Suicide Loss Survivor

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A Lot of years have passed since my husband’s suicide.  The proverbial what if’s lingered. What if I hadn’t taken him to all those doctors appointments, would he still be here? What if I had taken him to more? If only I had demanded to have my concerns heard when I tried to have him placed in the hospital. What if the doctor had done more than simply ask if he were a threat to himself or others? Maybe he would still be here then again maybe not … there’s no way to really know. I do know I tried helping to the best of my ability. I loved him, then, and I love him now. But I still wonder… why? Why didn’t he love me or our children enough to stay? Why?

Why did he freak out and begin kicking  me with his steel toed shoes that night?  In the days after his death, I showed few people the bruises. I hid it. I didn’t want anyone to think less of  him. I understood then just as I understand now that moment did not define the man I knew and loved.  I blamed myself. I felt I could have done more.  When I was finally able to get up off the floor.. oh, I was angry.  Thus my rings being thrown out the door. I still regret not having called the police. One of those what if’s that linger to this day.

If I had called the police, would it have changed the outcome? Or would it have happened in a holding cell? Or would it have happened anyway at another time in another way? What if it had occurred to me he was doing more than walking outside to clear his head. That he wasn’t going to a friend’s or neighbor’s house like he had done so many times before? What if I had left my babies in the house and ran after him that night? Would it have resulted in 2 deaths or altered the course of 1? WHAT IF…???

After Keith’s death, I met with his doctor. His mom watched the kids as I stood in that woman’s office demanding answers to questions that remain unsatisfactorily answered to this day. His doctor did tell me he had attempted to take his life before by stepping out into traffic years earlier.  What? I had always been told that was an accident.  Hearing her say otherwise didn’t change anything.  My questions still haunted me and I still blamed myself.

5 months after Keith’s death I attended my cousin’s wake. He saved his family the grief of discovery and hung himself in seedy motel room on a towel rack.

I knew what my husband was discussing at therapy sessions. I wondered if they had more in common than the manner in which they both chose to die. And yet I still blamed myself and not any series of events that precipitated the choice either had made.

Years later, new studies were showing that antidepressants could cause suicidal idealization in some patients. I wondered, what if that was why?  Was it possible?  A new direction to ponder the proverbial what if’s. I could not stop thinking I could have done more. Or perhaps done things differently depending on which way my thought processes were going on any given day. PTSD is like that. You replay the events that surround a trauma over and over. Thinking  you could have altered the outcome.

It wasn’t until I was at the point where I too considered escaping the pain within that I slowly began to stop questioning everything. The moment I chose life, even though life’s memories seemed too painful to ever overcome, is when I began to slowly stop placing blame upon myself. I realized along the way no matter what I had decided no one could have done anything to alter the course of any decision I made. It was my decision, my choice to make just as it had been his. It was his decision, his choice. Having been at such at crossroads I know how judgement can be clouded. I wish somehow he could have persevered through his life’s painful moments and rediscovered life’s joys. I miss him. I still love him. I always will.

All these years later it still hurts. It isn’t every moment of every day, but it still hurts.  I just no longer put up a facade to hide the pain.  It is a part of being a suicide loss survivor.  There is a piece of me that still struggles to heal.

Tough Questions

32 comments

  1. I reluctantly hit the “like” button because I wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do but I did. I am truly sorry for your hurt, pain and so many unanswered questions. But I do know who holds the answers. God knows each of us and I know he truly knew your husband and his pain. I’m not sure why bad things happen to good people but I do know, through you and your heartfelt words… good will come from such hurt. I will keep you in my deepest thoughts and prayers. ❤️

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  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine going through all of that. I’m sure you did all you could. Thanks for sharing your pain. I’m sure you could help many people. May God bless you and your family.

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  3. Dear Joyously Hopeful, my heart hurts as I not only read but relate to how much suffering our loved ones endured not to mention our own and our children. Wow! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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  4. Thank you so much for opening up to us. My heart goes out to you. My first husband was an alcoholic, and when he threatened my life, I left. He died within 2 years. I have been married for 36 years to my husband, and he has never been anything but loving to me. What a wonderful change.

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  5. Hi I couldn’t find your name, so I call you Joy for now. It must be hard to recount all that happened years ago and all the blame you put on yourself with all the “what if…” You carried the blame on your shoulder for so long. Toward the end of this post, you did say that you realized that it was your late husband’s choice to commit suicide, and now you choose life.
    It was correct that some medication for depression has the side effect of suicidal thoughts. In Keith’s case, the thought was severe enough that he carried out and ended his life. I’ve seen enough and heard enough about depression, and I can say that there was nothing you could have done to stop him. You might have prevented it to happen many times even though you didn’t know it. Then finally it was out of control. And, you are not responsible to be in control of his choice. Nobody can make someone to do anything unless he decided to do it.
    I think you are going toward the right direction. You’re responsible for your well being and need to come out of the blame to live a new life. Taking care of autism children is a big responsibility. Pray for you – strength for today, and hope for tomorrow. Blessings, Miriam
    p.s. thank you for the follow!

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  6. I cannot believe that you and I wrote the exact same kind of post within days of each other. It is a testament to the horrible choice it is to choose to die by suicide for those that are left behind. I’m so sorry you had to discover your husband. That is something I didn’t have to do, but the person who did find him set the whole scene for me. I’m a very visual thinker, so I might as well have seen it. But I can guess it’s better than having found him. There is definitely a kindred spirit with our circumstances. My oldest is on the autism spectrum as well and both my boys have mood disorders and ADHD. I am so sorry for your loss and I hate that you go through the same questions I do.

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        • No. He had done it in our detached garage. He had left the barn doors open. That’s how our neighbor saw him. Authorities were on scene when I tried to back there. They literally drug me back to the front. No one would tell me anything. Neighbors filled the street. I asked everyone where he was? What was going on? They would just look away. My oldest daughter saw him tho. She had snuck past the chaos under some bushes. Police officers found her and took her to get something to eat. They were trying to contact my Pastor. But he was out of town. I was kept away from Bre and everything else until a Police chaplain arrived to tell me what had happened. It still didn’t register. I argued with him that my husband would do that do that. Boy was I wrong.

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          • Oh, no. I can’t believe your daughter saw him. That’s awful. I know you’ve been there for her, though. The friend who found my husband told me what happened and when they were done with the scene, the medical examiner came out to tell me and have me sign a form. I was glad they wouldn’t let me go back there. I’m also glad they wouldn’t let you go back there but someone should have told you.

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          • I am not sure it would have registered even if they had. I was involved in urban missionary outreach back then. The Police chaplain and I became friends through that work. He said later he had to tell me multiple times. That I just kept telling him he was mistaken. It was obvious something was wrong because of all the ambulance, firetrucks and police but I would just ask again where Keith was. The mind reacts so bizarrely in a crisis.

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          • Definitely. I’m glad a friend was able to tell you. I still, to this day, have dreams that my husband was really alive and faked his death. Some of the times, he actually “really” commits suicide after I find out, but most of the time he just hangs out with a bunch of women without apology in front of me. It’s so odd that I dream like this because I watched them lower his head in the casket and shut the lid and then I had the casket lowered to the ground at the end of the graveside service. I think this is why God had me do those things because He knew the dreams I would be having.

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          • I found myself sitting near a window for months afterwards. I would sip coffee and constantly look out to the driveway or the walkway. I didn’t even realize why. The one day I just announced to a friend who happened to be with me at the time I don’t think he is coming back. When it dawned on me I had been waiting for him to come home, I felt stupid and heartbroken all at the same time.

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