“Suicide…the elephant in the room”

“I think about my dad a lot more now, mostly because I’m almost 18, this month actually, his birthday is exactly one week after mine, and I’m a senior, and I wonder if he would be proud of me…”

So I saw this on Facebook the other day, I have no idea who actually wrote it- but i paraphrased a little and posted it to my wall.

“I tried to begin to put up the tree and couldn’t get the strength to do it. I just couldn’t do it.  I stopped in my tracks and sat down and just went down memory lane…All I can say is it wasn’t pretty. I think I cried for over an hour with memories of what this time used to be for me and how it was filled with such love and anticipation – and now it brings back memories of the reality of emptiness and sadness.
So I would like to remind you that there are people for whatever reason are not looking forward to Christmas. Some people are not surrounded by large wonderful families.
Some of us have problems during the holidays and are overcome with great sadness when we remember the loved ones who are not with us any longer.
For many it is yet another Christmas without a particular loved one. Some of us still physically have our loved ones but Alzheimer’s has stolen their hearts and minds. And, many people have no one to spend these times with and are besieged by loneliness. We all need caring, loving thoughts right now.”

You all know by now that my Husband passed away ten years ago, but what you don’t know is this- He committed suicide, leaving behind brothers and sisters, a wife, two small children and two almost grown step-children. It damaged all of us, it left a gap nothing can fill. It left unanswered questions and feelings of guilt. It left a lot of us questioning our worth. People say ‘Oh, how did he pass? and when you answer you get that look. The one where you know those people want to sink into the ground, they are sorry they ever asked and wish they were anywhere else at the moment. The entire conversation gets awkward, sometimes those people never talk to you again because they don’t even know how to act around you. After a suicide, people you’ve known for years fade out of your life, they just can’t deal. You never, ever look at life the same way again.

Holidays seem especially hard for depressed people, I know they are hard for me. There are a lot of suicides around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Please- if you need help call

Call 1-800-273-8255
If you know somebody who is struggling, talk to them and encourage them to get help. Sadly, the ones who are serious usually don’t talk about it. If you know someone who has lost someone to suicide DO NOT SHUT THEM OUT! Let them know that when they are ready to talk you will listen. Don’t get stupid when somebody mentions suicide, talk about it. For Christ’s sake do not make them feel like its wrong to talk about.
Ten years later, my daughter, K, is finally speaking about her life. She gave me something to read today that ripped my heart from my chest, but I am rejoicing that she is finally finding words. Here they are:
“Losing a loved one.-
I picked this topic because at a glance I knew I would relate to it better than any of the other topics. But as I sit here, at my desk, I’m drawing a blank. Whenever this topic would come up I could never form the words, describing the situation was hard enough, but when people would ask me how I felt, putting it into words was nearly impossible. Instead of jumping right into it, let’s start at the beginning where any great story starts, though this is far from great.
I was always a daddy’s girl, I looked forward to him coming home after work, he would always make time to play with me, even though he was tired from working all day. He often worked laboring jobs, he always came home dirty and exhausted. On Saturday mornings, when I would wake up, I would lay in bed and call out for him, and when I heard him coming up the stairs I would dive under the covers and pretend to be asleep. He would jump on the bed, saying something along the lines of “I know I heard a little girl in here somewhere,” and when I would giggle, he would grab the blanket and pull it back saying “There she is!”. I vaguely remember his smile, he always looked at me with pure joy, and sometimes when I’m going through a rough patch, I think about that and wonder if he would still look at me like that, if I would have made him proud. I remember this one specific occasion, when I called out for him but he never came, I, being an impatient child, went down stairs, getting ready to demand an answer as to why he was ignoring me, but he wasn’t home, when I asked my mom she said he started working Saturday mornings. Instantly my little heart shattered, I don’t remember what I said to my mom, but I remember her saying “Don’t say that to your father, he already feels guilty working Saturday’s, you saying that will make him sad.” Thinking back on it now, if I had asked him to stay on Saturday’s he probably would have. Because of his long work days he would often miss my soccer games, but there were a few times where he did show up and it meant the world to me, and to make up for missing a game or a practice, we would play soccer outback, even when it started to get dark, we only came inside because mom would tell me he needs to relax after working all day, something he would have never told me, because he just wanted to make me happy. Being young I took all of that for granted, I didn’t realize how much those little things would mean to me, especially after the person is gone.
When I was 7 years old, my father, that I loved so much, killed himself. My mom was very upfront about it, she told me that he took his own life, even though I was young, because she didn’t want me to resent her for lying to me, because she knew my dad meant a lot to me. Of course being young I didn’t quite understand, but I got the ‘dead’ part and knew that he was never coming back. I locked those feelings away for a long time, I never dealt with his death properly. Years later at 15 years old, I found myself falling into what felt like an endless pit of numbness and depression, I contemplated suicide, and at that very first thought, it clicked in my head why my dad did it. Life is hard, things weigh on you, the never ending anxiety of not being good enough, especially in his position, a father of two children of his own, and two step children, struggling to make it working odd jobs with long hours, all while he struggled with alcoholism. He wasn’t a violent drunk, he just drank to escape his pain, and he tried his hardest to not be drunk in front of me. He was intoxicated when he killed himself, I’d like to believe that if he wasn’t, maybe he wouldn’t have done it, but then again if not that time then maybe another. I think about my dad a lot more now, mostly because I’m almost 18, this month actually, his birthday is exactly one week after mine, and I’m a senior, and I wonder if he would be proud of me, and I think about how he isn’t going to be at my high school graduation to greet and congratulate me like the rest of my family, or see me off to college, or be at my college graduation, and the reason why I swore I’d never get married, something no one else knows, is because he won’t be here to walk me down the aisle, or why I promised myself that I wouldn’t drink on my 21st birthday, or ever again in my life because he was an alcoholic and I don’t want to associate with the thing I believe to have been the cause of his decision, or the reason why I’m so bitter about holidays is because he isn’t here, holidays are about family, and we don’t have that, it will never be the same without him. Or how his death impacted me so much emotionally I find it hard to connect and open up to people, making relationships hard, getting close to someone and opening up and sharing my feelings scares me, I could name so many things that I view to be less painful than expressing my emotions. It’s so easy to vaguely vent about my emotion status to my best friend, but even though they’re my best friend I find it so hard to go in depth about how I feel and part of the reason is because I can’t find the words to use, I feel like half the time there isn’t a word or a sentence to describe how I feel. But mostly when I think about my dad I think about how he’s going to be absent from a lot of big milestones in my life, and the thought pains me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for the people I have. Because I am beyond grateful for the people I have.
From this I’ve ultimately learned some things about people and how their minds work, it makes me want to pursue a career in psychology. I want to study people and their emotions and functions more in depth, I want to find the root of things, and I want to counsel people and help them with their problems, because I don’t ever want someone to feel the way I’ve felt, and the way I sometimes still feel. I feel numb, and everything feels surreal like nothing and no one exists, including yourself like you’re having an out of body experience viewing everything from outside almost like you’re viewing someone else’s life, and you feel almost nothing, it’s just empty space with muffled noise and shapes painted in the distance, everything blends together, you can’t tell whether or not something happened that morning or a week ago. The only thing you feel is either a dull ache in your heart or a weight on your chest and sometimes you’re stuck with both and that’s the only reminder that you and everything else is real. Sometimes you can’t tell daydreams apart from reality, and at night you aren’t dreaming, you’re staring at the ceiling for hours thinking about all of those awful emotions that only seem to exist when the lights go out and you lay in bed crying and you wake up feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus and you want nothing more than the sweet release of death but you can’t have it. Sometimes those emotions come alive and you’re stuck with body wracking sobs and you feel like there’s no air left in your lungs and you’re weeping out and hyperventilating and you can taste the bile in the back of your throat daring to bring everything you’ve eaten with it, if you’ve even eaten, you can lose interest in food as well as everything and anything that exists. There’s almost nothing worse than staring at or thinking about something you once enjoyed and not feeling that same spark of happiness. Those are all dark feelings that I would never want anyone to feel and if I can be there to help then I will. Because nobody should ever feel that way”
This is what my baby wrote, this it’s what we live with every day. This is the reality of suicide survivors. The ones left behind. This is depression, crippling devastating depression. The fear I live with every day is this; the children of parents who commit suicide are 80% more likely to attempt suicide at some point in their lives.
Treasure every moment of every day, and if you love someone tell them…
Please, if you need to talk do not hesitate to call the Hotline- Call 1-800-273-8255
Someone is there 24 hours a day

2 thoughts on ““Suicide…the elephant in the room”

    1. Thanks. We’re not even Catholic but my daughter and I found ourselves lighting candles in a few cathedrals this week for Leo (he was Catholic). Eleven years and it’s still heartbreaking…

      Like

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