Seven Things I’ve Learned About Surviving a Child’s Suicide from a Parent Who’s Been Through It

(1) You never forget. “He’s everywhere I look. Sitting in that chair. Standing by the kitchen sink. Coming down the stairs. Watching television.”

(2) You rage against God. “Why did you let this happen to our son? He was a great kid! We did our best to please you and raise him right — why didn’t you stop this or warn us? You have to be so careful not to stay mad or turn bitter.”

(3) You regret things you said. “The last thing I told him was to hurry up and move some stuff that was in my way. What if I’d been cheerful or told him I loved him? Maybe that would have made the difference. When I see parents barking at their kids I want to cry out, ‘Stop! Don’t talk to them that way! Be kind! Love them! It matters!’”

(4) You can’t do anything for a year. “We both lost our jobs. I no longer cared how many units we sold. I couldn’t make myself care, and neither could my wife. We lost our jobs.”

(5) You have to get out of the house for a while. “We moved in with our married daughter for a year. We just couldn’t be here. It was too painful.”

(6) You need to help others. “We joined a group that meets with parents and speaks in schools. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people. Far more deaths than soldiers killed in recent wars. We must help others not go through what we did.”

(7) You should weather it together. “Most couples divorce when a child commits suicide. Don’t let that happen. Stand by each other. Grieve together. Don’t blame. Make it through.”

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