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Emotions & Challenges, Losing a Spouse or Partner

Survivor Experience: No Warning / No Clue

On August 3, 2012, my significant other of 18 years, Dave, went for a motorcycle ride. He stopped at the local taproom for a beer on the way home. When he got home, he came through the house, said hello, and went to his man cave (the garage), to have another beer and listen to the rest of the San Francisco Giants baseball game. I went out to the garage during the 8th inning to ask him what he had eaten that day, wondering if I should make something for a late dinner.

As I was leaving the garage, he laughed and asked what I was wearing – telling me it looked like a tablecloth. It was a lightweight blue plaid summer dress that I wore around the house when it was hot. I playfully got indignant and said he was wearing a tablecloth. That was the last conversation we would ever have.

I was laying on the couch watching the Olympics and reading a murder mystery novel when he came into the house and went upstairs. I assumed he was going to get ready for bed, maybe take a shower, and then come downstairs to eat. I didn’t hear the shower and peeked up the stairs at one point and saw the bathroom light was off. At this point, I assumed he had laid down on the bed and fallen asleep. I wish I had gone upstairs to give him a hard time about not saying good night.

I laid back down on the couch, reading and pretending to watch TV. When I heard a loud bang, I thought one of our planters had fallen on the front porch.

I got up and looked outside and all the planters were still hanging. Dave is a light sleeper, so I went upstairs to ask him if he had heard the noise. When I entered the bedroom, I smelled the gun powder smell and was confused but thought maybe some neighbor kids had thrown a firecracker in the front yard.

I sat down on the bed next to him and it was wet. I can’t remember whether I turned the lamp on first with my left hand or put my right hand on his chest to shake him awake. I think it was simultaneous. Everything happened at once. The light went on. I saw blood on my hand and realized he had shot himself. Everything is a blur after that. I know I screamed and ran downstairs to the phone and dialed 911.

It felt like it took forever for someone to get there. The 911 operator told me to go back upstairs, check if he was breathing, get a towel to place over the gunshot wound, clear his breathing passageway, and do chest compressions. I did whatever she said. I kept telling her I can’t do this and someone needs to get here soon. But it took forever, so I stayed and did what she told me to do. It was horrible. No one should ever have to see anything like that. I knew he was gone. But I kept thinking if they get here soon enough, they can save him.

I don’t understand any of this. I’ve read other posts where people say there was no sign of depression or suicide warnings. And I believe you.

In his 42 years of life, not one relative or friend recalls suicide ever being a thought. In our 18 years together, we went through some rough times, but we were finally in a great place. We had finally figured things out and accepted each other’s faults and appreciated each other’s quirks. We were actively planning for our future. Trips to Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to see family. A group hockey game in the fall. (We did one or two every year and had 75 people last year). Work on our house. The garden (His motto was I grow it – you clean it – you cook it – I eat it).

We were going to spend the rest of our lives together. Everything is wrong now. I can’t imagine having Thanksgiving without him smoking a small turkey and me doing a stuffed turkey in the oven (imagine 30 lbs. of turkey for two people). Christmas morning will be completely wrong. Hockey games without him next to me in a Pavelski jersey is just not right.

If he were here, he’d ask me: “Is someone was feeling lonely?” I would say yes, I’m lonely and I miss you.

About the Author

Wisdom From Our Community

"Wisdom From Our Community" posts originally appeared on the Alliance of Hope Forum for Suicide Loss Survivors and are reprinted with the permission of the authors. Our online forum transcends time and distance, offering a culture of kindness, hope, and understanding to people who have lost loved ones to suicide. Operating like a 24/7 support group, our forum is supervised by a mental health professional and moderated by a trained team of loss survivors. Members can read and comment, share their stories, and connect with other suicide loss survivors.Read More »