When you become a parent, it becomes your lifetime responsibility to care for and protect your children. So when a child dies by suicide, it can send you into a tailspin. It can feel impossible even to comprehend what has happened.
Because in most cases, children are supposed to outlive their parents — not the other way around. And when you lose a child to suicide, there can be so many unanswered questions and lingering doubt, disbelief, guilt, shame, and blame.
You might find yourself lashing out at your partner, shifting blame, and feeling more disconnected. There is no rulebook for how to navigate this kind of grief, and while every emotion you feel is valid, these emotions don’t have to keep you stuck.
Be Kind to Yourself and Others
Even though you may want answers and wonder what you could have done to prevent the loss, it won’t help to put all of the blame on yourself or others. When dealing with grief, you may feel more emotions than expected.
You may feel angry that they’re gone, or you may feel like you failed them in some way. You may want to lash out and break down all at the same time. Or you may want to shut down entirely and hide what you’re actually feeling from others.
Whatever you may be feeling, it’s important to be kind and take care of yourself and those you love as you navigate through all of this. No matter how much you want to blame yourself, you need to remind yourself that it wasn’t your fault.
Living with the Uncertainty
If they didn’t leave a note behind, you might feel plagued, wondering what you could’ve done differently and constantly replaying that day over and over in your mind. It can feel extremely difficult not to blame yourself or those around you for what happened, and that’s normal.
Even if your child left behind a note explaining their decision, it could still feel confusing. You might find yourself asking, “Why didn’t they see that there was another choice? Why couldn’t they talk to me?”
Even though you may not get the full context of what happened, it doesn’t mean that you didn’t do all you could for your child or that you weren’t a good parent. Sometimes we just may not find the answers we’re seeking or the ones we want to hear, and we have to find ways to be okay with that.
It’s Okay to Move Forward
Moving forward after the loss of a child can feel like an insurmountable task, but it is possible. You can still be there for your other children, your partner, and yourself. And being there for others doesn’t mean that you forget the child you’ve lost. Together, you can even find meaningful ways to honor their memory.
Grief counseling and working with a grief counselor can help you make sense of what can be a hard-to-understand circumstance. They can help you reconcile the often conflicting feelings you may experience. And they can help you move through the stages of grief into healing.
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