Surviving Suicide – Part 22
After doing Part 21 I was quite emotionally drained. I took a few days off before coming back to continue on. I spent many hours gardening yesterday which I’ve been procrastinating on. I love gardening, but the weeds were really out of control and it was a huge job to tackle. I found once again, that even though it’s hard physical work, it really does my soul good to be out in nature. It was a beautiful day, not too hot and it really restored me.
I did add a new section to my blog entitled “How May I Help You?” where I’ve asked my readers once again to give me feedback, as they so kindly did before, but this time I’m looking for suggestions of what someone having difficulties in dealing with the loss of someone to suicide would look for in a healing course.
It took a little bravery on my part asking for this as I’m well aware many don’t like leaving comments or suggestions, and I run the risk of having nothing posted, but I felt from my heart that I should ask and you have my genuine gratitude for any and all comments. If you don’t want your suggestions being seen, you may also email me directly too at: email@example.com.
December 2000 – After Rob’s death
When we got back to my house, everyone came in. We were all gathered around my big coffee table in the Family Room and everyone was talking. At this point, my in-laws nor my son knew that Rob had died. My sis-in-law did not want to deliver this kind of devastating news over the phone, she was going to drive to their home the next day and tell them in person. My son was staying with friends and I knew also that I would have to tell him once I got him home. It was a task we both were dreading.
My sis-in-law knew how fragile her Dad was, he’d just recently had a stroke in November so she was very worried at how he’d take the news that his son was gone. Rob was the apple of his Dad’s eye and we all knew he’d be devastated. My sis-in-law was thinking up all sorts of crazy, chaotic, involved, elaborate things to tell her Dad and was discussing them. I think I recall saying I would just tell him the truth and not make it so complicated, when you lie or change the story it often comes back to haunt you. I also felt he deserved the truth as he was Rob’s Dad.
I think we ordered pizza because it was well after dinner time and everyone was hungry. I went to put something in the garbage under the kitchen sink and the hanging waste basket broke. It was at this time that I burst into tears! Over a stupid garbage can! It was more than just that, it was that Rob was the “fixer”, normally I’d have been able to just tell him what happened and it would be fixed a few minutes later.
I now realized I would never have that opportunity again. A friend told me not to worry, that he’d fix it later and that calmed me down. He was not able to fix it, I had to buy a new one and this was the beginning of me having to get used to dealing with repairs on my own for the first time in my life. The great “fixer” was no more.
At one point I got so I just couldn’t listen to all the noise and insanity and went to the garage to have a smoke. I just had to get away for a bit. I’ve noted “I felt empty, hollow and panicked” and I remember sitting on the steps in the garage when all of a sudden I had this intense heaviness come over me. I felt as if I’d fall off those steps and onto the floor. I wasn’t dizzy, just had this incredible heaviness. I remember thinking “is this what a heart attack feels like?”, “am I now going to drop dead on the garage steps?”.
That heaviness passed after a few moments and I wondered what the heck had happened. I went back inside but didn’t mention what had just happened. They were all still discussing how to tell my in-laws, it was getting a bit agitated and some of my friends didn’t think it was good to keep the truth from Rob’s Dad, but I knew my sis-in-law was going to deliver the news her way anyhow. I think the pizza arrived, we all ate and it was very quiet. Everyone was just burned out.
I remember thinking that I just wanted to be alone, that I wanted them all to leave, but I also appreciated that they’d been there for me. After we finished eating, everyone but my sis-in-law did leave. She stayed overnight in the guest bedroom upstairs, I slept in my own bedroom downstairs. I thought as I closed my bedroom door “Finally!” I was alone. Alone with my thoughts and no one else to have to talk about it with, able to digest what had transpired that day, realizing Rob was really gone. I didn’t cry.
I slept like the dead that night too. It wasn’t very often that my sleep was affected by the turmoil in my life and fortunately this night was no different. I awoke quite early the next morning, maybe 6:30am and my sis-in-law did too. We discussed what we both had to do that day. Fortunately my sis-in-law worked for the government and had access to an incredible 24 hour counselling service. She was able to call in, give her name and my phone number and someone would call back shortly. It wasn’t long before a trained counsellor called back.
My sis-in-law spoke first saying she had to deliver the news that Rob had died to her aging parents. The counsellor gave very specific, fantastic points on what to say and what not to say. This was invaluable! Next it was my turn to speak to the counsellor. She told me to bring my son home, take him to a place where he felt comfortable, which I knew was his bedroom, make sure no one else is around when I told him his Dad had died. She also warned me that my son who was only 9 1/2 at the time might attempt to comfort me, that I was not to allow this, that I was to redirect and tell him that I was the parent and he the child, and that he’d lost his Dad. This too was invaluable!
When I look back at how this all transpired, I realized that having access to this trained counsellor was a true blessing. When you’re dealing with something this emotionally charged, you don’t always function at full capacity and may say the wrong thing. This took all the guesswork out of it and we both had a plan in hand which we needed badly.
We both got cleaned up and shortly after that one of my girlfriends arrived. I don’t remember who suggested the funeral home but it was close to where I lived. I think my sis-in-law insisted on calling thinking she was doing me a favour, but I recall how upset she was getting with whoever she was speaking to on the phone, I believe because they weren’t getting the spelling of our last name correctly.
I could hear the agitation in her voice, she was getting quite abrupt and short and I think at that point I told her I could call them later and to just get off the phone. My sis-in-law was going on about how incompetent the person on the phone was, I told her to just let it go and to calm herself as she had far more important things to deal with.
She left for the 2 hour drive to break the news to her parents. I think my girlfriend called the funeral home back and set up an appoinment for later in the afternoon. I then called my other friend where my son was staying, told her I was coming to get him and made doubly sure she’d not said anything. She assured me no she had not and that my son was just playing with her daughter and she’d get his stuff ready for when I arrived. My girlfriend drove me the 10 minutes to get my son.
My son knew nothing had happened, he got into my girlfriend’s car and I thought to myself whether he thought it was strange I’d be picking him up in another car with my friend. He didn’t seem to notice. We got back home and my girlfriend knew I was going to take my son up to his room, so she waited downstairs. We got up to his room and I closed his door and told him I had some bad news to tell him.
He sat down on his bed on the bottom bunk, I sat beside him. I told him his Dad had died, I don’t recall the exact wording but I followed the counsellor’s instructions. My son knew Rob had attempted suicide previously, so I didn’t keep that from him this time. I remember thinking how insane this was, my son still sort of believed in Santa, yet here he was knowing his Dad committed suicide. Very sad indeed and so unfair.
My son’s eyes welled up with tears and just as the counsellor had predicted, he put his little arm around me to comfort me. This just about broke my heart! I immediately told him what the counsellor had told me to say and put my arms around him. I will never forget the look on my son’s face, it was one of total confusion but he stopped crying almost immediately. It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done delivering this terrible news to my son.
I had heard my brother come in, I’d called him earlier to come over and stay with my son so that my girlfriend and I could go to the funeral home. My son wasn’t all that close to my brother, but I had to go to the funeral home to make preparations and wanted family to stay with my son.
I told my son that I had to go out for a little while to the funeral home and asked if he would be okay? He said yes. I asked him if he wanted anything, he said no he just wanted to lie down for a bit. I hugged him and told him I loved him and that I’d be back very soon. He laid down on his bed and I went out and closed the door.
I walked downstairs and hugged my brother and told him my son had just been told and just wanted to be alone for a bit. I told my brother to go up and check in on him in a few minutes after we’d left. I don’t have many regrets in life, but one is that I left my son alone right after delivering such devastating news. I was in automode again, doing what I thought I had to be doing, doing what everyone said had to be done.
In truth, Rob was dead, waiting a bit longer or even a day later would not have made a bit of difference. I should have stayed with my son instead. Hindsight often gives you a different perspective on what you would have done.
We left for the funeral home, it was only about 15 minutes north of me. We walked in, it was a lovely, modern, quite new building. I had noticed as we pulled into their parking lot that it was situated right beside a BMW dealership and I remember thinking how ironic and that Rob would have liked that.
We met with the Director, he was very competent and compassionate, had everything ready for me to look at and we made our decisions very quickly. He told me that Rob would probably arrive in the next day or so, I had asked him if at all possible, could he please do whatever he could to make Rob presentable only to me as I’d not been able to see him to say goodbye.
I told him the police had all been wearing facemasks, that I was aware this was due to decomposition, but if he could, I’d like to see Rob one last time. To be physically able to see Rob with my own eyes for closure. He said he’d do his best and would call me.
We left and went straight back home. I asked how my son was, my brother said he’d gone up to check about two times but that my son had not wanted to talk, hadn’t wanted anything but was still laying on his bed. I went up to him immediately. He was very quiet, very calm. I told him that the funeral home was right beside a BMW dealership and that it seemed so appropriate and he agreed. He wanted to remain in his room and I understood and told him that was okay, come down when you feel like it.
I can’t remember the rest of that day much. I know the doorbell was ringing a lot, friends were bringing food, trays and trays of sandwiches and snack type things. My dog went nuts everytime the doorbell rang and my brother suggested that he take the dog for a few days until the chaos subsided. I agreed and my brother ended up keeping my dog for about 3 weeks which was a huge help.
I remember thinking how strange a custom it was that all these ladies, mostly the older ones, from our yacht club who I didn’t know all that well were suddenly at my home bringing me food. I wondered how this custom ever got started and then I caught myself having these thoughts and that I should just be grateful for the help, which I was. We all got very sick of sandwiches I can tell you!
I’ve noted once again that I felt very hollow, empty and panicked again this day. My girlfriend stayed that night, I guess most think you shouldn’t be alone at a time like this, but for me, I’d have actually preferred to be alone but I was also grateful for their support and realized what amazing friends I had.
I don’t recall whether I spoke to my sis-in-law that day, I had thought of her often during the day having the horrible task of telling her parents their son had died. I did note that my sis-in-law told my mother-in-law, but did not tell my father-in-law, so I must have spoken with her. I found that very odd, to keep this from my father-in-law just didn’t seem right, but I left it up to them to deal with.
We all had an early night, everyone was wiped out and needed it.