Supporting Children After a Suicide Loss: a guide for parents and caregivers

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Back in August of 2014, when millions of people collectively gasped and grieved the tragic and unexpected death of Robin Williams, one of our wonderful grief-friends allowed us to interview her on talking to kids about suicide.  We knew from comments and questions that many of you were struggling with what to say to your children; talking about death with kids is hard enough, suicide makes it even more complicated.  Luckily Sarah Montgomery is a rock-star social worker who specializes in child grief and has a specific interest in supporting children and families after a suicide.  If you missed our interview with Sarah you can check it out here (and you should, because she has all sorts of great ideas for helping kids understand suicide).

I am excited to say that Sarah, along with fellow social-worker Susan Coale, have finally taken their wealth of knowledge, put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard?) and written a book: Supporting Children After a Suicide Loss: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers.

suicide resource 9

These two lovely ladies have over 50 years of combined experience between them (though you would never know it to look at them!) and believe you me, the breadth of their knowledge pours off the pages of their book.  We take our grief resources very, very seriously and, let’s be honest, many of the books out there end up being a big fat let down.  I speak from experience because (as my husband will attest) I have a serious book buying problem.  My shelves are overflowing with grief books that I spied online, got super excited about, ordered, tore open, started reading, and then retired to the shelf after being disappointed that they didn't provide what I had been looking for.

suicide resource 1

Grief books are often like the story of Goldilocks – they are either too general or too specific, they are too academic or too basic or too abstract - you get the idea.  The brilliance of Sarah and Susan’s book is that it is juuuuuust right.  Though it is specific, in that it is intended for those supporting a child after a suicide loss, it is written such that it could benefit teachers, parents, school counselors, caregivers, extended family, pastors, or almost anyone else supporting a grieving child.   It is grounded in experience and evidenced-based practices, while being concrete and practical.   And it has a great design, to boot (if you are going to write great content, why not make it look good?!).

To give some quick highlights, this book:

  • Gives a quick and accurate overview of kids’ understanding a different developmental stages.
  •  Encourages adults to be aware of their own self-care (something we think far too many resources neglect!)
  • Gives a step by step guide to preparing for and having conversations about suicide, including some specific ideas for opening the conversation, what to say, and how to say it.
  • Gives some specific examples of common questions kids may have and how to respond.
  • Has sections on challenges specific to younger children and teens, with ideas on how to address them.
  • Gives an overview of common grief reactions in kids and how to support them.
  • Has a section on addressing suicide in the school setting, including DOs and DON’Ts and specific ideas for teachers and administrators.
suicide resource 3

If you are a parent, a teacher, a caregiver, an administrator, a school counselor, a priest, a pastor, a friend, a favorite aunt, a crazy uncle, or any other person supporting a child after a suicide death we put this resource on the strong recommend list!  You can check it out on Amazon:

You can also feel good knowing that proceeds of this book support The Chesapeake Life Center, a great grief support program that is part of Hospice of the Chesapeake.

You know how a lot of online shopping sites will show you a section of 'people who bought this item also bought . . .' and then they show you some stuff that you might like?  Well, fear not.  WYG has a low tech version of that.  It is me telling you that if this book has peaked your interest, you may also want to check out the review we did a while back about an activity book that the Dougy Center put out called After a Suicide: An Activity Book for Grieving Kids.  Rather than being for adults, about supporting kids, this is an activity book for kids.  It is another suicide grief resource we love.  You can check out our review of that book here.

Don't miss a post!  Subscribe to keep up to date with our posts by email.  And if you are not in need of a suicide resource, but would like to check out some other grief resources, you can visit our online shop.

We wrote a book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
real-life book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books:

Let’s be grief friends.

We post a new article to What’s Your Grief about once a week. Subscribe to stay up to date on all our posts.

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5 Comments on "Supporting Children After a Suicide Loss: a guide for parents and caregivers"

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  1. Jenn D  October 27, 2019 at 2:36 pm Reply

    My daughter was 20 when her Dad took his own life. My instinct is that she’s handled it with amazing courage and grace but I often wonder how much she hides to protect me. Would this book be helpful for her or do you have any suggestions for a more age appropriate guide for her?

  2. Taryn Lacey  September 4, 2015 at 9:52 am Reply

    I subscribed my personal, and now my professional email. I just came across this book in your library and I am thrilled to see that you work with Hospice! I am a part of the Niagara Hospice team; providing the right care at the right time! Thank you for ALL that you post, it has been so helpful!

  3. Joyce Webster  April 7, 2015 at 8:16 pm Reply

    My husband commited suicide in 2006 and I tried to be supportive for my two adult children, the thing is I was there for them and each of them ripped me off. My daughter tried to kill me by starving and drugging me, she was stealing my money every month and letting me die in a room. She and her boyfriend also broke both of my feet and stopped paying my bills. I am trying to get my life back on track but my granddaughter just told me she could not see me because I won’t change my story of what her mother did. It is all I can do to want to be in this world. But, God saved me and now I am a born again Christian and I gave all of this to God. I am ok because of God! Maybe you can help some family with your book, I hope so. God bless you Joyce luv

  4. Lauren Schneider, LCSW  April 7, 2015 at 5:48 pm Reply

    Are you able to share contact information for the authors of the book on suicide and children you wrote about today?

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