Should a family suicide be mentioned in a Christmas card? I could use some help on this one.

yellow_awareness_ribbon_greeting_card(I found this card after I wrote the post– Cafe Press.)

For the last couple of decades I’ve been writing a Yuletide letter to stick in with our Christmas cards, a missive that generally includes any big family news along with some philosophical musings on something…anything really…that happened during the year.

And up to now I’ve never been one to shy away from topics that some might consider questionable holiday fare (i.e. working with the dying, menopause, the incredible stench of alligator pits) but this year I’m up against the news of Cam’s recent suicide and it’s the first time a family event has given me pause. Partly because the announcement needs to be handled delicately out of respect for the hubster’s family, but also because suicide is a socially taboo topic that’s never supposed to be mentioned at all, even in the off-season.  So how exactly are people going to react to my breaking that taboo in the heart of a major holiday devoted to joy and good cheer?

I admit, I just don’t know. And I feel kinda caught between a rock and a hard place because, realistically, what could I say instead? I mean, what exactly is the etiquette for glossing over a piece of information that catastrophic?

Hey there! We went kayaking in numerous spectacular places this year and are delighted to share that Beloved Daughter got married in June! We couldn’t be happier.*  Happy holidays all! 

*(Accept for that one loss in September of course, but really. We don’t want to bum you guys out with THAT!)

Yuck. I don’t think so.

The more I think about it the more it seems like I should probably just trust in people’s basic humanity…maybe have some faith that everybody’s caring and compassion will rise up and trump this horrible, hurtful, isolating taboo. I’d love for that to be what this season is truly about…something big enough, loving enough, and resilient enough to wrap its arms around both the joy and sorrow of our lives.  Both those who are hopeful in any given year as well as those whose hearts have been broken.

It doesn’t seem like the holidays should have to be an either/or thing, does it?

5 responses

  1. Hi Dia,
    I hope to God…that you write about this, especially at this time of the year. You are who you are because you had the courage and faith to face in to the darkness and by doing that, discover the Light. In the spirit of finding Enlightenment through Endarkenment…please share with all of us this tender part of being a human.
    With much love…the H.

  2. For me personally, the wrenching, heart-breaking loss of Cam is is what is paramount; how he died is definitely secondary to that.

    Some questions also popped up as I read your post. Your letter will probably go out to those you feel most open and close to, but also others with whom you have more of an acquaintance rather than an intimate relationship. Do you wish to communicate with both groups in the same manner and same language?

    A second 2-part q.: How has hubster’s side of the family dealt with Cam’s death and how have you and your side of the family related to it . How might each “side” write a Xmas letter?

    And one more thing, my dear and wonderful friend. Your Xmas letter does not have to be “perfect.” Please, please know that no matter what and how you write it, I will still love you as will, I am certain, all others who know you and value you as do I.

    With love and empathy, Bob

  3. At first, I thought, yikes, what a quagmire. I was thinking of the hubster side of the family and how including this information in letters that might somehow circle back to them could impact him. But, his rapid response seems to tell all.

    You must tell all–in the way that you repeatedly address life, with honesty, clarity, compassion, and humility. While it may seem tempting to write two versions of your letter, the H. has already negated that idea. We can’t keep covering over the difficult parts of life. By sharing them, we present our own lives more honestly and give others, who may be afraid of honesty or may have been taught to sugar-coat life, a fresh perspective on how honesty can be done when it is done with love and compassion. Nothing will change if we continue to use sugar pills to hide the symptoms. But perhaps honesty will have a positive transformational power. If anyone can write honesty and transformation…you can do it, Dia.

    And like Bob says, it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be honest. Good luck, my dear.

  4. Dear Dia, I think the key to drafting the message that everybody else has encouraged you to do is contained right in your post: You mentioned that there is both joy and sorrow in life. Certainly a wedding and a suicide are the extremes of that. Perhaps bitter sweetness could be your theme. After you send it out, I would be very interested in seeing it in one of your posts if you feel comfortable with that. I predict that this will be a healing thing for you to write, and for your family to receive. Christmas is about cheer, but as I understand it, for Christians, a conduit to transformation as well. Sincerely, Karen of

  5. I can’t remember my WordPress PW!! I need a keeper. I replied with a post on my FB page. Yes! Write about it!!

    One of my favorite books on suicide is: The Other Side of Suicide by Karen Peebles. May not be for everyone but helped me.

    Love and Peace and abundant Light!! Becki

    Sent from my iPad


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