Suicide or Accidental Death
For the first time in my 50 year existence, I am feeling overwhelmed by the suicide, accidental death, or accidental overdose questions racing through my mind. I received word a few days ago that someone I have loved for over 20 years is now dead, and the unofficial cause of death is thought to be suicide. It is no coincidence I have chosen a stark and blunt in-your- face title as an expression of how my dear friend's death is affecting me. I truly feel her unexpected death is being crammed down my throat, whether I want to swallow it or not.
Where do you go from here? How do you sort through all the different emotions that surface when you wonder if someone really took their own life?
The result obviously is the same so do the details really matter?
Is it a deflection from my grief to get tied up in wanting to know more of the details surrounding her death?
I don’t have the answers to any of the questions I have asked. I find myself going back and forth through this nightmarish experience, with the clear understanding that nothing will bring her back. No amount of questions can be asked or answered that can change the outcome of what has already occurred.
I think to myself. She was gone by the time I received word of her death. She had died alone with just the pills that she either took purposely or accidentally, as her final companion.
It doesn’t matter that this came as a complete surprise to me.
It doesn’t change the fact that she is no longer here, because I thought she had reached a point in her life where she had taken suicide completely off the table.
It matters not that she and I talked about her plans for the future which included her getting a place for just herself so that she could heal and relax from a life filled with unimaginable pain and suffering. Or that her game plan was to check herself into a full time facility that would help her feel that she could "take it" once again.
I love you’s extended to one another were not enough to make her world a place she could continual to contemplate. Was it a sudden snap? What could push someone who vowed suicide was no longer an option for coping, to go over the edge, break her word, and end her existence?
If it was planned, when was it decided? Had she lied to her daughter when she promised her she would not commit suicide, or had she tried to hang on to her desire to live,, in the end, relunctantly surrendering to her negative state of mind?
Not Just a Statistic
My friend was only 42 years old. She was about to finally begin a life with just herself at the center. She was looking forward to getting out on her own, and providing a healthier mental environment for herself.
My friend recently lost her father. Is it a coincidence she took her life only 2 days after the eighth month anniversary of her father's death. She was very close with her father and forgave him for wrongs committed against her when she was younger. She truly wanted to forgive and forget, regardless of how heinous the deed done against her.
My friend loved to laugh. She would always look forward to our crazy conversations because she knew we would end up laughing at ourselves by the end of it all.
It hadn't always been that way. Our friendship has been as rocky as the road a person with bi-polar disorder travels . Trips and spills over minor and major problems. Times when she would practically disown me and quit speaking to me, only to get through an episode enough to recapture what we'd loss and seek out my friendship once again.
I was always happy to see the real her come back into my life and never mentioned the previous times of pain we suffered through when she wasn't reasoning correctly.
We loved each other and we told each other that often. She knew I wanted only the best for her and that my world would not be the same if she wasn't a part of it.
I guess she forgot all that, or knowing I cared couldn't override the pain she just wanted to end.
Suicides - Epidemic Proportions
I said it a thousand times to my friend over the years. I said it even when I knew she couldn’t reach out to me because of my health. We actually discussed alternatives to cover the times she may have needed to talk to me and I would be unavailable because of my own issues. She actually listened and followed my advice to the extent she could advocate for herself.
Our last discussion was about her agreeing to enter a treatment center until her mind could cope with all the sadness she was feeling.
Was I the last person she reached out to? What sounded like two "normal" messages left on my answer machine would turn out to be the last time I heard her voice.
Was she calling to tell me she wanted to end her life or had she already decided and was calling merely to say good-bye to me.
I can’t even analyze the messages, because I erased them thinking she and I would be talking in the very near future. Instead, the next voice I heard was that of her daughter telling me her mom was gone and they thought she overdosed on pills.
What I Do Know
While I don’t know much for sure right now, I do have some constants to hang on to while I grapple to deal with my friend’s apparent suicide.
- Love endures all things even suicide
- I was her best friend and she loved me for being there for her over the years.
- Mental illness is chronic and suicidal thoughts are the first thing to reappear when extreme sadness and stress is present.
- I received as much as I gave, our friendship was by no means one-sided. I valued and respected her for the many good qualities she possessed. I respected her and enjoyed being her friend.
Feeling rejected is my main emotion right now. Thanks to this fellow hubber, I was able to finally match my emotion with a word. Thank you, Mary!
- A Suicide Survivors Guide for Grieving; Based on Personal Experience
One of the most painful ways to be left behind by a loved one is through suicide. A suicidal death leaves survivors of suicide or suicide survivors (those loved ones left behind)feeling numb and confused...
Still A Slim Chance
My friend's family is meeting with the funeral director as I type this portion.
I haven't talked to any member of her family yet and am waiting for her daughter to return my unanswered phone calls.
I searched the city and State for her obituary notice and found it just a short time ago. Reading it on-line made it official. My inner turmoil has been conjured up once more as I face the reality of her loss.
Tears have been shed as I think of what may be happening next, now that arrangements are being made.
I won't be attending the funeral. She wouldn't want me to and I can't bear the thought of seeing her lying in a casket if that is what her family decides.
I hope she will be cremated so that her daughter will not have to endure a ceremonial funeral, as I can't imagine how she will be able to get through that experience.
She and I always spoke of important matters concerning her daughter. If she was enduring some kind of severe health scare, she could rest easier knowing I promised I would keep in contact with the now grown woman who still calls me, "Aunt Dar". I will do all I can to keep my promise to my friend and make sure to check on my "niece".
She may have very well been the last person to have a coherent conversation with her mom. I worry about the guilt and anger that will be coming as a result of her mom breaking her word, not to kill herself.
Her word was her bond, at one time, I can't imagine her breaking it, especially to her daughter who meant the world to my friend.
Was this an accidental death? Did she not keep track of the pills she took that day?
Surely the official cause of death is available or soon will be. I wonder if it will reveal an accidental overdosing of pills, or a suicide, plain and simple.
I don't know what is coming in the way of my emotions in these next few days, especially the day of the final arrangements. I was told to call back in a day or so to receive the time and date from the funeral director listed in the death notice.
I am going to send some flowers to my friend's house and begin to work on a special letter for my neice, to be delivered when this is all over.
I plan to cope with this loss by taking it one day at a time. When I feel like crying I will cry. When I can recall her to mind with a smile, I will do that too. As I approach the other stages of grief I will embrace them so that I can heal.
My friend might not have felt she was worth loving, but I KNOW she was. I miss her even though I am glad she is no longer living in mental anquish and pain.
As a conclusion to this ordeal, I have been told my friend's death was a suicide. So another type of grief is now taking place, which I detail here in my follow-up article.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- AFSP: Understanding and Preventing Suicide through Research, Education and Advocacy
While it is too late for my friend, I know she would want others who can identify with her pain, to reach out for help, like she did so many times before. How I wish she could have done so just one more time.