The Guilt of Surviving Suicide

My first blog comes on the anniversary week 1996 of my mother’s passing.

Terri was one tough lady. Always spoke her mind. She was a small town girl from Swan River Mb. She spent time in foster homes. She married young, had three wonderful boys ( and the grey hair to prove it ). Divorced, worked slinging beer at a biker bar, got her G.E.D. and completed a secretary course at the community college. She loved sports, competed in archery, played baseball, curled and bowled. She followed hockey, baseball, curling, football and the Olympics. A true Manitoban, she liked her bingo. She loved her family.

Our relationship with our parents changes as the stages of our lives change. They start as our care givers and protectors. My mother at the end, was a friend.

We talked often, I had the opportunity to share lunch with her from time to time. She would listen to my ideas of job prospects, and dreams of how I saw them developing into some kind of successful future. She always smiled and gave me encouragement even when the plans changed the next month. We talked about future grandchildren and dreams. She missed out on two amazing dreams that came true.

We shared a love for the Blue Jays. If we weren’t watching together, we would be on the phone talking about a play or player. After she was gone and even now, I still reach for the phone to talk about a trade or a game, or because it’s one week till season starts. I wonder what she would think about this years line up.

My mother had been sick for many years. She had had a number of surgeries, some that had not gone so well. As a resolute, her doctor told her that they would not do anymore unless there was no other choice, she had too many finger prints inside. She had epilepsy that had haunted her for as long as I can remember and was one of the factors in her depression. I remember as a child seeing her being put into hand cuffs on the living room floor because they didn’t know how else to protect someone who was having a seizure. She lost her drivers license because of the epilepsy, several times over the years. This was very hard on her. She dealt with migraines that would shut her down. Her doctor suggested that she was depressed and she being stubborn, got upset and ignored him. She, I found out later, had been spending time at the casinos and not winning. She had started to build up some debt.

In the weeks leading up to her suicide she made a comment to me that I didn’t respond to. She told me that she was worth more dead then alive.

I heard this same statement a second time a few years later from a friend, this time I did say something. We talked about what it would be like for his wife and children to survive with the loss of their husband and father. I wouldn’t presume to think that our conversation changed his mind but I like to think that it was enough to open it to other possibilities. I am happy to say he is still with us today.

Our son has autism and deals with depression on a daily basis, and suicide is a conversation that is common in our home. Letting our children known that they matter and they are important to us and their future, is a discussion we will never end.

The Sunday before her passing, I was curling with my step father and my mother came to watch. She hadn’t been feeling well lately and hadn’t left the apartment in awhile. I don’t remember the last time she came to watch a game, she didn’t go often since she couldn’t play any more. She was dressed up with her makeup on too. We sat and talked for a short while and after I gave her a kiss and said good bye.

The next day, with a glass of Crown Royal and the same medication that helped her with her epilepsy, she left us.

She left post-it notes on the backs of the things in the apartment that she wanted each of her kids to have. She also wrote us letters. She had a plan.

Not responding to my mother and not staying longer at the rink has been with me all these years.

She could have stayed longer.

Is it fair to ask those we love that are in so much pain to stay for us so we can avoid the pain of their loss?

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