The news of Russell Armstrong’s suicide has shocked us all, but no one will be more affected than his estranged wife Taylor and her young daughter.
It’s hard enough to help a child deal with a parent’s death, but when suicide is involved, it’s that much worse. Experts say Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Taylor Armstrong should let her 5-year-old Kennedy know that her daddy, Russell Armstrong, has passed on and is no longer with her, even though Taylor’s initial reaction might be to hide the news from her for a while. Experts say therapy is the key to Kennedy’s recovery, especially due to the circumstances of abuse, divorce and suicide. Do you agree?
“Five-year-old children don’t understand the concept of death, but they do understand the concept that a person is no longer with us,” Clinical psychologist and contributor to healthguru.com, Dr. Jeff Gardere tells HollyBaby.com. “They may think that they may be able to bring that person back and that’s something that’s pretty natural for them to think, but its the job of the parent to tell them that death is irreversible and the parent will not be coming back.”
“But this is where the religious stuff comes in,” Dr. Gardere adds, “Like ‘Daddy is in heaven,’ or ‘Daddy can hear from heaven,’ and so this is going to be an ongoing series of conversations between mom and his daughter.”
Psychotherapist Dr. Gilda Carle agrees, saying that Taylor will most likely come up with “seemingly fantasy like reasons” to give Kennedy in order for her to believe that daddy isn’t coming back, like, “you can talk to him, but he won’t be able to answer you back.”
As time goes on though, Kennedy will start asking questions about what really happened and where Daddy is. That’s when Taylor will have to watch her own reaction very carefully, says Dr. Carle.
And Dr. Gardere adds, “Are you going to lie to the child? You can’t do that. The mother is going to have to explain to her what he did.”
Most importantly though, Kennedy will have to be put into therapy to deal with the fact that her father took his own life, which most likely will have long-term effects on her.
“When you have a 5-year-old, it might be to their advantage to take her to a child psychologist and explain the process and issues that are going to be naturally part of her life for the next few years,” Dr. Gardere tells HollyBaby.com. “There is evidence that shows that a parent committing suicide dramatically increases the risk to take their own life later on. I highly recommend, because it was a suicide, that they go to family counseling and the child be in play therapy.”
And psychiatrist Dr. Carole Lieberman agrees: “Taylor is a very sensitive and loving woman, who will undoubtedly feel guilt over Russell’s death, even though he was abusive,” she says. “Taylor and Kennedy should share their grief and begin psychotherapy as soon as possible to sort out their feelings and soothe their pain.”
We pray for Taylor and Kennedy and hope they can get through this tough time.
–Leigh Blickley, reporting by Michael Emer
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