Mental Health

Dealing with Death

Last December something happened that none of the child-rearing books I’ve read prepared me for – a friend of my teenage daughter died.

Now, I’m not going to go into the frankly horrific detail. If I start talking about that, I’ll start crying and this post won’t ever get finished. What I am going to share is how I handled it.

E came from school quiet, and she never does that. Concerned that the recent bullying had reared its ugly head again, I sat down next to her and gently asked what was wrong.

“My friend’s dead.”

I’m fairly confident that my heart stopped. What on earth did I say? As the details came out, my inability to find something to say got worse. I found myself enveloped in my own grief, so I did the only thing I could think of – I rang my Mum.

Learning that there was no right way to deal with the situation both helped and hindered. I’d no script to go off, so I was on my own, but at the same time, I couldn’t do it wrong. I let myself be led by E and how she wanted to deal with her shock and grief.

Today is the funeral of her friend. We discussed whether she was going to go and she chose to. I arranged with her school for her to have the day off. She’s going to the funeral and then hanging out with friends until later, when we’ll pick her up.

Ensuring E she knows that she has support without her feeling smothered has been a balancing act I’ve had to learn day-by-day. It’s not one I ever wanted to, and I hate that it was necessary, but I am quite proud of how I’ve handled it and how she’s learnt as well.

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