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Dear Abby: I just learned a troubling family secret. How do I decide whether to tell?


DEAR ABBY: While doing some genealogy research during the pandemic, I came across my maternal grandfather’s death certificate.

I knew he had died at a fairly young age during the Depression. But I was shocked to learn that he had committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in his car in the garage of their home. His little restaurant was not doing well, and money was scarce. I imagine he was desperate and depressed.

My mother had anxiety issues, which may have been the result of her father’s suicide or a genetic issue.

Should I share this information with my adult children? Could it be helpful to them in any way?

My mother didn’t share this with me. I have a close relationship with my children, and this secret is troubling me.

WITHHOLDING INFORMATION

DEAR WITHHOLDING: Your mother didn’t share the details of her father’s death because, back then, suicide was considered a source of shame. The stress of keeping her father’s suicide a secret may have contributed to her anxiety. Fortunately, attitudes are more enlightened today, and the subject of suicide can be discussed.

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