THE PHONE CALL COMES
The information comes to you and you stare blankly in total disbelief. You cannot focus, the tears flow and you just can’t grasp the words being spoken. Your first response is “no, it can’t be”, “it’s not real”. Then the anger hits and the questions start. “Are you sure?” “Why did they do this?” “How did it happen?” “When did it happen?” “Are you sure?” It’s a horrible, painful circle that you can’t escape from…
Then the reality of the truth hits you and you crumble inside. You are forced in the most unforgiving way possible to accept the fact that a person that you love, a person who meant so much to you chose to end their own life and you will never know why. You will never know what you could have done to prevent it. Accept the fact that nothing you did or could have done could have prevented it. It was not your choice to make, it was theirs and they made it.
This happened to my family on February 11, 2009. My incredible nephew chose to end his life. He was only thirty-two years old with two small children and he chose to die. He was all alone when he put a gun to his head, pulled the trigger and left us. I imagine he was very certain of his choice because he saw no other way to exist in his life, he chose to end his life. He left a note, the contents of which are unknown to everyone but his Mom and Dad. He was their only child and he meant the world to them. It was what he wanted, he never thought for one second what we wanted. We never entered into the equasion.
The questions will always be there, unanswered. Everyone thought that he had the world by the tail, he seemed so happy. A photo was taken of him the day before he chose to die. He looks great, happy and smiling, his usual self. I covered his forehead and his smile in the photo and looked at his eyes trying to find the answers there. I found them… his eyes were the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen. His outward smile hid the pain he must have been feeling inside. I was crushed because I never saw it, never knew and now I can never say I’m sorry for not noticing it before. I did not choose to learn the hard way how a suicide can leave those left behind devistated, but it did happen and I did learn. I have had time to heal some and time to grow but unfortunately I will never forget.
It’s times like this when the family must come together and share the grief for their loss. Suicide can tear families apart. The blame, the uncertainty, the unanswered questions, it can all go against trying to get through it. At this point in time there is no getting past it, getting through it is the best that you can hope for. Your family needs to remember the times when this person touched their lives in a good way. Everyone has to remember that the person who chose to end their life made that choice on their own. No one and nothing could have prevented it. The people who choose to die by their own hand, die. It is not a cry for help, it is a final choice. Do not confuse this with those who attempt a suicide. These people are making a cry for help, very loudly. They will attempt a suicide in such a way that someone can come along before it’s too late and save them. They will usually survive. Someone who chooses suicide always succeeds. It does not matter what we want, it was what they wanted. Relinquish the control, you had none in the first place.
SHARE THE HAPPY TIMES
Share the happy times before their death, remember the good, the bad, the funny and the not so funny times you had with them. There is no point in thinking to future they will miss out on, they chose not to have one. Instead try to rely on your memories of the times that you shared your life with them. Know that you made a difference in their life even though they chose to end it early. Talk to people who knew them, really knew them well. I know that your memories of happier times will outweigh the impact of their death and the pain that you are feeling at this point in time. I know it may not seem so right now, but it does get less painful in time.
I know it may sound harsh, but moving on with your life is the only way you can honor theirs. Our first instinct is to crawl into a hole and cease our existence until we feel better. You won’t feel better, you will in time accept what has happened and your life will go on. If their life meant anything to you, if they meant anything to you, go on with your life. They chose to end their life, you did not. I am not saying it is easy, it’s not. It has been three years and it still hurts, I still miss him terribly and I think of him often.
The things that I think about now are the times when he made me laugh. I remember him running butt naked through our backyard when he was two holding a hot dog in his hand. His smile then is the smile that I want to remember, not the sad one in his last picture. I want to hold in my heart and mind the beautiful, vibrant, wonderful young man he was, before he made the choice he made. It has been difficult but I know I have my life to live. A life that I choose to experience for everyday that I am allowed to experience it.
I never got the chance to say goodbye… Maybe now I have.
Rest In Peace B.J.
11-5-75 / 2-11-2009