Drugs, suicide and family guilt

Editor: Being a mom or dad can sometimes come with very difficult decisions. If your first instinct is to protect your child, you may feel guilty if you can't help extended family in their hour of need. 'Emily' [not her real name] shares her story of tough love within her extended family, and the guilt she lives with as a result with Parent24:

'Emily' writes:

In July 2008 My sister Amie* took her own life, she was in her early thirties and left behind two children, a young son of only 6 years old and her daughter Kelly who was then 20. I never saw my niece after the funeral; we were never close. You see Kelly* was a troubled kid from the start and I just knew that her lifestyle choices were a major contributing factor in my sister’s suicide: in truth, I secretly blamed her for driving her mother to kill herself.

Tough love: the difficult choice

My own daughter and her cousin Kelly were only 6 months apart and grew quite fond of each other while my sister was alive. My daughter often wanted to go and see her cousin, I would not allow it. Not openly of course, I just always made excuses for why she couldn’t visit. My daughter and I were always locking heads throughout her teenage years about her choices of friendships, and knowing that she was an impressionable young girl, I simply did not want a negative influence on her, even from her own cousin.

When problems snowball

Kelly had fallen pregnant at the age of 19, not sure who the father was (there were 3 possible candidates). Of course, the biggest issue was that she was addicted to tik [chrystal meth]. Her son Kyle only lived for a month and died of what doctors called a cot death. I know this put my sister Amie over the edge.

Shortly after this my sister took her own life. Although I was aware of her daughter's problems from a distance, I did not attempt to make contact.

Her daughter Kelly died a year ago this April from an HIV-related illness as a result of her lifestyle related to her tik addiction. She was just one month shy of her 25th birthday.

What guilt sounds like

Should I have reached out to her since she was family? Probably…

Am I the worst aunt in the world?  Maybe…

Do I regret not having contact with her? Every day.

Would I do anything differently…? I really don’t know.

One thing I am sure of is that my children come first. My daughter’s life was more important to me and that sometimes as mothers we make hard decisions and choices to protect our children from the bad in this world.

*Names changed

Contact numbers for substance abuse issues and suicide prevention:

Growing up drunk

How to prevent teen suicide

When a parent commits suicide

What would you do if a family member was a drug addict?

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