I've been thinking that grief will always be with me but that the symptoms will change over time.
Today marks 22 months since I lost the youngest of my three sons to suicide. I never saw it coming. None of us did. We are all in shock. We all grieve. But I will swear upon my own grave that a mother's grief is more complex than any other...For he was a part of me. And he is gone. And so a part of me is gone.
Dear Adam: I gave you life and I loved you unconditionally. And I found you dead in the garage from carbon monoxide poisoning. I dialed 911. I pulled you out of the car. I performed CPR. I turned my head when the emergency responders hooked up the AED. They tried to jolt you back to life but you were gone. I called your father and your brothers to break the news. Apparently the hospital tried to pump you full of things to bring you back to life but you were gone. I arranged the funeral that others wanted and did my part as mother and organizer. But none of that takes away the vision that burns my eyes and heart and soul. None of that brings me peace. I believe you are at peace. I love you and look forward to the day we are together again. But for now I am being strong for your brothers.
Dear Everyone: Who has NOT Lost a child to suicide...who has never seen death in the face of their own flesh and blood...who has never come across a tragic scene and responded and is expected to be the same: I grieve still. I will be a mess for a long time. Do not ignore me. Do not tell me to get over it. Do not tell me he is in a better place or to trust in your God. Do not expect me to always put on the happy face just to make you comfortable. Do not want me to perform as I did in the past. Do not expect me to be the same sister/friend/coworker/citizen that you once knew.
I am forever changed and all I ask is that you try to understand that and treat me gently. Give me time and space when I need it for I am in a living hell. I still need some slack. And I don't think that is unreasonable under the circumstances.
Dear Ronnie and Forum Friends: Thank you for being here for me. Thank you for your understanding and your compassion. Thank you for not avoiding me when I rant. Thank you for your hugs and words of comfort and support. You are my lifeline. You are a treasure.
Dear Adam: I dreamed of you this morning but as a young child and you didn't speak. You did hug me and that stayed with me all day. Please come to me as you were when you left...a young man...handsome and funny and loving. I need to see you and hear your voice to know that you are truly happy now.
Dear Audrey: you are an amazing woman full of love and creativity and strength. Your sons and friends and coworkers depend on you to stay strong and available to them. Love Adam. Love your other sons. Love life. Live like there is no tomorrow and leave a legacy of kindness that others will remember you by and then pay forward. It is a crazy world. But small acts of kindness and strength DO make a difference.
This post first appeared on the Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors forum. Reprinted with the permission of the author. Visit our moderated community of support to those who have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one to suicide.