I want to share with all my friends and readers the following email that I received today.
For the sake of confidentiality I have crossed out names and places as well as other identifying details.
“Dear Esmeralda,” the email starts.
“I hope I am not being inappropriate, but having scoured the internet, I have a gut feeling that you may be more helpful to my friend, XXXXX, whose 20-year-old son, XXXX, just hanged himself on XXXXXX here in XXXXXXX, than most of the other resources I have turned up.
XXXX was one of my son, XXXX, closest friends (and, “yes,” I am very concerned about XXXXX mental state too). Both grew up in privileged homes as one of X boys, with strong, successful moms who shared many experiences with our sons and had what we thought were good, close relationships…. ”
“….Right now I am just hoping you could tell me what was most helpful to you and to your other son in the first weeks and then subsequent months when it came to coping with the loss of your son to suicide and all the complicated emotions. One of my biggest concerns is that there had been so much talk about what a good friend, good son, etc. XXXX was — but little acknowledgement of the fact that he has caused immeasurable grief and pain to those he loved and who loved him. I don’t want his friends and brothers now putting him on some sort of pedestal — I think it’s dangerous (and so does the XXXX counselor, who I respect)….”
“…. Anyway, if you have any advice, resources, etc., or if you would be open to a phone call…. I am just so worried about XXXXX and XXXXXX, and XXXXXX two …. brothers. I can’t bring XXXXX back — so now I need to focus on the loved ones who are still here and do whatever I can to help them heal and go on. But I have not a clue where to start. . .
Thanks so much — and I know I am just a stranger, but I am a mom of boys, and I just want to say I am SO sorry you lost your wonderful son.
You are not a stranger, you are, as you yourself say, a mother.
Motherhood is more than a biological thing.
Motherhood is implicit in your reaching out to me on your friend’s behalf, as it is in my caring for other’s children, even though it is too late for my own son, Andrew.
As most of those who have shared, and are still generously sharing this journey with me, it is a constantly evolving … entity, energy … and yes, being.
Indeed, one of the many things left behind is an ever developing relationship that radiates and permeates us at every level as well as our interaction with ourselves and with the world.
You know, there are many books on coping, and many were sent to me in the days that immediately followed Andrew’s death. But I was not moved to read any of them.
What worked? What helped? Prayer helped. The Invisible and yet tangible, powerful love and prayers of family, friends and strangers alike.
Having to still care for those of us left behind, helped.
Knowing that my job was not over, and therefore being determined that bloodied though I might be, I would not fall apart, so that my son, whose life it took to conquer his demons, could now be at peace, instead of worrying about me. For he was as much my son the second after he died, as he was when he was in my tummy, after he was born and as he always will be. Because, just as Motherhood is more than being a Mother; Mothering is more than caring for a child while he is with us here. It is forever.
I am praying for your friend and for you all. I know that my readers will add their prayers to mine which is why I am sharing this here… in the meantime, all that each of us is required to do, is but take one step at a time.
Keep it simple, someone said to me at the time. It helped, and so I pass the advice on to you.
Also, please, please, please, I know you are upset, and angry, and worried and justly so, but … compassion rather than blame will soothe a broken heart.
I don’t claim to know everything, but I am sure that whatever people may believe they know, that broken boy did not mean to hurt anybody, he just wanted his own hurting to stop and could not find another way.
Thank you for reaching out to me – I share your sorrow. I send you love.
We’ll talk soon.
Esmeralda – Andrew’s Mummy