After somebody close to you dies by suicide there is a lot of guilt to deal with – that’s what I experienced. I have heard it talked about and I have read the same. Feelings about what I what did or didn’t say, what I knew and didn’t know, what I could have done or said and didn’t were haunting nightmares. In my case there were more questions than answers – and guilt.
I have a book called A Special Scar: The Experiences of People Bereaved by Suicide. I have it somewhere, but today I can’t locate it. I remember being dismayed at some of the words used by the author, Alison Wertheimer, around ‘victims’ and ‘survivors’. Is my distaste for those labels what has caused me to misplace the book? I know I can be that intolerant. Maybe it was not wanting others to see what I was reading…
I mention that book now because I remember reading that much of what I experienced was not only my experience but partly shared by others. I did suffer an obsessive sort of grief, it was good to be reminded…
The last couple of posts on this site were taken from a journal entry I wrote long ago. One long rambling piece, previously only read by me, that I’ve split into three postings- You Don’t Know Me, The Coroner’s Notice of Completion and this entry. This is how it was for me;
Still standing outside envelope and letter in hand…trembling and blinded by the implications of the revelation on the Coroners Notice of Completion, I felt betrayed and empty. I didn’t even know who might have disclosed a concern of hospitalisation to the Coroner. Who could have known it? I can only think it was his psychologist, was that who he confided in? Mottsu didn’t provide me with even a hint of that past episode, not in the sunrise moments of our new romance and not in all the following years.
Not having ever fainted I don’t know the pleasure of losing consciousness in order to block out reality and it didn’t happen on the October day the Coroner’s report arrived. What I did do was flip through my mind for the name of someone I could call for support. I was unable to call anyone, feeling I had already been too burdensome on the friends who comprised my support group. I didn’t know how to share the incomprehensible Corner’s finding and it was abundantly clear to me what the situation might say about me and my own insensitivity and lack of caring.
How little I knew of Mottsu, his background and history and how much I taken for granted. A prior hospitalisation was news to me and negated how much I thought I cared. I cried, big gulping ugly sobs escaped that day, as I tried to rationalise what happened to him and what was happening to me. I was struck by my insensitivity to Mottsu, to who he was and what he didn’t share about himself. What he might have suffered through and not confided, somehow not been able to share with anyone.
He’d always admired my caring qualities and the kind connections I had with others. Now the extent of my uncaring was revealed, held up to me in the Coroner’s Report, printed on the pages I have to re-read. Indisputable, and I concluded that Mottsu too had know this uncaring part of me. I acknowledge how little I really knew and understood of him/me. I wept for what I’d lost realising we may have had less than I thought. Everything was bought into question and although there were no answers I searched for them.
I readily owned the fault, the guilt, claimed it as my own. Haunted by the extent of my own uncaring and I was unable to disclose it to others. I tried to share but friends were quick to deny my fault wanting to reassure and protect me. I wasn’t reassured but I smiled and let them believe I was, not wanting disappoint. On the surface I was bright and hopeful but felt a more ugly reality was present. It is difficult to accept suicide with a no blame attitude, and not assign someone with ‘fault’…
Although I tend to confidently claim that each can never really know another, the truth of that statement was cruelly highlighted by the Coroner’s Report. In reconstructing his last days and reviewing our years together it’s now impossible that the final bout of depression was a one-off event. What didn’t I see that must have cried out for recognition? I can’t imagine ever being able to feel close to somebody else I don’t have enough trust left in me. With Mottsu my self-centred determination to create a perfect life in a beautiful world left part of his reality in the cold. Maybe I didn’t want to allow anything as bleak as the reality he lived in damage my world, my beautiful life.
How unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I think about how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in. However bad it is for me, it must have been worse for him.
That’s how it was for me, judge and jury rolled into one guilty grieving mess.