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Tamara, Counselor & Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1073
Experience:  20+ yrs Private Practice; Cert. Master Therapist; National Board Certified; APA Board Certified
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My husband committed suicide in Feb this year after 7 years

Customer Question

my husband committed suicide in Feb this year after 7 years of suffering undiagnosed chronis fatigue syndrome. My 11 year old son seems to be coping reasonably well, but my just turned 13 year old son seems to be angry & rebellious. I've already changed schools once and he's starting fights at his new school. I found cigarettes in his pocket this afternoon & he says he's smoking to stop being depressed as they are a stimulant & that's what they told him in drug ed at school.
I'm barely coping myself & trying to distinguish his behaviour between normal adolescant or grief or something much more serious. Can you please help?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Tamara replied 7 years ago.
Hi Melissa. First of all, let me say how terribly sorry I am about your loss. Suicide is very difficult to deal with, so I would not be at all surprised if your son is having some behavior problems relating to this loss. I would suggest you get him into counseling again, and don't give him the option to stop going until his behavior changes. You are his parent - if you say he needs to go, he needs to go. He needs a strong parent right now, despite all his attempts to assert himself and be in control with you and with others.

There is no way to tell for sure without talking with him further and getting more history, but it sounds like he is having a grief reaction that he does need help with. I would not consider this typical teenager behavior. I would guess he is acting out in order to try to avoid his pain. The longer he is allowed to deal with it in this manner, the more likely he is to adopt this as a permanent part of his personality. It sounds like he has told you he is depressed, so get him the help he needs. I know you don't have any energy right now, and I'm sorry you are having to deal with this. I'm sure it is tempting to jut hope it goes away. But he needs your help. And don't neglect yourself. It probably would be helpful for you to have a therapist to talk with right now also. That would provide you a place to talk about your own feelings and concerns, and to get some feedback about your son's behavior and perhaps some coaching on how to deal with it.

Best wishes, and please let me know if I can answer any further questions. Tamara

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