This week has been surreal.
This week has been something that happens to “other families”.
You feel bad for them, you ache for them, you cry for them, you help them, you do any and everything you can for them.
And then you thank God it is “them” and not you.
My 17 year old nephew committed suicide this week.
(Please, let me preface the rest of this post with my acknowledgement that while I feel grief- I know it pales in comparison to what his parents are feeling. From my parenting perspective, I can still say “them”.)
I have learned a few things during this tumultuous week.
First, before anything else, TALK TO YOUR KIDS ABOUT SUICIDE. It is a tough topic. It’s a taboo topic. It’s a terrible topic. It is also a reality in the world in which we live. My small city has had a child as young as 12 make the decision that suicide was the answer. The high school has lost at least 4 students to suicide this school year. It might be a utopian idea to keep this from our kids BUT they are finding suicide anyway and then it is too late.
Secondly, I have been blown away by the good people out there. People really have gone out of their way to reach out to our family at this time. Gifts of many kinds to help ease the burdens of reality. They have made it a point to make contact with my brother directly or through a family member if they didn’t feel comfortable with direct contact.
Which brings me to my next thought. What do you say to someone experiencing the loss of a child, specifically due to suicide?
First, it is okay if you can’t find words. Not much of anything you can say will necessarily sink in right away nor take away the pain.
Nothing takes away the loss.
However, just be there. If you must speak, just say, “I’m sorry.” Your presence is enough. Your “I’m sorry” IS enough. It is appreciated. The concern and care is coveted. A hug speaks volumes when there are no words.
And, unfortunately,I’ve learned there really aren’t many words.
The time for words is before this happens. We need to bring awareness to this utterly horrific topic so it stops taking our children.
So I end with this: Goodbye my sweet nephew. I wish you to RIP. You touched so many lives in a positive way in your time on earth. Your time which was way too short. I am sorry you didn’t talk your feelings over with someone and that you thought this was an answer. I will never forgot your smile and laugh, your crazy hair, and our mutual love of pea salad. I love you.