Death by suicide is certainly a complicated grief.
Grief is unpredictable, follows no rules and comes at you without warning. It is physically exhausting. It is raw. This grief rollercoaster is amazing. If you think there is a rollercoaster in the world that can manage the twists, turns and insanity of grief, you would be wrong. Grief is unpredictable, follows no rules and comes at you without warning. It is physically exhausting. It is raw. It is also a wound or a burden that never completely disappears and is something you simply learn to live with, and only because you become stronger with each day and hour can you carry this endless weight.
Today the Fed Ex truck showed up with flowers two days after my anniversary and the emotion it triggered in me surprised me. It was of loss and an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy. My mind knows that I was good enough, but my heart still wonders, “What failing I possessed that led Jason to take his life?”
Suicide adds an entirely different layer to this grief process.
When the person you love chooses to leave, they make a conscious, if misguided decision, to walk away from life. That choice leaves you questioning everything.
- What could I have done differently to help this person stay?
- Did I cause the grief and anguish in their soul?
- Did I do enough to make sure they felt loved?
- Was there some way I could have prevented it?
- Did I not really know them?
- Why didn’t I see what was coming?
- How could I have made this a different story?
- Why wasn’t I worth staying for?
Sometimes people leave notes that raise more questions than answers.
Jason’s note included the words ‘be free’ twice. I feel like one ‘be free’ was meant for him and the other one was meant for for us. His demons trapped him in a world that looked bleak and empty. He simply failed to hold onto joy. I truly believe he felt love and joy, but it slipped from him like a water flowing over rocks. Joy held itself elusive like the flitting butterfly in a summer field of flowers. No matter how close he got to the butterfly it fluttered away.
Sometimes people leave anger in their notes. They leave blame and hurt. Jason didn’t do that. What he did leave was the idea that we would be better off without him. That idea alone makes me wonder personally if I somehow failed to communicate effectively our love and need for him here in our lives.
I remember just after Jason died going over and over the events of the night he left.
I wondered if that one moment, when I lost patience with his depression, had triggered his suicide. I remember sobbing and telling a dear friend, who was one of the few people I confided in about Jason’s depression, that I had always been patient, nonjudgmental and loving towards my hurting husband. I truly thought and felt that I created an environment where he felt safe, loved and wanted.
Could that one moment of exhaustion and frustration have been the trigger?
Maybe it was, but I have come to realize that Jason had loaded the gun long before he loaded the one he used to take his life. He had built a pattern of negative thoughts and held onto them, caressing them like a new born baby until they consumed his soul. The help he could have received, he pushed aside, maybe not on purpose, but still pushed aside.
In effect, suicide creates a feeling of failure in those left behind.
Suicide creates the feeling that somehow we failed the person we loved. That pain can embed itself like a thorn in the skin, but if plucked out, the pain lessens and the skin begins to heal.
I choose not to dwell on this thought, I choose to remove the thorn.
Jason’s suicide was not my fault.
To find that peace and answer, I turned to God and I asked him plainly and with my whole soul if I had done enough to save my husband. The answer came gradually. The Spirit whispered to me gently the moments I cared for Jason and lifted him. I saw in Jason’s own writings, which I read again today that I was truly his sunshine and the light that kept him going. God whispered peace to my soul.
John 14:27 says, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
God spoke peace to my heart confirming what I knew in my mind… that I had done all I could and the ultimate decision and action was Jason’s and his alone to make.
Still, today my heart ached again because what I knew in my mind was not what I felt today in my heart. My heart sorrowed, yearning for love and companionship today. I read the words Jason said in some of his notes to me. He said he wanted eternity and one more day. We used to say that to each other all the time. He called me his light. He spoke of his love for me and how difficult it was to define because it changed and grew as we did in our experiences together. Yet I struggle to feel that now sometimes. Some people speak of having their loved one hover around them. I rarely feel Jason with me. It may be that I push him away because I am angry with him or it may be that he has other things to do. Regardless I don’t feel him around me and that makes it difficult to know that he loved me.
I choose my path.
Despite the doubts that enter my mind, I still choose to believe that our love was real and that his happiness was not faked. A good friend told me that since Jason failed to stay to answer our questions that I could shape the answers as I chose.
I choose to believe that Jason loved me and that our moments together brought him great joy. That he adored his children and that sometimes he whispers to my sweet baby girl kind words that she then says to me as she places her arms around my neck and tells me how much she loves me.
I do know that God grants me peace, and that enables me to continue when the moments seem to overwhelm. God gives us peace, peace to our souls. When Jesus gave his sermon on the mount he said, “Blessed are those that mourn for they shall be comforted.” God does not lie and when the sorrow comes I embrace it and then I let God fill my soul with peace.