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Don't know how to help my step-kids


teriw

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Hi everyone,

I posted about my wonderful step-kids shortly after Bill passed. We shared close family time when I was in England last month (was it only last month?).

I'm increasingly feeling like they're "on their own" with it a bit, and always acting like they're fine. They have great family, friends, and church support. But I think they don't have anyone who is actively trying to guide them or help them through their loss (or really looking beyond the surface), and I'm not sure how to do that from a distance. Also, I've not lost my parents -- so although we share the loss of the same wonderful person who we all adored, it's a different loss. Sometimes I'm relating to them on my level, then realize it's different for them and perhaps I'm missing the mark.

Sometimes the oddest things strike a cord with me. I was reading an interview with Clint Eastwood's daughter, who has just released her first movie as a director. She was talking about their relationship when she was young -- how he was gone a lot, etc. How now that she's older and they have these things in common, they are so close. This really upset me, because although Bill has always been extremely close with his kids, there was a physical distance between them. Recently as they have become a bit older (Michael is 22 in Nov., Gemma is 24), a new, closer relationship had been developing. One of real friendship and mutual understanding, as well as the parent/child bond. I feel like they were cheated. (As was Bill.) They're both doing exciting things that Bill knew about, but isn't able to share in now. I think of all of those future events that will happen without him. It's hard to imagine.

Gemma will readily talk about her feelings, and always wants to share stories about her dad. We talked yesterday and she was going through all of the old pictures of our times together. Michael has a harder time talking about it and really holds it in. He hates when people talk about Bill's illness and especially his death, but can usually enjoy talking about happy memories. I should also say that they both saw him at a very difficult time. Right after a hospital stay, when he was on heavy steroids, and really struggling. Although, even with that, they shared a wonderful time together (this was when Bill was baptized). It was monumentally hard on them -- both the visit and having to leave him, but they were incredibly mature and loving and handled it so well.

That's my long-winded introduction to my question of, what can I do? Are there any super good books for younger adults who have lost a parent? Their faith is exceptionally strong and that is where they gather their strength, but that doesn't make them miss their dad any less.

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Teri,

I admire you so! I wish my stepmother had the same empathy and concern as you. I guess all I can offer is to keep them in the loop. My SM is in a self protection mode, trying to hang onto my Dad's assets and could give a damn about us children. My sister on the other hand has been a god-send, she checks on me regularly as she's afraid, I'm going to completely lose it.

We've been taking bets on when the SM will remarry. I know my Dad didn't mean to leave us in this mess, he just thought he would never die. You must mean the world to your step-children and they may be trying to protect you. You're very compassionate and giving. I'm sure you are doing all you can do and then some.

Take care of yourself Teri.

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I think just staying involved in their lives, letting them know you care and are interested in them their lives is the best way. I also think you have to take the cues from them.

I don't like to talk about my losses, unless I am ready to talk or I NEED to talk. All other times, I just keep it to myself. It frustrates Rick to no end and he never knows how to help me...after all this time, he sort of just watches me and listens and sees what it is I need at that time. Sometimes I just want to vent without feedback, other times I want to be sad and need support...and there are times I simply try to forget and be "ok!".

Your step son may just want to remember the good things and deal with his grief that way, and that's ok too.

They may not need support or even really "deal" with their loss until months or even years later...

Just keep doing what you are doing.

You are such a great person and it is so wonderful that you care about them so much.

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Thanks for your ideas. I think the distance makes me feel like I have to actively do something more. And I forget that that same distance might make their grieving process quite different than mine. Katie, you're so right, that what they're doing is probably what they need to be doing to go through it in their own unique way. Okay, I'll stop looking for things to do, and just "be" with them how I can.

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What I love, Teri, is that you are so willing to allow them their own grief experience, and you understand that losing Bill when they did cheats them in many ways.

There aren't any super good books (maybe I'll write one ;)). Losing a parent when you are a young adult is a lonely experience. Just be ready to meet them where they are and stay involved with them.

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Teri, Your step children are so very lucky to have you. I lost my dad pretty young too and it is awful thinking about all those could have beens. Just knowing that you are there and you care must be helpful to them. I would just keep the communication available when they need it. Like others that have lost a parent/parents young- I just don't always like to talk about it. I mostly just cry at night when no one knows. I do like to talk about the memories just to keep him alive in some way. I guess I would just keep doing and being who you are. I think you're so great- I'm sure they do too. Peace. Michele

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