On Christmas Eve day, 2012, I got the dreaded call from my mother’s in-home caregiver. She helped Mom twelve hours a day, and knowing Mom had been having difficulty sleeping lately, was letting her sleep in. When it got pretty late, she became concerned and went upstairs. Much to her horror, she discovered my mother in bed, and was pretty sure she was dead. The call to me was second only to a call to 911.
While I was on the phone with Mom’s caregiver, Mom was pronounced dead. But then the shock came: there was a note. It was a suicide. Another victim of mental illness: bipolar, in Mom’s case. The caregiver was an instant mess. She must have been thinking, where did she go wrong? What did she miss? She thought she should have seen the signs and should have been able to prevent it.
Mom had seemed so happy over the past few days; a change from the depression that had been swallowing her up for the past six months. People thought that her meds were finally helping. Looking back, it was because she had made the decision to end her pain, and was at peace with it, happy even.
She had been depressed before, but had never talked about suicide. She had never even hinted around about ending it all. At least not to anyone in her family, or to her therapist or her psychopharmacologist. As far as we, her family, were concerned, the biggest threat to our mother was when she became manic. She could ramp up quickly, and enter the land of no turning back, reaching psychosis, before medication could bring her back down.
After the initial shock and pain of my mother’s death by suicide, the next thing that settled in was relief for her. That she was finally out of pain.
Before this, I had always believed that suicide was never ok. I looked at it as a permanent solution to a temporary problem. And many times, it is.
According to several religious views, suicide guarantees you a trip to Hades to be punished for all eternity.
From the spiritual point of view, suicide is looked at as breaking your contract with God. As such, the lessons you had signed up to learn during this lifetime, have to be addressed again in another life. You don’t get out of them. But the parameters in the subsequent lifetime can be changed. You are not damned for all eternity or judged harshly by anyone other than you.
The reality for my mother at the time of her death, was that her mental status had been suddenly compromised about 16 months prior, and was slowly deteriorating with no chance of improvement. For the past several years, Mom had been the caretaker for my father, who had lived with cancer for more than two decades. Dad’s physical health slowly declined, requiring regular blood transfusions, assorted doctor’s visits, and dealing with bones breaking, as cancer ate away at them. My parents were married just over fifty years when Dad died.
Mom’s reaction to Dad’s death was that her persistent depression, that hadn’t been responding to any of the antidepressants her doctor tried, immediately lifted. In fact, she flipped literally over night and skyrocketed into mania. She spent her 82nd spring birthday in a mental hospital. After a month stay, she was sent home, still delusional and paranoid. We arranged in-home care for her around the clock, so she could be home.
Eventually, Mom came back down to earth, visited “normal” for a little while, and then dove back into depression. By August, she was so depressed that she would only get out of bed to eat a little bit, and go back to bed. When we got together as a family at our summer cottage for about 10 days, Mom refused to shower. She refused to go on a walk (and she had been a walker for years). I could barely get her out on the front porch to take in the ocean view. That fall, her psychopharmacologist finally decided to hospitalize Mom again.
After Dad died, Mom’s will to live died, too. The only other thing she lived for, was playing her violin. Mom had played since she was seven years old. And played professionally for several decades. During the past sixteen months, due to problems with her hands and some fingers, she couldn’t play.
For the last 16 months of her life, her house was invaded by in-home caregivers. As wonderful as they all were, they came into my mother’s house. Her kitchen. Her bedroom and bathroom. Her territory. Mom was fiercely independent, and it took a while for her to adjust to having help in her home.
She also lost her ability to drive; and she was particularly not ok with that one. Even with a driver available at her beck and call, she had a very hard time giving up driving.
When Mom decided to leave this world, she was mentally compromised, not only from dementia, but from crippling depression that was not getting any better, despite trying several different medications. Her biggest reason for living (Dad) was gone. And the things that had brought her joy, pleasure and independence (playing music, going on walks, driving) were not available for her anymore.
As a person, I didn’t see her evolve much throughout her life. She was not particularly flexible and didn’t relish change. I am not surprised she felt completely boxed in and out of options. In the case of my mother, taking her life at age 82, as painful and surprising as it was to me, made sense. I understand it, and I’m actually ok with it.
Beautiful and compassionate post, Susan. I never judge reasons why someone would take their own life because I have not walked in their shoes. It’s such a personal decision and to my mind, they (and I) are only accountable to Creator/Source for the decisions made down here in the physical. You point out that they are given other options to review life lessons and all and from what I’ve read and understood, that is accurate.
I hope she found peace because living that way had to be hell on earth for her.
Thank you Lisa. Yes, she is at peace. I have connected with her both through using local mediums, and in hypnosis. Her first few months were tough, a bit of an adjustment, especially when looking back at how she handled things in the physical. But when I connected with her back in May and June in hypnosis, she was doing very well: big, bright, and 100% supportive of me and my healing work. https://mariner2mother.wordpress.com/2013/05/29/peeling-off-the-fat-suit/
This was beautifully written. My heart breaks that she was under such pain, but I can understand it too. My grandmother died just three weeks after my grandfather–she too had lost her will to live. I’m glad you have found some peace and acceptance.
Thanks for reading, and for understanding. The whole experience made me grow up a bit more.
Wow. In your mom’s situation I can only imagine what depths of despair she was in. Those troughs can get quite deep from personal experience.
I worry about my father a lot and it’s because of what you wrote. He is trying to recover from a very difficult procedure, having issues eating, had to stop smoking. He can’t go out to do what he loves (mowing the lawn, fixing odds and ends, driving). I know he feels like he’s lost out on so much, even if I tell him it’s temporary.
I’m glad both of you have found peace, and really that’s all that counts.
Thanks for reading. Yes, I understand your situation with your father. Not being able to smoke must be so hard for him, never mind everything else. Hugs.
One can never really know the intense feelings one is suffering with the moment they decide to take their own life. Everyone has their breaking point, as hard as it is to accept. I am so deeply sorry for the loss of your mom, Sue. But I am happy to know she’s found some peace on the other side.
This is a really moving and thought provoking post. I’m sorry for the loss of your mother at least on this plane, but glad she has found some peace now. I believe that suicide is part of our free will and whatever happens we’re not ‘punished’ for it. As said in another comment, we all have our breaking points and your mother clearly reached hers in context with her mental health difficulties. I’m glad you have reached your own peace with this situation and made contact with her. Blessings.
Thanks for reading and for your comment.
This was a beautifully written and very thought-provoking post. I felt profound sorrow while reading it – for her and for you. That your Mom had lost her will to go on … but also understanding that in choosing her own exit she still had one thing left she could control. Who wouldn’t want that? I get it now.
My Mom is experiencing slow losses of independence and she is alternating between acceptance and anger; you’ve given me some important points to think about and I thank you for that.
Thanks MJ. One thing I got from my first contact with Mom’s spirit, was that in order to justify her act of committing suicide, she felt like she was freeing us of the burden of taking care of her. Of course, I never looked at it as a burden. And she would never have any of the difficult conversations with us. That’s what sometimes makes me sad- that she couldn’t go there and have tough conversations… ever.
This post made me think, deeply, Susan. My father has committed suicide when I was 11, leaving my mother and my little brother into myriad of problems. I hated him till some time before. But came to a logical understanding that it is his life and he is the master for it. Make it or break it. All the relations seems like strings hanging to your apparel. When the true wish of leaving the earth comes into mind, nothing can stop them.
Now, I had erase all those hatred for him and relish those brief sweet memories he has spent with me.
Pavan, my heart breaks for you, to lose your father so young. He must have been in a lot of pain and feeling he had no other option. I can’t even imagine how it was for you. I am so happy to hear you have been able to move past the anger and can cherish the sweet memories.
Thanks and good to know you, Susan. 🙂
Thanks for sharing this Susan, its beautifully written and really compelling. You often hear people say that suicide is cowardly but I disagree – you can never really understand what is going through a persons mind at this point in their lives, and I strongly believe, who are we to judge?
Thank you for reading and for your thoughts. Yes, we can never truly put ourselves into another person’s shoes to know what goes on in their head.
I am not too religious so none of my feelings/opinions are rooted in what God would want me to do or think. I too, understand why your Mom made that choice and I am glad that you found peace with it.
Thanks for coming by and joining in. What was the most challenging for me to wrap my head around, was the dementia. It was subtle, and new, and I believe, made the difference between Mom possibly being able to cope with change, and not.
Tough post, Susan, but I really appreciate how you’ve gotten to this perspective, and why you feel the way you do… having followed along for quite a while now. I really have a hard time understanding suicide, in a bigger sense, but really respect why your mother felt as she did, and your ability to accept it.
Thanks Dawn. Of course from time to time I still do the “if only.” If only Mom’s head hadn’t been so scrambled. If only I’d been able to talk some reason into her. Of course, those things weren’t to be.
I think that if I hadn’t experienced Mom, myself (in hypnosis), as such a strong and vibrant spirit, I wouldn’t have been so quick to come to where I am now. Being able to feel her, sense her, and to really know that she’s doing awesome now, makes a big difference for me.
If you ever want to connect with your mother, I know a very talented and compassionate woman in your town who does this sort of thing, and more, for a living. I have taken 5 of her classes, attended a handful of workshops, and I’ve used her (and her students) services for readings and healings.
Thanks. I may consider that sometime along the way. I’ll check in with you, if/when I feel ready. 🙂