Question...

Especially for those whose mothers or fathers died by suicide.

Question...

Postby jamjam91 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:40 am

I was wondering something because it came up in counseling the other day. So,although it's only been just over a year since I lost my dad, I feel like I'm not allowed to bring him up at all. I mean, I really techincally am young enough to not ever really get to have a good understanding of my dad, but with him as quiet as he is, it's impossible to know him.The people who knoew him best I'm afraid to bring him up in conversation to- my grandparents. I NEVER saw my grandma or grandpa cry until my dad was missing. And for a while afterwards, every time I saw them their eyes would well up with tears. I know they are stronger now, but they are also getting up there in age and I don't want to make them upset by asking about my dad or just wanting to talk about my dad to family. But the thing is, I can't really talk about him to my mum or she gets super upset and has a breakdown. Unless she brings him up of course, and then it's usually her bashing his character as it used to be. And I can't stand that. My siblings and I don't really talk either. In fact, this whole thing has driven all of us even farther apart, making communications even more limited than it was to begin with. But my dad's family as a whole (and it's a big family too!) rarely sees each other. I kind of hoped that maybe one of my cousins or aunts/uncles, someone, would reach out to me and try to talk to me about it all. Sadly, this is not the case.

So, there's my extended family. I see them about twice a year. This Christmas only one of my cousins made some comment about my dad when it was just me and her. She asked how my mom was getting along after everything and how my brothers were doing. She's the only one who has shown personal interest, yet it was the one time. To everyoen else, it's a no-go conversation, but I know they are thinking it. So why doens't anyways offer to talk to me about my dad? My grandparents try to go to dinner when I'm home; they've been trying to spend a little more time whenever I am around. I think in part becuase they lost my dad already and we're still family and I guess maybe they worry that if they don't try to keep in touch with us better that we suddenly won't be a part of the family or something. With my mom, anything is possible becuase she doesn't get along with the family very well. Even so, becuase my mum is always there, I don't want to ask them about my dad.I fear that bringing him up to any of my dad's family will make them upset, but I want more than anything to be closer to my family than I am now. But there's this bigger barrier now than ever before and I don't know how to break it down. And I'd love more than anything to hear about my dad and what I never knew about him instead of what I can only deduce on my own...

Does anyone else have/had this problem? Is there any way to overcome it? Or does anyone have some advice?
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Re: Question...

Postby Bereaved1 » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:03 am

jamjam, I think it would be good for you to talk to your grandparents privately first. Opportunities to be alone with your grandparents will present themselves when the time is right. You are right to not want to upset your mother more now. Her negative emotions that are understandable won't help you. You might even find yourself with your family in family counseling with the right professional. It would be good for you to talk about this with your MD or a close family friend who is not a family member. My family is very dysfunctional, too. So, I understand.

My first suicide was my uncle when I was 7. I noticed my grandfather's spontaneous tears all his life. He lived with us until I was about 16 and I am sorry, now, that I never really talked to him privately.
"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." Anais Nin
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Re: Question...

Postby hopeandpray » Thu Mar 22, 2012 1:36 pm

I have no advice but I feel the same. Like all the new things that I will ever learn about my dad are from other peoples memories. But they don't share them with me. I don't want to upset anyone and I'm sure that they don't want to upset me but there is so much I want to know. I would love to know what he was like as a child, as a teenager, as a friend. I really don't know how to bring it up.
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Re: Question...

Postby jamjam91 » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:00 pm

hopeandpray, i think you articulated it better than I could. That's EXACTLY how I feel about everything. :/
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Re: Question...

Postby cali » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:31 pm

I am a mother who lost her grown son. I would and have taken every opportunity offered to talk about my son. I love to talk about him and my gosh, if I were lucky enough to have a grandchild I would very much want to tell him all about his father! Sometimes though, I feel like it might make people uncomfortable, so I wait until I'm asked. It may be that your grandparents are trying to be careful of your feelings, and are waiting for you to bring up your Dad to them. Ask your grandparents or your mom if you can go to see them or go to dinner just the three of you, or even one at a time. Put the word out through your cousin that you would like to learn more about your Dad, to hear memories, etc. If she was kind enough to approach you, she may be willing to ask other relatives on your behalf. Young adults can be very hard to read, and people maybe doing a little tiptoeing around and waiting to follow your lead. If you come from a family that doesn't communicate easily, you are going to have to put it out there yourself instead of waiting for someone to offer. If you don't feel comfortable bringing it up in person, or on the phone, maybe you could send your grandparents and or aunts and uncles a note, asking if it would be ok. You have a right to know about your father. But it does sound best if your mother does not have to be there. That doesn't mean she can't know, as long as she understands this is about you and your feelings, and you'd like to hear from other family members. If you think she could not handle that, then I'd let her be. You sound old enough not to need her permission, though it would be nice if she could understand, if she can't, she can't. It is your choice and your right to have as much or as little contact with other family members as you would like. Your mother has an important relationship with your father and so do you. They are very different. One is not more important than the other. Of course your mother is in pain and is very sensitive right now. But she is not your father's only keeper. Many people claim him, as a spouse, as a father, a son, a brother, an uncle. I'm not suggesting that you hurt your mother. But she is already hurt, and you are not her only keeper either. Ask, ask, ask. You may find some comfort, some knowledge, some good stories, and some relief. I hope you do.
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Re: Question...

Postby jamjam91 » Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:36 pm

Thanks cali. I really am not sure what to do still. I really sometimes just want to be able to talk to someone who actually knew my dad and understands more where i'm coming from rather than someone who has no idea at all so it's like having to start over from teh beginning in order for anything to make sense to them. And my biggest hesitation with bugging my grandparents is that they are old (80s and in poor health) so i wouldn't want to make them more upse than they need to be. But there's this huge breakdown in communication/connection with my immediate family. I can't talk to my mum at all and my bro only talks about work and such with me. My other bro just talks to me when he's not doing well. So, I don't feel as though I can actually talk to them. Sometimes I feel really dumb becuase I was nearly 20 and yet i still didn't know my own father. I guess I at least tried in the last ouple yeras, but it still wasn't enough. But I still can't get over all of this and I need to find my own way to get closure. So far nothing is working. And it's been hard for me to watch several people now lose parents to cancer or whatever and get closure already and move on, but i know that i'm stuck (though only my closest firneds and counselors have noticed) and I just can't get out yet. Besides that, I don't know how to approach anyone about this...
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Re: Question...

Postby cali » Sun Apr 01, 2012 3:47 am

Hi jamjam,
I am pretty sure your grandparents want to be around you because you are a connection to their son, and they love you... Asking them a question makes room for them to share themselves with you. Older people are generally not in the best of health. But they have the strength of years of experience behind them. They are almost always tougher than you think. You might think of something that could be a lead in to talking about your father to your grandparents. Do you know where your father went to school? If your grandparents ask you about school, you could talk about it a little and then say "What was my Dad like when he was in school?" Or over dinner or dessert- "What was my Dad's favorite dessert?" Or if you know that, you could ask "When did my Dad start liking"....pie, for example. I think jamjam, that you will feel the right moment, and ask a question. I hope you do. It doesn't have to happen all at once. Open the door, just a crack, at first. Trying is better than not trying and just worrying. And if you took them by surprise, someone may come back after a bit and open that door a little more, looking for you, This is an excerpt, copied from the web of a speech given by Frank C. Baker. I never heard of him before, I just was searching the words "what we have here is a failure to communicate," because they popped into my head when you spoke about the breakdown of communication in your family. I mean no disrespect or criticism by that, just that it popped in and led me to this:

When we communicate with others we do so in many different ways and through many different mediums such as speech and writing, body language and gestures, facial expression and eye movement all the while utilizing our senses and emotions. We have never been able to communicate our thoughts and desires by remaining silent, closing our eyes and using any telepathic powers that are present to get our point across. We cannot read the minds of others - or anticipate what actions should be taken - or predict what the outcome of a problem is. It just doesn't work. In order to communicate effectively one must get the words out.
It was the author Thomas Mann who said, "Speech is civilization itself. The word, even the most contradictious word, preserves contact - it is silence which isolates.


What your grandparents have been communicating jamjam, with their eyes welling up with tears, by going to dinner, is that they CARE. Please keep talking to your counselors and find a way to open the door. It might make them cry, but they could be tears of relief, that they get to tell their grandson about their son.
You can also learn about them in the process. You could ask your grandmother how old she was when each of her children were born. Who was the easiest child? Who was the most rambunctious? Was one a bookworm? What was her favorite meal to make? Did they ever go on a family trip together?

You tried to know your father. He didn't communicate well. It's not your fault. It's not, not, not. There is no one right way to approach this. There are myriad ways, and as long as your intent is to learn without wounding, then you will not be wrong. The wound has already occurred, for all of you. Acknowledging it may hurt, but it will not make it worse. It already hurts. There's this, too, you and your family are being quiet because he died of suicide, not because he died. A person's death does not define their whole life. This is a gift to know and acknowledge. A gift you could give to your father, by learning about his life. He had a life, not just a death. It's the truth and your family needs to speak it. I think you got chosen to be the prompter.

Closure for suicide survivors is hard. It's pretty commonly accepted that two years is the minimum to be able to start to function well again.

There's another option, and then i will stop, sorry for all the words. Get your counselor to tell your family or tell them yourself, after first discussing it with your counselor, that it is in the best interest of your health for them to go to family counseling with you.
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Re: Question...

Postby jamjam91 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:16 pm

Counselors, in my opinion, are funny people. I'm lucky enough to have 2 considering the rest of my family has none. My school counselor would never want to meet my family, but my group (SOS) counselor is super intrigued by the sounds of my family and just wants to meet them once to size them up to what i say haha. But i now spend most time away from home. But in a way, that amkes it that much harder to actually go home. I know to expect a lot of tough situations each time I go home, but sometimes i think they think i live with blinders over my eyes. But that's not true at all. It makes dialogue that much ahrder. But the hardest part is tha tnone of us will actually bring up my pa and if we do, a certain family member is overbearing and it's really difficult for us to handle the converstaion. I don't know if this even makes sense, so I apologize.

I fear that there may never actually be closure. Especially if we can't all get along and talk like civil human beings. I think I'll just wait to bring it up with my grandparents for if the moment arises. thanks for the helpful words :)

Here's a lighter story about the day. My group counselor and most of the group got together for the first time outside of group (even for them!) to celebrate my birthday. It was low-key and got me away from having to celebrate on campus with a bunch of people. Plus, adults are less likely to be trying to coerce you to drink (though there were plenty of those texts and emails anyways). But it was still pretty nice to see them outside of such a dreary environment. :)
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Re: Question...

Postby cali » Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:36 am

:)
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Re: Question...

Postby cali » Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:45 pm

Something occurred to me jamjam, don't know if you could make it happen, but how about a boy's day out as a belated birthday celebration, or for any other reason? I say day, because I imagine hiking, taking food along, having nice outdoor space for talking, and avoiding a potential bar scene. Getting together with just your brothers could be interesting. If your Mom objects, make another plan that includes her, but still do this one. A bunch of brothers hanging out once in a while is a positive thing, and spouses and mothers should understand. Hope you are doing ok, and I'm glad your birthday served as such a positive catalyst for your group.
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