I am so sorry for taking so long to respond. When I originally posted, I was excited to hear from people I would commiserate with and thought I was ready to talk about it. Then your great responses came in and I kept putting them off and putting them off. Even after all these years, it's still hard to talk about sometimes.
Darla/Marion/Randi/Labrador/Lainy/Iowagirl/Gavin -- thank you for the welcome and the kind words. I really apologize again for waiting so long, andI want to try and help out any way I can -- I'm good with computers, I am really good at talking to people, I'm good at networking. Right now, in my heart of hearts, I want to help kids who are going through what I've gone through.
Willow -- an LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker. They are great people!
I am sorry to hear about your sister. Stay strong! I know everyone's situation is different and everyone grieves differently, but the one thing I kind of hold against my mom is that I wasn't really informed about what was going on, wasn't allowed to go to the ICU, and never really had a healthy way to grieve. I was so frustrated in middle school, high school, and college -- I hated how unfair it was that I wasn't allowed to have a dad, and I felt like I was given a raw deal in life. I still kind of feel that way, but going to a counselor indirectly (Teenage angst doesn't go well with grieving haha!) I can't hold too much against my mom. We might have been poor and had a tough going for a while, but she worked two jobs, lost the love of her life, and still managed to raise two boys. She's a rock star.
As far as warning signs go, it's gotta be real tough to tell the difference between, like I said, growing pains and real mental health issues. Even for myself, it's hard to look back and differentiate between depression and just growing up, and even then, there's a lot of pressure on boys to internalize those feelings. That being said, maybe try and look out for drastic changes in mood/behavior. For me, I had fits of frustration where I would lash out verbally at mom or kick things in my bedroom. I always was a straight A student, but I really coasted through my junior and senior year of high school and ended up getting D's in my favorite class with my favorite teacher and missed school a lot. I also quit the soccer team senior year (which I loved). Looking back on it, those were definite warning signs. I also would cry a lot over the stupidest things.
Maybe you can take your nephew to counseling once and see if he feels comfortable once. I did a grief group thing in college for a semester, and it was wonderful to talk and cry with people who had lost a loved one.
I'm working at the clothing company, and that is so cool about your dad! Did he publish any papers? Id love to read them!
Kevin -- you know what, a blog is a good idea. When I was in counseling in school, the counselor told me that writing is a great coping strategy and she even had me write a letter to my dad and read it out loud. Sure I broke down and could barely read it, but it was so cathartic. I'll keep you posted!