Sunday, February 17, 2013

Vanessa, Mother of Sean, Shares Her Story

Photo by Jean Ann Williams

I have as my guest Vanessa, mother of Sean. Sean died by suicide on April 26, 2006.

Vanessa, thank you for your willingness to speak about your loss. I especially like the quote below your e-mail signature, "Remember Laughter". You mentioned to me in your e-mail, that we mothers who’ve lost children are eager to talk about them. This is so true.

I have a few questions for Vanessa, and she has some answers she hopes may help other mothers of suicide.

Vanessa, tell us a little about Sean. What was he like as a young child?

Sean was very shy as a little boy. He was happiest playing with his toys and his big brother at home. 

What was Sean like as a teenager?

In his teen years, he was a risk taker, engaging in individual sports rather than team sports. He excelled at Rollerblading, surfing and skateboarding. 

Sean never enjoyed school and struggled through barely. He was artistic and musical; playing guitar and he also built a guitar at the age of 16. He also sculpted a 3D guitar out of construction paper that we have in a shadow box. It was in art exhibits all through SC.

Sean had many interests and was indeed a talented artist. Would you share a little about when he started to have difficulties?

Sean suffered with depression at the age of 20 and took his life at 21. He lived at home with us at the time of his death. We had taken him to counseling, Psychiatrists, and he admitted himself at a Psych Unit of a major hospital in the state. Sean wanted to feel better but his impatience was one of his biggest challenges in life. 

This is heartbreaking, Vanessa. Do you sometimes feel isolated from those around you, because of the death of your son?

I used to in the beginning of this journey but now I don’t anymore. I have educated those around me about suicide prevention, awareness and mental health issues. 

How would you like people to respond to you when they find out Sean died by suicide?

I would like people to give me a hug and tell me you care.

What have you done to help yourself since the death of Sean?

I have been to counselors, and my minister has given my husband and me spiritual guidance that we desperately needed. He has been there every step of the way for us. I Chair our local Out of the Darkness Walk and currently serve as the AFSP-SC Chapter Board Chair. It helps me to help others, and serving on this Board will hopefully make a difference in many lives. 

You sound aware of your grief journey and have made wise choices. God does indeed send the right people to help us through our grief journey. I am grateful that God has helped me, also, Vanessa. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers that may help them in their grief journey? Or something they could say or do to help a friend who has lost a child to suicide?

Grieving has no time frame. It is important to take care of yourself and take it one day at a time. Please don’t compare your grief to someone else’s. Each of our children were unique, our relationships were unique and so our journeys are also unique. Something I appreciated when I lost Sean was when a friend walked with me and listened to me talk about Sean. Let your friend cry if they want to. They need support from friends and family. Be there for them.

Your words are wise, Vanessa. Thank you for being transparent about your loss of your son Sean. I'm sure what you’ve shared today will help others who've lost children to suicide or knows someone who has.

One more thing from Vanessa: The Bible verse that meant the most to me during this journey is this one. "If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there your hand will lead me. And your right hand will lay hold of me." Psalm 139: 9, 10

God bless you, Vanessa, and thank you.

Until next time, dear readers . . . be brave and help someone in need.

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