Suicide. What is suicide to me?

Is it selfishness or strength? Is it an act of bravery or the act of a coward?

I don’t know. Honestly, I still don’t know how to define suicide. I still don’t know what it means to me, I think my opinion changes constantly and I think that it always will. But, I know that I will never see Martin’s suicide as an act of bravery.

An act due to mental illness. That’s what I know suicide is, but that is something I still cannot fully accept with Martin. That’s probably cruel to him, it’s probably cruel to myself, but what I mean when I say that I cannot accept it, is that I do not believe that it was the reason for his suicide. I guess it must have been. And in any other cases of suicide, I completely understand that it is due to mental health. But his death, his suicide, the death that has impacted on my life - I just can’t seem to accept that it happened because he was ill.

When I told the children that their father was dead, I was tired, I was incredibly frightened and unprepared. I wanted to explain his death to his children, at a time when I wanted an explanation for myself. I told them that he was poorly, poorly in a way that was different to the poorly that they were aware of. I told them that he was poorly in his head, in his brain. He was poorly in a way that wasn’t physically visible to us. I told them that his thoughts were jumbled up. They weren’t clear like our thoughts and that those jumbled up thoughts made him feel so sad that he didn’t want to be here anymore. And so he decided himself to stop his body working, to die. He was so poorly that he couldn’t see any alternative. He wanted to die.

So that was me, explaining to two young children, that their father had died due to being mentally ill. I didn’t know how else to explain it. But how funny to choose to tell them that, yet never really accepting it myself.

Martin had four beautiful girls, one of them was still a baby. He loved his children, there was never any disputing that. But I often think that his act has surely left doubts in the minds of those children. If he loved them so much, then why did he leave them? I can almost guarantee that I will spend time with my children as they get older reassuring them that they were loved. It’s frustrating, because I know that they were loved, very much, but they don’t - they will have to take my word for it.

Why did he commit suicide? That is a question that will never be answered. And that is the very worst part of suicide bereavement.

We had no note. I still cannot believe that there was no note. Not for me, but for his children and for his Mum. His mum was a mother to five children, three boys and two girls. Martin was the third son to have died. That’s pretty hard to imagine, losing three of your children. I can’t believe that he chose to take his own life without a ‘sorry’ to his mum. Surely he knew that he was leaving her with endless pain for the rest of her own life? Surely he had seen enough pain, enough suffering for her having lost two children, to never want to add to it? I guess the flip side is that Martin had lost his two brothers himself, he also endured heartache and loss. But no note to her and no note to his children. I don’t understand that. But then I wonder what would happen to the note, one note, four children and a Mum. Who would keep the note? And really, what do I expect him to have said? Sorry, definitely. But is sorry enough, for final words? I guess he thought not. Maybe he didn’t feel sorry? But he could have said ‘I love you’ to his children couldn’t he? It could have backed up what I’m going to have to tell them and show them over the next few years. I can’t imagine a day going by without telling my children that I love them. I tell them multiple times a day. When they have driven me to the edge and I’m just exasperated with them, I still make sure that they go to bed with ‘I love you’. And when they say ‘love you mummy’ or ‘love you too’ I tell them that I know. Because I would hate them to think that I didn’t know how much they love me. If I was dying the thing that would matter most to me, is that my babies knew that I loved them and that they knew that I always knew that they loved me too. They would never need to doubt any of that. I find it hard to believe and understand that Martin didn’t feel like that too.

The strange thing is, that as I write all of these things down today, I’m pretty much proving that mental health issues were there aren’t I? So why isn’t it enough for me to completely believe it?

Things weren’t that bad, surely? He was the one who had had an affair? He was the reason for the separation. We were on remarkably good terms despite all that had happened. He got to keep the house - the advantage was his, as he had never put my name on the mortgage. He still had his friends and his family. His older girls close by. He didn’t have to quit his job. But I did, I handed in my notice at work, I looked for somewhere else to live, I moved away from my parents, I moved away from the few friends that I had. I can’t help but think, surely it was me who should have struggled? Surely it was me who was ‘worse off’. He was ok.

My children are enough to keep breathing for. It is that simple, they are enough. I have faced dark dark times, alone. I have felt completely knocked down, winded, desperate, helpless and lost. I have wanted to, a few times, throw myself in icy cold water and to never have to open my eyes again. But I have never actually been anywhere close to doing that. Because my children are enough to keep breathing. My children are enough to light my way when it’s dark, to comfort me when I am alone, to pick me back up onto my feet, to ease the pain that bubbles inside in the pit of my stomach, to guide me. They are enough to keep me taking the next breath. It isn’t my strength, it is their love for me and my love for them that makes life worth living. No matter how utterly desperate I feel, I will never ever willingly choose to leave my children behind.

I cannot contemplate that Martin was so ill that he could see no other way but suicide. I honestly wish that I could. I wish that I could sympathise with him and his state of mind, I wish that I could understand how he felt and why he felt the way he did. But I don’t think that I ever will be able to. 

If Martin thought that the pain would end, he was wrong. He passed on so much pain to others as he took his last breath. I can forgive Martin for the affair, I can forgive him for the 8 difficult years that we spent together, but I cannot forgive his suicide. That probably makes me a bad person, I know that. It probably means that I don’t really understand mental health issues properly. It more than likely means that I am in denial. But what it really means to me, to not accept Martin’s mental health and vulnerable state, is endless whys, endless frustration, endless bitterness and endless what ifs.

Suicide is many things, but it is certainly no act of bravery in our circumstances.


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