51 SUICIDE PREVENTION AWARENESS (continued) When a Parent Dies by Suicide ... What kids want to know (continued) but still say mean things.The important thing is to help children deal with these comments.They can choose to ignore them. Children can also practise saying something like “Mommy was sick and was very, very sad.” They can also tell an adult right away • Help children decide how much information to share. Sometimes, it might be easier for a child to say something simple, like “My mother died suddenly” or “My dad was sick and he died.” Older kids can also say,“Dad died by suicide.” Some children may want to share more details. It’s a personal choice and it is up to the child. Make sure the child knows that he or she does not have to share details.You can teach children how to stop conversations when they get uncomfortable. For example, they can say,“Thanks for asking, but I don’t want to talk about this anymore.” Why am I so sad? Will I be this sad forever? Children feel grief in different ways.Their feelings about a suicide are often quite different from how children feel after other kinds of death. Children often feel embarrassed and ashamed if a parent dies by suicide. After the death of a parent, children may also feel: • abandoned • guilty • shocked • confused • sad • depressed • angry • anxious • fearful • lost or empty It’s hard for children to deal with intense grief all the time. Instead, they mourn in small chunks of time over a long period.They might be crying one minute, and playing with friends the next.This up-and-down part of grief is often confusing to adults as well as to children. Sometimes, other people don’t accept the grief that survivors of suicide feel. This is partly because of the stigma, or negative attitudes, around suicide.This makes grieving harder. • Make sure kids know they won’t always feel this way. Children need to have a sense of hope. • Encourage the child to talk about his or her feelings. Some children feel comfortable talking. Others can explore their feelings through drawing and playing. Listen to what the child says and, even more importantly, what he or she doesn’t say. • Acknowledge and validate children’s feelings. Say things like,“I see that you’re really sad” and “It’s OK to feel angry.” When will it stop hurting? What can I do to start feeling better? • Children are sometimes confused by how they feel. They may think they are different from other kids. Make sure they know that all children are unique, and so is the way they grieve.There is not a right way or a wrong way to grieve. • The best thing kids can do to feel better is to talk about the loss. Let the feelings out.This means crying, screaming or yelling and, most importantly, asking questions.All of this is OK. • Encourage kids to ask questions.Tell them they shouldn’t be afraid of making you more sad by asking questions and talking about the death. • Make sure children know it’s OK to feel happy as well as sad. Feeling happy (or feeling better) doesn’t mean they’re not still sad about their parent’s death. It doesn’t mean they have forgotten their parent. Let them know they will never forget their mom or dad.