Young Widow Forum

Specific Situations => Suicide/Addiction/Mental Illness/Abuse => Topic started by: April on May 19, 2016, 08:23:43 AM

Title: feeling exploited
Post by: April on May 19, 2016, 08:23:43 AM
My cousin asked me if he could for this up coming memorial day.. use my husbands story to bring awareness to veteran suicides.. I was like.. "f'ing NO!!"  That's extremely personal and my husband would hate you for that!  You are not exploiting my husband and my family for your need to get pats on the back!!  Am I over reacting.. am I terrible for not wanting to bring awareness to the 22 vets a day that commit suicide.. I don't know.
Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: Mizpah on May 19, 2016, 08:33:39 AM
Totally different circumstances, so I hope you don't mind my chiming in, but DH was hit by a car while standing on a sidewalk.  Not a month had passed when an organization that advocates for biker- and pedestrian-protective laws called me, wanting to come to some event and help hold a banner on the steps of city hall.  My response was exactly the same - are you f'ing kidding me?!  Of course I don't want bikers and pedestrians to be killed, of course you don't want veterans to commit suicide, but, yeah, I get it.  There was also a part of me that was angry - this is about HIM, not death, about who he WAS, not how he died.  I didn't want him turned into a cause, or into his death instead of his life. 
Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: Portside on May 19, 2016, 08:35:59 AM
There are some situations where no one is wrong and this may be one of them.

You are not overreacting - if it doesn't feel right to you then you are entirely within your rights to have said "No" to your cousin. However, perhaps your cousin felt that his suggestion was a positive and caring gesture to make in honor of your husband. We just don't know.

Best wishes - Mike

Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: Mizpah on May 19, 2016, 09:08:54 AM
^ I agree with Portside. 
Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: April on May 19, 2016, 09:11:43 AM
His words.. "I and my brothers want to participate in a social media project to raise awareness for veteran suicide. Would you be ok with us paying tribute to Erik as motivation for us to raise awareness for the 22 veterans who turn to suicide each day in our country"

To me that's not honoring him.. you honor somebody by all the great they did.. not their down fall.. I know my husband.. and I know this would embarrass him he viewed himself as invincible.. he was shot several times.. had 5 broken vertebra a paralyzed right arm.. and open skull fracture..  the only survivor in a couple missions..  I know that he's sorry and ashamed of how he left this earth because he survived so much.

I wasn't even going to tell my children how he died.. but the therapist said I needed to.. they needed to hear it from me not through the grapevine.

Mizpah.. I was agnry that he asked too.. I'm not ready.. don't know if I will ever be ready.. to be or have my husband or family be a poster child for a cause.. not to mention.. I absolutely HATE being pitied! 
Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: Mrskro on May 19, 2016, 09:28:21 AM
I'm a huge advocate of telling kids the truth.  It always has a way of coming out.   My husband's cousin committed suicide. His children have been able to use his story to help bring awareness to mental health issues and drug usage.  For them, it helped them to bring some good out of a horrible death.  Both girls have used their Dad's story as a way to help others.   and for them it's been healing. 

But I agree with the others, if you don't feel its right then yes you should certainly say NO.

Your cousins may not understand your position.  They may feel they are honouring his memory and possibly helping others.    It might help to explain to them how you feel about it. 

Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: SoVerySad on May 19, 2016, 09:39:09 AM

From reading his request, it doesn't sound like his intent is to exploit your situation. I suspect their goal is to put faces of real people and the lives they lived to that statistic of 22 veteran suicide deaths a day. Numbers are easy for some not to really think about, but a person's story really can be more effective at making people stop and think. I believe the request was well-meaning, but as we know even people who mean well say things that are hurtful or make clear they don't understand your feelings.

That said, you are completely within your right to decline. It must be what you are comfortable with. If you feel your husband wouldn't want you to participate, by all means declining is the right choice for you. You shouldn't feel bad in any way for not wanting to participate. You hold no responsibility to share your story to increase awareness. It is you, your children, and your husband's story. Period.

One thing on the being pitied issue. I've been working with my daughter on this issue as she doesn't like to let anyone know her father died, because she doesn't want to be pitied. At some point, the term pity seems to have taken on a negative connotation. The dictionary defines it as "the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the suffering and misfortunes of others". I've tried to help her see that her friends showing compassion to her for what she's been through isn't a negative thing. I definitely feel great compassion for you and your children, especially in that your husband suffered so much as a result of serving our country and working to keep my family safe. I don't feel that because I think you or he are/was weak in any way. I'm sorry for the torment he lived with and the sadness left for you and your children. You are strong and making your way through it. I just wish you'd never been put into the situation in the first place.

Tight hugs... 
Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: April on May 19, 2016, 09:48:34 AM
Thank you.. he's supposed to call me today (this was asked in a text)..  I will explain how I feel about it to him when he calls.

I realize now that the kids needed to know how he passed.. my oldest son knew.. my three younger ones didn't.. some of their cousins knew.. our small town knew.. I knew I was sitting on a time bomb.. it was only a matter of time before someone slipped in front of them.. I just didn't know how to tell them.. I didn't want them to think he abandoned them.. I didn't want them to blame themselves... I didn't want them to think they could do the same so they could be with him.. I didn't want to hurt them even more..  But what I didn't realize is that not knowing how he passed was hurting them.. it was eating my son up.. he said he constantly thought about how he died.. imagining horrible scenarios.. so it was several months after he passed that I finally told them.. the therapist gave me some pointers on how to bring it up and get the conversation started.. so.. one at a time I sat them down on my bed.. Indian style face to face and I held their hands.. and asked them how they thought Daddy died.. they both said his heart.. I brought them both in together to explain (my youngest wasn't even 3 yet.. so I don't think she was aware of anything).. and I just took it from there.. lots of tears and questions.. uncomfortable questions.. they wanted to know how he did it and I didn't know if that was appropriate to explain.. the therapist told me I probably shouldn't explain how.. but they were imagining blood and gore.. and the truth was a lot less ugly as what their minds were imagining.. so I did wind up telling them how.. it was a lot more peaceful then what they were thinking.

and thank you so much SoVerySad.. I am working on letting people feel bad for me and want to help me.. my town organized a go fund me account to get us through the first month or so of being without his income.. it was hard for me to accept.. my friend very bluntly said.. "people want to help you.. let them".. I I had to swallow my pride and let them.. not just for myself and for my children.. but also for my friends who needed to feel like they could do something.. I got feeling the need to help.. I liked being the helper.. not the helpee.. and I didn't want push people away.. because I do love them for loving me and my children.
Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: April on May 19, 2016, 11:46:28 AM
I talked to my cousin and he felt awful.. which made me feel really bad for making him feel awful when he had nothing but good intention..

He wanted to do a video of him and his brothers doing 22 push ups for 22 vets a day.. (it's a challenge that has been going on.. and he really wanted to partake in it since it hits so close to home).. he wanted to split screen it and have our picture and story.. yikes!!  So I said it was a great idea.. but can you do it without mentioning names.. for instance.. say my cousin without giving my or my husbands name.. that way you personalize it to you and not us.. so that's what he's going to do.. I sent him a pic of his folded up flag to use.. no name.. just a symbol of all veterans/servicemen lost in this way.
Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: Portside on May 19, 2016, 12:53:14 PM
I wasn't even going to tell my children how he died.. but the therapist said I needed to.. they needed to hear it from me not through the grapevine.

I don't want to hijack this thread so I started a new one with this as the topic. I'm sure we all struggled with this in some fashion.

Best wishes - Mike 
Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: Bunny on May 20, 2016, 12:45:54 PM
  it was hard for me to accept.. my friend very bluntly said.. "people want to help you.. let them".. I I had to swallow my pride and let them.. not just for myself and for my children.. but also for my friends who needed to feel like they could do something.. I got feeling the need to help.. I liked being the helper.. not the helpee.. and I didn't want push people away.. because I do love them for loving me and my children.

My husband's friends also raised money for me. I accepted not only because I needed it, but also because I understood they all felt absolutely helpless in the face of my grief and NEEDED to do something for me. I feel very fortunate knowing, nearly 4 years later, some of those people would drop everything to help me if need be. I consider it a lasting gift from my husband.

I am also someone who loves to be the helper, but I have learned it can sometimes take more strength to be vulnerable enough to allow others the gift of helping you. Helping others makes me feel good inside so why would I want to deprive others of that same wonderful feeling?

And I am so glad you two could talk openly and come up with a compromise!
Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: April on May 20, 2016, 05:10:03 PM
Yes.. I definitely have a hard time with the receiving end of giving too.. I am grateful for all the wonderful people in my life who care so much about us... it sounds like you have a wonderful support system too.

and just to be clear.. I didn't say those things to my cousin.. that's just how I felt.. what I said was.. "ehh.. that's a little too personal.. can I think about it".. my thoughts are always more stern then what actually comes out.

I am grateful he asked me first.. so many people today wouldn't.. they just post away without thinking of anyone else.. pictures without permission.. make announcements that aren't theirs to announce etc.. he didn't have to ask me first but he did  :)  We are a very large, very close family.. sometimes too close.. They know things about me before I do lol
Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: MrsDan on May 23, 2016, 02:27:03 PM
My husband died from alcoholism. I'm in a support group for people who lost loved ones to addiction. It's mostly parents, and a lot of them find comfort in trying to stop what happened to their loved ones from happening to other people. I do not. I'm sorry, but if it's too late for Dan I'm not particularly interested. I'm sorry if that seems cold, but all the advocacy in the world won't help the one person I Want it too. And that's too much to take. I will do what I can to fight the stigma, because that does help him in some way.

Also, I'm not sure I agree with the argument that a parent has to tell the kids. I think parents know their kids and know what they are capable of handling. The argument of the truth always gets out, that doesn't really wash with me. Maybe people can keep their mouths shut, maybe they can't, but one can always explain to kids that people say a lot of things about things that they have no business commenting on. Personally, I'm torn. I'd always thought I'd tell DD, because she is at a tremendous genetic risk foraddiction - her father, both grandfathers, and a great grandfather were all alcoholics and an uncle and a great uncle had drug problems. Two of those men died in their 30s. But now I'm wondering if there is another way to protect her in that regard. Because I worry about her feeling abandoned. As educated as I am about the disease, I feel abandoned. And I know it was a disease, and I know he would be tremendously sorry for the pain he's put me through, and depriving her of a father. But honestly (and my feelings change on this regularly, I might even come back here down the line and edit this) that doesn't do anything for me. It doesn't take away the pain. It doesn't provide her with the experiences she should be having. The way he died has completely ripped me to shreds and I don't want that for her. For now all she needs to know is that his body stopped working.
Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: April on May 24, 2016, 09:26:50 AM
I sometimes worry about my kids falling to addiction.. my father died an alcoholic.. really from diverticulitis but just drank to make it go away instead of going to a doctor.. my brother and 2 of my sisters have addiction problems crack/heroin.  My husband committed suicide but had a problem with pain meds and had PTSD that I was trying to make him get help for.  So yeah.. I worry a lot about the heredity too.. it's a big concern.  Is part of it believing that it's your destiny that turns people to it in the first place?  Does shielding them from knowing save them?  I wish I could repaint their past..  I wish I could just take them far away from everything.. all outside influences.
Title: Re: feeling exploited
Post by: SemperFidelis on July 01, 2016, 11:15:19 AM
Hi April.

Sitting here with you. My husband was an iraq veteran(2003) who suffered debilitating ptsd, and also ended his life.

I understand what you mean about being pitied. I really don't like makes me feel like I am emotional entertainment to other going to a movie you know will make you cry or reading a news article you know is disturbing just for the sake of feeling disturbed (for the record, I don't watch or read news or watch movies....but I know most people do).

It's good that you know how your husband would feel about the matter and could proceed on his behalf.

Here comes my big fat opinion....In some ways, I feel like focusing on the suicide is a cop-out. Its missing the point. I was my husband's full time caregiver, I saw his late night fits of sobbing and wailing......I lived with and witnessed his pain every day, and on many occasions i was made to suffer as well through violence in his pre-medication days.  To me, I just see so many other pressing issues affecting veterans and their families.....things that come up long before the decision to die....things that might be easier to address, idk. I understand why my husband chose to die....I get it....and I have to respect his 12 years of choosing to live every day since his time in iraq when all he wanted to do was die. I see all of his strength through suffering, not just the ultimate wearing down of his soul.
I see how so many people failed him and bailed on him on his return from iraq(his wife of 9years bailed). Those individuals should have given a sh*t then, not after the fact of his death. He was like a house on fire and everyone except me was too chickenshit to walk in.

Anyway. Sorry to hijack the thread. It is just a relief and comfort to find another widow on here who has been to the ptsd rodeo and has been to the suicide circus too.