Chapter 5: Your family
Your adult child’s spouse, children, or both
After our son’s death, we were very worried about his wife. We gently let her know that we were concerned and offered to help out with the kids and chores. In time, she accepted more of our help and we’ve become much closer.
If your adult child had a spouse or partner, you may be grieving for them, as well as for yourself. If your child had children, you may feel heartbroken at the thought of your grandchildren not having one of their parents with them anymore. Click on the arrows to see some thoughts and feelings that you might have.
Your own sadness may deepen as you think of how your child’s death affects their partner, children, or both.
You might think that their grief is more important than your grief.
You may try to hide your own feelings, thinking you don’t want to “burden” the partner.
If you haven’t been close to your child’s family, you might now want to be closer.
If your child’s partner starts a new relationship at some point, you may have mixed feelings or feel a sense of betrayal.
What may help
- It’s possible to acknowledge your own grief and still offer support to your child’s family. Remember that you may have more energy to support them at some times than at others.
- Hiding your grief does not lessen anyone else’s burden and often leads to misunderstandings. This can compound your grief and leave you feeling isolated.
- Even if you wish to have more contact with your child’s family, they may not feel the same way. If there were past conflicts or differences, you might feel ready to forgive and forget, but they may not. You might need to give them, and yourself, time.
- In time, connection with your child’s family may deepen and become a source of comfort to both of you. You may be able to tell stories and share memories. You may find comfort in noticing some physical or personality characteristics of your child in your grandchildren, and they may also notice these in you.
- It’s normal to have mixed or conflicting feelings if your child’s partner begins a new relationship. Depending on your relationship, it may be helpful to talk through your feelings with each other.
- If tensions or conflict are ongoing, consider talking with a counsellor or family therapist.