by Joni Greever
I'm Joni Greever (yes, that's my real name) and I survived the suicide of my older son, Preston, in June of 2007. He had turned 31 the previous month and had suffered clinical depression for many years.
Nothing can prepare a parent for being awakened in the middle of the night and opening the door to an officer – an old school friend in my case – who, with no preliminary chit-chat, announces, “I'm afraid I have bad news, and I can't make this any easier. Preston shot himself in the head.” The words hit me with such force I doubled over and stumbled backward, like I'd been kicked in the stomach. I couldn't breathe. I clawed at my head, desperately trying to get what I'd heard out of my brain so it couldn't comprehend it. That was, bar none, the worst moment of my grief experience...of my life.
I had tried to help my son, but didn't understand depression; didn't know what he was actually experiencing. I found out so much more after it was too late and that guilt gnawed at me for a long time.
The emotions of losing someone you love so much are very powerful and intense. I'm not one to cry in front of others, but instinctively knew I had to get the feelings out, so I'd go for drives – usually at night – and scream and bawl and curse and scream some more. I had to have that release or I don't know if I could have survived.
I don't doubt that 'death' is a transformation of energy, so I knew his soul lived on, but he wasn't here and I missed him. I still do and will every minute of my life.