It would be unfair to other moms and dads who have lost a child to say that my “hurt” was worse than theirs.
It hurts to lose a child. Period. No matter how they died. And other experiences never seem “easier” to me when I hear the story.
I also can’t compare because I’ve only had a child die one way and that’s by suicide. And besides that, grief journeys are very personal experiences.
Loss from suicide is like no other loss
That I can say. And it’s not that it hurts more but the intention part makes it very complex.
What’s different about suicide is that on some visceral level, I feel it’s a choice–that my son chose to leave this earth even though I was in it. That I missed hurt so monumental he took his life over it. How could I have missed that? What kind of mother misses that?
Intellectually, I know Charles killed himself because he felt the world would be a better place without him. I know that his own brain betrayed him and told him he was worthless. He was suffering and he wanted to end his pain.
Perhaps the hardest part for me has been separating his final action from my sense of accountability. I know I cannot control another human being but on some level, sometimes I can’t help but think of all the things I should have said or done.
Often I hear that people cannot even talk about the suicide of a loved one for months and even years. That it’s too hard to talk about.
I find it too hard not to talk about it. And I can’t seem to move forward unless I do.
I have often wished Charles would have died some other way
I remember that night we got the news. I wished it then. And I have wished it since. Anything but that.
The method by which he died meant there was suffering. And the graphic nature and pure desperation of this method turns me inside out.
I just can’t fathom how a kid who couldn’t put together a tent could fashion an instrument of death, follow a lot of complicated steps, and manage to pull off what feels like a very determined exit strategy.
Did I fail at making him feel like we were there for him at the most critical time in his existence? I know now that I could not have put all the pieces together. I have forgiven myself for this because I have to. But that fact remains. And questions will always remain.
Comparing losses is a futile exercise.
If you’ve lost a child, it’s not possible to hurt more no matter how they died. Suicide just provides different challenges in the grief journey which might be different than the challenges of a different cause of death.