What does it feel like to have your spouse die by suicide?
I read this question on Quara several months ago when I was trying to find information on surving a death by Suicide. I desperately needed to know I wasn’t alone and how I was going to cope.
When I read this question I was instantly angry. Why would anyone ask such a question?! I took offence immediately and I judged. What person wants to know this? And more importantly WHY? How cruel. . .
Looking back my emotions weren’t just raw, they were spilled all over the floor and I had no idea how to pick them up and put them back. Though they are still hanging out there, still raw, still sensitive to every comment, hurt, and memory, they are more easily sorted and I can tuck them back in for short periods of time now. For whatever reason now, my mind often often goes back to this question, who asked it and what they were looking for at the time.
Only now I think about it with curiosity, not instant reaction. Maybe this person had a loved one or spouse that was suffering and they were trying to connect as a means to prepare themselves. Maybe they were trying to understand and empathize with a friend. Maybe they were just curious.
Whatever the reason, I figure it might be healing to myself and for someone else to answer this question now.
So what does it feel like?
When the call came in, and I could finally process the call wasn’t work related, I became physically ill. I felt I couldn’t breathe, but I couldn’t stop screaming. I felt like my limbs had all been torn off and I couldn’t stand, yet all I wanted to do was run. The shock made everything feel unreal, and dream like… well more like nightmarish like. In fact, I felt ill and eventually up chucked three times shortly afterwards.
Initially, I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t even stand the sight of food. Thinking about it now makes My stomach turn. As weeks passed, and I finally got off my couch, (the permanent dent of my body on the left hand side made this difficult) I couldn’t stop eating, anything easy and unhealthy helped to fill the void and hole now replacing my heart and gut. Chocolate chips, popcorn, tapioca, chips, toast… as long as it could fill the hole now, I would eat it.
It took weeks before I could string a full sentence together without stopping halfway though, or without forgetting what I was talking about. I would lose words, or stare blankly. My childhood best friend left the day after the viewing. She hugged me with tears in her eyes and said “you’re so broken. I hate to leave you like this and I’m worried about you”.
Once the initial shock wore off, about two weeks after, if I recall correctly, all I wanted to do was run. I wanted to sell all my shit, all my kids’ shit, and move. I even spoke about doing this to one of my best friends who wisely advised to wait atleast a year before making any big decisions. I even looked at rental costs in other provinces and countries. I thought about taking my master’s degree overseas, or buying a minimalist house for $45,000 and living in the forest by a lake, eating off the land. She was my voice of reason.
Everything had changed, and I didn’t like it. Everything was different AGAIN and I just wanted to run from it and there were days when the urge to run became so strong that I felt like scratching my skin off.
Emotionally…. the best way to describe it…. like someone took all my insides out, put them in a blender, turned it on, and then said “here, now put yourself back together again”. Only there is no way to put it back the way it was. Pieces are blended together, or got stuck somewhere and are missing, things were added and feel like they don’t belong. How am I supposed to do this? Staying empty inside felt like an easier option. I was too exhausted to even think about picking myself up. It still feels like an easier option, and almost nine months later I’m still exhausted.
But I’m moving forward. I’m trying to put the pieces back together. I’m trying to heal. It’s a very slow and difficult process. Stuffing my insides in all at once won’t work. Each piece needs to be examined and every time you add a stitch a new wound appears. You try to take breaks but the pain is still there; you have just adjusted to it or compensated somehow. Sometimes, it feels like the wound is ripped apart again, wide open, but it doesn’t take as long for me to start stitching it up again.
I’m ok though. I will be ok, even on the days that I am not. I’m finding hope, faith and strength again. I’ve learned more in the last nine months than I have my entire life. He was a beautiful part of our lives and what was forever ours.
I know the scar will always be there, it won’t ever go away.. There will always be pieces missing without him here.