Question: Dear Luise: My son committed suicide. I’m not coping, as my surviving son is blaming me. I don’t know why. I have been divorced for years and he never wanted to know his dad until this happened. His dad never bothered with them but now he is with his dad all the time and says he hates me and will never do anything for me. He says I have never done anything for them or myself. Why is he doing this? We were all close before this happened. I am so down…I want to die with my surviving son blaming me and so angry. He is with his dad all the time. I am dirt in his eyes. Does he not think I am grieving? I am so heart broken and don’t want to be in this life anymore. He wouldn’t miss me if I were gone. He (my surviving son) is 23 and I am so lost. Please help me in any way you can. D.
Answer: Dear D. There is no way to make any sense out of how your surviving son is acting because he is processing his grief at your expense. That’s the way he is getting through this terrible time. He has to find someone to blame and so he is blaming you.
It may comfort you to know that his behavior may be evidence that he cared deeply for his brother and you and the life you all had together. We have to guess what is going on with him now but it probably has to do with the fact that he can’t accept that his brother is gone and that life, as he knew it, is over. Aligning with another parent and moving away may be what he feels he has to do to survive.
It is important that you know that what is under all of it is grief that has been converted to anger…and guilt that has been converted to blame. (Everyone surrounding a suicide is subject to guilt.) His dad may not understand any of that. He, too, is struggling with this on some level. For you to try to figure it out or restore balance is probably impossible. Your son is gone. It can’t be fixed. It would be so much wiser to band together and support each other through it but that is not how it is playing out.
Because of the way your surviving son is coping (and not coping) you have essentially lost both sons; at least for now. This doubles your suffering. You need to see what kind of help you can get for yourself. Don’t try to do this alone or on the web. You need long-term, one-on-one help to get through this horror. I don’t know where you live or what kind of resources you have but you need grief counseling and support. Talk to your doctor or your priest or someone who will know how to direct you. Blessings, Luise