As a part of Suicide Awareness Month, I want to talk about those left behind. Those left to grieve.
Grieving after suicide is complex and gutwrenching. Everyone grieves differently and heals in their own time but the process can be a difficult one. This is my story.
My father and I were estranged since I was a teen and only saw each other at holiday gatherings at my grandparents. They had no idea he was one of my abusers. I was 28 years old when my father started calling me saying he was going to kill himself. He was paranoid and delusional. He said people were tapping his phone and trying to get him. He left behind several boxes of cassette tapes that he had recorded of these so-called conversations.
After his death, I spent seven months listening to these tapes. I would dedicate one day a week to listening to them and found nothing but my father’s voice. This compounded my grieving process on top of the fact we had a closed casket funeral. You can’t process someone is dead when you can’t see them. Even though we were estranged, he was still my father.
My granny was devastated her only son was dead, by his own hands at that. She was never the same, she was broken. I spent a significant amount of time with her and would not cry in front of her for she would then worry about me. This compounded my grief as well. Who could understand my pain?
It took many years for me to come to terms with his suicide, all the guilt, questions, and anger.
The key to remember is don’t let the guilt eat you up, it can but you have nothing to feel guilty about. When someone commits suicide there is nothing you can do about it. I tried for over six months to talk my dad out of and helped him in every way I knew how. I could not have done anything else. When I realized that I could let it go.
Be gentle with yourself.