My darling boys,
Your Grandmother called today, yes I know she calls often, but I need you to stop and listen to me for a few minutes.
Please, stop, take off the headphones, and come sit with me.
Do you remember the people who used to live next door to Grandma and Pop?
There were two children, around your age. That’s right, Jessica and Mark.
Both a little older than you.
Jessica turned 21 at the beginning of the year.
Good, do you remember playing with Mark? Kicking the ball in Grandma’s yard?
Grandma rang to tell me that Mark killed himself the other day.
We don’t really know. He was not even 18.
Apparently, he was having trouble finding work, problems getting training organised.. but there had to be more. Surely.
The family is devastated. Grandma is upset. She had known Mark since he was only a bump.
I need to talk to you about this, I need you to know that no matter how hard things can get, no matter how dark the day is, you are NOT ALONE.
Life isn’t always easy. Sometimes it gets damn hard to even get out of bed each day.
And every day, there will be new challenges and stress. There will be fights and fall outs and drama with family and friends.
There will be rain,
But there will also be sunshine.
No matter how difficult things might seem, it will get better.
And I need you to know that you can always come to me, or your father, no matter what, or why and talk to us.
Even if you have to do like I am doing here.
Asking you to listen.
If not us, then there will always be someone who can help.
Just keep asking. Ring a helpline. Scream if you have to.
Life can be damn hard sometimes, but life is precious.
And you are special, and always loved.
This is a true story, I have of course changed the names, and what I have written here is what I have talked to my boys about.
We don’t know why this young man with his whole life ahead of him chose to give up and commit suicide.
The family has always appeared to be close and loving and is now shattered and trying to recover from the loss of a beautiful young man.
Suicide is such a tragic waste and we need to make sure our kids know that we are there for them when things get tough. And the teenage years can be tough. Hormones, school, dating, work, bullying and also family expectations can make life pretty hard for young people trying to find a place in this world.
Boys most of all, as our culture continues to push them to be “manly”.
“Big boys don’t cry” How many times do we hear a parent or adult say that?
Or “toughen up”, “Don’t be a sissy” or even “You sound so gay when you talk like that”.
We need to encourage our children to talk to us when they are struggling. Let them know that it is ok to have these feelings and most of all let them always know that they are safe and loved.
We don’t know why “Mark” could see no other option out of what ever it was that pushed him to the edge. We don’t know the family dynamic. The circumstances.
We do need to try to teach our children that there are options, other choices that can be made and they are strong enough to make it through to the other side.
I sit here, looking at photos of my beautiful boys and I can not imagine not having them in my life.
My heart breaks for “Mark’s” mum.