Thoughts on a Suicide


04/21/2017: April 21. April 21 is a tough day for me, for my family.  April 20, 2003 was Easter that year…the whole family was crammed into my Grandma’s house.  The young cousins, my siblings, and I ran around playing, I was all of ten years old, the oldest and the leader of the little pack.  My grandma confined herself to the kitchen, concocting a feast that was always way too much food, while my grandpa, parents, and my aunt and uncle laughed and joked, assisting with the food as necessary.  Although his face was pale, his frame thin, my uncle was in good spirits.  I remember him laughing, quiet, subdued.  We were happy. 

On April 21, 2003, the day after Easter that year, my uncle committed suicide.  It’s not an exaggeration to say that everything in my life changed.  In grief, my mother was a shell of what she once was.  My grandparents buckled under the burden of losing a child in such a horrific way.  My beloved little sister, all of three years old, was the one who found him.  She still remembers.  That was the day that I had to learn how to be strong.  No way would I ever give up like he did, ever, or let grief get to me like it did to my family.  Shit, I was ten.  Have I forgiven my uncle for what he did?  I pray every day for the grace to do so.  I can’t do it on my own.

SL: Wow.  This is heartbreaking (even for me to hear).  My heart goes out to you and your family.  I never knew an experience like this.  My words are short.  I don’t agree to suicides but I understand them.  Everybody gets to a point in life (sometimes more than once) where they feel like givin up.  Of course he was inconsiderate with his actions but maybe, just maybe he been feelin like that but just wasn’t ready, then after a beautiful easter day with the family he felt complete and…was ready to leave.  I’m sorry Elle I don’t wanna offend you…damn.  Just let that encourage you to never give up like you say and remain strong, even in the hardest times.

HW: I think…how do I say what I’m thinking.  I definitely think that as I’ve gotten older that I’ve added more perspective to this.  Your empathy I think is really important and profound.  It’s easy and natural to respond with the anger that I had.  But I think you’re totally right, at least in the sense that he was just so far gone to the point of giving up.  After a day of love, he just…let go. 

Just a couple of weeks ago I had a profound opportunity.  A student I was working with shared with me all of the emotions she was experiencing due to the suicide of her grandfather.  It was really overwhelming to see in her all of the emotions and turmoil that I had experienced.  I was able to tell her things that I think I’ve been waiting to believe myself.  Depression is a terrible illness, someone’s suicide doesn’t mean that they didn’t love us, it’s ok to struggle with it, love is truly stronger than death and  all the pain.  I thanked her at the end of our conversation, and I think she thought it was weird, but I meant it.  Sometimes I'm so much better at giving other people the advice I need to hear than giving it to myself.