by Ronnie Walker MS, LCPC
No one ever forgets the moment they learned about the suicide of a loved one.
I answered the wall phone at the top of our basement stairs. My husband was calling.
He said: “Chan’s really done it this time. He hanged himself.”
“Ok” I said … “but what did he do?”
“He hanged himself.”
“Yes” I said … “but what did he do?”
“He hanged himself. Margie found him hanging in the garage. The police are there."
“He’s dead?” I said
Gradually, the devastating realization that my stepson had ended his life, sank in. Within minutes, I was shaking uncontrollably. I went to the phone and called my daughters. My mother. My friend.
Two hours went by. My husband came home. Family and friends arrived. We sat in the living room. Neighbors held my hand. Someone brought a deli tray. My husband was silent. He drank a beer.
When everyone left, we went to bed, where my husband cried from the depths of his soul throughout the night. In the morning, I was 5 pounds lighter than the day before. Tossing / Turning / Still Shaking.
Ask any survivor of suicide how they learned about a loved one’s death and they'll have a similar story. The way we learn becomes embedded in our memories. Eventually, most of us are able to speak about those initial, surreal moments and hours, without disolving into a puddle.
There were also other memories embedded during that time. I’ll be forever grateful to those who reached out that first night and in the days after. I don’t think I would be here but for all the support I received in the weeks and months that followed. I suspect that’s a common emotion.