10/04/2016 10:10 EDT | Updated 10/04/2016 10:10 EDT

In Search of Something Resembling My Life -- A Meditation On Loss, Hope And Healing From A Survivor Of Suicide Loss ​

Lynn Keane

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In tragedy we are not given the fullness of time to explore the depth and breadth of the bonds we've formed. We find ourselves creating moments within the context of our memories.

On the night of Tuesday April 28, 2009 our son died by suicide.

As the shock lifted we began the agonizing process of trying to comprehend our new reality. Our 23-year old son had lived with a robust disease that had been brewing for years. He was a strong, intelligent young man; however, even he could not see where his path was headed. Mental illness is a formidable foe. Our tragedy is his absence from our ordinary lives. We are now referred to as survivors. What exactly we are surviving is unclear. We are broken in so many places; trying to put the puzzle that was our life back together. Only now, the pieces do not match.

In the aftermath we look for meaning to carry on. In losing a child there is nowhere to turn but inward.


The search in grief begins with the knowledge of a significant loss in your life. In the aftermath we look for meaning to carry on. In losing a child there is nowhere to turn but inward.

In searching I have uncovered bits of my past, pieces of myself along with a new reality. In great loss this excavation can bring forth truth and provide a renewed sense of purpose.

The emotional daily shifts exact their toll on the griever. The outside world goes on as if nothing has changed. Many good people watch from outside the fire of grief, trying in vain to offer consolation to those of us who fight the inferno from the interior of the devastation. Most times we cannot reach the safety of their embrace.

Sunny optimism vanished that spring day. Life is now lived in extremes and impulsively; the effects of grief further enhance the aging process. The enormity of losing a family member to suicide is told in the many diseases and disorders that afflict the mourner.

Seeking my son, I find melancholy and mourning.


Hope is uncovered in time. In the grief work we do in that time. My instinct completely guides my decisions and in the midst of this dark storm my gut has become my rudder. Hope is one of those assets found in seeking something to attach to life. Hope offers appreciation for what is now.

There is no lesson in this loss

The overwhelming sadness gets trapped. A block of excruciating, relentless pain only released in time.

The hurt that won't go away and the adjustments to living are constant as I work to repair the fissure that exists in my heart. It is difficult to watch young men who are replicas of what my son was in the physical sense. The one of a kind scar on the back of his head received through a playful skirmish with one of his sisters. I crave the simple act of a mother and son embrace that says so many things, I love you mom.

The overwhelming sadness gets trapped. A block of excruciating, relentless pain only released in time.

daniel painting

Daniel, we are bathed in the light of what you accomplished. You were a calming presence in our lives. When I was frazzled you placed your hands on my shoulders and gently asked me to sit down and talk. You never liked being alone. Every day we search for answers and remember what fun it was to be a complete family. In your absence we are bearing unimaginable sorrow, your final words to us: "Love you, always and forever," are etched on our souls.

Mental illness

Daniel, you were in pain and dying on the inside. You were cheated in this life because we could not help what we could not see. You had endured so much pain -- hope was gone.

And so, we've gone in search of something and what we've found is an understanding of our son's suffering. In mourning I try to remember our lives before my son's death. Seeking is both absorbing and at times healing and in the search we find clarity in our relationship with our loved ones.

I am now guided by what I could not do for my son.

We accept that we were unable to support our son in his battle with depression. I am now guided by what I could not do for my son. Because our son's illness went unnoticed and untreated, sorrow has come to dwell in our home.


There is a grace in grieving. A gift for humanity, amidst our darkest moments we are alive for a purpose.


When my mind wanders through our life I think of water. For that is where my most vivid memories of my son have been captured. A little boy leaping off an old diving board on a lazy August afternoon. The air a thick mixture of heat and pollen, touching the surface of the warm lake. Children's voices happily engaged in play, their voices filling the late summer day. That same boy, only now a young man, slicing through the water on boards and skis anything that would take him faster. He danced on the light and lived in the moment.

Many a summer afternoon after work Daniel would race down to the dock, strip down to his board shorts and slide into his old wakeboard. Urging me to watch yet another trick. I was thankful for his determination and his ability to make us appreciate those moments.

daniel painting


In grief it is easy to forget that Daniel lived life with passion. He brought humour into the most banal moments, encouraging us to take the world a little less seriously. I cannot imagine another person with whom we laughed more often or with such abandon. He had momentum and his ideas for the future were exciting. Sadly, the darkness that was taking over remained concealed. I suspect that he too was searching for meaning in his life. In the end the inner workings of his brain were not in harmony with his heart and soul.

In time the hard places where I reside, the extremes of every day will dissolve hopefully, into a more even life.

That late spring day is forever etched into our memory. The missed calls, the texts that went unread and then silence. That was precisely the moment that our epic search began and when the full weight of loss ripped us apart we went in search of each other.

Our son left an indelible imprint on our souls, which can never be erased -- and for that I am eternally grateful.

Springtime has come and gone. Several years have passed and our family of four is still searching. Most days just for a memory of another time. Trying to exist in a world we are unfamiliar with.

Instead of trying to find our son we take comfort in the gifts he brought us. Our life was not perfect before our son's passing, but it was a full life created and lived on our terms. The hardships found within families were ours as well.

Our son left an indelible imprint on our souls, which can never be erased -- and for that I am eternally grateful.

If you or someone you know is at risk please contact your nearest Crisis Centre or call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 to speak to a counsellor.

Frame Of Mind is a new series inspired by The Maddie Project that focuses on teens and mental health. The series will aim to raise awareness and spark a conversation by speaking directly to teens who are going through a tough time, as well as their families, teachers and community leaders. We want to ensure that teens who are struggling with mental illness get the help, support and compassion they need. If you would like to contribute a blog to this series, please email


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