Monday, January 9, 2012


My mothers sister killed herself in November.  I spent part of my Thanksgiving week traveling to view and claim her body.  Of all the horror I have witnessed; this was one of my more disturbing moments.  I went in alone and I still wish that I had not.

She is number three.  My sister.  My mother.  And now her.  They are a group of three while I am on the outside looking in.

I wish people would leave my life without forcing themselves, by their own hands, through that narrow tunnel of death.  Forced is never easy.  For the person dying or the one left behind.

I try not to imagine what their final moments might have been like.  I walk that fine edge of looking but then ripping my eyes away.  I want to know but at the final moment I turn away because I am not a part of their sacred group. 

I wander into another kind of group that is supposed to support people like myself.  Those left behind to answer all the questions that never have an answer.

There are six of us.  A group of six with little in common except a forcible death in our lives.

Completed suicide.  That's the phrase they use when introducing their loved one. 

When I think of the word completed, I think in terms of... completed 1st grade... completed a project... completed a task. 

Completing death?  Creepy.  And a nice way of dressing up the fact that there are some people who off themselves because things suck really bad for them.

The circle stops at my chair I say my name and rattle off my group of three.  The leader repeats back my group of three and it suddenly sounds so much worse.

The circle begins again as each describes how their loved one completed suicide.  There's that word again.

In graphic detail... three gunshots, a hanging and an overdose.  Blood... eyeballs bulging... vomit... brains and walls.  If completed didn't sound strange before it has certainly become the fucking understatement of the evening now.

The circle stops at me again and I stare.  I finally just say no thank you and the circle keeps on rolling down  the steep descent.

Now it's time for the grief and feelings.  The other five members have all lost their children.  I'm the only one who has lost a parent, sibling, and an aunt.  I tell myself that doesn't matter.  Grief is grief.  Feelings are feelings.

But as I listen to the parents grieve their children I am stunned as I hear their words.

... anything to take their place...

... I would have taken their pain...

... miss them so much...

I hear their words but hear my mother's louder as she wished aloud that it was me instead of my sister lying in that hospital bed.  And once again speaking her wishes once my sister passed away.  Quite the contrast.

I break out in a cold sweat.  I shiver as my stomach lurches.  My head is screaming as the voices gain momentum.  I try to gather a few feelings to speak but they are drowned out by the frantic pitch my mind is at.

It's once again my turn to share.  My heart is pounding and the room is spinning.  I know what comes next.  I grab my keys and excuse myself.  I get sick in the parking lot and then I drive away.  My head hasn't stopped screaming yet.

I completed my first attempt at a support group and that was the only time that evening that word was used correctly.


Anonymous said...

Good god. The sanitization of something as ugly as suicide, so that perhaps people feel better about talking about it? Perhaps?

It just sounds like the wrong kind of support group to me.

I'm sorry for your loss, and sorrier still for your mother's evil words.

Deborah said...

I don't know what to think of that kind of group. Talking about things sometimes - or maybe often - relieves the pressure and stress, but I can't see that airing the fine details of a suicide has a positive effect for those who hear them.
Suicide as a word is complete enough already. My best wishes are with you for this New Year, Jennifer. Glad to see you here again.

Shattered said...

Svasti, I guess that could be it. But sanitization is a great way to describe it. If I go to a group again, I think I'll try a different one.

Shattered said...

Deborah, I tend to agree with you; the word suicide is quite enough on it's own. As for the gory details... no thanks.

Happy new year to you as well!