Here is a brutally honest truth most people do not know about me. I am not happy about this being true; it just is.
I get angry when someone’s adult son dies.
I do not mean I am angry they died. My heart breaks for the surviving family. I am not angry at the family or at the deceased. Normally, I am not even angry at the tragic situation.
I am mad because they had more time with their child than I did, or they were closer, or they had a great conversation with them recently. I am angry at how the stigma of suicide permeates every aspect of my life, and I am glad they do not have this added weight. They have scores of people leave memories, pictures, and notes saying goodbye and tons of support. Seeing this causes my blood to boil because they treat suicide survivors as third-class citizens.
On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, we avoid church. We avoid restaurants. Thanksgiving and Christmas we leave town so we are not at home for the holiday. We avoid social media on these days. I get angry when I see pictures of friends and family my age, with their wife and (nearly) grown kids, loving life and having fun. I hate I feel this way as I am joyful for them and with them. However, the grief over the persons I have lost erupts on its own.
I spent my youth raising a child whose purpose and contribution to society is unknown. Parents lovingly care for their child. They change diapers, nurse colds and bruises, and endure the moody teenager years. While we perform this out of unconditional love, a hope flourishes in the recesses of the subconsciousness that one day when the child reaches the mid-twenties a loving and productive adult will bloom. Caleb’s life was cut short before he hit this stage.
Then your children are supposed to find a spouse and have children. Pregnancy announcements, especially grandkids, are the hardest! The constant loss of this future hurts as much as not having my son here. Most of the people I am around have grandchildren, including my younger brothers. I love hanging out with my nephews and nieces and I am truly happy for them. However, I also cannot control the flood of feelings knowing I will not have grandchildren from Caleb and it will be at least twelve years before Madi has children.
Most of the time these emotions are irrational, but they also point to an over-whelming loss. Please be patient if I am not completely present during your celebration. I do revel with you, but I also have to slay my demons before I can enjoy the moment.
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