How do you support parents when they have lost their child to suicide?(5 Posts)
Our dear friends lost their beautiful 15 year old daughter to suicide 17 days ago. So far in the haze of shock and grief, dealing with endless decisions and organising the farewell time has passed. Now their immediate family have returned home (not in the UK) and all the activity that surrounds the first few weeks has quietened down. So what do we do now to support them?
As my friend has just expressed to me "the enormity of losing our child is just dawning on us now. The means by which she died just adds to the complexity of grief. It's going to take a long time and I don't really think I appreciate that yet...it's still such a shock, still almost unbelievable despite going through all the ceremonial processes."
There are a core group of about 12 of us who have been supporting them and plan on continuing to do so (we met up together Saturday night to discuss how we should do this) but I guess I would just like to get some information from people who have either lost someone close (especially a younger child) through suicide or have supported people through this.
I am the closest to the family in terms of being involved - from our shared history together (our girls were great friends and similar in age) and from being intricately involved in what has happened (being there when they first found out / privy to their daughter's farewell letters and blogs) and have organised all the farewell things and so the group are looking to me for guidance. Except this is unchartered territory for me...
I did lose my father unexpectedly when I was 22 and as the eldest child was very involved in the collective grief of our family and our bereavement process and my close friend lost her fiancé to suicide about 6 years ago where once again I was with her in the immediate time after but these are widely different situations to what they are going through...
I appreciate that they will most likely need counselling but I am not sure how to help them to find what is right in this situation. I also know that they need people to be there and listen but are there other things that really make the difference? Please share and advise...
There is so little that we can do but we so want to comfort them on the path ahead.
I don't know that you can do anything other than just be there. And give them time and space to talk or not as they feel able to.
I haven't experienced it with friends of mine, but ds1 lost his best friend to suicide when they were just 15 and trying to support him was very, very hard. He blamed himself, and I know his friend's parents blamed themselves too. They wanted ds around sometimes, but other times would push him away as him being there was just too painful, so he had very mixed feelings about what to do.
The worst thing that I saw about suicide in a child that age was the adulation that appeared, on facebook, at the funeral, in all the social places the children went (online and in real life), and yet how quickly they all forgot.
All of their friends went to the funeral, about half a dozen appeared for the month's mind mass, by the time of the first anniversary only a few were left who remembered . ds continues to keep in touch with his friend's parents, but i think he is the only one of them all who actually remembers the anniversary each year (it's almost four years now, and I think his pain and guilt hasn't gone away at all).
There is little you can do but listen, and try not to be judgemental. I know you won't be, but I do remember feeling so angry at ds's friend, who had got away from it all, while we were all left to pick up the pieces. I know my feelings were irrational, but you may also find that watching your friends cope with the grief may bring out feelings of anger in you. It is important not to say this to them, but to understand if they express it to you (if that makes sense - in other words, ds could rant at me about his friend being selfish, but I could only make sympathetic noises, never agree).
If your daughter was close to theirs, you will have to take care of her too, as suicide seems to hit teenagers particularly hard .
It sounds as though you are doing the very best you can, but they will have to just survive it, really, and get used to it. It is unlikely that they will ever really get over it. Losing a child is awful; losing a child to something that should intrinsically be preventable is just indescribably awful.
Oh I'm so sorry. I hate to read about another mother and father losing a child to suicide.
I lost my 20 year old son Oliver to suicide 4 years ago. The shock is so overwhelming that I didn't stop shaking for about a month. The early days are extremely dark, I wanted to die many times to be with him.
The support for this young girls parents is so important. You sound like a wonderful friend, they won't realise it now but they will be leaning on you through this tragic time. They may cry, they may want to talk, they may not answer the door, all these things are normal so please don't be upset if they ever seem off, it's not you it's just the whole ordeal.
A lot of people are there in the early days which is good but it's after the funeral when you're left then with the reality of what's happened is when you actually need the friends around. Don't be scared to keep saying her name, talking about things she loved, just talking about her. You won't upset them anymore than they ever will be again. They need to talk about her.
And lots of hugs too.
Just want to say that four years on I have survived. I miss him every single day and will never really accept what has happened but I am surviving.
Please pass on my thoughts to them
Thank you for replying...Maryz I can totally understand the whole 'friends' and social media side of things. Her death made national papers and local and there were massive tributes on youtube / facebook etc, that in fairness comforted her parents massively but we as friends know how important that we remain still very much in the picture and aware for them on their journey.
Everlong I am so sorry for your loss...I truly am. Thank you for making me understand that "don't be upset if they ever seem off, it's not you it's just the whole ordeal." is what it is...plus the need to keep talking about her.
zazas, I lost my daughter over a year ago but not to suicide, she was only a baby and died from SIDS. I won't presume to know how our lovely everlong feels but I will say how other people supported us and how some didn't.
My SIL and BIL were wonderful. They came to our house on several weekends and brought Pizza and wine and just sat and listened.
One of my neighbours became a good friend and invited me to her house for tea and scones several times.
Another neighbour dropped in a shepherds pie which was brilliant as we really didn't feel like cooking.
Use their daughter's name. Don't be afraid to talk about her. The fact that you remember her will mean a lot to them.
remember her birthday, remember her anniversary.
Keep texting and talking to let them know you're thinking of them.
I don't know if your friends have other children but don't say things like "At least you still have X" if they do. Don't talk about "moving on". People who have lost a child don't really move on or get over it. And don't say "she's an angel" or "She's in a better place" unless they say it themselves. People's beliefs can be shaken when something terrible happens.
And feel free to direct them to the bereaved Mums thread here. We have all lost children for various different reasons and they will find other people who understand.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.