My husband died last year, and my 15-year-old son simply refuses to talk about it.
Whenever I try, he walks out and shuts himself in his room. He’s bottling things up, but I cannot get him to talk to me, or agree to counselling.
It’s all been hard enough on me, but seeing this reaction from my son is hurting even more.
How can I make him talk when he just doesn’t want to?
The short answer is that you cannot force him, and it might make things worse if you did.
It’s his way of coping, and while we think it could be harmful, in the short term it’s all he can do.
He may be angry. Angry at his dad for “leaving him”, angry that all his friends have dads and now he doesn’t, or even angry at himself for being unable to confront his true emotions.
Anger is a very common symptom of grief and is usually a phase.
All you can do at the moment is keep an eye on him, make sure he still sees his friends and does okay at school.
The phase should pass – it’s early days. If he has any mates you can talk to, they may give you an insight, and mention your worries to his teachers so that they can keep an eye on him and perhaps nudge him towards a school counsellor.
Meanwhile, it is important for him and you that you look after yourself. If you haven’t already, please find some counselling, or at least a group meeting, so that you can deal with your own emotions.
You will find that others go through these complex troubles.
Occasionally, when you sense the time may be right, mention to him that if he doesn’t want to talk to you, there are others he can talk to.
Perhaps leave a leaflet where he may see it, so he knows there’s a number he could call if he wanted to.
One day he will want to talk – but he will want it to be his own decision. Don’t be hurt at that – you are both going through hell.
Contact childbereavement.org who do all sorts of family support and have a helpline – 0800 02 888 40.
Also winstonswish.org.uk (0845 2030405), daisysdream.org.uk (0118 934 2604) and cruse.org.uk (0808 808 1677).
Do you have a question for me? Email [email protected]