Three years ago my father committed suicide. I am a survivor of that decision.
I once believed that suicide was a “coward’s” way out. That was before I lived in the aftermath of such a decision, before I experienced the grief, the anger, the betrayal, and the disillusionment. Long before reasoning and small measurement of understanding entered into my thinking.
I have come to realize that the taking of one’s own life is much more complicated than an easy exit. Suicide is the conclusion of the tired.
Tired is not a reference to physical exhaustion, but is instead an allusion to the mentally and emotionally fatigued. A weariness that can come from a variety of sources; for some it comes from illness while for others it is an escape when no other is apparent. For many people suicide is the end of a battle.
Each person walks through this life with a certain amount of “baggage” that they have acquired and carry with them. Some people lock it away and deny its very existence while others proudly place it on displace and constantly examine it or hand it off to professionals for their opinion. Some try to fix the errors of their past or attempt to fix personal past mistakes in the people close to them. Still some use their baggage as a reason to set unachievable expectations that no one can live up to, including themselves. Surprisingly, some are even strong enough to learn from the secrets hidden in their closets. It is all of this weight, all of those hidden demons that can bring a person to contemplate suicide as well as commit it.
I have learned over the last few years that my father’s death was not a result of anything that I did or didn’t do. His death had nothing to do with my step-mother or my son or anyone else. The only person involved in my father’s death was my father.
Whatever inner battles that were waged, as survivors, we were never meant to understand them. The battles were never ours to fight or even be a part of. As survivors, our only requirement was to survive and to live.
Loved ones that commit suicide do not wish ill will on those left behind, they are simply seeking peace. Though it may sound cold, often the people that are left behind are not even a consideration in the decision. There are the occasions where a suicidal person will tell themselves that those around them would be “better off,” but it’s simply a justification for a conclusion that they have already come to. Strangely, there is an odd comfort to be had when realizing that another’s suicide really had nothing to do with those around them.
My father was important in my life. He was important in my son’s life. Whether or not he knew these facts, I will never know. I do know that I still grieve for him and that I miss him terribly. My understanding of his passing may be right or it may be wrong, but it is a perspective that helps me to get through each day that he is not here. Maybe it will be a perspective that will help others understand the choice that was made.
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