Monday, March 5, 2012
A tale of grief and love
Driving to the Book Trust we have a routine we run through that involves putting a request out into the Universe about the sort of books we want to find. Being a secondhand store the range of books is totally random so it's fun to try to magic the books we want. We've found it helps to be specific - instead of just 'I want to find Manga' it's better to put out there 'I want to find Manga that I haven't read, preferably one from a series I have and it would be awesome if it could be the next in the series to one I already have.' Over the last few visits mine has been refined to 'I want to find a Jodie Picoult book that I haven't read, and not the one about teenage suicide (The Pact).' I see The Pact on the shelf every we go there and every time I shy away from it. It never been a story I wanted to read.
Less than twenty-four hours after our last trip to the Book Trust I discovered that sometimes there are things in life that you just can't shy away from, no matter how hard you try.
On Friday afternoon I received a call from a friend to say that a young boy - fifteen years old - who is a part of my daughter's circle of friends, had just taken his own life. When I took the call I assumed the friend was calling about car pooling because our kids were all meant to be meeting up in a couple of hours for a movie night, the boy included.
At a time like this the pain and sense of loss comes at you from so many different directions: at the loss of such a great kid who was part of pantomime and part of our homeschool group, at watching the grief rip through the hearts of the kids left behind and not being able to just make that go away, and as a parent being terrified to even begin to imagine what his parents and family are going through.
But with the grief has emerged something incredible; the coming together of a community to provide comfort and support. I've watched it on Facebook as people from Accra and all over the world have shared their love for the boy and for his family and for each other. I've seen it as individual families have come together to support each other, as the kids have reached out to one another, and yesterday as one large group came together to remember and grieve and seek counselling support. The love that has flowed openly is a wonderful gift that we have all shared.
I am so terribly sorry that the boy didn't see first hand the love that so many people had for him. I can only hope that those who are left behind will feel it and understand that it flows out and envelops them all, especially during times when they too doubt their place in the world.
I have also been encouraged to see that the topic of suicide has been discussed openly and honestly. Suicide at any age is a tragic loss. It is even harder with a boy so young. It raises difficult questions of responsibility, of blame, of helplessness and faith. There are no easy answers and in many cases, no answers at all. But asking and sharing those questions is a way to inch towards healing.
There are incredible resources out there to help in the search for understanding suicide and grief. On Friday I reached out to a very dear friend to help me find something to read. I knew what I wanted, but I didn't have the strength to sift through all the sites to find what we needed. She produced a wonderful list, some of which are shared below. May you never, ever need them.
As we move forward, we can only hope that he has found what he sought - relief? escape? peace? We will never know. But as one friend pointed out, that won't stop us all selfishly, and desperately wishing him back here with us.
Youth Beyond Blue - A site aimed at kids exploring mental health issues.
Beyond Blue Fact Sheet - Dealing with loss and grief
Skylight Org (NZ) Practical Information for People Bereaved by Suicide
Kid's Helpline - Let's Talk About Suicide.
* I have purposefully not used names in this post in case there are people who have not yet heard the news. The internet is not the place to learn news of this nature for the first time.
Photo credit: SOMMAI