Death is harder on those who are left behind.
― Robert La Fosse, Nothing To Hide
Today marks six months since your death. A half a year has gone by since you were here. In some ways it feels like just yesterday and in other ways, it feels like a lifetime…
Here’s the thing Dad, I want to be clear. I’m in a really angry stage of grief right now. I’m angry at you, I’m angry at God and I don’t know what to do with it all. I mean you are not here. If you were, damn it I would sit you down and yell at you. I would scream at you. I would demand that you fix the fucking mess that you left behind. But you’re not, and I can’t.
Yesterday, as I sat in my therapist’s office, she suggested that I tell you how I feel. Write a letter, put it out there. Tell your father everything…
I don’t know. It’s not quite the same. I mean, I want to yell. I want to scream at the top of my lungs. I want you to look me in the eye. I want you to see, really see, the pain that you have caused.
I’ve apologized to you a million times Daddy. A million times I’ve shared my regret, the missed signs, the things I could have done, should have seen. Sometimes my shoulders are so heavy with that burden that I can barely walk. But what about you? Where the hell is your sorry, where the hell is your regret?
Do you have any idea of the damage you have done?
In one single moment, you forever altered the course of our family. You set off a grenade, loaded with shrapnel, into the center of our worlds. And while you are gone, we are left picking up the fucking pieces of our shattered hearts, our wounded souls, our very selves. And where are you? You’re gone! You’re just fucking gone!
I get it, on that very cerebral level, I understand that it was an illness. I can step back and see that you were suffering, and that you saw death as the only way to end your pain. But it doesn’t resonate on an emotional level. There, it simply feels like you left us, you abandoned us, you chose death over those who loved you most. I mean shit Dad, mom was in the house, I was just a phone call away. You were not alone. You were not fucking alone!!!
Fathers are not supposed to just willingly leave their children! How did you not remember that? We were estranged for six years Dad. We promised one another that never again would we let anything get in the way of our relationship. We would not let resentment or anger simmer, we would not let molehills become insurmountable mountains, we would not leave each other again. We had a deal and you fucking broke it!!!
I want to know why!
You died for nothing Dad! Do you hear me?! For nothing!! You were not terminal. Perhaps chronic, chronic anxiety, chronic depression but you had just begun treatment. You didn’t even give it a chance to work!
I remember a conversation we had only a few weeks before you died. We talked about that serious bout of depression you had gone through when I was a kid. You had left your job. You had a wife, two kids and instant regret at the choice that you had made. I would wake up at night and hear you crying, shouting at the top of your lungs…
God, I want to die.
I want to kill myself.
What did I do?
I want to die!
I want to die!
You would berate yourself. I would go off to school and wonder if you would be alive when I got home. I remember asking mommy so many times if you were going to kill yourself? I was terrified.
We talked about all of this and you, after all of these years, apologized for the first time. You acknowledged the pain, fear and anguish you must have caused for your children. How frightening it must have been. How deeply sorry you were for ever causing such hurt. I told you that I forgave you long ago. I reminded you that you got through that dark period. That you could get through this one too. You just had to tread water. You had to let us help to keep you afloat. You had to embrace real help, therapy, medication, whatever it would take. You had to be willing to peel back the layers and, once and for all, come to know and understand yourself. You said that you knew that.
You said that you would do that.
You lied! At least that is how it feels. How could you fucking apologize to me for the words and still end up taking your own life anyway. How could you do that!!!
I am so angry Dad. I can’t even access you in life right now. I look at pictures and I can’t feel fond remembrances, I can’t touch the sweet, it is so overpowered by bitter right now. I can’t remember you, feel you, reflect on you in life because it is all so clouded in your death. How did suicide become the final footnote in your story?
I want to tell you all of these things. I can’t scream on a keyboard, I can’t capture the tears that are flowing as I right this. The rage that coincides with my grief! There are not enough exclamation points to contain my visceral anguish!
I’m so fucking angry Daddy.
Why would you do this?
Why, why, why, why???
It is the unanswerable question that we have to learn to live with.
I sit in therapy.
I do the grief work.
I muddle through it day in and day out.
I have good days and bad.
Today is a bad one.
I miss you.
I’m so mad at you.
You shouldn’t have done this Daddy!
You deserved better.
We deserved better.
I don’t feel better after writing this. It’s not cathartic this time. Who am I kidding? You aren’t logging in to read my latest blog post. But I have to believe that you see…
You see the tears.
You see the pain.
You see the struggles.
You see your family picking up the pieces.
In one desperate moment, you forever altered us.
We are here.
Do you see us Daddy.
Are you sorry?
Do you weep?
Do you ask us for forgiveness?
I want you to fix it Dad.
I’m like a child, stomping my feet, tantruming, desperate to make myself seen…
It’s your damn mess.
So why are we the ones left cleaning it up?
I’m screaming, I’m crying, I’m reviling, I’m missing all at once.
I’m tired Dad.
As I sink back into the quietness that follows the anger, I revert back to those childlike words.
It’s not fair.
It’s just not fair.
You shouldn’t have done it Dad.
And I want you to fix it.
But you can’t.
So I must.
Like Humpty Dumpty after the fall.
I am picking up the pieces.
The pieces you left behind.
I will do it. I will endure it. I will get through it. I will rebuild. Even if it takes everything I’ve got. Even when grief hits me like a sledgehammer. I’ll get back up. I’ll keep fighting. Because I deserve it. Because I am loved. Because the best parts of me will be better and I will learn from this.
I will bear the scars.
I will find my way to healing and to wholeness.
I won’t give up.
You shouldn’t have either!
And I’m so angry that you did Dad.
You should have chosen life.
You should have fought.
Fuck all of the cerebral understanding.
Do you hear me?
Because the truth is it feels far more personal than that.
Can other people say it?
Not unless they’re living with the aftermath.
Not unless they’ve lost a loved one to suicide.
But I can say it.
Because I’m living it.
I’m living with it.
I’m living with this new identity that feels so fucking foreign.
I am now a Survivor of Suicide Loss.
I’ll tell you something Dad…
God’s honest truth.
Some days it feels like you took the easy way out.
And I’m fighting like hell to forgive you for that.
There would have been time for such a word. Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
― Wiliam Shakspeare