HealthLeader

An Online Wellness Magazine produced by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth)

Youth, Grief & Trauma

Advice and care mental health professionals furnish can often prevent acute childhood trauma from becoming a chronic adult problem.

Youth, Grief & Trauma

Over the holiday break of 2013, Dana Germain and one of her then 11-year-old twins left their Houston home for a girls’ trip to Paris. Her husband, Rich, took their three other children to San Antonio. After a day spent sightseeing and eating out, Dana and her daughter returned to their hotel room, and she checked her phone. She had 18 messages from her other 11-year-old twin begging his mom to call him.

When Dana did, her son told her he thought something was wrong with Dad. He explained that it was dinnertime, and Dad wouldn’t wake up. They had all gone to bed as usual the night before, and their youngest son, 6, had gotten up early and laid down in the bed with his dad for several hours. As the day went on, the other children tried to wake their father and failed.

Dana asked them to bring the phone into the bedroom and show them her husband. She realized that he was dead. Dana had her son call the hotel manager, who called 911, and she told her children that Dad was sick and needed to go to the hospital. The police said that if someone didn’t arrive in the next five hours, they were taking the children into custody. Dana called a friend and her sister, who both headed for San Antonio as fast as they could get there.

Dana and her daughter spent the next 36 hours getting home, timing it so that she arrived home about the same time as the children.

She wanted to tell them in person that their father had died.

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