Grieving the loss of my child to suicide


It is now 17 years since our son died after ending his life. I have learned that suicide kills over one million people every year. That means that at least some of the people reading this blog will know someone who has been bereaved by suicide.

The expression ‘committed suicide’ is far more offensive to relatives than saying ‘died by suicide.’

When people tell me how proud they are of me for the way I manage to get on with my life,  I have to admit that I don’t manage that well at all. I would prefer them to ask me how I am doing rather than tell me how well they think I am doing.

When people told me that I would recover in time, it upset me because, I have to live with my son’s suicide for the rest of my life. I doubt whether I will ever be healed or recovered. After 17 years, I still feel as though a part of me has been removed and I doubt whether my broken heart will ever heal completely. I can’t forget that I will never hear my son call me ‘Mum’ again, I will not be present at his graduation from university nor at his wedding; I will be denied more grandchildren. But, in an effort to follow my own advice to others, I am fortunate in that I have other children and five wonderful grandchildren.

Psychologists spoke about closure and moving on. Where will I go without my son and how can I shut off that part of my life; the part when he lived with us?

I really resent being told that everything happens for a reason. Because my son’s death was a senseless event. Nothing good came out of it nor did it serve a purpose. The world is no better a place without him in it.  To me his death is a tragedy, the senseless loss of a beautiful young life.

I have not been able to stop loving my son simply because he died. As a parent, I still want him in my life. Yes, I would prefer to have had him without schizophrenia, wihout the needless suffering that caused him to die by suicide. He was given every single new medication that came on the market – each time my family thought that the miracle cure had arrived, but each time, my son, David, proved to be medication resistant.

Many people avoid talking to me about him in case doing so will make me cry. But, I cry because he is no longer with us and not because somebody spoke about him to me.

I have read a great deal about narrative medicine – whereby patients talk about their illnesses to doctors and medical students in training who listen to them; really listen, and as a result, learn a great deal about the illness from the patient’s point of view. Maybe this should be adopted in the case of psychiatric illnesses and suicide. It might be very helpful. Due to the very nature of some psychiatric illnesses, which I would prefer to call brain illnesses,  parents of the patient might be able to give information; details that their child is unable to impart due to the very nature of his/her illness.

It is part of the cycle of life for children to bury their parents and not the other way around. I doubt whether my family and I will ever forget the day we heard that David was no longer with us. On  Friday 18th, when we visited the cemetery, we discussed it and discovered that we  remember every detail of that day, the worst day in our lives.

Please just say you’re sorry.

3 thoughts on “Grieving the loss of my child to suicide

  1. Joanne Riebschleger

    Jill,

    I really am sorry for your loss. My father died last week and I’m so resonating with your words.

    I feel like I had a special chance to meet your son. He is bright in intellect and energy (and a bit of a “stinker” if you don’t mind the playful use of this term). I liked him but he gave me a test for sure. Hopefully, I passed.

    Your anger and sorrow have been channeled to help so many. I will read your words to my social work class if that’s okay with you. We are lecturing on suicide this week. Joanne

    P.S. Maybe I’ll try to find a way to lecture near there and come and visit you with support from the university. Do you have a family association there? You are important to me.

    Reply
  2. Morguie

    I don’t think you’ll ever completely heal from such a tragedy…I don’t think it’s possible. What is possible are people becoming more aware and more empathetic and less judgmental. I would hope. I am sorry for your loss and pain, and I wish there was some way to offer words of comfort but we know I cannot. Just know that I am always a friend who will listen and not pass judgment. That’s what the world really needs.

    Reply

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