Overheard in a psyhiatric hospital …and, SURVIVING LOSS

“Hey, can you tell me the definition of a nurse.”

“Everyone knows. Nurses help out in hopitals.”

“Noooo ! A nurse is a person who wakes you up to give you a sleeping tablet.”



Back to my blog. If you have been following my blog, you know that my son was one of the people suffering from paranoid schizophrenia who did not make it. He seemed to be medication resistant.

My son, David, wanted to get well, he wanted to love and be loved, but most of all, he needed the peace of mind that the rest of us take for granted and which eluded him. When he threw himself to what I can only hope is a place of calm, peace and endless waves fit for a surfer, our whole family was left to cope with our grief; each in a different way.

I often think back to the first 18 years of David’s life, before he was drafted into the military. In those days, he was perceived as being ‘normal.’ During the following 16 years, people referred to him as mentally ill but our family always addressed him as David. (names have been changed to make the writing a bit easier for me)

We were left with little or no guidance on how to survive this terrible loss. The members of my immediate family had the usual coping mechanisms used to dealing with ‘regular stress’ – if there is such a thing. However, after David committed suicide, these mechanisms were insufficient. As a result, we began subconsciously to cycle through various ways of coping in order to find the one best suited to each of us. I remember the disruption and the pain we each experienced; deep, forceful pain that has never healed completely, but somehow, we got by. It took many years. I was fortunate to have a loving, supportive husband who knew how to give unconditional love. We had good relationships with our other children as well and were there for one another.

In the past, during the years of David’s illness, I had a terrible anger inside of me , not always logical either. I was angry at my son for contracting this terrible illness, angry with the whole medical profession for their inability to cure him or even give us the kind of support we desperately needed.  I often thought of fleeing and never returning, but of course, I remained. This is a good time to tell my son’s friends that if I could have run away, I would have. I want them to know that I was never angry with them. I was angry at the world and really understood that they had to get on with their lives.

How did I cope?  I kept busy. I swept and dusted, washed the floors, shined the beautiful silver candlesticks that we used every Friday night, I dug viciously in the garden, knowing how useless and tiring this activity was. BUT, it stopped me from thinking about David all the time.

After David’s death, someone told me; “It could have been worse,” which was of little consolation. I could have said many things but I chose to walk out of the room.

Someone else told me; “Your son is in a better place.” What I should have told her was that grief is permanent and all I wanted was my child at home with us and not in any other place.

I was told; “Time heals!” True, but it was far, far too early to say that to a newly bereaved family – after their son had taken his life.

“Do something to take your mind off it,” we were told by a well-meaning person.

None of this made sense to me. It was a time when God did not make sense, so I left it at that.

.          **********          **********          **********          **********          **********          *********          **********          **********

I will continue this tomorrow. I need to go for a walk and clear my head a bit.

This entry was posted in Schizophrenia on by .

About Jill

Author of books and articles on support and experiences of living with a mentally ill family member. My aim in blogging is to let others see how a loving family, with a father and husband who is able to give unconditional love, can help the family cope. Many call me the blogging grandma.'

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