One morning I visited a family whose son had ended his life. He’d tried to shake off his demons and had attempted to do so on a number of occasions which resulted in his being hospitalized. After suffering for many years, he gave up.
A social worker from the Mental Health Society had asked me if I would visit and try and help the family come to terms with what had happened – and show them that no matter how difficult it is, one can come to terms with it all in time, and learn coping techniques. Their daughter did most of the talking as her parents were unable to say much. but, after I shared my family’s experiences of living with our son who’d suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, they choked out their story and how it affected them all.
This family lives on the third floor of an apartment building without an elevator. There was not a single plant in their apartment. There was no greenery visible from a single window; not even a tree. there was no garden downstairs, and the view that they saw day after day was of the gray, concrete wall belonging to the soccer stadium situated directly opposite their home. I dread to think of the noise level in their apartment on the days when a soccer game was in progress. I didn’t dare ask whether they were the owners of a car.
Before I took my leave, they asked me to promise not to divulge what I had heard that day. I tried to explain that there was nothing to be ashamed of; that there was no blame attached to mental illness; that parents CANNOT CAUSE SCHIZOPHRENIA, but I had the feeling that my pleas fell on deaf ears.
The word golden agers flashed through my mind although they had not yet reached that age but there was nothing golden here to look forward to. I wished I could do more to help them. Then I became aware of the fact that quite unconsciously, I had swiveled my wedding ring to face the palm of my hand.