home of loving support for bereaved parents

Question of the Month

There are times when I no longer want to live, and I wonder what I have to live for since my baby/child died. How do I know when these thoughts are dangerous?

Ann DouglasFrom Ann Douglas . . .

Any thoughts of suicide are always cause for concern because they indicate just how deeply your child's death is affecting you. From what I've been told, there's even more cause for concern if you find yourself coming up with concrete plans for your death or if you find yourself thinking about suicide a great deal.

It's important to keep these feelings in perspective, however. Thoughts of death are not uncommon amongst bereaved parents, both because bereaved parents may long for an end to the pain of grief and because they may wish to be with the child who has died (assuming, of course, that their religious belief system is one that assumes that people will be reunited with their loved ones after death).

That said, it's a good idea to share your feelings with someone with whom you trust -- perhaps a loved one, a doctor, or a counselor, if only so that someone else in your life has a rough barometer of how you are feeling, and can ensure that you receive the necessary support or treatment if things go from bad to worse and you are tempted to act upon any suicidal feelings.

I hope these comments are helpful and I wish you peace as you make your way along this most difficult of journeys.

Ann Douglas

Marilyn HeavilinFrom Marilyn Heavilin . . .

First, let me say, your feelings are not uncommon. Many bereaved parents have similar feelings. These thoughts become dangerous when they move from being feelings to becoming well thought out plans. Every bereaved person needs a sounding board, someone to whom you are not afraid to express your innermost thoughts and feelings. Find someone you can trust and who has good judgment. Give them permission to find help for you if they think you have moved to the danger point.

Most of the time, the danger is dissipated simply by talking to someone. When the ideas come out of our mouths, generally we are able to realize that today I feel this way; tomorrow I may feel differently.

One way to step past our feelings is to find something to keep us busy. In the first few months after my third child died, I knit 11 afghans to give to his friends. In the large scheme of things knitting can't hold a candle to taking care of my child. However, knitting kept my mind active and focused on something besides the death of my boy.

Much love,
Marilyn Heavilin

Sherokee IlseFrom Sherokee Ilse . . .

Wanting to die or to sleep for a long time to escape is a normal feeling. Most everyone I know who has had a child die thinks like that on occasion. I remember having both of those feelings. I even had a specific goal - to sleep for a year then wake up. When a baby dies the assault on our emotions is so great it seems too difficult to deal with at times. We are overwhelmed and life is out of control.

That being said - when to worry is important to understand. If you have a definite plan for how to end your life and/or if you dwell on wanting to die and thinking about how you would do it please, please tell someone you need help right now. You are too special and precious and are loved by many--don't take this route. You may be suffering from a hormonal/chemical imbalance that is not really even emotional in nature--but physical. Yet it is deeply affecting your emotions. Ask your partner or another loved one to call your local crisis line, your clergy, a certified therapist or your doctor immediately.

I am going to be very honest here; I have met and spoken with fathers whose wives committed suicide after their baby died. These dads are doubly heartbroken and they are so alone. Life is very difficult for them and they wonder why and how their beloved wife could have done such a horrific thing to them and their families. Please don't put your family though this. If you spend time making plans about dieing or are dwelling on it too much (you know if it is an occasional thought or something you think about quite a bit) GET HELP right now.

Do this for your family, do this for your baby, who would never want you to die and leave the rest of your family forever, and especially do this for yourself. There will be many wonderful days ahead in your life. Trust me, I know from personal experience and talking with thousands of families over the years. You can't believe the goodness and light that can come once the darkness recedes. But it can and it will, if you just take this one day at a time and seek help whenever you need it over the next days and months ahead.

Love and hugs,
Sherokee Ilse


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