My response: I’m so sorry to learn of your loss and the tragic circumstances surrounding the death of your dad, and I hope you’ll accept our deepest sympathy.
You don’t say how old you are, so I’m not sure if you’re a high school student or in college (you said you started school the Monday after your dad died), but I know that returning to classes so soon after this tragedy must have been very difficult for you. If you’re like most teens and young adults, you don’t want to feel different from your friends and classmates -- but having a death in the family most certainly can lead you to feel very different from your peers. Not wanting to feel singled out as “the one whose father died,” you may be tempted to keep your dad’s death to yourself and avoid talking about it with anyone else. But the death of your dad is way too big a burden to be carrying all by yourself.
Does your school know what has happened to you and your family? If you haven’t already done so, you might ask your mother to help you plan what to say to your friends about all of this. If they don’t know what happened, and from your point of view, they may be responding only to false rumors and they won’t be able to offer the understanding and support that you need. It’s important that the school principal, your teacher or your school counselor know what’s going on with you, too, so they’ll be in a better position to understand your behavior and guide you to the help you need and deserve.
In the meantime, I’d like to point you to some resources that I think will be helpful to you. (You might ask your mom or another trusted relative to explore some of these resources with you.) What you are thinking and feeling in the wake of this loss can be very frightening and confusing, especially if you’ve had little or no prior experience with death in your family. Learning what normal grief looks like and feels like is important, and can help you to understand better what may be happening to you right now.
Please take some time to follow these links:
Teen Grief: Mourning the Death of a Parent
Teen Mourns the Death of Her Best Friend
Bill of Rights for Grieving Teens
National College Students Support Network
Bereavement Information for Teens
Teen’s Health: Death and Grief
Grief Education Association’s Page for Teens
The Healing Place: Grief Support for Children and Teens
Helping Teenagers Cope with Grief
Loss During Young Adulthood May Make One Feel Old
More Than Sad: Teen Depression
Straight Talk About Death for Teenagers , Book by Earl A. Grollman
Teen Grieving the Death of a Parent
Finding Meaning in Tragedy
I hope this information is helpful to you, my dear, and I hope you’ll continue to reach out for the support that is readily available to you. There is no need for you to go through all of this alone.
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- Parent Loss: Continuing Their Song
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