I debated as to whether I would share any of this with Talking Teens. At first I did not feel it was mine to share, as the experience involved people I did not know but it did directly affected my son. Then it felt just too f'ing hard to share. Then it felt like I was exploiting the situation and exposing my son's darkest moments to the world. There was even a bit of reservation because the events were so 'dark' and depressing that no on would really want to know what I was saying. Then I thought 'Fuck it! I have no compass here and I don't know if I am doing the right thing but if it can help someone else to not feel so alone, then I will.
I was genuinely upset when I heard the news recently of (yet another) musical icon suicide. This time it was the lead singer in a band that was a favourite of all three of my boys, but extra special to Eldest. The lead singer had a very public battle with mental health concerns and it was a genuine shock to all of us when we heard he had taken his life. This was a person who was 'dealing' with his issues in a proactive way and yet the sense of no way out still got him. Eldest was crushed and confused.
Tragically a few days later I witnessed Eldest receive a phone call informing him one of his best friends had taken his life. I cannot express how hard it was to witness that phone call. I watched his hands shake; his breathing change and the tears fall. My husband took him to his other best friend's house so they could be there for one another. My husband and the friend's mum held the space for the boys to cry, swear and ask 'why' over and over again. The adults guided the conversation when needed, reminding the boys that they were not to blame. This was a crucial time for the guys and it was so important for them to have a safe space to feel, think and react in any way they felt was right. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in this, other than the need to feel safe. The adults were there to be with them so they knew they weren’t alone in this formative and irrevocable moment. The boys could show their pain without fear. The adults were there to help guide the initial reaction away from negativity. This was so important.
The next few weeks were tough but not terrible. Eldest was a great support to those around him and despite feeling 'numb' he was functioning well. It became obvious however one other person very close to him was struggling. Destructive behaviour, substance abuse and then what we feared most...I was at work when Eldest called me distraught once again. He was at the hospital with his friend who had tried to self harm. Seriously, this could not be happening again! You know that horrid feeling when you can hear the blood thumping through your brain and your hands start to shake… Hubby and I raced home with our hearts in our throats. The emotions running through my heart and soul bounced from fear, to anger, back to fear. I wanted to wrap my arms around my little boy and hold him close shielding him from all this shit. This was too much for someone so young to have to go through. But first we had to get to the hospital.
We arrived to find her family had rallied around her, and despite Eldest's concern for his friend, it was time we enclosed him in our arms and provide him with his own space to process and try and make sense of what had happened. I knew he may have been able to cope in as healthy way as possible with the first tragedy, but I was deeply concerned about his mental wellbeing with the second scoop of a shitty situation. I arranged an appointment with a GP miraculously within an hour. It was, thankfully, established that he was not a risk to himself (thank god!!) but it was important that he had some external support for dealing with grief in a healthy way. A care plan was put in place. We then took him home, made him have a shower and a good sleep. How I wanted to stroke his hair like I did when he was three and make all the bad shit go away. Later that day we explained that this was a time when he had to drop being an adult for a moment and allow us to parent him again to ensure he was OK. He agreed.
At this moment I feel so incredibly sad. Sad that we as a collective society still do not have enough in place to protect people from getting to the point of no return. I am sad for the loss of innocence my son has to endure. Overwhelmed by the sense of powerlessness we in situations like this. This is new territory for me, so I am documenting the process I am going through in order to share and to let others who might be going through something similar, know that you are not alone. Something as huge as youth suicide goes far beyond just those immediately affected. Like a huge horrid stone dropped into water, the waves and ripples generated can have far reaching affects. Our proximity to the rock was as close as I ever want to be, ever again! It remains to be seen how I, as a parent supporting a young person who has lost someone, journey through this unknown. What I do know now is the importance of holding the space for someone.
This is part one of my Honest Truth
Part Two is also now available as found in the related posts.