"They are two completely diferent things."
I had breakfast a few days ago with a friend who also lost a 20-something son to suicide, nearly eight years ago. She said that she is trying to come to terms with the fact that the manner of her son's death has colored his view of his entire life.
"To lose a child to death is one thing. For that death to be a suicide is something else entirely."
A whole other trauma -- I completely agree. For me, the problem is not so much the manner of death. Well, of course, that is one of the problems. But, as my husband says, "NOT a choice. Why can we accept that something electrical goes haywire and someone dies of a heart attack, but we cannot accept that something chemical goes haywire and someone dies of depression?"
I can accept that. What is so troubling (among 10,000 other things) is the feeling of not having known who your child was, the realization that he was harboring a terrible pain, a pain that ultimately destroyed his life, and he did not share it. Or that he did share it but in ways that we did not see or hear. That's what colors my view backward. Now I wonder constantly: When? When did this horrific idea first occur to him? When did it become a rational solution? Was there a plan? Are we talking years? Months? Hours? Less?
Gregarious Son has been told by Someone Who Knows About These Things that most suicides happen very fast -- that it is often only a matter of minutes between decision and completion. She told him that preventative measures are notoriously unsuccessful.
Neither my breakfast friend or I can figure out anything at all about going to the upcoming suicide prevention walk. "How do you prevent something you have no idea is around the corner?" she asked. Exactly.
I think we have both had thoroughly impressed upon us with the force of a tsunami a reality having to do with complete lack of control. And we can't pretend otherwise. We can only try to live with what we have to live with: two completely separate nightmares in one.