I just watched the new Liam Neeson movie called “Made in Italy” and it made me think I should write about familial grief. Neeson’s son Micheal Richardson co-starred. This must have been extremely cathartic for both father and son since the death of Natasha Richardson, Neeson’s wife, and Richardson’s mum. I read an interview with Micheal (pronounced Me-Hall) where he disclosed that after his mother died from the ski accident he went wild for a few years. Apparently no one told the family about teenagers and grief. Teens typically delay grief, watching, and waiting for cues from the adults in their lives. So, by the time they are able to grieve, those around them do not understand that it is a reaction to what happened 18 months prior and because they seemed fine or at worst indifferent. Other things such as plunging grades, changing friends, and getting into trouble at school.
I don’t want to spoil it completely but in the movie, it becomes readily apparent that neither character dealt with their loss in a healthy way. I cried for both of them. My husband didn’t react as strongly as I did. Maybe because of how men and women grieve differently? We are all-in and men tend to busy themselves by doing. Doing can be just about anything that can take their minds off of their sadness such as, building things, yard work, drinking, drugs, or ill-timed companionship. Women talk about feelings while men don’t really know what to do with them, hence the busy doing.
So, if you are a parent and your partner dies please talk about your feelings with your children and let them know how devastated you are and ask about his or her feelings. Get professional grief help for all of you. From personal experience, I can tell you it confuses kids when you try to shield them from your pain. As I mentioned earlier, kids take their cues from parents and other adults in their lives. Don’t teach them to bottle up their grief. It will only blow up later. Just ask Micheal Richardson.