Parent Suicide Resources: When Children Grieve

In the aftermath of my husband’s death, I pursued every resource I could find to aid in my children’s recovery. They were not particularly fond of their brief foray into therapy because they found talking to a stranger about such an intimate experience “weird.” One of them attended a Survivors of Suicide support group but had a hard time finding equilibrium amongst the different types of grief (loss of a parent versus sibling.) Two of them joined groups at their high schools and found them to be helpful.

A year into our journey, I had a phone call from a woman asking if I would be willing to help a family who had suffered a similar tragedy. The children were similar ages to mine, so my daughter spent some time with them and I spoke to the mother. She was very shut down and did not want her children to know much about the father’s death. At the time, her children did not even know how had he died and felt they were imposing on the mother by asking questions.

Although I understand the fear around discussing death, particularly suicide, I was saddened for the children. When the mind lacks information, it has a tendency to make things up to fill in the blanks. No child should be creating their own story around a parent’s suicide. 

Curious, I asked my children what had been helpful to them during the past year. In unison, they all said they hated therapy and the most helpful element for them was the opportunity for open conversation and honesty within our family.

The Grief Recovery Handbook

I recently discovered an amazing resource, The Grief Recovery Handbook. The authors refer to grief as a “neglected and misunderstood process,” yet the “normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind.” What I love about this body of work is that it offers permission to grieve, as well as the tools to do so. Although each one of us suffers loss on a regular basis, we are never taught how to navigate these waters and reach resolution.

The book presents a path to recovery that the authors define as “feeling better” and state that, “Recovery means claiming your circumstances instead of your circumstances claiming you and your happiness.”

As I closely watched my children those first months, I began to understand that grieving is an organic process, requiring thoughtful and consistent attention. Unmonitored feelings have a way of settling in beneath the depths where they can wreak silent havoc, but the regular practice of open dialogue can help keep them in check and create a safe harbor where questions and feelings can be explored.

Keeping these channels open has been tremendously helpful in handling the really big things like holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.

There is a second book, When Children Grieve, which speaks directly to parents helping a child traverse loss. I love that this book removes the stigma of “right and wrong” from grief and offers empowering ways to move through it.

Have you found books or resources that have been helpful for navigating the complex territory of grief?


Who is Dianna Bonny?

Hi, my name is Dianna Bonny. It’s my mission to candidly share my journey with you. For me, it’s all about the healing: to create a radiant healing energy for others who have befallen a similar fate. Together, we can forge beautiful lives of belonging and connection. Thanks for joining me today! I look forward to hearing from you.

  5 comments for “Parent Suicide Resources: When Children Grieve

  1. trish richardson
    November 15, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    I am so proud of you and this blog looks tremendous! You have accomplished a lot in a short period of chaotic time!!! Trish

    • admin
      November 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

      Thank you! I love that you visited and appreciate the encouragement so much. D

  2. trish richardson
    November 15, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Your blog is tremendous and I am so proud of you. You have come so far in such a short, chaotic period of time. Trish

  3. Celia
    November 19, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Dianna, Your writing strikes a chord in me. Therapy (one session only) was hated by both Harriet and me. You write beautifully and your strength for yourself and your children is amazing and it really moves me. You are doing someting so wonderful by reaching out to people who have also suffered and may be still suffering. You are very brave. Love Celia

    • admin
      November 19, 2012 at 12:38 pm

      Celia, I appreciate your thoughts. My wish is to share the struggle and offer up the goodness I have found along the way. There are amazing resources out there for healing and I would love to connect people in similar circumstances with them. Thank you for being here. D

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