When someone you know and love kills themselves, as uncomfortably ironic as it seems, they hurt those left behind breathing more than they did themselves. That may seem cold and cruel, but when they take the act to turn off the light in their soul, they’re gone, it’s all over for them.
It’s those who are left behind that have to figure out how to carry on, those who remain have to figure out how to put all of the pieces of themselves back together.
The inspiration for this piece came from a man inside the Fraternity of Excellence, he is one of the most insightful men I’ve ever met (we actually met at the 21 Convention 2017) and when he shared this post from Reddit, I knew I had to share my story.
Piecing your life back together after losing someone to their own hand is no easy task and it is one which is made singularly more difficult as the only people who can truly relate to your plight are those who are also working to fix themselves.
Few are able to discuss the loss of a father, mother, brother, sister, or friend without shutting down. The unique aspect to losing those same people to suicide is the taboo nature which clings around the taking of one’s own life. This unspoken agreement to not speak about the “ultimate sin” shuts down the ability to relate even further, which shuts down the ability to heal or at best slows it down considerably.
- The shame & guilt of not seeing the signs.
- The anger of being left behind, alone.
- The isolation which comes from no longer having that person’s presence which is exacerbated by not having anyone who can relate to your pain.
Each of the above struggles are unique aspects that children of suicide have to navigate in a dark and lonely world.
This is the reason I am sharing my story.
It is my hope that others who have been through this uniquely tragic loss knows that they are not alone. Whether it was a parent, friend, or mentor the person who took their life impacted you and made you who you are today and because they made you what you’ve become, you’re a child of their suicide.
A Literal Child of Suicide
My mother committed suicide when I was five and my brother and sister who are twins were two. One night, she decided that swallowing a bullet was a better decision than swallowing her pride and getting some help.
My memory from that night:
I wake up on my top bunk to red and blue lights flashing
I hear sounds in the hallway
I open my door right as a gurney with a white sheet over a body is rolled past
The paramedics look at me (I don’t remember but assume it was pity and pain that was written across their faces)
I see the light in my brother and sister’s room down the hall on, so I walk down to it.
There is my dad, Zeus himself, the strongest living human I know holding both my brother and sister, two years old, one in each arm, with his hand on his face, crying.
I ask, “Is mommy ok?” and he answers me with a voice I’ve never heard since and have never forgotten…
“I don’t know buddy.“
Then it’s black, the memories ends there.
After this we had to live with my grandparents as my father was in the Navy and now that he was a single parent, we didn’t have anyone to watch us when he deployed.
There was therapy
There was confusion
There was self guilt
As I aged there was anger, depression, and a lack of identity I couldn’t shake.
Living With The Dead
When you first discover that someone dear to you has taken their life, it doesn’t seem real. It’s as though your world is turned upside down, it still seems like your normal reality, just different, then you realize that this truly is happening and that’s the exact moment the real pain sets in.
This is real.
They are gone.
When someone kills themselves, nobody tells you that they’ll live on in your dreams, daily thoughts, or in every minute that you find yourself alone, without something to distract you. This could go on for months or years and the sad truth is, it’ll go on until you learn to live with the living and let the dead rest.
There is nothing wrong with you for wanting to go back in time, praying to God, the devil, or anyone who will answer to send you back for just one more hug, kiss, or conversation.
There is nothing wrong with you for not clearing out their room, throwing their clothes away, or removing the items which remind you of them daily.
There is nothing wrong with you for having conversations with them in your head or referencing every point from perspective of how that moment would feel, if only they were still around.
There is nothing wrong with you for lashing out at those who tell you to move on, you don’t want to move on, not yet.
But at some point, you’ve got to rejoin the living; you’ve got to learn to honor the life lost by living yours more thoroughly.
It isn’t enough to go from day to day disheveled, unmotivated, consumed with sadness, regret, and rage. You need to do more to celebrate the life lost and the only way to do that is to live life once again.
I’m not talking about existing, I’m talking about learning to feel the breeze, smell the odors, and soak in the vibrant colors of our world.
You are still living and while a part of you may have died with your loved one, the rest of you must carry on, focused not on forgetting the past, but letting the wound heal and letting the scar it leaves remind you always of the love you had and lost and in that moment of closure, you forever have fuel to push forward when the night is darkest.
The scar left on your heart is a reminder that you loved and you lost, but it is not a wall to prevent you from learning to love again.
You did not die and it is not your fault that your loved one did, let the wound heal.
It’s Not Your Fault
If you’re like me, the responsibility of their death can be found on your shoulders. It’s a heavy weight, one I carried from 5 years old to 19.
I lashed out thinking pain would soothe the guilt.
- Broken windows
- Holes in walls
- Drinking to numb
- Smoking to numb
- Crying until there was nothing left
- Screaming into a pillow until passing out
- Cursing god then begging for her to return
I’ve been there, I spent years there blaming myself for an action taken by another.
I’ve spent hours wishing I’d said or not said something, done more or done less of something, whatever I could imagine caused her death, I blamed myself for it.
Why else would she do it?
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been through this carousel of twisted emotions and the fun house of pain.
Then one day it clicked and I realized, I did not kill my mother, she did. From that moment forward, I’ve lost the love and hate I felt for her, I have now embraced an entirely apathetic stance.
She was my mother, she killed herself, it fucked my father, siblings, and myself up but she didn’t suffer at all, she entered her eternal slumber while we all tried to unfuck our lives. That is the final lesson to this, you did not kill your loved one, they did.
You can feel as though breaking up with them, not answering the phone, or choosing to blow them off when they needed you killed them, but at the end of the day, they chose death over life and that is the exact opposite of what you’re going to do.
You’re going to choose to live.
You’re going to choose to accept what happened, but not let it be the focal point of each day.
You’re going to recognize that there is a man who has gone through the same and he is willing to talk to you whenever you need it (TheFamilyAlpha@gmail.com) (@HunterDrewTFA) all you need to do is reach out and have the discussion.
Us Children of Suicide, we’ve got to stick together and help get the damn taboo around the subject lifted.
This piece is my attempt to start that process and add to the discussion and provide another resource to talk about. We need you to choose to return to the land of the living, there are others who need to hear your story of choosing to survive instead of dying years before you enter the ground.
Choosing to Live
If you’re suffering in silence, please reach out for help. If you’ve lost all purpose to carry on, think of those you’ll leave behind, think of the children that will be born of your suicide.
You may be hurt, you may have dark clouds inside, but life is worth living, you just need to find the beauty, find the light again and let it break those clouds apart.
Having thoughts of suicide neither makes you weak nor does it make you any less deserving of life. Thinking of ending it all is not a life sentence, you can come back.
- For every suicide, there are 25 attempts
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States
- Each year nearly 45,000 people kill themselves which comes out to 123 every single day
- Risk for suicide is 22% higher among Veterans
- Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women
- White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.
These statistics capture the “big picture” of what is going on in the United States, but in no way does it account for the individual aspect which impacts every child of suicide.
Each of those 123 suicides that occur each day send ripples which impact 10x that amount of people, often for the rest of the survivor’s lives.
I wrote this piece to let you, my sibling of suicide, know that you are not alone.
While I can talk with you about your experience and come at it from a position of understanding that many cannot relate to, I am neither a medical professional nor am I a professional therapist.
I am a man who lost his mother early in life and decided to keep fighting to live with the living and let the dead rest in peace.
If you need professional help, please reach out below, you’re worth it.
Acta Non Verba,
“In the end, one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.” – Albert Camus
Choose to Fight.
Choose to Live.