II. A Diary of Suicide: My Child Emile
By: Rea Miranda
There are so many different phases of raw emotions a parent goes through after the suicide of a child that you feel you are going completely insane. First in most cases is denial. When I saw my son Emile (20) on the morning of 5 February 2006 lying under the weeping willow tree where he hanged himself the previous night I could not believe my eyes. I was convinced I was dreaming and looked at him in a trance as if it was a lie.
There were days I regretted not holding him and bid him goodbye. But at that moment I just had to get away and get home because I could not believe it. It wasn’t true, it wasn’t my son lying there dead. Months afterwards, I still expected him to walk in the door and tell me where he really was. I also dreamt just after his death that he came to me and told me he didn’t really kill himself, it was all a set-up for him to get away.
For months I sent messages to his phone and asked him to come visit me and asked him if he was happy. My mind knew I wouldn’t get any replies but my heart believed I would hear from him. Nobody knew about it because I thought they would have me admitted to a mental asylum.
After the initial shock comes the all consuming anger, anger against your child, anger against God and anger against other parents whose children were still alive. My anger was mostly directed at Emile. I could not understand how he could do such an awful thing to me. I would scream at him and ask him why he did such a senseless thing and destroyed my life.
There were days when I wished I could lay my hands on him and slap him so hard so that he could feel my pain. I wanted to shake him around and ask him how he dare put me through so much sorrow and despair. How could he do this to me?
I also experienced so much anger towards myself because I felt to blame for his suicide. The day before we had an argument and I never spoke to him again. With that comes so much self-blame and regret. I blamed myself for everything that went wrong in Emile’s life. I wanted to be punished for the suffering he went through that pushed him to the ultimate act.
One day I tried to burn the tree down where he did it. I called the police and when they arrived I demanded to be arrested for arson. They didn’t want to and after a lot of arguing and talking with the police chaplain they locked me in a cell. While I was sitting there in that cold stinking cell crying, I felt I was doing penance for everything that went wrong in Emile’s life. It didn’t help.
I remembered how quiet he was in the month before he left and I blamed myself because I never talked to him and asked him what the matter was. Everybody tells you it is not your fault, but you don’t believe them. As mothers we are supposed to protect our children and know if there is something wrong with them. Their whole lives we protect them against the pain of life and here I didn’t do it.
During grief you also feel as if you are getting Alzheimer’s disease because you don’t know where you are going or where you are coming from. I would put laundry in the washer and forget about it and only find it in there days afterwards. I would make something to eat and forget I made it and go out and buy take-away. There were days where I found myself driving and no clue to where I was on my way to. It becomes terrifying because you become convinced you are losing your mind.
Your thoughts are so busy with your child there is no place for anything else in it. For months I couldn’t read because I couldn’t concentrate. While reading I would think of Emile and lose the thread of the story completely. Because your thoughts are so busy with your child you also can’t visit with anybody and talk about ordinary things. All the everyday stories sound like nonsense.
You listen to everybody and wonder how they can go on living while your child is dead and there is this huge whole in your heart. A lot of grieving parents become recluses because they can’t identify with day to day life any more. In any case other people don’t understand how you can’t be “over” it yet after a few months. As if it is so easy to get on with life and forget your precious child.
People try to avoid talking about your child but what they don’t know is that by talking about it you can be on the road to recovery. I found by talking and talking about everything on my mind and my heart I find a remnant of peace.
I am by no means ready to live an ordinary life yet but the pain and sorrow I felt in the first year has become more bearable. I have almost learned to live with it. I still cry very often and miss Emile so very much, but the very bad dark deep depression is now less and the better days are more in between. I will never forget my son and I will never stop loving him. But I can breathe again.