Little is written to provide guidance and understanding about what it is like to lose your mother, or either parent, by suicide. Perhaps the most important bit of advice about losing a parent to suicide comes from Bryan Behar. Bryan is a longtime writer of American situation comedies – perhaps not the most likely resource on parental suicide.
Bryan has written for such shows as The New Adventures of Old Christine, 8 Simple Rules, Last Man Standing, and Ned & Stacey. He is a co-executive producer of the Netflix reboot of Full House, called Fuller House. And, Bryan is a survivor of parental suicide.
When discussing the loss of a mother or father by suicide, Bryan makes clear that there exists “no playbook on how to survive a tragedy” such as the suicide of a mother or father.
Bryan went on to succinctly note that when a mother or father is lost by suicide, the children (including adult children) are “real people experiencing real tragedy in real time. There is no right way to grieve when your world is turned upside down.”
In the final analysis, perhaps the only real way to have at least some understanding about what it is like to lose a mother by suicide is to consider the words of people who’ve experienced this virtually unthinkable type of loss.
Don’t Fault Yourself for “Missed Clues”
On some level, it’s dreadful to insert a cliché into a discussion about losing a mother by suicide. Nonetheless, in the aftermath of a mother’s death by suicide it is vital that a surviving child understand that hindsight is 20/20 – but experiencing life at the moment is, not at all.
One of the most important elements of beginning a healthy grieving process following the death of a parent by suicide is recognizing that you are not at fault for “missing” so-called “clues.” The stark reality is that oftentimes “clues” about a person’s suicidal ideations are vague at best and completely hidden in many instances.
You Don’t Have to Go to It Alone: Professional Bereavement Therapy
Dr. Dara Huang lost her mother to suicide when she was 15. Her mother hung herself in the basement of the family home. She considers the suicide of her mother to be the most significant event in her life.
Dara explained that she began bereavement therapy, seeking professional assistance to address the aftermath of the loss of her mother by suicide. She explained that she devoted her “energies to reclaiming my own general welfare.” She also notes that she has been able to experience more complete healing by sharing her experience losing her mother by suicide with other people.
You Can Reclaim Your Life
Diane Conn lost her mother to suicide and ended up making a short documentary about the experience and as part of her own grieving and healing process. The documentary is entitled After Suicide.
In Diane’s case, her mother took her life by running the car in a closed garage. One of the most daunting facts about her mother’s death was the fact that Diane’s mother was found dead, but halfway out of the car. In other words, the evidence suggested that her mother changed her mind about taking her life – but made that decision too late.
The manner in which her father dealt with the suicide of Diane’s mother was swift. Diane explained that when the call came from her father that her mother was dead, her father had already arranged for the body to removed from the home and cremated. There was no funeral or memorial service.
The message that Diane strives to share with others who lose a loved one by suicide, including a mother or father is:
“There will always be questions. We don’t get over it. But for today I have integrated the loss and have a full and peaceful life. Please remember that no matter how it feels, you are not alone with your loss. Reach out so you can get help and work through the loss. You can reclaim your life. It really does get better. You can do this, one day at a time.”
Diane’s message is simply this: following the suicide of a loved one, including a parent, you can reclaim your own life.