Grasping for contact of any sort with a lost loved one is natural. Years before, I would have considered channeling through a medium a little wacky, great fodder for jokes, even. But when Erik died, things I once doubted became urgent lifelines for me to cling to in hope. However skeptical at first, when I spoke to Erik through world-renown psychic, Kim O’Neill, I felt it was truly he. His personality, his wit, his manner of speaking, it was all Erik. Furthermore, she conveyed details she could not possibly have known such as the fact that he suffered from bipolar disease since he was 10 or 11 or the fact that he killed himself while sitting in a chair at his desk in his bedroom.
One of the first assurances Erik expressed was that we, his parents, did everything we could to prevent it. He said he had contemplated suicide for many years, really and just wanted to make certain he did it in a way that would ensure his passing. In recent months, he even researched all sorts of suicide methods on the Internet. Although he thought about taking an overdose of pills, one of his biggest fears was that he would survive, but remain impaired for the rest of his life. In the end, Erik felt shooting himself in the head assured him the biggest guarantee for “success.” Next, he had to choose a moment when he felt sure we would not be in the house when the gun went off. That opportunity would occur on October 6 during the ill-fated attempt to treat my sister, Teri, my daughters, Annika and Michelle, and my grand baby, Arleen to lunch.
Naturally, I asked him the heart-wrenching “why” of it all, and here’s what he had to say: “First, guys, I want you to know that you shouldn’t blame yourself. Dad, you’re better about that than Mom, but Mom, do not blame yourself. It is because of you that I lived to be the age that I did. It had nothing to do with school; it had nothing to do with the family; it had nothing to do with my health; I got real depressed when I was about 10 or 11. That’s when the bipolar disorder started. It would haunt me, haunt me. And it was real unpredictable; it would come and go. The lows were so terrible that I knew I wasn’t going to live to an old age. I just needed to figure out how and when to do it without killing you both with grief.” I asked him if, once he decided to take his life, he was afraid of dying and he replied, “Oh no! I was afraid of living!”
I also asked him what death was like, and he replied with great exuberance, “Oh, Mom, it was great, it was awesome; aw, it was fantastic. When my soul popped out of the body, awww! I didn’t feel any pain. One second I was sitting in my chair, and the next second my soul was out of my body and I was like, ‘this is so fucking great!’ I felt no pain or discomfort. I could fly. I felt happy; I felt joyous; I felt warm; I felt secure. That happiness, that joy was overwhelming. And I was flying around and flying around, then I looked down at my body, and I’m like ‘Oh shit. Oh shit shit shit.’ I was surprised by all the blood! I was so surprised! I wasn’t even thinking about that. I was just thinking about relief. I wasn’t even thinking about what I was going to look like! I wasn’t thinking about the clean up.” Then laughing heartily to himself, Erik announced, “Cleanup on aisle six!” Kim was a little shocked by his irreverent humor, but I assured her that this was very typical of him. This was very “Erik.”
He goes on to say, “Right after my soul popped out of my body, I heard the gunshot, and at first, I was a little confused to see my own body sitting in the chair. I thought, ‘Wait, I’m here. Why is my body down there?’ But then I realized I was a soul. I was really worried about what would happen when you found me, Mom, so I went to Bestefar’s house in Norway right away. After a while of hanging with him, though, I started to feel real, real, real sorry for what you guys were gonna find. The person I was most worried about was Michelle, because of all the people in the family, she’s the most sensitive. She’s the most vulnerable to being fucked up by something like that.” With a chuckle he added, “But don’t tell her I said that. I don’t want her to be pissed off at me. Mom, I knew you were going to be crushed, but I thought you would be able to deal with it if you knew I was going to be so much happier in spirit and that I was going to be with you. I’m with you all the time, but I’m in spirit and I’m happy. So you have a son who is with you in spirit and I’m safe and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I figured you would be able to understand that and accept it. I’m still with you. I’m with you all the time.” (All of this repetition left me with the impression that Erik was nervous about my reaction. This is exactly how he would talk if he came home after curfew or brought home a bad grade.)
I will continue to share Erik’s description of his death and his first moments in the afterlife, but this has all exhausted me. I need to rest and lick my wounds.