Thursday, October 1, 2015

To You Who Wants To Die

To You Who Wants To Die,

Life isn't getting better, is it? Your chronic pain, your depression, your family or job or life, the things that are making everything feel hopeless... they don't seem to be getting better, do they?
So maybe your family, your loved ones, your friends, would all be better off if you were gone and they didn't have to worry about you. Is that your thought? Because if it is, I'm asking you to read this, because we need you.

We need you because we're never better off without you. Because your death for any reason will always leave a hole in our hearts in the shape of your smile.
You see the days when you are unable to function and we have to take care of you, you see your inability to provide income to your family, or the fact that you don't see us much because of your disease, and think that we'd be better off without having to deal with those things. We see those things, yes, but that's not all we see: we see the courage in your smile on the days you didn't want to be at our birthday party because it hurt, but you came anyway. We see the strength that it takes to get out of bed every day when you feel like nothing matters. We see how much you love us when you help us with that project we couldn't have done alone- or maybe just needed company for- even though you felt awful.
Do we see the things you miss, or the times you weren't there, too? Of course, because we, too, are human. But your children also remember that you taught them courage when you got up to help them get ready for school anyway. Your parents remember that when they visited, you cleaned your house even though you felt terrible. Your friends remember that time when they needed you and you came through. We love you. And we need you, even if you don't see that right now.

And, for the record, it's NOT easier with you gone. It's thousands of dollars of medical bills, of funeral expenses, and the sheer horror of having to talk to the police, the paramedics, and the coroner. It's the shame and gut-wrenching fear of judgement and raw grief of having to tell the people you loved that you are gone and we weren't able to stop you- or didn't even know how badly you were struggling. It's finding out that most likely, your life insurance doesn't pay out for suicide, and your spouse and children are stuck with the debt. Hospitals don't write off those expenses, and funeral homes aren't free- and there's only so long the coroner's office will hold your body if your family can't put together the money for your service. It's the realization by your spouse that not only is their co-parent missing (and even if you were divorced, estranged, there was ALWAYS the knowledge in the back of their head that they could call you if they had to), but your income to help care for your children is missing. Selfish? Sure. Still a hell of a blow to us? Yep.

It's having every one of those things crash down on your head all at once- while simultaneously still parenting your children, trying not to get fired from our own job, figuring out how to pay the mortgage or rent with income halved or even gone, dealing with everyone else who is grieving and for some reason can only talk to us about it, and trying to figure out what in the hell you say to strangers who ask, "Oh, your loved one died? What happened?"
Because we don't know what to say to that, just so you know.
Do we tell them you committed suicide, and watch their sympathy shut down, watch them start judging you- you, who we knew as a light in our life and smile in our heart- and reducing you to another 'selfish statistic'? Or do we lie, and devalue the pain and fear you were feeling? Do we just give some half-answer, like, "It was unexpected," and watch their eyes light up at the chance of gossip?
It's finding that everything that reminds us of you, is suddenly a trigger for another flood of tears. Every picture of us together on Facebook, every anniversary of a date we had fun together, every book we read that we can't share with you, or moment when we see your favorite movie pop up on Netflix, every child's birthday party where you should have been... everything.

Because you see, that doesn't end. Every time your child turns another year older and we host their birthday without you there to see them grow, every milestone they pass without being able to share it with you, the day they read your favorite childhood story and you're not there, the day they go to Prom, get engaged, or need help in their first new home with that thing that was your specialty, brings a fresh wave of grief and range and the ever-present plaint, "Why aren't you here to share this?!?!"
Every time your parents realize they're getting older and need help with this thing, and you're not there. Every time something reminds them of you as a child, of your favorite story growing up. Every time, they 'know' that they failed as a parent, because what decent parent doesn't see that their child is suicidal? It doesn't matter how well you hid it, we don't see that. In retrospect, we see the thousands of signs you never knew you were giving, and we didn't either, but we replay them at 2am, over and over, and cut ourselves to pieces on the memories of moments we missed in which we could have helped you- whether we could have or not.

It hurts now. It hurts so much every time you wake up and think that you wish you weren't here. It hurts every time you think that you're a failure, or useless, or we'd be better off without you. And I won't lie and promise it will get better. Maybe it won't- I don't know your situation.
But I do know that it cannot get better if you're gone. I know that there's no longer any chance of reconciliation. There's no longer any chance of your child coming home. There's no longer any chance of graduating, or reading the next book in that series you loved. There's no longer any chance of seeing your best friend get married, or being there for them if they get divorced. You'll never hold us again when we cry, never have a cup of coffee and talk about astrophysics or the last season of the guilty pleasure TV show we both love, never try our new recipe for the chili you were always better at making than we were. You will never see another eclipse, or learn to ride a motorcycle. You'll never cry on our shoulder, or celebrate with us every again.
It will never get better, because you're gone.
Not for you.... and not for us, either. Because we will never, every stop missing you, and we will never forgive ourselves... or you.

We love you; please don't take yourself away from us.

All of us who love you