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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I can't really sugarcoat the subject matter, so I'll just ask directly: when and how would you discuss the suicide of a parent with children who were too young to remember him at the time?

I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on how to make my kids aware of the fact of their father and who he was without turning it into a Big Discussion Moment or pressuring them to feel anything in particular towards him. But the cause of death issue ... it's not important that I know what to say right now, my children being the ages that they are, but I've been thinking about it a little bit lately and I really just don't have any idea what that's going to or even should be like.

I'm just looking for thoughts to mull over, should anyone have any.
 

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when = when you feel they are ready to handle that kinda subject. that age could vary with each child. at any time that they are aware that others do take their own life. and answer it when they ask how their daddy died. sugar coat, absolutely not. i know you didnt mean it that way. take the lead from your children. each will show you how to talk to them. however i would err on telling them earlier than later. and i would answer each question with observation rather than emotion unless specifically asked.

my brother committed suicide when my cousin was what 8 years old and he ADORED my brother. beyond adored. hero worshipped him. we all lied to him. i was asked to lie to him coz his mom was scared her son would do the same to follow his cousin. and later on he found out thru someone else. much in his teenage years. it was like he went thru a second greieving. it affected his relationship with me and his mom. he just quite has not forgiven. one day i know he will, he will understand esp. when he becomes a parent, but oh how i wish he had heard it from directly from one of us rather than a second person.

my dd is 6 1/2. suicide thru other channels has appeared on our radar. i am pretty sure that is going to come up in the next year or so and i will state it for what it is. that it was too painful to live than die. that they were really sad while alive. if you have any faith philosophy to share this would be the time to do so. mainly answer their question. and gauge where they are.

i think we underestimate how resilient our children are. and how i do tend to shelter her more. i have come to realise lately sheltering is not what she needs now. she needs information that she is noticing these days which she hadnt noticed before.

so what i am saying is there is no easy answer. what might help is sorting out your own feelings around this matter. and then answer directly to the point with whatever you feel comfortable sharing.
 

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How I handled it...which probably isn't the poster child example of what to do, but will at least give you a picture of what other mom's (this one) have done.

I am passionate about not lying to children. That does not mean that you have to bombard them with unnecessary information though.
When M's father committed suicide (she was eight years old) the only information I told her was that he had died. We talked a long time about afterlife, what it would mean to her for him to be gone and most pressing in her mind wither or not she would still be able to visit his grandparents. She did not ask for details of "how" he died so I didn't provide her with them.
She did eventual ask and I explained that as her mother I didn't feel she was ready to hear everything yet, but that just as soon as I felt she was ready to know I would tell her anything she wanted. I talked with his family about it and they told me they wouldn't tell her the details either. Every once in a while she would ask more questions "Did he get sick and die?" No, his body was not sick when he died honey. "Did someone kill him?" No, he wasn't killed. "Did he have an accident?" No, he didn't have an accident. Also during this time if she asked things like "Did dad like this, or that..." and so forth I would answer her if I could and if I couldn't I would let her grandparents know and encourage them to show pictures of him to her and talk about his LIFE with her more. Focus on his life seemed more important to M at that point than focus on his death.
Finally I sat down and had a heart to heart with her and explained that if she really, really felt like she was old enough to know how he died then I would tell her but that I was worried that she was not ready and that I was afraid that if I told her everything it would make her more sad and that once I told her there was no taking it back, there would be no way for her to "un-know". Ultimately she decided that she didn't want to know yet. Sometimes she would tell me "Mom, Ive been thinking I am almost ready to hear how dad died, but not ready all the way. Maybe soon?" Yes M, as soon as you feel you really, really want to know then tell me and I will stop no matter what and tell you anything you want.
I think she was very close to coming to that point herself when she was almost 10 but unfortunately M's grandparents took that out of my hands. She came home from a visit with them upset and told me that they had taken her to where her dad had his car wreck and that was how he died. I was furious at them!
First that is NOT how he died (I wont give the details but it was WAY not a car wreck)
Second she told me where they had taken her and it wasn't even were he died
Third they had forced my hand. I now had to either tell dd that he had committed suicide or take part in their elaborate lie to my daughter.
I hugged my dd and told her I would be right back. Went to the other end of the house and called them. I remained calm as possible but informed them that I would be telling M the truth.
I then went to M and told her that he had not died in a car wreck but committed suicide. She had no idea what that was so we had a looooong talk about what suicide was, it took a while because she didn't/couldn't understand why someone would do that. A lot of tears were shed. I told her the reasons he had left in his letter of why he had done it. More tears were shed.
Afterwards I asked her how she felt and she told me that she was very angry at her grandparents. I asked why and she told me because they lied to her and because I was right, she wasn't ready to know yet and that she wished they would have waited until she was. That made two of us. She didn't ask how he had done it, so I didn't tell her, the details of it all where pretty grim. A year later she finally asked she told me that she had wondered but had not wanted to know until then. I made sure she really wanted to know and then I told her a slightly censored yet accurate answer. She handled it very well. She cried a little, but nothing like before and said that it was very sad, I agreed. She also felt angry at her dad, and I talked to her about how that was ok to feel as well. You can be angry at someone and still love them.
To this day she does not trust anything her grandparents tell her, that is also sad and didn't have to be.
Ultimately trust your momma instinct gut and trust your dc, they will let you know when they are ready. In the mean time
when the time comes it will be hard but stay strong together and keep letting your precious ones know they can trust you always.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
More thoughts, but for now I do just want to say thank you for taking the time.


Quote:

Originally Posted by SashaBreeze View Post
How I handled it...which probably isn't the poster child example of what to do, but will at least give you a picture of what other mom's (this one) have done.

I am passionate about not lying to children. That does not mean that you have to bombard them with unnecessary information though.
When M's father committed suicide (she was eight years old) the only information I told her was that he had died. We talked a long time about afterlife, what it would mean to her for him to be gone and most pressing in her mind wither or not she would still be able to visit his grandparents. She did not ask for details of "how" he died so I didn't provide her with them.
She did eventual ask and I explained that as her mother I didn't feel she was ready to hear everything yet, but that just as soon as I felt she was ready to know I would tell her anything she wanted. I talked with his family about it and they told me they wouldn't tell her the details either. Every once in a while she would ask more questions "Did he get sick and die?" No, his body was not sick when he died honey. "Did someone kill him?" No, he wasn't killed. "Did he have an accident?" No, he didn't have an accident. Also during this time if she asked things like "Did dad like this, or that..." and so forth I would answer her if I could and if I couldn't I would let her grandparents know and encourage them to show pictures of him to her and talk about his LIFE with her more. Focus on his life seemed more important to M at that point than focus on his death.
Finally I sat down and had a heart to heart with her and explained that if she really, really felt like she was old enough to know how he died then I would tell her but that I was worried that she was not ready and that I was afraid that if I told her everything it would make her more sad and that once I told her there was no taking it back, there would be no way for her to "un-know". Ultimately she decided that she didn't want to know yet. Sometimes she would tell me "Mom, Ive been thinking I am almost ready to hear how dad died, but not ready all the way. Maybe soon?" Yes M, as soon as you feel you really, really want to know then tell me and I will stop no matter what and tell you anything you want.
I think she was very close to coming to that point herself when she was almost 10 but unfortunately M's grandparents took that out of my hands. She came home from a visit with them upset and told me that they had taken her to where her dad had his car wreck and that was how he died. I was furious at them!
First that is NOT how he died (I wont give the details but it was WAY not a car wreck)
Second she told me where they had taken her and it wasn't even were he died
Third they had forced my hand. I now had to either tell dd that he had committed suicide or take part in their elaborate lie to my daughter.
I hugged my dd and told her I would be right back. Went to the other end of the house and called them. I remained calm as possible but informed them that I would be telling M the truth.
I then went to M and told her that he had not died in a car wreck but committed suicide. She had no idea what that was so we had a looooong talk about what suicide was, it took a while because she didn't/couldn't understand why someone would do that. A lot of tears were shed. I told her the reasons he had left in his letter of why he had done it. More tears were shed.
Afterwards I asked her how she felt and she told me that she was very angry at her grandparents. I asked why and she told me because they lied to her and because I was right, she wasn't ready to know yet and that she wished they would have waited until she was. That made two of us. She didn't ask how he had done it, so I didn't tell her, the details of it all where pretty grim. A year later she finally asked she told me that she had wondered but had not wanted to know until then. I made sure she really wanted to know and then I told her a slightly censored yet accurate answer. She handled it very well. She cried a little, but nothing like before and said that it was very sad, I agreed. She also felt angry at her dad, and I talked to her about how that was ok to feel as well. You can be angry at someone and still love them.
To this day she does not trust anything her grandparents tell her, that is also sad and didn't have to be.
Ultimately trust your momma instinct gut and trust your dc, they will let you know when they are ready. In the mean time
when the time comes it will be hard but stay strong together and keep letting your precious ones know they can trust you always.
 

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No advice, but a
. I'm in the same situation with DD1. Her father committed suicide. She knows he's dead, but not how.
 

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This is maybe a bit of a tangent, but in high school I knew a sibling pair whose father had committed suicide when they were younger (but old enough that they knew what had happened right away). When they talked about it, they seemed most comfortable referring to it as the culmination of a "long illness" of depression, rather than a single traumatic event. One of them now works in the public health field, on suicide prevention among other things.
 

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My oldest daughter's bio father committed suicide nine days after her conception, she obviously never met him, so when we told her about her parentage (she was 9) we just explained that he had passed away before her birth. It took her about a year to ask *how* and we explained his depression and his suicide and she took it really well, she wasn't surprised. She sort of knew. She understood that he had a very hard childhood and a deep depression that was not really addressed.
I think it was important to her that we were straight about it, but loving. IT wasn't a big secret.
 

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The suicide my children know about is more distant than a parent, but here's what happened.

My mother died (not a suicide) before I had children, but I have always talked about her. When they started asking, and that was a different time for each, I said she got sick and died, and that she really was done living. So, I miss her, but it's okay with me, because I know it's what she wanted.

When we did end up talking about a suicide, this groundwork made it pretty easy in lots of ways. We explained the person had been ill (depression) and wanted to be done living. We have not had to elaborate more, but I imagine if it were a parent, elaboration would be necessary. Also, this explanation was at the dinner table with all three present, which means DS (9) did not get as much info as he might have liked, but he did not ask later, either.
 

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