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How do I live with my son's suicide?


It was a lovely quiet Sunday morning, on 5 February 2006, when my life irrevocably changed in the blink of an eye. My husband and I were on our way to the shop when an emergency vehicle passed us with loud sirens and flashing lights.   In my ignorance I said to my husband I wonder who died now. In the meantime the vehicle was on its way to the scene where my son Emile, 20, hanged himself during the Saturday night or early Sunday morning in a weeping willow tree in a park near our house. I will never forget those words I uttered.   About a half an hour after we returned home children from the neighborhood called my youngest son to our gate. They informed him that a young man, who fit Emile’s description, committed suicide in the park. We quickly drove there. The area at the tree looked like a crime scene. Emergency and police vehicles and personnel were everywhere. The place where my son was lying was surrounded by police tape. I told the trauma officer I thought it could be my son. He led me to a body lying on the grass under the tree covered with an emergency blanket. I stood there looking at my son’s face in shock. It was like a dream, I could not believe my eyes. It couldn’t be true. I kept asking my husband if I was dreaming, it couldn’t be Emile lying there dead. Everything felt like a nightmare, the daylight was blinding and I heard a roaring noise in my head. The trauma officer spoke to us but I did not understand one word he was saying. We went home and I started phoning family and friends to tell them. Nobody believed me because I didn’t cry and told them in a matter of fact way that Emile hanged himself. The only thing that went around and around in my mind was: “It can’t be, it can’t be, my son can’t be dead. This is all a nightmare and I’m going to wake up any minute.” On the Sunday evening I returned to my senses and realized it was true. I never understood the meaning of keening, but that night I keened for hours and the weeks following Emile’s death.   It felt as if I was going insane. My thoughts were in disarray and I felt anxious the whole time. The next day we had to go to the mortuary to identify him. It was the most horrid experience I ever had to go through. I could not believe he was lying dead on that cold slab of cement. It didn’t look like my beautiful son. My heart was torn into pieces and I felt like dying of a broken heart! Every day was a nightmare. A part of me died with my son on that fateful day and I couldn’t function in a normal way.   I stayed in bed for weeks and all I could do was cry my heart out. Every night I was on the Internet for hours searching desperately for somewhere, where I could share this unbearable pain I was feeling. I phoned radio pulpit every day and told my story to Christian therapists over and over in the hope that someone could make it better for me. There was nothing in South Africa apart from The Compassionate Friends who helped me tremendously. There is no help for the unbearable pain a parent experience after the suicide of a child. Nobody out there understands what you are going through. There is nothing anybody can do or say to make you feel better. For months I ate almost nothing and didn’t cook or clean or did anything in the house. It felt as if I was all alone on earth. I couldn’t imagine a future without Emile. I couldn’t think properly or remember anything I did or said or what anybody else did or said. I didn’t remember anything that happened to me, I was on autopilot the whole time. The worst thing was that Emile didn’t leave a letter or anything to explain this to me. I searched everywhere like one possessed for anything that could explain why my son did this awful thing. I searched the area under the tree and in the tree for a clue. I scratched around in his clothes and searched every pocket and place for something to give me an idea why my son did this. The questions are still driving me insane. Why, what? What was wrong with my son I didn’t see? Was I so selfish and self centered I never realized there was something wrong with Emile?   I still blame myself that I didn’t realize what was going on in his mind, what he was planning. What did I do wrong in his life, where did I fail as a parent?

I look at other parents with big sons and I can’t believe that Emile isn’t here any more. I didn’t just lose a son to suicide, but a friend. The sorrow and despair is indescribable, and if you don’t find yourself it that situation, you can never imagine what parents go through. I started an e-mail support group for parents who lost their children called Loving Arms. We share our heartache and support each other with encouragement and understanding.

Nobody understands this hell and they don’t know what to say to you. People in their ignorance say all kinds of stupid things to a parent in this situation. They say things like: “Your son committed suicide and that means his soul will never find rest, you have another child live for him now, you need to get over it now and carry on with your life”. And it does nothing to change the destruction in your mind it just adds to the pain and heartache. On more than one occasion I just wanted to scream out at them: “please just leave me alone, you have no idea what you are talking about. My son is dead and I don’t know why.” I was on a suicide mission of my own for months and landed in hospital after I tried to overdose with tranquilizers.

Nobody can come through this pain without any help. It is an emotional roller coaster ride and you never know how you are going to feel in the next moment. One minute you are in this deep dark hole of despair, and the next you feel so angry that this abominable thing could’ve happened to you. Then there are days when you feel quite calm. On other days all you can do is cry uncontrollably and feel as if you will never ever be normal again. My perception of life changed completely, and things that were important in the past don’t mean anything any more.

Heather April 10, 2018
My son shot himself
On 5-15-15 I received a call at work in the middle of a busy call center. My mom was screaming "He's not gonna make it!". My 19 year old son, Caycee, had went to Jacksonville, Florida for a few days to see a friend, and while he was there he shot himself in the head. There was no note or anything. He had been depressed, but I just didn't expect it. My son was my best friend. Some days I can't cope, some days I'm ok. It can change with the drop of a hat. One thing that helps me the most is that I still have 3 wonderful daughters. I don't know what I would do without them. My son was very close to all of us and we love and miss him dearly each moment. Hugs to all grieving parents....
Kevin March 26, 2018
My son, my son, my only son Aslan
image I can't add anything helpful here however my 20 y/o son whom I loved dearly... walked out our front door 5 weeks ago just after midnite and shot himself in the front yard. He was drinking vodka (which we don't allow) and watching "Rick and Morty" cartoons. We are devastated and beating ourselves up with why we didn't fix the things we knew were wrong. His name was Aslan Lewis and his obit is at Gentry Funeral Service's website. My wife and I have cried every day for 5 weeks... it's unbelievably painful and heart destroying. We're simply numb. I kept hoping I'd wake up but it's not going to happen. this is real. He had become addicted to breathing air dusters and drinking (we didn't know until it was too late). He had a friend commit suicide a few months ago as part of a "suicide pact". He was 6'6" tall and fun to be around. He has a YT channell (Aslan Lewis YT). We have both returned to work and going through the motions... I'm sorry that I can't offer any great words or advice. Life is simply horrible right now. I suppose none of us surving parents will ever be "okay" but perhaps we'll make it through today... I wish I could offer comfort but there is none.
Christine February 8, 2018
My 17 year old hanged himself last month
My sweet, smart, funny son died exactly one month ago today. I divorced his alcoholic bipolar father when he was 2 years old, but a corrupt judge in the small Southern town where we lived ignored that my ex spent $700 every month at liquor stores and screaming fits in court to give him 50/50 custody. My son suffered for years from his father's abuse, including being left alone all night in hotel rooms with no food. He used to beg me not to go back to his father, but the court was so corrupt and I had no money after fighting a two-year custody battle. Finally, his school contacted child protective services about sexual abuse concerns, and I was able to get full custody. My poor boy suffered so much from the abuse and fear he suffered from being with his father. We struggled since my ex often failed to pay his measly child support and his half of medical bills. 

I mention this because my sensitive boy was traumatized his entire life. I guess it got too much on Jan. 7. I got out of the shower to tell him I was leaving and couldn't find him in his room. He always locked doors when he was in them, but he didn't lock the door to the guest room. I found Sean hanging from the overhide light with an electrical cord so tight on his neck, my fiance and I had to cut it off. Since his death I struggle everyday to go on. He was my only child. I love and miss him so much and wish I could have helped him. My fiance loved Sean and he loved him dearly. Last year he was diagnosed with throat cancer just 6 months after we started dating. He went through horrible treatments. We were finally putting our lives back together. I don't understand why such bad things have happened to us in just a year. We try to be good, compasionate people. 
Kimber Salazar January 24, 2018
My son took his life 12-17-17
image I honestly don't know where to start. It's been just under 6 weeks and I still can't believe Javan is gone. He was 20 and suffering with feelings that I didn't know ran so deep. I'm grateful that friends that were trying to stop him, called me immediately and my husband and I raced the two hours to the hospital. He shot himself in the head but was still alive. I don't think I ever prayed so hard as I did that night for him to defy all odds and survive. But the next morning he was declared brain dead. We later found a 7 page suicide letter that expounded on his frustrations and how he saw his death as the only way to peace. But those he wrote about are my family, and I carry the burden of knowing how their financial decisions with him sent him over the edge. That is a deep struggle-I can't bear to see them, yet I don't want them to carry this guilt knowing how deeply they impacted him. 

I wish so so badly I would have known how hurt he was.  Even though we talked often, and I would tell him this will pass, he felt like such a failure. So I can relate to other parents who have expressed that THEY feel like a failure. How could I not have known? Why couldn't I have said something that would reach him? I have this pain that feels like a hole in my chest, but no one can see. I still have days where I'm out doing errands and I see people carrying on normally, and I want to scream, "I LOST MY SON!!! THE WORLD CANT JUST CARRY ON LIKE EVERYTHING IS OK!!" Because it isn't, and it won't be until Jehovah God brings him back to life here on earth, just like Jesus did with Lazarus. I just pray I can hold out until that day comes. I keep telling myself that I have to function for my other two children, but some days, it's the hardest thing I've ever done.  Without the Bible's hope, I think I would have lost my mind by now. I hope these other parents reach out to that, because it provides a glimpse of hope amid such a deep, dark feeling.  
margaret January 17, 2018
death of my beautiful son
MY before God was goin   son adam had the heart of a giant and i think in the end it is what killed him.He had struggled with drugs and alcohlic for ten years. MY brother and i raised my sons as their father was absent.My son ian accepted this and has made a wonderful life for himself but it always hurt adam so much that his dad didn,t care.He loved my brother with all his heart but he still needed his fathers approval.They did form a bond the last three years of his life but it was not like he wanted it to be and it never would be.ON feb 4th 2014 after being in rehab center less then 15 hours my beautiful son who told me only hours  beforeGod was going to save him hung himself in a bathroom where he was not found for 3 hours.Everyday i live is like the 1st day it happened.ALthough i am so blessed with my son ian my 16 month old grandson jonah adam who i adore and a grandaughter due in april it breaks my heart to know they will never know their uncle adam.I get up every day and do what i need to do but there is a pain that never goes away.My brother and i still live together and i am blessed with a wonderful family and frienfs.I live for them.Adam and i won alot of battles but in the end we lost the war.
Lana January 4, 2018
Dearest Dearest Conor
Our beautiful son died on 05/08/2016. We will never recover or live life to the full again. We lost more than our only child on that cold rainy August afternoon. Conor was an easy going child who did well in everything he took on, he had a lovely sense of humour. He brought home a glowing report from uni two weeks prior. I kissed him good bye as I do every morning, he told me I look pretty as he always did... there were no signs ....there were no clues......
Polly Toole December 27, 2017
My son shot himself 12-22-17
My son was always troubled and never felt loved from family.   He never wanted to be around friends and family at Christmas.   He drank a lot more than we knew.  He finally got his dream job and dream fiance' and we were so happy for him.   After a few months, the company laid off 200 employees and he was one to go.   He and his girlfriend moved further away for another job.   His girlfriend had not worked and he felt financial pressures to support their life.  He called me on 12-21-17 in pain and thought it was his liver.   I was upset with him for not going to the ER.   He kept asking me if there was anything I wanted to say to him.   I know he wanted me to feel sorry for him but I was angry that he wouldn't go see about himself.   I spoke to his girlfriend and told her to call 911.   She stated he wouldn't let her.   I told her if something happened to him how would she feel so go call and tell them he didn't want to go and get help.   She said she could drive him and would call me back.   At 9:30 I sent a text to tell them I loved them.   She called me the next day to ask me what I was doing.   I told her, I had the grandkids and a contractor was working on my deck.   She said "your son is dead" - he took his life at 5:30 the day before.  I couldn't believe her and the way she was saying this.  His father told me he had drank a bottle of Vodka before talking with him and they discussed if he was suicital.   His father told him he loved him.   I never got the chance to say goodbye and will have to live with that.   I cherish family so much more and will always tell friends and family I love them.  
Carrie Redwine December 10, 2017
My son was 21 for 4 days
image Our son, age 21, on 9/28/2017 drove head on into oncoming traffic on the interstate and died instantly. By god's grace the man he drove into only suffered a broken leg. My handsome son was crushed, our old Volvo sedan was the size of a smart car. Gut wrenching. He was depressed, he was seeing a therapist. He was self isolated and on academic suspension from college, but we had gotten him readmitted and he was starting back to class in January. My husband and I are devastated, we are still in shock, cannot believe he would do this and endanger someone else's life. He was a kind person, he would not harm a fly. I am in a dark hole of excruciating grief I do not know how I will ever recover from. He and his Dad were best friends. I am an only child and all our elders are gone. I devoted my entire life to our family, made every opportunity for a special occasion. We have 24 year old twin daughters, one is "estranged" with a horrible controlling boyfriend, but she did fly home for a week for the funeral. I am lost, debilitated, most days I cannot get out of bed. I feel like I have failed as a mother, although I did my best. This is mind bending mourning. I loved hugging and kissing him on the neck, he was so tall, that was as far as I could reach. He never turned away from a hug or kiss from me. I will never be able to overcome this horrific loss. The violent gruesome manner he chose is a living nightmare I cannot shake the image from even though we did not see him before he was cremated. I am now in disbelief typing cremated in the same sentence as my precious son. Impossible. We had just celebrated his 21st birthday the weekend before at a wonderful family retreat at a beautiful cabin on Lake Chatuge. I needed him in my life. I love and cherish him with every ounce of me! The pain is unbearable.
Amy December 6, 2017
Where am I
image my 19 year old son took his life 11/27/17. A few months prior to this my son and I had been arguing over some things. Then I found out his 8th grade reading teacher had been sleeping with him when he was just 13 years old. It was a female teacher. He was embarrassing about it because everyone expected him to be a Macho man about it. They said some awful things On social media. “ somebody called the wambulance” is one thing that sticks out in my mind. what a lucky guy everyone was saying. Deep down he was hurting. He told me he was fine. he said in his letter that he smiled but nobody could see his pain. He hung himself from a tree at his paps house. I will always feel responsible for this. I should’ve been there for him. 
Erica Taylor December 4, 2017
I STILL can't believe it!
I lost my oldest son, Zachary, on 12/27/15 to a gun shot to the head. He was out having a "GREAT" time with friends. I have a picture taken 15 minutes prior and he was up singing kareoke and laughing and having fun. He struggled with mental illness and alcohol for quite awhile. I love and miss him dearly EVERY day!! I love you ALL and I'm sorry we are all in this club! 

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