Overheard in a psychiatric hospital.
David addressed his Dad; “Do you know the definition of a father?”
“Tell me, son.”
“A banker provided by nature.”
After our son’s death, people told us that the pain would lessen and leave us with good memories. It was much too soon for us to hear that kind of thing. It took a long time.
What I needed then, was to talk about what had happened but people were not able to do that.
I wanted someone from the psychiatric hospital to tell me how sorry the staff were, to place a hand on my arm, to show some empathy, but, maybe somewhere it is written in their textbooks that this is not the acceptable procedure. Not one orderly, nurse, psychologist, psychiatrist occupational therapist or social worker from the hospital came to visit us. I think their textbooks should be thrown away and burned. They did not find a cure for my son; okay, that happens all the time, but to stay away from our family, was unacceptable to all of us. When things got very bad, my late husband and I started seeing a psychiatrist on a private basis in order to try and find a solution; and he did not visit either. I remember calling him to ask why he had not come. His reply; “Some families do not want anyone to know that they are visiting a psychiatrist but, in your case, it was an error of judgement. I should have been there for you.”
We needed people to LISTEN to us; and not to say; “Oh, I know someone who committed suicide.”” That didn’t help one bit. When I lost my first baby way back in South Africa, many people said silly things. Only the Africans really listened to us and it was both therapeutic and comforting.
I needed friends to share memories of David with us. We showed them snapshots of our son but many were embarrassed. They simply did not know what to say. When David was so ill, they hadn’t known what to say either; as they had not understood schizophrenia.
One hospital doctor had warned us at some stage that David might commit suicide but when it occurred, we were not ready for such a shocking, violent end. Is anyone ever ready to face this?
I felt a sense of injustice. I would never see my son get married or have children. When my parents died, I lost some of my past, but when David died, I lost a lot of my future.
We all went through the various stages of disbelief, shock, despair, longing and anger. How could David take our son away from us? So many things reminded us of him.
On the other hand, he was pretty brave to do what he did. He simply HAD to get rid of the voices in his head that were driving him crazy. They were destroying him, not allowing him any quality of life at all.
All the people who had not understood schizophrenia, knew what to do when David died. They came to his funeral. That, they understood.