The Center For Disease Control reports the annual number of youths (ages 10-24) that die from suicide is 4,600. 81% of those are males. On June 9, 2011, my beautiful 18 year old grandson, Nicholas John, was one of those youths.This heart-wrenching loss has left a void in our hearts and our lives that nothing and no one can fill or replace. I’ll never forget being given the heartbreaking news; the shock, disbelief,and confusion. Nor will I forget how in an instant my mind turned to my daughter and her family. Without shedding a tear I hurried to her side. Because she was my child and there was no place for my own pain; because she needed me and I needed to be with her. Her grief poured through and filled me as I held her close, and let her cry as her broken heart was shattered. My only concern then was to somehow find the words to ease her pain, even though I knew there were no such words. I would allow my tears and heartache to surface briefly, then turn them off because I needed the strength to comfort my child, my son-in-law, their two other sons, my youngest daughter, her family, and my husband. Explanations were non-existent, questions unanswered. All I could do was hold my child to me, let her cry, offer counsel, comfort, and listen.I would have given my life to erase the haunted look of pain and loss from her eyes. Still, I kept my deepest grief inside, afraid of losing control and spiraling into deep depression, becoming useless in this nightmare we were living. I had been diagnosed with bi-polar type II years before, and I held fast to the emotional fortitude I believed I had. Yet every day the horror clung to me, and every day I pushed it aside. Because that’s what mothers and grandmothers do.
Two years passed. In that time we learned how wide-spread teen suicide is and that there are no pat answers. Sometimes the reasons are divulged in notes left behind, or in conversations with the youth’s peers. Like the families, they are saddened and burdened by unwarranted guilt by not “seeing the signs” and preventing this tragedy that took one of their own. Sometimes the reasons are never known and family and friends will search for answers, never to find them. We learned where to find support and counseling, and that time doesn’t heal all wounds but it does make it less tender. When I knew my daughter was stronger, when she got the support and guidance she needed from professionals, when she began to move on with her life and use her experience to reach out and help others, I learned to let her go forward on her own…and then I fell apart.
My pain was raw again as I mourned for my precious grandson. I cried easily and angered just as quickly. I became forgetful, unfocused, lethargic. I suffered from migraine headaches, stomach upsets and high blood pressure. During a regular checkup with my PCP and subsequent follow-ups, I was diagnosed with severe depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and got counseling from a psycho-therapist. I learned to let go and cry, to openly mourn, to allow myself to hurt and not feel weak for doing so. It took time but today I’m finding my own way back from that darkness and moving forward with my life. I discovered needlepoint, which calms me. I’ve rejoined Face book, enjoying the news and laughs with old and new friends. I reach out to others through Survivors of Suicide and Griefshare, doing what I can by sharing my own experiences and giving support. I discovered Yahoo! Contributors Network, which is a wonderful outlet to write, share and make new friends. I signed on to an online friendship club and made more friends. My days are busy and full. There are still moments when I’ll see a picture or hear a song or recall a memory of Nick and my eyes will burn with tears. I let them fall freely,I take a deep breath, and I move on.