When Mary Richardson Kennedy died, she left behind her four children with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. What is going through their young minds? How will they heal? Psychologists share with us exclusively how the kids can cope after this terrible tragedy.
It is unknown for now how the family is feeling during this horrific ordeal. However, our experts — who do not treat the family — say that the kids, Conor Richardson, Kyra LeMoyne, William Finbar, and Aiden Caohman Vieques, ages 11 to 17, are going through feelings of overwhelming grief and even guilt.
In the short-term, the children will probably show some “wear and tear” in terms of behavior, like acting out or not doing school work, said Dr. Gilda Carle, the 30-second therapist for Today.com. They may even blame their father for not being more involved.
As for the long-term effects, Dr. Carle says the steps are long and involved, and they may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as time goes on: “I worry about their relationships in the future. How are the little girls going to feel about men? All of these things play into their development and future.”
Mary, who reportedly died of hanging on May 17 at the age of 52, had a history of alcohol problems, financial troubles, and an estranged husband who was allegedly having an affair with actress Cheryl Hines.
“The family will feel a lot of guilt because she might have been marginalized, and that damage might have contributed to her committing suicide,” said psychologist Jeff Gardere, an adjunct professor at Touro College in Osteopathic Medicine. “They will feel like they didn’t do enough.”
Dr. Carle seconds that opinion and the children will likely be going through the “if only” stage: “‘If only I didn’t have a temper tantrum’ , ‘If only I didn’t scream at mommy when I did’ , ‘If only if I was a nicer kid’ then mommy wouldn’t have killed herself.”
To help his children get through the pain of the loss, the experts suggest that Robert take on a firmer role. “He has to be around like he hasn’t been around before,” said Dr. Carle. “He has to take on role of mother and father.” Her advice is for the children to seek immediate therapy.
What else can the family do to cope? “This is a time the whole family needs to come together to grieve, mourn, remember, and be supportive,” suggested Gardere. “The best for the children is being all together to remember her in the most positive way.”
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