Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Barbara Swanston Talks a Bit About Her Son Terry

Photo by Jean Ann Williams

I have as my returning guest Barbara Swanston, mother of Terry. Terry died by suicide on August 21, 2010.

You may view Terry’s memorial site:

Barbara, thank you for being willing to speak about your loss of Terry.

Thank you, Jean. Let me start by saying although I wish neither of us had reason to be speaking on the subject of suicide, I am honoured to be here to speak about my son, Terry and my experience before and after his loss. Sharing is one of the most powerful ways we can help ourselves and each other in our grief journey.

I have a few questions for Barbara, and she hopes her answers may help other parents of suicide and those who want to help. Tell us a little about Terry. What was he like as a young child?

Terry was a beautiful boy with golden curls, a huge smile and the biggest shining blue eyes. He was funny and bright, sweet and mischievous. He was very outgoing and curious. He also was very sensitive, he had ADHD, and he struggled socially. Adults really loved him but he had a hard time fitting in with other kids.

What was he like as a teenager?

As he entered his teens Terry began to be troubled. He struggled in school and socially. He decided early on it was better to give up rather than try and maybe fail. I think he began to have bouts of depression, although we didn’t recognize them for several years. 

He began to use marijuana to self medicate his ADHD and ease his emotional pain. He was such a kind person. When he was 16 one of his best friends got brain cancer. It was terrible and he stuck by her through all her treatment when many others did not. She survived and they were friends for the rest of his life. 

Do you sometimes feel isolated from those around you, because of the death of your son?

I did feel isolated in the beginning, but I think that was as much about my own emotional fog and shock as people withdrawing. People are at a loss about what to do or say so they often say or do nothing. 

It took time for my friends and family and for me to begin to come terms with Terry’s tragic death and begin to learn how best to deal with it. 

I have tended to surround myself with people who are compassionate and supportive, and I began to ask for what I needed – please call me, please just listen, please let me talk about Terry. 

Most people have been wonderfully kind. I know this is not everyone’s experience. There were a few people who withdrew and a few people I knew I could not keep in my life after Terry died. Those losses were difficult, but it was better not to keep people around who were not supportive. 

Please stop by tomorrow and read more about Barbara and what helps her on this journey of loss. 

Lord, we praise You for the courage Barbara shows as she grieves the loss of a beautiful son. In Jesus' holy name, I pray. Amen. 

Until tomorrow . . . reach out to someone who is lonely. 

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