or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Grief and Loss › suicide and what to say?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

suicide and what to say?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
dd's bm killed herself in what we believe to be an attempt to be rescued. i say that because she had a history of half-hearted attempts where she was easily 'saved' and the general consensus is that if she'd had the right doctor she would have been saved this time too.

He made the mistake of not believing either her (or my now husband) when it came to how many pills she took. She took an entire bottle of immodium, which led to a coma and brain death. Had she been kept under observation, or had she just taken a few, she would have survived.

At any rate, dd has never been told the real details of her death, she just thinks she went to the hospital and never got better.

DH and I disagree as to whether she should be told. I think it's important that she know, since we both have chronic illnesses and she might think we could die at any moment! I think with all of her uncles and aunts having depression and substance abuse problems, iit's extremely important to address this.

He's agreed to let me take her to counseling, so I'm waiting for an appointment, but how effective is therapy if you aren't working with all the facts?

What should I do? I can't go behind his back and tell her.

post #2 of 25
I would go into the councelling session without her for a few minutes and address the issue with the counceller first. What a hard position to be in. I can honestly say that I don't know what I would do. to your daughter and to you and your husband.
post #3 of 25
how old is your dd? I think telling her the details depends on the age. she may not understand suicide (and all that entails). My brother was shot and we did not tell his children the details of what happened until they were 18. I think this was better because they were already upset that he was hurt and did not need to know the how's and why's at their age.
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 


she's 9, but she's spent the last 3 years believing mommy went to the hospital and never came home.

I also see behavior problems that I believe stem from loyalty to mommy and the aunts, and she can't please us all......so she goes back and forth with her loyalties.

Depression and substance abuse run in that side of the family, so I worry about that, too.

I think having a talk with the counselor is a good thing.

post #5 of 25
My first dh died by suicide when my ds was 3 years old. At the time, we talked to him about death in very, very basic terms. But as he got older, he wanted more information. Through counseling and guidance, we gently told him the details surrounding his Father's death. I did not want him finding out the truth from someone else or feeling that he could not ask questions about his Father's suicide. Its such a difficult subject for adults and it can be painful talking with a child about it.

Also, on the grief and loss resource list, there are a few books about children and grief that might be helpful. Some of these books, do go into detail about how to talk with children about difficult circumstances, such as suicide.


post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 


I've got some books on the way, but it seems like most are written from the point of view that you tell the children about suicide. DH doesn't want her to know until she's older, but I don't think it's good for her to think people go to the hospital and die.

There are so many issues with this kid, I just don't now where to begin. DS is gifted while she steadily falls further and further behind in school. DS quickly picked up on what was expected of him at home, while DD lies, sloughs off, and just generally doesn't do what is expected of her. Because of all the repetition and tasks left undone, I spend a lot of time annoyed with her, and I have no doubt she feels like DS is the favored child. I think it's only natural to find it easier to be around the one who doesn't cause me trouble, but I understand I have to find a way to not show favoritism. It isn't like I start every day thinking I like one kid better than the other, but she is just so much work, and I never see progress.

We just got report cards yesterday, and she has fallen behind in almost every subject. I review spelling words, have her read every day, and we have various educational games, but I don't know how to teach her. If they can't make her understand at school, how do I do it at home? How do people who homeschool do it? Right now I feel like any time I notice my son doing well it's like telling her she isn't. How do you impress upon a 9 year old the importance of learning?


post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 


We've got a counseling session scheduled, and LD testing scheduled through the school. I've been talking to a disabilities expert and I feel awful. Nearly every thing that child does that drives me batty is related to learning disabilities. When I think of all the times dh and I have growled at her about her homework, daydreaming, and various other things.......:

I'm still burned about the counseling people refusing to schedule an appointment without dh. I think she and I have the most things to work on, and I have much more free time than he does, but they insisted that she could not come to counseling without her 'parent.' According to Kaiser Permanente stepmothers don't count.

post #8 of 25
Can your DH sign something with the counselor's office so that you can schedual future counseling sessions without his presence?

I personally would never have told her "she went to the hospital and never came out." I would have phrased it initally as "she got very sick and she died. The doctors and nurses did everything they could to help her get better, but it wasn't enough, she was just too sick." The fact that the doctors and nurses may NOT have done all they could is a subject to bring up much, much later!
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 

nobody told her that

that is just her childlike version of it. She went to the hospital and was released by some idiot doc, then came home and slipped into a coma.

Since nobody ever told her anything other than 'the doctor messed up,' she thinks the doc is at fault. We know it's a little of both mom and doc's fault, but dh doesn't want to broach the suicide issue with her, and I have to respect his wishes even if I think he's wrong.

The end result is the same whether it is suicide or an accident, the person is just as dead.

post #10 of 25
Someone actually told her "the doctor messed up"? Whoa. That's where some of her issues with authority figures probably started. Placing the blame of her mother's death on the doctor (even if it is deserved) may have taught her early on that authority figures could be counted on or trusted.
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 

oh, it gets better

The aunts said things in front of her to imply that dad killed her. Then they tried to sue for wrongful death, but they weren't entitled because dh was the next of kin. DD has a trust fund she doesn't know about now.

I think dh thought it was better to let a 6 year old think someone else was at fault than to tell her the truth.

But now we're dealing with an apparently dyslexic, scared, confused little girl.
Counseling starts monday, we'll see what happens.

Do you think it's worse for her to think someone made a mistake than to know her mom killed herself? Which is worse, fear of doctors (which is probably a sane fear, imo) or thinking mom abandoned her?

post #12 of 25
how old is your daughter? is she old enough to understand? does bm mean bio mother?

i was addopted and may be able to help if you give me childs age
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 
Yep, bio mom. I don't know how old she needs to be to understand, but she's 9 now. We start therapy tomorrow, so maybe the therapist will have an idea how we can handle this. I think the version she has been given led her to just think mommy went to the hospital and the doctor screwed up. I don't know if she needs to understand that it was a suicide, but I think there should be some acknowledgement that the situation was not 'mommy went to the hospital and some idiot doctor killed her.'

I don't think it would be much help to her to know she voluntarily checked out, but so many people have told me she should know, it makes me wonder what is the right thing to do?

I'm going to do whatever the therapist says in this regard, but if he thinks she should be given the whole truth I'm pretty sure my dh will object.

post #14 of 25
well really i would have to say as an addopted child it is really important to know every detail possible. At the age of 5 my mom told me i was addopted and as years went on she kept telling me everything that happened. it is something very important to addopted children to know. im glad i knew everything for the alcohol they consumed to them throwing me as a 6 week baby at the wall. I think your daughter should know - maybe you should tell her something like " she was very depressed and decided she did not want to live anymore" or "she had an illness called depression and it caused her to die" then since you are worried she will get concerned about others go on to say hat only some people die from depression, and other sicknesses not everyone. Remind her there are many options for getting help.
post #15 of 25
I am glad you are getting profesional help in this situation.
I am adopted. Have you adopted her? Did her mom raise her and when did she stop? She died 3 years ago? Were you with her dad at the time of the moms death?
If this mother raised your dd she is not considered her birth mother- because birth mother means that she gave birth to her and then she was adopted.
If you have not adopted her- and only been in her life a short time- you are not technically her mother or adoptive mother?

I am adopted. Please read The PRimal Wound by Nancy Verrier- she may not be LD she may be traumatized.... please consider this and work with profesionals.
post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 
It's complicated, all right. She raised her to age 6, and dd was the one who found her after the final attempt. She woke up in the middle of the night, found her passed out, and couldn't wake her up, so she woke dh up. I think she intended for him to find her, but it didn't work out that way.

We started dating after all that. We are in the process of getting the adoption rolling, so we can adopt each other's kids.

He is so dead set against her knowing the truth, and I understand the abandonment issues, but everything I read, along with your opinions, tells me she should know.

I hope with the counselor involved I can convince my dh to tell her a little more about this. I can see pros and cons to both approaches, but your words carry a little more weight.
post #17 of 25
I'm glad your getting your dd counseling. Even if you didn't tell her the whole truth now (not saying
that you shouldn't) I'm sure she has a lot of thoughts that she could use help sorting out.

My neighbor's husband was killed a really odd work accident about 3 years ago. Her son (who is now
9/10 yo) knows exactly what happened to his father, and how he passed. Then about a year ago he
fell from a pretty high fall. My Father, dd and myself along with his Mom witnessed him fall and we
quickly got him into the car to go to the hospital. He got very tense, and when we left he told his
mother that he was not going to the hospital. They talked and it came out that he didn't want to the
hospital out of fear because his Dad went to the hospital, and never came home.

I'm sharing my story because even if a child isn't told "the doctor messed up" they can still harbor
scared feelings of hospitals/doctors due to that being the last, or one of the last places that their
parent was before death. Since in a sense if you asked my dd what they do at hospitals I imagine
she might say "to make sick people well". Then when they learn that they don't always make people
well, it can be quite scary for them.

s to your family.
post #18 of 25
OK. I would not call her mom her birth mother. She is her mom. Who died.
Very sad.... I wish you all the luck with this.
My dh's mother had terminal cancer when he was 20-25 and died when he was 25. They told dh that they were just waiting on a drug to get FDA approval and she wouldn't die. It was the wrong choice to make.
I am sure the counselor can work with your whole family to help during this time of transition.
Hugs mama.
post #19 of 25
Oh yah- my mom has major doctor issues and hospital issues. As well as issues in general. Her mom went to the hospital and died. No one told her about it or anything. She was 12. It was just a big secret. Secrets in families are NOT good.
post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 
Technically, though her mom was in the house, she didn't really do anything to raise her. Dh and his oldest son had al the responsibility raising her and mom was emotionally absent and often hospitalized.

All she knows about the mental illness is that 'mommy was sick a lot.'

I think there needs to be a distinction made between 'sick' and 'terminally ill' in dd's mind, since dh and I both have chronic illnesses, which, while irritating and uncomfortable, are not likely to kill us anytime soon. I can't help but think she must have fears about us abandoning her, too, since we both are 'sick' and mommy was 'sick.'

Off to our first counseling session.....
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Grief and Loss
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Mom › Talk Amongst Ourselves › Grief and Loss › suicide and what to say?