Coping with parent dating after death
Adults visit physicians, speak of depression, but are never asked if a childhood loss might be a factor.
I was confused and angry, and adults didn’t know how to help me.Donica Salley, a 50-year-old cosmetics sales director in Richmond, Va., understands well the ramifications of losing a parent.When she was 13, her 44-year-old father drowned while on vacation in the Bahamas. “My mom tried to fill the void and the hurt by buying me things.” Two years ago, Ms. “There’s something about being with people who’ve been through it.She says she is worried that educators, doctors, and the clergy get little or no training to help them recognize signs of loneliness, isolation and depression in grieving children—and in adults who lost parents in childhood.Students are often promoted from grade to grade, with new teachers never being informed that they’re grieving.Salley’s husband died after falling off the roof of their house while cleaning the gutters. Their 17-year-old son has since attended a Comfort Zone camp. When my father died, I didn’t know anyone who’d lost a parent.
I was alone.” The weekend bereavement camps, held in five states and serving 2,500 children a year, are designed “to catch kids at the beginning of their grief journeys,” Ms. About half of the camp’s 5,000 volunteers are adults who lost parents when they were young.
Some chafed at more-formal approaches; 33% said talking to therapists or school guidance counselors were the “least helpful” activities.
The early loss of a parent can make some people more resilient, responsible and independent, the research shows. Kids who get through by being stoic and behaving like adults often “pay a fierce price—namely their childhoods,” says Ms. They focus on trying to keep their surviving parent happy or on stepping up to handle the responsibilities of their deceased parent.
Children whose parents commit suicide, for instance, are three times as likely to commit suicide later in their lives, according to a just-released study by Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.
The study also found that those who lost parents young are more likely to be hospitalized for depression or to commit violent crimes.
At the same time, the mental-health issues of grieving kids need to be better monitored by primary-care physicians in the days, months and years after their parents die, Dr. When surveyed about how they processed their grief, adults whose parents died when they were young speak of touchstones.