Why Bother Breaking the Silence?
We all start out as children. We all grow up within a unique environment we call
our family. We were all shaped by the people in our childhood and memories formed from the events in our early lives.
My siblings, the ones with whom I share childhood memories, are unique individuals with their own personalities. We all have our own version of our family vacations, our clunky old blue station wagon and our beloved dog Bubbles. My siblings and I also share another memory, the death of our dad who took his own life at the age of 49.
It was an intense and difficult experience for all of us. Suicide was an unmentionable topic, and made our grief impossible to share. So, like silos on a prairie, we stored away our sorrows. We silenced our sadness and hid it from one another for years, until a most unusual event occurred; the Chinese virus. For some this catastrophic event was deadly, for everyone it was a depressing time.
Yet, right in the middle of it one of my sisters concocted a plan to keep the seven siblings connected. She gave her idea a name, The Macek Maverick calls and in the spring of 2021 sent out an email to everyone explaining her project.
At first, I deleted her email. I’d experienced these types of calls before. Near the end of Mom’s life, we’d had several family phone calls trying to decide how best to care for Mom. But the older siblings talked over the younger ones, emotions ran high and chaos reigned.
But I was curious and after a few weeks went by, I asked the sister who best understands me, if she’d participated in any of the Macek Maverick calls. She told me she had and encouraged me to do so because I was the only voice that wasn’t being heard. Everybody but me was participating.
The following week I took a leap of faith and joined the call. Each sibling was polite, respectful and waited their turn to speak. After I hung up the phone, I thought perhaps these Macek Maverick calls would be good.
The following week was my turn. On the night of the call, my mouth went dry as I read my question aloud to everyone. “What was your first response when you heard the news of Dad’s suicide?” After a long pause, it was as though some invisible force granted us permission to speak the unspeakable, to mention the unmentionable and to unstimatize the stigma. After years of silence, the shafts of our silos broke open and our grief spilled out.
Why bother breaking the silence? If there is one thing I’ve learned as a result of my father’s death and the Macek Maverick calls it is this: unspoken grief becomes a private agony, while shared grief makes an unbearable memory, a little more bearable.