My Dearest Wife,
Today is the seven year anniversary of your suicide; a moment in time which changed my entire life, forever. It was on this day seven long years ago that I returned home from work to find that you had taken your own life using a combination of pills, alcohol, and when that didn’t work, a gun… I’ve yet to get the odd smell created by the combination of Cognac, gunpowder and blood that hung in the air out of my nostrils, but as with most things I’ve become kind of used to it.
The Suicide Note:
You wrote me a rather long note on that day, seven pages, front and back, by hand in your rather gorgeous script, it dawned on me recently that I had never responded to your letter and that perhaps it was time to do so. I hope you will not think my lack of response to be a sign of uncaring or consider it to be rude, I’ve been kind of busy trying to put my life back together and really wasn’t thinking clearly for quite some time… four or five years, maybe six, my mental circuits got kind of blown that day and it’s been difficult for me to keep track of time. I lived in a rather dense fog for many years following your death.
I have a picture of you that I keep on my phone, it reminds me of what you looked like because the only image that I can clearly create in my mind is that of you sprawled back in the chair against the wall in our bedroom, dead from a gunshot wound to the head, the blood in your hair, the pale gray color of your skin, the dead look in your eyes. That image is so different from your picture, your picture is so alive, your sparkling brown eyes, seductive and beautiful, your long, silky blonde hair, your bright, white smile which apparently masked your inner pain… the contrast is so significant that I find it difficult to believe that the two images represent the same person, a person who I spent nearly 20 years of my life with and thought I would grow old with.
To Protect and Serve:
As with most of the suicide notes which I’ve read, your insane ramblings spawned on by the encouragement of sadness, despair, anger and a healthy dose of Vicodin combined with an entire bottle of Cognac, made little to no sense at all… perhaps another reason for why I have taken so long to respond. Truthfully, the officers who responded to the crime scene of your self-inflicted murder did not want me to read it, they had opened the letter as part of their investigation and one officer knowing both of us personally strongly recommended that I let it go… but I couldn’t do that, I needed to understand why you had taken your own life, what you were thinking, what I had done to deserve this, and a million other questions which have continued to trample about in my brain ever since you activated your exit strategy.
My initial review of your letter left me feeling frustrated and more than a little confused, it made no sense… so I handed it to my brother and sister to see whether they could make sense of it, they couldn’t So I read it again, and again, and again, and again… and the only part of it which I did understand is that you felt that if you didn’t leave this earth, you might never catch up to our daughter who had died the year before. I wish you had expressed this fear to me, I could have told you that she never left our house, I feel her presence all around me, she comes to me in my dreams, sometimes we race cars in and out of the tops of trees on moonlit nights when the air is cool, she always liked to drive fast, it feels so real that I’m always surprised when I awake to discover that it is a dream; sometimes we just hang out, talk, laugh and relive old times. You didn’t have to travel so far to catch up to her, she was right beside you all along… I suppose that I could share these same experiences with you if you would only come to me in my dreams instead of the nightmares which shake me awake in the dead of night and make it difficult for me to fall back asleep.
The other thing that I was able to piece together from your letter was that you wanted all of the antique furniture that you had collected over the years to be kept together, you wanted me to have the house, take care of your parents, do my best to continue to grow the business which we had built, find somebody new to love and move forward with my life… The part which really did not make sense was where you asked me to keep the furniture all together so that it would be there for you when you returned, we’ll blame that on the drugs and alcohol, you never did make much sense when you drank even the smallest amount of alcohol and swallowing more than 50 tablets of Vicodin probably didn’t help much either.
Killing the ‘rents:
To bring you up to date, the initial shock of your killing yourself probably shortened the life span of your parents by five to ten years, your father died shortly after you left due to his heart condition. He never came to grips with your death, it was too much for him to take so soon after losing his granddaughter to that terrible disease and he more or less began to pretend that neither of you ever existed. I’m not trying to be cruel, I’m just bringing you up to date, and hopefully you met him as he passed through the passageway from this world to the next because I’m sure he’d like to see you and give you a chance to explain all of this because I was never able to make sense of it for him. We had a lot of conversations after you died, but the one I remember the most clearly was the one we had the day after your suicide, he asked me what happened, read your suicide note, looked me straight in the eyes and said “ you’ve wasted the last 20 years of your life, my advice to you is to sell everything, find a nice girl and move on.” Your father was always very practical, if only life were that easy.
The week your father passed, your “wonderful” step-brother got out of prison (again) and convinced your mother to give him power of attorney over her affairs; he used that power of attorney to file a lawsuit against me, the estate and the company for everything which you and I had built over the years. I won’t bore you with the details, but after 4.5 years of litigation I eventually “won” the lawsuit, which means that the judge spent eight hours looking over all the evidence and informed them that their “case lacked any merit” however it didn’t really matter by that point because when they froze all the assets at the beginning of the lawsuit, we lost the house, the furniture had to be sold to pay for legal expenses and the company was inoperable and eventually fell to the wayside.
Intentional Infliction of Collateral Damage:
Oh you’ll like this part, your step-brother landed back in prison after being charged with 29 federal indictments, tampering with evidence, forgery, that kind of stuff… Oh, and uh, your mom and I aren’t talking any more, I think she’s alive, somewhere, but given the fact that she tried to sue me for everything, drove our business into the ground, tried to cut me in half with a real estate sign one day outside our house, and so, so, much more… I consider myself “off the hook” in terms of looking after your parents, truly, that was your responsibility and you forfeited it when you took your own life and left me holding the bag. The last I heard, the district attorney who prosecuted your brother was looking into her finances to determine whether the house she was living in had been purchased using funds which your brother might have obtained illegally, blah, blah, blah, you had always managed to keep him away from her while you were alive, but once you were gone, there was nobody to protect her from her own son, I tried but the police informed me that I was no longer related and had no clout. Que, Sera, Sera and all that.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (sarcasm):
One thing I have learned is that when people kill themselves, the people who loved them are never able to see them the same way in which they did when they were alive… it’s not the same as when somebody is taken prematurely in an accident, or by a disease, or when they die of natural causes… I’ve lost people to all of those forms of death and I can remember them clearly in my mind’s eye, but the only way I can see you clearly is to look at the picture of you on my phone. When I try to picture you in my mind, all I see is the last impression which you burned into my soul. I wish that people could be made aware of this before they kill themselves, perhaps they might not do it.
So as I was saying, despite your desires to the contrary, the memories I have of our life together are tattered and little remains of the life which we once shared… the castle was lost shortly after your death, as were the cars, the company and the furnishings. You killed not only yourself, but everything which you loved in the process. An entire lifetime of success and achievement flushed down the drain in a temporary moment of insanity, it would have been better if you had never been born at all because the damage you inflicted upon everybody who knew you, everybody who loved you, on your way out far outweighs any of the good which you provided in your lifetime. I am sure this was not your intention, however the ripple created by the pebble which you skipped across the universe turned into a virtual tsunami which destroyed all that it came in contact with. What you imagined to be an escape from your pain ripped a black hole in the fabric of my mind and for quite some time I was lost, hopelessly lost.
Out of the Ashes a Phoenix Might Rise:
But I want you to know that I’m all right, I’m going to be all right, I think I’m going to be all right… maybe I am already all right. I’m in a good space, right now. I’ve walked through the inferno of hell created by your actions and forged the resolve within myself to use the experience to help other people who suffer the same fate of losing a loved one to suicide. After all of the pain and suffering your death has caused, some good must come of it in order for it to make any sense at all… the path to healing begins with helping other people who are suffering, by contributing to the lives of others, there is less time to focus on myself.
If I could ask for one wish to be granted to me, one wish for my entire lifetime, it would be for every person thinking of committing suicide to have the opportunity to sit down with somebody like myself, somebody who is a “Survivor of Suicide” and talk openly about what the after effects of their actions will be upon the people they love. I know that you were in pain, a pain so deep and dark that you reached the conclusion that suicide was the best option available to you at the time. But suicide did not end your pain, it merely transferred it to the people you love… the pain you hid deep inside you, the pain which you hid from me, the pain which you hid from your parents, from your family, came crashing down upon all of us the moment I discovered your body.
Fear is a Prison, but you hold the key:
The suicide note which you so carefully crafted in an effort to explain your actions, expressed all of your fears, all of your feelings of inadequacy and your hope that everybody would understand… you should know that none of your fears were real; your feelings of inadequacy made no sense and nobody understood any of it. I’m sure that killing yourself was no easy task, and yet somehow you decided that killing yourself was easier than expressing your pain to those whom you loved… killing yourself was apparently easier than risking exposing yourself to the potential pain of being vulnerable, of being rejected, of being human.
I wish that you had found the strength within yourself to be vulnerable for a moment; you might have learned that all of your fears were unfounded; that you were loved, deeply; and that there is hope and purpose to be found, even after the loss of a child. I would have told you that it gets better; it really does get better, with time and this I say with the understanding of somebody who has lived through the loss of the same child and then my wife.
It has been seven years since your suicide, not a day passes when I do not think of you, but I realize that this is often due to a conscious choice on my part to share the experience of your suicide with people… sometimes with the hope of preventing even one of the suicides which occur every 40 seconds, sometimes with the hope of helping one of the people left behind find their way out of the fog faster than I managed to. Your suicide might have lasted only a moment for you, but it has lasted a lifetime for me.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity & Death:
I know that you are out there somewhere, because the law of conservation of energy states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, thus when you died the energy within you did not die, it merely changed forms. As a mere mortal, I do not know what happens to us when our physical form dies, but if the difference between how you and our daughter present yourselves to me in my dreams is any indication, I imagine that the mental anguish which you died trying to escape has followed you into the afterlife. I sincerely hope this is not true, it is after all, only my interpretation of my dreams, but it stands to reason that given the fact that you both died horrible, painful deaths and one of you seems to be at peace and playful in my dreams while the other comes to me more in the form of a demon trying to cause me harm and torment, that there must be a difference in the experience you now have. I don’t know, maybe it’s nothing more than my own shame at not recognizing that you needed help that is manifesting itself in this manner within the cleansing cycle of my dreams.
Beyond the Realm of Dreamland:
Wherever you are, I want you to know that I wish you the best; I hope that you finally found peace and that my interpretation of my dreams is nothing more than my fears and shame manifesting itself in the form of some weird self defense mechanism. I hope that you have reunited with our daughter and your father and that all of your pain was washed away by the forgiving and loving spirit which is the father and mother of all things wonderful in this universe.
I want you to know that I’ve taken the experience of your suicide and developed a strategic intervention coaching practice where I am able to put the knowledge of what it is like to be a suicide survivor to good use by helping other people who have lost a friend or loved one to suicide get through the grief and loss process faster than I did… Survivor of Suicide, that’s what they call people like me who have lost someone to suicide, it’s a strange little club that I’d rather never have been a member of, but which is comprised of other people who get it and I truly don’t think anybody who hasn’t lost somebody to suicide can ever truly understand the depth of the pain, feelings of guilt and the feelings of shame which are associated with suicide without having experienced it themselves… so in some strange way, I guess your death does have meaning, it has enabled me to provide strength and understanding for other people who are going through a similar experience to my own…
Without your influence in my life, I might never have been able to prevent the suicides which I have been able to stop by being able to recognize the signs that another human being was in pain. I’m sorry that I failed to recognize the signs of suicide with you, I just lacked the experience at that time in my life, I wasn’t trained as a coach yet, my life was on a different path, I was on a different mission. I forgive you for the pain and suffering you have caused in my life, I spend a lot of time trying to convince myself that you loved me once very much, I hope someday to find you in my dreams and sit down and have wonderful conversations with you, as we did so often in the past.
Paying the Toll to for You to Cross the Acheron River:
You probably already know this, but there is an emotional and physical price that I pay each time I am called out to help somebody dealing with a suicide. However this is something that I have to do, something which I must do, to try and restore the balance of the universe, to try and help another person be spared the type of pain which I’ve experienced… to get that person to look beyond the pain of a small moment in time and see a future which is compelling and worth living for, this is part of the new purpose for my life and it is one which I might not have found if it were not for you, I only wish that I could have found it in a more positive and peaceful manner and without your losing your life.
On a more positive note, I’m thankful that helping people cope with the aftermath of suicide or talking somebody down from attempting to commit suicide, is a small part of my coaching practice. Fortunately I spend most of my day teaching people communication dynamics and encouraging them to live more passionate lives. You’ll also be pleased to know that after a few years, the fog gradually began to dissipate and I am once again writing and creating online content for various web sites. I even found a way to revive our brainchild Nice Ice as a diamond education resource, but I no longer sell diamonds directly.
In the half a second that it took you to pull the trigger, you changed our entire universe. Thankfully I was resilient enough to pick myself up off the floor and dust myself off, I’m one of the lucky ones… a lot of “Survivors of Suicide” end up killing themselves in an effort to end the pain created by suicide… it’s an Ironic Tragedy.
If you are reading this and either you or somebody you know is contemplating suicide, please call:
the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
in the U.S. call 1-800-273-TALK that’s 1-800-273-8255
Your life is more precious than you realize.
Contact me to schedule a free introductory session if you’re a Survivor of Suicide and would like to get back to living life again, I can guide you out of the darkness and into the light. And be sure to sign up for my newsletter it’s full of tips for Personal Development and Personal Growth and I promise not to bombard your inbox very often.