Guilt Over a Suicide

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Dear Jane,
How can I forgive myself and my husband’s family when our faults contributed to the death of my son (to suicide)? I was fearful that my son would commit suicide. Because of this, in your view, did I get what I thought? (I guess I already know the answer, which is yes, but in a roundabout way – through not speaking my mind because I was afraid of being rejected/abandoned.) I am angry and resentful at family members for growing marijuana for profit/greed. (They are not poor). My son started out with marijuana. I forgive them intellectually but cannot as yet emotionally. Do you suggest discussing my feelings with them or let it be. I have had advice both ways.

First, I want to give you my heartfelt condolences and help you by addressing your question about your thoughts causing your son’s suicide:
I don’t subscribe to the belief that thoughts lead to particular inevitable results. If they did, we’d all have to take blame or credit for everything. To believe that our thoughts are the sole cause of someone else’s behaviors doesn’t take into account others’ free will. You don’t know if recognizing more clearly that your son was at great risk and speaking up to your husband’s family would have kept him alive. None of us are so powerful that we can control others’ thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Secondly, you have already paid the highest price a mother can pay for having had a fear run you. In your son’s honor, do two things:
1. Do whatever it takes to say “no” to further fear of rejection/abandonment. If this means expressing your feelings to your husband’s family, then do so. Most importantly, make a pact with yourself that you will recognize your symptoms of fear and not let them rule you in the future.
2. Offer yourself compassion. Take time every day to practice compassion for your loss, for having been afraid, and for making choices you wish had been different. Trust that your son would not want to add to your suffering, so don’t withhold forgiving yourself.


Recovery from the Inside Out
Jane has been invited to New Orleans to give a workshop on November 18, 2007 for folks whose lives have been forever changed by Katrina. During my stay, I will keep a video diary, which I will upload to my Web site, If you live in New Orleans, you are invited to attend this free workshop. Contact me at My gratitude to my dear friend, Patte McDowell, for donating her air miles.

Jane on TV January 10, 2008
Jane will be interviewed on NBC 11’s The Bay Area Today on January 10. She will be talking about New Year’s resolutions. Expect a fresh take on the subject. More details to follow.

Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation,, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at

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