Grandmother saves Grandchild


Mourning Coffee, by Tracy Renee LeeSuicide cases are tough for funeral directors. We must assist families who are suffering severe tragedy. Suicide is emotionally devastating to the survivors. They are psychologically compromised and emotionally drained. They experience extreme disorganization, confusion, and potential feelings of guilt. My client family this week was a blended family. The husband committed suicide at home. His second wife was in a state of shock, and his step-children were devastated.

This family was fortunate, however; their decedent had a trusted brother and sister-in-law who were capable and willing to work with the funeral home on their behalf. The arrangements were made. Due in large measure to the professionalism and organization of the brother and sister-in-law, the funeral services were excellent. There was, however, one glitch. The decedent had a daughter from his first marriage.

Quite often, children from first families are not welcome, or may feel unwelcome, within the second family, particularly at the passing of their parent. These feelings may, or may not, be the fault of the second family. Indeed, these feelings may have been planted into the minds of natural children by the divorced parent with whom they reside. No matter the fault, it is incumbent upon everyone involved, to erase these insecurities suffered by the natural children. All ill will, whether past or present, must be erased. First family children, a.k.a natural children, must understand that a parent’s suicide is not their fault. If this is not accomplished, the natural children are in grave danger of suffering extremely complicated and extended grief.

When a family breaks apart, and divorce is accomplished, children often have internal feelings of guilt. They also grieve the loss of their family unit, their sense of belonging, their future, and their security. Divorce is tragic and devastating to children. If that guilt is maintained and then one of the parent’s commits suicide, the anguish of guilt becomes oppressive and very dangerous for the suffering children. If not adequately addressed, young children and adult children alike may find that depression is overwhelming, and may succumb to suicide themselves.

As funeral week progressed, I found myself more and more concerned for the biological child of this decedent. She was withdrawn, unwilling to connect with others, outwardly angry, and somewhat emotionally unapproachable. As the funeral services neared their conclusion, I became quite fearful of the potential complications my decedent’s child might suffer. As the funeral concluded, however, and as the congregation was exiting the chapel, the decedent’s mother reached out for her grandchild, embraced her tightly, and openly expressed her love through sobs of anguish and regret. At that moment, the two families came together. Each member of the second family reached out to the natural child. Her step-sisters hugged and kissed her. Her aunt and uncle openly relieved at the opportunity reached out and enveloped her with heartfelt concern and love. At that exact moment, I witnessed a miracle. I saw a withdrawn and devastated child realize that she was welcome, that she was loved, and that she was indeed a member of her father’s family.

My concern remains for this young woman. She has a tough road ahead of her. Every surviving child of a parent who has committed suicide is statistically elevated toward self-destruction. This young woman, however, received a priceless gift; at the very last possible moment, her grandmother seized an opportunity and pulled her granddaughter back into the protective love of family bonds. She now has a chance of recovery and survival.

Thank heaven for grandmothers for they perform the errands of angels.

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