Last night my children and I had therapy again. There was a new person who joined the group and her reason for being there was suicide. There are now actually four of us in group as a result of suicide. Only one mother’s children know the truth.
I brought up my biggest fear and concern to the group. My children don’t really know how their father died. I have had a conversation with them in my head a million times. I start by saying how daddy suffered from depression but when I try to make the transition to what he actually did to himself, my heart starts pounding and I can’t continue. This is really why I haven’t told them yet. I just couldn’t find the words.
We went around the room and many people also said they were afraid to tell their children, because they didn’t want them to think it was their fault. Or add any more fears to the already growing list young children are afraid of after a death. The therapist gave us her opinion. She said that children can handle almost any news we tell them better than we give them credit for.
I said that I felt like maybe I missed my chance in telling the truth as they have never really asked me specifics about how their daddy died. They accepted when I told them daddy had a boo boo in his brain and have mostly focused on the fact that he is just not here anymore. The therapist said I did not miss the boat- in fact them being in therapy is the perfect time to tell them. Once they know what happened, they can talk about it here with the therapists in a safe and comfortable place.
Maybe it is that the year is coming up. Maybe it is the fear and anxiety of them not knowing that has weighed on me so intensely these past few months. Maybe it is the acupuncture I got on Monday. The woman stuck me with a ton of needles to alleviate stress, anxiety and grief. Maybe it was just time for me to find the words.
Tonight at dinner I sat across the table from my two babies and asked them if they had any questions about how daddy died. They both sort of shook their heads. I said to them, there are things I want you to know about how daddy died. I want you to hear them from me and not anyone else. My son started to cry and my daughter looked at me angrily and said – stop saying the words daddy died – you know this makes him cry! My son nodded his head and said, maybe you could say “passed away” instead. I almost went hysterical then. They are so smart and so wonderful to each other and here I am about to drop a bomb in their laps.
I took a deep breath and this is what I said: Daddy had a boo boo in his brain and this boo boo is called depression. When daddy looked out into the world he only saw darkness. He didn’t see anything good in his life. I pointed to them and said he didn’t see you two, he didn’t see me, he didn’t see anything at all. He just saw black. When daddy felt this happen to him he decided that he had to die. He couldn’t live just seeing darkness. He took his car into our friend’s garage and he breathed the poisonous fumes and in a minute he died. This is called suicide.
My son looked at me and asked – daddy did this? I said yes. He asked why the fumes were poisonous. I said when you are in a small space without any air you cough and it makes you close your eyes and then you die. He said daddy coughed for a minute like this – and then he started coughing for a long time. I got up in the middle of his mimicking, opened a beer from the fridge, sat back down at the table gulping and gulping and trying to keep myself in check.
I told them that I called the ambulance but it was too late to help daddy. He knew what he did and is in a much better place. They just sat there looking at me. So then I told them I have two more very important things to say. One is that even though daddy only saw darkness he loved you both more than anything else in the entire world. The other really important thing is that I love you more than anything else in the entire world and I am always here for you.
They didn’t ask any more questions. Nobody cried. I sat at the table starring at them in wonder. How did they handle this news so well and how did it take me eleven months to tell them? I feel horrible right now, but really relieved. Horrible that I told my children the terrible secret that I have been holding inside for so long; but relieved that I finally said the truth. Relieved that I don’t have to worry anymore about them hearing the truth from someone other than me.
Now I must go as I am so not done drinking beer tonight. As well, October is only a day away and more firsts and fears await me.