My son, Greg, age 13, died by suicide on September 19, 2005. The following May, I was online looking for grief information. I come across the Bereaved Parents of the USA website, I read about the National Gathering being held in St Louis the following July. We love St Louis and St Charles we had spent a couple weekends there with Greg sightseeing, riding bikes on the Katy Trail and enjoying all there was to offer about the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
St. Louis got my attention on the website and then the workshops. I showed it to Daryl and with little discussion we were signed up. We were reaching out for anything. Little did we know what that weekend would bring to both of us.
We had no idea what we were walking into. There were so many people. They had on shirts with pictures of kids on them, buttons with pictures of kids and they were laughing. We had to be in the wrong place. We met several people through the evening as we were walking around. We made little conversation.
We registered at the Bereaved Parents table, got a welcome bag and headed to our room. We spent the rest of the evening reading through the Program guide. WOW. Are they going to answer all of our questions? So many workshops were being offered, how were we to choose which ones to go to, there was not the time to go to all of them. We knew we would attend all of the suicide workshops.
The next morning we got up, put on our nametags, pinned on our buttons with Greg's picture and headed downstairs to the dining room for breakfast. As we walked down the hall, there were many with the same nametags on, even more in the line waiting for the elevator. As we approached the dining room area, a line, a long line. All with name tags and picture buttons. I don't remember Daryl and I even speaking to each other, just looking in amazement, so many people. I thought to myself, all of these parents have had children die. We found a couple seats at a table that already had six people sitting at it. I sit looking at each of their nametags and pictures. To this day, I truly believe we were put at that table for a reason. Every couple at the table had a child die within the last 12 months. We all immediately became friends. Stories of our children were shared. We were sitting in a room with 400 other people whom, knew exactly how I felt. It was like a huge relief had been lifted off our shoulders. We could feel what we needed to feel and not have to explain ourselves.
During the four hour drive home, we reflected on everything we had learned, with the most important being, you do not have to do this alone, there are so many others. Sharing, talking and listening had help in our healing. We knew we had to bring something to our rural community, for other bereaved parents.
We held our first BP/USA support group meeting the following October. Not knowing what to expect, we had a full room. As we watched the bereaved parents come into the room, we could see the sadness on their faces and the tired in their eyes. They each looked at us, hoping we had the answers. They had come with heart in hand. Their eyes were saying "Can you mend it? Can you make the hurt go away?" By the end of the evening, those tired eyes were glistening with twinkles of hope.
Never in a million years would I have thought I could have survived this long without seeing my Greg. I remember thinking on Sept 19th 2005, just how was I going to make it to the 20th. Then it was a week, then a month. Next thing you know it had been a year. I still can't imagine getting to 10, 20 or 30. Because of our family, friends and other bereaved parents, we are getting there. Because of our attending National Gatherings, we are getting there. Beginning this BP group, we are getting there. We have brought to ourselves and others a place where we can go and it is a safe haven, a place we can talk about our children and our new lives that are forming in front of us. Because of this, we are getting there.
During the first year after Greg's death, I would have never dreamed, I would have been able to start a support group for others, be a part of the National board of directors of BP/USA and still be helping other bereaved families 8 years later.
So here I am on my journey. What to do next? It is a daily question. I pray every morning asking God to show me the path I need to take. I then ask him to help me open my eyes to see it. I find it humbling when people say thank you for doing what I am doing to help others. I just listen. I share the sadness. I share kind words. I am just there. I grieve with them.
Lee Ann Hutson, Greg's mom