When a parent dies, it’s always painful for any child. And a parent’s death by suicide especially, research shows, a mother’s suicide has an even more painful and potentially disturbing effect.
When people experience the sudden death of a parent, they go through what we call traumatic grieving. This kind of death is not just a painful thing to take in; it triggers an emotionally complicated or conflicted process.
On the one hand, when a death is shocking and disturbing it can create frightening thoughts, images, and feelings a teen may want desperately to avoid. In the case of a suicide, children may have feelings toward or about their parent that they may feel are unacceptable, that they want to deny. So they try to block them out, by not talking or thinking about the person they’ve lost, who they may feel has rejected them. But to grieve in a healthy way, it’s necessary to think about the person they’ve lost, and allow themselves to feel sadness and pain. They need to be able to remember her as a loving parent.
Even more than an accidental death, a suicide generates horror, anger, shame, confusion, and guilt including all other negative feelings that a child can experience as overwhelming. The biggest risk to a child’s emotional health is not being able, or encouraged, to express these feelings, and get an understanding of what happened that they can live with. When a parent who has been depressed commits suicide, we want that understanding to be that they suffered from a mental illness, a disorder in their brain that caused their death.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children’s Centre found that “people who are under 18 when their parents commit suicide are three more likely than children with living parents to later commit suicide themselves. The likelihood increases when the parent who commits suicide is the mother. This shows importance of providing support to children who are grieving.”
What do children need most in the aftermath of a suicide? First, they require simple and honest answers to their questions. They need to know that their feelings are acceptable: anger at a mother who killed herself is normal, and it doesn’t mean a betrayal of the love you feel for her, or the terrible loss you may be feeling. If the person who died has been mentally ill for a long time, someone might actually feel relieved at the.
After a suicide, people need to know that they’re not to blame. Being natural narcissists, kids tend to put themselves at the centre of the narrative: If I had behaved better, if I had come home right after school, if I had tried harder to cheer Mum up, etc., she wouldn’t have done this. What we want them to understand is that mum was ill. We did our best to help her, but it didn’t succeed. This isn’t something that’s understood after one chat; it’s something that has to be worked on over time.
Hiya I did a lot of research for this and I also got in touch with an old friend to do this so I would really appreciate it if you could leave a comment below x
Once again I hope this article helped you out a bit I know its short but I tried my best –Nicole xxx
Teenagers With Experience is an online platform ran by teenagers for teenagers. We provide support through sharing our own experiences and providing advice based from this. If you need support, feel free to reach out to us on one of our social media platforms. We will do our best to support you and if we feel we cannot we will direct you to more suited, professional support.