that you don’t know. Ask the child what he or she thinks the answer might be.
5. Allow All Feelings: Encourage the child to express feelings openly. Crying is normal and helpful. Many children express anger towards the person for dying and leaving them. It is important to allow them to express these feelings and let them know it is ok to have them. (Anger is one of the stages of grief.)
6. Express Yourself: Share your feelings with the child. Seeing you upset will not make the child worse. It lets him/her know you are hurting too. Allow the child to comfort you – this makes him/her feel helpful and needed. It’s ok for children to see you cry.
7. Be Patient: Know that children need to hear “the story” and to ask the same questions again and again. This is how they are processing it. You may also see it in their play.
8.What If’s:“Are you going to die too?” “What will happen to me if you die?”If the child is worried about the surviving parent or siblings dying, tell the child who will take care of him or her in that case but offer reassurance that they are not likely to die anytime soon. Point out elderly people the child knows or sees and discuss how many people live to old age.

9. Exposure: Limit the amount of exposure to television if the death is being publicized. This can increase nightmares, worry, and expose children to knowledge of unnecessary details.
10. Reassurance: Reassure the child of his/her safety at home and at school.
11. Outlets: Maintain daily routines as much as possible, as this signifies safety to a child. But, allow your gut to guide you about when you need to be flexible. Give the child a chance to play and spend time with you, as this is how the child will express what is going on inside.


My heart goes out to you, your son and grandson and I wish you well on this new journey.

Take care, Bluebird.


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