I want to write about something that may be very uncomfortable for some (as if I don’t already, but is not my intention….I just need my thoughts to be out).
I am currently reading the book “No Time to Say Goodbye” by Carla Fine that my daughter Stephanie bought me the other day. I have read countless books about suicide since Kaitlyn’s death, but had not read this one. I also did not want to read any books on suicide while I was writing my book for fear of unintentionally using someone else’s style of writing. This was important to me, because for me I wanted it to be from my heart.
This book was written in the 90s. I am not quite through with the book “No Time to Say Goodbye” yet, but almost. It is a very good book. But the book has made me think and know about several things that I feel grateful about. Even no longer ago than the 90s were, the stigma of suicide was extremely high (and it STILL is) but It made me realize how far we are coming but yet still have so far to go.
The lady that wrote this book, her husband took his own life and he was a prominent physician. He did it by lethal IV infusion in his own office. This lady lied to everyone she knew at the beginning about the cause of his death. Heart attack was the reason she gave everyone. The reason she did is that people with loved one’s that took their own lives were often ashamed of it, confused by it and were treated like they themselves were the reason for their loved one’s suicide. Friends left and they were alone in their grief. I am amazed at all the stories she told of other people in the book that went through the whole thing just like that.
Another thing is, that the suicide of a loved one, especially prominent people, were splattered on the headlines and speculated upon by the masses, wondering who was really to blame. Someone must have done something to them. I can understand how a celebrity would be announced in the paper as having taken their own lives, but then even the average person’s suicide was front page news.
Another lady she talked about in the book also had to ID her husband’s body. They take pictures now, unlike then and when it came time to ID the body, they wheeled it out, took the whole sheet off and displayed his entire naked mangled up body…..and she fainted. Another lady whose husband was a prominent surgeon, killed himself by jumping out of their high rise apartment. She had to pay thousands of dollars and go through legal battles for many weeks just to get back into her apartment. Oftentimes, even the suicide notes were taken by police and not given to the loved ones.
In the case of my daughter, I don’t know if things were handled differently due to the rules of our state or the rules of the United States as a whole (because I know other countries handle it differently), or the circumstances, but I did not have to ID Kaitlyn’s body. They knew it was her, we all knew it was her. All I had to do is talk to the medical examiner on the phone. She did not have to have an autopsy done because it was very obvious the method of her death and the way she died. She left several handwritten notes. However the medical examiner suggested an autopsy because, “If I don’t do one and later you have certain questions, I won’t be able to answer them.” I declined her having an autopsy because there were no other questions I needed answering that an autopsy would supply. It would not read my daughter’s mind.
Also, in my hometown, they do not make a suicide news in the papers or on TV. The obituary is simply written that they are deceased and no articles are written. This is out of respect for the family’s privacy. But in my case, I DID want an article written because I had a message. This choice is not given to people in other areas. Suicide is treated very discretely here, but that is not the case in other areas.
I did not have to go through any kind of inquest or sign papers, or deal with the police in any way other than he telling me of it and him standing in front of me at her apartment looking like he was about to cry himself.
So in reading this book, I see that talking about suicide was horribly taboo then and even more than it is today. People had to lie about the death. People lost friends. People were ashamed. The poor deceased were treated like selfish, horrible people and not the sufferers of mental illness that is often the case. These things still happen today, but at least we are trying to be more open about it so we can somehow fight this horrible thing.
I in no way mean this writing to say “oh boy, we have come so far in combating this stigma, it’s all ok now.” That is FAR from the case and suicide is increasing in alarming rates. But at least we can talk about it now. Where there is dialog there is hope and talking about it is what I must do. I must do it for Kaitlyn and all the others we have lost out there.
I thank goodness that my daughter is not treated like a selfish villain that just checked out of this life because she was weak. (because she was not). I’m glad I am not made to feel like I was a horrible mother and it must have been my fault. I’m glad that it is seen that it is a horrible tragedy of the death of a wonderful person that suffered a lethal disease. I am just so horribly sad they she and so many others have and still are suffering in this manner.
But the reason things have gotten slightly better in the understanding of mental illness and suicide is because we are now talking about it and writing about it. If we continue this, it will continue to get better. But we still have so far to go.
Much is still needed to be done.
I grew up thinking that Suicide was so selfish… and didn’t give it much thought unless I heard of a person who did. After Madeline died… of a very brief fight with an inoperable brainstem tumor, I was left with a very different ‘know’. That a person who commits suicide is a person who is very strong, generally, they struggle all.of.the.time with issues inside of them and around them… and they are strong and live… but in one moment of time they might not have the strength to carry the burden or fight to keep walking and living… I lost my 5 and 1/2 year old daughter and I fight like crazy to change childhood cancer. I lost Madeline in 5 days, in the cancer world I am worst case scenario… I am very glad you are bold and real and speak. Some people cant speak, and you can not change things and help people if we pretend or shy away. Thank you…
Even though I may not always comment, I read every post and I have you in my prayers. I am looking forward to your book coming out, too. I am sure that has been a cathartic experience for you.
Reblogged this on Are. You. Mental? and commented:
Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for writing this. You’re right, she wasn’t weak. She isn’t a villain. And I know you shouldn’t feel like a horrible mother because she told me how much she loved you.
You’re right a lot needs to be done. I think that you’re doing a lot by writing.
Thank you so much for your kind words. I am so very sorry at the loss of your daughter. Losing them in any way is horrible.
Thank you. My book was very cathartic and amazingly, I’m still writing things. I don’t think it ever will all ome out of me.
Thank you for the re-blog.
Thank you so much Neal. More and more needs to be done, written and talked about with this. I know Kaitlyn loved us. She knew we loved her. But nothing was enough to make her sadness go away. Nothing that she tried anyway.
I am glad that suicide is not as much of a taboo subject as it used to be – and your blog and book is so valuable in this respect. This may sound a bit weird but in many ways I think suicide is an act of strength.
Thank you Julie.
I am one of those who does not speak! I’ve already had too much harmful words said by the few who know! It is such a shock to my family that this could even happen! Not our fun loving, extremely caring and would never hurt anyone with so much life and love to give and live loving daughter and sister. Even my own siblings brush over it or compare their complaints of life. One sibling compared the loss of her beloved dog then said about my daughter, her neice, well she was old enough but then are we ever old enough. Sorry but that hurts! And other family members do not speak to me at all. My boyfriends family has never spoke one word to me. Not one has said anything in three years not even when it happened. Yes there is a lot of stigma to suicide. So sadly my daughter made an impulsive decision one night while on generic bupropion with a severe thyroid problem. No one seen it coming! Not even her! She had just made plans 50 minutes earlier with a friend for a get together. 50 minutes later (bupropion can dump alot at once) and alcohol in the system and her husbands handy loaded gun ready to fire and one impulsive moment and she was gone. It took her two hours to die at the hospital. No I don’t speak of it to anyone anymore. And people just want the details of death not who she is, not even her name. I don’t blame people for not speaking out. It is a horrible pain to live with. It is such a shock. Her husband and I both said we know she’d say “oops” like she didn’t mean to do this!..because we her family know she didn’t!
I’m so sorry Dee that you have to go through this. If you can’t get support from your family then that’s a horrible thing. But it DOES happen and it happens a lot. I’m lucky in that no one in my family acts like that. That’s why I say we still have SO very far to go. SO very far. There’s still horrible stigma. She compared it to the death of her DOG? This was your family member that said that? How horrible! My sisters feel horrible for me. They could not conceive of losing one of their own children and they feel for me. I couldn’t imagine a relative not giving all the support they can. But I do know for a fact that people lose family members and friends over a suicide because they simply can’t or don’t want to deal with it. It makes them too uncomfortable. How uncomfortable do they think we feel?
There’s so much to suicide! Too much to understand! It may not be thought of as taboo so much now but people are so afraid to speak of it or to the loved ones of the one who is gone! I was never afraid to speak to anyone about their child who died and get to know who that child was and knew it’s a horrid pain so I ignorantly expected everyone to speak to me and know my pain when it happened to me.
I know Kaitlyn had everything going good for her but that could not remove the pain. Once you said something like you think she kept striving to do more as maybe she thought it would make her better. I believe that is what she did too! Only to find out it didn’t work!
She tried hard! Somethings are to hard to explain and to hard to understand! There’s a reason she didn’t seek help! She couldn’t explain why! I’m sure she didn’t have a clue of the devastation it would bring but maybe only the freedom of the pain. Freedom of pain!……what I want, what you want and every person out there suffering deep unending pain wants! Freedom!
I can understand that!
I think you have helped alot of people. You and Kaitlyn! I just wish this never happened to you or anyone!
I agree Rhonda the more we talk about it the less stigma attached, I know people find it hard but if it saved one life it is worth it. I have always been open and honest about my brother’s suicide I am not ashamed of him I know he suffered for a very long time. The people who say such things such as it is a selfish act, have no idea what they are talking about. Thank you for sharing your story and i hope you publish your book one day.
Thank you for writing this. You are so right, we have to talk and write about it.
I’m so sorry about your daughter.
Thank you. One thing that was important to me when Kaitlyn died, even though I was drowning in horror and sadness, I wanted to make sure everyone knew the truth. I respected and loved her too much to let her death be shrouded in mystery and her to be talked about in quiet whispers and gossip. I wanted the world to know that depression is so horrible and serious that it can take the life of anyone.
My book has been written and is about to be published. Actually I just got word this morning that the copy will be shipped to me today for approval and then be for sale on amazon.com. The name of it is: My Bright Shining Star: A Mother’s True Story of Brilliance, Love & Suicide.
Thats a good thing your daughter would be proud of you and I know it will help many people. Wishing you peace and warm sunshine.