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So sad and lonely, and now I am failing my teenager. How do I help her?? 
Started by cmcaht
07 Jun 2014, 11:44 PM

Hi everyone, I'm new here. I have been getting some solace from reading your stories and advice. I tried to reach out last month but had some technical difficulties and couldn't make my post work.  I am trying it again because I really need someone to talk to.  I am 45 and have 2 teenaged daughters (14 & 16).  On February 6, I lost the love of my life and my kids lost the person who was their father, confidant, protector, cheerleader, chauffeur, fishing buddy and playmate.  We are all so hearbroken but my 14 year old is really having a tough time.  She was sad and depressed but now she is so angry and of course I am the object of her anger.  I think because I was so distraught and numb those first few weeks that she felt she could't reach out to me.  Now she says she felt abandoned , like she lost her mother too because I wasn't there enough for her.  t seems that everything I do is wrong, any time I try to talk to her about anything she gets mad and it ends in a fight.  She doesn't want to talk to me about much of anything any more and is keeping it all in. She says things are fine when I know they aren't and she is pushing me away.  She is so hostile and her anger is so startling since it is so much the oppostite of who she used to be.  my broken heart shatters even more when she tells me that I don't care about her and only her friends care.  She flings insults at me because I am trying to keep rules and routines intact.  She has always had a bit of a stubborn streak but when my husband and I supported one another in the situation, she would listen.  Now she breaks all the rules, rarely helps with any chores around the house, makes terrible messes, won't go to bed, wont' get up on time, has stopped doing any school work at all and doesn't want to do anything but be on her ipod.  My grief has had to take a back seat as I am so worried about her. I'm almost back to how I was after the funeral, not sleeping. lost my appetite.  We have arranged counselling but she doesn't go willingly or at all so has only had a couple visits.  She is going to an art therapy grief class at a hospice in town but it is almost over.  Whe she gets upset she  threatens to run away or find somewhere else to live.  Consequences don't work because she just walks away and ignores me, I cant enforce anything and any heart to heart talk I try, she just turns her music up an ignores me or changes my words around and starts and argument.  Im just sick over this. I don't know how to help her or get back our close relationship and i am scared to death that I will lose her.   I just can't handle that after losing my dear, sweet husband only 4 months ago.  Sorry to dump all this out there but my family is not near by and they just dont' understand grief at all.  Our friends are all still very scarce and 'giving us space" so I rarely have someone to talk to.  Has anyone had any similar experiences?  

 
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Reply by moderator | modératrice
08 Jun 2014, 12:08 PM

Dear Cmcaht,

First of all - Welcome! I relieved that technical difficulties didn't sabotage your posting to the community this time. (I'll get more information about that from you later.) 

Your situation is indeed a difficult one and one that not many would understand the complexities of. Afterall "she is a teenager", I'm sure people have said or thought. But this is dffierent and we can help. People on this forum have been there and can share their experiences about how they managed family grief. 

It is also good that your daughter is getting professional help and inperson support. Even if she goes unwilliningly, she is going. Are you too getting professional help to guide you through the changes with your daughters? If you have questions for our team of experts, don't hesitate to ask a private, confidential question on: 

Ask a Professional 

How is your 16 year old doing?

Do your girls know about the website from the Nanaimo Community Hospice Society especially for grieving teens? http://www.teensanddeath.com/ 

Keep writing cmcaht. We're here and we're listening.
Colleen 
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Reply by EastCoastPEI
09 Jun 2014, 12:23 AM

Don't give up on her or yourself no matter what.  

This isn't exactly the same but, When i was a young teen my mother started really taking care of herself ..she was the wife and daughter of 2 alcoholics it took her a lot time to realize she needed help too ... So she was out to Alanon and ACOA meetings several times per week shortly after her and my father split up ...in hindsight I understand why and am SO thankful she got help because it made for many future years of a wonderful relationship I had with her.... And it made for an even more close and.special time in the weeks leading up to her death a few years ago..  

But...at the time...I was so confused ...I was pissed off that my father wasn't around and my mother was out all of the time and my older sisters did nothing but scream and fight .... I didn't know she was getting help... I didn't know it took time... And she made the mistake ( yes she wasn't perfect) of not communicating this to me... She forgot to continuously check in with me and make sure I understood... I know now she didn't have the capacity to do it at the time.... We talked about it later in life and I understood and forgave her. ..

So I guess what I'm saying is don't put your grieving on the back burner.... But don't forget to talk to her about the fact that you need to grieve but you're still there for her too.  And talk about how it's part of the process for her to grieve too. 

Love her audibly and love her by example... And show her that you  won't give up on her no matter what ...  She'll fight it of course...she's a teenager ... But she'll also love you for it... And it'll be worth it in the long run..

 
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Reply by moderator | modératrice
09 Jun 2014, 1:26 AM

What a powerful message EastCoastPEI. Thank you for sharing your firsthand experience from the teenager and now adult. Words fail me to express how important that is.
Thank you
Colleen
 
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Reply by marstin
09 Jun 2014, 2:55 AM

Hi cmcaht,

I am so glad that you were finally able to connect with us. Your story is like an echo of how life has been in our household since I lost the love of my life nearly 2 years ago. My daughters are a little bit older but emotions have played out in a similar way. This is one of the toughest things you will ever face and I can understand how painful it all is. Unfortunately, we are the whipping post for our children because their pain is so deep. They vent on us and make us feel like we are the worst parents in the world. Some of what I have learned is that they are so scared. Scared of how they are feeling, scared that something will happen to you and they fear the future because they have no idea how it will all go. Their stability is gone. They aren't used to seeing their mom in pain and want her to stop hurting so that they can lean on you for support.

On the flip side of this is a woman who has suffered an incredibly huge loss and it's almost impossible to be very supportive when you have lost the person that you used to be able to lean on. I have tried to explain to my kids that my grief is different and it is met with outrage. Yet, it truly is different. In a sense, we have lost our security, our future dreams, the other half of ourselves. Not to minimize it but our children will go on and probably get married, have children etc. Their future dreams have yet to begin. Our dreams were crushed and we don't know how to cope with that.

For us, we lost first my husband then my mom within weeks of each other so it has been incredibly tough. It will get better in some ways but it will take a very long time to start to get there. Even at that, there will be times when it rears its angry head just when you think you are getting past it. We found that last week when my oldest graduated from her course at college. All was well until the ceremony was over but their absence must have been felt because she suddenly became very angry with me. Suddenly, I was such a loser. I fought back my tears because I knew it wasn't me that she was really angry with but it didn't hurt any less.

Just realize that you haven't done anything wrong and believe that you are doing the best that you can under the circumstances. Please keep sharing with us as this forum was such a life saver for me. I wouldn't have gotten through it all by myself.

Hugs,
Tracie
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Reply by cmcaht
12 Jun 2014, 3:39 AM

Thank you all so much for your replies.  It is good to know that I am not alone, but sorry that all of you have been through such tough times as well.  My anniversary was last week (would have been 21 years married, 27 years together) so I am just a mess right now. Just can't control my sadness and it bursts out so randomly.  It is so hard trying to be positive for the kids when my future has been torn away from me.  I am trying so hard but my daughter just doesn/t seem to appreciate anything right now.  My 16 year old is handling it better.  I worry about her because she keeps coming to me and putting her arms around me when I am sad but she isn't giving me any opportunity to do the same for her. I worry about her keeping it all in as well.  She did come with me to a Dr. Woldfeldt seminar so I know she knows that she really needs to get it out.  I just hope that she is finding someone to lean on somewhere.  I know she feels her friends are tired of hearing about her loss so she is not talking to them.  Thankfully they have both enjoyed the Art therapy class at the hospice.    
Tomorrow will be tough since it is my youngest's Grade 9 farewell celebration.  She is finding it hard that her dad was at her sister's farewell but not hers.   I hope she will enjoy it a little bit and not just be sad or angry.  The celebration is at our church.  I haven't even been able to get through a mass without crying the whole time because all I see when I am at church is his coffin at the front, so I have stopped going for now.  This will be a real challenge, to be there and try to be happy and cheerful.  Then next is Father's Day and a month later my husband's birthday.  I just don't know how you have all made it through these terrible firsts.  In the beginning I thought things would gradually get a little easier to handle, but instead it just keeps getting worse, and knowing the first 2 years are supposed to be the worst is just not a good mood booster.   I will keep reading posts on this site and trying to gather strength.  Thank you all for being here and reaching out to others, it is such a blessing. 

 
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Reply by marstin
13 Jun 2014, 4:42 PM

Hi cmcaht,

I hope today goes well for your daughter as she attends her grade 9 farewell celebration. As difficult as it is for us as adults to deal with special occasions without our loved ones, I'm sure that it is double that for our children. Len passed away on what was to be our wedding day, just hours before the ceremony. Our youngest went to give him his medication and found that he had passed. I remember how incredibly traumatized she was. What was to be such a joyful occasion became a nightmare. For the next year she slept in my bed with me as she could not be alone. She has come through it but will never be the same again. None of us will. Special moments are now bittersweet.

As I told someone else on this forum, for our children it is difficult for them share much with their friends. When they're young, the compassion is not really there or if it is, it's for a short time. Their friends expect them to be the same but once they have suffered such a huge loss, they lose that innocence and become far different. My oldest used to say that it was easier to be around people who didn't know her before this happened because she didn't have to try to explain why she was so different now. Your children are in so much pain right now. My oldest has bottled hers up and will not lose control. My youngest will discuss her feelings and is so much easier to support. I have found that it is nearly impossible to try to help the older one, she doesn't want to show her emotions. I can still see Len saying to me not long before he passed away 'She's the one I worry the most about' and had tears in his eyes. How right he was. She is still very angry even now, nearly 2 years later. The angry ones are the ones that hurt the deepest.

We get through these things one minute at a time. There are so many highs and lows and fortunately in time, some of it becomes just a blur. I think we just go through the motions of life and in time we start to see a glimmer of light and hope that we are going to get through this. It's a slow painful process but having support makes it just that little bit easier. That's why this forum is so important to many of us. We actually 'get it' and are able to reach out to people just starting this journey. We become stronger by supporting and being supported.

I hope your day brings you at least a glimmer of happiness.

Hugs,
Tracie
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Reply by Brayden
15 Jun 2014, 6:12 PM

Hi cmcaht,


Having read your posts I might say that the first year of your grieving could well be the worst year. Getting past all those firsts is hard. It is the period leading up to that date that is usually worse than the event itself. Also, I sense that there is now a bit of a tug of war going on between you and your youngest daughter. You should not feel that she really does not love you any more. She would not spend so much energy fighting with you if she did not love you. The question is who will give the rope some slack. You might consider getting help through a professional counselor to see how you can move forward and not allow your daughter to draw you into those fights. It will also take giving her a lot of positive strokes, even if she has not earned them. I am sure a good family counselor could help you brake the impass.  Please keep us posted and feel free to dump here. We care about you.


Brayden 

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Reply by cmcaht
22 Jun 2014, 3:31 AM

well, we made it through the farewell.  Turned out pretty good in the end. I think we all enjoyed it. Sadly, my daughter was quite anxious about this event approaching without her Dad.  She was really depressed and then 2 of her best friends decided to stop talking to her so it was very tough leading up to it and there were some concerns expressed by others for her safety.  This emotional rollercoaster is really taking it's toll.  The fighting seems to be lessening a tiny bit (depending on the day of course)  and I have even been blessed with a few glimpses of the sweet, little girl that she used to be before all this happened. The teen grief class was great and she really enjoyed going but now it is over and I worry about how this will affect her.  I have seen things that she has written that show that she is still very emotionally affected by all the events (teen angst, bullying, friend betrayal, dad's death) and they show that she is still feeling quite hopeless. Her counselor now believes me that she is at risk and is really struggling with all of these issues and is taking things more seriously but he can't help her when she somehow always ends up missing her appointment.  I just am at my wits end, i am trying so desperately to get her help but she just seems to be falling through the cracks of the system.  (we ended up at the hospital and the doctor wanted her assessed by the crisis response team.  We waited all night for this consult only to finally go home at 6am and then find out that the team is no longer 24 hr and stops working at 11:45 pm but the doctors at the hospital didn't know that!)
It's so hard to mourn and then have to shelve it to try to help my daughter and monitor her and try to always be home when she is home and then if things improve slightly my grief rebounds and it just explodes out. then the cycle starts all over again.  
I am so lonely and still just can't believe that I am having to face all these incredibly difficult challenges and situations without my champion at my side.  He has always been there for all of lifes difficulties and it is just so hard to face them without him.  All my comfort and security is long gone and i miss him so so much .  I knew it would be so hard without him but I didn't expect for our family to not be a team and be there for each other.  It is so devastating to have us divided and to be battling with the anger and feeling like being under attack all the time.  The pieces of my broken heart are reshattered on a daily basis.  How do I get through this? I just feel so tired and broken both for my husband and then even more so for my daughter.  I hate to sound so doomy and gloomy all the time but I really have no one else who wants to listen so I am so grateful for you to all let me unload here.  So it builds up until I can find time to come to this site.  Whew, that was a lot off my chest.  Many thanks again.  
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Reply by cmcaht
22 Jun 2014, 3:33 AM

I forgot to mention that she put together an outfit that looked somewhat tux like and she wore her dads special occasion bow tie as a tribute to him.  A really cool idea that she came up with.  
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