“How did my uncle die, Mom?”
Surprised at the question, her mother replied; “Your uncle was very ill.”
But, when the young child persisted saying; “Tell me about his illness,” her mother said: “When you are older, I will tell you more about it. And she did.”
After her daughter turned 12, her mother explained that her uncle had been ill with a mental illness, which had made him desperately unhappy, and in spite of all the treatment he’d received, nobody had been able to help him. So in desperation, and after suffering for many years, he had ended his life. It happens sometimes, you know, she said, putting her arms around the child. The child listened intently to her mother then turned to her and asked; “But how did he do that, Mum? How did he know what to do? And, did it hurt?”
Imagine a mother having to go into detail about a subject like that. Well, she kept it short and simple. The child’s uncle had died before she was born, so maybe because she never knew him, it was a bit easier for her to accept.
Not a single professional mental health provider had been able to pinpoint the right age to tell a child this kind of news but that child’s mother knew that it was better to tell the child herself before someone else did so unknowingly. I think it was the right decision, don’t you?i