Brother not coping with loss of father

My brother (step brother really but I’ve never differentiated) since his father died suddenly at the beginning of last year has withdrawn himself completely from life.

He’s 15 and I’ve tried everything I can think of to try and help him. The thing is he doesn’t seem to want to be helped. He runs away when my mother invites his friends to come visit. He won’t talk to me and has told my mother he’s not interested in talking to or seeing anybody.

He flat out refuses to see a councillor.

Despite recent illness refuses to see a doctor.

Hasn’t attended school in 10 months.

Bar one or two occasions I don’t think he’s actually left the house in that time either.

He spends all his time in his room and even eats his meals there.

He sleeps all day and is awake all night. The issue now is he’s obviously of an age where my mother struggles to control him. He can get aggressive and she has no option but to back off. School and social workers aren’t able to provide much help.

Has anybody had a similar experience with a loved one that can provide some advice or guidance on how they coped?

I don’t live close but get out to see them as often as I can and up until this year we have always had a good relationship I don’t want him to withdraw any further.

At the end of this month I’m heading back home for a few days to make sure he attends his court hearing for the school he’s missed. My mother has had to pay numerous fines and I feel it’s important for him to attend these hearings which he’s adamant he isn’t.

I’m also talking with my uncle to see if he can come out with me and see if we can get him to open up to us even just a little.

Dear Sw1ft85,

I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. He seems to be really struggling, and it’s clear that you’re very worried about him. It sounds as though this is really having an impact on the whole family.

I’m not a medical professional, so I cannot make a diagnosis, but it seems that your brother might be suffering from depression. I would advise you make an appointment with your brother’s GP to discuss your concerns, as they might be able to refer your brother to a mental health specialist.

Meanwhile, the following organisations can also provide support for your brother, your mother, and yourself:

Young Minds, the youth mental health charity, has a dedicated, confidential helpline for any adult worried about a young person’s mental health. Call them on 0808 802 5544 (9.30am-4pm Monday to Friday).

Child Bereavement UK also helps bereaved children and young people. You can call their helpline on 0800 02 888 40.

Family Lives is a charity specialising in families. You can call their confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222 (9am-9pm Monday to Friday, 10am-3pm Saturday to Sunday). You can also visit their forums.

Winston’s Wish also supports young people and their families after bereavement. Their free helpline is 08088 020 021.

If there is anything else I can help with, or you have any questions about using this site, just let me know.

Best wishes.



Thank you for your kind words and the information provided. I will set aside time tomorrow and make some calls as I’m really struggling with how to proceed at the moment.

My greatest fear has been and still is that mess up and just make matters worse so I’m just seeking as much advice and anecdotal evidence as I can before I go back home at the end of the month.

Again thank you.


Dear Sw1ft85,

You’re more than welcome, I’m glad I was able to help a bit. Please let me know how everything goes and remember to take care of yourself.

Best wishes,



I went home last week with a fresh perspective on what my brother may be going through thanks to this and other forums I have joined and the numbers you provided.

He was going to come to the airport to greet me but my said that morning he suddenly came down with stomach problems… In short he was worried about my arrival. I spoke to my sister and he’d told her he was anxious about me coming as we hadn’t really been talking. I had sent him a message before I left telling him there was nothing to worry about but he had been ignoring my messages and as such hadn’t seen it.

When I arrived he hid out in his bedroom for the first day so I thought I’d break the ice and went in and asked him why he thought I was there. I then alleviated any concerns he’d had.

Since speaking with you and the contacts you provided I realised the court date wasn’t important. I told him as much. I told him I didn’t want to go and that I would sort it out. Which thankfully I was able to without too much hassle.

By the time I left I had him coming out to talk with me while cooked and he ate every meal with me at the kitchen table! We sat and talked and I managed to get him to agree to try talking with a councillor.

To bring a long story to an end I left feeling much better about the whole situation and it feels like we are making small steps in the right direction which is all I can ask for the time being.

When I got home I slept for almost 20 hours straight. I think the weight and worry was lifted from my shoulders. We’re not there yet but it feels like we can make it now.

Thank you again.


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