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A Mother's Suicide

Letter to a New Survivor

By Diane Conn, Conndiane@aol.com

I never expected to have anything to do with the word suicide other than to read about it happening out there somewhere, far from me. But one day it came right into my home.

I was seventeen and at college the snowy evening I got a phone call from my father telling me that my mother had died that afternoon in the garage with the car running. She had killed herself and been cremated before I knew she was dead. We didn’t have a funeral. That’s what the shame and secrecy did years ago. I had no words. Opened my mouth and closed it again, over and over, like a fish trying to breathe. I was beyond devastated.

I was now one of them– people who have a suicide in their family or close to them. The millions of Americans who have lost someone to suicide and crossed that line that separated them from us. It never occurred to me that suicide could happen in a family like ours. But it happens in every kind of family, every hour of every day of every month of every year. 

You will never hear the word suicide the same way again. You may not be able to talk to anyone in your family or close to the person who died about it. In time, if we work at it, we thaw and words can come out. Don’t censor your feelings, at least to yourself. There are support groups, web sites, helplines and people who will listen and support you.

Don’t worry if you feel sad, angry, numb, fearful, alone, disappointed, judgemental, separate. Anything goes. It is a new road, and even though you are not alone on it, you have to travel it yourself. There are many resources now. People talking about their experiences and sharing hope.

The shock of having my mother die by suicide took a long time to move out of me. How would I grow up without a mother? I replayed conversations, comments, jokes, everything that had to do with my mother over and over in my head. But I couldn’t change the ending. I had to learn to have my feelings about it and do what I could to feel better, which included crying, shouting, writing, reading, drawing, therapy. I also learned who to trust to talk about it, and how to ask for help. 

I have come to an acceptance about it. I learned that it was not my fault. Now I also know that most suicides are the result of undiagnosed depression. Years later, in the way that happens with suicides, I found out that my mother was halfway out of the car when they found her– trying to get out. I had to talk about it all over again, and that’s okay. I have made a short film, "After a Suicide," which is on YouTube. I am also producing a full-length documentary on suicide.

There will always be questions. We don’t get over it. But for today I have integrated the loss and have a full and peaceful life. Please remember that no matter how it feels, you are not alone with your loss. Reach out so you can get help and work through the loss. You can reclaim your life. It really does get better. You can do this, one day at a time.

Diane Conn's "After a Suicide" documentary.


11/02/2014 at 4:54 PM
My mamma committed suicide in April this year after my daughter was sexually abused by my nephew whilst in my mammas care i was so angry at the time after my daughter had the medical an she was bruised etc from sexual assault i asked my mam if he would still be welcome at my mammas house after this her reply was i cant choose they are both my grandchildren in my eyes it wouldn't have needed a second thought my daughter was 3 at tine it happened she couldn't choose so i was angry an said id choose for her that we wouldn't be going back to hers ever again she killed herself that night i blame my self if i hadn't of put in her in the position to choose she would still be here now been told my police my daughter had told my mam about the sexual assault but my mam denied it police think guilt over taken her she always suffered from depression an attempted suicide many times but succeeded this time im really struggling to cope with it all as well as impending court case miss her so much feel so down ive too small kids if it wasn't for them needing me id probably have killed myself by now x
07/14/2014 at 10:12 AM
I'd like to direct this comment to daisy: dear daisy, my mother just committed suicide and i can hear her voice in yours when you say, without question, please know it is not your fault. what happens with depression is that you can't understand or see the pain of others. let me make it clear: if you kill yourself as you say you plan to do you will be permanatly altering, for much the worse your daughters life. you say you can not alter one's childhood. well you can not alter the aftermath of suicide. my mother and i had a turbulent relationship and i blame myself for her death. i know she wouldnt want that. if you plan on doing this, then have the courage to tell your daughter. listen to her and let her make peace with it. my mother did not do that and i am left wondering if our last fight pushed her over the edge. it was a nasty fight and i didnt know she was suicidal. my life is altered, for the worse. and while i dont know what your childhood is i would dissuade you from inflicting this cruel suffering on your daughter, who you say you love. you may have tried everything, but the truth is you shouldnt try suicide. you chose to have a child, or you did, and as a mother you just can not do this to your daughter,. even if you have a good relationship. even if you say it isnt your fault. it is something you cant understand until it happens, but it is a cruel. please do not inflict this suffering onto another. instead, keep trying and take death off the table. i am sorry to be so plain and hope not to hurt you, but i can speak about the other side of this and it is wretched. also please note: children that loose a parent to suicide are more likely to attempt it. is that what you want? i assume not so please commit yourself to a suicide watch group and simply take it off the table. there is relief. there is a solution always. there is no solution to deayh, suicide is a permanent solution to a solvable problem, and everything is solvable save for death. thank you.
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