As a Step Dad to Dan, I can write this with some insight. I knew Dan for 8 years and watched him grow from barely out of school and shut in his room with an Xbox, to getting his first job, car, girlfriend, holiday, flat and more.
Not being his actual Dad really didn’t make a difference, and I have been known when questioned to ask people that if they lost a 7-year-old child, does it not count as you barely knew them?
It happens though, we have had medical professionals and councillors say ” oh your just the Step Dad”, ” “but he wasn’t really yours” and “this group is really for parents”. You take it on the chin but secretly want to scream at them!
As a stepparent, I lived with him, and so did my daughter who regarded him as a brother and in some ways missed the cute baby and toddler phase, the school runs and being idolized as little kids do. Step parents often get the shouty, surly angry years and the issues of “You’re not my Dad” but we are there, every day and of course, we are attached.
If you work with someone every day for 5 years, 10 years etc you will hurt if they suddenly die, it’s the same….but worse.
So if you are a stepparent, allow yourself to grief, you have lost someone too and you are dealing with that plus the pain the rest of the family is going through as well as being occasionally disregarded as ” not a real parent”