Losing my son to suicide
By TIM ROWDEN
The Grief Project
I attended my first Out of the Darkness Walk hosted by the Missouri Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) on Sept. 26, 2021, two weeks after losing my son, Ian, to suicide. Still in shock and consumed by grief, I was not ready for it. Not ready for the seeming celebratory mood of the walking groups; not ready for the bagpipes playing Amazing Grace. Not ready for the release of the doves or the quilts with the faces of the lost. I wasn’t ready to consider Ian’s face on a quilt or to believe he was really gone, that he wouldn’t be waiting for me when I got home to tell me it was all a mistake, it was someone else they found in his apartment, someone else I had identified at the morgue.
That feeling persisted for months. I left the porch light on night after night hoping he would come home. Then left it on hoping wherever he was it would guide him back to us. At eight months, when I finally tried turning it off, it felt like a betrayal. It felt like I was giving up on him, admitting he was gone and wasn’t coming back. It felt like losing him all over again.
I have struggled with depression for most of my adult life. After losing Ian, my grief and depression became one. I was sliding into a depression so dark it threatened to consume me. I knew where it would end. I knew I couldn’t put my family – my wife and daughters and Ian’s younger brother – through that again. I knew I couldn’t push through anymore, trying to busy myself with work that no longer mattered to me. I knew I wouldn’t survive – sleepless, barely eating, and drinking to get to sleep at night – if I didn’t get help.