Pain. Guilt.

I’ve spent hours on Google since you’ve left. Researching suicide. Why do people do it? What happens after you do it? Why does it hurt so much? I’ve found a lot of  posts catered to “suicide survivors”. The people you left behind. They talk about how to grieve and get help after someone commits suicide… I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that grief and healing can take longer than any other type of death. That it’s normal to feel so much pain, and so much guilt. And that it’s okay to feel angry and sad.  But what I can’t find…is how survivors really feel. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places…or maybe I’m not ready to find those answers yet. All I really want to know right now, is how do they cope and adapt to life with all the pain they are in? Because I need to know how. How do I keep living my life with so much pain, and so much guilt? How?

I’ve experienced loss in so many different ways. I’ve had family members and friends pass away. They’ve died from cancer, an infection, disease, old age, a car accident. Whether the loss was expected, or a tragic accident, it still caused immense pain and heartache… But none of them felt as terrible as this. You didn’t die by accident. You died because you physically chose to end your own life. You took yourself away from us; your mom, your dad, your family, your friends…and me. You left us here to live without you. On purpose.

So what does suicide do to a person? The people you leave behind?

It tears you apart from the inside out. First your heart hurts. It physically hurts. It throbs and it aches. Your stomach. It gets tied into a knot and it feels like someone just ripped it out of your gut. You can’t breath and the rest of your body goes numb. And then you sob. Uncontrollably. You drown in your own tears and it feels like you’ll never be able to stop. And your skin. It feels cold and bare. It longs to feel your skin and to hug you. All of it is pain. It feels like pain that will never go away…And you’d think this is what it feels like anytime you lose someone you love. But this is worse. It’s much worse.

I’ve never felt pain like this before. I have never felt so much guilt, regret, self-blame or sorrow. I feel like I failed you. Like I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t help you when I should have. My whole body aches all the time. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. At times I feel like I can’t even breathe. My eyes burn from crying all the time. My head is fatigued, from replaying scenarios and thoughts over and over. My heart continues to ache. My body is exhausted, physically and emotionally. Something as simple as a shower has now become a chore. If I could, I’d just lay in my bed all day and wait for the pain to go away. But I can’t. I still have to wake up. Brush my teeth. Go to work. I still have to be me. Somehow. Someway.

And of course, the guilt. It just causes more pain. The guilt takes my gut and turns it and twists it and tears me apart even more. It causes my heart to ache more than ever, and my mind continues to race. The guilt reminds me of all the things I think I did wrong…I knew you were sad. I knew you were lonely. I knew you struggled with depression… After we broke up, I still promised you that I’d be there for you. And even then, you’d ignore me and push me away. You were so good at doing that… But I still worried about you and cared about you. I told you to reach out to me when you needed a friend. I told you I’d be there for you. But when you’d text me or call me and tell me you needed company. When you told me you were lonely…I turned you down. I thought I was ready to be your friend…but I wasn’t. I was scared of getting hurt again and I didn’t want to get hurt anymore. I just couldn’t do it. And I feel terrible about that. I feel like I was being selfish. Did you know that Chris? That I felt so guilty?

I keep replaying those messages and phone calls in my head. What if I would have agreed to see you when you asked? Would you have still done it? What if we hadn’t broken up? Would you have still done it? And Why? Why, when I finally agreed to see you, did you send me that text? The text that still haunts me…You knew I was on my way to see you. You had just spoke with me on the phone an hour before. You asked me to come over… And at some point, in-between our phone calls and your last message to me, you had already texted your parents about your decision. What was going on in your head after our phone call? What were you feeling? What made you do it? Did I do something wrong? Were you mad that I chose to have dinner with my sister first? Did I not respond to your text fast enough? Did I not call you back fast enough? Or did any of that even matter?

All The “What if’s?” The “Why’s?” Those are questions that just continue to haunt me and I continue to replay scenarios in my head. And your mom and your sisters, your family, your friends, they all have their own questions…their own guilt. We like to think that if we would have done something differently. That maybe you’d still be here. That maybe we could have saved you. But that’s not the case. You had already made your decision, and not I nor anyone else could have changed your mind. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty…but I still do. That’s what guilt does. That what suicide does. It plagues the mind with guilt and it causes pain. Pain that won’t go away.

Learning to Live Without You

So it’s been almost three weeks since you’ve left. I’ve written so much. I’ve written about the night you killed yourself, my experience, the physical/emotional burdens from your suicide, and my deepest thoughts. When I look back and read those stories…it seems so dark and troubled and it scares me. But it’s the truth. The truth about your suicide is dark. It is troubled…and because of that, I haven’t been able to share or post those stories. Those words and thoughts scare me and I’m not sure if I’m ready for the world to hear them yet. I’m not even sure if I’m ready to go through and relive them yet either. Writing helps process my feelings, but reading what I wrote, is a whole other experience. It can be overwhelming because it brings back so many memories. Even without writing, I’m constantly dealing with a pool of emotions…One moment I want to scream and yell at you, the next I’m crying uncontrollably in tears. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t do anything. Every day is just a constant battle of thoughts and emotions…

On the nights that I do fall asleep, I wake-up the next morning and I’m instantly saddened, because I roll over and you’re not there. The truth is, I struggled with that feeling even before you left. I’ve been feeling that way ever since we broke-up. But it feels worse now. Before, there was hope that you could be there again and now that hope is gone. I’m never going to wake-up with you next to me again. I’m never going to get sweet messages from you again. I’m never going hear your voice, hear you laugh, and have you tell me about your day again. I’m never going to hug you, kiss you or hold you again. I’m never going to go on walks and watch the sunset with you again. Nor will I get to fall asleep cuddling you on the couch again. There are so many things that we did together that I’m never going to experience with you again. And all the dreams and plans you made for our future, we’re never going to experience those together either… and that just breaks my heart. It’s hard waking up and feeling those emotions over and over every single day. I know eventually it will get easier but right now, it’s just so difficult and so painful… and I’m so exhausted and so tired of fighting.

I fight a battle every single day…I have to fight to wake up, shower, go to work, and just be “normal.” I feel like I use up all my energy just going to work, because I still have to take care of patients and make sure my job gets done. I put on a face and pretend to be happy, even though I’m not. I’m so far from happy and it’s so exhausting. Everyone tells me it’s okay to be sad, and it’s okay to grieve, but I hate being the “sad girl” who cries all the time. And I cry…. all the time now. All I want is to be happy and to feel normal, but I know that I’m never going to be normal again. Suicide changes people. It changes me, your family, and the world around us.

It feels so weird trying to move on in this new world. This world where you now exist in memories. I’ve lost a lot of people in my life; my uncle passed away unexpectedly, my friend’s dad passed away from cancer, my friend was killed in a car accident, and most recently (3 months ago) another friend quickly became ill and had to be taken off life-support. With each death, I went through grief. I healed. I learned how to survive in this world without them. But this world without you. It’s a lot harder to adjust to and it’s a lot harder to live in. And I think it’s because you chose to die, and they didn’t.

It makes me so angry to think that you felt you needed to die. That you decided to take your own life.  I’m so angry that you did something that has caused me and your family and your friends so much pain…and so much grief. We all hurt so much and we ache everyday, and you did that to us, and I hate that! I understand you were in a terrible place, so I feel guilty when I do get mad at you, because I know that’s not fair. You were fighting a battle that we couldn’t help you with and as much as I’m mad at you for leaving us, I’m also happy that you fought as hard and as long as you did. I’m happy that you fought hard enough to be around in this world to become a part of my life. I’m happy that you fought long enough to have a relationship with me and to show me I could fall in love again. I’m happy that you kept fighting so we could create memories together. Wonderful, beautiful memories  that I will cherish and forever be grateful for.

And that’s where the happiness becomes bittersweet. I’m happy you’re not in pain anymore, but that means you’re no longer here. That means we can no longer make new memories together. Processing that thought has been so difficult for me, because I’m still not ready to believe you’re gone. Somedays I still hope to pick up my phone and see a missed call from you or get a text message saying “I’m sorry.”. I still hope to wake-up with you next to me and learn that this has all just been a terrible dream. But it’s not a dream. It’s real life. You are gone, and I am here. I seriously miss you so much and I think about you everyday. I’m still not sure how to live in this new world without you, but I know eventually I’ll find my path. I have a difficult journey ahead of me, but I promise I’ll keep trying and I’ll keep fighting, just like you did for me.