The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a woman in my 60s. Three years ago, my daughter committed suicide. Now I feel drained both in body and mind.
After I divorced in my 40s due to my former husband’s debt, my daughter was raised at my parents’ house. She started showing problematic behavior when she was at junior high school, sometimes suddenly starting to cry loudly at night. Shortly before turning 30, she killed herself.
My parents were at odds with each other, and there was a depressing air in my family home. They did not love me as I grew up. For several years, both my daughter and I were regularly treated by psychosomatic physicians.
The death of my daughter was a huge shock to me. Tears still suddenly well up in my eyes, and there is not a single day when I can laugh from the bottom of my heart. I’ve been to meetings of a group of bereaved family members of suicide victims and have also read books on Buddhism. If I were cheerful and imperturbable, my daughter, who was gentle and delicate, might still be living normally.
Recently, I feel like doing nothing and I just do my job in a routine way. I’d like to be more positive, even a little. Please give me some advice.
Y, Gunma Prefecture
Dear Mrs. Y:
I offer my deepest sympathy to you for the loss of your daughter. I see that she understood your suffering from the time she was a little child. Perhaps because of her delicate feelings she probably got wounded by driving herself into a corner or unwittingly becoming a scapegoat for people around her.
You mentioned the word “positive,” but you’ve already lived a hard life and thought about it thoroughly. You’ve even attended meetings of bereaved families and read books. It is as if you’ve already been through all the options I can think of, and I feel there is nothing more that I, a third party, could advise you to do.
It may sound paradoxical, but that is why you feel like doing nothing, isn’t it? It’s still been only three years since your daughter’s death. Don’t you think you might be allowed to accept your fatigue and spare a day to take a step back at times? Wouldn’t it be OK for you to forgive yourself for having a day when breathing is the only thing you can do?
Do you know about peer support? It’s a type of support for bereaved family members of suicide victims and people suffering from psychiatric disorders that is provided by their peers. There are various types of support activities, such as listening to those people’s experiences or accompanying them on a hospital visit or shopping. If you are interested, first take a good rest and then consult the welfare division of your local government.
You can’t feel someone else’s sadness in the same way they do, but you can stay close to them. I think you have that ability. Please live the rest of your life by making good use of it.
Hazuki Saisho, writer