Family Heals After Losing Dad

Jul 16, 2020 - Success Stories


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Marian never imagined she’d be a widow at 37. She never wanted to be a single mom. But when her husband died last autumn, she faced raising a teenager and two younger children on her own.

“I was overwhelmed with loss and simply trying to go on,” she says. “The first few months were awful, especially with my oldest son, who was full of anger.” Like many people who experience trauma, Marian and her children were getting through each day in “fight or flight” mode. Marian reached out to PCHAS and began meeting with Child and Family Specialist Brenda Siller.

Brenda used the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI®) method with the family. She worked on anger management with the 15-year-old boy, giving him outlets for his rage and grief. She also helped Marian re-connect with each child. With hard work and dedication, Marian came to recognize behaviors that were based in fear and could respond to them appropriately.

Then the COVID-19 quarantine took effect. After a few weeks of video chats, Brenda saw that “there was a sense of being stuck at home and everyone being isolated, doing their own thing all day long. So I asked Marian to bring dinner back to 'family time' and come up with some fun topics they could talk about.” They also made a few guidelines: When one person speaks, everyone else waits their turn. If there is a disagreement, no one can raise their voice at the table, and no name-calling is allowed.

Marian tried this practice several times. Soon even the kids were looking forward to it and actually enjoying one another again. Sammi, the youngest daughter, likes how everyone listens when she is speaking instead of talking over her. They decided to have family time every night.

“Members of my husband's family have joined us by video and we are all feeling like a family again,” Marian says. “We’ve had very real and emotional conversation with them, which we really needed. We cry and we laugh as we share happy memories. I can’t thank Brenda enough for showing us how to heal.” PCHAS serves families dealing with enormous threats to their unity. We help them weather the crisis and stay together. There is no cost to the families, regardless of their financial standing. If you or someone you know needs care and support, call 800-888-1904 or write to

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