53 SUICIDE PREVENTION AWARENESS When a Parent Dies by Suicide ... What kids want to know (continued) • Use storybooks to help get conversations going. See what is available in your local bookstore or library. • Keep up children’s normal routines as much as possible. It may be hard, but try to keep them going to school, soccer practice, swimming, Girl Guides, play dates with other children, etc. • See if there is a support group for survivors of suicide in your community. Search online for “bereavement support.” • Sometimes a child may feel really sad and have no one to talk to. Or the child may want someone else to talk to. He or she can call Kids Help Phone at 1 800 668-6868 to talk to an adult who can help. • If the child is old enough to write, he or she can start a journal to write down thoughts and feelings. Children can use drawings too. Encourage the child to include things he or she would like to say to the person who died. Children might even want to write a letter to the parent who died. • Remember to take time to do things that make the child feel happy (e.g., play a sport or game, hobbies, go to a movie). • Give lots of affection and hugs to the child.Tell the child how much you love him or her. • Other things that you and your child can do: • Frame a picture of the parent who died and put it in the child’s room. • Make a photo album especially for the child. • Plant a memorial tree or garden. • Light a memorial candle. • Make a memory book to remember the person who died. • Make a worry box.Write down worries about the death (or make drawings) and put them in the worry box.Worries may be shared with trusted adults. How can I remember my mom better? How can I make sure I never forget my dad? • Invite children to the formal commemoration(s) of the parent (the funeral or memorial). Be sensitive if they do not want to go. • Do something special on the deceased person’s birthday and/or the anniversary of his or her death. These informal rituals are important. • Give the child an object or special possession that belonged to his or her parent. • Make sure to talk often about the parent who died. Don’t avoid saying the person’s name around the children. Remember to mention the parent at family ceremonies and holidays. If a child talks about wanting to die If a child talks about wanting to die, take these comments seriously and seek professional help. Never assume the child doesn’t really mean it. photo created by freepik