Last weekend, after encountering some comments about people who commit suicide, I decided to tell my story. Suicide is not something you can hide, ignore, or brag about. At some point in your life you have to deal with it ---whether it be a family member, friend or even friend of a friend. It's not a topic to share with someone who doesn't understand. For those that are left behind, we deal with so much gossip and senselessness. We bite our lip and hide our insecurities. If there is anything I can accomplish from this post, it is just to advise and educate people about those left behind and how we feel.
For me, it was my dear ole dad. It happened on July 17th, 2006. It was a super hot day, and I had a tremendous headache unlike any I have experienced since. Every time I get a headache, anytime it is super hot and humid outside, and anytime I hear the word suicide, I think of my father. He helped create me. I am a part of him. Therefore, when I hear people make rude and uncaring remarks, I feel violated and hurt --- especially when those remarks come from family, close friends, and co-workers.
My dad had been physically ill for quite some time and emotionally drained. He did not commit suicide to punish those he loved. He did not commit suicide because he was crazy. He did not commit suicide because he did not love us. My dad committed suicide because he saw no other choice than to end his suffering. It may not have been the right thing to do. It may have hurt a lot of people. However, he is my father. Do not judge him.
Last weekend I spent some time with my husband's family. After Easter dinner the conversation somehow turned to suicide. It made my heart race and my stomach jerk. I could not believe some of the things being said --- especially in light of knowing my dad did this almost 5 years ago. I listened to comments that described people who commit suicide are crazy or they would never do such a thing, how they are not in their right minds when they do it, how it must be like for people to have to pick up body parts that have been blown all over the place. Those are just some of the comments I remember. I chose to sit in the living room by myself and started texting my best friend for distraction.
After 5 years one would think I could finally just ignore comments like that, but considering it was "family," I was more inclined to be furious at myself. Furious for allowing myself to get so angry for not speaking up to them and ask them why they were talking about my dad. Furious that my husband wouldn't tell them, "Hey, let's talk about something else." Furious because he rolled his eyes when I asked him for truck keys so I could leave. Furious for not educating them on my feelings.
Two weeks after I returned from funeral leave from work, I got to sit and wait on a daily morning meeting we have at work. My boss, along with another co-worker, said some things very, very similar to what my husband's family said although knowing full well what I had gone through. I chalked it up to their being complete jerks for hurting me like that. It's something I will never ever forget. Thank goodness, the Superintendent came in, asked what they were talking about, looked directly at me and changed their conversation. Later my boss even told me, "You know your dad was out of his mind to do something like that." Really? I'm so glad she informed me of her opinion. Interestingly enough, I believe in Karma.
I'm sure I can speak for any person who is left behind. We take those comments personally. We feel like we have failed. Failed for not telling them we love them before they walked out the door for the last time. Failed for not telling them all sorts of things good, bad, and indifferent. Failed mostly because we couldn't save them.
So please keep these things in mind when you encounter someone left behind from a suicide. We don't want to be ignored when some else commits suicide. Don't be afraid to tell us about it. If you do say something completely stupid, just apologize to us. We know those things happen. Just don't keep talking about it.
As I reread this post I realize it didn't turn out quite like I had planned. However, I do believe I got my point across. I love my dad and miss him like crazy. Sometimes I think about having one last conversation with him. Sometimes I think about all the people he's missed in his lifetime and visiting with in Heaven right now. That makes me happy!