A Garden of Delights

Family Stories

Posted on: September 10, 2013

A little family story…

World Suicide Day: Preventing Tragic Loss (reblog, but original post removed from the now defunct site: CommuniCATE)

I grew up in a household where suicide was always felt (my great-grandfather had killed himself… it may sound like that should have been distant, but our family was a very extended one with me living with parents, grandparents and my great-grandmother in the same house). In that house, there was a room no one was supposed to go in, the room he shot himself in. The blood hadn’t even been cleaned after his body was removed and buried. They just closed the door and on rare occasions, someone would shove a box of “stuff” to stack in the room through the door… when the door could be reached. Usually stuff was piled in front of it.

The outside door to that room (it was the original kitchen to the house, and yes, after he died, they just made a second kitchen) overgrew with ivies, the small awning was allowed to just fall off the house, pulling some of the clapboard with it. The window broke and the barn cats would go and nest in there.

I used to want to know why that room was closed up so much. No one talked about it. If I tried to peek a look, either I risked poison ivy itches (not so bad for me, since as a kid I never caught the rash, but horrid for my uncle and grand-father since they could catch it from being around me) or being hollered at…. And the brief peeks I did catch never made much sense. What was so special about a dirty old kitchen filled with boxes and the corpses of mice and birds?

It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that I’d pieced all the hints together. By then I’d been hospitalized for suicide attempts myself, my uncle had been living on antidepressants, my grand-father had been slowly recovering from alcoholism, …

Suicide does change things.

And for those wondering…   a picture of the house in question.  Of the door, even:

11899357336_3b6c2f6449_m

The Old Farm

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10 Responses to "Family Stories"

Eden, thank you for the reblog and thank you for your precious honesty. Of all the stories I have heard this week which have made me want to cry, what you’ve written here is the rawest of them all. My heart truly hurts for you and your family. I’m very glad you’re still with us.

Cate, I’m sorry for not replying to this sooner. I couldn’t… While I knew I had to reblog your post, and I knew that I couldn’t simply “reblog” without a sense of why it mattered to me, it took a bit out of me to write that so publicly. I mean, it’s not the big secret it was when I growing up, but I was raised very much with a “that’s nobody’s business but family” attitude about most things that happened in our household.

And thank you. Yes, I am pretty much glad I’m here still too. There are still those days, as you probably know too well, when things just are … are so wrong. I have an amazing husband and wonderful son, and… I muddle through, and eventually the pit does find a bottom and I force myself to climb back up because of them.

Eden, don’t apologise, I understand. I’m proud of you for speaking up, even though doing so is traumatic. Suicide can be seen as a source of family shame. It’s a topic that has to be bought out into the open so people can get help. You’re doing your part in that and it’s a gift that you have done so.

Yes, suicide changes things, a lot. My cousin comitted suicide and I don’t think his parents have ever recovered from it.

I’m sure they haven’t, John. Not fully. They probably have gotten to a point where they don’t think about “why” so much. They may have come to the realization that they “aren’t to blame”… But they still think about him and what might have been. They still wonder about those days when they wish they could have a few more minutes to talk with him…

They still have pictures and memories that they don’t want to lose, yet really don’t want to look at….

I’m sorry for them.

[…] For anyone interested in astory that door can tell…  please read this post:  Family Stories […]

Thank you for being able to write this, Eden, and I will join Cate in being thankful you are still here. Just closing the door on the room–the power of that denial is stunning. I was 13 when I attempted suicide, and my parents refuse to believe that I meant to do it. After a while, it becomes mere cruelty to keep pushing on the topic.

I still have those days, too, but family does help. {hugs}

Thirteen… >hugs< I get it. I really do.

Denial is a very powerful weapon, possibly the most powerful weapon people use on each other. Yesterday, after our visit with my mom's family, I found out that m uncle didn't know he'd once had an uncle, or that the man he'd known as grandpa had been Noni's second husband, etc. Things I'd only known because I'd been precocious and has snuck in my grandmother's room when I wasn't supposed to and she caught me looking at an old picture…

I'm glad you're still here too, btw. Though it wasn't bravery on my part to write this. If she hadn't made her post, I'd never have been able to reach that point to let go.

[…] I tried a different tactic.  I tried flash fiction pieces, I tried not-quite-personal posts that dealt with an instance of my life, but didn’t deal with me too closely …  I wrote […]

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