"I'm six feet from the edge, and I'm thinkin'
Maybe six feet ain't so far down. . ." - Creed
A few months ago, the Edge (of 17) attended a memorial service for an elementary and middle school acquaintance who had committed suicide. This weekend, another aquaintance of her's took her own life.
My friend and I were talking about it this morning. "My son is really taking it hard. He's never had anyone close to him die before. They had several classes together." She said. "He keeps saying he wished he'd said something. . ."
What could he have said or done? He didn't know what she was thinking. Hindsight is always 20/20 in these situations. What I suggested was that it was a good time to get a dialog going.
"I tell my kids that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem." I said, using one of my stepDad-isms.
I cannot imagine the pain of losing a child to suicide. I cannot imagine the pain that would drive a child to suicide. My heart is breaking for this girl, her family, her friends. . .
These horriffic circumstances have lead to several dinner-table discussions with my teens. I reminded them that they have a mile-long list of people that they can talk to if they feel overwhelmed. Starting with me.
I've had to hear some things and deal with some stuff that, frankly, I could have lived a whole lifetime without ever having to hear about! But it's made all the difference when it comes to keeping a hand in their lives and helping them navigate. It doesn't mean that I haven't injected my own opinions and values, but I've had to learn to be open-minded and choose my battles.
We've also discussed the "Huckleberry Finn" scenario that I think many teens have - as though they could pop back in to their own funerals and say, "See! I knew you'd miss me." It doesn't happen that way. That's where the concept of permanence needs to be reinforced.
One of the best "weapons" that we have in raising kids in an "us vs. the world" climate is talking. Spend time with your kids and get to know them for who they really are, not who you think they should be. Be honest about who you are, too. Talk to them about struggles you've had to overcome, times when you felt overwhelmed and ways that you learned to deal with your own circumstances.
One of the parental cliche`s is that of "the talk" - and it's usually relating to the context of sexuality. But "the talk" should start when you pop them out and should never end (at least it hasn't yet for me. . .Black Jack (21) and I are STILL talking. . .and I'm still talking with my own Mom. . .)
I don't know if there are any clear answers when it comes to suicide. I don't know anything about the circumstances of these two tragic souls or their families. What I DO know is that I do my best every day to keep my kids close and to listen to them let them know that I love them unconditionally.
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