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John James, founder of The Grief Recovery Institute

John W. James

Founder of The Grief Recovery Institute®
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve

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Unique question about how we refer to someone who has died. (Published 1/7/2014)


I can't ask this question without sobbing. We (my husband and I) lost our son in May, two weeks before school was out, in a drowning incident. He was seventeen. He had passed his Grad Exams, made A/B honor roll, kept his room clean; he was the ideal child.

I have many questions about what to do next, but the main one right now is concerning my other four children. My sixteen and thirteen year old girls can't seem to relate to me casually talking about him as though he was still here. They look at me as if I were crazy. They act as though I should talk about him in the past tense. So, they don't talk about him at all.

But at the same time they don't want me to change anything in his room or let the next oldest boy move into his room. How do I communicate my feelings about him and the need to talk about him to them, and get them to do the same?

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