Saying that there is nothing we could have done is different than, “You all did so much.” There is something we could have done had we known. Except this is not some mistake a little white-out can remedy. (White-out is the stuff we used to use to correct mistakes on a typed piece of paper.)
That’s what stalks most of us after a suicide. We do know it’s preventable and we ache over that because we can’t turn back time. Some leave no clues, some leave subtle ones and still others, like Charles, leave signs that are flashing neon lights. Then there are those who honestly didn’t think their loved one was serious when they said they’d kill themselves.
Let’s face it. All of that is tough to live with. In no way would I ever blame anyone who missed the clues. It’s hard enough to fathom suicide if someone says outright, “I want to kill myself.”
Saying, “There is nothing you could’ve done,” frustrates those who’ve lost someone to suicide. It’s like you’re saying, “I don’t want to hear anymore so I’ll say this to make you feel better.” It’s like someone wants to talk us out of how we feel.
We all want to fix. But there’s no fixing this. And we all want to make someone feel better when what we really need to do is listen. So the phrase, “Tell me more about______” is almost always welcome.
Just listen. That should be easy.