Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

I remember what I felt when my Grandma passed away. I remember the anger I felt when my uncle died by suicide. I remember all of the loss I felt. Yet, none of it touched how hard the loss of my husband hit me. Nothing could’ve prepared me… and because of his history, I knew it was possible he’d choose to leave the world; I just didn’t think it was probable…. 

Then he was gone. And I was left with a huge crater left in my soul, parts of what feels like my physical body torn apart and a gaping hole in my life wondering why he did it and what I could have done differently. 

I should have been more forgiving. I would have made better choices if I knew then what I know now. I could have sent that text. I could have made a difference. I should have drove to the family farm and picked him up and told him his children needed him and I needed him and brought him to the hospital to get help. I shouldn’t have called the police. I should have called the police more. I should have gone to the hospital to speak to the nurses more; I shouldn’t have gone as much. It would have changed the outcome. I could have not done or did a million things differently. 

Shoulda, woulda, coulda….

The illusion of control. 

I’m slowly coming to accept that Anthony didn’t choose to end his life. Bipolar disorder made a choice for him by making unwanted changes in his brain chemicals and makeup which in turn caused his emotions to weigh heavy, and his mind to lie to him some more. 

He once told me, when he made his previous attempt, it was as though he was sitting on the bed watching himself, and he couldn’t stop himself from doing it. I believe he was not in control this time.

In your grief from your loved ones death by Suicide you may feel you had some control over the outcome. You may feel like you could have, should have or would have made a difference. 

The truth, the scary, sad and unfortunate truth is that you had no control over the outcome. You could not forsee the future. If you could have, you would have stopped it, or atleast tried and the terrifying reality is, you probably couldn’t have stopped it even if you could see the future. 

I’ve fallen into this trap many times, yesterday in fact. My thoughts wonder to the what ifs, and replay the last three years of our marriage over and over and over again until I’m on the floor again, covered in salty tears and snot, mascara smeared all over my cheeks fetal position on the bedroom floor. What should I have or could I have done differently. 

I made decisions based on the information I had at the time. And yes, I said things I regretted. He said cruel, untrue and horrible things to me in his mania, and I’m still here. I didn’t chose to end my life. Just as you didn’t if you and your loved one had an argument. 

So if you find yourself in this thought trap, remind yourself of this one thing-you loved this person. With your whole heart, and soul. You couldn’t however have loved the illness out of them. You couldn’t control their mind or they’re perceptions. If love could’ve saved Anthony, he would have lived forever. Just as your person would have. 

Always remember, your grieiving because you loved. You want to believe you could have stopped them because you loved them. Don’t fall into the mind trap. And when you do, remember that you loved but you had no control over them. None. Breathe and repeat that. You loved them; but you had no control over them. 

Please forgive yourself for not being able to stop it. I’m trying, it’s not an easy task, but we both need to forgive ourselves and let go of that illusion of control and the shoulda, woulda, coulda’s. 

We’ll work on it together and know we are not doing it alone. 


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