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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.


02/18/2017 at 9:59 AM
Carrie Harris
I think about suicide almost everyday. The thoughts go no further than just thinking. I don't have the guts to go any further. I just want the pain to stop.
02/04/2017 at 1:02 AM
I am a mom of 15 year old twins and have bipolar disorder. I have been severely depressed for 2 years and have been thinking about suicide everyday. I found a source of Nembutal and could end things very quickly. I have suffered many losses - six-figure salary career, 5 berm hime with a pool in a gated community, car and friends. I'm now a cashier at a grocery store making minimum wage and am ashamed and embarrassed to work there. On days when I'm not working I can barely get out of bed. I rarely smile and can't recall the last time I laughed. I am withdrawn from society and have no interests. I worry about the future - that I'll be all alone in a shitty apartment working a miserable job. I feel that my only purpose in life was to have my children. I am hopeless and can't visualize anything g positive for the present or future. I'm haunted by my past and consumed with negativity. I'm just a shell of a person. I find it nearly impossible to have a conversation, even with my kids. They are the only reason I'm holding on. I suffer everyday and don't know how much longer I can endure all the emotional pain. Meds and therapy isn't helping. I don't know what to do anymore. My best option seems to be just killing myself to be free of living this nightmare.
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