Trying to be strong for my daughter

My husband of 26 years had a quick journey with gastrooesophagal (can't say or spell it) cancer and died four months from his diagnosis in July last year.  We have two children 25 and 20, we were a very close knit family, shared the same interests etc.  My daughter was very close to her Dad, she was away on a gap year when we got the news, but we kept it from her so that she could enjoy her trip, which she has said was the best option. 

She had anxiety and depression before she left, then she was dealt the horrible blow on her return.  She chose to go to Uni in September, but of course has been home with me (my Son lives away and has a very nice girlfriend etc) since lockdown.  We have become closer, however I try to shield her from the way that I am feeling.  Yes it's good, I think to let her see that I too am crying inside but her anxiety is very evident, we talk a fair bit, she is getting counselling (more for her anxiety than grief).  I sometimes struggle to cope as like any parent, I just want to fix her.  

Does anyone have any tips on dealing with this situation?  I think I am set on a path of sadness at the moment, but outwardly try to be strong.  I have had counselling myself from the hospice, but the group sessions, which I was due to attend have been postponed.

  • I'm so sorry for your loss and I understand your worries about your children.

    As if being a parent wasn't hard enough we have to process our grief and our children's. We always want to protect them and spare them any pain. Sadly not possible when they have lost a parent.

    My husband was 47 when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and I will never ever forget his bravery when he sat our children down and explained his diagnosis and asked them to be present when he died. He didn't want to hide anything from them. They were 22, 18 and 12. The youngest decided he didn't want to be there and I hope for him that was the right decision.

    Our daughter is the oldest and lives away from home , she came home instantly when her Dad rang. His illness lasted 3 months and she stayed with us for another 3 months. She was a big help emotionally. Then when she left she seemed to fall apart. I kept talking and messaging her and even had my closest friend who lives near her invite her out regularly. To give her the option of someone else to chat to. She has also talked about getting counselling as soon as lock down is over. My husband has been gone over 2 years now. Our daughter is struggling being away from us and couldn't be here for his 2nd Anniversary or this coming Father's Day. We will talk on the phone but it's not the same.

    Be honest and keep talking to her. Keep posting, is there a page on here for children? Would she write things down?

  • Thank you Ruby, I am so sorry to hear about your husband, I suspect that it does not become any easier as time progresses.  Just different.  I am sorry too that your daughter is finding it so hard, the lockdown must only increase her pain. 

    I have found it hard to be trapped with all the lovely memories of my husband without the option to at least physically escape them for a little while, visit friends or especially to see my Son who lives too far away to be in a bubble or whatever we are supposed to be doing.  My daughter, whilst enjoying the security of being at home, misses her Dad (isn't today - Father's Day tough?), friends and waking up with a purpose.  She does write down her feelings I think and is looking to contact Hope Again which is CRUSE help for young people, I feel helpless in that I can only suggest things.  We have a good relationship I think so yes, your advice is so right, thank you.  Take care and I do hope that your daughter finds a way to cope with it all.


  • My son found the loss of his own dad very hard. He never spoke about him or grieved for him from the age of 14 until he was 17. He then got counseling at college.

    I never asked him what was said. He has a really good friend who's dad also died just s few weeks later.wjich I think they help each other. They have a bizarre sense of humour about their dad's passing and will throw it in to a conversation with people who can then feel awkward. I guess it is a coping mechanism.

    He now chats about his dad openly with us as a family and remembers good times. His dad died suddenly. He is in fact the image of his dad and will be 21 in a few days time.

    We lost his step dad at Christmas due to cancer but it was also sudden. Paul has been a rock. He knew what to do and took a lot of paperwork from me, coped with the funeral and has been there. I am sure that counseling helped. 

    His sister who is 16 has not said much. I am concerned that she is bottling it all up. Her brother had told her to talk to someone,maybe she will as she goes to college in September and maybe she will get the same counselor. 

    Take care. I am sorry for your loss

    Love and hugs Alison xxx