IF YOU ARE FEELING SUICIDAL OR NEED TO TALK CALL THE NATIONAL LIFELINE
Thank you Deidre, for sharing your story.
It is important for people to realize that no matter the age of the person who dies of suicide, the aftermath is always bloody, as in bloody awful.
I have to admit here, in front of everybody, that I was as ignorant as everybody else and didn’t think that an eighty year-old taking his life could possibly compare to a young teenager or so…
I realize though, that age doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how suicide survivors feel about the loss.
I am glad that you have found healing and love in your heart.
AND THANK YOU FOR SIGNING THE PETITION!
And anybody out there who hasn’t signed yet, please sign now!
On February 7th, 2009, a Saturday morning, in Naalehu, Hawaii, my eighty-year old dad woke up at around 7:00 AM and while still in his pajamas, went to his gun safe, removed his 9mm, loaded it, walked through the kitchen to the back door, down the stairs and into the back yard. Once he reached the perimeter of the abandoned golf course, he got down on his knees, put the gun in his mouth and fired. My step-mother found him about a half an hour later after a frantic search. Of us four kids, I was the first one she called. My husband was amazed at my composure while I was on the phone with her, sorting out what happened and what was to be done next. Once I hung up the phone and had to tell him what had happened, I completely lost it. He was oddly relieved. “If you hadn’t,” he said “I would have thought there was something wrong with you.” There was something wrong. My dad had killed himself and I had no idea why.
I call this retelling “The Movie In My Head”. During the first year of recovery from this, it was all I could do to keep it from constantly playing in my head. About a month after dad’s suicide I started therapy with a kind and Zen-like therapist who taught me how to live with this. He taught me how to meditate. He taught me how to see my Dad for who he was and to try to accept that for whatever reason, this was his decision. Nothing I said or did could cause him to do this and nothing I could come up with would have prevented him, either. There was a time for forgiveness and this was it, and it would do me as much good as anyone if I just admitted it. So, I forgave my dad for offing himself. It was a six month struggle of much sobbing and backsliding before I could do it. To talk about it without breaking down. So much guilt. So much shame. So much anger. Now, I just love my Dad for who he was and what he did during his life; the shy, sweet, goofy guy with the hidden temper who was always there when he needed to be.
Months after his suicide, I had a dream about my dad. He was living in a small apartment full of old furniture with lots of windows with venetian blinds. He was excited to see me and take me to lunch. He’d found a Mexican restaurant that served grilled chicken tortas with avocado that was on his diet. When I woke up I told the dream to my husband. ” You, know,” he said, “I think this your Dad’s version of heaven.” I have to agree with him.
I still don’t understand why he did this. I can’t get my head around the idea of killing oneself ever being the right decision. But I’ve come out the other side of this still whole and breathing.
The memory of this poem came to me while I was in the depths. It helped me understand where my Dad was at at the time.
Not Waving But Drowning
by Stevie Smith
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.
Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.