Forgiving Myself Again…After Suicide

When someone you love, was in so much pain that they chose to leave this life by suicide, one begins a journey of forgiveness, forgiveness of the one who left them and forgiveness of one’s self for not being able to save them.

“We all have that burning question about what happens if we lose somebody we love, especially if we lose them tragically. We wonder what fear was going on, we wonder if we could have reached out and touched them, held their hand, looked in their eyes, been there.”-Kevin Costner

Everyday since my son Kevin’s suicide, I long to go back in time and stop him.  I awoke on the morning of the day he died, knowing it was the day to see him and to look in his eyes and make sure he knew that I loved him.   I was going to visit him that evening. He took his life that afternoon.  I shall wonder until it is my turn to know and understand in the Afterlife, why I didn’t wake up the day before and know I needed to look into his eyes.

How does one forgive themselves for not seeing, for not knowing, for being in denial, for not taking their loved ones words seriously, for not being their when they needed someone and for not being able to save their life?   You make a conscious choice to forgive yourself because not to, is to chose one’s own slow dying.  We, who have lost our beloveds to suicide, are no longer ignorant of the effects of choosing to die, we know the cost of our choice would have on those who love us.

I  chose to forgive myself everything, all my imperfections as a mother, all the ways I couldn’t meet my son’s needs, all the words I might have said that hurt him or didn’t say that might have helped him. I forgive myself for failing my son … for not showing up in time … because I did not know.  After his death, I began to know, but I didn’t before.  I had done my best with what I understood to be true at that time.

As I forgive my granddaughter for coloring all over her palms with marker and then staining the furniture when she innocently went and played with full color hands, I forgive myself because I didn’t understand. Though the outcomes are incomparable, the learning curve of us human beings is. We can not unlearn what we learn, and we cannot know what we don’t….

I forgive myself as I forgive my son. He did not know the impact of his death. He did not understand that he was irreplaceable in each of our lives and if he dropped out of his place in our world, our world would shake to an unrecognizable state. He did not know he would break out hearts. I forgive him for not knowing.

This is my choice, to forgive and live, for the alternative is impossible. I know now the impact of choosing not to live. There are many ways other than suicide to choose to die. I cannot undo what I know, and so I live the gift of his death…the realizing that life is so precious and fragile, it can be snuffed out in a second and when someone feels enough pain they really can die.  I forgive myself for my son’s suicide…

*It has been almost a year since I wrote this post.  I forgive myself again today.  If you have lost a loved one to suicide, I hope you too are forgiving yourself, as many times and as often as needed. In forgiveness self-condemnation is not an option and life can be blessed by the love you have for your beloved in spirit.  May their lives and their spirit be what fills your mind in memory of them.  On the other side they are living fully their own soul’s journey.  Their death is behind them and they are far from it.  In forgiving ourselves, in letting love be what grows and blooms and blesses out of the ashes of suicide, we allow love to be the legacy of our beloved’s passing.

Mitch Kuhn