It's coming. Every year, without fail, it shows up and the memories flood.
This year, on March 11th, I will go the store and pick out the prettiest single red rose I can find. I will take that little rose to a cemetery about 15-20 minutes outside of town. I will kiss its full bloom and place it on a headstone. I will sit down in front of that headstone and talk to the man with whom I spent half of my life. Twenty years together is a long time. I have so much to say, but never can seem to find all the words. I will feel the tears well in my eyes and likely, some will fall. I will feel the anger in my heart for the damage done. I will feel the guilt for all I failed to see and do. I will feel the loss of his presence, I will feel the sadness of his family, and all the images I try so hard to push back into the recesses of my mind will be in the forefront.
This is just one aspect of being a Suicide Widow.
My whole world changed that day. August 20, 2009. That day, for a multitude of reasons that some I understand and some I never will, he took his own life after battling panic attacks and depression. He left behind many, many people who loved him dearly. His parents. His siblings. His cousins. His nieces and nephews. His friends. His wife. His in-laws. His children. We are all now "suicide survivors" grappling with what happened and why.
You may find yourself in the same position as me. Or maybe you know someone else who is. When someone you love and care about takes their own life, there are a myriad of emotions you go through and continue to experience. Every now and then, I still find myself shocked at what has happened in my life. I still grapple with guilt for not recognizing the signs. I still have sad days. I still get angry with him. I have screamed, out loud, "I f*#&ing hate you for what you did!" just as recently as last week. And there are days when every little story about him out of my mouth is something funny or positive or sweet. Those are the days I am thankful. I am thankful for all the good years. All the good times. All the laughs and hugs and kisses and sweet little notes left here and there. It's on those days that I realize I am blessed for having had him in my life, for all he taught me and all he gave me. He was more than how he died. He was more than the depression he struggled with. He was more than the panic attacks he suffered from. I often don't want people to remember him for how he died. I want them to remember him for who he was. But I talk about how he died because I wouldn't want anyone to think I'm ashamed to say it. Mental illnesses are common and yet we still act like they are so taboo. We have to stop the stigma associated with mental illnesses and suicide. How else can we effect change where it needs it most?
If you, like me, are a survivor of suicide, know that you are not alone. Unfortunately, there are many of us out here. You may benefit from joining a support group. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a link on their website for suicide support groups. You can find that HERE. I have a tight knit circle of friends, family and church family, and I found that their help and support was all I needed. Some do not have that luxury and if you are one of those, don't fret. There ARE people out there who care, who have been there and will help you through your loss. There are also several Facebook pages dedicated to helping people just like you.
HERE to help you locate survivor groups, therapists and mental health services.
You may believe that your life doesn't matter or that people in your life would be happier if you weren't here dragging them down all the time. You may believe that nothing will ever change and your life will always be horrible and full of problems. Maybe, once upon a time, you also believed in the Easter Bunny. Guess what? None of it is true. (even that Easter Bunny part). You DO matter. People DO care (sometimes even people who don't know you). Lives DO change for the better, even if not overnight. Take it one hour, one day at a time, and keep putting one foot in front of the other and fighting the good fight. You know why? Because you're worth it!
Dale was more important than he realized. I tell him that every year on March 11th when I sit and talk to him. I ask him if he knows now how much he truly was loved, how much we all truly cared. I wish upon all wishes that I would hear his answer. About a week after the suicide, my little Peanut Butter (7 yrs. old) said, "I bet I know what Daddy's thinking." I answered her by saying, "Oh yea? What's that?" She said, "I wished I didn't do'd that." Not even beginning to contemplate the depth of her own statement, she had no idea how accurate she truly was. Did you know that regret is one of the most common feelings a person who has attempted suicide will experience? Don't let that regret come too late. Tomorrow is a new day. Give yourself and this life you've been given another chance <3