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Need advice from parents & adult kids


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In addition to feeling the huge loss of Bill, I'm also feeling a real sense of loss for "our" family, as experienced with my wonderful step-kids in England. Despite the distance, we would see each other at least once each year, sometimes more frequently. We would always make it a holiday and had so much fun together. I know that won't be happening the same way anymore, and it hurts to realize that. I adore them and I know they feel the same about me, but things will be different. Gemma is 24 and married with our little Granddaughter, Annabelle, who is 3. Michael is 21 and a spitting image of his dad. Despite attempts, Bill and I had no children together, so my "mom" experience is limited.

I'll be traveling to England and Spain next month to distribute Bill's ashes (Bill and I decided on 1/3 going to each country where his heart was: America, England, and Spain). We'll have small family ceremonies in each place. I'm very nervous about the trip -- it will be so weird for all of us to be together without Bill. I'm excited for it too, because I think it's an important step in starting a new relationship with the kids. I will be bringing them some treasured items from their dad that they don't even know I'm bringing.

Because of the distance and because he didn't get to share in their "everyday" lives the way he would if we lived close, I'm not sure how to go forward. Is it a good thing to have friends and other family write stories about Bill that they might like to read, or would that somehow be hurtful for them? Should I be calling more frequently or less frequently? Should I be planning another trip over soon, or give them space? I guess some of these things will be more clear in coming months.

I should say that we're all close -- I'm truly friends with their mom and step dad. Their entire church has been praying for us for months, and is now praying for me. But the change and the void is huge for all of us.

I guess it always felt like Bill was the glue that held the family together, despite distance. He went so out of his way to do that for years and years. I don't want to let him down. And I don't want to let us (the kids and I) down.

Does any of this make sense to anyone, or am I just rambling on?!

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Teri-I am a mother of 2 young children ages 5 and 9-I also have a 24 year old step son-(my husband was quite young when he had him.) I couldn't imagine not having him as a part of my life and his brother and sister if something happened to my husband.

I adore him and since we are only 15 years apart in age we are more like buddies.

Now on the other hand-my Step Dad died 2.5 years ago from lung cancer and he was not close to his kids/grandchildren like my Mom is with my kids-noone is to blame, a relationship is a two way street and neither side wanted to make the effort. When we parted with my Step-Dad's family the day of the funeral luncheon I felt like I was mourning not only my step-dad but also his family that we never really got to know that well and knew now that we never would.

I guess I am trying to say that if you follow what is truly in your heart you can never go wrong. I am sure if you love those kids and they love you the way you say then everything will be fine no matter what you choose to do.

Wishing you much strength and comfort.


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so... I'm a 'kid' in this situation, I hope it's ok that I chime in.

I think that stories from Bill's friends would be priceless to them. I think that your bringing them special 'dad things' will mean more to them than they could say. I think calling to check in with them is a good thing--and you can follow their lead on frequency.

Most of all, from my experience at least, it helps to stay connected to my 'mom people.' Having her 'cut out' of my experience with any family member is devestating. I miss my Mom's family (brothers and sisters) and wish I hadn't also lost them in some way.

So in short, I think any effort you make will likely bring them healing and not harm. They need the connecting that YOU had to their Dad. They need you and your care still. I'm sure they don't want to lose their relationship with you in any way on top of losing their Dad.

I think it's beautiful and so very loving that you are concerned about this. That will speak volumes.

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Teri, the fact that you care about this, in light of all you are struggling with, is special. It tells me also that these relationships should continue, and that you should be sure not to step back from them out of reticence, or out of not knowing how to define your place now. You are still a grandmother and a step-mother, not just legally but in your heart. That is your very important place - perhaps more important now than ever, since you have the job now of continuing to extend Bill's love to his children and grandchild.

I wish you great joy in doing that.

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Thanks so much. I think I needed that little push. How narrow-minded of me to not include adult kids in my title, because they would actually know best. (I'll edit that.)

I will ask some close friends and family to write some things about Bill that are specifically for Gemma and Michael and Annabelle.

Two years ago, I gave Bill a very special book for his birthday. I solicited stories and/or letters from everyone close to him. I worked on it for about four months! Once he died, everyone was reading that book. My sister-in-law actually read her contribution at Bill's service. It was special because he got to read how much everyone loved him. It was full of funny stories too.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I can't go wrong by giving too much information about their dad. They can always put it away to read another day if it's too emotional now. If they don't have it, then they'll never be able to read it when they're ready.

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It is funny to come across your post today because I've been thinking about similar issues in my family as well and what will happen to us if we lose my dad.

I have a brother and two cousins that I'm close with. In many ways, my dad filled the role of dad for them (their dad is a complicated man--and they've never been close). We are all in our 30s and starting families of our own...so in some ways, the logistics of coming together each year for Thanksgiving and Passover would have been complicated no matter what. But I have great fears that this distance will all be exacerbated if my dad is not around...and I've been feeling so sad about all of this today.

The conclusion that I've come to today is that family doesn't just happen--you make it happen. And if I want the connection to stay with my cousins and with our family, then I will have to put the effort in--calling regularly, making an effort to get together...to make it be what I want it to.

It may never be what is was like before--but something new and good may come of it all. I have to believe that.

From everything you shared in your post, I think your efforts to remain connected will be well worth it. And my sense, (speaking as a the child of a parent with cancer), is that anything you have of Bill's--other people's reflections, his posessions--will be something they would very much appreciate.

I know I would.

Please stay strong,


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Again, thanks to everyone. Katie, I loved reading your honest post.

I spoke with both the kids today (Gemma called me). The first time I've spoken to my step-son Michael since we lost Bill (he was too upset). Had a great conversation. I mentioned to Michael that I would make sure I was there over a weekend because of his work and all that. He said, "don't worry about stuff like that -- we're all going to go out of our way to make sure we're seeing you." That was nice. Now I can book my tickets with confidence!

I shared with them about my gift from Bill (posted in Inspriation). We all know he's pulling some strings up there!

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