Recently D, a reader, stumbled on this blog and asked the following question,
I spent almost two weeks trying to write an answer to this. Document after document put into Word, and deleted. Words not knowing what to say, and then not feeling they were good enough. What do you say to a woman who's world has turned upside down by the untimely death of a family member? "I am sorry", just doesn't cut it, and "I understand, doesn't seem to be enough.
D I don't know what to tell you. So let me try my best to answer your questions, and I hope I can help you and you can find some solace in my answers.
You asked if anyone in my family has committed suicide. Yes and no. I was adopted when I was about seven or eight months old. So the people I consider my family, are my family but not my biological family. In that family, no suicides. But in my biological family, yes. Yes, and Yes, Lets see if this makes sense.
I know little to nothing about my biological mother and nothing about my biological father. I can piece together some recessive genes from either birth parent, blonde hair, blue eyes, second toe longer than pinkie toe, unable to curl tongue, negative blood type. I didn't find out til several years ago that my birth mother's family had a strange and horrid family tree. According to the social worker who interviewed her and her parents, and who's files I saw with the names redacted, every male on one side of the family was an alcoholic and most of the females were too. (I got those genes). But what shook me to my core was the fact that my would be great grandparents, cousins, great aunts and uncles- most of them were described as "schizophrenic" which was the term they were using to lump both manic depressives and schizophrenics back in the 40s, 50s and 60s, and the majority of them either died from alcoholism or suicide or (sit down for this one) lobotomies. I swear I am not making this up. Several of my third, fourth cousins and great aunts and uncles had lobotomies done in the 50s and 60s. My birth mother had a grandparent who had a lobotomy and one who suicided. I probably escaped this by being born when I did, since they no longer do lobotomies and getting sober when I did.
I still suffer from suicidal ideation. For the last two weeks I have been walking that tightrope again, wanting to jump off, and the only thing tethering me to Earth is my mother and my cat. I live in fear of my mother finding my body, and knowing if anything should happen to me, no one will love my cat as much as I do. But there are so many days, so many of them when I cannot get out of bed, feel there is no purpose for my life and just pray and wish for a heart attack so I can die.
I have had friends who have died by their own hands, my friend Chris died that way and I strongly feel he was a suicide, and I have dedicated my blog to the memory of my friend Kevin who died. I know there are several followers who have started blogs in memory of friends and family members they have lost. Some outstanding bloggers are Christa , and Will . Wendy has a blog in memory of her son. I also know of several others who have lost family members to suicide but don't write about it,
I found it helpful to volunteer at a suicide prevention center, it grounds me, and takes me out of my bad place to help others and try to get them out of their bad place too. I've suffered from suicidal ideation since I was four, made three attempts, two which should have and could have been lethal. To this day, I don't know why they failed. Maybe it wasn't my time. Maybe I was meant to stay around and write this blog entry. I don't know.
I do know that I am glad that somehow you found my blog, and you popped by. I hoped I helped you. I know it sounds silly, but the last two weeks when I was at my lowest, I kept thinking of you, and kept on going because of you.
This came from a reader of mine who lost a son to suicide, and wrote this letter for her children. She thought it would give you comfort on the loss of your brother during this time..
I started writing you something and this is what happened. If you want to use it to write something, you can, you can edit it anyway you want, or your can just post it as it is....
When I attempted to write an essay for you on siblings of suicide, I found that I knew NOTHING about siblings of suicide. I am a parent of suicide, I have four children who are sibilings of suicide and I thought I was some expert... This is what I ended up with instead - a letter to my children about the suicide of their brother:
To K, M, E and D (no names to protect their privacy);
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine who writes a blog on her life, her cat, mental illness, the use of pharmaceutical drugs in the treatment of mental illness, feeling suicidal, about friends that she lost through suicide, had a woman who's brother died by suicide write her for some help. She was finding difficulty in finding the words to write. I told her I would help out and write something for her to use. When I did write it - I wrote what I knew, from the perspective of a parent. When I was finished, I realized that this would probably not do the young woman any good, because she was not a parent but a young woman who lost her brother. I personally don't have the experience of being a woman who lost her brother.
I attempted to rewrite the essay as a sibling, and did some research. What I found has completely changed the way that I look at my life, and Caleb's life, Dad's life and YOUR life. What I found has humbled me considerably, has made me understand that I owe you all not only an apology but my gratitude to surviving as you have, for you have wandered in a wilderness your parents did not imagine. You have been delegated to the position of forgotten mourners.
In our society (and this is no excuse for my not seeing your pain) children are considered to be resilient, we don't recognize the uniqueness of the sibling bond, we forget about the importance of siblings as our own siblings are have grown into their own lives, moved away or we moved away many years ago. I wondered if when people stopped you after Caleb's death, they asked how Dad and I were doing, did they think to ask how YOU were doing?
Did anyone acknowledge your pain or your grief?
I did write the essay (although I ended up not sending it to my friend) - I wrote it from how I imagined you would have felt. I didn't know the depth or the truth of your feelings - anger, hurt, pain, love or the impact of what you have lost these last 6 years as your parents have grieved for the son they lost. I know that Dad has been much more connected to you during this time, and has tried to do what he could to help you recover. I can only speak for myself. I may have gotten it completely wrong, and I'm very sorry for that. At some time when you feel like you want to, I will let you read what I wrote, and hopefully, you can help me understand what you really felt or still feel. Hopefully we can help each out finally recover from the tsunami that shook our family to it's very foundation, sent us all flying in different directions and essential stole your mother from you.
I can understand if you feel you don't need this, but I know that it is very important to my finding my way home, and I can only hope that you will find it in your hearts to help me.
Aunt Suzi knew something when she sent us books just days after Caleb's death. She sent me "My son, my son" by Iris Bolton and she sent you "Do they have bad days in heaven? surviving the suicide loss of a sibling" by Michelle Linn-Gust. I can not remember if I passed it on!!! I think M saw it, and maybe read it. In hindsight, I did try to address your pain, but insisting everyone go to at least one counseling session. I have a feeling that this was not really helpful, what we should have done was some family counseling so we could have talked and heard each other - but instead I disappeared in to my pain, and Dad disappeared into his work. My hope is that in the very least, you were able to rely on each other, to talk to each other and find some way forward, and my hope is that it isn't too late to do the same together.
I love you all,
Where I found some information:
Rocky Roads: The Journey of Families through Suicide Grief
For those who have lost a sibling to suicide - this is what I can bring to you - something Michelle Linn-Gust has written extensively about:
People forget the importance of siblings in our lives.
- It's the longest relationship we'll every have in our lives. We are typically only a few years apart in age. We usually know them longer than our parents, spouses and children.
- We witness more life events and life changes with our siblings than anyone else.
- We share a sense of family, belonging and culture.
- Time spent together in our early years is greater than with our parents.
- They teach us how to function in society and communicate with others.
- Through the life span, losing our siblings to suicide sets up complicated grief. Typically, siblings will carry this loss through a large portion of life. We might want a way to memorialize the sibling. If we had a difficult relationship with the sibling, there might be unresolved issues we will never find closure for. We might be angry and jealous of our parents and the attention given to them as we are pushed aside. We might be angry at our sibling for being complicit in what we feel as the loss of our parents during their grief. We experience anger that our sibling is not there for important life events, like graduations, marriages, and the births of our children.
No one every gets over a death, it becomes a part of us and we take it with us throughout life.
The links above may be helpful in connecting with others who know what we are experiencing, or we might find getting involved in suicide prevention, or making memorial websites for our siblings help us in our grief. There are many possibilities and each of us will come up with what we want to do when we are ready. Grief and mourning take time - there is not timeline, each will have their own journey, but be assured it does get softer, color will return to our lives and we will find some ways to continue on, continuing to love and remember our sibling for the remainder of our life.
It's official. Word is breaking on the AP and Reuters, UPI, Thompson and Bloomberg wires that the only antidepressant- the only guarenteed way to get out of a depressive state is...
Hearing this news, both Thompson and Bloomberg wires are reporting that Big Pharma is pulling out their hair as pharmacies all over the world are dumping Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil down the toilet, causing these companies to beg President Obama for money to stave off bankruptcy , siting if he can listen to GM and Chrysler, he can help them.
President Obama is remaining silent on this, but has been updated on this situation. The most pressing thing on his agenda today is a meeting with the Queen at Buck Palace and to meet the corgis, and bringing one home for his children, a boy which the Presient has named "Winston", because he likes the name, and it's an all black puppy with a small white spot on it's neck shaped like a heart that reminds him of the late Sir Winston.
The president also has an appointment with the head of Cadburys to figure out why American chocolate cannot hold a candle to European, and will it now need a script from the p-doc to get it? Other things on their agenda is to discuss if the "hot' Green M and M candy is single.
A pharmacy student at Rutpurrs University, contacted by this journalist, stated "this is a nightmare. We all must know Latin for the big drugs, but learning "dispence white/dark/ semi sweet/ chocolate as needed every 8 hours", is just too much, and won't fit on the dispensing pad. I may just drop out before I get my really cool white lab coat which is a real chick magnet".
It seems like a few bloggers are leaving the blogosphere right now, and I just want to say, I am not one of them. I am just, well, running full steam, everything in my life is running so fast it's hard to keep up, I don't know if I am coming or going. Easter/Passover is coming up and I am helping my mother get ready for the hoards of family that will visit and tomorrow is a milestone birthday for my father.
It's like the line in Tolstoy's masterpiece "Anna Karenina", depending on the translation, "Everything was in it's confusion at the Oblonsky's house", or "Everything was topsy-turvy at the Oblonsky's house".
And I promised D. a reader, I would write a column for her, to answer the question she has on the death of her brother. And I try. I keep writing, and it's just I choke for lack of words, something that is crippling to a writer. I have a trash bin of Word docs on my Mac, I've interviewed friends who have also gone through this, and nothing.. nothing is good enough to post. I will have something to post very shortly. I have not forgotten you.
I am an writer struggling with bipolar 1. I have been an entertainment writer and blogger, and worked for a news agency as a fact checker and biographer, as well as a writer. Currently I share my home with a cat, a striped tabby named Holly.