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Thread: Parent's Suicide

  1. #1

    Default Parent's Suicide

    Since there are no posts in PTSD I thought this was the next most appropriate place for this...

    My ex-husband and the father of my 17 and 15 year old sons committed suicide back in May of 2011. This is going to be there first Christmas without their father. I have terrible anxiety about the situation and blame myself everyday for his death because I left him. I still loved him until the day he died and still do. I don't know what I was thinking. I think that if I hadn't maybe he would still be here and my kids would still have their dad.

    The real reason I am writing is my 15 year old is having almost nightly nightmares and his anxiety is through the roof. He is refusing to get counseling (his father was the same way) and I don't know what to do. He is old enough in our state that he would have to consent to counseling so I can not force him to get it.

    Shortly after my older son and I moved out, my ex met a woman and moved in with her because he was lonely. He told me daily he still loved me and we remained very close. We talked on the phone all the time and were very generous to each other during the divorce. It was almost like we were two roommates who decided to get our own places. There was no fighting over anything. The older son wanted to go with me and the younger one wanted to stay with him. No issues... no arguing.

    My younger son found him after taking a medication overdose the week before he was found dead (self inflicted gunshot wound to the head). Thank God he didn't find him this time.

    Both the boys are struggling. I need to help them but really don't know how. My older son is on psych meds but doesn't want counseling either. The younger one just takes Ativan as needed for panic attacks.

    What would you suggest I do? Sunday is going to be the third hardest day of their lives behind the day they found out he passed away and the day he was buried.


  2. #2


    What I told my younger dd was that as long as she was on psych meds she HAD TO be in counseling.
    Another approach is to say "Look, we are all suffering, and I need counseling and I want all of us to go together." Let them go "for you." My husband pulled that one on me when *I* really needed a therapist and wouldn't go.
    Yet another approach is bribery. I used this one with my older daughter, I must admit it worked the least well.

    There are also workbooks to help with dealing with anxiety and their strong feelings - even for teens to use. Here is a start: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for the Strength to Recover

  3. #3
    Distinguished Community Member Earth Mother 2 Angels's Avatar
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    I am so sorry for your loss of your husband and your sons' father. My heart and prayers go out to you.

    Unfortunately, our Survivors of Suicide forum isn't active here at our new location, but we still have archives of the older forum. I recommend that you visit those archives and search for any kind of helpful information, which might be there.

    Based on my experience with grief, including the loss of my son, and the experiences of many others, which I have read and/or researched on the internet, I am compelled first to tell you that everything, which you are experiencing, is normal. Your reactions and responses to your husband's death, and his suicide, are typical for your situation and among those who grieve any loss of a loved one.

    Your guilt feelings are very common in grieving. "If only I had," "If only I had not." These are the cries and torment of grief, where we try to affix the blame for our loss on our own actions. In reality, we have no control over anything. We cannot control what happens to another person, or the choices that person makes. In our effort to accept our loss, we endeavor to take responsibility for it somehow, to feel at fault. We are not. You are not.

    With an amicable divorce, split custody, and a continued friendship and loving attitude, you seemed to make the transition out of your marriage as easy and comfortable as possible. You didn't abandon your husband and children. You didn't sever all ties. You did the best that you could do in your circumstances. Better than most would, probably.

    We are all responsible for our own happiness. You can't own what your husband chose to do with his opportunity to find that happiness.

    I've found that guilt is a displacement for anger. And anger is an integral part of grief, especially in cases of suicide, murder, and accidents.

    The only way out is through. You need to find ways to address your issues and work through them, individually, so that you can cope with your husband's passing, and so that you can help your sons to cope with the loss of their dad.

    Suicide is usually the "Elephant in the Room," so I strongly urge you to seek family counseling to help you and your sons open up, dig deep into your souls, and spill it all out. Nothing is more destructive than holding it all inside. You need to get it out, look at it, get down and dirty with it, and struggle through it to find healing.

    Are you in counseling/therapy, Stacie? If not, then you might find that it would help you to cope with your grief, as well as learn through a professional therapist how to help your sons.

    I tend to agree that taking medication to help with coping should be coupled with counseling. The purpose of the meds is to help smooth out the rough edges, not to remedy or obliterate the loss and grief. It's like a pain medication. It resolves the pain, but doesn't cure the cause.

    Communication is the road to healing.

    Your boys are at a very vulnerable age as adolescents. This age group has enough problems, without the loss of a parent to suicide. They need professional help to get in touch with their feelings. Ignoring it won't make it go away. Denial won't make it not true.

    I also recommend that you search the internet for an active, compassionate discussion group focused on surviving the loss of a loved one to suicide. I'm sure there are many out there. It always helps to talk to others, who understand what you're going through, because they've been there or are there.

    I searched Google for "how to help a child cope with a parent's suicide" and got these results:

    This M.D. is a child psychiatrist, whose mother committed suicide, and she's written a book:

    More insight about how to cope with a parent's suicide:

    There is a wealth of information on the internet. Read, learn, and find answers to help you through this. It works.

    On our Coping with the Loss of a Child forum here at Braintalk, I've posted an article about Coping through the Holidays. Although it is oriented toward grieving parents, perhaps there is something there, which will help you to manage through this first Christmas without your husband.

    Finally, I offer this: We must all allow ourselves to grieve. Repressing our grief does us no favors, because eventually it catches up to us, and then it is even more complicated to resolve. It's important that we "Feel and Deal." Our long term health depends upon it.

    Consider grief to be a medical condition, because it is. And it can become even more significantly medical, because grief is the #1 Stress Inducer. Grief is often treated with pharmaceuticals, rendering it to be a medical condition. We see doctors for medical conditions. In the case of grief, that specialist is a counselor or a therapist.

    Sending you healing thoughts and positive energy for strength, and prayers for your peace and comfort.

    Love & Light,

    Mom to Jon, 49, and Michael, 32, who were born with an undiagnosed progressive neuromuscular disease and courageous spirits. Our Angel Michael received his wings in 2003. Our Angel Jon received his wings April 2019. April 2020, Jim, the world's most wonderful Dad, joined them. Now, they all watch over me.

  4. #4
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    Stacie,first let me say I'm sorry for your loss. and I urge you to find the survivor's of suicide forum & post there. guilt it a self imposed emotion Stacie. only you can deal with it as you must. TIME is the healer I think. and it will take alot of it for you & your sons.

    I also urge you to find a good therapist & keep trying to get your sons to go also. you will benefit from the right counseling & so will they.

    it's been a tragic year for your family. do whatever it takes to make next year better. seek help through the internet & you will find it.Rose gave you a start.

    very caring people here on BT,you might want to join on the emotional support forum also.

  5. #5
    Distinguished Community Member houghchrst's Avatar
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    Stacie I am so sorry for your loss. I lost an only uncle the same way. Tears apart the fabric of a families stability.

    I agree with the others. I really think that therapy as a family would be the best option and will also show your son that it isn't just him. He is having normal feelings. Guilt, anger, sadness and probably a bit of fault finding are most likely what is going on in his mind.

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