Widow by Suicide

When asked, I don’t usually tell people how Kevin died unless I trust the person. I just say that he was sick and in pain for a long time. It’s not that I’m ashamed of his suicide, because I’m not. I don’t want to deal with people’s reactions. People don’t truly understand that particular type of loss unless they’ve experienced it. If they haven’t, they don’t know how to react, and I really don’t blame them. Especially when I tell them that my life is better now than it was when he was alive. (Better is really subjective, because it’s much different. The differences are positives. It’s hard for me to balance all those emotions in my head.)

When you lose a loved one to suicide, encountering a situation where someone died by that method of death can be triggering. For the past six years, hearing about other people killing themselves has always triggered a flood of memories about Kevin. These days, hearing of a suicide reminds me exactly why I’m on medication and that I shouldn’t be so eager to get off it.

It all started when Robin Williams died 4 weeks after Kevin. Robin’s death was a shock that was very difficult to process until I learned about the aggressive type of dementia he had called Lewy Body Dementia. His brilliant brain turned against him in a brutal way, and he was no longer himself. That’s what caused him to end his life, and I feel we owe it to him to get that right and not let memes let us get lazy about the truth of his suicide. He should get a pass because that disease is horrendous. But I digress.

It was emotionally overwhelming to see the world mourn that unique soul the day after I had to endure Kevin’s first post-mortem birthday. Somehow I got through that time. I’m really not sure how, honestly. That time is a blur. I was in such a fog trying to cope with the loss of my soulmate and trying to figure out what kind of a life I going to have now that I was on my own at nearly 40.

In the 6 years since we lost Robin Williams, there have been other suicides in the world at large and in my little world, and it’s never really easy to deal with. It’s gotten easier as the years pass, but it still takes time for me to snap out of remembering that blurry time. I can’t do it too soon or it’ll just pop up again, but I can’t let it drag on or it won’t stop. It’s a delicate balance I’m still trying to figure out.

For how long is it healthy to keep playing those memories in my mind’s eye like a montage set to whatever song that reminds me of him pops into my head? Do I try to listen to a couple songs to see if they still carry intense sense memories? Or do I just go through the snippets of memories over and over again?

I remember:

  • how all the music the night before when I was up late shuffling through his iTunes library that hinted that he may be gone and I shouldn’t be waiting up for him to come back.
  • Not wanting to fall asleep the night after he died because I couldn’t face my first day as a widow.
  • How hoarse my voice got with all the talking I did those first few days.
  • All the times I was called brave when sharing the news with others. As if I had no other choice but to continue to live.
  • So many migraines. It was the only thing I allowed myself to stay in bed for.
  • Days like one last week where all sorts of songs that remind me of Kevin that I haven’t heard in ages pop up randomly from however You Tube Music decides to generate customized playlists. It can randomly get overwhelming, which isn’t ideal during the workday.

The truth is, after six fargin years, I still can’t think too much about losing him because the emotional pain can causes physical pain. All the intense sense memories that pop up when listening to music that prevent me from listening to music I adore. It sucks and I hate going through it. And I accepted it was going to happen beforehand because I’d done everything I could to take care of him and keep him alive as long as I could.

Meds help keep me from wallowing in that pain, but I still feel it. For years, and even still now to a small extent, it’s been easier to think of those 18 years as a dream. I’ve done a lot of work to process the loss, and have learned better coping mechanisms, for the most part. It hasn’t been easy. Hindsight is bittersweet as well as 20/20, and I’ve made a lot of realizations about my years with Kevin that explained so much and would have made a lot of things easier.

Still, when a suicide happens, I try to have compassion for the newly deceased and learn what made them decide to stop living. I feel for the family and am once again grateful we were childfree and all our cats were gone. I feel for all those who would have gladly helped that person find reasons to live. Survivor’s guilt is a drag.

Yet, compassionate as I may be, it puts me in a funk for a few days and I start to miss Kevin. It’s hard to find the balance between “I miss my soulmate” and “My Sweeties are the love of my life.” Do I feel bad that I wouldn’t take him back if he somehow magically came back to life or proud that I’ve grown into a different person over these past 6 years? Trying to balance this reminds me of two things in college: Balancing equations in Chemistry and diagramming sentences in an English Grammar class. It was hard doing those two things, but I managed to figure it out enough to pass both classes.

So yes, it’s hard, but I do my best to weather out the storm and get on with life. I’ve learned how to function well during this time. It’s mentally exhausting at times, but continuing to live helps keep me from wallowing in the loss. Having my Sweeties to call on when I need them is a tremendous help. Their love is the antidote for the pain of losing Kevin. It’s not a substitute, it’s an upgrade.

I hope I’ve done a decent job trying to convey my perspective. At the very least, if you’ve lost a part of your heart to suicide, you know you’re not alone. I know rom personal experience that does help.

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