Advice on how to handle a sensitive issue?

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by candletears7, May 8, 2015.

  1. jdel77

    jdel77 Silver Supporting Member

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    A good friend from high school who I lost touch with and who I connected back with about a year ago suddenly died a couple months back.
    I and another friend I've kept in touch with, think it tragically may have been a suicide.
    His funeral was interstate and I couldn't go unfortunately.

    It's been playing on my mind and I'd like to know if my suspicions are true.

    Should I ask his mother, who I also knew? She Msg'd me on FB about how her son was really happy we'd gotten back in touch.
    Is it none of my business? Is there a reason to know the situation surrounding someone's passing?

    Just fishing for advice really from anyone who's been in a similar situation.
     
  2. Teleplayer

    Teleplayer Silver Supporting Member

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    Tough situation, and the family is likely grieving already. Maybe after enough time passes and your friend's passing is not as raw for the family, you can pose a question in a polite manner to a family member.

    Possibly something along the lines of, "What did (your friend's name here) pass from?"

    Depends on how close you are to the family, how comfortable you feel asking "the" question, how you pose the question, and what your intent is.

    IMHO, the passing is about your friend and your friend's family - not about your curiosity. Tread lightly - especially as the family goes through its grieving process.
     
  3. rmconner80

    rmconner80 Cantankerous Luddite Silver Supporting Member

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    I don't think under any circumstances you should ask your friend's mother about the details of how her son died.
     
  4. StompBoxBlues

    StompBoxBlues Member

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    Yes, as of last year. I can't go into details but someone I was close to but could not keep contact with, and no real information about the cause.

    We had been on the outs, but I still loved this person, it was just some personality issues, etc.

    It's hard, there is no closure (but then again, even if I knew, there still wouldn't be). It's just like many things in life, it isn't ideal but you have to learn to live with it. Let it bother you, just accept that it does, but that there are no choices anyway about doing "something" about it.

    Sorry to be cryptic, it's just...yeah it bothers me, and I still get twinges of that now and then, and I just have to accept that and that me knowing more detail wouldn't change anything.
     
  5. JPF

    JPF Member

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    You need to weigh the value of satisfying your and your friends' curiosity against the pain you might be causing to your decreased friend's mother. If it wasn't suicide, you're nevertheless putting doubts in her mind that could cause additional anguish. If it was suicide, maybe she doesn't want to face it, or have it be public knowledge.

    I wouldn't ask, because sating my own curiosity isn't worth the potential to cause extra pain to family, but that's just my take on it.
     
  6. jdel77

    jdel77 Silver Supporting Member

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    This has hit home.
    Thanks for the advice guys.
    I guess unless I'm told, I'll never know.
    I can live with that, and knowing what a great guy he was. I can't believe he's gone really.
     
  7. georgestrings

    georgestrings Senior Member

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    +1...


    - georgestrings
     
  8. MangoMango

    MangoMango Supporting Member

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    The very reason you ask is due to the stigma, guilt and shame unfortunately associated with suicide.

    Unlike physical illness or accidents, people often blame themselves for not preventing it.

    That is simply not true.

    Mental illness and substance use disorders should be looked at just like any other disease.

    A disease that can be fatal even when properly treated.

    Those that live with with pain of losing someone to suicide are at higher risk of attempting as well.

    They often live in shame not unlike the family member of a criminal.

    Nothing wrong with reaching out to the family and comforting them.

    She is already in pain.

    You sound like a smart and emotionally intelligent person.

    That being the case, you're not going to hurt her.
     
  9. Dr. Tweedbucket

    Dr. Tweedbucket Deluxe model available !!!11

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    I would just let it go, if the Mother feels you need to know, she'll tell you, otherwise just be respectful and accept the fact that he's gone. I think probing would cause more pain no matter the cause of death.
     
  10. claudel

    claudel Member

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    Search the persons name in the local online newspapers and see if you can
    find out something that way without possibly annoying the person's relatives...
     
  11. Multicellular

    Multicellular Supporting Member

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    I used to be a social worker. I've spoken with many people who lost loved ones to suicide, drug overdoses.

    My advice, don't ask her why. I can understand why you would want to know, you cared about the person. But it is probably not worth it. People often feel responsible for their loved ones taking their lives, and they can hear it as accusatory even when it is not meant that way.

    But I would offer to talk about it with her. Many times, loved ones in these situations find it helpful to be able to talk to people. Some statement like "again, I am really sorry about us loosing _____, I am here for you if you ever need someone to talk to."

    You may well learn the cause that way, but it will be on her terms.

    If if was suicide, I agree with MangoMango about discussing it as an illness. That is accurate a can help keep away from the self-blame.
     
  12. orourke

    orourke Member

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    I'm friends with a person who was a journalist for the New York Daily News. I asked her how she goes up to people and ask them sensitive questions about tragic events.

    She told me she simply asks them, "what happened". It gives them the opportunity to tell what they want to tell.

    This guy was your friend, the circumstances of his death are obviously haunting you. I think if you stay in touch with his family eventually they'll open up about the details.
     
  13. habanaerosmith

    habanaerosmith Member

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    I disagree.

    Obviously you should let some time pass, but as someone who was part of his life, I think you have a right to know the circumstances surrounding his death.

    It's not like his mom won't be thinking about it constantly, so you won't be opening up old wounds. It's also quite possible that talking about it will be cathartic for her. Connecting with people you're not close to, even complete strangers, can often have a therapeutic effect.

    If you approach it with sensitivity and empathy, I'll bet she thanks you for reaching out to her.
     
  14. ELmiguel

    ELmiguel Member

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    No offense to your journalist friend, but this is why I despise most news journalists.
     
  15. Fishyfishfish

    Fishyfishfish Member

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    I would ask in a a couple years or not at all. Family members need time to put perspective on things. I was hammered with tons of questions after my mom died. I felt it was awkward and in some cases bad taste. A simple card will suffice for now.
     
  16. Tylenol Jones

    Tylenol Jones Member

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    I see no point in asking. It'll just make it that much harder on your friend's mother for no other reason but to satisfy your morbid curiosity.

    Leave it be.
     
  17. fjblair

    fjblair Silver Supporting Member

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    You were a friend and his mother/family knows you, I don't see an issue with you wanting to know why your friend passed away. It's normal and they get it.
     
  18. Polynitro

    Polynitro Member

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    1youve got to be kidding. the right to know? he didnt even go to the funeral

    2Yeah its pretty much exactly like that. Parents never get over losing a child.

    3um, no

    4I seriously doubt that
     
  19. habanaerosmith

    habanaerosmith Member

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    Ok, so you disagree. That's fine. The OP asked for advice, and he's gotten some from both angles.

    There is no right or wrong here. But I do think it's a mistake to assume that reaching out to the mom in a thoughtful way will make things worse or somehow crush her.

    People always act weird or standoffish when someone loses a loved one, but in my experience people who are grieving often want to talk about their loss.

    Maybe the OP can share some stories about his friend that the mom didn't know about. And the fact that she reached out to him first IMHO leaves the door open for a conversation.
     
  20. chrisjw5

    chrisjw5 Supporting Member

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    If his mom needs to unburden, just a 'condolences and memories' conversation will bring the information out.

    It's one of those 'if they want to offer, they will', but don't ask.
     

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