it is ok for boys to cry when a parent dies Hope Support Services

Three Boys Crying

One of Hope’s young people explains how Hope helped him realise that it is OK to cry and shares some words of wisdom about what to do or say to someone who has lost a loved one.

Three crying boys, three stories and one support worker.

We are all very different boys but with something in common: our family member has a terminal illness.

Between us we have a mum, dying from a disease which causes organ failure, we have a dad who is reaching the final stages of his journey with Parkinson’s and now has neurological difficulties and a dad who recently died after a long battle with heart failure.

We are typical boys, we play X-box until the early hours making us late to college, we prefer nuggets over vegetables, and we have a drive for cars, bikes, skateboards and quads. One of us lives in care, another supported living and the other lives at home and cares for his mum. We like our fashion and a pair of Yeezy’s, we love festivals and trying to forget how life often brings us to feeling way older in our years due to our circumstances of living with someone with a terminal illness.

online support for young people when a family member has a life threatening illness Hope Support Services

Another thing that brings us closer together is our journey with grief, grieving for the life we miss before and after our loved one dies. Which leads us to being boys who cry.

Boys who once started with Hope Support Services and refused point blank to cry because we thought we were weak. But thanks to the support worker we have broken down in tears, sobbed as hard as a baby and spoken about how we feel and admitted that actually, it’s more than perfectly okay to cry if you are a teenage boy.

I cry because I am proud of my family, I am proud of how we came together at a heartbreaking time. I cry because it is a way to remember them with the good, the bad and the ugly moments. I cry because I miss them physically being with me and sometimes I feel the distance between what once was and what it is now. I cry because they are a part of me and I am a part of them and that I was given life because of them. I cry because of the love, the arguments, the sad times, the experiences, the opportunities, the chance to grow with them, talk and most importantly I cry over our love, our bond.

Does that make me weak? Does that make me less of a man? Not at all.

I’m the crying man that I am today because of the loving foundation I was given by them, that is unfathomable.

There is no shame in any of it and no shame should ever be placed on someone for the method they use to deal with grief. If they choose to cry, let them. Our job is not to control by saying “keep strong” trust me, after years of a loved one with a terminal illness it’s all we had to do as a family whilst our hope faded fast because we knew, despite however much we loved and hoped, the ending was never going to be the ending we so wanted. So when a person is grieving I ask for you not to tell them to be strong, tell them it is okay to let their guard down and cry. Sit together in the sad silence grief brings, love deeply, care gracefully and smile in the happier moments – yes, they do come!

Here are a few ideas for what to do or say to someone when their loved one dies.

Talk, listen or maybe not?

It’s hard to know what a young person may want, I have been totally clueless for a while about what I needed, wanted and what was best for me. Sometimes I want to talk and pour my heart out and just be listened to and other times I just want to sit without any words. What I am trying to say is by just being there and offering that chance of conversation in a gentle way for however long we may need is priceless.

Don’t assume that they are being looked after.

It can be easy to do this but without the support of my family and Hope I’d feel very alone. My friends are finding it difficult to support me as they are so young and lack understanding because many of them have not lost a loved one yet. Even if the grieving young adult has a large group of friends, do not let them fall through the cracks because you think someone else will be there for them as most of the time, that really isn’t the case and the young adult is yearning for some physical support, whether that be cooking them a dinner, going for a walk or a drive with some music on, or going to a festival and allowing them to let their hair down for a few days.

Permission.

Let them know that it’s ok to feel however they feel. It can be anger, sadness, blame, guilt or fear. Help them to know that their pain is theirs and only theirs. Emotions are important and they need to be validated.

Make a card.

Or a note, drop them a call or a text. Even if they don’t reply you have shown they are not alone and you are there when they are. It’s also ok to say “I don’t know what to say” combined with a hug because acknowledging the truth is a lot better than saying the hurtful “I’m sorry” over and over again.

Mark your calendar.

Mark down the date of the anniversary of death, the person’s birthday, the day of prognosis when their world got turned upside down and around those times continue to give that extra little care. Do something to remind them of this person, maybe watch videos back or look at the family photos, go and visit a special place or make something, plant a tree? Show them that however long ago their loved one died whether it be one year or ten years that you haven’t forgotten them either.

So remember, it’s OK to cry. A big thank you to Hope Support Services and Hope’s online support worker for allowing us space to grieve, cry, reflect and be ourselves on a journey we are finding so difficult. Being with Hope has allowed us to express our emotions in a safe, supportive and caring environment that is always open for us whenever we need it.

This blog was written by one of Hope’s young people. If you’d like to write a blog for us, please get in touch.

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