When someone you know and love kills themselves, as uncomfortably ironic as it seems, they hurt those left behind that are still breathing more than they did their own person.
That may seem cold and cruel as their life was snuffed out, but when they take the act to turn off the light in their soul, they’re gone; it’s all over for them.
It’s those who are left behind that have to figure out how to carry on, those who remain have to figure out how to put all of the shattered pieces of themselves back together.
The inspiration for this piece came this post from Reddit.
After reading it I knew I had to share my story, because maybe it would help someone out there choose to take a different path and if that were to be the case, then it’s absolutely worth it
Losing someone to suicide leaves you with a different type of pain
Piecing your life back together after losing someone to their own hand is no easy task and it is one which is made singularly more difficult as the only people who can truly relate to your plight are those who are also working to fix themselves.
Only the broken truly get the broken.
Sometimes I feel like I’m on the island of misfit toys when I talk about this:
Oh, you’re cracked on the inside too? Join me while I try to make sense of this myself…
Few are able to discuss the loss of a father, mother, brother, sister, or friend without shutting down.
The unique aspect to losing those same people to suicide is the taboo nature which clings around the taking of one’s own life. This unspoken agreement to not speak about the “ultimate sin” shuts down the ability to relate even further, which slows down the ability to heal if not halting it altogether:
- The shame & guilt of not seeing the signs.
- The anger of being left behind, alone.
- The isolation which comes from no longer having that person’s presence which is exacerbated by not having anyone who can relate to your pain.
Each of the above struggles are unique aspects that children of suicide have to navigate in a dark and lonely world.
This is the reason I am sharing my story.
I don’t like talking about this, never-mind writing a piece for the world to read; but it’s my hope that others who have been through this uniquely tragic loss knows that they are not alone.
Whether it was a parent, friend, or mentor the person who took their life impacted you and made you who you are today and because they made you what you’ve become, you’re a child of their suicide.
I lost a parent to suicide
My mother committed suicide two weeks after I turned six years old (my brother and sister who are twins were three).
One night, she decided that swallowing a bullet was a better decision than swallowing her pride and getting some help.
My memory from that night:
I wake up on my top bunk to red and blue lights flashing
I hear sounds in the hallway
I open my door right as a gurney with a white sheet over a body is rolled past
The paramedics look at me (I don’t remember but assume it was pity and pain that was written across their faces)
I see the light in my brother and sister’s room down the hall on, so I walk down to it.
There is my dad, Zeus himself, the strongest living human I know holding both my brother and sister, three years old, one in each arm, with his hand on his face, crying.
I ask, “Is mommy ok?” and he answers me with a voice I’ve never heard since and have never forgotten…
“I don’t know buddy.“
Then it’s black, the memory ends there.
After this we had to live with my grandparents as my father was in the Navy and now that he was a single parent, we didn’t have anyone to watch us when he deployed.
- There was therapy
- There was confusion
- There was self guilt
As I aged there was anger, depression, and a lack of identity I couldn’t shake.
Piecing yourself together after suicide
When you first discover that someone dear to you has taken their life, it doesn’t seem real.
It’s as though your world is turned upside down; it still seems like you’re in your normal reality, but somehow it’s just different.
Then you realize that this truly is happening and that’s the exact moment the real pain sets in.
This is real.
They are gone.
When someone kills themselves, nobody tells you that they’ll live on in your dreams, daily thoughts, or in every minute that you find yourself alone without something to distract you.
This could go on for months or years and the sad truth is, it’ll go on until you learn to live with the living and let the dead rest…
There is nothing wrong with you for wanting to go back in time, praying to God, the devil, or anyone who will answer to send you back for just one more hug, kiss, or conversation.
There is nothing wrong with you for not clearing out their room, throwing their clothes away, or removing the items which remind you of them daily.
There is nothing wrong with you for having conversations with them in your head or referencing every point from a perspective of how that moment would feel, if only they were still around.
There is nothing wrong with you for lashing out at those who tell you to move on even when you don’t want to move on, not yet.
But at some point, you’ve got to rejoin the living; you’ve got to learn to honor the life lost by living yours more completely.
It isn’t enough to go from day to day disheveled, unmotivated, consumed with sadness, regret, and rage. You need to do more to celebrate the life lost and the only way to do that is to live life once again.
I’m not talking about existing, I’m talking about learning to feel the breeze, smell the odors, and soak in the vibrant colors of our world.
You are still living and while a part of you may have died with your loved one, the rest of you must carry on.
You must move forward focused not on forgetting the past, but letting the wound heal and letting the scar it leaves remind you always of the love you had and lost and in that moment of closure, you forever have fuel to push forward when the night is darkest.
The scar left on your heart is a reminder that you loved and you lost, but it is not a wall to prevent you from learning to love again.
You did not die and it is not your fault that your loved one did, let the wound heal.
It’s Not Your Fault
If you’re like me, you feel that the responsibility of their death can be found on your shoulders.
It’s a heavy weight, one I carried from six years old to 19.
I lashed out thinking pain would soothe the guilt:
- Broken windows
- Holes in walls
- Drinking to numb
- Smoking to numb
- Crying until there was nothing left
- Screaming into a pillow until passing out
- Cursing god then begging for her to return
I’ve been there, I spent years there blaming myself for an action taken by another.
I’ve spent hours wishing I’d said or not said something, done more or done less of something, whatever I could imagine caused her death, I blamed myself for it.
Was I a bad kid?
Why else would she do it?
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been through this carousel of twisted emotions and the fun house of pain.
Then one day it clicked and I realized, I did not kill my mother, she did.
From that moment forward, I’ve lost the love and hate I felt for her, I have now embraced an entirely apathetic stance.
She was my mother, she killed herself and it fucked my father, siblings, and myself up but she didn’t suffer at all, she entered her eternal slumber while we all tried to pick up the pieces of our lives.
That is the final lesson to this, you did not kill your loved one, they did.
You can feel as though your action was the cause but at the end of the day, they chose death over life and that is the exact opposite of what you’re going to do.
You’re going to choose to live.
You’re going to choose to accept what happened, but not let it be the focal point of each day.
You’re going to recognize that there is a man who has gone through the same and he is willing to talk to you whenever you need it all you need to do is reach out and have the discussion.
Us Children of Suicide, the ones who remain…
We’ve got to stick together and help get the damn taboo around the subject lifted.
This piece is my attempt to start that process and add to the discussion and provide another resource to talk about. We need you to choose to return to the land of the living, there are others who need to hear your story of choosing to survive instead of dying years before you enter the ground.
If you’re someone who has chosen to read this and has never experienced the loss of someone due to suicide, I ask that if you yourself are contemplating ending it all that you choose to go on just another day.
Maybe money is tight, relationships have ended, friends have been lost; whatever it is that has your head in this dark place, recognize that it too shall pass…
Don’t leave your friends and family broken because you, for a temporary moment, wanted to quit.
Don’t quit, fight.
Suicide is not an option
If you’re suffering in silence, please reach out for help. If you’ve lost all purpose to carry on, think of those you’ll leave behind, think of the children that will be born of your suicide.
You may be hurt, you may have dark clouds inside, but life is worth living, you just need to find the beauty and light again then choose to let it break those dark clouds apart.
Having thoughts of suicide neither makes you weak nor does it make you any less deserving of life. Thinking of ending it all is not a life sentence, you can come back.
- For every suicide, there are 25 attempts
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States
- Each year nearly 45,000 people kill themselves which comes out to 123 every single day
- Risk for suicide is 22% higher among Veterans
- Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women
- White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.
These statistics capture the “big picture” of what is going on in the United States, but in no way does it account for the individual aspect which impacts every child of suicide.
Each of those 123 suicides that occur each day send ripples which impact 10x that amount of people, often for the rest of the survivor’s lives.
I wrote this piece to let you, my sibling of suicide, know that you are not alone.
While I can talk with you about your experience and come at it from a position of understanding that many cannot relate to, I am neither a medical professional nor am I a professional therapist.
I am a man who lost his mother early in life and decided to keep fighting to live with the living and let the dead rest in peace.
If you need professional help, please reach out below, you’re worth it.
“In the end, one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.” – Albert Camus
Choose to Fight.
Choose to Live.
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