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When People Avoid Saying My Son's Name After I Lost Him to Suicide

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There is a lot of power in the spoken word, in the sound of a name, and in the memories they invoke. The name Harry can mean anything: a prince, a wizard, a pop star, my friends’ dog, the name engraved on my son’s headstone. Harry; it’s just a name, a
handy way of gaining someone’s attention. Haz, Hazza, Harrykins, Harry… All just words.

So why does it sometimes become difficult for that word to be uttered into the endless space created after the death of one Harry? Why can the name drop like a rock and conversation become stymied, with furtive glances and uncomfortable squirming? Harry.

I have to acknowledge how very blessed I am to be surrounded by family and friends who love and support me, and let me pull the Harry word whenever I need to. Not everybody has this in the aftermath of suicide. Often, I’ve found, the bereaved are encouraged to move forward, to forget about all of that pain, to focus on themselves, and not to involve those who are nearest and dearest in the pain that name invokes.

I have been told people sometimes choose not use the “H word” in a misguided attempt to save me from further pain. They don’t want to use the word, because they believe that will remind me of who Harry was (is) to me, which in turn will cause me pain. I wish I could make them see the pain is already there, will always be there — because my boy died in my arms three years ago. He’s gone; I have to accept that, to believe it, to convince myself it really happened, so I can just keep plodding forwards. Because Harry died, and I continued to live.

So use the name, then. Say the word. Bless the brokenhearted with an unguarded memory. I am a grief-stricken mother; that does not change. I will always love my boy; that doesn’t change either. Use the name; it isn’t spoken often enough. I lost my son; don’t try to take away the memories I cherish of him as well. Help me to water those, to let the wonderfulness that is encapsulated in the word “Harry” bloom all around me. Remind me that love never dies, that the silence that compresses in on me sometimes can be banished in a single breath: Harry.

Image via Contributor.

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

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

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Originally published: January 4, 2017
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