My daughter’s father ended his life eight years ago. I was pregnant with her at the time and because of that, I never fully dealt with my grief. Over the past two months, I’ve known two people who died by suicide. One was the young daughter of a wonderful friend. This has brought up a flurry of untouched emotions and grief that I buried when he died so long ago. I’ve decided that it’s time to deal with these emotions and work through them, whether by talking to others on the Alliance of Hope Forum or helping others through their grief.
I wrote this essay, to share with my friend after she has had some time to absorb the shock of her loss. After reading so many posts on the forum, I felt this would be the perfect place to share my thoughts. Thank you for reading!
My Journey of Loss
Losing a loved one to suicide is the most painful, gut-wrenching experience anyone can ever go through. You look around and wonder how everyone is carrying on with life as normal when it feels like the world has stopped turning. Not only have you suddenly and unexpectedly lost someone you loved and cherished, but you must also come to grips with the fact that their death was a deliberate choice that they made, even though they knew it would hurt you.
This realization rips you in two – you are grieving the loss of your beloved while simultaneously battling feelings of intense anger and betrayal.
“Why?” is a question that plays on repeat over and over in your head and nothing in the note or their final words or actions can answer it. So, you vacillate between blaming yourself and desperately trying to believe the well-meaning people who tell you that there was nothing you could have done. For a moment that thought gives you peace, but the “should have, could have, would have” is just around the corner waiting to take hold.
You replay every single moment of their life, trying to pinpoint the moment when they made the decision to end it. Trying to understand how you couldn’t have seen the pain behind their eyes and smile. Trying to understand why they didn’t reach out for help. Desperately trying to understand how your deep and unending love was not enough to make them want to live.
The sudden, bitter anger that you feel confuses you. You’ve been taught that when people die, you should feel sadness and grief, not anger. But this isn’t like any other death. This person chose to leave you knowing they would take a huge part of your heart with them.
You scream: WHY did they do this, knowing how much it was going to hurt me?! Why didn’t they ask me for help? Why wasn’t my love enough?! Where was God when this was happening?!
And the next minute you feel deep, immeasurable sorrow for how sad and lonely they must have been to have taken such drastic action. And you can’t help but wonder if you had given them more love, reassurance, and support if that would have made a difference…if there was anything you could have done to make them choose to live.
In between bouts of anger and sadness, you miss the person you loved – their laugh, their smile, every single thing about them.
You want them back so desperately, you bargain with God. You’d give up anything for just one more second, one more “I love you,” one more hug. The desperation you feel is unlike anything you’ve ever known.
It’s a vicious cycle that plays on repeat for days, weeks, and months on end.
You feel that it’s never going to stop, that you will surely lose your mind on a rollercoaster of grief. Sometimes you even wonder if your life is worth living without your loved one.
As time crawls by, the edges of your emotions slowly soften.
The sadness isn’t so strong, the anger isn’t so bitter, the grief not so palpable. You still ask “Why?“ each and every day, but it isn’t so desperate and frantic. One day, you catch yourself laughing and wonder where that small bubble of happiness came from. It seems odd to experience any joy when your heart is still hurting so much. You will probably feel guilty experiencing any happiness at all when your loved one is gone.
Just when you think the worst is over, the holidays, their birthday, or the anniversary of their death comes along, knocking the wind out of you.
A few weeks before the anniversary, something imperceptibly shifts inside of you. Sadness, tension, and anger slowly bubble to the surface, where freshly scabbed wounds rip open. You remember exactly how you felt the day they died as if it were yesterday. It feels as though you are starting the grief process all over again. You wonder if other people remember your loved one on important occasions and holidays. If they don’t, you wonder how they could possibly forget something so important.
And then, as the years go by, your grief slowly subsides.
Never a day goes by when you don’t think about your beloved, pray they come to you in a dream, and explain why they decided to end their life. You look for signs of your loved one everywhere you go – a butterfly landing on your shoulder, a song on the radio, a star shining brightly in the midnight sky – anything to give you just a glimpse of their beautiful soul.