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Learning About Suicide Loss


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I have looked around but don't see a current thread on suicide loss.

I lost my 15 year old son to suicide in January 2015. I read a lot about it because I'm so unfamiliar with the subject and want to understand the thoughts and feelings of a person considering suicide. My son Matthew kept it all inside, and we have no idea what his internal thoughts were leading up to this horrible surprise. Our lives are forever changed and will always be different, I am learning, and I am trying to accept this fact. I did read a few good books and would love to know if any of you have read any books (not articles) that actually helped in your understanding of suicide.

I've read:

"My son, My son" by Iris Bolton (EXCELLENT)

Understanding Your Suicide Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart by Wolfelt PhD, Alan D.(EXCELLENT)

Dying to Be Free: A Healing Guide for Families After a Suicide by Cobain, Beverly (Kurt Cobain's aunt) (BEST FOR UNDERSTANDING WHAT GOES ON IN THEIR MINDS)
The Forgotten Mourners: Sibling Survivors of Suicide by "John's sister" (GREAT FOR SIBLINGS AND PARENTS)
Healing the Adult Sibling's Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Brother or Sister Dies (Healing Your Grieving Heart series) by Wolfelt PhD, Alan D. (REPETITIVE AND SIMPLE, DISLIKED)

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That would be a good section to have. We haven't had a lot of them, but there have been some. Marty has posted lots of links to help people with this though.

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I could be wrong, but I don't think ctwilki has given their name. The links are great though, they're what I was thinking of and didn't know where they were!

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My therapist asked me to list the things/people/places/etc.. that I am avoiding since our son took his life in January. It's a small miracle to me that I can write that statement. I can now because I know now that he did this. It wasn't our parenting, it wasn't his girlfriend's fault, it wasn't the weapon as he could have chosen other means, it wasn't society or the internet, nor was it God. It was him. He did this. Today my list is of things I avoid. I want to list what I've lost - but that's not my homework right now and I'm hoping this trained professional knows best. So here goes.

the grocery store aisles where his favorite foods are

walks around the neighborhood because his friends play outside

watching jeopardy as we did that together every afternoon

driving near schools so I don't see teenagers

spaghetti

his favorite restaurant

Easter eggs, baskets, candy

bicycle rides

drawing and sketching - his favorite hobby

singing in the car or anywhere else for that matter - I miss this a lot but I just can't do it right now

the area of the yard where he took his life

guns

feeding and walking his dogs (don't worry - my husband is doing it)

sitting behind/near families at church

So far that's what I have.

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I knew that the moment that Kay pointed it out to me, Cindy, and I thought I had deleted Cassandra's name from the post I addressed to you above ~ but alas, it was still there this morning. I've deleted it again just now. Please forgive me ~ no offense intended :blush:

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Cindy,

That's quite a list, you may find even more things/places as you go along. Eventually you'll be able to be around these things again, but it may take much time. It took me much desensitization to reach that point. I'm glad you have a therapist to help guide you through this.

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Marty - I found it so odd that Cassandra was the name you used, by accident. That's my son's girlfriends' name. The last person he spoke to. It's ok. :-)

Kay - I know that my list is long and is probably longer than I do realize, but yes - my therapist is helping, I think. I get jittery before I go, all day long prior to an appointment. And that is today. My hope is that I can do at least one of these things per week, or so, and that they aren't thrust upon me without notice. But I do know that it's inevitable that I will find myself in circumstances that make me uneasy. If a deep breath and courage aren't enough I retreat. And that's ok.

I hope for so many things, things I know that I can never ever have. This morning one of our neighbors' sons was walking down to his bus stop as I left for work. His jacket and jeans were so much like Matthew's, so I slowed down for a moment to pretend for a moment. Just a moment. It's not left me all day. I don't know if that was a mistake or not, but it's been a rough day since then. Some part of me wants to be back in denial I think.

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Moving in and out of denial is not unhealthy, Cindy ~ Sometimes we need to escape from the harsh reality of our loss. It's a problem only if we stay in a state of denial. I expect that your having a rough day has more to do with anticipating your appointment later today ~ also not unusual. Remember to breathe, and know that we're with you and pulling for you

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My counselor said that I need to begin visiting each item on my list of things that I avoid, one at a time, on my terms, slowly, so as to diminish their power, so that they aren't presented to me on someone else's terms later, and so that I can begin to stop avoiding the happy memories with Matthew. I am avoiding those, I know. I know because I can more easily tell my story of his passing than I can tell stories about his life. I want the joy and happiness of the living stories. I do. So I'll try one this weekend. I don't know which one yet but I'll post about it.

I got a text message last night from a friend of Matthew's that just learned of his death because she moved away last summer. She was torn apart, but she wouldn't call me. That would be too hard right now she said. So she shared a piece of artwork that he made and gave to her over a year ago. She had it framed. She too, of course, has no idea why this happened because he was so well loved. These teenagers are such a whirlwind of emotions for us.

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It's sweet that Matthew's friend reached out to you, even if by text. I think some things are best in person, second best by phone, and not suitable for text or email, but we have to realize that today's young folks communicate differently and I guess we have to accept it as it comes. How precious that she shared his artwork with you! It must stir up a whirl of emotions, though, and I know that's hard.

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It did stir up emotions, but mainly for her. Those first hours are so tough, and at 15 I would have been a mess. As she was. I lost a friend at 14 to suicide, at school, and I never much thought about his parents and family, just his friends and teachers. Maybe I'll look them up and send them a sympathy card this weekend, without any words about my own loss.

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Dear Cindy,

Thank you so much for sharing the things you are learning with the help of your counselor, for your sharing is helping many others, including me. Thank you for being a blessing to us here on the forum.

I think of you, and pray for you, by name each morning. I'm glad I have a pronounceable name now, although God knew who I meant by "ctwilki," which only He could understand my pronunciation. Cassandra was/is the name of my niece who died of AIDS; now, my sister, her mother, has spinal cancer that has spread, according to news I received from by brother Sunday.

Blessings and hugs,

Carrie

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She texted again yesterday and sent me a photo of my Matthew with her at a school dance. So cute and happy... I sure do miss that kid a lot.

One of our other children, Michael, is struggling with guilty feelings right now. He never shipped Matthew's Christmas present in December, and it sits now on his kitchen table, still wrapped. Matthew died a full month+1 day after Christmas, so Michael is kicking himself every day. I don't know what to say to him because I fussed at him a little in early January for not shipping it yet. Of course I had no idea what would happen in the next few weeks. How do I help him go from guilty feelings to just regretful feelings?

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Carrie - (and everyone else) I want to thank you so much for the prayers. Without my faith and my husband I'd be a total wreck, probably institutionalized or at least shut in under a doctor's care. His strength is my walking cane.

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We don't have hindsight at the time. The truth is, if we had things to do over again, likely we'd still do the same things because we still wouldn't have hindsight. We get caught up in life, thinking we have plenty of time, but we never know. I'm sure your other son will never view life the same again, none of us do after such tremendous loss. The Christmas present wouldn't have made one bit of difference, he would still be dead even if he'd gotten it, so neither regret nor guilt help. Your son needs to realize this was Matthew's action, not his. I'm so sorry, this is just the hardest thing to go through, but you are doing the best you can given the circumstances. You're in my thoughts and prayers, all of you.

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Just an idea, Cindy, but you might suggest to your son that he put the gift away for now and one day, when he feels willing and able to do so, he can present that gift to another youngster around the same age as his brother ~ either someone he knows who would appreciate that it was meant for Matthew and who would "get" the significance ~ or he could give it to a church or a charitable organization, to be given to an anonymous someone who needs it. (Lots of places have such "gifting" campaigns during the holidays.) He could save the gift until next Christmas and make this into a meaningful ritual, done in honor of his brother and even in his brother's name. The idea is that, for now, your son doesn't have to do anything with the gift ~ he can simply put it away until an inspiration comes to him and he discovers the "best" way to deal with the gift that was meant for his brother. And you can always remind him that he was thoughtful enough to get a gift for his brother in the first place, even if he never got around to mailing it. It is, after all, the thought that counts, and clearly he was thinking of Matthew when he made the effort to find it, to buy it and wrap it.

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Thank you Kay, and you're right, a pair of PJs wouldn't have changed anything.

Thanks Marty, that's a great idea. I suggested that he leave it within view for a while, on a shelf or somewhere down the hall, where he can use it as a reminder to stop procrastinating. It's a trait he has for sure. I'll also suggest that he find an angel tree to put it under this Christmas and every year thereafter, in memory of his brother.

Thank you for the thoughtfulness.

I went to my 2nd SOS meeting last night. A new member turned out to be the wife of a previous coworker of mine that had retired. I didn't know he'd passed away, nor of his suicide. It was tough to learn. I know the impact of PTSD is lifelong for some, but I never recognized it in him. We cried together. I also got to hear firsthand from a person that had attempted and failed a few months ago. It helped to hear this heartfelt story though, as it helps to cement in me the knowledge that I wasn't on his mind, none of us were. Only himself and his terrible thoughts in a tunnel. I know that I have to accept these things. I will over time. Parts of me already do, the parts that help others try to understand.

I wish you all a good Friday. Peace.

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I think their inner pain is so great they CAN'T have anyone else on their mind but their own pain. It's sad. We wish they'd have turned to us and that we could have somehow helped. I haven't lost a family member to suicide but a coworker/son of my dear friend & boss. I knew him all his life and worked with him for eight years and all these years later I still wish...

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Yes, their inner pain. I so wish that he would have expressed to me, even in the smallest way like "hey mom, I'm having thoughts and I need to see a professional about them." or something similar. It would have been so easy, and he knew I'd take him seriously as I've taken him to the doctor for pains I couldn't see. I could list a hundred wishes though.

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I don't know that it'd be that simple. The young man I told you about was seeing a therapist and on medication, he still commit suicide. It happened over the weekend, he was due to see his therapist on Monday and get his medicine switched. He didn't feel he could wait that long.

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