Should I tell my kids how my dad died? Would they even understand? I felt that I needed to finally tell them about my dad’s tragic end. Here’s how it went.
I really didn’t know if I should tell my kids. They are young and I didn’t want them to hear about this tragedy. They knew my dad had cancer and thought that that’s what he died from (although he was cancer free). Why shouldn’t I tell them? As much as I want to shelter my kids from the evils of this world, I am not doing them any good by keeping bad/sensitive/tragic situations from them. If I shelter them, they would be thoroughly shocked when they start their own lives outside of our home!
I asked my kids if they knew what it meant when someone takes their own life, and if they knew of anyone that did. My daughter remembered when our neighbor down the street, in the last place we lived, took his own life. There were police cars and a coroner out front of his house when we drove by. She also overheard someone talking about it.
So I told them that my dad took his life, with a gun. Their eyes got big. My eyes swelled with tears. A few of them tried coming up with their own reasoning as to why he did it. I told them that we don’t know why he truly did this. He suffered from depression, and side effects from his cancer treatment. He was suffering. My heart became conflicted. Do I show compassion towards the situation, that he didn’t want to suffer anymore? I did NOT want them to think that he took the easy way out, and they can too if times get rough. Or do I tell them that it’s wrong to take your own life? I didn’t want them to think my dad was a bad person.
I let them know that my dad was a good person. He cared for his family. He had compassion for others. I told them that he is with Heavenly Father. He is comforting him. He is the only one that knows our heart and our true intentions.
I told them about depression and how if effects people. I told them that if they ever feel sad or lonely that they need to talk to someone about it, and not keep those feelings in. That we are here to help. I asked them, ‘When times get rough and you are sad, should you take your life? Because you want to be with God?’ ‘No!’ Was their answer. We may be suffering internally and just want to be with God. We are commanded that ‘Thou shall not kill’. What my dad did was not right. But there’s ALWAYS another way, a better way. I told them that they can pray to Heavenly Father. He will comfort us. To talk to someone about whatever they may be struggling with.
My daughter got really emotional and started crying. She was sad. She said that she misses him. I told her that it’s hard. It’s ok to be sad. It’s also ok to be happy! My dad would not want us to be so sad about it. I don’t think she could truly understand why he would want to leave us. I don’t have an answer to that.
I don’t think there is any right way to talk about suicide with our children. We just have to do our best. Every child is different too. My son doesn’t really understand it. I will have to talk to him more about it when he’s older.
I am angry at my dad. My children are affected by this tragedy. They see me suffering. They won’t get to see my dad anymore. Having to talk about this with my children is devastating. To see the shock in their faces. The sadness and devastation that it causes. The many unanswered questions that they have. Did he really think it would be easy for us to navigate life after this tragedy? To have to tell our family, children, friends, even some that don’t know us that well? It makes me think he had no regard for us at the end. There was no letter. No goodbyes. Did he even care about us?
This was a tough conversation. I am grateful for my family. They are so sweet and loving when they know times are hard. I get random ‘I love you’s’ throughout the day, along with many hugs. Life is tough. There is always something to be grateful for, no matter what.