10 Things I've Learned in the 1000 Days Since My Son Died by Suicide


Editor’s note: If you have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

My son Tom died by suicide one thousand days ago. The day seems like a milestone worthy of insight, so I have complied the most important things I have learned in these most difficult of days.

1. Tom’s death was not my fault.

His depression and anxiety were what killed him. For the most part, I have learned to redirect my self-blame to his disorders, but there are also times I still feel as though I failed him.

2. His absence is not less palpable.

I still feel it every single day. But I have also learned to function in his absence.

3. I still see his death scene.

But it is more episodic now, like something I can almost turn on and off. Except when I can’t. But I also have learned I do not need to remember it to remember him. Picturing our happy times together is far more enjoyable and constructive.

4. Finding an outlet for my grief has been a huge part of my healing process.

Writing and engaging in dialogue about our experience has allowed me a way to keep talking about Tom in a productive way.

5. Prevention therapy has been a key part of my healing.

Consoling those with similar recent losses, working to reduce the stigma around mental illness and instructing others about the steps to take if they are concerned about someone they love gives purpose to my life.

6. Counseling, to work through both my grief and PTSD, has been paramount in my moving forward.

Learning grounding skills makes it easier to work through the worst moments.

7. Counseling with my husband likely saved our marriage.

It’s helped us understand each other’s grief journey and likely saved our marriage after our life-changing loss. Knowing that we grieve differently and how we can best support each other during our lows has strengthened our relationship.

8. Choosing to recognize Tom’s presence rather than his absence brings joy to moments which might otherwise tear me apart.

Hearing certain songs, seeing yellow sunsets, hearing groan-worthy puns all remind me of Tom’s special place in our world.

9. Our family is supported.

Friends, neighbors, co-workers and family surrounded us with love and lifted us up in prayers and support. Each has played a significant role in our ability to talk freely about Tom and therefore, grieve openly. This emotional allowance has assisted in our healing process.

10. I have learned to be comfortable in my grief while at the same time knowing I will never be the same.

Tom’s death broke me, but through these thousand days, I have been reborn into someone new, someone with a mission, someone who feels things deeper, and someone with eyes to see further into those who are hurting. Tom’s legacy is making me a better person, willing to serve others in a new way in hopes of changing our world a little at a time.

I know there will come a time Tom will have been absent more from my life than he was present, but I cannot begin to understand how that will feel. I vow continue to face each day as best I can, honoring his presence while mourning his absence.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo via contributor


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Suicide

Young sad woman with split personality worrying about her condition

What I Realize One Year After My Suicide Attempt

Editor’s note: If you struggle with self-harm or suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here. One year ago, I didn’t like my sick self. I was a mix of [...]
Chester Bennington

The Real Reason People Are Furious Chester Bennington's Full Autopsy Was Released

Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Sarah Schuster, The Mighty’s mental health editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway. Editor’s note: This piece mentions suicide means. If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost [...]
hannah baker

The Problem With Naming Hannah Baker a 'Top 10' Fictional Character of 2017

Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Juliette Virzi, The Mighty’s Associate Mental Health Editor, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway.  On Tuesday, TIME Magazine released its annual top 10 list of fictional characters. Among characters like [...]
Sad crying daughter hugging her mother with sad face on dark shadows background

To the Suicidal Mama Fighting to Stay Alive for Her Kids

Fellow Mama, I see you lying there in bed, trying to will yourself to get up. I know some part of you might wish you hadn’t woken up this morning – that you could fade away into nothingness because it seems a hell of a lot better than dealing with the demons you fight off [...]