When your Child Has Died of Suicide By Iris Bolton, MA

This is a story that I have used many years now. I will link her website so you may see how to get Ms. Bolton’s books she has written now. It proves that pain is not the end but the beginning of the story. I am sure Ms. Bolton has helped many numerous people with her personal story of her son’s suicide. If you know someone who has committed suicide, you know the pain it causes. Please use her story and see her link for her site to purchase Ms. Bolton’s books and also see what she is up to now.

On February 19, 1977, our twenty year old son, Mitch shot himself in his bedroom of our home with two revolvers. He was determined not to fail in the last act of his life. Apparently, he felt he had failed to reach the goals of perfection he set up for himself. I believed he saw death as a release from failure, loneliness, and hopelessness.  

The afternoon of Mitch’s death, a psychotherapist came to our home and what he said had a profound affect on me personally, The first thing he advised was to use the upcoming days and weeks to bring our family closer in a way that is not possible under normal circumstances. He said “Never close the door to your children or make decisions without including them”. He suggested we be honest with each other, share our feelings —- both positive and negative about Mitch. He also said, “There is a gift in his death if you can find it”. It won’t jump out at you but if you look for it, you will find it. My husband, Jack, heard his words and said they had not meaning for him. But I knew instantly that someday I would find the meaning in his words and I have. I knew also that Jack and I would grieve differently and that difference must be honored and accepted. 

Ultimately, you must go through your grief alone, but it can bring you and other family members closer if you choose to do part of it together. It is easy and natural to blame yourself, your spouse, or anyone else at the time, but to do so can be destructive and helps no one. Be careful not to blame in an effort to explain why this happened. It is hard to help your other children with their pain when your own is so enormous. But they need to know that it wasn’t their fault, and it wasn’t anything that they said or didn’t say to the sibling that caused his death. 

In our own family, we included our children and Mitch’s girlfriend in immediate decisions that needed to be made. We talked about Mitch’s good qualities and also about the times he overwhelmed us with his antics or his selfishness. Remembering him realistically helped us all, and our family togetherness gave us much needed nurturing and support at that time. 

It is important to experience the pain and get it out. People release their emotions in different ways. Crying is helpful and necessary. Sometimes it is helpful to talk about how you feel to your spouse or a friend and more importantly a counselor. The world we live in does not support your hurting. Well-meaning friends may offer you a drink or a even a tranquilizer and say, “Don’t feel bad, take a pill or a drink”. I believe that in this tragedy, as in so many others, you have to hurt to allow yourself to hurt, without judgement, in order to someday get beyond the intensity of the pain. I believe I will not get beyond it until I go right straight through it. There is  no way to go around, over or under it. To be with your feelings, to make no apologies for your emotions, is a very necessary part of the process. Then, one day, you will know that your healing has begun. 

Many of our feelings may frighten us, but know that all your feelings are normal and natural and to be expected. You may think that you are losing your mind, but even that thought is normal. So is feeling nothing, feeling hopeless or having thoughts of wanting to even die. 

It is important to know that survivors of a suicide often do not want to go on living for a time and feel overwhelmed by these thoughts. This soon passes as the healing begins. Experiencing a sense of shame is common, too. For a few weeks, I felt “foul”—-to myself, to my family, and to the center where I worked. But, in time, I realized that I was still me; I had the same values, morals, and principles I’d always had. I was at the same person…but I was different too. I would never be the same but I had the choice of surviving or not. 

I had been a counselor at THE LINK for nine years and have helped parents allow their kids to make choices and take responsibility for those choices. I have suggested that we, as parents, can only guide, advise, suggest, inform, persuade. We can only offer ourselves, our humanness—-our best selves and sometimes our worst selves. What our child dos wit that is his responsibility and his alone. We cannot insure that our child will have our values, morals or goals. Ultimately, it is the Childs’ decision regarding what he does with what we offer him. He was responsible for his life and I am responsible for my life. I must stare aware of that fact. 

I can grow with this event and survive or I can go down with it and destroy my own life. It is my choice and I have chosen to survive. So has my husband, Jack, and so have my three other boys. We have chosen to get beyond the pain by going through it and show making meaning out of its meaninglessness. 

There is a need to ask, “WHY?”. The question much be asked, even though you may never find the answer. It is an enigma and it is part of the process of healing that we all go through. But ultimately, if there are no answers, you may need to stop asking the questions, for to continue only becomes an obsession which can be destructive to yourself and those around you. 

I found I only had partial answers and noting really satisfactory. I will never know all the answers as to why my son chose to end his life but I came to the conclusion that I didn’t have to know in order to go on with my own living. I finally chose to let go of the question but only after I had asked it over and have and struggled with the WHY. Had I not done that, I could have allowed mourning to become my life-style for the rest of my life. 

I don’t know why—-

I’ll never know why—-

I don’t have to know why—-

I don’t like it—-

I don’t have to like it—-

What I do have to do is make a choice about my living. 

What I do want to do is accept it and go on living. 

The choice is mine.

I can go on living, valuing every moment in a way I never did before, 

Or I can be destroyed by it and, in turn, destroy others.

I thought I was immortal, that my children and my family were also, 

That tragedy happened only to others. . . 

But I know now that life is tenuous and valuable. 

And I choose to go on living, making the most of the time I have, 

And valuing my family and friends, in a way I never experienced before. 

The story was written by Iris Bolton, MA. See http://www.theirisbolton.com

Dedicated to my cousin- You are loved and I am thankful for you!

Provided By Healing Wings Counseling- PLLC 

(healingwingscounseling.com & therapyhearttalk.com )

My Jesus always be your comfort and show you life’s gift. 

Published by DeeDee Fetts, LCMHC, LPCC, NCC

Counselor, Coach, Serving Jesus and inspiring hearts @healingwingscounseling @therapyhearttalk

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