Posts tagged ‘Death’

Suicide Kills More than One

Last February marked 12 years of living with being the mother of a child no longer on this earth. You somehow get used to living with this pain. I imagine it’s somewhat similar to becoming disabled in some way that will never heal, but you learn to work around it. I still don’t know how to answer when asked how many children I have. I say five, but feel like I’m lying. But if I said anything else I’d be damned by the pity. So I say five.
  I try to believe that Jason is still with me like they say, but that seems poor compensation. What is a relationship without interaction? He may be at my side all the time, watching and listening, maybe trying to comfort me. But this scenario would only be frustrating to us both in my mind. He could be screaming and I’d never hear a sound. I could scream at him and never really know if he could hear it.
The senselessness of it never goes away. You can never forget – the most mundane things pop him right back into my head.
The guilt is the worst part I think. I am wrapped up in a cocoon of it. I am the judge and the jury and have sentenced myself to life.
  Not that I haven’t wanted to die many times. But 12 years ago when my oldest son took his life I still had had his sisters and brother aged 19,16,13, and 8. But I don’t think I did them any favors because my whole world was shattered, my spirituality was in tatters, and for a very long time the mother who was always there for them might as well have been dead.
  I had been a single mom for two years, going to college to become a nurse. After 20 years of being married to a jerk I finally felt happy and in control of my life.
  Most of the guilt I feel is from emotionally abandoning the rest of my kids. But if one of them could actually die, then couldn’t any of them? I could feel that truth so deeply that my formerly deeply felt connection with them snapped. I grieved that and felt the guilt eating at me from the inside out. I was completely alone. No one understood. I didn’t want them to anyway. It would hurt them too much.
  My memories are scrambled. I am a whole other woman from the naive one before 12 years ago. I barely remember her now. My kids unfortunately don’t remember her either. They only remember the one they met after.      When I was finally able to work on getting that precious connection back, the one that had previously meant the most in the world to me, it was too little too late. My oldest daughter doesn’t tolerate me. Although we live in the same town we don’t see each other much. She’s too busy. This year she was even too busy to do anything but text me on my birthday. No gift, no card. Just a text on my phone saying happy birthday. She won’t tell me why she wants nothing to do with me. But I know.
  My second daughter lives 6 hours away. She doesn’t speak to me anymore. I call her now and then to leave a message on her phone that I love her, but her heart has turned to ice. And not just towards me. The coldness she showed her two little ones broke my heart. Of course I feel responsible. I showed her the way. She also stopped speaking to her younger sister, her closest friend, because the man she lives with is a pathological rager who can only feel relief through control of everyone in his environment, especially my daughter and grandchildren.
  My youngest daughter talks to me on a regular basis. We are pretty close. But she suffers from acute anxiety. But I do too, so we have a lot in common. She came back home last summer, but I couldn’t make her and my two grandchildren stay. She moved back where her estranged sister lives only a few miles away. Their children, who were once very close don’t see each other. Her older sister’s husband has done what his kind do and isolated their family from anyone close enough to upset his home where there are holes in the wall from his outbursts and doors ripped from their hinges. Both of their children are on anxiety medications. 
  One Halloween I was walking a step behind this person and my grandson when out of the blue he pushed him down to the ground. I was so shocked I couldn’t speak until I brought it up to my daughter later. She tried to cover it up saying that’s how they played. Normally I’m pretty good at letting things go and not interfering, but not this time. I told her that was NOT playing. When I returned home from that visit she didn’t speak to me for months. I had gotten too close to the truth. I worked hard to get back into her good graces somehow and we were close once again for a while. But it didn’t last and I don’t know how to get there again with him still in the picture.
  My youngest son was still pretty young 12 years ago and very easy going. But he kept me grounded by getting into mischief constantly. He never speed moving when he was awake and I could never take my eyes off of him for a minute. It was a blessing that he seemed so unaffected by our family tragedy and brought life and light to us all with all his craziness.
  As he grew up he kept his sweet disposition, even through his teens. I could always trust him and he made great friends in high school, who always ended up at our house. None of them got into drinking or drugs, and I became their second mom. They’re awesome kids!
  But I had to quit the nursing program. Couldn’t do it. Couldn’t take care of myself or my kids properly, much less other people. Something good inside me was gone. I’d had depression my whole life, but kept it in check until that one day when the police officer called me and said the unthinkable. My son? Suicide? A garbage bag? Suffocated? No! Impossible! We just got back from visiting him. He was fine. I thought. Better than ever, or so he led me to believe. But before I drove away from him for the last time, something whispered in my ear. The other kids were eager to go, but I made time to sit in his room with him before I would leave so we could talk alone. It was my final gift from Jason.
  As I was about to pull out of the drive, I jumped out of the car and hugged and kissed him a second time. He knew I loved him. He was 23 years old and we understood each other like no one else. He took what I had taught him and flew so high with it. He amazed me. He was the most beautiful soul.
  I’ve been working so hard on myself lately. If I’m not gonna die then I need to live. The thought crossed my mind recently that I got to live 41 years before this changed everything. That’s something I want to be thankful for. A lot of people don’t even live that long. Jason didn’t.
  I used to feel guilty for any happiness I felt after he passed. It felt horribly wrong. But I can’t really live if I’m feeling sorry all the time. I have to change my way of looking at things. If he is around me I’m only making him miserable being sad. I just wish it hadn’t taken me so long to figure that out.

Losing My Oldest By Julie Achterhoff

I never knew how happy and joyful a person could be until I gave birth to my first child, Jason. I realize I must be some throwback female whose only goal from the time I was twelve was to grow up and be a mommy. At the tender age of seventeen I started having sex with my boyfriend. It certainly wasn’t my intention to get pregnant so young, but I believed my boyfriend when he told me he had “ways” to keep me from getting knocked up. Those “ways” are still a mystery to me to this day! Neither of us used protection.

When I found out I was going to have a baby I told said boyfriend, who told me I never should have gotten mixed up with him and left me to deal with the situation on my own. When I finally got the courage to tell my mother, she immediately replied, “Well, we’ll just have to get rid of it.” I played it cool, and a few days later told her it was a false alarm. Then I went out and got a job. I knew I would have this baby, but didn’t want to be a burden on her. I wanted this baby more than anything else in the world. I was thrilled.

My mother kind of understood when I did tell her the truth a couple months later since she had also gotten pregnant at seventeen, but had to give her baby up for adoption, as did my mother’s mother. Apparently it’s in the genes. My youngest daughter had her first baby at eighteen, too. Jason had his first and only child at eighteen, also.

On the night he took his life his girlfriend, Lisa, found a picture of his daughter on the kitchen counter. One of the great pains of his life was that Miranda’s mother wouldn’t let Jason be a part of her life. This was a pattern with her. She’d had her first daughter with another guy, whom she left without a backward glance. After Miranda was born she found another guy and took off with him. Jason was heartbroken for the rest of his short life.

Another source of grief in his life was his relationship with his stepfather, the man I married when he was two, and had four more children with. My highest priority when choosing to have a man in my life was that he be excellent father material. My needs came second. This man seemed to love Jason from the start. I was elated. Six months later we were married and pregnant.

Things went downhill from there. My husband began to treat Jason differently. He would yell and scream at him for even the smallest thing. He was on his case constantly. He was the whipping boy in our codependent family. Everything he did was wrong in his father’s eyes. I wanted nothing more than to leave this awful man, but I had a lot of emotional problems stemming from childhood and was terrified of the world. I finally left him after twenty years of marriage, before Jason’s death.

When he was fifteen, Jason had gotten his AA from college and left home. I was devastated. He was still so young. He just couldn’t take it anymore and I couldn’t blame him. The worst part was I didn’t even know where he was as he didn’t want anything to do with me, either. I was the accomplice. He started doing drugs- bad ones. But he was so far out of my reach I couldn’t help him.

A day finally came, though, when he needed my help. He was implicated with his roommate on a charge of selling Meth. It was exactly what needed to happen. It woke him up to reality. He was twenty years old, but I told him if he wanted my help he would have to move in with us. He agreed, and we got all the charges dropped. He got a job, which I had to drive him back and forth from at all hours since he never did get a driver’s license. Then he got a better job. I tried to help him get partial custody of his daughter, but he was scared to death of her mother, saying that he could never face her again.

Then he moved away for an excellent job seven hours south of us. He found the love of his life there. I took my other kids down to visit him every few months. They loved their big brother. The last time I saw him was only a couple days before he left us all. I remember how happy he was. Life was going better for him then than it ever had before. He and Lisa were just moving into a new house together with plans of getting married in the spring and going to Hawaii for their honeymoon. They were looking online for customized rings. He’d just gotten a big raise. He showed me the little garden he had already started planting at the new house, and how you could see the ocean from a certain spot in the backyard. I took us all out for Chinese food. From my standpoint his life couldn’t be better. I was so proud and happy for him.

Before we left for home I realized I hadn’t really gotten a chance to talk to Jason alone the whole trip. So, even though I had antsy kids ready to hit the road, I took Jason aside in his room, closed the door, and had a deep talk with him for about forty-five minutes. I felt closer to him than I had in a long time. It felt as though he had let go of all the pain from the past. He made me feel loved and forgiven. I was his mom and he was my son. The love felt so strong that after kissing and hugging him goodbye and getting in the car, I got back out and hugged and kissed him one last time. And that’s what it was-the one last time.

I was studying for a Chemistry test two nights later when I got a telephone call. It was the sheriff informing me that my son was dead. I immediately pictured him in a bike accident since he never did get his license. I had to ask how it happened. The man on the phone said it was suicide. Jason was twenty-three years old.

It’s been almost nine years now and I’m still blown away. I still don’t understand any more than I did that first horrible night. He gave me no signs. Not even his friends or Lisa had a clue. The one thing I did find out was that he was the person in their group of friends whom everyone went to with their problems. But who did he have to go to? Did he just keep it all buried deep inside?

He’d just had a small argument with Lisa and went back to his old apartment, saying he was going to finish up the cleaning. He also called one of his friends and left a message right about the time he died. His friend was at a noisy restaurant a couple blocks away and didn’t hear his phone ring. God, I wish he’d called me!

After his death I continued attending classes- Chemistry, Microbiology, etc. I was going to be a nurse. That never did happen, though. I made it through another month before I succumbed to the pain. I only had six more weeks to go- then nursing school. But everything went out the window when I lost my baby.

I coped by constantly either reading or playing video games. That was about all I was capable of. I had to give up my midwifery practice. I had nothing left to give these beautiful women having babies. I barely had anything to give my wonderful children. I felt myself pulling away from them, too. Subconsciously I felt that if one of my kids could kill themselves, they all could. I became detached. This was a terrible change for them. I had always been 100% there for them. Now a part of me was dead just like Jason. I was now only going through the motions of being alive when in reality I was just a ghost of myself.

My mother moved nearby from several states away. She had never really been there for me and my sisters while we were growing up, so this was a surprise. Of course that lasted less than a year. She finally told me she couldn’t be around me anymore and moved away again. Another loss.  She wasn’t much support anyway. No one was. I was so scared and alone. I wanted so much to know where Jason was. I wanted to be with him.

Then I took up writing. I’d written a three-act play for a women’s literature class in college a couple years back titled Angel in the House, which gave me such a great sense of accomplishment, especially since the teacher, who had taken a disliking to me, gave me an A+. I got an idea for a horror story and just started writing. I started to feel better the more I wrote. That first effort turned out to be Native Vengeance. It was only around 17,000 words, so it was only considered a novella, but it was a start. I did some research online on how to get it published, and before I knew it, Demon Minds picked it up for their Halloween issue. I was starting to feel something again after so long. The numbness was subsiding slowly. Writing was healing me.

Next, I decided to write a full blown novel. It was positively magical the way the words poured themselves onto the pages! It gave me almost a sense of giving birth all over again. I was addicted. Everything about it was so exciting- the characters, the dialogue, the plot! And as I wrote my whole world started coming back into focus again. My relationships with my kids grew strong, I started dating a bit, the house was a little cleaner. I even met the man of my dreams after being alone for eight years. I never thought I’d find anyone who could put up with me.

I guess you could say writing has saved my life. I don’t know where I’d be today if I hadn’t decided to take that first step. Now I have four books published and more on the way. I know I’ll never stop now. I may never be a bestselling author, but it’s the writing itself that is the true gift. And I do cherish the readers who buy my books, write awesome reviews for them, and send me comments on my blog or email me. That is priceless.

I believe parents who have lost children are in a very special category. It takes tremendous healing to get through something like this. For some it is an insurmountable task they can never recover from. I don’t think I will ever completely recover myself. But we’ve got to find some way to try. Thinking about what I thought Jason would have wanted for me helped a lot. I still think about him every day, and sometimes I cry because I miss my sweet darling boy so very much. I just try to be as grateful as I can for what I have. It’s just been such a very long road.

For Jason

And if I go

While you’re still here

Know that I live on,

Vibrating to a different measure

behind a veil you cannot see


You will not see me,

So you must have faith.

I wait for the time when we can

soar together again

both aware of each other.

Until then, live your life to its

fullest and when you need me,

Just whisper my name in your


…I will be there.

Author unknown

Jason Michael Sheehan Ter Borg

Committed suicide at age 23

7/31/78 to 2/19/02

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