Sunday, March 14, 2010

More on the Ramifications of Suicide

A couple of weeks ago someone commented on the value of my participation in something. I was startled, and then mused about the remark for hours. It had not occurred to me that I had anything of value to offer in that particular situation. Or any other, for that matter. It eventually dawned on me that for a woman who has faced what seems like the ultimate rejection, all concept of self-value vanishes. My daughter tells me that my son did not intend his death as a rejection of me. No, I said, he didn't. But that's what it feels like.

This afternoon we attended the memorial service of the friend who has been actively dying for the past several weeks of the cancer with which he was diagnosed five years ago. One of his daughters is one of my own daughter's best friends and, again, it was my daughter to whom I was speaking when I said that the service was yet another reminder of the difference between our experience and that of most people we know. Sixty is far too young an age at which to die, but this man of great gifts and humor and love lived a rich and full life, and the lengthy period of his dying offered time for planning and reflection and accommodation. "It's a lot easier to celebrate someone's life when he celebrated it himself," my daughter said.

I had a wonderful, grace-filled retreat this past week.

But I still have to absorb all these realities into my one broken and fragile heart.


  1. I've also come to realize that there are many types of deaths--it's not all the same, and some hurt more than others. And we mothers are in our own category, particularly devastated by the loss of those we carried and nurtured. Your boy was beside himself, as are all suicide victims, and I would think it especially important for his beautiful mama not to take away any personal messages from his desperate unthinking act.

  2. It never occurred to me that it might feel like a rejection, and now that you say it, I think, "Of course!"

    I'm glad your thoughtful daughter shares her perspective-- it seems quite wise.

  3. Oh, Robin.

    Your funeral experience makes me remember ours at the funeral of a seven or eight year old boy in my parish who died from cancer six months after our daughter. His way too short life was four or five times the length of hers...And, cause for more (guilty but intense) jealousy, even though I loved his mom and we gave each other good support--they had prep and goodbye time before he died in his mother's bed, could see his nontraumatized body and have his casket open as well.

  4. Thank you for your ongoing witness and honesty. Although I am dealing with a very different situation, there are elements of death, trauma, unfinished business and painful reverberations... your thoughtful explorations of your own complex situation are helpful and salient.

  5. I haven't been able to attend a funeral since R. died. I'm humbled by your courage.

  6. Cyn, I have been to three in the past two months.

  7. Robin, I have been following your blog through RevGals for a while, and I have been awed and humbled by your grace and courage. I first started to read because I have also lost a child, and your posts resonated with me strongly. I realized after a while that your loss was different from mine (a stillbirth) and then I realized that no loss can be compared to any other. You have taught me much.
    I came here today after reading on RevGals that you had started anew. And I was amazed to read that you and I were at the same service on Sunday. I had envisioned you living near the ocean like your Gannett...anyway, a strange coincidence, that our lives crossed in that way. I was the youth pastor at the church when their youngest boy was a youth, and actually worked for the man when I was a consulting engineer.
    I continue to follow your story because you have a real gift for sharing it, and you have taught me much. Of course, I will now always wonder if I will see you in the grocery store! Many blessings and thanks

  8. Hey, MumPastor, who are you?????? Email me at maryrcraigatsbcglobaldotnet if you want to out yourself!

    The Lovely Daughter was the little blonde singing in the Amazing Grace quartet. She and two other girls, all of whom were there, and Middle Daughter have been BFFs since Ruffing days.

  9. Hey Robin, I outed myself to you via email. Lovely Daughter sang beautifully! Did you know the other three who sang? Some of my favorite people in the church.
    I agree with the poster who was in awe that you could even attend a funeral given what you have gone through. Thank you for sharing your journey.