Winter Tree Shadow in Snow with Brick Wall
Winter Tree Shadow in Snow

Grief Begins After Losing My Only Child to Suicide

Dying Inside. Holding my breath. Pain on the inhale. Pain in the exhale. Sharp pierce of pain. Heart pain. Constant. Mighty. Rhythmic. The rhythm now of my life, my lifeblood stifled, plugged, narrowed, struggling, constricted by this undertow of grieving.

I’d like to think I’ve made “progress,” though in the end, I’m not sure what this even means. Progress towards what exactly? Learning to live again–altered, twisted beyond anything, anyone I recognize, more open, more raw, more vulnerable, deeply compassionate, growing accustomed to this constant rhythm of ebb and flow of grieving in my life?

It doesn’t go away. Suicide never goes away, never lets go, never the release, never the tapering down, never the stillness of an ocean calmed.

Grief After Losing A Child to Suicide Is Unparalleled

Grief the First Year: Impossible

In the beginning, June 25, 2012, I felt hurled, swept violently out to sea, lost, alone, screaming in jet black darkness, screaming for my child, my son, my only child, Dylan.

A Tsunami, all-encompassing, all-embracing, its open jaws consuming all of my life–my child of 20 years, myself as I’d known her, my relationships with all of my community, my future bright and brimming with hopes and dreams for a son accepted to Ohio University on a full academic scholarship in their Journalism School.

Digital media. Class of 2014. Graduation. His first job. His career launch. A steady girlfriend becoming his be-all, end-all, the settling down–my son gone, my future gone, my past obliterated in violence and a single breath.

Grief the Third Year: Still Hurting

Have I come along? Still, after 3 years and 2 months, I still think of my son every day–always on rising, always in the falling asleep, always in a moment where I pause, always in my errands and outings, always when I see a film, a movie, listen to music, drive my car, prepare my meals, cook foods I cooked that Dylan loved and adored. I still can’t steam broccoli, his favorite vegetable. I love it, but I can’t cook it–there’s just too much pain.

I can smile now, sort of, kind of, for awhile, enough to get by. I know how to turn a conversation away from myself. I know how to bring a smile to others. I’ve learned the art of small talk because it takes the focus off the pain, because this way I don’t let others in to where I’m still raw and bleeding.

A photograph of 5 white lit candles in varying heights with words above from the compassionate friends about child loss
Love Lives Forever


Holidays? I don’t have holidays anymore. They are all loaded and heavy and weighted and belong to a life I will never live again. I have learned to sort of, kind of, move through them, but I find myself playing a game I cannot win. Avoidance, mostly, just sheer, plain avoidance.

Where is Hope and Healing?

My heart has been interminably broken since January 2012, Dylan’s first sucide attempt near my birthday, the first hospital, the first psych ward, the only time I remember hearing him say upon awakening from his overdose, “This is the best day of my life because I’m alive.” I remember his laughing and smiling easily with a high school friend who visited him.

And I remember the sullenness and moodiness, sitting watching Dylan eating ice cream and putting his head down and forward into his hands, pulling at his now chip-chopped hair, tugging, rubbing his hands on his jeans, anxious, nervous, changed, forever changed–I just didn’t know it.

Then one suicide attempt after another in each month thereafter–February, March, April, May, my life now always the reliving of these hell-on-earth months. Broken. Abruptly stopped.

The interruption and disfiguring and disassembling of my life. The stripping away. The barrenness. This life now of chronic pain where I practice mindfulness and radical acceptance and distraction, tons and tons of distraction, just to move through my days.

a glass red heart shape broken into tiny pieces but still pieced together as a heart

Heartbroken-My Forever Son

The Pain Does Change

“To those of you that still feel you aren’t even sure you want to be
here and you can’t imagine ever being happy again. The pain does
change, it softens. You will want to live again and be able to enjoy
life again. It will never be like before but the crushing, all
consuming pain you feel right now will soften. You will be able to
live with it. It just becomes part of you.”

Parent of a Child Who Died by Suicide

Does the Pain Ever End?

Yes. To an extent. And in the beginning of my grief journey in June of 2012, something I couldn’t (and wouldn’t) have believed. And no-because Dylan is my son. My grief now is a bittersweet pain, worse on his birthday, his memorial date, the holidays; more manageable when tucked away and carried in my heart. I grieve the loss of Dylan because I love my son. I always feel his absence.

But yes, Dylan is part of my life still, as is both the love I carry for
him, and the pain I carry missing him. “You will be able to live with it.
It just becomes part of you.”

And Dylan is, was, and forever will be my heart and my love. In 2012, tidal waves crashed constantly over me, plunging me deep into the despair of darkness without light, darkness without possibility of life. Even to breathe seemed impossible and when I did breathe, I simply couldn’t bear the pain. My heart wept. My voice wept. My eyes wept even when I slept.

My son, my love, my pain, my heart-all beating on inside me, an ache I’ve learned to carry which at some point these past 9 years, has become a part of me.

Beth Brown, My Forever Son
Red Rose in June, My Forever Son

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