A Special Scar: The Experiences of People Bereaved by Suicide

By Alison Wertheimer | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

When the suicide happens

Even now what I can't really bear to think about is how he must have felt when he was taking the aspirin, what despair he must have been in, those awful thoughts he must have had. (Suzy)

It was just the worst day of my life. (Jennifer)


Finding out

Whatever has gone before, it seems that nothing can prepare the survivor for the suicide when it happens:

It was 3rd December, the day my son died. [A friend] dropped me off at the bottom of the road. It was quite dark. As I walked up the road I saw a figure standing at our gate; it walked towards me and I saw it was [her husband]. He took hold of my arm and I could feel waves of shock coming from him. 'You'll have to prepare yourself', he said, 'Jon is dead'. I stumbled into the house and then I screamed 'No! No! No!' (Carole)

Like Carole, most of the survivors I met had been told the news by other people. But those who had actually discovered the body still had vivid memories of an event which, in some instances, had taken place many years before. The memory of what was seen can remain with the survivor for a lifetime (Lukas and Seiden 1987). It was over twenty-five years since four-year-old Denise and her mother came home from shopping one day:

[My mother] sensed there was something wrong. She went whipping through the house and got to the foot of the stairs and started to scream and then ran out; and so I followed to see what she was screaming at-and he'd hung himself on the staircase; and I do remember quite vividly; I remember standing there looking; I haven't

-39-

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