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Not so young widow (new to the forum)

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Actually I don't know what qualifies as young, I'm 55 but I don't feel like I'm 55, so does young at heart count?


I lost my husband to suicide this past February. We would have been married 25 years in July. Our only child, a son, will turn 21 next month.


I've started typing my story a few times but I find that there's no way to tell it succinctly, and I really don't want my first post to be a novel. So for now I'll just say I'm glad I found you and I will come in and read your stories and all the beautiful words of support you have to offer each other until I am comfortable enough to share my own story.


Although I am seeing a therapist and I've found a wonderful support group, this seems like a place where I can come 24/7 when I need to vent, or cry, or express those dark thoughts that I can only share with those who really understand. I look forward to getting to know you all and hopefully one day offering support to others who have have suffered/are suffering this unimaginable pain.

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Welcome and I am so very sorry you need to be here.  I think you will find great support here, our definition of "young" is pretty broad.  I lost my husband of 20 years to cancer, not suicide, but I think there are many things we share in common.  I'm sure our members who are survivors of suicide can offer you support as well.  Read, post when you are comfortable, and know that you are not alone.

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Welcome to Young Widow Forum.


Several months after my wife's suicide 7 years ago, I joined this site's predecessor, which also had "Young Widow" as part of its name. At first I wondered whether I belonged there since I was neither young nor a widow. I was instead both old (older than you) and a widower. But I was nevertheless made to feel very welcome there, as you should feel here.


Sorry for your traumatic loss.


--- WifeLess

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Thank you for the warm welcome everyone, I already feel that I'm among friends.


One reason I'm hesitant to share my story is that I feel it's different from most people's stories, but I have a feeling I may discover I'm not as different as I think. So here goes. And believe it or not this is the short version, there are so many relevant details but this would go on for days if I tried to include everything.


I was unhappy in my marriage for many years, but I never had the nerve to leave. There was always a reason to stay; money, my son, the prospect of being alone. But the biggest reason was fear. My husband was not abusive in the usual sense, but he was jealous and controlling and I was always afraid of what he might do if I tried to leave.


My son grew up and left home, and another year passed until I finally mustered up the courage to tell my husband I wanted out. Long story short, it took three times over the course of a year before I was actually able to stick to my convictions and start making plans to leave. At first he seemed accepting and we would even discuss my moving out. I started sleeping in the guest room and he told me I could stay as long as I needed to (there was never any question that I would be the one to move out, since I was the one ending the marriage).


But then he started having issues - at first he couldn't sleep, then he started losing weight, and he became very depressed. Things got worse and worse and he stopped going to work. He went to the doctor and found out that his testosterone level was critically low. He got medication for that but it didn't seem to do much. He tried different sleeping pills and antidepressants but nothing helped. He begged me to stay until he could get straightened out and I agreed, I told him I'd stay as long as he needed me to. I knew that I was being emotionally blackmailed, but he was in such pitiful condition I couldn't bring myself to desert him.


One day just before Christmas last year, he swallowed every pill he had - I came home from work and found him and couldn't wake him. He survived this attempt and spent a Baker acted week in a behavioral health facility. He spoke to a therapist and psychiatrist each day, they adjusted his medications and I had hope that he had hit rock bottom and this would be the start of his recovery. But to be safe I took the gun that he kept under his mattress and hid it. After he came home he never asked me about it so I was reassured that he hadn't noticed it missing.


His depression didn't ease, even after several medication adjustments. Our life settled into a holding pattern. He sat at home every day while I went to work. Every day I would ask him if he was going to call the therapist that he'd seen in the hospital to make a follow up appointment and he said he would. Every night I'd come home and ask him and he'd say "no, I'll call her tomorrow." I couldn't get him to do anything - go for a walk, go to the grocery store, nothing. All he did was sit and stare at the tv.


He hadn't worked in three months but his boss (bless his heart) continued to pay him his full salary. Finally at the beginning of February his boss told him he couldn't continue to pay him, he'd either have to come back to work (but only if he was ready), or be laid off. He didn't feel he had a choice, so he went back. He worked a few days and would come home and tell me that he just couldn't do it. I tried to convince him that he hadn't lost his knowledge or skill, just his confidence, and he just needed to take it one day at a time and it would get easier each day. Then one night he said to me "I'm not going to make it." I assumed he was talking about work and asked what he was going to do, and he told me he wasn't going to quit but he didn't think they would keep him on if he couldn't do the job (he was in construction management by the way). Then he went on to say "You should have never done what you did" - meaning trying to end the marriage. I told him that all I "did" was to be honest with myself and him for the first time in years, but that I wasn't going anywhere and reassured him that I would stay with him until he got better.


Friday morning I got up to go to my early morning exercise class. I woke him before I left so he could get up and get ready for work. I would get home before he left so I told him I'd see him in a little bit, and he said okay. About 5 minutes into the class, I got extremely dizzy and had to stop for a few moments. It passed, I didn't think anything of it, and I finished the class. When I got home I found him - he had shot himself in the head. I had completely forgotten about the small gun he had put in my nightstand. I hate guns and hadn't thought about that one in years. You can imagine the rest - the shock, the horror, the police, the funeral, the guilt, the guilt, the guilt.


As I said I'm seeing a therapist and I've joined a support group, and of course everyone tells me I'm not to blame. And looking back I can think of so many signs of mental illness that I mistook for character flaws. But the words he said to me that night still haunt me. And I think of all the things I didn't do that may have helped. What if I'd hid the second gun? Why wasn't I more insistent that he get help? Why didn't I make an appointment for him and take him? (I actually did make him an appointment but he took his life before that day came.) Maybe if I'd just made a clean break and left he would have dealt with it better. It goes on and on. And I feel so damned hypocritical playing the grieving widow when all along I wanted out of the marriage. But I am grieving, I am sad, I am traumatized. My son lost his father, my SIL lost her brother, many people lost a friend. I know it's only been six months but I don't know if I'll ever be able to completely let go of feeling responsible for his death.


If you've made it this far, thank you. It's been a long road and I am doing okay for the most part, but the guilt that I carry around with me is overwhelming at times. I'm hoping that joining this forum will give me another outlet to air my feelings and find some comfort and/or commiseration. What a terrible club to belong to, I'm so sorry for each and every one of you.

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Hi, AprilRain,


I wanted you to know I read every word.  I don't have experience like this, but there are others who have been on our forum who have had similar experiences.  I have a friend that lives locally but is not on the board who finally divorced his wife after 28 years.  She wasn't well physically or mentally for a very, very long time, and he finally realized he couldn't make a difference and it was only tearing him down more.  His ex-wife ended her own life 6 months after the divorce was final.  He is working on acceptance of what he could not change. 


Just know that you are welcome here and not the only one born in the early 60's.



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AprilRain - I am so very sorry for your loss.  My husband took his life in May 2015 with a hunting rifle after a 25 year struggle with bipolar depression.  I understand "the shock, the horror, the police, the funeral, the guilt, the guilt, the guilt."  It wasn't anything you or I did, or failed to do, it was mental illness that took their lives.  For me letting go of the guilt was hard, it meant letting go of the false notion that I could control everything in my life.  This site has been so helpful, knowing I'm not alone, knowing others "get it" and seeing how others have been able to not just survive, but thrive.


As to the "young" part, I laugh now that I lurked for months before my first post, searching for the age limit.  I was so relieved when I found other members who were my age.



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Sadly, I don't have to imagine

"You can imagine the rest - the shock, the horror, the police, the funeral, the guilt, the guilt, the guilt."


My husband took his life after battling Bipolar I for many years, I found him. He had told me he was feeling suicidal two days before it happened, I even called the hospital to ask if I should bring him back, but for numerous reasons I didn't. I know now that I couldn't have stopped him, he was ill and it would have happened no matter how much I policed his meds and his movements.


I only realized later on that so many of the things I had seen as "character flaws" were part of the illness.

After seeing a psychologist myself I have let go of the guilt, for the most part, accepting I couldn't have handled it better than I did because I was his wife not a trained psychiatrist. I supported him as best as I could in every way I knew how but I could not save him.


Try to forgive your self, mental illness is no less serious than cancer or other terminal illnesses, not even the doctors he saw could get his chemical balance right with all their meds, what could you realistically have done to correct it ?

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I think of all the things I didn't do that may have helped. What if I'd hid the second gun? Why wasn't I more insistent that he get help?



Lots of good advice here AR so I'll only touch on a few of your comments: By way of background, my late wife died of a self-inflicted GSW to the chest. She had been mentally ill for many, many years. Every one around her knew it and we took all possible steps to treat her illness. Medication, therapy, institutionalization, hypnosis, electric shock and on and on. None of it helped for long. 


I kept all my rifles and sidearms locked in a very good gun safe all the time. But it didn't matter. My lovely wife broke into a neighbor's garage while me and the kids were gone for the weekend, stole his oxy-acetylene cutting outfit and dragged it home. She taught herself how to use the equipment effectively (not an easy thing to do) and, according to the manufacturer of the gun safe, took two days to cut her way into it. She then took a very difficult gun to load and shoot and taught herself to use it.


While the coroner was at the house attending to the aftermath, I was beside myself saying many of the things you are saying but more specifically: I never should have had the weapons around. He sat me down and explained that in his forty years of medical practice and service as a coroner, he was convinced none of that mattered. A person truly committed to taking their life will always eventually succeed. They do not need an easy method close by to do it. If necessary, a person will use anything that is available - a sharp stick and a rock or a car and a tree will do the job if that is what they can get their hands on.


Try not to ask yourself all the questions because truly, there are no answers. You did all you could. My late wife (and your husband) were the ones in charge and even if we could have shut all the doors of opportunity for them, they would have found or created another.


Best wishes - Mike

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AprilRain, I am so sorry for your loss.  Welcome to the group none of us really wanted to belong to.  I read every word you wrote and the responses from others.  I pray the words of others help lessen the guilt for you.  "Hugs"

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AprilRain- so sorry for your loss and all you are going thru. My heart breaks whenever someone new has to join us here. But this group out of everything I've searched for - has given me the most support and acceptance.


Three years ago last week, my husband of 17 years successfully completed his 8th try. (I believe as there were only two times he left a note- on the very first attempt and the very last- the other times he said it was an accident and he took too much meds/or the car was faulty- breaks failed- crashed three cars.)


Portside is right if someone is focused on ending their life they will find a means. My husband tried many times-by the grace of God and it just not being his time- we always found him on several overdoes- which was also strange- because we (his mom and I) always got a feeling to go check on him.


After he almost ended his life on his 7th attempt by taking what he thought was a lethal amount of meds (again his mom found him in time- again by the Grace of God- and it just not being his time). He was in coma for three days- not sure how he ever come out of it and was not a vegetable. On this time there was no way he could say he took too much by accident. So I guess my head was in the sand- and I did not think he was attempting suicide the other times- after the first where he left a note.


His mom and I got stern and locked up all his meds(man there were so many!)/ and made sure he took them correctly- went with him to every doctors appt. and he even went to stay as his mom's house while I was at work so he would not be alone. 


He followed all the doctors orders to a tee and really tried, but during that time it was the worst of our time together because I saw him suffer for two more years and become a shell of himself. I always wonder what it must feel like when you really think you are ending your life and you don't? I think that made him more depressed and anixious as he must have always been thinking about how to do it and for it to be the last time no outs.


He mostly slept all day-the meds made him sleepy... hardly ever wanted to go out-(as he needed to be near a bathroom- hardly ate- as the meds upset his stomach (the meds that got changed many times always had side effects..)  As difficult as it was to see him like this- looking back it was also a blessing for me, because I got to understand his illness more and be more supportive.


Since he could not get more meds (and oh boy he tried many times and many ways!) he walked into a hardware store down the street from his mom's house and bought something for less than three dollars and learned with precision how to use that to end his life in less than 30 seconds and made sure his mom was going to be out of the house for at least an hour- but would come back and find him soon after.


The guilt was eating me inside too-if I would have done this- and not done that...if I never said those things.. if I said these things more..etc..etc..etc. It was nine months after and I was on a family outing and we walked over a high bridge and were all looking out at the beautiful scenery and boats on the water below..and all I could think about was jumping off. It still scars me to my core today thinking back about this- as the feeling was so strong...but you know what..if you don't have that in you..you can't do it...but if you do have that in you- you will. Point I'm trying to make is it's a severe mental fatal illness and rarely ever cured- from what I've seen.


Thankfully by some miracle I ended up going to church - something I rarely do- but felt a force pushing me to go. The topic that day was about guilt. The thing that stuck with me was- guilt will get you no where and why let it steal your days? Strangely after that day 99% of the guilt was gone...and replaced by- if my love could have saved you- you would have been the happiest person ever.


But neither my love, many trained professionals could save him- therefore, I can't justify my guilt.


It's been a long 3 years of rehashing everything that happened, but I think it's a necessary and important part process on the journey to healing this complicated grief.


I'm sorry this got so long..it just sort of poured out of me- and I hope by sharing my story you will feel less alone and maybe something I've written here will help you.


I wish you peace...as it is sure to come...





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I'm so sorry for your loss and for what you have endured. Coming here for the past years since my husbands suicide has given me comfort, I'm glad we can offer the same to you.


Our stories are quite similar. I get the guilt, the guilt, the guilt and the what ifs and the shock and horror. Why didn't I try one more doc? Should I have said this or that or not gone out that day or whatever? I agree with other posters here, there really are no answers to these questions. We are not responsible for the deaths of our spouses. No one has that control over others. It took me a long time to really know these things, I too carried guilt for a while. You are not a hypocrite for being a grieving widow. You lost your husband to illness and depression. Our journeys may be different than others who lost their spouse in a different manner... so what? You are deserving of love, compassion and support.


Be gentle with yourself, this suicide road is hard. Know that we hear you and we care.

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I want to thank everyone who responded for your kind words. I feel like I've learned something from each of you. Being a newbie on a message board is hard because you feel like you're at a gathering where everyone knows each other but you (sort of like the party I posted about in a different thread) but this might be the most important message board I've ever/ever will join. So I'm going to do my best to overcome my shyness and stick around to get to know you all, learn from your experiences, share my own, and join in the healing process.


I'd like to share something I saw on Facebook that really had an impact on me. It's a sculpture called "The Weight of Grief" that I think exactly captures the pain that we've all been through. At the same time I think it also depicts depression, and it helps me to understand the unbearable pain my husband was feeling before he ended his life. I'm going to try to post a picture but I'll also post a link in case that doesn't work and so you can read about it. Here goes...






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I am also a SOS (survivor of suicide). My late husband had severe mental illness as well as physical pain.  There is a huge stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction, and it's really tough. At first, I didn't want to tell anyone how he died. I experienced a lot of the same feelings of guilt that many other SOS's do. Now, when someone asks, I tell the truth, but everyone's different, and that may not resonate with you.


I did EMDR therapy to treat the PTSD that surfaced as a result of his death. It truly stopped the intrusive thoughts that were occurring every single day. Talk therapy helped me only minimally.


Meeting other widows on this board in person, at bagos also really helped me to heal from his loss. Not everything is sunshine and roses after 4 1/2 years out, but my life is better now.

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Hey April, I wanted you to know I read everything you wrote.


My husband didn't die of suicide. He died due to violence while trying to do the right thing, and I'm pretty sure he kinda knew he probably wouldn't make it out alive. He made that choice because of me, and the guilt of that, although unjust, sometimes overwhelms me.


I, like you, wanted out and was planning on leaving. My husband was abusive, in every sense of the word, but in our culture it was considered normal for a man to treat his wife like that - by our standards he was, well, far from abusive. Me wanting to leave him, had more to do with me wanting to leave that culture/way of life, than leaving him. (We lived in a cult-like group, his abusive was normal within the group, but illegal in our country.)


Fast forward towards our last day together. I'm still not sure what happened, but after yet another one of his beatings he broke down and begged me to forgive him. He said he'd let me go, turn himself (and the leaders of the group) in and asked me if I was willing to wait for him. I was sceptical and said I didn't know. I never saw him after that. He had tried to convinced his best friend to go with him and turn himself in as well, which resulted in his death. I feel horrible for doubting him, but also for not preventing him from trying to go to the police. The aftermath of it all was horrible and I'm still grateful that I was able to escape two weeks later.


I know it's different on many levels, but I can relate to some of the feelings and struggles it brings, like wanting to leave and feeling responsible for his death.


Safe hugs if ok,


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Oh Ruth, what a terribly sad story, I'm so very sorry for all that you've been through. Thank you for coming here to share. I'm sorry that both of us (all of us) are here but glad that we've found a place we can come to vent, cry, and share with others who understand and will never judge.


More (((((hugs))))) for you.



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  • 3 months later...

Hello, @AprilRain and others,


I came across this forum today and then this thread on suicide as the cause of the spouse's death. Your post on your experience resonated with me so much. My spouse died in July 2016, from an overdose.  We were separated at the time (initiated by me), after 26 years of marriage and three (young adult) children.  I've been going to a support group for suicide survivors, which has been supportive and affirming, yet everyone there has lost either a sibling or an adult child. I haven't wanted to join a support group for widows because it's not like I was exactly in the position of being a still-loving wife. I was exhausted and just a caretaker, no longer a lover and true partner.


Your narrative seems SO familiar to me, which helps alleviate my feeling of being so uniquely at fault: for not helping him sufficiently. Maybe I did a lot and could never have done enough.


And even now, since his death, I have so much to do to clean up all the mess left behind (financial) and help the kids get their lives back on track.  I want to be living *my* life -- I do think there is a lot to enjoy.  Tired of always picking up the pieces.


Not sure what I want to contribute at the moment. I am benefiting from reading all the posts here. I worry that if I spend a lot of time telling this story it takes away from other stories I could tell or a life I could live. I've lived for a long time in the shadow of my husband's disappointment, anger, etc. 


Oh, so I'm not so young: age 51. Still, my spirit age feels younger, and that a new chapter is possible.

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I've been going to a support group for suicide survivors ... everyone there has lost either a sibling or an adult child.


Yes, this is my impression as well. Very few who attend support groups for SOS (Survivors Of Suicide of a loved one) are grieving their spouse. Nearly all have instead lost a child, sibling, parent or friend. Which is why, during the early months after my wife's suicide 7 years ago, I found much more comfort extensively reading and posting on this site's predecessor, rather than a website for SOS.


Welcome to Young Widow Forum. Sorry for the traumatic loss that brought you here.


--- WifeLess

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