My 10-year-old daughter's mother died last week. She was a masochist and suffered from depression and childhood issues. She, from what I understand, hung herself in her closet from a belt. I'm not sure if she intended to kill herself or if she was trying to "get off" and wasn't able to get the belt off in time. There was no note AFAIK, so my guess is it was the latter, I want to think it was an accident but neither would surprise me.
As far as my daughter knows, her mother had a heart attack. She's taken the news really well so far. She gets teary-eyed from time to time when I really try to press the subject of her mother's death but she is otherwise acting like nothing happened.
My brother is a psychologist and a grief counselor. I asked him for advice on the subject and he said she seems healthy but that I should try to evoke a response from her regarding her mother's death as it's unhealthy to hold those feeling in. We wrote her letters and burned them. I try to talk to her about it at least once a day but I never get much of a reaction from her other than teary eyes. She hasn't really vocally cried since we initially told her and even then it wasn't much.
Since her death we've moved into a bigger place, closer to her school. She's excited about having a bigger room and getting to sleep in a little bit. Maybe that excitement is helping to mask the pain somewhat. At least I feel like that's the effect it's had on me.
Anyway, I don't like lying to my daughter but I feel justified in this case, and one day, years down the road I plan to tell her the truth. In the mean time it's been really hard to evoke a reaction from her as my brother suggested. I believe it's important that she cries to get those feeling out and it's occurred to me that if I tell her the truth about her mother's death that might evoke a reaction.
Should I tell my daughter the truth about her mom's death or continue to live a lie, risking that I might slip up and accidentally refer to her mother's suicide or that she might hear me discussing it with church leaders or other family? I feel like this will be a hard lie to maintain. If not, what other things can I do to help my daughter get those emotions out?
Edit.. I think telling her would help me with my own grieving process as well. Maybe that's selfish. I just want to do whatever is right and best for my daughter though.
Update... A few important points....
- I've seen people on this site try to ask questions in lieu of therapy. I'm not one of those people. I'm asking to supplement therapy. We are in contact with several therapists - the problem is there is often no consensus among them, so in order to make the best possible decision I'm asking the community as well.
- My brother is neither my therapist, nor my daughter's therapist. In fact we don't even speak very often as he lives out of state. I only just recently found out he was a psychologist. That said, he has been an invaluable resource to me because he knew me as a child and in many cases I'm learning that he knows me better than I know myself. He's also a somewhat prominent figure in my church, which means he's sort of a one-stop-shop for all my general spiritual and psychological questions... but he is definitely not my therapist nor is acting in that capacity.
- I told her the truth yesterday and it turned out to be a good thing I did, as it filled in some of the puzzle pieces for her and answered certain questions that she had.
Thank you all for your advice and your opinions.