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While I was Dad's primary caregiver, John helped as well. He also had the job of closing down my father's practice. Since John's death, I have had to take care of Dad, bury my brother and close his office, and close my father's practice. While Dad and I talked about all the legal and/or necessary issues surrounding John's death, we have yet to talk about his suicide. I know my father is suffering deeply, but I have no idea what to say, or even where to begin. Any thoughts?

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If he brought it up, I would follow his lead and be supportive. John was a good man, I miss him too, we have to carry on......no sense in trying to figure out why someone did such a thing, worst yet beating oneself about how it could have been prevented. If you need help in talking through this, try therapy. Frankly, dad needs comfort only.
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Every situation is different, of course. I lost my spouse to suicide many years ago, and still miss him tremendously at different times, in different ways. I agree with finding the right counselor and support group. (I found Hospice to be extremely helpful). It's a terrible tragedy that leaves everyone feeling guilty, asking why, thinking "if only", and wishing you could have prevented it. I've never met a suicide survivor who wanted to die, which makes it all the more tragic. It's been described as a deep, dark hole that people can't get out of and suicide becomes the only relief. I still don't claim to really understand it, but it becomes an irrational, rather than a conscious act in which people lose any peripheral vision of the grief that will be left in their wake. People have a right to feel angry and express those emotions, but it's important to remember that people who die by suicide don't intend to hurt anyone any more than those who die from a heart attack. Often, they feel burdensome to those around them. For me, remembering the positive memories, rather than letting the way they died define their lives, while acknowledging the loss and tragedy helps the healing process.
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First of all, does your father know he died and how? Just because he has a terminal illness does not negate his feelings for his son. The reason your brother took his own life is really a moot point at this time. Just talk about the good times you had as a family and do not dwell on the why's and should of's, and could of's. Help your dad until the end, and thank you for being there for both of them!
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I'm able to say this now because my brother lost his battle with depression on 9/23/13, during our care of our Dad who is progressively getting worse with Parkinson's disease and dementia. I just want to say it will get more bearable with time. When people tried to tell me that right after he died, it made me a little angry because I thought "what the h*ll do they know-they don't understand the aching hole in my chest that makes it hard to breathe every time I think about him". But we're in the middle of the second year now and while I think of him every day, and miss him when I hear songs we listened to come on the radio, I can actually bring myself to talk about him out loud around acquaintances without embarrassing myself. Somehow you find it in yourself to be there for your father because he needs you more than you need to be by yourself. My Dad sometimes thinks my brother is in prison (he had never been in prison in his entire life!) as though that explains why he's not here. Dad asks me occassionally "do you talk to your brother a lot?" and I have to say "yeah Dad, every single day". So what I'm trying to say in a rambling sort of way is that your Dad will deal with his grief in his own way. And if you talk about your brother like he's gone on a trip-how much you miss him and stuff like "Mike would've loved to have seen that game", it may encourage him to mention him too. God bless you and hoping that you find comfort and solace in the good memories of your brother. Don't dwell on the event of his passing as it will make the pain even worse.
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I'm so sorry for your loss. My father is 75-years-old, and he has never really spoken about his mother's suicide that occurred when he went away to college. He certainly would have benefited from discussing it but he never acknowledged that she was bipolar, depressed, and made the wrong choice. He says it was menopause-induced. Anyway, my point is, it's okay to discuss the suicide but not the end of the world if he wishes not to.
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I'm sure this has been difficult for both of you. If you and your father have a close relationship, then just sit down and discuss it. I'm going to assume he was depressed or ill and didn't want to suffer; you can begin the conversation by discussing good memories, then go on to how he is missed and why he did this. If your dad doesn't want to discuss it, then maybe he may feel more comfortable speaking with a minister, doctor or friend.
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Truly blessed, I'm so sorry about both your brother and your Dad. I too lost my brother (twin) to suicide about a year ago. He, my Mom and I were all very close... My Mom initially was aware of his death but her Alzheimers (she's had dementia for about 4 years) had her in decline so she's forgotten how he died and recently that he is gone. She asks about him every so often to make sure he's ok, which I assure her he is. After he died, we didn't talk about the suicide at all. I didn't want her to have guilt or the range of emotions that suicide brings. Let your father lead the conversations and go from there.

Please also take time to find someone to talk to. I completely understand about not taking time for yourself, it took me a year to find a doctor and work on myself and I'm so very glad I did. However it wasn't until my Mom was safely in a memory care facility that I could go... Looking back, I see that in that year I had some really rough times that I wasn't aware of until I made it through them.
I went to a few suicide survivors support groups, they are helpful to let you know you are not alone. The emotions we go through are heavy and may change from one hour to the next... anger, sadness, guilt, resentment... You're dealing with an incredible amount, and from another fellow survivor, please make time to get yourself straight and centered. I wish I would've instead of trying to work through things myself. I wish you peace and strength and happiness and good memories through this. All my best to you...
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So much depends on your dad's faith orientation, what he believes about an afterlife, what the circumstances were for your brother, so very much. I think I would suggest counseling for your dad and for you, but whether or not he is open to it, please, get some for yourself. Being male and being a generation older than you are, he may very well be the type to just bury emotions. You cannot pry them out if he refuses to share them but you can encourage dialogue. Everything for me, personally, is capable of being comforted by my faith. I feel very sad for people who do not have that to get them through times such as the ones you describe. But even when you are raised with a religious orientation, it can be totally different for each person. I was raised in a Christian home and my 84 year old father would definitely believe that under any circumstance, suicide means automatic damnation. I do no believe that. I always struggled believing that a merciful God would not look into a person's heart, particularly when they are under the kind of mind and thought changing problems as mental illness and depression, being in a 'dark hole' that they cannot find their ways out of, or in such pain they cannot live with it, or think they cannot. So for example if I were to try to have this conversation with my own dad, he would most likely not discuss it with me, shut me down, and bury/deny the problem. In that case, for me, all I could do is take care of myself emotionally, pray for him and be tolerant and kind to him. His own mortality is near and he may be very afraid. But you cannot 'pour anything out', like a pitcher that is empty, unless you are 'refilled' yourself. Taking care of yourself is taking care of others. God bless.
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Truly, I join so many people in saying we are sorry for the loss of your brother and have great admiration for all of the burdens (of love) you have taken on. Yes, the oxygen mask thing :) make it a priority, your grieving needs attention too... good advice from others above. Please don't try to be too much of a superhero, hang up the cape now and then. ;) God bless.
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Truly, I lost my brother and mother this past year. If your dad wants to talk about the tragic aspects of your brother's death he will, he knows you are there for him. I would let it go. Those closest to me worry about me because I need space, to sort my thoughts, many people just need time/space to grieve in their own way. Your father may blame himself and that is to much with deal with, for a man in his condition. I would talk about what a wonderful man and father he is. He is probably very worried about you right now, let him know you will continue to have a wonderful life. I had to put myself on auto-pilot mode to get through caring for my mom, after her beloved son died. One person can only do so much in 24hrs. so just do your best and let the rest go. Try to make your dad as happy and comfortable as he can be, make it your mission. I would definitely hire an outside company to help with his care, hospice is not much help that way, although they are very helpful. My thoughts are with you, I'm glad you are open to counciling, because you have a lot to sort through. You are in the thick of it right now, you will have many happy and bright days ahead, but it's hard when you can't see the forest through the trees, just muddle through this very hard time and do the best you can, that's all you can do.
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If your dad is on hospice, perhaps they could have a counsellor come out to talk to your dad in private. If he does feel the need to open up, maybe this is a way it could happen. Your dad like mine is of the generation that once it is mentioned, they don't feel the need to discuss things any further. I am so sorry for the loss of your brother. Your plate is overflowing at the moment. God bless.
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Is there a way to get a grief counselor to speak with your dad? He may find it easier to talk with someone who is not his child.
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trulyblessed, I think I would talk about some lighter memories and let your father lead you where he wants to go with the talk. He may need to talk about it, too. Or he may need to not talk about it. You can open the door for him if he does want to talk about it. You'll be able to tell pretty quickly, most likely. I hope you're able to find time to think of your father and consider the pain he must have felt that led him to giving up his life. Suicide is such a sad end, a lot because it can leave loved ones with feelings of horror and guilt. I hope you find time to work through your feelings. I can tell you cared deeply for your brother. I wondered if there may be a suicide support group in your area and if you could spare some time each week to attend. People who have gone through what you are will know the things in your heart and mind.
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Thank you all for your imput. There is no question I need couseling; however, I am faced with that old caregiver dilemma of "no time for myself." You have helped me realize that I absolutely must find the time to get couseling and eventually find my own peace so that I may offer that peace to my father. I guess that time honored advice really is true: I need to put on my oxygen mass first!
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What a terribly sad situation. I don't know your father personally, or the type of relationship you and he have. Have you been able to discuss very difficult and intimate topics in the past? Thinking about my own father, he was stoic and pretty aloof when it came to anything heartfelt. His daughter from his first marriage committed suicide when she was in her 20's, and I was about 11. He never spoke of it, ever. I learned never to say her name again, ever. If I actually did try to broach the subject, which I would NEVER do, I think he'd react as if I had violated a boundary, and he would probably make sure to keep even more distance.
I'm sorry to have gone off on my own tangent here, but I guess what I'm saying is that your desire to bring him some measure of peace, so you both can gain some insight and acceptance of something that you may never truly understand, may be too lofty and possibly, burdensome, to someone facing his own mortality.
Grief counseling, like Palmtrees suggested, sounds like a wonderful idea for you. Perhaps taking your own more solitary journey through this, will have a byproduct effect in bringing your father some peace.
Again, I'm so sorry for your loss.
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Open a dialogue with your dad. Start with something like, "I'm really angry that John killed himself. Do you feel angry?" Remember that most men are hesitant to share their feelings. You may need to lead your dad down this path.
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I am so sorry. This is just so hard and painful for you and your father. You need professional grief counseling to get through this. If you can't get your dad on board you must do it for yourself. It will be hard enough to lose your father but a brother on top of that is just more than most of us could take. My prayers to you.
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