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Welcoming Tears at Four Months

The tears of suicide loss aren’t like other tears. They’re endless and pure and come gushing out many times a day, washing us clean for a moment. They come in silent, heaving bursts that make the face contort and squeeze the breath into short, agitated spurts. When we let out their sound, it’s like the howl of a wounded animal. I’d hear those sobs around the house the first few weeks and go running to find my husband, Bryan. I’d close the windows so my own primitive cries wouldn’t alarm the neighbors.

The inexhaustible well of tears seems ready to pour out at the slightest reminder. Each outpouring releases a little more of the vastness of grief. I cling to my tears, to what’s left of my bond with Noah in the salt tracks on my face.

The hardest days are when work or other obligations compel me to keep tears at bay. Holding back feels unnatural, like damming an untamed river. The tears will have out, if not at the end of the day, then when driving or resting or when a movie or TV drama comes to a poignant end. Not another ending please.

In my alternate vision of the day of his death, Noah collapses in tears, unable to follow through on his violent plan. But that would mean he could still feel his bond with the living and give voice to the tender, vulnerable side of himself. We hadn’t heard that voice for months. I weep for the loss of that tender soul that could have, maybe, saved his life.


Susan Auerbach lost her 21-year-old son, Noah, in 2013. This essay is excerpted from her book I’ll Write Your Name on Every Beach: A Mother’s Quest for Comfort, Courage and Clarity After Suicide Loss and reprinted with permission.