Tag Archives: suicide

Attempted fortifications

My consolation in knowing that my child is struggling, a lot and in a way I’m not sure how to help with, is that he has us, a reasonable stable family, and we love him and try our best to help him work through his stuff. Not every kid has that, so how indeed can they make it through those days when they hate school and feel like they have no real friends, and forget to do their homework, and can’t take it any more?  The stress is not only from everyday school stuff, like being surrounded by 90% immature kids such as yourself who aren’t thinking about kindness and courtesy and reaching out, but mostly the moment, and posturing and drama and survival. And knowing you’re different, your friends are different, and wondering how to fit in, and whether you want to anyway. And being the youngest at home and subject to a good deal of self improvement advice and teasing there too, and parents who are increasingly busy with work and all.

Also there’s this: trying to process all that “helpful” anti-bullying information such as, “Mom, did you know that there was a girl who was bullied so badly, she killed herself? And, sometimes I feel that way, and if things don’t get better, I…” And pretty soon he’s identifying with someone’s suicidal thoughts, thank you very much, school counselors. Whose idea was that, that every kid should hear that story? Now every day after school it’s me and my son talking over what he’s going through–nothing tremendous from what I can tell, but he’s taking every teasing, every innuendo, every deficiency of love and affirmation, as, maybe like what that girl experienced, which was actually too awful to mention to the sixth graders, thank heaven, but so he doesn’t realize that this is more about rolling with the punches. Right?

Other days he identifies with the boy who was bullied all through school and then when he became hiring manager at some important firm, in comes the bully to interview for a job, and it’s time for consequences, buddy! Those days are better. But it’s a real battle now to walk with my son through these feelings, and try to remind him that he’s strong, that he can handle this, that, yeah, sometimes people are jerks, but we’re all capable of being mean, or at least not as nice as we could be, but that’s just life. No, we realize that the counselor is not the sort of person one would want to talk to about that, but is there a way to tell someone you think would have the wisdom to keep an eye out? If not, just concentrate on learning, and keep your eyes peeled for someone else that needs your kindness. And be patient–people mature, and things get better.

And I pray that he’ll remember how much he’s loved, and discover each day those good deeds that the Father is providing for him to do, and be a blessing out there in the world. Because Mom is committed to working now, and can’t quit to homeschool you through this. I ask the siblings to pitch in with the support of friendship, and redouble my efforts to fill his love account to overflowing. And don’t you ever talk about suicide, boy, I want to say, because it makes me mad! Mad at people who aren’t loving, mad at people who are good intentioned but thoughtless, mad with grief. And I even tell him, I even say, the meanest person of all is the one who takes himself away from the people who love him. Maybe it’s a stupid thing to say, but there it is, and by God I hope it doesn’t do any harm.


1 Comment

Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Education, Parenting & Family


Tags: , , , , , ,

Death in the family

Death in the family

Thursdays are swim meet nights for me and the kids–two kids swimming in events, the other two cheer them on with me. Grandma and Grandpa came tonight, too. Love to visit with them–most wonderful in-laws I could have wanted. And friends, their kids, fiances, news about the few grandkids who have already made their way into this world. Like a holiday, after hours of working on the house, errands, housework. Good to laugh and smile, be thankful to be part of this. See my daughter reconnect with her swim friends from high school, son learning his strokes and hearing us cheer for him. Night falls, we wrap blankets and extra towels around our legs, watch the silhouettes of the fir trees against the sky now orange and pink.

At 10 pm the last relay is done, swimmers wrap up and we walk a block to our house, find last snacks, toothbrushes.

Then my daughter comes in and tells me the missing boy, the one who ran away the other day (word put out on local social media) has committed suicide. No confirmation of this–she got a message from someone. I can’t take it in. He was thirteen years old, she says–I knew him–he was really nice, she says. He talked to me at track.

We just look at each other, shocked, saying nothing else. Oh no, I moan, how awful.

It’s late; they go off to the tent. I drop into a chair at my makeshift desk, and enter into the grief zone. Then my younger daughter comes back in, and tells me she realized that the boy is the brother of a friend she knew at school. Whom I knew, remember her sweet face from the school retreat I went on as chaperone. I think of her, her parents, whose faces I can also recall…Oh, to lose a child in such a way! Please let some of this shock, this grief bring some sort of healing to them! Let’s all bow our heads and pray. We have to watch out for each other so much, I tell my daughter. She’s thirteen too. Intense personality from the beginning, struggles with not feeling she gets enough attention at times, compares herself negatively to others. Will she be, is she, vulnerable in that way? Even relatively consistently adequate parents can have such terrible shocks. But I think, I believe we are navigating these hard days with love, and growing closer, more resilient.

God grieves for those who suffer, grieved and longed for that boy in what he was going through, I am sure. WHay was it so hard for him to hold on? Where were the other people in his life? What does the Master of the Universe require of us? How will he take care of this family now? What a dreadful journey they must make.

My sister died when I was nine, and she was almost thirteen. Suddenly I would never get to see her again. And we might have started to become friends, since she had shown me her diary and let me read some of it. She had a lot of diaries, Hilroy notebooks mostly, with lots of doodles all over the covers. Or maybe those were mine I remember from later years when I doodled when I was bored in class–I think hers were nicely decorated in color.

It was a bad car accident, with me, my mom, and Janice in a VW bug, in a snow storm, driving to school because we had missed the bus, and we slid into an oncoming snowplow. I was trying to soothe my mom after I woke up–she was in shock and in a panic. I heard myself saying, “It’s okay, it’s okay!” She had broken her femur. I had been flung around in the back seat, but was only bruised. Mom’s friend’s house was near, and I think she called the ambulance, and also my father. The ambulance took Mom and Janice away, and Dad drove me home, then went to the hospital. Or maybe someone else drove me to the hospital to get checked–I don’t remember. I know I didn’t ride in an ambulance.

My grandmother was staying at our house, and took care of us. She was nicer than usual to me, and didn’t make me eat my leftovers. I rested on a couch in the living room, and I think there was a fire in the fireplace.I think it was she who broke the news to me that Janice had died. I felt bad, but there was no depth or trouble to it, just strangeness, that I would never see Janice again. I was given comforting food, and heard voices in the rest of the house, but don’t remember any words, or anyone addressing me directly. People from church brought us food. When I went back to school, all my classmates and teachers were extra kind. Perhaps my best friends asked me about it, and I told them–she broke her neck and died right away. She was making gurgling noises, so I didn’t know she was gone.

I was too young to have complex grief. Mom had a visitation after Janice died, she said–as if she was standing just behind her, and she said, “I wouldn’t have wanted to live, anyway.” She told me that when I was a teen, and it upset me, made me feel vulnerable, like one of the walls of my invisible safety zone had fallen away.

I never saw my dad cry, which didn’t seem right. I guess he did, though. He keeps a journal, and I wonder if he wrote about it.

My younger brother was eight, and my sister was two, so death was even simpler and starker for them, easier to recover. I had my bruises to remind me and carry me through some sort of process. I wonder how it was for my two older brothers, who were eleven and fifteen. Did anyone help them with that? I have never discussed it with them, and I don’t know if that is allowed. I only see them every few years for a few days, and somehow that doesn’t seem like a good topic to bring up.


Tags: , , , ,