The family network plays a central part in some people's lives, while in others, family members may have little regular contact with one another. Whichever is the case, though, our place in the family contributes to our sense of identity. We are a son or daughter, perhaps also someone's brother or sister; as adults, we may have established our own family, creating new identities-husband or wife, and father or mother. Whatever our place in the family, when one of its members dies, it will affect us. With one exception, the people whose stories are told here included parents, siblings, children and spouses of people who had died by suicide. It is the particular issues facing these groups which are the subject of this chapter.
I think there's self-doubt in what you've done…your role as a father or as a mother…the thought that you'd done something wrong or didn't play your part right in the bringing up of your daughter. It's that that chisels away at you. (Robert)
And I am pregnant
With your death
I carry you again
-a dead weight-
No birth to come.
Prior to the twentieth century, the death of a child was a frequent event and most parents could expect to lose up to half their children in infancy or early childhood. These losses were expected and perhaps accepted more readily than is now the case. Deaths of children are now much rarer, so parents are generally less prepared for these unanticipated losses (Parkes 1998).