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.