Elaina (age 8) and Mark (age 12) live with their mother and baby half-brother. Their parents had had an acrimonious split and a difficult relationship following their separation.
Ten months prior to their referral to the service, their father had attempted to hang himself. He did not die immediately and the children had seen him in hospital when he was on life-support and clearly had injuries to his neck. At the time of his death the children were told that he had fallen downstairs and hurt his neck which had led to his death.
At the assessment home visit, their mother expressed deep concerns about Mark’s behaviour in particular. He was angry and frequently had violent outbursts against his mother. We invited both children to attend our bereavement support weekend for children bereaved through suicide, but made it clear to their mother that it was essential for them both to know the real circumstances of their father’s death before attending the weekend. With some support from our assessor, the mother was able to tell them that their father had chosen to end his own life. This revelation of the truth allowed Mark to share that he had been concerned that his mother had pushed their father down the stairs and so caused his death.
Following their attendance on the weekend their mother reported that both children had gained a lot from attending the weekend, most significantly the understanding that there are other children who have experienced similar losses. She felt that they had gained more from learning the truth and attending a weekend where all the other children and young people had experienced a bereavement through suicide, than they otherwise would have.
She reported that although there were still some concerns with Mark’s behaviour his outburst were less frequent than previously and no longer directed towards her.