Suicide - how much to explain to dd

(13 Posts)
bobkate Thu 26-Sep-13 21:04:58

downy very sorry for your loss. I popped onto the board to see if I could get any ideas about the very same thing. My grandpa did the same today, still in shock really about it all. I have a 5 yr old and a 3yr old and have been wondering what to say ( if anything at all at the moment ) but betty, thank you so much. I think that's a lovely way of telling her. She knows about how the heart works, and to say he died of a broken heart is true I believe in many ways. So thank you in more ways than I can explain at the mo.

Sorry to hear about your loss.

My lovely BIL committed suicide in April and we didn't tell our 11 yo DS what happened. He asked me how his uncle died and just asked whether he had died of a broken heart and I said yes he probably had and that was that. Obviously he will find out when he gets older but for now I would rather he didn't know.

BlackberrySeason Tue 24-Sep-13 21:05:58

Please don't feel bad at all. You were understandably very upset and I think you were wanting to be honest which shows what a caring mother you are.

I hope the funeral is a fitting tribute.

onepieceoflollipop Tue 24-Sep-13 20:51:08

Sorry for your loss.
Don't be horrified at yourself for your initial considerations about whether to tell dd about the suicide. You were probably in shock, and just thinking about all the options, and thankfully people who understood were able to support you through this.

DownyEmerald Tue 24-Sep-13 20:46:26

Thank you HeyJudith. 24hrs on and having slept on it I'm fairly horrified that I even considered the possibility of telling dd about the suicide.

I just said that a relative had been ill and had died, and she accepted that. There may be questions later, but I feel happier and have set mental boundaries of how far I will go with answers.

Thank you all.

HeyJudith Mon 23-Sep-13 23:04:48

I echo what others have said; in that 7 is too young to process killing yourself deliberately. I have been in a similar situation in that when I was 7, a family friend died via self inflicted means. It would have been inappropriate for us children to know how or why this person had died, we were told that X had sadly passed away because they were very poorly but it wasn't until we were much older that we were told the specifics (which were not ordinary). We weren't removed from the sadness though, we understood that it was sad and our parents and their family were sad about it - but that's all we needed to know (quite rightly).

Also you are not paranoid at all to think that a young child knowing how someone killed themselves could plant some sort of seed. Young children often act out situations especially new or confusing ones, that would seem inappropriate things to an adult to act out - but it's just the way children process. I know you have already come to a decision but just wanted to underline that I think you are acting entirely appropriately to take a step back and just say she had been ill (that is still not a lie).

Sorry to hear of your loss x

DownyEmerald Mon 23-Sep-13 22:50:07

Thank you all of you - and I am so sorry for what you have been through.

At the moment I just keep weeping when I think about the effect on her family - who I know much better and was very close to once. This poor girl had often struggled with life, but had achieved so much when she was well. And had used her experiences to help others.

Your answers, and the resources you mention, have given me some clarity thankyou. I think I have been thinking about this too much since I found out, and am too much 'in it'. I shall take a step back when I talk to dd, and shall just say that she had been ill.

Gforgumbrella Mon 23-Sep-13 22:10:05

I'm sorry to hear of your loss. I think that it would be wrong to lie, but a gentle explanation is needed. I would suggest that you look at the website Save.org or at the website of a similar charity that specialises In helping the suicidal or the bereaved. Save's website has a section on explaining death to children and suggests some approaches to take.

I have no experience of this specifically myself, but was surprised at how accepting my children were when I had to explain my own Father's very unexpected death. Be prepared for your daughter to ask questions unexpectedly for months or even years to come. As long as she knows that you are always there to try to help her understand what has happened, you and she will come through this. Good luck.

Idespair Mon 23-Sep-13 22:03:53

If your dd didn't know her at all, I would say that someone you know was ill and died so you are going to the funeral. It would be different if your dd had known this lady - then you would need a bit more detail.

Strictly1 Mon 23-Sep-13 21:59:06

Sorry for your loss. I should have written that first - sorry.

Strictly1 Mon 23-Sep-13 21:58:24

I'm with Blackberry. My brother committed suicide. We want his memory to live on and so talk about him lots with my little boy who is five. We say that he was poorly because in a sense he was. I don't think as a mother or teacher that the truth in this instance is the best way.

BlackberrySeason Mon 23-Sep-13 21:52:53

So sorry about your loss sad

Unfortunately we have a major family history of suicide. I think an age-appropriate explanation is enough. You can tell her poor x was ill and sadly couldn't get better. When appropriate - maybe in a few years - you can explain she was ill in her thinking. I wasn't told it was suicide due to mental health issues until 11/13+ I believe the Samaritans strictly advise against publicising the methods of death by suicide and I would avoid explaining that.

DownyEmerald Mon 23-Sep-13 21:47:13

Its so sad, a young relative has recently taken her own life.

DD (7) didn't know her at all, but I will be away for 24hrs or so to attend the funeral so I will need to explain that a relative has died.

I am minded to explain that she killed herself (if dd asks), partly because I don't want to lie, but also because my mum is coming to stay with us the night before to break the journey to the funeral, and there will inevitably be some conversation about the whole sadness that dd will hear.

My main concern is the way the young woman died - it was a very straightforward method that is easily copyable by any child. Am I being paranoid thinking that dd or her little friends she tells might be fascinated, try it out, with disastrous consequences? Should I make something up (if dd asks)? There isn't much chance dd would find out any other way.

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