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Updated on 14 November 2018
[Trigger warning]: This post talks about suicide and events that have taken place in my life. If you or anyone you know is any form of emotional distress, please seek help immediately. Be aware before proceeding.
My mom’s partner took his life. He died by suicide. It felt like it happened in a span of 3 days. He went missing on a Friday and was found the Monday after. Just like that, he destroyed my mum’s life. He destroyed his. He hurt my children who viewed him as a step-grandparent. And he betrayed me, who after months of “vetting” him, gave him my blessing.
His suicide took me by surprise. I
was am angry. I was am hurt. I felt feel betrayed. Although it felt like it happened in a blink of an eye, hindsight says otherwise.
There were many signs months prior to the day that we didn’t pick up. The day he went missing, I was with my mom taking her around to run some errands. I dropped her off at her place that afternoon and carried on with my day.
The following morning, I got a message that he was missing. He hadn’t come home that night and he wasn’t at his parents place either.
As it turned out, he told Mom that he was going to stay at his parents’ place to help them out with some work around the house; and he told his parents that he was staying at mom’s. It wasn’t until the next morning that both households realized that he was missing. From the way that he went missing, it was clear that he didn’t want to be found.
A Danger to Himself
Over the next couple of days, mom pleaded with the police to keep searching for him. I told her to tell the police that his past clearly presented that he was a danger to himself. (It was his second attempt at suicide. The first one was prior to him and mom getting together.)
There is a saying, “past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior“. It was at this point that the police decided to up the ante. As I recall it, the weather on Saturday night before he was found, was atrocious. The winds were strong and the southerlies were blowing its icy breath over the city. At about 9.00pm, Mom had a strong thought as to where he could be found.
She called the police and told them. They suggested that she stay home and that the search would resume in the morning. “But it’s very close by,” she pleaded. They told her to stay put in case he came home. So she did.
The following morning, my husband and I were enjoying a nice breakfast out. (You never really think anything so bad could happen). The children spent the weekend at the dad’s place. And it was then that we got a call from the police. “Could you come to your mom’s place quickly?” Sgt. Thomas asked.
I could hear my mom screaming in the background. She was wailing. I felt the blood drain from my body. My knees felt weak. I ran around in circles – to the cashier, back to our table, out the door, back into the restaurant again. I didn’t know what to do. My husband told me to go to the car and he would settle the bill.
We were 15 minutes away from my mom’s place. The drive felt like an hour long.
He Destroyed My Mom’s Life – Not Just His
As we drove up to mom’s house. The police car was parked outside. Sgt. Thomas was waiting for me. I could hear my mom’s screams from outside. “We found him,” he said. “I’m sorry to say that he’s passed.”
I went into mom’s house and found her curled up in the arms of another police officer. It was a woman. Until then, it had been Sgt. Thomas and his partner, Jeffrey, who I’d been speaking with. Today, they brought a female officer for her.
Mom was curled up like a child, wailing and crying, calling out his name. I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to cry, but no tears fell.
Sgt. Thomas told me that he had hung himself.
“Where was he found?,” I asked.
“Not far from here.”
That afternoon, my husband Wayne and I took mum to the mortuary to view the body. We went to hospital, where we were told a gentleman would be waiting for us. We were taken to the viewing room, where behind a glass window, his body was lying.
I Looked At Him With Contempt
There he was on the table, never to wake again. He gave up. He no longer wanted to be part of this world and decided to end his life – selfishly. I left the room and I went to look for a bathroom. I could not find one. I stayed in the hall and leaned again the cold, white wall. I cried. I cried so hard.
The next day, the police took us to the site where his body was found. It was the place that my mom thought he might have been at when she called the police and was told to stay put. It was a little area tucked away, off the beaten track, where people go for a trek up the mountain. It was what they called their secret garden. My mom screamed his name. She beat the chest of the nearest person, Sgt. Thomas. She fell to the damp ground. There were flowers on the ground.
The interesting thing is that I knew my tears were not for him. I wept in those halls at the mortuary, because I was angry. When my own father died in 2008, I did not get see him. I did not have the means to travel. I cried – because there I was, taking my mom to see her partner’s lifeless body; when I didn’t even get to see my own father.
I cried, even more, when I thought about having to tell my children that he was dead. Over the last two years, he had been like a step-grandparent to them. He was the “stable” male presence in their life, after their father and I separated.
I cried because I knew that my mom was breaking inside.
I cried because I would have to look after my mom and guide her through this.
I cried because I was angry.
I called him several names in my head. I called him a useless coward and many others, much harsher.
Day after day, I watched my mom crumple like a small, fragile leaf. I hugged my children as they cried themselves to sleep. “I wish I told him that I loved him,” my daughters would say. I held my husband as he wept for the loss of a friend.
My anger grew more and more as I took my surroundings in and I comforted those affected by his selfish deed.
I read many articles and have been told by many people not to take his suicide personally. But still – “It was a selfish act,” I would say.
Their replies and the messages of the articles were consistent: “Until you yourself have experienced the darkness and the pain that pushed him to take his own life, then you cannot judge him”.
Today, I am still picking up the pieces of what he did. Am I angry? For the most part, yes. I am not angry because he took his life. I am angry for what he did, and for what his actions continue to do to those he left behind.
But they are right – those articles and those people who have tried to share their wisdom with me… I cannot judge him. I will never know what was going through his mind in those days, weeks, months leading up to the day.
“Until you yourself have experienced the darkness and the pain that pushed him to take his own life, then you cannot judge him.”
For many of us, when we feel pain and hopelessness, we still get up and show up the next day. He was afraid to go to sleep, and even more afraid to wake up. I will never know the pain, darkness, and despair that he felt.
How To Help Someone Trying to Survive Suicide
- Whether they feel pain, guilt, despair, or anger – listen to them and acknowledge their pain.
- Do not try and candy coat their feelings by piping up with funny stories to remember their loved one by. That time will come. In the meantime, go back to point 1.
- When the time comes and they feel anger; do not fan the flames. Allow them to feel it, and go back to point 1.
- Allow yourself to grieve. You do not have to be the strong one. You will all need to support each other.
- Do not turn people away. Give those who love you a chance to be there for you.
If you or anyone you know is any form of emotional distress, please seek help immediately.