Teen writing letters to dead brother

Yesterday, after my daughter went to school I went in her room to check and see if she brought in all of her laundry…there was a notebook on the bed, it was open and I saw that it was all full…I looked at it, just to glance and see what it was about(I know it invades her privacy, but I’m nosy…and it could have been for school) and it was a letter to my son who died back in May, the whole note book was full of letters to him and prayers for him. She talked about her everyday life and how she misses him…and prayed that he was in Heaven. I’m not sure how normal this is…I’m sure it’s just something that help’s her cope…I’m not sure if I should talk to her about it…every time I mention my son it seems to aggravate her, they got along fairly well…she’s 16…he was 23. When I mention him she simply says “I don’t want to talk about him or his death.” He took his own life, so it is hard to talk about, but sometimes I just have to talk about him…I’m at a loss at what to do about the notebook…say whether to say something or not…be concerned or not…

Sounds like a way of coping for her. Writing letters to deceased loved ones is rather common. My aunt writes to her deceased daughter…even after 20years.

Given the circumstances of your son’s death, you may want ro hqce your daughter talk with someone. Especially if you read anything worrisome or disturbing in her letters.

I’m sorry for your loss.

I’m so sorry for your loss. I want you to know that I will be praying for you and your family.

I think it would be beneficial for your daughter to speak to someone who might be able to help her… a priest, religious, a Catholic therapist.
I honestly view the notebook itself as a good thing, because it is helping her process her grief. If she doesn’t feel comfortable talking through her grief yet, at least the notebook is providing an outlet for her emotions.

God Bless you!

I think her writing to her brother is rather normal, and a good way for her to express her feelings. I am not sure I would tell her I saw the notebook, at least now.

However, if she shows signs of withdrawal, depression, continued anger or other issues like a drop in grades, you might suggest she get some counseling. I can only imagine how difficult this time has been for all of you.

Sometimes an outsider can help more than family, as they can be more objective. You might ask her if she has thought of counseling through her school.

God’s Peace.

I am sorry to hear of your loss. I wouldn’t mention the notebook as it could only cause issues with her knowing you found it and know what was inside. It could make her angry that you invaded that personal space of hers. It’s her own personal private way of coping with his death so let it be, for now.

I think her writing is a good way of releasing emotions. I’m sure in time she will feel more comfortable to talk with you. But as others have said if she started to become particularly withdrawn, down and depressed then perhaps consider counseling. I’m seeing a psychologist at the moment and I see him as more of a counsellor, it’s SO good having someone totally on the outside of my situation just listen to me and reassure me.

I think it’s okay.

I wrote a eulogy when my Dad passed away, and then I sort of, in my mind, redid it to add even more things. While, I wasn’t speaking to him, directly, I sometimes even talked out loud, cried. If anyone would have been able to overhear any of this, it would have surely sounded like the rantings of a crazy person.

As more time has passed, this has all pretty much gone away, now. I just pray for him everyday, but I think I needed an outlet for my feelings.

Some people use journaling as a way of getting their feelings out, and I think that’s one of the best ways, actually. Normally, it’s kept private, in confidence. The feelings are released, and normally, nobody gets hurt.

She is praying for her brother, who she hopes is in Heaven, but assuming that he is in purgatory. That in itself is a wonderful thing to do, a very Catholic thing to do, to pray for the dead. The diary writing and the prayers I would let her do. It’s in itself a very, very good thing, and shows she is a tad more spiritually mature than a lot of adults, let alone children of her age.

You might want to get a good Catholic therapist, though, just to help her get through the emotional trauma which is hinted at. Even a good priest might work.

You and your family have my greatest sympathy…

I have known people who talked things out and I have known people who wrote things out. Sometimes it is just too hard for me to talk about something, but I can write. I just cannot bring myself to speak.

I think that your daughter’s writing is like what I would do. In the meantime, however, is there someone with whom you can talk? A friend, a sibling? Sometimes there are support groups for those who need the increased understanding of people who are in a similar situation or else the detachment of people not previously known. Your daughter, too, may be interested in something like this, either now or in the future.

I will offer up my prayers this evening for you and your daughter and your son.

Sorry for your loss. May God give you strength.

We all cope with sorrow in a very personal way. If that is how she cope, that is how she does and there is nothing wrong in that so don’t worry.

Does the family pray together at all? This would be an excellent time to allow her to express her feelings and begin to let go. You may have to lead by example before she feels she can give herself permission to do so.

Good luck.

I think this is just a way for her to express her emotions. Not everyone wants to talk about things, especially teens, but perhaps writing in a journal is less threatening for her and she finds it easier to express herself. I don’t think there is anything weird about it. When I was a teen, I used to write poetry as a catharsis for my emotions.

Honestly, I teared up reading your post. Not knowing your daughter’s condition, it seems to me to be a beautiful way to remember him and pray for him. My fiancée lost her best friend in a car accident when she was 18. We pray for her best friend together. I pray for my Dad who died five years ago often. I like to write down my prayers. It is one of the things that I love about becoming Catholic, knowing that I can hopefully do something for the people I love that have died in my prayers.

For most who do this, it is a coping mechanism. I myself have recently started to do it when my mind wanders. I’m an 18 yr old young man and I lost my twin sister after a very premature birth. She was 9 days old.

If you feel you must approach this subject with your daughter, do so in an environment where she is comfortable. My advice would be to write it in a letter. I feel that it is hard to communicate things to my parents about touchy subjects, so I write them a letter. Reassure your love for her, and if she needs anything, that she can come to you about it. And then, if no red flags are raised, keep your distance and let her be. Don’t force your way into a situation like this, it only complicates things. If a red flag is raised however, seek professional and spiritual counsel.

I am sorry for your loss, and can relate to your daughter’s writings.
Pax Christi!

I am terribly sorry for your loss, however, I am also very sorry your daughter’s loss.Speaking as someone who also lost a sibling when I was a teenager, I feel a strong moral obligation to stand up for your daughter because NO adult understands what it is to be a teenager who looses a sibling.

The worst part of loosing a sibling as a teenager is now you have to live with two grieving parents and that is WORST than loosing the sibling. Your daughter probably never knew how bad mom and dad can hurt until now when she needs them the most. And what she needs to most is for you and her father to go back to the way you were before you lost your son and that will just not happen because you are both in terrible grief

yes it was nosy and if your daughter finds out she will never trust you again. Not only should you not tell her you saw it, you should NEVER again read her note book. I almost think this is something to be brought to confession

Sounds like God blessed you wish a very strong daughter

.

I don’t know how common it is but it is very intelligent and a great thing

.

You might not realise this but every time you mention your son, she sees your grief. As an adult, I understand you will have grief and it will show. However, don’t ever expect a teenager to understand that. More over, no teenager wants to think that her mom grieves. I remember walking into the house one day shortly after my sister died. I overheard my mom talking about it and crying on her friends shoulder. Now that I am an adult I can understand why she did it. But back then after her friend left, I blew my lid at her. I could NOT afford to see my mom grieve. I needed to know my life was going to go on and be OK and I NEEDED my parents to be OK. I could not live with the knowledge that they were grieving

She is setting a boundary that deserves to be respected

Yes, you need to talk about him, but NOT with your daughter. I suggest you find an outlet where you can talk without your daughter knowing. No matter how bad your grief, if you dump it on your daughter, she will feel unfairly punished

Again, I would not mention it to her. Actually, IMO you should breath a sigh of relief. Your daughter has a great coping mechanism.

As much as I don’t want to be harsh, I repeat I feel a strong moral obligation to speak up for your daughter. What she is going through right now is horrific. And I am not talking simply about loosing her brother, I am talking about how everyone in her life now treats her differently. It is horrible.

I think the notebook is very sweet. For months after my mother passed away (at age 88 of a sudden stroke), each day I woke up I would go in her room and say good morning to her. I swore I aways heard her say good mornin, baby, back to me. It gave me great comfort to sit in her room and watch TV like we used to do together and I ended up often eating lunch and dinner there. When I would go somewhere, I still told her and would say when I thought I would be back, just like I used to. Heck, I occasionally do that now even though I moved and sold her house. I have a beautiful photo of her and talk to the photo. I can hear hear say, “Have a good time!”

I had plans to write a book about her life and include the way she died.

Sometimes you just need a secret way of still communicating to keep that loved one close. It will get easier for her to talk about him. I think it will be easier to talk about his life than his death. Same for you, I’m sure. God bless.

My heartfelt sympathies for the tragedy your family has experienced. Many people think that when there is a death in the family close family members can support each other. This has not been my experience in the two I have experienced, we were each in each case trying to hold ourselves together and get back onto an even keel and were too hurt by our personal loss to be able to support, in the sense of counselling, each other. After my husband’s death a friend suggested using notebooks to my daughters and myself. I found it hugely helpful, and, even 19 years later, still write to him at times. I found my elder daughter’s notebook a few years after my husband’s death (note she was hugely traumatised by the event and in counselling to deal with her experience), her only entry stated, along with the date, “I am only writing in this book because Aunty _____ says I must.” And that was all that was in the book, I guess so that if anyone asked if she had used her notebook, she could honestly say, “yes”.

I see your daughter’s writing as an excellent coping technique. But please do be aware that she may need to meet with someone to discuss her feelings, feelings which she may not want to ‘burden’ you with as she realises that you are also grieving. A priest, school counsellor, psychologist, or support group for teens who have lost a sibling all spring to mind.

Compassionate Friends provides support for parents who have lost a child to death; they have support groups for siblings as well.

I have cut much of what Anglewannabe has said, not because it is not important, but you can read it in her post. I do want to emphasise the paragraphs I’ve kept in. I was a young mother when my sister died in a motor accident. It was horrible to suddenly be the only child, even as an adult. I recognised that my parents pain was greater than mine, but I really, really hurt and needed that pain to be acknowledged as well. I recall that when I phoned my mom on the first anniversary of my sister’s death, my Godmother (who had experienced the death of her daughter over 20 years earlier) had already phoned mom, which was great…but she never phoned me on that day, or any time around that day, and I was really hurting, in fact the day of my sister’s death was the anniversary of my confirmation. Through the years none of the family friends who supported my parents over anniversaries from my sister’s life ever made any contact with me at all.

I can only imagine how much more difficult it must be for a teen to cope with these emotions.

Please know that I will include you, your son and daughter in my prayers daily.

I’m sorry for your loss. God bless your daughter, it sounds like she is a very sweet girl who is missing her brother and this is her way of coping… I will be praying for your family.

Hi!
I know from my own grief experiences with losing loved ones, that your daughter is grieving (obviously) and this is a sad but healthy way to cope. (believe it or not)
each person has a unique way of grieving. I wouldn’t confront her about it for a few reasons: 1. you invaded her privacy and that will likely escalate into a fight. 2. it will embarrass her. 3. she may find other ways to cope that will not be so healthy. and 4. this is her way of grieving. people have to let out their emotions somehow, and this is her way of emoting. Grief is not something that goes away in 1-2-3.
God bless you and your daughter.

Hope I helped. :slight_smile:

I lost my sister when I was 13. I would say not anything about the notebook. Its her private thoughts and prayers. I think it is very healthy that she has this private outlet. If you need to talk about your son and your daughter is not ready then find another outlet. A grief counselor and/or support group for yourself -if you can find one specifically for family members of those who have taken their lives, that would be ideal. Do not think because she doesn’t want to talk to you about him that she grieves less. Sibling grief is different because the bond is different. Her being in a support group with other siblings grieving would be great if she is open to it.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.