I am 26 years old and have a 2-year-old son. Four months ago my son's dad was killed in a car accident. We were supposed to be married last summer but split up before the wedding. Even though we were split up we saw each other regularly and still were very much in love. In the weeks before his death I felt we were getting back to where we once were. I gained quite a few friends from my relationship with him and I am very grateful.
My problem is that I have NEVER lost ANYONE close to me before!
My son is too young to really remember his dad but I talk about him all the time, In fact I find myself talking about him all the time, I even talk to HIM daily! I am wondering if his death is turning into an obsession. I don't want to lose all my friends because of this though nobody has really said anything to me. It just helps me to talk about him. I am not sure how the grieving process works. I cry all the time and can't ever seem to get him out of my head.
Is this healthy for me or for my son?
Dear Missing Him,
You may carry the blow of your husband's death for the rest of your life. You are in the early stages of that tidal wave, so expect to be swamped with feelings. People grieve differently, some carrying on conversations with the lost one, wearing articles of their clothing, keeping their rooms intact and unchanged, and others go so far as to immediately empty out their closets, and remove photos of the loved one so as not to be reminded of their loss.
The American Psychological Association used to say normal grieving lasted one year, and anything beyond that was "sick", but that's not the standard anymore. These days it's pretty much understood that grieving can go well beyond the one-year mark.
I applaud your concern for your son, and your wondering whether your grieving or focusing on his missing Dad is good for him. Just be sure you're not imposing feelings on your child that don't come natural to him. Make sure that you're OK with your son being happy even when you aren't. Make sure that your grieving somehow translates into appreciating the living little kid at your side. Otherwise you do run the risk of dumping on him, and eventually having him resent you for it. I believe your son will naturally ask about his father, as he gets older, and you can share your heart with him especially at those times.
I recommend you connect with a grief support group, possibly through a local chapter of Hospice, so you can get the kind of attention and support you need. I believe that grieving isn't something that should just somehow happen in the background, and isn't something that will just take care of itself. I believe grief is work, almost soul-work, and requires some undivided and focused attention. Let your grief bring more depth to your life, without letting it drag you down into something morbid. That's where your little son can be your guide.
This question was answered by Andy Bernay-Roman, RN, MS, LMHC, NCC, LMT. He is a nationally certified counselor in private psychotherapy practice in South Florida working with individuals, couples, and families with a deep-feeling therapy approach. Andy's medical background as an ICU nurse contributes to his success with clients with difficult medical diagnoses and/or chronic physical conditions. He also serves as head of the Psychological Support Department of West Palm Beach's Hippocrates Health Institute.For more information visit: http://www.deepfeeling.com/