Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Different Perspective

I got a call this morning from someone I know, but not terribly well, someone involved in my business. When I picked up the phone and heard her start to speak, I could tell something was wrong. Her words came haltingly and she seemed unable to complete a sentence. To hear this business associate sound so odd was confusing to me, until she reached the point of the phone call: "My sixteen year old son committed suicide last night."


I was stunned and expressed my sorrow at the news but my expression could never have been enough to help her deal with such a horrific reality. I promised to get the word out to her colleagues and she said she would be back in touch when she was able to give me more information. The experience of talking with someone who is so freshly devastated by the worst news they possibly could have gotten...what can I say to describe it...it shook me.

When I called each of the ten or so people I told her I'd call for her, I had a hard time keeping my own voice from cracking.

Today, my problems seem remarkably small and petty.

8 comments:

scarletvirago said...

Perspective is a scary so-and-so, sometimes.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

You have *got* to be kidding me. 16?? Ach.

Ellie

Phil said...

I know from flotsam correspondence that my kid considered same at that age. You think you're providing this sunny, worry-free environment, and there's still this subtext of self-loathing that festers.

Fortunately, my kid had peers who loved him and could pole him through the Stygian waters for which I didn't have depth charts.

Nicole said...

Just terrible for the people left behind. But I do understand those who take that step. The world is too harsh and hard on them.

Springer Kneeblood said...

It's still so unreal to me. Today, I'll contact more people with the devastating news. Many of her friends have the unenviable, but absolutely requisite, job of helping her to recover from something impossible to recover from.

scarletvirago said...

"Unenviable" is right. My brother (not the one who blogs) had an infant daughter die of SIDS and I have never felt so helpless in my entire life. I felt like I could do nothing to help, and was given the advice (by a friend who had lost her husband) to just "listen without fear". Best advice ever, and also most difficult.

KathyR said...

I have a 15 year old son. And a pretty screwed up 17 year old nephew. This story chills me.

Springer Kneeblood said...

My sister spent years as a volunteer with a suicide hotline. She said the best thing I could do for the mother is to offer to be there to do anything she needs...take in laundry for her, give her a ride to somewhere she needs to go, do some other mundane or major task. Knowing that someone is there and willing to help can be helpful, my sister said. One aspect of the tragedy for the 16-year-old is that kids can be talked out of the pain...they can be made to realize things aren't as bad as the believe them to be, if only there is someone there for them at just the right time. My sister said that, when she was a volunteer, whenever a teenager called the suicide prevention hotline, volunteers would do ANYTHING to get the kid to continue to talk with them, because they could be talked out of it. It's a tragedy that this kid didn't call out to someone like that.