A wonderful friend posted this meme on his page. He wanted to be helpful to anyone going through suicidal thoughts, but after my comment below, private messaged me, stating he was very sorry if he had offended because of my reaction to the meme. I told him I wasn’t upset with him. I truly wasn’t.
Anyway, here’s my part of the thread…
“As the wife of someone who suicided, I will not share this. It’s true that he is no longer in the deep agony that he was living with, and I have been instead, but all this meme does is attempt to shame the depressed person.
There is no understanding of the hell that person is living with, and adding more shame to that person’s burden is NOT the way to help.”
Someone then asked me to explain how the sentiment expressed in the meme creates shame in the suicidal person.
Here’s my answer… (Note: I used the pronouns “he” and “she” interchangeably because this is not a male or female – or any other gender – issue. It is a tragedy that affects far too many of us.
“I kept it short because I’ve been accused of “ranting” when I’ve tried to explain my point of view. (Not by [the original poster]!)
A suicidal person has lost all hope. She or he believes things will never get better and that she is a terrible burden to those around her. He feels a depth of shame merely for existing that the rest of us can’t understand and he likely has tried for a very long time to figure out how to make it better, but with no success.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any answers, only that the suicidal person’s brain can’t see them, which reinforces that suicide is the only choice that will end the pain for himself and the burden he is to others.
Every bad, sad, normal crap thing that happens is reinforcement that there is no hope, and the weight of all of that falls on her. She doesn’t want the people she loves to suffer the way she does, yet believes her existence is making their lives worse, and any minor argument or blame just reinforces that.
So when his distressed brain goes round and round and can only come up with one answer – that he and everyone he loves would be better off dead – telling him that killing himself would just pass on the pain to someone else, just adds to the cognitive dissonance. He doesn’t want to make things worse for those he loves, but he sees no other answer. Why can’t he figure out how to do the right thing? Clearly, he’s just a complete fuck up which he always knew, and they don’t realize how much better off they will be without him, even if it does hurt them for a while.
And round and round it goes.
You have to remember that this is a diseased brain, with depression contorting every thought into something we cannot understand unless we’ve been there.
I knew this intellectually before John died, but FELT it all after John killed himself, and got the emotions and thoughts directly from John himself. (Yes, I know some people will think I imagined everything, but I didn’t. And much of what happened was independently corroborated by people who had no idea what the information they were giving me meant.)
Some friends have heard how John immediately regretted what he had done, and how he was howling in pain – after his death – for months, and how he relayed all of that to me. He had truly believed that I would be relieved to no longer have the burden of his alcoholism, middle of the night panic attacks, and constant physical pain.
I can still feel deep in my soul the incredible pain he was in because of the many, many experiences I had after he died.
John never wanted to do anything that would hurt me, yet he was an alcoholic, trying to overcome pain and trauma in the only way he knew how. Because of his alcoholism there were lies – more lies than I realized until I found the proof after his death – which only reinforced his shame.
If he had believed that his suicide would nearly destroy me, he wouldn’t have done it – despite how his body was failing him and he was going to die within years, if not months, anyway.
For my part, I would far rather carry this pain than have him stay alive, dying and in deep distress, every single day just because he didn’t want to hurt me by leaving the way he did.
Telling a suicidal person that killing himself is just passing on the pain only reinforces that they can’t do anything right.
In memory of my beloved husband John Kelly Snyder… 20 Sept 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.
My Johnny was a true warrior, fighting demons no one else could see. I thought he was the strongest man in the world, and perhaps he was, but tragically, the demons got the better of him.
The name of this project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors which serves those military personnel wounded after September 11, 20o1. Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.
Fair winds and following seas, Husband.
We now have a group on Facebook to help find resources, support and ideas for getting The Grief Warrior Project off the ground. You can find us there at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thewarriorproject/
Follow us on Twitter! @WarriorProjME.
Help support The Grief Warrior Project by making purchases from Heritage Collectibles, Books & Maps. All profits (after expenses) go to helping us help others. You can find Heritage Collectibles at https://heritagecollectiblesmaine.com, on Facebook (both a group and a page) and on Twitter (HeritageGifts).
Despite decades of disbelief, I have come to realize that our loved ones are able to communicate with us through the life/death barrier. My Johnny has proved this in ways that I can’t attribute to my own mind making things up… there have been complex coincidences and synchronicities, extraordinary happenings, and messages through others who could not possibly have any knowledge of the information they’ve passed on. Truly mind-blowing stuff. I don’t have a clue what I believe about life after death, but I know my husband loved me with everything he had, and that he still does. Our wedding vows were “to death and beyond” and that has proved true for both of us.
I can’t tell you how it all works, or how you can get through to your own loved one, but if you’re interested, I can tell you of my experiences and my thoughts on this.