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John James, founder of The Grief Recovery Institute

John W. James

Founder of The Grief Recovery Institute®
Co-Author of The Grief Recovery
Handbook & When Children Grieve

Ask The Grief Experts

Telling children the truth about suicide of a parent — difficult but essential. (Published 7/19/2016)


How and when do I truthfully answer questions from my grandson, age 9, about how his dad died? My son, physically sick, took his life (suicide) two years ago. His ex-wife — my grandson's mother — doesn't want him to know the truth. He thinks it was an "accident." This question may never come up from me to him, but if it does, later on, how do I answer his question? I have read the children's book "My Uncle Keith Died" by Carol Ann Loehr, et. al  and that may be helpful in explaining untreated depression that leads to suicide. But, I don't know what age is appropriate, if asked, and how to answer him, should he ask me. All other family members know the truth; his mother and her family keep it a secret and lie to him about it. Your insight and experience would be valuable. And I would be grateful.

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