Parent Suicide: 4 Ways to Cope (Mom or Dad Suicide)

 These 4 things may help you cope with the shock from parent suicide, if you’ve lost a mom or dad to this terrible tragedy:

 

Losing a parent is always a terrible loss. But death from a parent suicide means sons or daughters must also deal with anger, horror, and shame regarding the way their parent died.

When enduring such a loss, it’s important for the child, or even the adult-child left behind, to work through their own pain and grief.  So besides talking about your feelings regarding your loss, here are 4 things you can do to help work through the shock of losing a parent to suicide.

 1. Forgive yourself.

First of all, know that no matter how you feel, your parent’s suicide is not your fault.  Perhaps you missed a clue, or you were absent, or you weren’t tuned in, or didn’t try hard enough to cheer your parent, or perhaps you even quarreled.  None of these, or other things, make your parent’s suicide your fault.  Your parent is responsible for his or her own actions, not you.

If you are dealing with false-guilt, or even if you are dealing with earned guilt, you need to forgive yourself.  This may be something you can only do through God’s power.  Try praying this simple prayer:

God, I give the guilt I feel, false or real, concerning my parent’s suicide to you. I ask that you supernaturally remove it from my shoulders and place this guilt on the shoulders of Jesus.  I do this because Jesus wants to carry my guilt for me so that I can be free.  Give me the strength, your strength, to let go of these feelings of guilt.

In your power Lord, I choose to forgive myself.  I choose to let go.  I choose to be free.  Lord, I trade my guilt for the peace that passes understanding.

In Jesus’s name,

Amen

2. Forgive the person who died.

Of course you have feelings of anger because of what happened.  Your loved one murdered themselves.  And though you will always wish this had never happened, and even though you will always miss your loved one, and even though you will never approve of what they did, you can still forgive them as part of your own healing journey.

Pray this:

God, what my parent did was not in their (or anyone’s) best interest.  I feel angry and hurt that they would leave me in such a way.  And though I may never understand or ever condone their final act, I am asking you for your strength to help me forgive them because I do choose to forgive them.  And as I forgive them, I ask that you forgive them too.

In Jesus’s name,

Amen

3. Forgive God.

Sometimes it’s hard to forgive God when your loved one, especially your parent, takes their own life.  After all, wasn’t God powerful enough to stop them from such an act?

The answer to this question is yes.  But even so, God is a gentleman.  He never overpowers us, but waits for us to call upon his name when we need his help. Perhaps your parent didn’t understand or wait on God in their depression or trauma, but  — you can. You have the power to keep from repeating the mistake your parent made by turning to God, by calling on his name for help, comfort and for peace.  One of the best ways to make peace with God is to forgive him for not preventing their death.

Pray this:

God, I know you are not the one who inspired my parent to take their life, but my feelings are hurt, my anger is stirred, because you did not stop it. So, in an effort to reconcile with you, I give you my anger at you and I choose to forgive you.  I am letting go of any offense I have against you because of this tragedy.  Give me the power to forgive you, to let go, and to choose your peace and comfort.  I call upon you Lord, to help me through this difficult time.

In Jesus’s name,

Amen

4. Pray against Trauma and Grief

The trauma you are feeling is real.  But you can even give your trauma and grief to God and calm the torment.  Pray this:

God, I give you all the trauma I am feeling and I ask that you remove it from me. In addition, I tell the enemy who would use this trauma and grief to keep me bound in depression, to go. Also, I cancel the spirit of trauma and grief off of my life because through God’s power, I choose not give in to it. I choose to not allow trauma and grief to write the script of my life. So, in it’s place, I call upon the peace, love, grace, and the mercy of God.  Through the power of God, my life will be a positive journey of hope.

Thank you Lord for setting me free.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

You may find it helpful to print out these prayers and to pray them daily or as often as you need to so to continue your healing.

Know we are praying with you!

Perhaps you would find strength by this story behind the loved song, “It is Well with my Song,” as told by Bill Gaither. The story is followed by the song itself by Guy Penrod and David Phelps.

Suicide bereavement support groups can also be helpful. To find a group in your area, you can click HERE to a directory  posted by the AFSP (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention).

Also for help in finding a Christian counseling therapist, you can visit the Meier Clinics website.

A Parent’s Suicide

By Karen Kosman:

Photo by Anita Peppers

The loss of a loved one by suicide causes deep pain and struggles for families left behind–especially a parent’s suicide for children who only understand that Daddy or Mommy is no longer there to tuck them in bed, to hold them, to play ball, or to help with homework. Activities, no longer possible, that once seemed normal create a deep yearning in a child’s heart. Often they are too young to ask questions. People who are in a position to work with children can be a light that shines through their darkness. One such story is about a Sunday school teacher, named Jeanne Pallos, who started a special class for hurting children.

The following story was taken from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors and used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

Erik’s Papa’s Suicide

Jeanne Pallos

I knew about hurting hearts and how God could use safe, loving, caring people to bring healing. He had done it in my life. In return, I longed to reach into the hearts of emotionally wounded children and minister with God’s love and grace. So I started a class at church for children with hurting hearts. The staff knew I wasn’t a trained counselor, nor did I pretend to be, but they agreed to allow God to direct me.

Erik’s mother pleaded with me to let him into the class. “He’s seen so much pain in his short life,” she said. “At five years old, Erik lost his dad to suicide. He needs to be in your class.”

Even though Erik was only eight, and the other children were 4th through 6th graders, how could I say no? I thought, Love and support is what all these children need. “I’ll be happy to take Erik into my class.”

The first week, a shy little boy, with his head down, walked into the classroom. We sat in one large circle, and Erik took the seat next to mine. Although I knew the personal tragedies in each child’s life, I never mentioned them. I vowed never to pry into a child’s heart.

Erik rarely spoke, but at the beginning of each class, he scurried to sit next to me. One week I asked the children to make collages depicting people and things they loved. We searched through magazines and collected pictures. Then the children disappeared into their own private worlds as they cut and pasted pictures and words onto large sheets of paper.

Since Erik was the youngest, I often helped him with projects. As we sat pasting a picture of a father and son tossing a ball, he said, “Papa liked to play ball with me.”

Erik had never mentioned his dad before.

“That must have been fun and made you very happy.” I silently prayed, Thank you, God, for working in Erik’s heart.

The next week, during the class activity, Erik whispered to me, “Papa used to read to me.”

“That sounds so special,” I replied. “I’m sure your papa loved reading to you.”

A few weeks later, just before Christmas, our church held its annual memorial service. Families brought pictures of loved ones to display on a table and wrote the deceased person’s name on a list to be read. During the service, each family walked forward to light a candle.

I walked forward and placed my mother’s picture on the table. Suddenly, I noticed Erik walking towards me. He looked up at me with expressive eyes.

“Do you want to see Papa?” he asked.

“Oh, yes,” I answered, taking his small hand. “I’d love to see your papa.”

Together, we found Papa’s picture—a snapshot of a man and a child secured in a cracked frame.

“Is that you?” I asked.

Erik smiled.

“I can tell your papa loved you very much. Do you want to see a picture of my mother?” I asked.

When the evening ended, Erik’s mother took me aside and told me the details of the suicide. “Erik’s dad and I were separated. He lived alone. One evening he phoned and threatened, ‘I’m climbing onto a chair and making a noose. I’m going to kill myself.’

“I pleaded with him, ‘Please get some counseling. Your kids will always need you.’ Then I heard a thud, and the conversation ended in an overpowering silence.”

I wanted to say something comforting, but couldn’t find the words. As I looked into her eyes, I saw sadness, but I also saw determination. Widowed, and left with three heartbroken children, she’d not given up.

Had my class touched Erik’s young heart? Could the love he received in a few short weeks bring healing for a lifetime? I knew it couldn’t, but it was a beginning.

Erik loved his papa, no matter how he had died. That’s all that mattered. Erik now needed me and others to listen, care, and affirm this love. This little boy had a lifetime to deal with his papa’s suicide. For now he needed help in treasuring his dad’s memory before it faded away.

See this touching video, Grief Through The Eyes of a Child, from The Child and Teen Program of Hospice & Palliative Care of Western Colorado. It includes stories from kids about Camp Good Grief to help children cope with loss.