From grief to grat­i­tude af­ter sui­cide

So­raya lost her only brother, and then three years later, her son Prem, to sui­cide.

Living Now - - Contents - by So­raya Saraswati

So­raya lost her only brother, and then three years later, her son Prem, to sui­cide, both strangely on 10th Septem­ber. So­raya was un­aware at the time of World Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Day. How­ever this date is now etched in her mind. So­raya has just pub­lished her me­moir, Shin­ing Through from Grief to Grat­i­tude, and this ar­ti­cle is based on her book.

We’ll never get to talk or laugh again. These are our last pre­cious mo­ments to­gether as mother and son.”

It’s the 13th day of Septem­ber, 2009, 16 days be­fore Prem’s 18th birth­day, and I’m wait­ing for his soul to fly to the light. It has been three days now. The doc­tors tell me Prem has no brain func­tion, and his life sup­port has been turned off.

I look out the win­dow for a mo­ment. The sky is fad­ing and the glory of the day has be­come a mud­died or­ange smudge on the hori­zon. It feels like the colours of our hap­pier times have been smudged and soiled by this unimag­in­able end­ing. My son isn’t a lit­tle boy any more. He’s a hand­some, per­fect man. Could this re­ally be the end? Can this re­ally be hap­pen­ing to us? It all seems like a ter­ri­ble dream. I look out the win­dow again at­tempt­ing to ground my­self. Yes, the un­think­able re­ally is hap­pen­ing and I am ex­actly where I need to be, with my son. I take a deep breath to pull my­self fully into the room, and I is­sue a silent prayer to the Di­vine. “Oh, God, please help me to be strong. Bless Prem. Bless my boy and help him to find peace.”

My brain is split­ting with the pain of my in­ner re­sis­tance. My throat is hoarse and tight and my heart is break­ing, but I need to talk to my boy. Through my tears I whis­per, “Dar­ling, it is okay. You can go to the light when­ever you’re ready. I love you and I am here for you. I will al­ways love you. I’m so sorry. Please for­give me, my dar­ling. I should have been there for you that night.”

I scrawl words on bits of re­cy­cled pa­per sup­plied by the kind nurse. Writ­ing has al­ways helped me ex­press my

feel­ings. It lets me write the words I can’t say out loud; words that need a voice but get stuck in my heart and throat. In a choked, muf­fled voice I make Prem a fer­vent prom­ise, “I will share your story, my dar­ling. You will never be for­got­ten. I will love you for­ever. Your life mat­ters, my dar­ling, and you will make a dif­fer­ence.”

The sky is now deep­en­ing into a rich blue-black. The town lights have be­gun to sparkle. Night is steal­ing in. It will be the long­est, dark­est night of my life. As I stare out the win­dow, the prom­ise of our life to­gether slips away. The world seems sud­denly cruel. It moves on like a ma­chine, un­car­ing and ig­no­rant of our pain. I mas­sage Prem’s beau­ti­ful body with scented oils, feel­ing him grow colder as his life ebbs away. Ever since they were ba­bies, Prem and his brothers have al­ways en­joyed re­ceiv­ing a mas­sage. We were all so deeply bonded. Sadly, for the last cou­ple of years, Prem has been too dis­tant for me to touch. It’s a pre­cious gift to be close with him now, giv­ing me one last chance to touch his per­fect body, al­beit too late.

I write, I cry, I talk to my son. I run my fin­gers through his curly hair. As if in a dream, I stare blankly out at the dark night.

AS ANY MOTHER of teenagers knows, when pu­berty creeps into our chil­dren’s lives, they may be­gin to break away, be­come moody and of­ten re­ject or chal­lenge the parental love and au­thor­ity they once ac­cepted so freely. They be­gin to walk the chal­leng­ing plank be­tween child­hood and adult­hood, seek­ing their in­di­vid­ual iden­ti­ties in the big world.

Croc­o­diles in these treach­er­ous wa­ters take the guise of drugs, al­co­hol, sex and fash­ion. Sadly, our teens may sac­ri­fice their own morals and in­tu­ition in a bid for agree­ment with their cho­sen tribe or peer group. The des­per­ate need to be­long may sep­a­rate them emo­tion­ally from their fam­ily. Ex­tended

I look out the win­dow for a mo­ment. The sky is fad­ing and the glory of the day has be­come a mud­died or­ange smudge on the hori­zon.

fam­ily sup­port, in the form of el­ders, is of­ten far away or ab­sent. Sadly, one of my four sons did just this, mak­ing some very de­struc­tive choices that alien­ated him from us, his fam­ily who loved him so much. Then when he reached out for help we were let down by a flawed sys­tem.

As par­ents of teens who make poor choices we can find our­selves on a lonely is­land, lack­ing sup­port and un­der­stand­ing. Guilt and shame can creep in, tak­ing us to the low­est point on the emo­tional scale. This is where I found my­self as I sat by the bed­side of my 17-year-old son, grief-struck and im­mo­bilised by shock and pain at his sud­den un­ex­pected sui­cide. Noth­ing pre­pared me for the loss of my boy. My jour­ney from grief to grat­i­tude has been one of mind­ful ac­cep­tance, for­give­ness, lov­ing kind­ness to­wards my­self and in the re­leas­ing of any re­sis­tance to what IS NOW.

At first I was an­gry with the hos­pi­tal and the psy­chi­a­trist that pre­scribed the drug I felt tipped my son over the edge. An­gry that they did not take his vul­ner­a­bil­ity and sui­ci­dal ideation se­ri­ously. An­gry with my­self that I did not stay in the hos­pi­tal with my son that night. An­gry that Prem’s fa­ther had died when he was only five leav­ing me a widow and my boys fa­ther­less. I also re­alised I was blam­ing my­self for Prem’s death. The truth was I had done ev­ery­thing in my power to keep my son safe, but a sense of fail­ure was eat­ing me up. I re­alised this toxic anger and blame churn­ing my gut would de­vour me if I let it. I was in dan­ger of be­com­ing a hard, re­sent­ful, pow­er­less vic­tim un­less I could em­brace true for­give­ness.

For­give­ness felt too hard at first – so I be­gan with ac­cep­tance of the facts. From ac­cep­tance I be­gan to slowly al­low lov­ing kind­ness to­ward my­self, be­gin­ning with a morn­ing grat­i­tude prayer. At first, I was sim­ply grate­ful for my pil­low that ab­sorbed the river of my tears and sobs each night when the ter­ror of my boy’s dy­ing face haunted me most. I was grate­ful I lived in the for­est, away from peo­ple, for it was the sound of the bird­song in the morn­ings that called me back to life. I was grate­ful for the flow­ers in the gar­den that con­tin­ued to smile at me and for my lov­ing hus­band, Prem’s step­dad, who had my back. I let him love me and take care of me when I felt weak with sad­ness.

I was grate­ful for my train­ing and ground­ing in yoga and mind­ful­ness, and fo­cused on the sim­ple things to ground me in my body; my morn­ing yoga pos­tures, the cool wa­ter on my skin in the shower, the sun and wind on my face. I forced my­self to go for long walks and ride my bi­cy­cle up hills in an ef­fort to get my happy hor­mones ac­ti­vated. Af­ter all, I had three other beau­ti­ful sons for whom I was deeply grate­ful.

There were many pow­er­ful and of­ten over­whelm­ing emo­tions in those first months of be­reave­ment that I could not ar­tic­u­late. So I would write, of­ten with tears wet­ting the page, but they needed ex­pres­sion. It was these jour­nals that would even­tu­ally be pub­lished as a book, a legacy for my fam­ily, one in which my son Prem would al­ways be re­mem­bered with love – the book I promised my dy­ing son I would write.

Prem is gone now and, al­though we still miss him and it hurts that he had to leave us so young, I feel stronger and more de­ter­mined than ever to make every mo­ment count. I live with grat­i­tude for the time we did have to­gether and for the per­son I have be­come.

Sui­cide rates are ris­ing, with eight peo­ple tak­ing their life every day in Aus­tralia. This is dou­ble the road toll but it gets lit­tle at­ten­tion. It is a sub­ject that needs our at­ten­tion. Sui­cide is not a dirty word – it is a tragedy. With hope we can leap off the cliff of de­spair, find our wings to fly again, and re­mem­ber that life is a bless­ing. n

For­give­ness felt too hard at first – so I be­gan with ac­cep­tance of the facts. From ac­cep­tance I be­gan to slowly al­low lov­ing kind­ness to­ward my­self, be­gin­ning with a morn­ing grat­i­tude prayer.

So­raya Saraswati is the au­thor of ‘Shin­ing Through from Grief to Grat­i­tude’. She is an ap­plied mind­ful­ness and med­i­ta­tion teacher, natur­opath and a ‘Lived Ex­pe­ri­ence Speaker’ for Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion. So­raya also per­forms mu­sic and songs for peace with com­poser and mu­si­cian hus­band, Terry Old­field, in Aus­tralia and Europe.

Prem re­mained in a coma af­ter be­ing re­vived from a sui­cide at­tempt in an Aus­tralian hos­pi­tal af­ter vol­un­tary ad­mis­sion for se­vere anx­i­ety. Af­ter three days on life sup­port in ICU, and many tests, it was sug­gested his sup­port be switched off due to...

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.