He Did Not Ask My Permission


Someone just posted the following on one of the suicide loss groups on Facebook:

“We need to find a way for it to be ok when a person feels they have to ‘opt out’ of their life. We need to find a way to respect and honour their choice – even when we are filled with pain. I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not.”

My response:

I don’t agree. My husband and I always talked about every major decision in our lives. We talked about the minor ones as well.


This was a major decision, a huge f*ing decision, that affected both of us, and he didn’t talk to me about it.

He did not tell me how bad it was for him. I knew he was hurting – and I was doing what I could to help (including changing my work schedule to be home in the evenings when he needed me, taking on more of his responsibilities because he seemed so overwhelmed, etc), but I had no idea it was as bad as it was. He refused to get medical help for his chronic pain (I did not know how bad it was), or counseling support for his sense of shame and failure (I did not know how bad that was, either), saying that he just needed me around more.

I could not be with him 24/7, although if I’d known more about what was going on with him, I would have tried. He put a huge amount of responsibility on me and our intense love for one another, without telling me the parameters of what I was dealing with.

I know he thought that, in addition to ending his own misery, he was making my life better by killing himself. He was self-destructive and hurting far worse than I realized.

I will honor him and his memory until I draw my own last breath, and I have an entire list of how I will make that happen. But I will not honor a decision that he made that involved the rest of my life, and in a fashion that I absolutely, under no circumstances, would have chosen at this point in time.

Despite the intensity of this post, I am not angry with him… in this instance, saying or believing I was angry would be just a defense mechanism, a way of dealing with the indescribably raw emotions I’m feeling.  I am hurt beyond words, lost, lonely, devastated and completely destroyed… I know he thought he was doing the right thing for himself and for me. But he had other options, and he knew that I loved him so fiercely I would have made them happen if he’d told me how bad it was… I’d already proved that in other areas.

He did not leave behind anything telling me he loved me, other than all my memories. Nor did he leave behind any kind of suicide note or anything that suggested he was considering it.

He did, however, leave behind clues to his extreme pain, shame & self-destructiveness, clues he had covered up far too well when he was alive, but which he knew I’d find. I know he did it believing I’d see them and decide he was a bad person, that his suicide was justified, and that I was better off to be rid of him… But those clues just show how very sad and desperate he was, and how he didn’t want me to know how much he hurt.

No, I will not honor his choice to kill himself without at least having asked me if it was okay. And of course, I would have said No.



In memory of my beloved husband John Kelly Snyder… 20 Sept 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.

The Warrior Project is a warm, welcoming drop-in center for those living with extreme emotional and/or physical pain coupled with hopelessness, and a resource for families and friends fearing for the life of, or grieving the loss of, the person they love so much.

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 wounded after September 11, 20o1.  Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.

Fair winds and following seas, Husband.

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