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by Abigail Van Buren

Children Deserve the Truth About Grandfather's Suicide

DEAR ABBY: My father committed suicide when I was a teen-ager. My family never discussed his death and considered it a private tragedy.

I now have two pre-teen children. When they asked me about their grandfather, I lied and told them he died of a heart attack.

Abby, should I tell them the truth when they are older, or should I stick to my story? I want to do what is best for them. -– TORN IN NEW YORK

DEAR TORN: One day your children will find out the truth, and when they discover you lied to them, it will diminish their trust in you. They should be told the truth before they hear it from someone else. Give them only the information they can handle at this age, and expand upon it when they are older.

Explain that your father had an illness -– depression. Although your family chose to keep it private when you were a teen-ager, it's all right to talk about it now. You probably SHOULD talk about it so you can resolve your own grief over your father's death. Because depression tends to run in families, and your children are genetically vulnerable, they should be made aware. It is helpful for doctors to know that a family member suffered from the disease, so please don't keep it a secret any longer.