Suicide loss: ‘This year, I’ll set one less place at the Christmas dinner table’
Christmas is one of the times of the year that magnifies sadness as well as happiness. On the first Christmas since the loss of her son to suicide, one mother wrote to the 'Ryan Tubridy Show' about her experience and her words were so powerful, we wanted to share them again.
I’ve set the table for the Christmas dinner many times over the past 24 years, extending it as our family got bigger — bringing in extra chairs and another table. It was always a bit squashed but great fun because everyone was around the table with paper hats, bad jokes from the crackers and plenty of laughter.
But this year will be different.
It won’t matter if there are new table clothes or matching serviettes or fancy glasses. This year will be the first year that I have set the Christmas table since I lost my son to suicide. This year I will set one less place at the Christmas dinner table.
Absolute and utter devastation
If you are in a dark place and you don’t know where to turn, if you consider suicide as a way out, I beg you, to take a step in another direction. Please do not take that step from which there is no return.
Do not let this temporary darkness blind your hope for the future. There is no situation that cannot be resolved with help. There are people you can talk to and people who can help; your family, your teacher, your colleague, your friend, your doctor, a counsellor at the end of the phone. Please talk to someone. However upsetting it will be to do this, the pain and sadness caused by suicide are immeasurable.
However bad your situation is right now, there will be a brighter day ahead and you can be so much stronger than you think.
Suicide is so raw and brutal and final. You are worthwhile; you are a very precious person to someone, your life is worth living, you have so much ahead of you. If you die by suicide, you leave behind so many people who will live with the horror, the pain, and the absolute and utter devastation that suicide brings for the rest of their lives.
There will be a mother or father, a brother or sister, a husband or wife, son or daughter, grandparent, aunt or uncle, cousin, a close friend, who will forever wonder what they could have done to help you. You will take a piece of them with you and their lives will never be the same again.
Searching in vain
If you feel so worthless or angry or confused that you would consider suicide, then I ask you to think of just one person that you are connected to that may never recover from your death, who may never find a way to live with the loss, who may never find a way to live without you.
To the parents who gather with their families around the table on Christmas day. Do not worry about the old red wine stain on the tablecloth, or the spot of candle grease that you forgot to remove from last year, or the children who won’t eat dinner because they ate too much chocolate.
Just be very thankful for those you have around you, and maybe send a silent wish or quiet prayer for strength for the parent who will stand at their child’s grave on Christmas Day — the same parent, like me, that will return to their house, sit down to dinner and search in vain for the face of their child around the Christmas table, a face that they will never see again.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact Samaritans on 116123 at any time of day or night. If you have been bereaved by suicide, Pieta House offers free counselling at freephone 1800 247 247 or text HELP to 51444. Originally published in December 2018