Do I have to tell my daughter about her mother's suicide?
My Marine daughter is 8 and a half years old. Two years ago, her mother committed suicide in the house where we lived. It is "in family" that I announced to him the death of my wife. "Of a heart attack" ... I did not, in the turmoil, thought it useful to tell him. Marine never asked questions suggesting she had "a doubt". The school psychologist, with whom Marine has a very good contact, advises me to reveal to my daughter the causes of Corinne's death ... What do you think? Philippe, aged 40
Psychiatrist and psychotherapist
Your little girl will, one day or another, learn the circumstances of the death of her mother and he It is essential that she learn from you and from you alone. From my experience, children, even small ones, "know" even if nothing shows through their behavior. It is therefore very possible that she expects you to take the first step. There is an issue of trust between you and Marine.
At age 8 and a half, she has all the maturity necessary to welcome what you have to say to her. So before telling her anything, go to her (because she will not come to you spontaneously) and ask her, with all your gentle dad, about how she feels about her Mom: How does she experience absence, how does she miss him, how does she think about her ... And then get ready for any questions from him.
Go to ask her if there are things she did not understand at the time and if she asks you how her mother died, the children understand when we talk to them of "a disease in the head that makes you hurt so much that you choose to die". Do not force yourself to tell everything at one time (the circumstances of death, etc ...) It needs time to "digest" the information and it will often come back to you for supplements. Tell him also that it was not his fault that his mother loved him, but that she was too sick to stay alive. Tell her finally that you are not affected by this disease and that you will stay with her.
Your little girl may not respond immediately to your invitation to dialogue. It's very common; nevertheless, if she feels ready to give her a truth which she feels she can not name, it is certain that she will return to the charge the next day, or a week later, or even a month later ... in the form an innocuous question, between pear and cheese, or just before falling asleep. Again, be prepared to answer him as simply and honestly as possible.
The truth, when accompanied with tact and love, is never dangerous; it is the silence that is in the long term.