I went into therapy a few weeks ago. The Survivors of Suicide support groups simply were not enough to help me navigate through the complex & painful layers of grief. The grief of suicide loss is so very hard. There is guilt, anger, shock, sadness, a sense of abandonment, question after question and then there is the profound sense of loss, unnecessary, senseless loss.

I’ve struggled so much with the looking back. I’ve referred to it before. We the survivors are left performing an ongoing psychological autopsy of our loved one. Missed signs, a hindsight understanding of depression, anxiety and the myriad of other illnesses of the brain. We ask ourselves what we missed.
What if…
If only…
Why…
Did I…
Should I have…
Why didn’t…

I feel so many days that I could have done more. I should have done more. Perhaps if I’d called my dad that afternoon. My mother told me he always felt better after he spoke to me. Would that have changed the outcome? Did I not listen hard enough? Did I not validate enough, encourage enough? If I knew more, could I have done more? Why didn’t he tell me the true extent of his suffering?

And then there are the more painful questions.
Why did he leave me?
Wasn’t I enough?
Didn’t he love me enough to keep fighting?

And the list goes on…

My therapist asked me, in the midst of my tears and my pain, to think about what my father would say to me. If he could speak to me (oh how I miss hearing his voice & knowing he is here), what would he tell me?

And so, I took a deep breath. I closed my eyes, tears still flowing, and I thought…. And here is what I think he would say to me.

My dearest Deborah. I am so very sorry for the pain that I have caused you. It breaks my heart to see the burden you now carry. I love you, I will always love you. This was not your fault. Do you hear me? This was not your fault. You allowed me to feel heard, safe, validated and loved each & every time that we spoke. You saw me just as I was, in the midst of so much emotional turmoil and pain, and you listened. You told me I was enough. That was such a gift that you gave to me in my last months on this earth. This was not your fault. My dear daughter, be gentle with yourself. Please stop beating yourself up. Be compassionate to yourself. I was in so much pain. I just wanted to end my own suffering. And now, I’ve left that suffering in the hands of those I love most. I am so sorry.
You were enough.
You loved me enough.
You were a light in my life. In my own darkness, I lost sight of that for one irreversible moment.
I hope one day you can think of me and smile.
I hope you can forgive me.
It’s okay if you get mad at me. I understand.
My daughter, my child, I didn’t tell you the full truth of my suffering. I wanted to spare you. But I haven’t spared you have I? I was so wrong to hide that from you.
I was so wrong to leave the way I did.
This was not your fault.
This was not your fault.
I am with you. I am still loving you. I am still here. I will always be with you.
I’m sorry my dearest daughter. I am so, so sorry.
This was not your fault.
I love you.

Maybe that is what he would say to me, if he could. One day I hope I can come to believe all of that. I am trying. I sure do wish he could tell me in person. I wish I could hear him, feel him, sense his presence. Perhaps the layers of grief are simply impenetrable at the moment. I hope the time will come….

P.S. I think he’d say he’s proud of me. Proud of me for telling his story. Proud of me for speaking our truth. And proud of me for using my pain to try and help others. Yes, I think he’d be proud. I hope he is. Though I can only imagine such pride, is tempered by the tears he cries. Because grief has become my teacher. And it is my father who brought grief and all of it’s painful lessons, into my life.

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