My daughter was standing beside me today when I opened our mailbox and found a magazine from the gun shop where my husband purchased his method of suicide.
Of course, we were both triggered. I told her I was going there to ask them to remove us from the mailing list. She wanted to come with me for moral support, so I let her. I could have called, but I needed to ask in person. I didn’t change my clothes, even though I had chocolate on my sleeves from making fudge for our family gathering.
I went into my apartment and made a copy of my husband’s Death Certificate. With a Sharpie, I blacked out his parents and my information, and a few other identifying factors. I circled the date and time of death, where he was found, his cause of death, and the coroner’s description naming the type of gun used.
I took the magazine and the notated Death Certificate to the gun shop. Most of the people were in the back of the store. At the front were just me, my daughter, and two men behind the counter. I asked if there was a manager around. They looked confused, and I said, “Well, maybe you can help me. I don’t want to cause a scene; I just need to be heard.” There were a lot of people near the back of the store, and they couldn’t hear us.
I placed the magazine with my husband’s name and address on the counter and very calmly requested, “We received this magazine in the mail today, and I would like you to remove us from this list and any other list my husband may be on because…” I slid them the marked-up Death Certificate and continued, “My husband died using the gun he bought here. He picked it up about an hour before he shot himself in an open lot, and I would prefer to have as few reminders as possible. Please don’t send anything more to this address.”
While I was talking, my attention was focused on the magazine and Death Certificate on the counter, and I noticed that my hands began shaking, as did my voice. When I finished my plea, I looked up, and both men were clearly holding back tears. One wiped his eyes.
I forgot how hard it is to tell someone my husband died by suicide and how difficult it is to hear someone say it. It must have been a shock for them to hear that their shop sold my husband his method.
I wanted to raise awareness of suicide, so I remained gentle and calm with them. I wanted them to remember, most of all, that I was kind to them in the midst of great pain, and I said, “I don’t blame you. His death is not your fault. I found the receipt after he died. If I had found it before he picked up the gun from your shop, I would have come here to tell you not to sell to him. I’m not asking for anything other than for you to please help me avoid seeing reminders like this. Please remove him from this mailing list.” They said they would, and we left without incident.
I believe I did the right thing. This is how I chose to raise awareness today.