Chapter 5: Your changing relationships with other people

If you have children

I've been there
Dianne describes the challenge of grieving her loss while supporting her adult children in theirs. (3:22)Video transcript
David remembers worrying about his children's future after their mother died. (3:22)Video transcript
Hamayan talks about finding strength as a single parent. (3:22)Video transcript
David describes how their loss has brought them together as a family. (3:22)Video transcript

Along with the sadness of the grief, I felt like I wasn't a good mom because I wasn't the mom that my kids deserved. It was a constant battle between trying to make time to work through those big feelings and being present with the kids.

In the early days after she died, I was so focused on my own grief that I didn’t really see how hard it was for my son.  He was eighteen then and not up for talking about it, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t grieving.  If you have children, try to remember that each child had their own, unique relationship with your spouse. Whether they are young or adult, their losses may have left them feeling adrift or “unanchored.”

You may have become a single parent of younger children. This is never easy. Your energy will be divided by dealing with your own grief, supporting your children through theirs, and navigating the responsibilities and tasks involved in managing a household on your own. You may also have other caregiving commitments to aging parents or someone else in your family.


For you… 

Although it is natural and important to focus on your children, it will also be critical for you to find ways to attend to your own grief, and to your own physical and emotional health. 

For your child… 

Let your children’s educators know what is happening.  

For you and your children… 

Let your healthcare providers know what is happening. 

What may help

  • Each child also has their own grieving style. Your children may be grieving in different ways at different times. This is especially true for younger children, since their capacity to take in and understand their parent’s death will change as they mature.
  • Use available resources from your local library, bookstores, or websites about how to support grieving children.
  • Acknowledge the challenges in trying to balance your own needs with those of your children. Try to be patient and resist harsh self-judgment.
  • Accept any help you are offered and ask for help from family, friends, or others in your community when you need it. Let people know what is helpful and what is not.
  • If you think your children have needs that go beyond what you or others are able to provide, or if you feel unsure as to how they are doing, consult with an experienced grief counsellor. You and your children may also find a local or online support group for grieving children to be helpful. 

Helpful resources - Talking with kids and teens about serious illness, dying and death - For adult children: When Your Parent Has Died