An interesting topic came up in a suicide support group that I am a member of. Someone asked the group were they angry at their spouse for taking their own life? This is a complicated question to answer, so I thought that I would write a post about it and elaborate.
Am I angry at Jerry for taking his own life and leaving us? The short answer is no. At times, I have certainly tried to be and I was angry at myself for that. There have been times of extreme loneliness and depression that I thought that I felt anger. But I’m not sure if it was ever anger towards him. I think it was more disappointment. Disappointment because he didn’t reach out to me. Disappointment because he left his son at such an innocent and tender age. Disappointment because he left me with the task of explaining why he left us. Disappointment because he knew that we both grew up with unstable families. He knew that I would have no family support, it would just be Matthew and I.
Periodically, in the first 4-5 years after Jerry’s death, I would go for drives alone in my car and just let out screams of frustration, to attempt to release some of the internal pain I was feeling. I wanted to blame someone for Jerry’s death, but I could never bring myself to hold him accountable. Instead, I blamed myself for many years, until it became just too unbearable . I suffered in silence because I, like Jerry, didn’t want to burden anyone with my mental health struggles. It took me a very long time and going through a lot of pain and grief to accept that it was Jerry who chose not to seek help and ultimately made the decision to end his own life.
I was angry that I was thrown into this tragedy without choice in the matter. It was one thing to be a single parent, but when you are also a widow to someone because of suicide, it is a whole other situation. You carry it with you and your children carry it with them…forever. People look at you differently and treat you differently. The sad reality is that I lost so many family and friends because of our tragedy. It angered me how cruel our world is, when people judge you by your mental health status and the tragedies you have suffered. I didn’t ask for this and most importantly, my son didn’t ask for this. I learned very quickly that no one was going to take my pain away, or save me from this. I had to learn to do things on my own and to cope on my own, heal and become a survivor.
As the years have passed since Jerry’s passing, I find myself more empathetic towards him. He doesn’t get to grow old, he is forever 26 years old. He has missed out on so many little things that most people take for granted. I am 41 and in the best physical and mental health of my life…he doesn’t get to experience that. He also doesn’t get to see how amazing, sweet and intelligent his son is. He is missing out on the amazing person that he and I created together. Jerry’s death has taught me that I’m stronger than I ever thought I was. Granted, I never believed that in the beginning, but in time, I realized my own strength. Looking back now, I don’t think I could have, or would have, done anything differently, given the situation.
I think I have simply reached a point in my life where I feel that being angry is pointless. Yes, you absolutely are entitled to feel angry, or whichever way you need to feel as part of your grieving. We are all different and react to life events differently. When you have lost a loved one to suicide, it is so traumatic that we often times don’t know how to react, or feel. The grief of suicide is much more complicated than any other form of death and it changes how you view the world.
My tragedy has taught me to appreciate every day that I’m alive and get to watch my son flourish into a wonderful human. I get to wake up everyday and choose to be happy and thankful. I am more compassionate towards others and still have so many goals and dreams that I want to fulfill. We will always have struggles and moments where we wonder if life is worth it. The answer is a resounding yes. Look at your children and think about how much they need you and love you and you will know it is all worth it.