It is always difficult for me to write about my personal life.  I would rather hang glide, and I am afraid of heights if that tells you anything.

But, sometimes talking about an experience helps the healing begin.

I was previously married for 22 years to my high school sweetheart.  Well, actually he wanted to be my boyfriend beginning in the sixth grade.  Since I was not allowed to have a boyfriend at that age, we just called it a secret crush.

 We dated all through high school and married a year after we graduated.  We were 19 years old and did not have a clue.  All we knew was that we were madly in love and wanted to be married. 

When we had been married for three years, we had a son.  He was the best thing that had ever happened to me.  To this day, he can touch my heart with a simple, “I love you, Mama.”  Lots of women want daughters but those sons are special too.

At the time our son was born, his father was still young and not real sure how to handle the responsibility.  As my son got older, they were able to find some commonalities, but they always struggled in their ability to relate to each other. Their personalities and interests were so different.  I am told that is not uncommon with men and their sons.

Unfortunately, our marriage went the way of so many in todays’ society.  After many years together, things just no longer worked.  We were on different pages in our life with no way to reconcile so we divorced.

Being a mama’s boy, my son always chose to be in the same state I was in.  When I moved to Texas, he came with me and when I moved back to Alabama, he returned also.  When I re-married five years after my divorce and moved to South Carolina, my son moved there also.  He married and has a son of his own.

My ex even remarried and started a new life and it appeared he was happy.

Over the years, my son and his father went through periods of non-communication and then there were times they seemed quite close.  I always tried to encourage them to work on their relationship, but the one thing they shared is the stubborn gene.

Several years ago, they became estranged and neither one made any real effort to reconcile their issues.

Last week, his father committed suicide.

To say this was devastating to my son would be an understatement.  He is filled with what-ifs and regrets with no way to resolve them.

According to statistics, there are an average of 132 suicides per day in the United States.  Depression is the leading cause of cases.

Every death leaves an average of six “suicide survivors.”  They are left with their grief and struggle to understand what happened.

Experts say after a suicide the what-ifs can be extreme and self-punishing.  This is compounded by unrealistic expectations that the survivor should have predicted the actions or somehow intervened.

Sadly, my son is experiencing some of these thoughts.

It is important that he realize that survivors often overestimate their ability to affect the outcome.  People who take their lives are not capable of thinking of others.  They are not able to find peace.

Apparently, their pain can become so difficult to cope with that enduring one more day seems unbearable.

I want him to understand that you cannot control someone’s thoughts and actions.

Right now, he is trying to make sense of it, but it will be like putting together a puzzle with missing pieces. He will be forced to accept that this will be the greatest challenge of his life.

Psychologists suggest males tend to show less emotion and compartmentalize their feelings more.  This will affect his ability to accept and process his grief and I am concerned about that.

I hope he will seek counseling and find a suicide support group to help him heal. Maybe one of these groups can also help him explore the unfinished issues in his relationship with his father so he can move on.

I can only pray that he understands that the only person you can make happy is yourself and each person is responsible for their own actions.

A son and his father forever divided are not how their relationship should have ended.  Questions unanswered, plans not made and love lost will be with him a long time.

This is one hurt that Mama will not be able to make better and nothing can right this wrong.

Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at

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