Brady and I heard about the memorial tree-lighting and candlelight vigil for suicide survivors from a post on FB. As we drove to the church where the vigil was held, I could feel the heaviness in my stomach. Physical responses to stress and grief are common these days. We didn’t say much in the car. Maybe it was too soon. As we sat in the parish, I looked around the room. Everyone had experienced losing a loved one to suicide. I listened as one by one candles were lit, and people said the name of their loved one followed by the relationship. “I light this candle in memory of ___________ my__________.” It was our turn. I thought the words in my mind, but I could not say them out loud. Brady did the same. We just sat there-frozen. We were the only ones who did not speak. Why couldn’t we say anything? I listened to each person. Why weren’t any of the victims daughters? Were we seriously the only one whose daughter died from suicide? Out of the nearly 70 people, one family mentioned a daughter. I felt defeated, and a failure as a parent. Statistically, girls die by suicide at a much lower rate than boys. In fact, boys are almost 3.5 times likely to die by suicide. This statistic was glaringly evident as we sat and heard people say dad, son, uncle, boyfriend, fiancé, and grandpa. It cut me to the core. I HATE that we are a statistic, but even more so that we are THIS statistic.
I am sure every parent who loses a child in a tragic way, asks themselves if they did all they could to prevent their child’s death. As I saw the faces of those left behind, I saw that we are all the “left-behinds”. The ones who must keep living to honor those we’ve lost.
We were the first ones out the door after the vigil. We were suffocating. I got into the car and wept.