Do you have kids? If so, I bet you like to talk about them. People like to swap stories of cute things they do. They like to brag on what they have accomplished. I love talking about my kids and they have accomplished more than you can imagine.
Friends will listen to these stories and comment on how funny Caleb must have been or how intelligent he seemed. These are wonderful people who did not know Caleb or who were acquaintances. No one who knew him well has sat with me to talk about him. It has been almost a year and most have not talked with us at all. I talk to other survivors and most have similar stories of close people disappearing.
Survivors of suicide are at a substantially higher risk of suicide yet most of their support network disappears shortly after the loved one is dead. One of the top ways to prevent suicide is to engage the person with your full attention, explore their situation from their point of view, identify if the person is thinking of suicide, inquire by asking direct questions and assess based on a full personal knowledge of the person. It is my belief a major cause of the increased rate among survivors, besides the overwhelming grief, is the loss of their support network.
Maybe these people are avoiding the subject to keep from feeling the pain of the loss. I envy being able to do so. I have the pain 24×7. They may not know my pain subsides a bit while I am talking about him. Having others talk about him is even better! He is gone and there is no way you can remind me. It is never not on my mind. He is in every conversation even if I never mention him. Caleb is in every look in the night sky and in every book I read. His tattoo is on my arm and I wear his jewelry.
I wish his friends from high school and college would reach out and go for coffee at Waffle House, his favorite restaurant. I wish his coworkers at NASA, the MRI Lab, or King of Pops would talk about his time there. I questioned him occasionally but did not get the stories they would have. I wish his family would reminisce or regale adventures I do not know.
Sometimes, just say his name.
Do you feel nervous or awkward? So do I! I never know how people will react. Feeling uncomfortable talking to a friend means you are in unfamiliar territory. Don’t worry, we have been here a while and welcome your company.
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