If You Have Cause to Read this Now– I am so sorry for your loss. Please know my heart aches for you. There are no words.
After the Suicide of a Child
Loss of Identity
And A Grief that Never Lets Go
And I wish, God how I wish, something I could say or do would alter the course of this most unbearable of life’s journeys–losing your child to suicide.
And to lose a child to suicide is to lose everything you once lived and breathed and loved. I am well acquainted with grieving and loss.
I lost my son, Dylan, to suicide on June 12, 2012. All of me broke into a million pieces oceans wide and galaxies deep. I entered into darkness–and grieving. I have had to learn to want to live again. This is harder than it sounds when you’ve lost your only child to suicide.
Telling My Story
I tell the story of my ongoing grief journey and struggle to find and dwell in hope at My Forever Son. Dylan’s story has become my story. I carry him with me through my writing, reflections, and grief journal that I began in late 2012.
My years of healing do not reflect calendar years. My first year of grieving, each minute, hour, day, month, and finally, 12-month memorial date, ticked away so slowly and agonizingly I felt eternally stuck on June 25, 2012.
After these 8 years out from losing Dylan, I do not always feel so grief-stricken that I cannot breathe, move, sleep, eat, and function. My life will always live at the crossroads of a 20-year-old son coming of age and that part of me who can never grow older than the age I was the day he died.
Dylan’s story is my story, and who I am feels forever attached to the day before I lost Dylan.
“Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.”Langston Hughes
What Helped Me
I have sought help-and hope-along the way. I have included Books and Resources (and continue to update this list), and I have added links to support groups that have helped and to which I still belong: Parents of Suicides and The Compassionate Friends. It is in these groups where I first connected with other grieving parents. They’ve given me a place to fall apart, grieve, and heal enough to want learn to live again. In these groups, we tell stories, our children’s stories as well as our own, and we share lives. I found hope when I needed it most.
For as long as I have breath–and journey on–so does my child.
In the Beginning
Insides feel like outsides, and suddenly, nothing is real. Or matters–
Desperate, mind whirls around what makes sense. Nothing makes sense.
Not my child–
This has all been a big mistake.
Surely this isn’t–couldn’t be true.
A film descends. Covers thick. Shadows reality. Feels unreal. Filters truth like shadows. Hollow. Suspended disbelief. A wicked nightmare. Hell on earth. Protects you for now.
A death by suicide is difficult to fathom. Impossible to grasp. “Why?!” “Dear God, Why?” People tell you they can’t imagine losing their child to suicide–that they couldn’t live without their child. This is, of course, none of it true. We can and do lose children to suicide, and yes, we can go on. In going on, our child does too.
For my child that breathed–
For my child that loved–
For my child who now lives through me.
I live that my child might live too.Beth Brown, My Forever Son
My Forever Son, Dylan Andrew Brown
“Keeping On Keeping On”
Unfortunately, there are no short cuts to “healing,” to being able to even come to terms with wanting to keep on keeping on. One day, one hour, one breath at a time.
Grieving is painstakingly lonely. Intensely introspective. There are no wrong or right answers or ways to “do” this kind of grief, and any book, website, well-meaning friend, counselor, or doctor who tells you otherwise has, in all likelihood, never lost a child to suicide.
Sometimes all we can do is hold on.
And so know you are held, from here, half the world over, around the corner, in your city, town, neighborhood, home.
When you lose your child,Beth Brown, My Forever Son
there is nothingness,
the descent into the abyss
of losing not just your child,
but yourself as well.
Hold on to Hope
Remember just to breathe. I had to be reminded to breathe. Losing Dylan literally took my breath away. One second at a time, one breath at a time, a grieving parent told me, means to carry your own child’s light to those who remember and to those who never had the joy or opportunity to know all the wonders of your child.
How Long Has It Been?
I have been at this journey over 8 years. In the beginning, I didn’t even know how to survive the first week, month, year. I wanted to know what the first year is like, I wanted to hear from bereaved parents who have been there–and lived to tell.
I have read volumes, volumes! of everything everywhere by anybody who’s ever written and spoken out and about a parent’s grief, a survivor of suicide’s grief, the grieving process, suicide, bereavement. I have read (and continue to read) books, blogs, excerpts, whatever I can find, not just on suicide, but also on how to prevent it from happening to kids who still have a fighting chance. I know now that suicide takes a new life every 40 seconds. This is so, so sad.
I do not know if my son’s suicide could have been prevented. My own jury in my own head, heart, heartbreak, and sorrow are still out on that debate. Dylan struggled with depression, manic depression, so inaptly named “bipolar” in today’s jargon. He lived hell on earth battling demons in his head, and he fell into what so many young people fall into–self medicating with drugs and alcohol, in the end only fueling the enemies he so bravely fought against.
Those who knew Dylan loved him. Fully, completely. He was a son, a best friend, a brother, a boyfriend, an academic scholar, a creative and gifted musician, a rock guitarist, a jazz pianist, the sun, joy, light, and moon of my world. Dylan was beautiful and brilliant. Unfortunately, that does not stop anybody, even teenagers and cusp of adulthood young adults, from getting sick. Really, really sick. And even dying from that sickness.
I had to learn to want to live again. I live that my son might live too.
I live that my child might live, too. I am here to say his name, share his memories, bring awareness that all illnesses can be fatal, including mental illness. Suicide is not a choice; Suicide–like all other illnesses–is the end result of all that medicine knows about treating illness not working.
And so know you are held, from here, half the world over, around the corner, in your city, town, neighborhood, home. If you have lost someone to suicide–if you have lost a child to suicide–then welcome to here where I call home.
I write as I live now, post-suicide, life forever changed, always a mom, still a mom, forever Dylan’s Mom, but as is, as now. I post my struggles, hopes, insights, glimpses of “healing,” memories, relevant articles, essays, blogs, and facts about suicide, especially losing a child to suicide. A sad welcome from one who knows. Hold on to Hope–
Beth, Dylan’s Mom