Having just lost my son to suicide, I’m learning really quickly that my friends don’t know how to be around me. And I don’t think I know how to be around them.
The last half of the week, one of my best friends picked me up to spend a few days at her lakeside retreat. Two other girlfriends invited themselves along. And as much as I love these women, two of them talked non-stop about the most inane, superficial stuff. I couldn’t have gotten a word in even if I’d wanted to. They talked so much, avoided asking me any questions, or taking the risk I might tell them something they didn’t want to hear. There were several times when I just wanted them to STOP TALKING. My response to the non-stop avoidance conversation was anxiety.
As much as I don’t want to isolate myself, I’m starting to feel afraid to reach out to friends. I just don’t know how they will react. I’m starting to feel like a pariah! I’m working hard not to feel judged –even though I’m the harshest critic of my performance as the mother of a son who took his own life –but that creeps in as well. I know they’re worried about me, but they just don’t know what to say or do. And neither do I.
I’m learning that the only safe place to tell my story, my son’s story, my family’s story is in counselling for now and hopefully group down the line. This is too much for friends, no matter how close you think they are.
Grieving my son’s loss is hard enough. Grieving the loss of friendships I’ve had for decades, only adds to the pain I already feel. How do I avoid the isolation?
Originally posted on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and reprinted with permission.