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I lied to my son about suicide
26

BrylcreamBeret · 27/05/2022 00:37

Hello anyone who reads this, please take this as an advanced trigger warning because the subject matter is dark.

Since 2017 I have lost a close family member every year in horrific circumstances, a body was found in 3 out of the 5 occasions and it has been a nightmare. My little boy was 4 when it began and we were able to shield him from every terrible detail and just gently explain that ordinarily people are supposed to live for a long time but the people that we loved were poorly. The worst was when my sister took her life, it was during the pandemic and my son was 7 and asked why she died. I'm ashamed to admit that I said it was Covid related because I made the decision that he was too little to understand. I feel sick knowing he could find out the truth when he's older, I don't want him to know about the mental health issues in our family because I'm terrified that he will be the next to suffer from depression, anxiety or trauma. A thread on here tonight was filled with judgements because a mum lied to her son about why his dad is in prison because he will find out the truth. I am scared out of my gourd because I've spent so long trying to forget the trauma of my childhood and adult life and make his life lovely but there's no escaping the darkness that surrounds my family. I'm rambling now, my heart is pounding and I think that thread has "triggered" me. I'm sorry about this, I don't talk about this to.anyone in real life because I'm trying to move on. What have I done?

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SleepingStandingUp · 27/05/2022 00:42

You have an answer to a child that he could understand. That's all you've done.

There is chance when he's older to say look, when Aunty Emma died when you were 7 this is what happened. I was in too much pain and didn't know how to explain it you so that's why I said what I did. If you ever feel like that, yo u can talk to me or Samaritsns Etc

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Kirstenwe456 · 27/05/2022 02:37

I think it’s understandable that you wanted to protect him but I do think it’s time to tell the truth. You don’t have to go into graphic details but I’d just say she died by suicide because her mind was unwell or something gentle like that.

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WildCoasts · 27/05/2022 02:43

You've skirted the truth, more than anything. Your relatives were poorly. Mental health is health and you can be poorly in that way. The death being Covid related, presumably the stresses associated contributed. I think you can bounce from this starting point to tell the truth. I know honesty with children is recommended, in an age appropriate way. If you're not sure how to tell your son, seek advice from a relevant support organisation.

I know it's scary to think of your son being affected by mental health issues. Another way to look at it is that he at least has a context for his feelings if he does experience these problems.

Good luck OP. Suicide is hard. I've had to break that news to my own children too.

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Libertybear80 · 27/05/2022 06:46

You could be me op! My father committed suicide and then during lockdown my brother did too. My daughter was suffering with depression and agoraphobia and the day I had to tell her her uncle had died will be forever etched in my mind. It has exacerbated her own mental health but at 15 I couldn't hide it. I think I may have tried if she had been 4 but the truth comes out sometime. At 4 they can't process what suicide means so I think personally it's the right decision you've made. I feel for you op. I do.

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BrylcreamBeret · 27/05/2022 08:52

Thank for for your honest replies, I actually got some sleep so I feel more level headed today. I don't know why the "dark stuff" always gets exacerbated in my head when I'm tired. It's interesting that Wildcoasts said that Covid probably contributed to my sister and her passing because it did, I kept begging her to hold on because I had a plan to help her but ultimately it was too much. In my heart of hearts I know he will find out the truth one day (fucking social media, who plasters that online fgs?) so it's best that I tell him but bursting the fragile happy bubble we have created will be hell.

Thank you so much for listening to me 💖

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steppemum · 27/05/2022 09:09

I think that you expect that when you tell your son he will be devastated, as you were.
But children are much more matter of fact about the whys of death. For him the loss of auntie was the trauma, the reasons why, at 7, won't be as shocking or as traumatic as they were for you.
What I am trying rather clumsily to say is that letting him know about suicide is not really going to burst his happy bubble, or ruin his life. His happiness and his grounding in life at the moment comes from his solid relationship with you.

Children are much more resilient and able to cope with what life sends them if they are not protected from the sad things in life. Telling them things in an age appropriate way enables them to build that resilience.

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sunnyfizzo · 27/05/2022 09:10

I would've done the same, so sorry for your loss. You've explained in an age appropriate way and not hidden the truth with a web of lies. Sensible advice above to use covid as a starting point if he ever asks or hears something and comes to you, be ready to explain it in a very gentle, matter if fact way that it was an illness, no need to go into great detail. 🎉

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underthecovers · 27/05/2022 09:11

It is so, so hard.
My kids know my brother was ill, and his brain didn't work properly. He killed himself before they were born, so it is a bit further removed, but I don't think they have worked it all out (and they are now in double digits in terms of age).
If your son asks, why not move it from covid to covid affected her head/brain, which is getting closer to the truth without all the difficult questions suicide raises.

I'm sorry about your losses. I hope today is an easier day for you.

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sunnyfizzo · 27/05/2022 09:14

(so so sorry, I meant the flowers emoji not the party popper thingy)

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PeekAtYou · 27/05/2022 09:19

I have teens who aren't particularly sensitive but I would have done the same as you because 7 is young but I'd tell them the truth at 10/11 ish and explain why you lied.

Obviously no need to go into fears that mental illness is hereditary but you think at 10/11 they can understand things better and not be as scared by it. I think it's a good age for being old enough to know but young enough not to focus on the "lie" part because they will understand the logic that little kids are easily scared.

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coffeeandbiscuit · 27/05/2022 09:21

There's a really brilliant podcast called "Grief Outloud" that I would recommend. They speak often about how to approach death with children. Episode 33 (The importance of Honesty — Talking with children about death) in particular is really helpful.

You held your son in love as you navigated this situation — do not judge yourself for that. ❤️

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Porcupineintherough · 27/05/2022 17:53

@BrylcreamBeret no judgement from me but are you sure this is a good idea? My cousin's father committed suicide and the family lied to him, to protect him. He found out the truth in the school playground and then had to live with that knowledge for years with no support because no one knew that he knew. It did a lot of damage. His father's family had a history of suicide too.

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Mummyjlr120 · 27/05/2022 18:23

my brother committed suicide less than a year ago my 7 year old son at the time kept asking how he died and I just said he was poorly and every times he talks about him now he said uncle ….. died because he was poorly from covid, I think you done the right thing as he gets older I will explain what really happened to his uncle and tell him the truth I still can’t get my head around it myself so I wouldn’t want my son to worry about why, hope your ok and just tell him when you think the time is right ❤️

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Threeboysandadog · 27/05/2022 22:14

I grew up believing that my auntie died in or as as a result of childbirth and I’m not even sure I really understood that. I must have been in my twenties before I learned that she had taken her own life. I wasn’t surprised or horrified, it just seemed like a follow on from what already knew. I think it’s fine to give age appropriate explanations and update as the need arises.

I’m sorry you have had such a difficult few years 💐

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Ferngreen · 27/05/2022 22:18

We had a family suicide 50 years ago - the next generation don't know. It's better they don't imv.

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Fenella123 · 28/05/2022 22:59

I'm so sorry for your loss. I've seen similar in distant family where a distraught mother told the DC that their Dad had had a heart attack. They did find out the truth eventually, I'm not sure how but they're pretty smart.

Bear in mind that people do find out eventually - death certificates are public documents, newspaper reports of inquests can often be found online, not all the family may know or care that it's supposed to be secret.
It's sensible to make a plan to tell the DC as soon as you think it makes sense - even if it is something like, "Auntie's brain was very unwell and she ended up doing something that hurt her so badly she couldn't survive" (and if they ask about COVID, say that lockdown made a lot of people's brains sick and a few people were very badly affected).

Secrets that aren't secrets any more lose their power.

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Eeebleeb · 30/05/2022 17:43

I think you did the right thing. You could tell him when he's a bit older perhaps - as part of a larger conversation about mental illness, why we need to take care of our mental health etc maybe - but if he's a sensitive little boy this could take up a disproportionate amount of space in his head right now. I think you'll know when the time is right.

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TeaAndChoccie · 30/05/2022 18:52

Sorry for all you've been through OP

If you don't want to lie, why don't you sit him down and explain when she died you were to upset to explain the whole truth, but there is a bit more to say .... and then explain in a way he can understand ..

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Spottybutterfly · 30/05/2022 19:15

I can completely understand why you didn't explain as he is so young. As I gets older please talk to him about mental health difficulties if it runs in the family.

I was 12 when I first suffered from depression and anxiety. But due to parents never explaining mental health problems I didn't understand what was happening. Only my physical symptoms were what I could explain. I feel if I had been aware that depression was a thing I could have had a diagnosis much sooner.

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MaybeSomeDay7 · 30/05/2022 19:16

He's 7. I think you've done exactly the right thing. I have a similar family to you and trying to navigate this is hard.

My sister went missing at Christmas so my children were aware that things were not right and when it turned out she'd killed herself, the subject came up naturally. But they're 19 and 15, so more able to deal and I contextualised it - she had good (but terrible) reasons to do what she did.

I think you should trust your instincts, and more importantly, think about who is supporting you in your grief? As a mum, you're protecting your child but who is helping you?

I'm so sad to hear of all the other people here, going through the same. The lockdown did not help. Sending love to everyone. X

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Picklerick42 · 30/05/2022 19:23

I think you are giving it more headspace than you need to right now. I lost a sibling to cancer in 2020. DS1 was 7 at the time. We didn't go into details. They knew she had been sick and in hospital. We told them it was cancer and not everyone gets better from cancer. Two years later, I don't think my DS could tell you how or why she died.

You can talk about it with your DC when you think they are ready.

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Staynow · 30/05/2022 19:24

I think it's important he knows the truth, it's just when to tell it. I would do it at some point before he gets to secondary age, if not now then at 10 at the latest - tell him you have something sad to tell him and you didn't tell him before but now you think he's old enough to know and then gently tell him the truth. Once they hit secondary these things can feel like they've been lied to and that can become a big problem.

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WooNoodle · 30/05/2022 19:27

I'm so sorry you have been through this. I think as PP said your child will understand if you explain when you are ready x

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Guineapiggiesmalls · 30/05/2022 19:30

I’m sorry about your sister.

I can imagine that when she died you were experiencing a huge amount of difficult emotions and so were doing your best. Considering the effect that the pandemic had on so many people who struggled with their mental health, to say her death was covid related isn't an out and out lie.

7 is very young, I would have done the same as you. You could always give him the full picture when he’s older.

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Instantnoodles · 30/05/2022 20:50

I'm so sorry. You did what you thought was right at the time. That's all we can do as parents. I agree with those who say it makes sense to tell him in a general way now 💐

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