Monday, June 10, 2013

10 Ways to Help the Family After a Child's Suicide

Though our family has received lots of emotional and practical support since N's death, there are many who say, “there are no words” or “I don’t know how to help.” In fact, there are words and actions that comfort. I’d like to suggest a few based on what has been helpful to me (or what I wish people would say or do at least in the early weeks and months). It's not a comprehensive list and of course, it depends on the situation and  closeness to the grieving person. Here are some ideas to consider:

  •  Do not ignore the elephant in the room; continue to tell us you are sorry and wish us strength; mention the child’s name freely.
  •  Leave a loaf of homemade bread, a colorful plant, or a meal on the doorstep.
  • Ask “What are you doing to take care of yourself?”
  • Don’t wait for us to tell you what we need; we may not know or be able to say.
  • Bring us calming oils, lotions, herbs, stones or a meditation/relaxation CD.
  • Ask to see pictures of the child; ask if we feel like talking about them today. If you didn’t know them well, try “Tell me more about __."
  • Mourn with us, share our tears; sit quietly next to us and hold our hand or hug us while we cry.
  • Give us a book on grieving or a memoir of suicide loss with a personal note. 
  •  Ask what our day or week has been like, or how we feel being back in whatever “normal” situation we are in; don’t assume that because we are back that we are feeling better. 
  •  Tell us about a beautiful place not far away that soothes the soul; offer to take us to see it, when we are ready.

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