My Johnny was brilliant, talented, funny and larger than life. He was also deeply flawed and silently battled hideous demons he could not talk about, and which left him with a sense of shame that he couldn’t shake free of. He tried sometimes to let me in to his private hell, but then would suddenly shut down. It was painful to try to help when he couldn’t even voice what he was facing.
But he loved me with everything he had, and oh how I loved him.
I would give anything if he could walk through that door right now, with that deep gravelly voice and oddball sense of humor. But he was in tremendous pain, both emotionally and physically, a level of pain I would never want anyone to have to endure.
I would far rather live with the never-ending nightmare of my grief than have him remain alive under those circumstances, just to avoid “passing on his pain to me”, which seems to be the way too many people describe suicide.
He loved me and was convinced he was a burden and that I was better off without him. He would not have ended his own life if he’d known the impact his death, especially at his own hand, would have on me. I know this with everything I have.
I loved him, and would rather bear this pain that rips apart my very cells, than expect him to live with his torment.
Too many times I’ve heard people complain about a spouse’s death – whether by suicide or other causes. “How dare he leave me all alone like this?” “How selfish she was to not take care of her health!” “I am so angry that he is dead and now I have to deal with all the problems by myself!”
Anger is often a defense mechanism, used to cover up feelings that are hard to face: the need for love and belonging, for respect, for being part of something special.
Although I was upset with John for his alcoholism and was terrified I would come home some evening and find him dead from alcohol poisoning, I have not been angry with him for his suicide. Tragically, that suicide made clear the depth of his shame, his pain, and his own fear that I might indeed find him dead one night. After all, I twice had him in the ER where they found his blood alcohol content to be four times the legal limit. And yet, he was still standing, and talking, and lying, saying he hadn’t been drinking.
John did some shitty things because of his addictions; those very same addictions that I was in denial about for a long time. He fought them but couldn’t overcome the compulsions, and each time he lost a battle he spiraled deeper into an abyss of self-loathing that I only have the barest glimmer of.
It is my agonized hope that people will stop treating suicidality and addictions as a personal weakness, and start understanding them for the terrible disease of the mind and body that they are.
If you love me, please honor my husband’s life and struggle by spreading this word, or if necessary, by examining your attitudes.
If you only barely know me (or John), but love someone else who has lived this nightmare, please do the same.
Shaming those with addictions, depression or any other disease has never been proven to work.
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).
Beginning September 23, 2019, you will be able to call in for grief support from Linda Snyder, M.S. The fee is $40 per phone hour (50 minutes), payable in advance via PayPal (use LSnyder@regroupbiz.com as the Pay To email address) with times available as follows:
Mondays – Fridays, 4:00 am and 5:00 am EST
Wednesdays, 3:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm EST
Fridays & Saturdays, 9:00 pm and 10:00 pm EST.
Just go to https://regroupbusinesssolutions.fullslate.com/ where you can sign up! (It’s a bit confusing because there’s loads of writing to wade through, but if you go to the bottom left hand corner where it says “Online Scheduling” and click on the link that says “Grief Support Services”, it will take you to the calendar where you can choose an appointment time and sign up.
Talk to you soon!
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.