Adult Grief After a Traumatic Death

As a grieving stepparent, you may feel almost invisible to your spouse, other stepchildren, extended family, friends, clergy, or medical personnel. You may be excluded from important discussions about medical decisions or funeral arrangements. There may be an assumption that you, unlike the biological parent, can’t possibly understand or feel the depth of the loss. Many stepparents parent a child for years and invest a great deal of time nurturing the relationship. This exclusion can lead to feelings of isolation. Additional pain is felt when others fail to acknowledge your feelings of loss. Complications in Blended Family Relationships Be aware of the possibility that unresolved emotional issues between the biological parents may become more evident over time, especially if there had been conflicts over the parenting process. During this emotionally painful time, the biological parents may need to share their joint pain together as they struggle with their grief. This could cause further feelings of isolation. You may even feel threatened and insecure. This is usually a temporary situation, but one that requires tolerance and restraint. Keep in mind that when you attend a support group, you may be the only stepparent who has endured the death of a stepchild. In some communities, there may be specialized support groups for parents who have lost a stepchild. If you are a stepparent, the grief experience may be a precarious journey as you try to balance the needs of your spouse, your own feelings and other familial relationships. It is a time when patience, understanding and communication are of the utmost importance. Coping with the Death of a Child You may find yourself trying to comfort those around you at the expense of yourself. You may attempt to protect them from the reality of the death. You may be trying very hard to keep them from witnessing the depths of your own grief, which makes it difficult to share feelings with one another. You may struggle to make sense of the fact your spouse or family may be grieving very differently than you.

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