In grief and loss we want answers; we want to find reasons for tragedies. As often mentioned, in the grief of suicide, everyone is left to wonder how this could have happened. Could the parent of the teenager who killed him- or herself have done more? The answer to this is surprising. Parents of a teenager who commits suicide because of bullying often had a good relationship with their child. Yet parents may ask why their child did not turn to them for help. Many answers have been put forth. Maybe he or she was embarrassed by the bullying? Being a part of the school culture, did he/she feel it had to be worked out alone? Did the child feel he/she had come forward and the bullying was observed and nothing was done, so nothing will ever get better? Was a code of silence allowed to replace the Golden Rule? No matter what the answers, we are left to the sad reality that our young loved one will never be coming back.
The grief of losing the victim easily extends to the teenagers who bullied them. Many bullies report they are haunted by their actions long into adulthood. And that's when no one died. Many times their own grief becomes overlooked by all. Sadly for them, they are left to deal with a loss they unknowingly helped create. These are teenagers who let their words and actions become too ruthless. They will forever live with the harshness of unintended consequences. The goal of bullying is to be mean and to upset, harass and make fun of someone else. So the bully will always know that he or she meant to hurt someone—but just not that much—and ended up crossing the line. This must be a horrible guilt/loss to endure. The bully's parents may also feel much grief and anger at themselves and the school, believing that if limits had been set, perhaps their child would not have gone so far.
New lesson from the 5 stages of grief