Suicide of a Son: A Mother’s Question

Dear Dr. Neimeyer,

I lost my son to suicide, and I am struggling with the urge to join him. I try to stay here for my beautiful granddaughter that he left for me to enjoy. There are days that it is almost like living that day over again and that is when I struggle the hardest. There is loss, and then there is this terrible feeling of loss that goes beyond words. I think about how I was able to prevent a total stranger from committing suicide some years ago, but could not help or stop my son. Where is the justice in that? It will be 2 years soon, and I hurt so badly thinking of him and what he brought to my life. How could I not see how much pain he was going thru?

Thanks for listening. I have faced adversity in my life, but never anything like this.

Dear Jacqueline,

Just as you imply, there is no justice in suicide, any more than in cancer or a random automobile accident, and too often, our ability to avert each of these deaths is tragically limited. However, weighing the immense pain you bear following his suicide, I hope you will do all in your power to keep from visiting similar pain on others you love, continuing a chain reaction of explosive impacts that only deepen the devastation. Sadly, many survivors of suicide loss contemplate dying themselves as a way of relieving their anguish, and too many act on that impulse. Please take the actions necessary to avoid being one of them.

Begin by constructing a safety plan. If you are contemplating a particular means of ending your life, take steps to mitigate the risk: give the gun to a relative, flush the pills down the toilet. Then make an appointment with a skilled therapist, and ideally a psychiatrist as well. You will likely benefit from a trauma-informed grief therapy as well as medication, both being delivered by someone who is aware of your level of distress and risk.

Become informed about the specialized services for and issues faced by those who have lost loved ones to suicide. In one respect, at least, your reaching out with this question is well timed, as we are now entering Mental Health Month, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has just responded by extending its range of resources to assist people in understanding and responding to this tragically common psychological problem. Click here to navigate to for full information about suicide, surviving suicide loss, and support groups that can give you a safe place to share your feelings about the loss and to learn from others who are contending with grievous losses of their own.

Most assuredly, your son did not intend to take your life when he ended his. Allow yourself to receive his gift of life, and seek healthy ways to move through this dark and difficult transition to a life that retains or regains meaning even in the shadow of this profound loss. In doing so, you may ultimately find that you have much to give, not only to your granddaughter, but also to others struggling with suicide and its aftermath.

Dr. Neimeyer

4 comments on “Suicide of a Son: A Mother’s Question

  1. Dearest Dr. Neimeyer,

    I can’t abundantly express how insigtful, supportive and compassionate your professional advice is. While it is TRUE, that the emotion’s of the soul of the survivor of a much beloved one UTTERLY DEVASTATES the live’s of whom are afflicted with this very “basic, yet complexed of human emotion (what’s the point in going-on anymore?) the compelling answer to wanting to survive is ALWAYS UNIQUE. “Perfect Love! knows no boundary- and so the loss of this level of richness of such profound Perfect Love, truely can never be mitigated for all people …but for some, it can be redeemed through “not the institution of faith”, but rather through the finality of acceptance. Seems to me, the phases or levels of grieving when I lost my Mother-in-law, then my most beloved Husband then my two loving friends, then my eldest brother- all within 18 months, were beyond verbal communication!

    “Time does NOT heal ALL wounds, it only serves to clarify them” rw.-

    Jacqueline, has and does endure a severe brokeness of the Heart and Soul, for which only, can seek a continuity of sameness with her beloved son, though he will always be with her till the heavens and earth pass-away.

    Death is only a different level of consciousness, not yet understandable to or by today’s level of technology, it is-for without, a physical manifestation of earthly presence, but, serves to THRIVE in a refined and more enlightened accuation in a paradise created so immeasurably PERFECT where ALL energy is perfectly perpetually echoed in it’s FINAL State …LIGHT! … Many, Many Beautiful Lights.

    Jacqueline, will be with her most beloved son, -one day, soon enough; but, for now her tears and her broken heartedness must echo “This Life’s” Traggic Loss and emptiness without her beloved son; but how Jacqueline can best manage her sorrow for now! …right this minute is to remember! to cry! to lament, to bless the Angels of the Light who have come here to confirm His presence in the Light of Lights -not to take Him away. This Paradise is Real and it’s without description…

    Thank You!!! Dr. Neimeyer, for your kindness, your humanity, your goodness.

    In Belief,

  2. Dear Dr. Neimeyer,

    Your compassionate response to Jacqueline that “…your son did not intend to take your life when he ended his” was the most profound statement I’ve ever read about a child who takes his or her own life. Children do not realize the finality of their decisions in small matters never mind in large ones. With a depression involved the child’s judgment is further impaired.

    Losing a child is the worse possible pain for parents to bear for their beautiful flower – that they tenderly and lovingly cared for – has been plucked from its soil here on earth. May the angels carry their sweet souls straight to a heavenly garden where all tears will be washed away.

    I shall keep Jacqueline and her grieving family in my prayers.


    Mary Jane Hurley Brant

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