Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pray you now, forget and forgive—King Lear

I’ve been off the bloggy radar for the past few days—weird time for me. Yesterday was the 4th “anniversary” [I don’t know what other term to use….] of my ex-husband’s suicide. Always a tough time.

And then this morning, I heard the story about the girl who took her own life after being bullied in school. God, I know just how her family is feeling. Every time I here of someone making that choice, it takes me back to the horrible pain my kids and I endured for weeks/months afterwards.

In our own non-church-going way we’ve prayed; but we will never forget. You can’t. You want to, but you can’t. You want to forget how his life ended and remember how fully and sweetly he lived it for a long time. You see, he had scoliosis of the spine and had undergone a double spinal fusion at age 15. He was in alot of pain, but from the time he was 17 until well into his 40s, he learned how to ski on land and water. He played drums in a couple of bands. He learned how to surf- and later showed our son how to do it too. He rode a motorcycle [courted me on it as a matter of fact]. He was a hands-on dad to our daughter and son [except for dirty diapers-he couldn't hack those]. And he spent hours with our grandson. He LOVED being "Pop."

Fortunately neither my kids or I were the ones to find him, but the information from the police and the death certificate were pretty specific. I know all three of us get weird mental images at odd times….. Believe me, we’d like to forget.

At Christmas, my grandson caught my daughter off-guard by asking if Pop had left a note. He knows his grandfather took his own life, but he does not know the method—my daughter didn’t want him to have the same mental movies that we do. It’s not necessary. I guess, like the rest of us, the kid was looking for answers, an explanation, something. She didn’t know what to say or how to react…. At first she just walked away, but then she realized that not dealing with things was a big part of her father’s problem.

So she told him what she knew—yes there was a note, but it didn’t say much. I wound up with custody of a COPY of it [the original is on file with the police, I guess]. I told her that oddly enough, I chuckled when I received it—this freaked her out a bit.

Then I told her that he’d written his one-sentence summation of his actions on the back of an envelope. He was ALWAYS writing things on the back of envelopes. I’d find random names, phone numbers, addresses. It was so HIM to use an envelope for that too. Another odd image….

Ah, now we come to the forgive part…..

That is so much harder—for all of us. I’m still working on forgiving him for choosing to self-medicate his pain—both physical and emotional. I tell myself—he was sick [depression was finally diagnosed in 1999]. I think: "You wouldn’t have felt this way if he’d had cancer." But it’s hard. And I’m working on forgiving him for not valuing our marriage or me enough to get help. I spent about 8 years trying to help him help himself. My daughter and I are trying to forgive him for making us worry about her son when he was struggling adjusting to being away at college. We’re working on forgiving him for passing some of his traits on to my son—who seems to be trying to take a different path. Thank God.

And, lest you think I’m a cold-hearted bitch, I’m working on forgiving myself for not being better tuned in to mental illness, for not seeking more help myself to know what to say and do. Could that have helped him? Could all of this have been avoided?

[sorry if I’ve upset anyone, but I needed to get my thoughts/feelings down somewhere.]

Peace til next time. E


  1. My heart goes out to you and your family. from one who suffers with depression form time to time it has been a hard call for me to finally admit I need help and take medication. No-one wants to admit that they are not coping and now that I am I can see how hard it was for my family before medication.
    You and your kids have survived and are making efforts to remember the good parts. Give your self a break and be proud of who you are. Blogger HUgs to you ((((()))))

  2. Sorry to learn that you have had such a tough time of things.
    It is incredibly hard to sometimes see how ill the people we love really are, and at the time we all have denial.
    Go easy on yourself- you've had a lot of heartache and yet you are still able to remember the good things, so keep those in mind.

  3. Mental illness...depression...are/is so hard to deal with and it can be overwhelming. Could you have done anything? No, not really. It is good that you can discuss this. Good the kids can too!
    Hugging you

  4. thank you all for the cyber love. it get a little more managable as time goes on, but it never goes away. we just try to support each other and help others in the same situation if we cross their paths.

  5. Forgiveness is hard, especially when you don't understand and can't phathom his choice. Keep trying, talking and writing about it!! Those are all great methods to deal with what you are going through and eventhough you will never forget at least you have an outlet for your feelings. Cyber Hug!!!!

  6. tears roll down my face....
    ellen, i sympathize with you, your family, and your process for dealing with this traumatic, unexpected situation.

    it's a never-ending process and these moments of doubt, question, regrets i believe will always creep up on us. continue expressing, sharing, and feeling...to me it's the only way to keep moving forward! and that's all you can do!

    - may you be well, may you be safe, may you be happy, and may you be peaceful! my prayer for you!

  7. Hi Ellen, my heart aches for you. I had an Uncle who committed suicide, it is not the same as it being your husband, but I think some of the feelings are. I don't believe there is anything you could have done, I think when one chooses such extreme measures it is because they have lost their way. It is sad at what happens to the people left behind. You seem to have held it together with your family. I hope you have some peace in knowing that you are loved. I have not followed your blog very long, but I really respect you for your honesty. My wish for you is much happiness in your future and peace. Hugs to you my friend.