Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Suicide is not "Painless" as the song says . . .

My thoughts were to come here today to tell you all about my Texas trip to be with my family—the first Thanksgiving I’ve had with them since I was a teenager.

I wanted to tell you all about how I spent a morning hand grinding the corn my uncles grew on their Arkansas farm and how mom and I made cornbread out of it for the dressing – and how we used mom’s home-grown herbs to help season it.

How I actually really did UnPlug for the entire trip—about ten days—and it was wonderful, even though I am so behind now in emails and comments and blogs and facebooks and twitters; however, it was worth it to spend all this time with family. I’ll do this more often but for shorter spurts.

I wanted I tell you about the thousands of grackles I saw while my brother and I were out and about--all over the trees, carpeting a field--thousands! I wanted to talk about the cooking. The laughing. The land of Texas. Family.

And I was going to keep the tragic to myself and not share it with all of you.

But I find I can’t write about all those things above without writing about the tragic. The way will not open up clearly for me to do this. So I suppose I must clear the way by telling you about it.

Many of you know that I have biological family in West Virginia. I didn’t grow up with my biological mother, but instead was adopted by my stepmother—who became my mother, my mom—With her and my biological dad, I grew up with four brothers--we lost our David to a heart attack in 1994, and my three remaining brothers and I have grown even closer.

But, in West Virginia, I had a half-sister and a half-brother for whom I didn’t know well--they were doing their growing up with my biological mother and her husband--we have the same mother but different fathers. Whole other lives I didn't know much about.

Kim is my half sister. Steve is my half-brother and I remember him as a freckled-faced dark-haired sweet boy that I saw a few times when I was a teenager. Steve grew into a man without me having seen him for many years. Then, a few years ago, I visited West Virginia and we re-connected. We talked, laughed, compared our similar ways that we couldn’t believe were similar since we hadn’t grown up together. He once pointed to me and said, “OMG! I didn’t know anyone else did that but me . . .” and I could tell he needed the tie to this person, this big sister he never was able to know very well.

Just a day after I arrived in Texas, I received a call. Dear Steve had shot himself. Gone. He’s forever gone from the earth. A moment’s decision and he’s left behind a wife and child and all the others who loved him. I can’t quite fathom it. Can’t quite wrap my brain around it to take it in to believe it.
Suicide is not painless as the song says. It leaves behind in its terrible claws confusion and heartache and questions and wonderings. Bewilderment.

His memorial was this past Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. There is no more freckled-faced dark-haired boy. There is no more Big Man he grew into. There is no more half-brother. There is no more father, son, husband. There is no more Steve.

Now, it is said and done. Much as I didn't want to write or talk about it, I guess I needed to just say/write it so that the reality will set in.

I will be back later and I know I will talk about regular old things. Because that’s how life is. Turning Turning Turning goes the world. I don’t know why some have the need to jump off the turning world before their time, but I do not judge them.

Kiss your loved ones and live your life and most of all stay with us to the end, please.



TC said...

Oh Kathryn I am SO sorry. I haven't had to deal with anything exactly like that so I can only imagine your pain, we did lose a 23 year old nephew to a senseless burst of speed on a gravel road and a curve 6 years ago, and I can remember the confusion, grief, and puzzlement following. It has not left.
All I can say is {{{{{{}}}}}}. It is good to talk about it.

demery bader-saye said...

Kathryn, this is such a heartache. I'm so sorry for you and for Steve and for his family - for everything that won't be again, at least here on earth. Peace and blessings be upon Steve and all of you.

Anita said...

I am so sorry for your loss. *hugs*

Moon Willow said...

I am so sorry for your loss!It is sad and heartbreaking! My BIL also took his own life at 25 yrs. of age. It really hurts to lose those you love this way,cause you think of what I could have,would have,should have done to prevent it,had we known he was feeling this way. In hind sight the signs were there,we just didn't know the inner pain he was suffering and HE didn't understand that his pain wasn't going to last forever.Situations change,people do too and life does get better. Depression can make people's perpectives so warped that they can't see any other way out.So very tragic and hard for those of us left behind to grieve and understand why.
It is good for you to write about your feelings. My thoughts and prayers are w/you and your family-especially his wife & child. Again,so sorry for your loss.(((BIG HUGS)))-Janet

Judith Alef said...

Dearest Kate, you've been moving 'round the wheel of life's probabilities these last months.I can but offer my sympathies and prayers for Steve's passing and for those left to mourn his life. Peter Seeger's song from the Book of Ecclesiastes "Turn, Turn, Turn" immediately comes to mind. I've sung it over the decades as a prayer and a mantra for relief and release. It comforts and slows the swirling thoughts. After a while create a celebration of his life and your connections.

Catherine West said...

No words are adequate enough at a time like this. Thank you for sharing your heart and allowing others to grieve with you. I will keep you and your family in prayer. Stay strong and keep writing, it may not make sense, but it will help to at least get the words down. Hugs to you. xo

Teresa said...

I'm so sorry, Kat; suicide leaves us with so much pain, and I'm sorry for Steve--that he hurt so terribly he could find no other way out. It's a horrible place to be when you are that sick and scared; I'm sorry he didn't find his way to help in time.

Let me know if there is anything I can do.

Jan O'Hara (Tartitude) said...

Oh, Kat, huge hugs. I'm so sorry. Hard enough to lose a loved one so young, but to something potentially preventable makes it all the more painful.

I'm glad you're not holding it in. A big part of the pain around suicide comes from the shame and stigma some allow themselves to feel. Good for you for not buying into that paradigm.

Please let me know if I can help.

Bonnie said...

It is tragic - for everyone left behind - and tragic that he could not find his way through his pain or problems in order to 'fight' another day, and another, and ...

Suicide pulls us off balance for a while ... especially as we try to understand ...

So sorry ...

Susan R. Mills said...

Oh, how tragic! I'm so sorry. I'll be thinking about you.

Marguerite said...

How devastating and sad for you and your entire family and his. I'm so sorry for your loss and am keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs, cher, Marguerite

Walker said...

I am sorry for your loss.
I have never really truly understood suicide.
The holy would say it was a sin.
The unholy couldn’t care less
Many call them cowards.
A few applaud their courage.
Loved ones suffer the loss while strangers wait for the garage sale.
I just hope what pain weighed that much on their souls is lifted and they find the peace they thought they would get by checking out.

Suldog said...

God bless, Kat. I had a step-sister who committed suicide. We were not truly close, but I know the pain that was left for my wonderful stepfather. Not in any way painless.

It does help to talk about it, and you know we'll all be glad to lend you the ears you need, if you need them.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. I knew a woman who committed suicide 20 years ago and it still haunts me. Suicide gives such a sense of the person's being ripped suddenly and painfully from our lives, and I don't know if the "survivors" ever get over it. I am also sorry for Steve that he could not find a way through the pain.

I have been considering suicide for several weeks now and your post has served as a reality check for me. It helps to remember that such a thing really does tear up all the friends and family left behind.

Thanks for writing about Steve here. Keep writing, here or elsewhere--writing helps so much, as I'm sure you know.

barbwhitti said...

I sit here reading with tears gathering in my eyes for Steve, for you and for all those he left - without saying good bye.
I don't understand suicide and those who choose it.
I can only say this is an epidemic we have to somehow stop.
Our family lost 14 year old Dustin last year, when his grandmother heard, she had a heart attack. His young sister still can't cope. His mother stays in bed a lot.
We have to be better at spotting problems with our loved ones and we have to all love each other better.
God bless you for sharing this. Only through sharing our burdens of suicide are they easier to bear.

Judy Roney said...

This breaks my heart, Kat. Such a tragedy. I'm so sorry for your loss. My son died by suicide ten years ago and I think I'm still in shock. Why is a word never answered. I hate to think of what Steve went through to get to that point. Hugs to you and all who loved and cared about Steve.

Diane said...

So sorry. It is one of the most selfish things a person can do. My Uncle killed himself a number of years ago and left his two young sons behind. Very sad.

Small Footprints said...

I'm so terribly sorry for your loss. Hold, in your heart, the good and positive about him ... the memories that make you smile. Because that is who is really was ... not the person who was gripped by an unforgiving illness.

You're in my thoughts!

Kerry said...

How terribly ironic that I wrote about a suicide 3 weeks ago, and wondered at that time how it must seem to an unsuspecting family, kind of like flying into glass, a danger that you can't see until it is too late. And today at work I learned about another suicide of a former student. So sad, so final, and nothing at all that you can change about it.

I am glad that you were able to re-connect a few years ago, and glad that you have those memories. Now you must write about the grackles, whose short lives are filled with noise and music.

Anonymous said...

I feel like such a goon with terrible timing. Disregard my note earlier. She has a birthday in February. maybe we can do something then. I am so sorry for you loss and pain. Kathleen

Angie Ledbetter said...

I'm sorry for the void that's left where a vibrant, living part of family and friends' whole fabric once was. But I am glad you had reconnected with Steve too. Love you.

Lori said...

((((Kat)))) I am so sorry. I know the pain of suicide far too well. I am thankful that you were able to reconnect with him before all of this. I am sorry that he was in so much pain that he could not see the pain he would cause so many in his efforts to relieve his. Yes suicide is selfish but those that do it are not in their right minds...otherwise they wouldn't do it. With tears I hug you and send positive loving, peaceful thoughts your way.

I am very thankful you had this time of Thanksgiving with your family...grinding corn for cornbread stuffing...very cool Kat! My dream is to have a grinder so that I can grind my own wheat and such for baking. XX

Jessica Nelson said...

I'm so sorry. Suicide always affects others. IT's a horrible thing. :-(
I'll be praying for peace for you and your family through this pain.

Titus said...

Kat, my heart and love to you. There is little one can say as it is so raw, and one's own thoughts veer between the finality, anger and the why?
You will be in my prayers, and I am so very sorry for your pain.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Thank you all for your comments - and i send you hugs for your own personal pains and losses.

To Anonymous, if you see this: please please say that you will call someone if you feel this way again - find that connection and hold onto it until the feeling passes.

Hugs to all.

Tipper said...

Kat-I'm so sorry. And I'm sorry for his family too.

Marisa Birns said...

Yes, the world does turn and turn, and sometimes it points us to lovely happy places, and other times to tragedy.

Suicide does leave behind pain and confusion, two sentiments that I believe also claws at the people who decide to leave the world, especially since hope seems to elude them.

So very sorry that the world turned you and yours to such a sad place.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Kat .. I can empathise .. having lost my father this way - it is an area of life that we struggle with - as there is no way back & now way of understanding the why. I wonder to this day .. and you will too - let alone his family .. gosh just when things seem to be coming together .. the world is split asunder .. I feel for you all .. with love, peace, blessings and a big hug from here in England .. look after yourself .. you're precious .. Hilary

Polly said...

Kat, my heart aches for you, for everyone who knew and loved Steve, as the passing of a loved one forever leaves a void that nothing can fill. I have lost a son, a grandson, my parents, but the thought of losing one to suicide is beyond my comprehension. I cannot begin to imagine the pain, but please know you are in my thoughts and in my prayers. I am glad that, hard as I know it was, you were able to write about it, put those feelings into words, share the grief ... it will help you in the long haul. You have a wonderful gift in your ability to write. Sometimes we can write about what we are unable to say, much less talk about. Yes, through it all, this thing called Life keeps right on turning. Stay strong. We care!

Carolyn V. said...

Oh Kat, I am so, so sorry. I can only imagine how difficult this is. I'm studying that very thing in my college class right now and the same theme keeps running through all the things I am learning-- It's painful. Extremely painful for everyone involve. I wish I could help in any way. I will keep you and his family in my prayers. (((hugs)))

Deb Shucka said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Kat. It's no accident, I'm sure you know, that you just happened to be home for the first time in forever when this tragedy occurred. Hopefully your words here will be a help to someone feeling like hope is lost.

Your writing here is beautiful - the contrast between your happy experiences of home and the deep sadness of losing someone connected to you by blood and love.

Eddie Bluelights said...

My deepest condolences, Kat. Life is a sod sometimes.
I lost my dear girl cousin to suicide and my great grandfather. We all feel down sometimes but it is very difficult to understand just how much life must have hurt them. God bless ~ Eddie

Debra said...


I don't judge them either. I'm so very sorry for your loss. A few years ago my nineteen year old nephew decided he also needed to take the jump. No, it is not "painless".

On a happier note, I treated myself to an early Christmas present this afternoon. I look forward with much anticipation to reading Tender Graces and Secret Graces.

Blessings and hugs to you my friend.

jeannette said...

Oh my dear Kathryn, I just started catching up with your blog. Suicide of a loved one is so painful that there is an organization called "Survivors of suicide." And people go to counseling for it, because it is a trauma. (maybe you remember I'm a psychologist)
Towards the holidays is a high risk time. Don't feel like "you should get over it" quickly. Take time to grieve, because the more one buries it, the more effect it has on one's life later.
If you have questions, hope don't hesitate to write me. My email