Specific Situations > Suicide/Addiction/Mental Illness/Abuse

Surviving the suicide of a spouse

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Thank you so much for re-posting this. So much of this rings true for me as well. We started arguing the night of my birthday, the next night I got home from work and we argued more, and he kept pushing me to make a decision for him to stay or go. I remember it so clearly, trying to explain to him that it wasn't a black and white decision, that I didn't want him to go but that I wasn't happy. He kept pushing me on it until I finally just caved and said fine, go back to England. He shot himself the next day while I was at work. I knew he suffered from bi-polar disorder, but he tried to hide so much from me. I remember that morning, before leaving for work, that I should take the gun out of the house and I felt horribly guilty for a long time after because I didn't. But honestly, it wouldn't have mattered. A few days later, I remember going into the closet where I kept my migraine medication, and I saw that he had rifled through them, probably looking for something to take. I think he didn't realize what I had in there, because I had an entire bottle of hydrocodone cough syrup that would have done the job as well. My point in all this being, it wouldn't have mattered what I did - he would have found a way to end his life, and there wasn't anything I could have done differently.

My heart goes out to all of you who find yourselves here *hugs*

Something that helped me early on...I needed a purpose of charitable event with suicide prevention.
I was one of the eArly organizers of a Out of Darkness Walk in our area stArting in 2009. I met so many survivors from the area (and it's rural here) who "came out of the closet" and spoke up. It's grown every year. That walk and raising money helped me. Doesn't have to be the walk...can be anything (support groups, etc). I pretty much handed over the reins of the walk 2 years ago and didn't even go last year. It was time to move on from it (my kids ages too).. But so much good cane out of it.

I think to survive this mess...you need to be open about it. Secrets lose all there power when they are brought to the surface. That said...my kids all know...but now...in my life....I don't even think about Ben/Suicide. But I had to get if all out...chew it up...process it....then spit it out and be done with if.

Thank you for reposting your story. I needed to hear that. I need more than anything right now to talk to or listen to other wives who loved their husbands, but who were also lost/confused/frustrated/angry and struggling with what bipolar disorder meant in their lives. I didn't know what to do.

We had ten good years, happy family years. In my memory they have a golden glow around them, like sunshine. He had a job he loved, he was happy and strong. Then we had another ten years sliding steadily downhill, as he lost jobs, confidence, his ability to concentrate and his sense of self. Our equitable, respectful, supportive relationship eroded. By the time he was diagnosed with bipolar on top of his chronic pain, I hardly recognized the bitter, angry, inert and silent man he had become. I didn't recognize myself, either, and I hated the person I had become, making all the decisions, pushing for things to get done, resentful and anxious. We never fought, because we had both come from angry families and refused to bring arguments into our home. Instead we had silence, which started as respecting each other too much to lash out, but ended in a terrible barrier to communication. We respected each others' space too, and that also meant that it was much easier for him to hide what was happening to him.

I keep going back to the day I lost my job last year, when I told him crying that he had to do something to contribute financially, that the stress was killing me, that I didn't want to threaten him with divorce but I had to consider it. I'd collapsed at work the week before when it was clear that the company was going under. I asked him to apply for SSI. I was at the end of my rope, too. I think he hung on for as long as he could after that. I know he tried to get help, but he didn't talk to me. I know he didn't want to burden me with it, since I was already stressed. But I feel so much like I failed him. The counter arguments I can bring up feel like rationalizations to try to put away my own responsibility.

Reading the list of those drips of water that filled your husband's glass was helpful. I think I need to write out this list for my husband, too, to remind myself that things I said or didn't say weren't the biggest drop. At the bottom of it all, I do consider that my husband died of his illness, just as if he had cancer; it was terminal. But at least there would have been unbiased treatment for him. Any severe illness is cruel, but this one is burdened with so much uncertainty, prejudice and superstition that it adds needlessly to the suffering of the sick person and his family.


Welcome to Young Widow Forum.

--- Quote from: mixelated --- At the bottom of it all, I do consider that my husband died of his illness, just as if he had cancer; it was terminal. But at least there would have been unbiased treatment for him. Any severe illness is cruel, but this one is burdened with so much uncertainty, prejudice and superstition that it adds needlessly to the suffering of the sick person and his family.

--- End quote ---

An excerpt of one of my posts on our previous board:

"The stigma associated with mental illness continues to astound and outrage me. If one were to suffer from some other potentially fatal illness, such as cancer, the reaction would most certainly be quite different. It is clear that being afflicted with that type of serious long-term illness is an unusually heavy burden. But when it comes to chronic mental illness, such as major clinical depression, bipolar disorder, addiction, etc., not only is such sympathy frequently lacking, but many believe that some sort of cosmic punishment is actually called for on top of this. Why the difference? Why do so many people feel that we are blameless when it comes to most physical illnesses, while suffering from a life-threatening psychiatric illness must be our own fault?"

Sorry for your tragic loss. 

--- WifeLess

Thank you, and thank you for reposting your thoughts on the stigma of mental illness. I think I am going to do what I can out in the world to try to erase that stigma.

Let me ask you or anyone reading:  How did you find a way to cope with the 'drops' that you feel contributed in however small a way to their pain? the realization that things you said or did hurt your spouse before s/he ended life? Yes, I know that the person I am now, with the terrible knowledge I have now, would not have said or done the same things. And I am not saying that I think those small drops caused my husband's death.

But the thought persists that I caused pain. He was fragile, I can see now, and there were times he was reaching out for contact, to tell me something silly or meaningless he found on the internet, and I would snap at him because I was working and was trying to concentrate. I pushed him away like this, many times, and was frustrated because he couldn't remember that I was working - I thought. All the small things I did that wounded him, I cannot take back, I can never say to him that I am sorry. I feel as though I have been punching someone helpless, and I am miserable beyond reason. I don't know how I can ever atone.


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