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Sarah
Sarah, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 143
Experience:  Chart'd Psych, 12 yrs exp. English prisons, Clinical Hypnotherapist, EMDR Therapist, BPS, HPC reg'd.
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My son committed suicide in 1973 on his 19th birthday. Will I ever get over it

Customer Question

My son committed suicide in 1973 on his 19th birthday. Will I ever get over it?

I woke in bed twenty years later and realized I could have saved him.

He had a rare tumor (like a bunch of grapes) in his hip. The doctor told us this type of tumor could return in other joints,
He was terified of going to Viet nam. His draft notice came the day after he died.

Did I block the knowledge that this could have saved him for all those years until I was strong enough not to kill myself?

Geraldine Phillips
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Olsen replied 3 years ago.
Hello. Welcome to JustAnswer. I am sorry to hear what happened to your son and what you went through. You have been suffering from your son's death for 37 years. You wish you could have
saved his life. You have been thinking of this question for twenty years. You are grieving now. I hope you have someone to talk to and process all your feelings and thoughts about your son's death for all the years. You still need grief counseling. You may not get over the pain of losing your love, your son. But you may be able to manage your pain better. I believe that is what your son may wish if he is alive. You also may read the books to cope with your pain and sadness-

1. Healing After the Suicide of a Loved One by Smolin and Guinan
2. No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving The Suicide Of A Loved One by Fine
3. Grieving a Suicide: A Loved One's Search for Comfort, Answers & Hope by Hsu.
I hope that you have supports for your son's death from family members, friends, counselor, clergy to name a few.
Expert:  Sarah replied 3 years ago.
Hi there,

I see you haven't responded to the last answer and I would like to add one of my own. I am unsure of what you feel you may have withheld from your son that could have saved him? I agree with Dr Olsen that you are certainly grieving, yet I wonder also if you have been traumatised by the happenings with your son? By traumatised, I mean that the situations were so emotional that the memory has no way of normalizing and accepting the situations and therefore they live on in your memory as very 'real' memories, almost as if you could touch them, feel them and smell them? If this is the case, then I suggest that you seek EMDR therapy, which stands for Eye Movement Desensititsation and Reprocessing. This therapy does not take away your good and positive memories of your son, but takes the negative emotions and thoughts away from your mind, so you can continue to live your own life without the guilt, the grief, and the other related emotions that you may be feeling so strongly. EMDR creates in therapy the process that normally takes place at night to process away anxiety as we do during our dreams. The therapy takes place in your mind, so although you would need to 'revisit' these painful memories, you would do so in your mind quietly to yourself, rather than reliving them out loud verbally to someone. The process of EMDR takes place whilst you bring the memories to mind. You can seek further information about EMDR and local therapists at www.emdria.com

With regards XXXXX XXXXX guilt that you are holding, your son as diagnosed with psychotic depression AFTER his death, and therefore you were unable to help him because his illness was not known. It is almost impossible to help someone who has an illness if you do not know what the diagnosis is. Your son was depressed, and therefore had dark and sad moments - you could not help him if he did not share these with you. Not sharing his deepest thoughts with you could have been part of his illness. You are not to blame for his behaviours and although I do not know the whole story, I am very doubtful that you could have said something powerful enough o save him without being able to see the full picture, or even if you did. Have you searched on line for a relevant support group in your area, or even world wide on the internet? I dare say that there are many people in the world who are, sadly, in a similar position to yourself and who you could offer support to, as well as receiving support from them. This may help you to feel that your sons death was not in vain. I do hope you have found that useful and I look forward to hearing from you. Best Wishes, Sarah

Edited by Sarah on 9/22/2010 at 8:46 PM EST
Expert:  Sarah replied 3 years ago.
Hello again, why not try www.survivingsuicide.com where you will find the experiences of a lady who also lost her son through suicide. She has set up her website to support very special people such as yourself who are suffering in a very unique way. I have only glimpsed at the site, but you may find this to be a very useful source of support and empowerment. If this one is not suitable, there may be others; Google 'suicide, child, support group' and see who you can find to help you in this. With very Best Wishes, Sarah
Sarah, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 143
Experience: Chart'd Psych, 12 yrs exp. English prisons, Clinical Hypnotherapist, EMDR Therapist, BPS, HPC reg'd.
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