How can I cope with a loved ones recent suicide?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 20, 2012 3:41 AM GMT
    My favorite cousin committed suicide a few days ago and I am devastated. The first few days was just utter shock and being numb to it. It almost did not feel real b/c he lives far away. I live in Illinois and he lived in Colorado.

    He was 39 and I am 27 and for a long time the huge age gap had separated us just to being family. That changed six years ago when I went to his wedding on my own and stayed there for a few weeks with my uncle. We bonded as adults and from then on he was like another brother.

    I remember us playing beer pong and him being the first person in my family to not treat me like a kid. I am the youngest in the family and he was the first to take me under his wing and treat me as his equal. He did not talk down to me and treat me like a kid. I remember one night he challenged me to beer pong and we got drunk off our asses. I never had so much fun as I did that weekend. We went motor cycle riding, hiking in the mountains, fishing and spent so much time just shooting the shit.

    We both bonded over being the black sheep of the family. I remember one night we got rip roaring drunk and I basically had an emotional break down over my mom having Alzheimer's and the stress of seeing her waste away, dealing with my father who has major depression over my mom and him being in denial at the time over her condition, and I almost came out to him that weekend but didn't.

    He was the first person in my family I could talk to who actually listened to me and didn't lecture me. Who became more then just family but we became friends. I don't even have that type of relationship with my older brother.

    He related to me about how difficult it was for him after my uncles divorce from my aunt (his mother) after she went all crazy with her religion and my uncle cheated on her. How he became an Atheist and his mother basically choose her religion over him and his father and siblings.

    He made it okay for me to be different. I will never forget those few weeks we had together six years ago (it seems like yesterday). I kept promising myself I would save up enough money to go see him every year but never did. I was always either busy or broke.

    Despite his issues he inspired me that time I went to go see him. He was being the optimistic one. He was the one lifting me up. He was the one telling me life would get better. So this suicide just shocks me.

    Since six years ago him and his wife had two kids. A son and a daughter. Everything seemed like it was perfect for them until six months ago. He was working as a mechanic and part time electrician and she was a successful hair dresser and they were doing fine until he lost the mechanic job. The electrician work was not coming in and she became the only one working as he stayed home and started to drink. They also ran into a lot of money problems and debt.

    She got fed up and left him. She was starting the divorce and moved to Nevada with the kids to be around family and found another guy.

    Next thing I hear a few weeks of him not returning any of our calls is he shot himself in the head.

    I am utterly shattered. I have been practically numb the last couple of days but earlier this afternoon the sadness and realness of the reality of it hit me like a ton of bricks. He is dead. He killed himself at 39. I will never see him again. I will never hear his voice again. We will never shoot the shit and bust each others balls again, he will never see his two kids grow up, we will never go fishing again, etc.

    I almost flipped out at work today when a patient said the pain hurt so bad she wanted a gun to shoot herself in the head. It took everything I had not to start bawling in front of the poor women. I actually liked his soon to be ex wife and understood even though I love my cousin why she had to leave. Now she is alone have to take care of the kids and explain to them why they will never see their daddy again.

    So my question for survivors of loved ones who have committed suicide is how have you dealt with the grief and guilt that maybe you could have stopped it after they are gone?

    Because right now I feel like this pain will never go away.

    Sorry for the long and depressing post. I need someone to talk to as my family is way too close to the situation number one and number two no friends I know of I believe has dealt with suicide before to ask them for advice.

    Thanks in advance for any help you guys give me.


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    Jul 20, 2012 4:10 AM GMT
    David, I'm sorry for your loss, and I'm sorry that your cousin's life got to that point.

    You don't need to apologize for a sad/heavy topic. There's nothing wrong with it, and it's good that you're willing to open up about this here when it's normally such a hostile place. I hope we can help you.

    About the grief and guilt. It's overwhelming at the start. I can tell you the truth, but I know it won't have much of an effect on emotions: you have nothing to feel guilty for. You can think of all the ways you might have kept him alive, but you simply didn't have the knowledge or clairvoyance that he was going to commit suicide. And even if you did, there might have been nothing you could say to make him change his mind.

    Death can be a mindfuck. You can have lots of conflicting emotions, and I learned to not fight them. It's allowed to be sad and angry at the same time. You're allowed to be selfish about your feelings. You're allowed to be cold if you feel like it. There are lots of ways of processing the emotions that swing through you each day, and you'll find your own way of doing it. The only thing I would caution you about is not trying to "move on" too quickly. And don't let anyone else pressure you to either!

    I have found that times where I spoke to someone else about what happened (even breaking down in front of them) were the times where I felt like I made the most progress.

    I'll begin the group hug here: *hug*
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    Jul 20, 2012 4:29 AM GMT
    The hardest part for me is he was the one who saved me from wanting to kill myself all those years ago. He was the one who showed me life has its storms but eventually it has its good days and to just hold on. Now the sad irony is he took his life and I am still here (much better then I was six years ago).

    That is what is killing me. Not being able to have helped him in the same way he helped me. Not being able to have told him to just hold on and tell him no pain ever lasts forever and how he saved me. That I know what he is going through because I was there and that he helped me and that I could help him.

    What breaks my heart even more is he left behind his 5 year old daughter and two year old son. My heart breaks for them the most.

    I just wish I could have told him before he died how much I loved him and how much he did for me six years ago.

    He was dyslexic but he persevered through the challenges of that and dealing with my aunts wacky religion. He learned trades with cars, getting into electrical work and he was a great artist. He was a fantastic tattoo artist.

    He inspired me. I never got to tell him how much I looked up to him.
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    Jul 20, 2012 5:20 AM GMT
    I imagine it would have given him some satisfaction & peace to know that you'll be going on where he wasn't able to and that he helped you to do so. I would also imagine that he wouldn't want you to be feeling bad about yourself for living.

    It's not that you failed to help him; it was his choice to not reach out for help. It makes sense that you would try to pick him up like he did for you, which he would know. Maybe he decided he didn't want to be picked up and it would have been upsetting having you attempt. (Or maybe one of many other situations).

    No one knows the private throughts of a person at the end of their life. Even down the road, you will have some answers and some things will remain a mystery. It's tough bridging the gap between now and then, I admit.

    I've had theories about what someone was thinking, and my mind cleared later and I realized I had it wrong at first.

    The way I see it, when someone dies, their suffering ends, and it's only the ones left behind who are sad. When I go, I just hope the people left behind take care of themselves and don't make it harder than it needs to be for my sake. Suicide isn't a done to punish others, not when it's serious. It's done when a person just cannot bear living any longer despite wanting to make others happy.

    He probably felt guilty about leaving the kids behind. I agree, that's the worst part. You might want to ask yourself "What would he say to you if he could talk to you now?"
    What is more likely? "You should have predicted and stopped me! I want everyone to hurt!" Or something like this "I'm sorry. I just couldn't any longer. Please don't blame yourself."



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    Jul 20, 2012 2:08 PM GMT
    I am so sorry for your loss.

    I think it's important to realise you're in shock right now. I lost my mum in December and am only now beginning to feel vaguely functional . She didn't die of suicide tho.

    I do not believe that anyone is thinking rationally when they attempt suicide. We have an inbuilt survival instinct and if the switch is flipped its because we have gotten to a place of total loss of hope .

    It's easy to say but this WAS NOT YOUR FAULT. I presume you had seen no signs of his decision.

    At this point I strongly recommend you consider approaching a bereavement centre to help you come to terms with this absolutely devastating loss. Suicide is a very different kind of death to come to terms with and you will pass through phases of guilt , anger, depression etc. you may feel he was selfish. I don't agree. If a suicidal person is in possession of their faculties, they would consider the consequences of those left behind . He was ill and in clinical depression I would imagine .

    If I was there right now I would give you the biggest hug I could .


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    Jul 20, 2012 2:48 PM GMT
    David,

    My condolences. Losing someone is very hard but losing someone to suicide just seems to be the worst. The suddenness of it all, the inability to understand why and to wonder if there was anything that could have been done to prevent it. It's very very hard.

    You will grieve for some time and that's OK. There's no time limits on grieving, it may take years to come to terms with your loss. Unless it seriously affects your ability to be able to function daily, grieving is a very important step in achieving acceptance. Acceptance in what you're already realizing, that he's gone and you'll never see or hear him again.

    From this moment on, as you grieve the loss of someone you loved, you need to begin to build the memories of what you enjoyed. Memories are our only link to what is gone and no one can take those away. Embrace the joy of having had someone so special in your life when you were struggling, relive those times when he took you away from all the pain you suffered through, revel in the laughter he gave you, the smiles you shared, the love you found and let all of that slowly replace to pain you feel now, the emptiness in your heart.

    Consider honoring your cousin by keeping in touch with his kids. Reach out to them as a mentor as they grow. Send them special birthday cards or gifts, write them notes so they know that they're not forgotten.

    You've been through a lot with your family. Your mom's struggles with Alzheimer's are a biggie to deal with, I too had to deal with that, and now the loss of your cousin, your friend, I'm sorry. Life sometimes offers up some tough stuff. Hang in there. Sharing your story here is a good thing, many here are very supportive. We're a family here, albeit sometimes dysfunctional, we genuinely care for others. Hang in there. A big HUG to you!

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    Jul 20, 2012 3:17 PM GMT
    David,

    Sorry this happened to you - - - and to your cousin. You're going to always remember him, and the good times - good lessons you learned while spending time with him. At your age, I'm guessing you haven't had that many people die in your life, so that compounds this for you. As others have suggested, don't feel in any way responsible for your cousin's death. He was just in a bad place temporarily, and perhaps he couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel (so to speak). He didn't realize that there would be brighter days ahead, and that his current situation (employment, divorce) was not going to be weighing him down forever.

    As for you - - I would suggest joining a group that meets weekly for people who have lost a loved one. You'll be glad you did. Some of the people in the group will have lost a friend, or a spouse - and the whole experience will help you get through this and put it into perspective.

    Good luck. Thanks for writing this. It will help people who might be in your shoes, or in your cousin's shoes - - and give them food for thought.
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    Jul 20, 2012 3:32 PM GMT
    The best thing you can do is mourn, he was a good person, and shouldn't be forgot. However you're still alive, I'm sure since he stopped you from suicide that he would want you to have a good and happy life. Look after his kids, and be an uncle to them, and also live your life to the fullest. I'm sure he would of liked that.
  • HndsmKansan

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    Jul 20, 2012 3:35 PM GMT
    David,
    Certainly my condolences. I'm sure this is a very difficult time for you and it all seems pretty unfair doesn't it? I can say I've never lost a relative to suicide, but
    I can imagine there is alot of self examination as a result. While you two clicked,
    please don't blame yourself for not "being there" for him. While reaching out wouild have been helpful, it sounds like he was in a cycle of destruction that started with the loss of his job......maybe before.

    My suggestion is to talk to him while you are alone and make to sure convey to his children someday how much he meant to you (very important). They should know what a difference he made to you and your life when you needed it.... and go out of your way to help them. Someday, when you are financially solid, my suggestion is that you consider setting up a college fund or the like for his kids and contribute each month. If he made a difference in your life (and his did.....clearly)... make the effort to help him and his kids and their futures.

    It will help you as well. Hugs buddy*

    icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jul 20, 2012 9:07 PM GMT
    Thanks guys!

    I spent all day at work this morning thinking about it.

    Replaying the last time we had talked to see if I there were signs I missed that he was heading down this road but nothing I could sense would have left me to believe he would do this.

    He might of had a messy divorce and money problems but he loved those kids with everything he had. I talked to a few people at work today about it and suddenly it became a real candid conversation about depression.

    Apparently a lot of people have it. Many said when you get that depressed to the point of suicide nothing else matters except getting rid of the pain. I know back then I felt that way before he inspired me to live. I still have a problem with the irony of that.

    Some good ideas from you guys about honoring my cousin by helping take care of his kids and letting them know what he did for me when they get older.

    I already sent his wife money for his cremation and some side money for the kids.

    It made me reflect so much about being thankful I decided not to take my life all those years ago and that I went to his spur of the moment wedding against my usual nature.

    It ended up saving my life and also discovering what a great guy my cousin was.

    It is just so incredibly sad for me and my family right now. I had all these plans before he died of us going fishing and camping and just hanging out and now it will never happen.

    Maybe one day

    I can take his kids fishing and camping in honor of their dad.

    I am going to miss his art and his dark sense of humor.

    Thanks guys for the advice, positive thoughts, and love. I greatly appreciate it.

    David

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    Jul 21, 2012 2:03 AM GMT
    First of all..My heart goes out to you..
    I am glad to see you are handling this head on !
    Please remember you had something that most people spend their lives searching for..."True Friendship"..
    Hugz..Anocxu..icon_smile.gif
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    Jul 21, 2012 2:12 AM GMT
    You may never know the whole reason or the story behind the suicide, but you may get the gift of knowing someday. When you get that gift, you'll never let go of it.


    "Every blow in life pierces the heart and awakens our feelings to sympathize with others; and every swing of comfort lulls us to sleep, and we become unaware of all." -Hazrat Khan


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    Jul 21, 2012 2:21 AM GMT
    deltalimen saidYou may never know the whole reason or the story behind the suicide, but you may get the gift of knowing someday. When you get that gift, you'll never let go of it.


    "Every blow in life pierces the heart and awakens our feelings to sympathize with others; and every swing of comfort lulls us to sleep, and we become unaware of all." -Hazrat Khan




    What a great quote.

    You guys are awesome.

    I have decided to focus on how my cousin lived and not on how he died. Its been helping. How he died did not change the good man he was to so many and the good things he did in life. He was a tortured soul but a good soul. I am blessed to have had the good times I had with him when I did.

    Thanks to all those who sent their positive thoughts and notes to me in this thread and by mail. It is greatly appreciated.
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    Jul 21, 2012 2:24 AM GMT
    There are some really cool peeps round these parts!!..icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jul 21, 2012 2:25 AM GMT
    David4985So my question for survivors of loved ones who have committed suicide is how have you dealt with the grief and guilt that maybe you could have stopped it after they are gone?


    Forget the guilt. Likely nothing you could have done, as many guys determined to commit suicide gives no warning and no hint.

    You can accept his choice, or be angry at him for not calling out for help. Both are Ok and help a bit.

    It's done, it's over, but you had the chance to meet him when it was important for you.

    Sorry for your pain, it will take a lot of time to make it manageable.
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    Jul 21, 2012 2:47 AM GMT
    I go in between great sadness, to anger, to guilt, to shock and disbelief in cycles when I think about it.

    One thing it reinforced in me is how fragile and precious life really is and to never take anyone you love for granted. I learned that with my mothers Alzheimer's too but today just reinforced to me how short life really is and to make the most out of every moment.

    I want to live life to the fullest and create the most memories while I am here. I also want to appreciate the people who are in my life more and make sure they know it all the time.

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    Jul 21, 2012 2:51 AM GMT
    (Hug)
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    Jul 21, 2012 4:05 AM GMT
    David4985 said

    I just wish I could have told him before he died how much I loved him and how much he did for me six years ago.



    He inspired me. I never got to tell him how much I looked up to him.
    He knewicon_wink.gif
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    Jul 21, 2012 4:14 AM GMT
    TropicalMark said
    David4985 said

    I just wish I could have told him before he died how much I loved him and how much he did for me six years ago.



    He inspired me. I never got to tell him how much I looked up to him.
    He knewicon_wink.gif


    I think he did too. Which helps.

    Thanks for all the love guys. It means a lot.
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    Jul 21, 2012 8:11 AM GMT
    David4985 said It is just so incredibly sad for me and my family right now. I had all these plans before he died of us going fishing and camping and just hanging out and now it will never happen.
    Yeah this part is damn shitty. It happens with any death, just adds to the depressiveness of it all.

    David4985 saidI have decided to focus on how my cousin lived and not on how he died. Its been helping. How he died did not change the good man he was to so many and the good things he did in life. He was a tortured soul but a good soul.
    This is important I feel. Suicide is a taboo but it has nothing to do with evil necessarily. The saddest thing to me is that the person is in the situation that was so bad that death was greatly preferable. Just as we can say about someone suffering of cancer before they died, "At least he's not suffering anymore."

    I also want to say, it's good that you're offering to help/support his kids, but I don't want to see you taking on the burden of their upbringing. I mean, don't feel obligated out of grief. You could give not a cent and it wouldn't mean you cared any less. Though any good thing you do is of course a great thing. I caution about this because I know someone who promised to take care of someone else, and after decades he feels indebted to keep it up. As long as you feel like you're giving and not paying back, you're good.
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    Jul 21, 2012 2:52 PM GMT
    *Hugs David4985*


    *hugs him again*

    choked up...

    -Doug