Ask Mary

Here I answer commonly and not-so-commonly asked questions. If you have a question(s) you’d like answered please use the box below on the right.

My friend thinks I have complicated grief or prolonged grief disorder. What is that and I wonder if I have it?

Prolonged Grief Disorder (formerly known as Complicated Grief) is a diagnosis characterized by severe, persistent and disabling grief, and is a new diagnosis in the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual latest edition #5 published by the American Psychiatric Association.) First identified by Dr. Kathleen Shear of Columbia University, Complicated Grief, or PGD as it is currently known, may be...

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It’s been three years and I still miss my husband/wife/child so much. Is something wrong with me?

There is no timeframe to grief and it is more than likely you will miss your person for the rest of your life. But over time you will find a way to live with the sorrow of your loss right beside the joy, happiness, and contentment of your life that will come back in time. We can miss people and also take solace and even happiness in their memory or their legacy. There is a lot of “myth...

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We have to put our dog Rocky to sleep. How do I tell my kids?

Always tell the truth. Be sure not to say “Rocky went to live on a farm” or “the goldfish went on vacation.” The death of a beloved (or even not so beloved) pet is often a child’s first loss. It is an opportunity to provide some education about death and what to do with all the feelings that accompany a difficult loss. You can say “You know how Rocky has been having trouble walking and eating...

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If someone dies by suicide what should I tell my kids?

As hard as it may be to tell them how the person died, children and teens always need to be told the truth. One way or another they will find out the truth and if you as their parent or caregiver haven’t been honest with them they may think you can’t be trusted. Some examples are: What happened to Daddy? "Daddy died by suicide which means he killed himself. He had an illness in his brain that...

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Should I bring my child to the funeral?

Children of all ages should be given a choice of whether to attend the funeral. Share with them in age-appropriate ways what they can expect to see and experience at the funeral, wake, shiva, or memorial service. Most funeral homes have options for children such as a special room just for them where they can go if they need a break. Make sure there is someone else who can attend to your child if...

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