Editor: Sonya Marvel
Contributors: All Members of My Mom Is A Survivor
November 20 was the 1999 National Suicide Survivor's Prevention Awareness Day. We wanted to honor our members who wish to make others aware and to help stop Suicide. This segment of Grieving Within will contain two instances regarding Suicide. The first if the suicide of our children and the second is when we contemplate suicide.
The suicide of one's child raises painful questions, doubts and fears. The knowledge that your love was not enough to save your child and the fear that others will judge you to be an unfit parent, may raise powerful feelings of failure. Realize that as a parent you gave your child your humanness — your positives and negatives — and that what your child did with them was primarily your child's decision.
It is not uncommon for bereaved parents to have suicidal thoughts. Suicide is not inherited; however, the suicide of a family member can have a profound influence on others in the family.
When we loose our child, we grieve deeply and constantly. There is a constant reminder to us that our child is gone. Although we deny this at first and continue to hope and pray that our child will walk through the door or call on the phone any moment, eventually we come to the reality that our children will never return. We begin to feel this is too much. We can not handle this finality of loosing the child we have loved unconditionally. We feel we want to be with our children. We have to feel the same feeling they felt when they died. Suicidal thoughts begin to enter our minds. We can no longer live this horrible day to day grieving and loss. We begin to plan our own death. Some are scared, yet some welcome the opportunity to be with our children again.
What can we do to live through the worst tragedy that we can ever endure? Unfortunately, some succeed in suicide. Others come to the reality "I can't do this. I can not put my family and friends through what I went through. I need help!"
Our family and friends hear this from a lot of bereaved parents who get so tired of the hurt. It frightens the parents that they are entertaining suicidal thoughts, but it is a normal reaction for some to consider this as an alternative. Many parents, as they speak, are quick to agree that they are too responsible to really consider this as an answer to their problems. They realize that there are people who love and need them, and that they could not purposefully put someone they love through the very hell they are seeking to escape. They are able to realize that suicide is not an answer.
Be patient with yourself and them, and seek professional help and family counseling if necessary should you have these thoughts and you are not able to put them aside, please, it is imperative that you seek professional help. Please don't put it off!
I began to plan my own death. I could not stand the pain. The depression I felt was overwhelming and I just could not do this anymore. It was too hard to live without John. I wanted to be with him. Life was too hard to cope. Nothing could ever hurt me like the pain in my heart over losing my child. I tried to talk normally to everyone including my family, yet I had been hysterically crying for five straight days. I planned to die just like John died. I had to feel what he felt when he died. My husband had bought me a gun a couple of years before, because he was afraid of me driving home from work late at night. I planned to use that gun and shoot myself in the heart. I was a little scared, but the fear was nothing like the yearning I had to be with my son again. I would lay awake at night and plan it. One day I sat up on the bed and said that it was time. I got the gun out, but I couldn't pull the trigger. I told myself that it would be easy, don't think about it, just do it. Then something very interesting happened. My mother's face popped up in my mind. I could see her as clearly as if she were standing right in front of me. I could see the pain in her eyes and face, the same pain that I had in my eyes and face when I lost John. I couldn't let her hurt over losing a child, as I had hurt over losing John. I just could not do it to her. I loved her too much to see her suffer anymore than she already had with helping me get through John's death and her losing her first grandchild! I put the gun away and never had those suicidal thoughts again. I began seeing a grief specialist who immediately subscribed medication for depression and to help me to sleep.
Mom to John
9/8/69 - 1/20/89
When my oldest child Josh took his life on November 6,1996 he was 15 years old. One of my first reactions is “What did I do? What else could I have done to prevented this?". With Josh being my first child, and not having any experience with things like teenage stuff, I really questioned my ability to be a Mom after his death. I was angry at the Doctors who told me that he was experiencing "typical teenage behavior," when in fact it wasn't just that, but I didn't know the difference between teenage behavior and major depression. I had Josh in counseling off and on for 3 years prior to his death, because I did know that Josh had personal issues with his biological father that he didn't understand and I thought counseling would help. I also had him put on an antidepressant, but he was only on them for 10 days prior to his death. We go over in our heads and hearts so much afterwards. I felt like a failure as a Mother. How could I be a Mom to the 2 surviving children that I had? I felt inadequate. With time, I had to accept in my heart that I did the best that I could do for Josh. When he first passed away, when I would go somewhere I felt there was a stamp written across my forehead that said "Her child suicided". I was very honest with everyone about how Josh died, I felt I couldn't and wouldn't hide the fact that his death was suicide. I am so glad now that I took that step. By talking of his death, I have been able to somewhat heal and to help others that have lost a child the same way. We all need some support, and it is best to come from someone whom fully understands.
Mother of Angel Josh ^i^
10/31/81 - 11/06/96
It was six years in October. But I remember that first month. I did not go on antidepressants until the end of the first year. I was sitting at home alone one day and looked over on top of the microwave. There was a bottle of sleeping pills. The pain was so bad, I had no energy, could not eat, had a continuous sick feeling in my stomach, no smile, couldn't pick my leg up to get out of bed, the record player in my head, just would not stop, had No feelings for or about anyone, except my hurt and pain for my son, Steve. This pain just would not leave, Why did I have to suffer, I didn't care about anything and the dreaded holidays were there. I lost Steve October. 13, 1993 and had to face all the firsts very early. My heart was broken into a million pieces. I looked at those pills and thought, all I'd have to do is take some and go back and lay down, and the pain would stop and I could be with Steve! I'm not sure why I didn't do it. But as the years have passed, I think in my heart I knew I could not do that to my other son, husband, mother and family. In my heart at that time, I thought I didn't care, I just couldn't stand the pain, but somewhere, and someone, knew. It was not the thing for me to do. I don't know how I did made it, but I did. I still miss Steve so much and can't believe it has happened. But as time has passed, I am able to return to some kind of a new life. I still attend support groups and try to help the newly bereaved, as it is such a long hard road. Sometimes the upcoming days are not as bad as the thought of them. I found out, you have to do what is right for you! The others will just have to understand. Take one day at a time, and do just what you want. You will make it, even if you don't want to. And one day, you will be able to do some things you did before, just in a different way. I still find that I make a new "advancement" - in different things. I cross another hurdle and make more progress. This came after much time and work in the survivor "efforts".
Mother of Steve
7/30/70 - 10/13/93
I am sorry to say that I am no more near to having a closure or coming to grips with my son's death than I have ever been. I don't know what to say other than I simply can't allow myself to think about it anymore than what is absolutely necessary because I can't stand it. On the CWWE message board we were asked to consider if we thought adults should be held accountable for things done by children in their care, etc. I wrote that my son had chosen to leave this life rather than stick around to see how everything turned out, but didn't go into details. However, in seriously considering the question, I do believe I am the
responsible party. Somewhere along the line I failed to teach him the
thing he needed to help prevent what made him feel his suicide was the only
answer available to him. I don't know what I should have said or taught
him that would have made a difference, but...if I am not responsible, then who
is? The "village" I don't think so. I am tired of feeling
so sad about him dying but I haven't been able to found a way to make it
get easier. On the anniversary of his death this year, I had forgotten it
for the very first time, and I feel so badly that I forgot it,
MMIAS mother's cards started arriving, also for the very first time, and at
first I didn't know what was going on. Then I remembered! It was
simply awful.... I finally quit opening to read them but put them in a folder
for reading later, and I still haven't looked at them, but I will. If any
of the other mothers of suicide victims want to contact me, that is just fine
and I will help in anyway I can. I have considered that perhaps I haven't gotten
over the "JOLT" of his dying because doing so might mean that it
is OK.... but it isn't OK and it never will be. I don't know where I
can go with this deep sadness and I don't know what to do about it. Please
forgive me for not being able to participate on the MMIAS site. I want to
but I just can't. Not yet.
Mother of John
4/20/58 - 9/28/80
I guess I take this surviving thing (still) on a daily basis. It will soon be three years for our family since we have had to face this journey of our life. Three very long years and three very short years. The time factor depends on which way I look at it. . .three long years since I have actually touched my son, heard his voice, etc. Or should I look at it as three years closer to being reunited with him. Of course, neither of those views helps. Just something to prey on the mind. You said you were also suicidal after your loss and you have overcame those thoughts. I imagine most of us have had those very same thoughts too. I imagine they have came and went in our minds. We know the pain that we would inflict on any of our loved ones that we would leave behind. True. Yes. I know for me I have had and still have those same thoughts. Part of me doesn't want to go on any longer. But than I have two other children (adult children) with their own children that I feel an obligation to put those kind of thoughts out of mind. I try to remember that they too need me and that I am still needed. Though at times the being needed thoughts cause me to think why can't I be selfish and not be needed. I try to remember their pain and know I just can't cause them anymore of that type of painful loss. I have two adult children that grew up without their real father, as he was killed in a car crash when they were young. I survived that loss. But the loss of my son is very different. Not just because of the circumstances. Nothing hurts like this loss of our children. This isn't natural for them to go before us. This pain is too deep and so very different than the loss of my husband. At times I want to be selfish and think of "me". . .just "me" and my pain, not thinking of the pain I would leave behind. . .not thinking of anyone here "needing" me. ..sometimes being "needed" can leave you drained. But though I do feel this way so very many times I know I have to stick my life out here. I know I will always miss my son so very much, everyday. I know we will be reunited again someday. . . .not as soon as I would wish. . . but someday. And I know that I can't leave my children still here, though they are adults. I guess I have had so very many thoughts. At this time I can't seem to think how to express them to you, but am sure you have the very same actually. I have been on medication for depression, stopped taking it, then thought I need it again. I will try write more at a later time. I have a new grandson, born yesterday and I haven't had much sleep.
My long journey began on November 12th,
1996. It has taken me to many places and to many facets of loss of others
children, along with my own. Someone told me once that they were
only X number of years old after loosing their child. That fits so well as
I know I am only 3 years and two weeks old. My old life does not exist and
never will again. When my daughter, Wendy, first chose to end her life the
aching and constant struggle to just remain here became too much. I
planned my own death after the first short weeks of burying my only daughter.
I did not seem to have the strength to use a gun as she had, but was saving up
pills of all sorts and would take huge risks in my driving abilities. One
day I was passing a car on a two-lane highway and another was coming towards me
closer then I first had anticipated. I did not panic, I longed for this
person to hit me. That is when I truly realized I needed help. I
would not only have possibly died or severely injured myself but I would have
hurt/killed someone. This was NOT what I wanted. Then I began to
realize that if I left this earthly world, I would also heap the endless pain
unto my husband and could truly not fathom doing that. I sought out
medical help and was immediately placed on anti-depressants and anxiety pills.
After being able to concentrate more on finding ways to share my Wendy with
others, I realized that so many others were also hurting. I found so many
that just wanted to talk and be heard. These
were mostly on line and they are my saviors. We were all crying out
for someone to listen to us, whether they were survivors themselves or possible
suicides. I poured my energies into being there for my fellow companions
on this horrible road that we now called life. I learned that my
daughter’s life was NOT summed up with that final day. She had 19+
wonderful years and I was going to make sure that, as many as I could reach
would hear about them also. I have read extensively on these subjects, as
I have found most survivors have. Do I still struggle? You betcha.
But I will not let her death count for naught, to let people think that she was
unworthy or weak, for she was ill. So from one 3 year old, “me”, I am
here to grieve with you and be able to share with as many that will listen.
Mom to Wendy
6-18-77 to 11-12-96
Most of my life, at least from the age of a teen-ager, I have suffered from clinical depression. I have always had thoughts of suicide and even made a few half-hearted attempts as a teen. There have been times in my life that the depression was so bad, that death seemed to be the only answer. Something always kept me from it though. When Jamie was killed, my sister and nieces were very worried about me, though I didn't know it at the time. Oddly enough, suicide never occurred to me during the first year. The blow of his death was so intense that numbness was all I felt. It is only very recently that I have started thinking of suicide. It is NOT something that I will do, because I know my family couldn't bear any more pain. It would destroy the ones I love and I could not do that to them. But, I have to consciously think about that each day. I wake each morning with the desire to die, to escape the pain and I have to deliberately think about why I can't do that. Sometimes having a reason not to is a terrible burden in itself. Sometimes just living is an act of courage greater than any heroic feat ever performed.
Mom To Jamie
2/12/73 - 5/12/98
As it grows closer to the
Christmas/Holiday Season, I am always reminded of Greg's Death, and how people
who are contemplating suicide are affected by this time of year.
If there were one thing that I could add to what you have said, it would be that the majority of suicides , according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, occurs during this time of year. People feel lonely, left out, forgotten during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. Seeing no change in whatever has been wrong, or they perceive to be wrong in their lives, they decide they don't want to go on.
Please caution our members and others who might see this site to be especially observant at this time of year. It's a very loving and festive time, but can be destroyed forever if someone in their family decides to leave, by taking their own life.
Mom to Gregory James Albrecht
4/16/74 - 1/6/95
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