Tina Coleman/Barefoot Photography

"I know there were signs that were missed," Elizabeth Gini tells PEOPLE of the weeks leading up to her son's suicide

July 28, 2015 04:05 PM

Three months after her son, Everybody Loves Raymond actor Sawyer Sweeten, took his own life, Elizabeth Gini still struggles with her loss as she fights to stay strong for her family.

“It is an intense, profound pain that I experienced,” Gini tells PEOPLE of having to attend her own son’s funeral. “Never, ever again will I experience pure joy.”

But helping Gini make it through each day are her duties as a mother to her other children, including the five who still live with her at their Los Angeles-area home.

“I’ve always been very patient, but I’ve found that I’ve been a little more patient with some of their behaviors because I know that it could be a reaction to what everyone is going through,” she says of being mother to Sweeten’s sister Maysa, 16, and his half sisters Elliette, 4, Guiliana, 6, Emma, 8, and Jaymeson, 3.

From left: Jaymeson Gini, Elizabeth Gini, Sawyer Sweeten, Guiliana Gini, Madylin Sweeten, Emma Gini, Sullivan Sweeten, Maysa Sweeten, Jerry Gini and Elliette Gini
Tina Coleman/Barefoot Photography

Since Sweeten’s suicide at age 19, Gini – who will be interviewed on Wednesday’s episode of Larry King Now – says she’s been spending more time with her children, particularly Maysa.

“She is really struggling with insomnia and panic attacks. And she’s struggling with her own sadness of her last – which is not her last memory but she feels like it is,” Gini says of Maysa. “[Sawyer] came over to the house crying about two weeks before he died. She said she struggles with that memory because it is so prevalent and she wants the more fun things to come back into her head.”

When it comes to her younger children, Gini says she’s answering all their questions about what happened to Sweeten “honestly.”

“I knew if I tried to sugarcoat it, it would eventually catch up with us,” she says. “I haven’t ever gone into the details of what happens to you when you pass, as far as the actual event itself, but they know how he died and that he’s gone and that they’re not going to see him again.”

As for her own questions regarding her son’s suicide, Gini says she’s been provided “more answers” in the months since his death.

“I know there were signs that were missed until after the fact,” says Gini, who believes her son had a mental breakdown in the weeks leading up to his death. “I saw him saying things that were delusional and didn’t make sense.”

Gini says her son seemed “paranoid” and refused to sleep in his room at the home he had recently purchased with his twin brother (and Raymond costar) Sullivan.

“There were things that I didn’t see because I didn’t live with him,” she says. “He told a family member that he felt like he didn’t exist. He already felt like he had no existence. So, to him, death was an escape from that feel.”

Gini says that when Sweeten was told by family members that what he was saying “isn’t true,” he would reply, “I know it’s not true but I can’t make my head stop saying it.”

“He could not control the thoughts in his brain or get them to stop,” says Gini, who also wrote a blog post for Larry King Now. “It was like being on a runaway train. He had no control over it. That’s something that is very scary.”

“I don’t have a choice but to push through it,” Gini says. “I feel like I can’t fall apart because someone has to keep the family in one piece.”

But despite her sorrow, Gini is trying her best to “create happy memories for the rest of the kids” and encourages them to make drawings for Sweeten and leave mementos for him by his urn, which is currently in the office area of their family home but will eventually be moved to the mantel.

“They color pictures for him. One wants to send hers up to heaven with a string and a balloon, and they all put pictures in the box [of his ashes],” Gini says of her younger children. “The baby was crying the other day for one of his favorite little things that he loved. I finally explained to her that it was something that belonged to Sawyer, and she immediately stopped crying and wanted to put it in the box. She didn’t want it anymore. She wanted to give it to him.”

Gini’s interview with Larry King airs Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET on Hulu and on the Larry King Now website.

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