The Police and the Letter

Part 12

On 15 June 2006, exactly four weeks after Barry died by suicide, Daniel and I were asked to attend the police station and give statements. We were also asked to bring support as the police believed that I would not be able to drive home afterwards. Why? Gary and I asked ourselves. Why wouldn’t I be able to drive home? We couldn’t think of a reason.

The “interview” took three hours. Naturally, we had to give our statements separately, so we were taken to different rooms and asked questions. As I said earlier, it’s been four weeks so I was able to talk about the events leading up to Barry’s death without getting too upset. I knew the details, yet still I found it difficult to remember everything. However, this was mainly because of the grief … and there’s something about being asked question by the police.

Then, out of the blue, the police officer informed us that she had something to show us. She went on to tell us that they had found a letter on the night that Barry had taken his own life, written by Barry, and that they had taken it as evidence. This information left me shocked, scared … and angry. I was shocked because we had torn the house and garage apart looking for a letter, looking for a reason and had finally accepted the fact that we wouldn’t find anything and we would never know. I was scared because I didn’t know what I’d discover in Barry’s words. And I was angry because it took the police four weeks to tell us that a letter existed. This was totally unfair of them. Didn’t they realise that we desperately needed the information contained in such a letter?

The policewoman asked if I would be able to identify Barry’s handwriting, which, of course, was a stupid question. Of course I’d know my own son’s handwriting.

Then she produced the letter. It was five pages long and addressed to his girlfriend. However, I must mention that the letter had been ripped up and thrown away, so Barry never intended for her to see this letter. Barry didn’t mention any family member, except our dog, BJ, who passed away a week before Barry. I felt a little relieved that the family wasn’t mentioned because it meant that Barry didn’t have any issues with any of us. I was upset by the lack of a written “I love you, Mum”. However, I got over that omission quickly because I know that Barry’s thoughts were not turned towards me, they were focused inward on his own problems.

The letter proves that Barry planned his fate and he meant to end his life when he did. There’s no doubt about that. At the end of the letter, he dated it, put the time and then wrote:

26/6/87 – 17/5/06

So, in actual fact, he planned to take his life on the Wednesday, instead of the Thursday. We don’t know what stopped him, but we do believe that he was living out the words to the song “Goodbye, My Lover”. The reason we believe this is because he used certain words in the letter that came straight from the song. He also ended the letter with the song title. We believe that he wanted his “soul out into the night”. Upon hearing this Daniel broke down. He suddenly realised that Barry had tried to get Daniel to go to bed early. Barry asked Daniel several time that night, “Aren’t you tired, why don’t you go to bed?” But Daniel said he was enjoying the time they were sharing together and didn’t want to go to bed, even though he was really tired.

Daniel went to bed at midnight. I believe that Barry’s plan had been spoiled (because it was now the 18th), so he went to bed and we know he took his life during the next day instead.

It was difficult to read Barry’s words. He said that he knew his actions were selfish, but he was doing this thing for himself. He said that he couldn’t bear life without his girlfriend (they were “taking a break”). He wanted the last hug and kiss to be from her. He said he had thought about it for a long while and planned it right down to when, where, how and even the time. He said that by the time his girlfriend read the letter, he would be well and truly gone, but he would be up above watching over her and keeping her safe. He said by doing what he planned to do, he would not feel “a thing” anymore.

Now we have Barry’s reason for doing what he did, but I still firmly believe there’s more to this story than what’s been written here. Only Barry knows the truth and he’s not here to tell us. Yet, our tortured minds will not allow us to push the details into a dark corner and forget them. We continue to hunt for more information, and I think we’ll continue to do that for a while yet.

The pain and suffering has ended for Barry, but for his family it’s only just begun. We still wait for him to come home, and we still listen for his footsteps and favourite greeting. I stare at every 18 year old boy in the street, dressed in clothing similar to what Barry used to wear, hoping by some miracle to see my son’s face. I hear his songs on the radio, I see his favourite movie stars (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johny Depp) on TV and in magazines. And I find that everywhere I look is something to remind me of his hanging (even on The Simpsons). Reminders are everywhere.

Not a day goes by when I haven’t thought about Barry constantly. Even during work hours, his face is foremost in my mind. But at least I can see his face again. That’s a good sign and a huge comfort.

Believe me when I say that the grieving doesn’t end after the funeral. And it doesn’t mean that the loved one has been put to rest, so it’s time for the family to move on. There was, and is, no finality for me. I haven’t said goodbye. I plan on seeing that happy, smiling face of my youngest son, Barry, again. In the meantime, I’m left with a million and one things to do. For example, apply for a copy of the autopsy report, cancel his driving license and Medicare, fix up his superannuation funds, close his bank account, sort through his remaining belongings and the list goes on. For others it might stop after the funeral, but for the family there is always something that needs to be dealt with.

These things only push those family members back into the deepest, darkest pit where the sudden death of a loved one put them. Is it any wonder that we have no energy, no social skills, no will and no tolerance? We are exhausted. We are too busy trying to climb out of the pit and find our way back into the light.

Hopefully, next month will be better for all of us.

Whilst the pain continues for my family, here ends My Story, or should I say Barry’s Story. We require time to heal. We will look for comfort from each other and eventually our lives will begin to move forward. As they say, “life goes on”, and it will because I will not let this wreck what’s left of my family.

Updated 7 September 2006: Read Another Piece of the Puzzle for an update on the letter. This is now a private entry and cannot be viewed by the public.

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14 thoughts on “The Police and the Letter

  1. I am so sorry for your loss; there are no words I can even begin to say to console, of course. Only that I lost a dear friend to suicide when we were both teenagers–and I didn’t see it coming. As a mother of a teen now, you have my heartfelt sympathies.

  2. I came upon this site by accident. I have a 19 year old son born on the same day as Barry..My heart hurts for you..I am so sorry and can’t come close to realizing your pain..Thank you for sharing your story it has touched my heart.

  3. I would like to thank both of you for your kind words. It feels like we are moving forward much slower than everyone around us, but at least we are moving forward. It’s a start.

    Again, thank you.

  4. Karen, I can’t begin to imagine how much pain you are going through. I only know it affected my heart so much because it affected my own children. I saw Stephanie and Jamie (and Stephen) hurting and it tore me apart to know they lost someone they were so close to. No matter what happens in a family you still always feel connected. We were family once and I still feel the connection through Daniel (I kept in touch with him from time to time). Your story has touched my heart and I still find myself thinking that this whole thing must be a dream. It’s impossible that such a lovely, happy and confident person (I had only met a couple of times yet always heard much about), could have been going through so much pain. I think of you often. You are in my thoughts and my prayers.

  5. Thank you, Catrina. I was thankful that Daniel had Stephen, Stephanie and Jamie to turn to for support on that terrible night. Being so far away, I felt helpless, but I knew that Daniel was safe with family members. That eased my mind ever so slightly.

    I wish this was a dream. I wish that every, single day.

  6. It seems so futile, and so cliche. But seriously, I want to do anything and everything I can to help you in any way possible. I really do feel so deeply for what you are going through. It hurts me so to know my family has suffered such a loss. Plesse call on me, I am here for you

  7. My apologies, Catrina. I didn’t see your last post until now. I appreciate your kind words, and I appreciated seeing you at Barry’s funeral. Unfortunately, I couldn’t speak when you approached me, but I know you understand the reason for that. I was in a state of shock and utter sorrow knowing that my baby was gone forever.

    I will remember that you are there.

  8. My heart aches for you… I just lost my 15 year old son on Oct. 4th 2006 to the same thing.. The same way.. Except in his own room which was in the basement of our house… I have no clue how to begin to process all this and deal with all the pain and anger and well I am sure you know what I am talking about… Anyway I wanted to say I am so sorry for the loss of your son… I can truely say I feel your pain and I know how it feels to loose a child..

  9. And I am sorry about your loss. The journey before you will be long, but it will ease over time, even though it doesn’t feel like it now.

    The best advice I received was: “Be kind to yourself” and I want to say that to you. Let yourself grieve. Let yourself cry. Let yourself talk about your son. To do otherwise would be depriving yourself of something you really need right now.

    {{hugs}}

  10. I have read your pages for most of the day. I lost my son to suicide 14.04.06 the same way as you lost yours. I have sat here feeling your pain as mine and cried tears with your words. I am trying to find the words to express my feelings to you but there are no words, just understanding from one mother to another. I can relate to things that you have said that others cannot. I wish you and your family peace in your hearts.

  11. You found the words to express how you feel, Pauline – “just understanding from one mother to another”. They mean more than anything, don’t they? Understanding is what we seek the most, I think.

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. I hope you and your family finds peace in your hearts too.

  12. Karen,

    As a family who has experienced nothing but ineptitude, carelessness, and callousness from our police department concerning my son’s death, I am so thankful for your posts. They help me know that no matter where you live, much of the same attitudes exist toward young people and their life issues.

    While we are unlikely to ever know what happened on the night Owen disappeared, nor how he ended up in the River 4 days later, we know our police department’s efforts were lacking, even dismissive. It’s as though the case was closed the day his body was found. No one ever contacted us afterwards. All phone calls and letters have been initiated by me.

    Thank you again for writing your blog. It has to be amazingly helpful to so many.

    Linda
    Owen’s mom

  13. The police didn’t contact us after Barry’s death, my other son broke the news to us (we were on holiday at the time). Gary feels the police should have been the one to do that. They should have sent the local police to find us and tell us. Upon our return home, we didn’t even know where they had taken Barry. There was no phone call to inform us. We had to phone them and ask where he was.

    Gary still talks about making an official complaint about it, but I can’t waste the little energy I have on something that will change nothing. To do so will only upset me further and I don’t need it.

    But I do understand your frustration, Linda.

  14. I started reading your blog a couple of hours ago and no matter how late the time is here, I know I wont stop until I’m past the latest post.

    I am a 19-year-old girl, who has faced suicide more than once in her young life.

    It is something that I hope a lot of people don’t have to face, either themselves or through their family/friends.

    It’s hard to face it, no matter how old you are, what sex you are or how strong you think you are.

    Thank you for posting this blog and hopefully helping many people go through their pain and also see the signs.

    My own parents did not see the early signs, but thankfully, my friends, who are my family now, did.

    I felt the need to post this just here, even though I wouldve posted something anyway, because I was listening to “Goodbye, My Lover” earlier and it felt like someone had touched or kissed my cheek and I felt calm. Just before, while I was through the first posts, the same song was echoing through my head and it suddenly stopped when I reached this certain post.

    Who knows, it might have been just a random thing to happen, but I like believing in signs, it gives me some hope that not everything is as bad as it often might seem.
    Thank you again for this blog and I hope your family is well.

    Maarja.

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