Last week I celebrated launching my newest book, Survive Your Child’s Suicide: How to Move through Grief to Healing. Friends, family, and business associates attended, heaping accolades and congratulations upon me. It was a bittersweet day, an oxymoronic event because the book is the result of my son, Connor, killing himself. How could I celebrate publishing a book because of his death?
It was because of my experience in looking for help to get through his suicide. My personal involvement with traditional grief groups was unsuccessful. The way the group was run made me uncomfortable. The videos weren’t relevant to my circumstances and the discussion that followed focused on the past. There was no mention of looking to the future.
The counselor I worked with had not experienced child suicide. While she did her best to be empathetic, she could only be sympathetic. I wanted true heartfelt understanding; that she walked in my shoes and knew what it was like.
Instead of settling for what wasn’t working, what wasn’t helping me, I sought my own solution. I reflected on how I survived the death of my daughter in 1991, both my parents and my sister. There were other losses as well, including 3 other young adults to suicide. And now, my son.
I realized that my knowledge as a personal trainer, nutrition consultant, health and wellness coach, and other life skills were the factors in helping me move forward. I found myself sharing my journey on social media. Comments on my posts indicated friends were being helped through my journey, my story, my vulnerability.
I discovered a hidden skill. I enjoy writing and what I write about helps others. With encouragement with friends and family, I wrote my first book, Life After Child Loss: the Mother’s Survival Guide to Cope and Find Joy. I never expected to write one book and now I have written two with more in the works. All this is the result of my son committing suicide.
As the celebration ended, goodbyes said and will wishes cast, my adrenaline rush crashed. I hugged one of my long-time friends while I shook and cried. Once again – all because of my son’s suicide, the highs and lows of grief and serving others. The realization that this event was all because of my son committing suicide once again came rushing in. I love that I am able to help others walk this horrible journey. However, I wish I did not have this privilege because if I had a choice, I prefer to have my son back. The fact is, he is not coming back.
Celebrating that I am helping others through my books, is a double edge sword. I do this because my son would want me to. His memory lives on in me and through me.
I still pinch myself that I am doing this. It is a surreal experience, as if I am looking at my life from the outside. The trajectory of my life has changed. I am doing the best with what I have been dealt, making lemonade from the lemons of life.