More thoughts on a suicide in my family


My son, David’s suicide had drawn an invisible line between the rest of the world and me. I lived grief day by day, endless days, wondering how I’d survive the next one, burdened by my anguish. I had moments of tears, moments of agony and even moments of laughter which  a psychiatrist said was bordering on hysteria; my way of grieving.

During the week after David’s funeral, one of my daughters was called to the telephone. It was a school friend who she had not seen nor heard from in years and I heard her say; “Thanks for calling but I can’t talk now. My brother ended his life. She actually named it, proclaimed it, then she came to me and said; “I realize now how much emotional energy I’ve used all these years trying to hide David’s illness and I know that my friends know about him but I could not talk about it. I felt as if I were choking. I am sorry. Dad tried so hard to help me too. I wish it had been different.”

“I understand and I want you to know, that in time, both you and your sister will be able to talk about your brother to the people who are closest to you and who love you. It’s hard for you to believe that now, I know. I love you both.”

The worst part of David’s death was that it kept recurring. Every day I found evidence that my son was no longer with us. No more heartbreaking calls – as he phoned many times a day. The arrival of his death certificate and then, reams of pages –  a clinical post mortem. I wondered whether the typist had shed tears while doing her job.

Then I remembered something that David had said when he saw me working at my computer. “So, you are writing a book, Mom. It’s a good thing that there’s no neurosis in this world too insignificant to merit its own paperback.”

Now tell me, does that sound like a very sick person talking? The ultimate journey in coping with a new life without David had to be undertaken together with my husband and children. We had to fill gaps where loss and horror had struck. Bits of my anger began to dissolve, anger I’d harbored because my son had dared to contract schizophrenia, anger at the world for not understanding this illness then, anger at the medical profession once again. So many professionals had evaluated, assessed, tested and treated my son and prescribed a menu of group therapy, art therapy, vocational therapy and psychotherapy, yet his death was proof to me of the failure of modern psychiatry. I think that they are still struggling in the dark, as we were.

I ache with memories but also remember the happy times and I long for a hug. I wish I could tell my son again about all the times he’d made me proud and brought me joy.  My recovery began when I gave my son an unconditional pardon and told him that I loved him despite the fact that he took my son away from me.

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