Monday, October 8, 2012

Surviving Suicide, Four Years Plus

OK, so no one is interested in college (previous post).  

I've been on kind of a tear the last few days re: suicide, though I haven't been posting it here.  I don't know why.  People call me and ask if it's ok to give my number to someone else whose young adult child has died, via suicide or otherwise.  I always say, "Of course," and then I hang up and think, "As if there were anything I could do.  Or anyone else."

Sometimes the parents call me.  Or someone else does. Or they leave comments on old blog posts.   Sometimes they don't.  There's nothing I can do, in any case.  I mean, I can listen.  But I can't do the only thing we all want.  My Glinda wand is all smashed up and broken. 

Lately I've begun to realize that acceptance is simply not a tolerable step to take.  I think that if I realized, for more than an occasional few seconds, that Josh were really never coming back . . .  well, I can't go there.  

It's easier just to post FB links to the articles people have been sending me.

This one is an excellent, albeit long, overview of the prevalence of suicide.  I don't believe, as a couple of people quoted do, that suicide is a selfish act.  I think that most people who die of suicide are too ill to be intentionally selfish.  On the other hand, I do think there is a time, probably well before death, when a person might be behaving selfishly by not seeking help.  That's why I went back to therapy a few months ago.  On the other hand (there are always expletive deleted other hands where suicide is concerned), people contending with depression often do not realize that their thought process and emotions differ from the more usual ones; that they are, in fact, susceptible to death;  and that they could, possibly, be helped away from that end.

This is about one of those studies regarding which you wish they had just given you all the money they spent discovering the obvious.  I could write the book on physical decline as an effect of parental grief.  I do recall when it was not obvious to me, and when I was writing about how surprised I was by my internist's reaction when I eventually went to see her, some months after Josh had died.  "Oh, my GOD!  Oh, MY GOD! Oh, that's AWFUL!"  I believe that the more appropriate and perhaps helpful responses would have been questions about and referrals to a therapist, a yoga instructor, a gym, a nutritionist, a support group.

Today I had a long conversation with a good friend about The Future.  But I don't know.  Maybe I need to start some form of ministry that is all about parental grief.  

Pretending, I guess, that there is something to be done.

I am starting a sermons series on Job on Sunday.  Which only goes to show, I guess, that I am a complete idiot.  You know how it ends?  Not the smarmy, fake, everything-is-all-wonderful pretend ending.  The real one?

It's a mystery.


  1. I think the best anyone can do is listen. To listen as one who has known the pain. I think we need to talk again.

    And Saturday, I was getting the clear feeling that maybe I was being called to a ministry of spiritual direction (which I think is simply listening) with people with cancer.

  2. Listening, helping to put some framework around it, saying "I understand". It is such a strange land. Sorrow is different there. It has all kinds of sub-categories. You are needed.

  3. Robin, I would agree totally that people who commit suicide are not being selfish. They are hurting so desperately and need the pain to stop. It is a pain that we cannot understand. I believe that you have had an incredible life journey and God has gifted you in a special way to be present to people. God will let you know what God has in mind for you. Bless you.

  4. I loved your college post. Made me feel better about going to the local University of State.

    And I hold tightly to the idea that suicide is the sad end of a terminal illness not selfish act.

  5. I think your blog functions as a ministry about parental grief. I know that I take away some nuggets to reflect on and savor.

  6. Tuesdays are my busy day...I missed your college post. But I have learned so much from your reflections on suicide, which I hope enable me to be a more sensitive and aware person, priest.