Friday, February 6, 2015

A Parent's Worst Nightmare

Tuesday morning, January 12, while Ohio State fans were celebrating their beloved team winning the National Championship, I received some terribly sad news. The night before, friends of our family lost their 14 year old son to suicide. My blood ran cold and I was in disbelief when I found out. This is one of the nicest families that we know. When we were not sure what would happen to Colin this past summer after his stay at my sister's house, this family had offered to take our son in. Fortunately we were able to get our son back home but the heartfelt offer meant a lot to us.

We haven't had a chance to spend much time yet with our friends as we are allowing them some time to grieve with their family. What little I have learned is that this boy, who was extremely smart and driven, may have been having some difficulty with a class.  There was no note, so we don't know why.

He had been having some outbursts at home that may have been triggered by his frustrations. The boy had also been ill with a cold as well as allergies. The parents had made an appointment with their pediatrician as a first step but unfortunately their son took his life before getting to the doctor.  This is such a heartbreaking situation.

I want to cry but I can't. A side-effect of the past roller coaster of a year is that my emotional system is a bit locked up. I can't remember the last time I had a good sob. For now, this has served me well. I was able to take food to the family the next day and keep it together during my brief visit. When hugging the mom, between sobs, she told me she wished she reached out to us. They may have seen some similarities between their son and Colin and thought we might have been able to provide some advice. We had no idea of their situation but I don't think we would have been much help.


When we spoke with our boys, there were mixed reactions. Disbelief, curiosity, sadness and difficulty in processing the news. Colin was curious on the circumstances but showed little emotion. He had swam with the boy, had been to the house on several occasions, including a sleepover-birthday party but it had been over a year since they had been together. My other boys had much more contact and we had just been to our friends' house for their annual  New Year's Party. (Colin stayed home as part of his avoidance of anyone who knew of his breakdown). The older boys were in shock.

When it came time for the viewing and funeral services, we gave Colin the option of going. He chose to stay home. While his choice was totally expected, I was still relieved. Our son has a hard time processing emotion. I was also worried that if he saw how utterly devastated the grieving family was he might get ideas.

Trading Places

The last several weeks we had been experiencing some drama with my middle-son. He is in his junior year in high school and is taking a challenging load of classes. Add to that an abundance of extra-curricular activities and teenage hormones. Something had to give. The icing on the cake is due to scheduling conflicts (and lack of motivation) our 16 year-old started missing several swim-team practices. This led to some verbal abuse from teammates. Things started to unravel for our middle-child and the death of a friend made matters worse.

The ironic part is while one boy was hitting a rough-spot, another seemed to be shining. My eldest and I both noticed that over the past month or so, Colin has been surprisingly "normal". He has been good about making swim practices, getting good grades (3.9 - 4.0) and seems to be the happiest he has been since coming back home. I can't help but wonder if it was helpful to have his brother take the spot as "problem child" for a bit.

Sometimes we forget that "Misophonia" (or "Select Sound Sensitivity Syndrome" or "Sensory Processing Disorder" or  "Colin's Disease" ) is a problem for the whole family. It doesn't matter what you call it, when one child in a family has a life-altering issue, everyone is affected.

As always, we are a work-in-progress!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so very sorry for the loss of your friends' son. It seems suicide is a story we hear way too often these days and I have to wonder what we can do for these kids who see no other way to relieve their pain.