Trying to talk about Mitch’s suicide, even ten years later, still brings many thoughts to mind regarding all my feelings … then and now. The feelings are so personal, so private, so utterly my own, that the thought of sharing them with another is still difficult today. Yet, in the midst of the growing awareness of suicide and the efforts being made today to slow the occurrence, my hope is that we can provide insights into the feelings we have had, are having, and will continue to experience.
Surely, nothing in my life has taken so much out of me and at the same time given me so much hope for others. Hardly a day passes without someone coming to my office to talk about their interest in sales and instead beginning to talk about the tragedy that has taken place in their immediate family or with loved ones. My hope is that through the opportunity of talking about our loss, others may find that they too can proceed to make the journey through the pain and anguish that can be mastered.
I admit that in the aftermath of Mitch’s death there were so many questions that it is hard to bring them to the conscious level. One of many was “Whose fault is it?” And there was anger that could not be easily put aside. There is the dichotomy I faced in trying to bring to terms the different feelings that racked my body and mind.
Who could possibly know what I was feeling? No man, no woman, no priest, no counselor – no one knew.
I began to ask myself questions about how I would deal with my friends, my co-workers, the business contacts. Who would stand ahead of me and let them know that I had suffered and should be handled with care? I thought that everyone in the world knew that Mitch shot himself and that this father of his was about to enter a room, call on the telephone, or write a letter.
To my surprise, a lot of people did not know, but those who did, went out of their way to give me support, love, and comfort. My faith would tell me that I should expect help from our church – after all, we had been with the church from almost its very beginning as a mission. But the strength that awaited us there was more and bigger and wider.
Probably nothing stands out in my mind more than the different people who expressed their love and support. This came from the church and from others around us. It seemed that as soon as I could permit myself to express, to expose, I received the reinforcement to proceed.
Time became a major factor, as I slowly rebuilt the strengths that I knew I had, overcoming the agony. I found that time moved impossibly slow. When would I feel better? When would it be over?
The truth is that it is never over, but then, its is not supposed to be over. It will never be over, but my growth and gaining strength will make it acceptable.
Years have passed since I went to Mitch’s room to find him dying by his own hands. That image is with me today, and yet I find that I can look at that image and be at peace with myself. I know I did not plan, nor want, nor envision, that my son could or would take his own life. But it is the fact, and I can live with it today, knowing that I have made it this far.
It is a gift Mitch has given us, new knowledge of strength. Mitch has given us a new understanding of loving, caring, and the warmth of the friendship of others. Mitch has renewed our faith in God and the world. This was a faith, a love, a caring, and a friendship that I had taken for granted. No more! Time is precious. Life is precious. You are precious. Each day is a new revelation of this gift, a gift from Mitch.