Dad Died by Suicide: How Could I Feel Relieved?

When Erica’s dad died by suicide, she felt relieved – now she feels guilty that she felt relieved.

Erica's Question:

Erica: Four years ago, my dad committed suicide and I have a hard time when I'm on holidays… Thanksgiving and Christmas, because those were his two favorite holidays. And he struggled with depression… basically, I guess, mostly his whole life. And I feel guilty and like a bad daughter because when he first died, I wasn't happy, but I was relieved because he was mean, a lot of the time.

Dawson: Now looking back five years later, are you sad or mad or feel guilty because you were relieved when he died?

Erica: I feel like a bad daughter.

Dawson: Yeah.

Erica: Because you're not supposed to feel relieved when your parent dies.

Dawson McAllister's Answer:

Dawson: You would be surprised how many people are relieved when an abusive parent dies. That is a natural reaction for which I am not going to judge you.

I will say this, Erica, it takes a long time to get over somebody else's suicide, somebody near and dear to you, even though he was psychologically abusive. Let me give you this. Write this down right now: Now when you're a survivor of a suicide, that is somebody you love near and dear to you kills themselves - survivor of suicide - that's the most difficult of all suffering to go through. And that's why there are groups all across America and certainly in your town who are suicide survivors. And that's what you need to get into.

Other than that, you'll find yourself talking to yourself. And if you talk with yourself long enough, you will get into stinky thinking and you will spiral even further down into depression.

Erica: Sometimes I also wonder if…I mean I gave my parents a hard time when I was a teenager.

Dawson: Hey Erica, that's all stinky thinking. That's why I want you to get into a support group.

If you have lost someone to suicide, we are deeply sorry for your loss. Here are 6 emotions survivors of suicide loss face and stories from others that have experienced suicide loss.

TheHopeLine Team
For over 30 years, TheHopeLine has been helping students and young adults in crisis. Our team is made up of writers and mental health professionals who care deeply about helping others.
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