I haven’t watched the video of Junior Seau’s mother crying, lamenting the loss of her son shortly after learning of his suicide. I don’t need to. Just seeing the still image of her face in a news story was too much for me to bear. It hits too close to home. Simply glancing at her picture stirred up memories for me that I try not to think about. It obviously unsettled my mind, because last night I dreamt of his mother crying, wailing, and grieving for her son. In my dream I tried to comfort her. Somehow I wanted her to know I understand what she’s feeling.
I know that kind of psychic, gut-wrenching pain, the animalistic wailing that doesn’t seem like it’s coming from your own body, the feeling of having a piece of your very soul forcefully ripped from your body. There weren’t cameras around to document the moment the bottom dropped out of my world. Not that there needed to be, because I can replay that moment in my mind like it’s a movie, as if I’m watching someone other than me experience it. It really did feel like an out-of-body experience. I know what it feels like to temporarily lose your mind with grief.
It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday in May. I was walking out of the grocery store where I’d just stocked up on essentials for the Memorial Day weekend. I was sitting alone inside my car when Jason found my sister and confirmed to me what I most feared. I’m sure my screaming and wailing could be heard outside my car. I’ve always wondered why nobody stopped to make sure I was okay. Certainly I looked and sounded like a crazed, raving lunatic. I remember hanging up the phone and numbly watching people walk into the grocery store, amazed that life’s mundane tasks continued for others, when my world as I knew it was collapsing.
Then I called my dad. I didn’t even try to break the news gently. I blurted the words out. Even though he was clear across the country in Minnesota, his screams sounded like he was right next to me. I felt his pain through the phone. Having to tell my dad that his daughter was dead isn’t something I’ll ever get over. It’s why I don’t need to hear Junior Seau’s mom to know exactly what her grief sounds and feels like. George Schroeder, a writer for the Register-Guard captured the feeling well in this thoughtful column published today, as he talked about Luisa Seau crying out “I don’t understand. I don’t know anything.” Sadly, she now joins the legions of other suicide survivors in this country left wondering, trying to understand, seeking an answer to the unanswerable question of why.