By Debra Stang, LMSW, LCSW
Unfortunately, My Dad Did Something Awful One Day by Heather Moran is available only in Kindle format. It is written for parents and other caregivers to read with older children and tweens. It is written in first person and depicts a child struggling to come to terms with what happened in the days and weeks following his/her father's suicide.
Author Heather Moran made the brave and difficult choice not to reveal the age, ethnicity, or even the gender of the narrator so that any child reading the story should be able to put him or herself in the place of "I."
Moran does specify that it is the narrator's father who has died--a statistically more likely scenario given that men are more likely than women to complete suicide.
My Dad Did Something Awful One Day is one of the rare books written to explain the concept of suicide to children. It prevents matter of fact information about an often taboo subject, and it is an excellent book for the surviving parent or caregiver to read with a child to answer any questions that might come up.
The book also does a great job of covering the many contradictory feelings that children and adults often experience in the wake up a suicide. The narrator, for instance, speaks of not thinking his/her father was a very good dad in his last year. The narrator misses the father, but is sometimes relieved at not having to deal with his moodiness or his bad temper anymore. He/she also thinks her father should have tried harder to get help before ending his life.
The glossary at the end of the book explains terms that children who are trying to understand the concept of suicide need to know.
At this time the book is only available electronically, through the Amazon Kindle.
Some readers may be disturbed that the narrator often refers to his/her father and his suicide as "mean," "dumb," and "awful." Although the author accurately portrays the symptoms of the father's depression as seen through the narrator's eyes, she does not explore the awful pain the father must have been in when he ended his life.
Finally, if you are in the United States, you should be forewarned that this book is written in UK English. It describes procedures like inquests that U.S. readers won't be familiar with.
My Dad Did Something Awful One Day opens the doors for children and adults to talk freely about the suicide of a loved one, and for this reason I recommend it. I would, however, advise caregivers who read this book with their children to explain that the narrator's dad had a disease that made his brain very sick and that he did not end his life from stupidity or malice.