Help for the Family after a Child Suicide

By Karen Boerger:

How does a family cope with their painful  “new normal” after a child suicide?

 

The newspaper’s front page article at the bottom right read,  “Middle school student dies; school cancels classes.”  

“How tragic!” I thought.

As I began to read the article to see what happened, I saw that this boy was an 11-year-old fifth grader who took his own life. There was no name or reason mentioned.  It went on to tell how the school was putting together a plan to help students deal with their classmate’s death.

The superintendent said, “Anyone needing special assistance can call the school’s Crisis Hotline which the district identifies as a caring and supportive voice.” They provided the Crisis Hotline number twice in the article.

My heart aches for the family left behind after that child suicide. Did anyone have a clue that this was coming?  Would they have called the hotline on this young man’s behalf?  Would it have made a difference?  I would hope that it would have helped to give this individual a touchstone – something solid to base the rest of his life on.

It saddens me to think of what could have been for this family. All the fun a parent would have with their child as he grows up: first car, first job, prom, wedding, grandchild, etc.  It’s sad to think of the many losses.  The young man obviously had some troubles, but could they have been worked out?  Could talking with a friend, pastor, counselor, teacher, or relative have helped?  I can’t help but say, “YES!”

Even though the grief will be long, our help is in the Lord.  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13 ESV).”  There are times we are so low that we cannot see our way out of the pit of sorrows, and yet our Lord is there with us.  God also has provided people to help us.

Here’s a video book trailer describing the difficulty families have adjusting to a “new normal” after a child takes his life with details about the book Coping Techniques After a Child’s Death, written by Sandy Fox.

According to the author, the book “consists of over 80 articles of coping techniques and informational skills to help any bereaved parent as they move through the grief process. Readers will be able to learn how to get through the holidays, read 10 inspirational stories from those who have been there, delve into the abundant resource section and read a variety of book descriptions of other literature in the field.”

Sandy also has a helpful blog: I Have No Intention of Saying Goodbye…surviving grief: death of a child at survivinggrief.blogspot.com.

One aspect of losing a child, which may or may not be mentioned in Sandy’s blog, is that believers in Christ have the additional promise of being reunited with a child in heaven. It doesn’t make missing them now less painful, but does offer hope for the future.