As I sat in the back of the police car, the officer said, “Charles was found dead in an apartment on Monument Avenue.” I thought it was an overdose. Convinced, actually.
But it was my husband’s question, “How did he die?” and the officer’s answer, “He hung himself,” that took my breath away. Literally. It was an extra twist of the knife that brought with it so many emotions I did not recognize. All at once–with confusion leading in the race.
My first thought once I could think was, “No, no, anything but that. Not that. Please not that.” As if I could change that cause of death to something else. Instantly, I wanted to rewind back to the moment I thought it was overdose. Because as ugly as that was, I could understand it.
An overdose would be an accident. Or maybe not but I probably would never know it wasn’t. I thought I could live with an accident. How could I live with this? What kind of shitty parent was I that my kid would choose to check out?
I kept thinking, “Why did he chose to leave us? Didn’t he love us? Didn’t he know we loved him? Why didn’t he tell me?”
Over and over in my head. “Anything but that. Anything but that.” There is something so primitive about that particular method. So shocking and desperate, because it has a level of suffering associated with it and Charles did not have a high tolerance for pain and suffering. He wanted out and that made me feel so unworthy and completely blindsided.
I would never say a suicide hurts more because losing a child can’t hurt more. But it feels more personal. Although it’s not personal. All I can say is that the loss of someone you love at their own hand is a different brand of grief. To me, suicide was worse than my most horrific nightmares.
It’s why I have so obsessively researched and written about the topic of suicide. I had to understand that irrational brain attack known as suicidal thinking. There had to be more to it than what I knew. And there is. I had to know myself. Studies weren’t enough. To understand it, I needed to communicate with people at that moment of pain. And I have. Hundreds of times now.
I had to understand his addiction, his depression, and the emotional pain that was a result of these disorders before I could forgive myself. I could not live the life I wanted to live, the one I think he would want me to live, by holding myself hostage to a cause of death.
Who’d have thought my child’s worst enemy was in his own head?
8 thoughts on “I wish it had been anything but suicide”
My son died on June 20, 2018. Self inflicted gunshot. The amount of pain he was in (severe depression) was totally unknown to us. The amount of pain left behind was and still is devastating. My husband and myself have had thoughts of suicide. Some thing neither of us have ever had before. We have both joined support groups and they help so much. One on one counseling is also helpful. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope one day there aren’t any “new families” in our groups.
So very recent. I am so sorry you are in my club. And it is common for other parents to feel as you do. My friend Gray says she felt “obligated to live.” The group helped me so much. Writing saved me. While i did not have thoughts of suicide I felt vacant and worthless. Support here and one thousand posts and a book manuscript has helped me heal. You will heal too. We don’t heal into pretty packages with a bow. But we do heal and you are doing the things you need to do to find it and forgive yourself. Thank you for your candidness. These comments are read by others who feel as you do. Your story and experience are always welcome here.
I’m so sorry for your family and the others who have to face such heartache. I’m in Colorado visiting my sister and she collects heart shaped rocks. We talked about your mission and she agreed how vital it is.
I can feel your exquisite pain Anne Moss. Whitten was found on the floor with his belt around his neck. And we will live with this for the rest of our days. Even though we know it’s not personal, it feels that way. My therapist tells me that out of order death makes for complicated grief, and suicide makes it even worse.
I remember when my brother was found, and I had to tell my parents. All my dad would say was, “it wasn’t suicide was it? he didn’t kill himself did he?” As if that would’ve made it so much worse.
Thinking of you today more than usual… <3
It just complicates a feeling that is already intricate. Hard to navigate through all that. It has taken more inner resources than I knew I had.
I agree – it’s exhausting.
Your transparency is beautiful and heartbreaking, Anne Moss. Thank you, as always, for sharing your heart. ❤️
Thank you for sharing your comments and wisdom but most of all, your support.