Unfair Goodbyes

Losing a loved one to suicide is a different pain than losing them to a natural cause or a random accident.

I’ve never been a stranger to death. Watching the people I love lose people they love has been prevalent and normalized all my life; it’s the circle of life. But suicide is not.

It leaves so many unanswered questions and disgusting feelings of anger and resentment.

My mother lost her youngest sister, Mariah, to suicide in 2018. To this day, I don’t fully understand why she did it. She was only 19 years old.

The night before she left us she posted a picture with the caption, “I promise I wasn’t being selfish.” After reading that, I realized I couldn’t be mad at her.

It’s weird how the idea of selfishness plays a role for everyone involved. Loved ones feel it’s selfish to wish they stayed even though they were in so much pain, but the ones suffering fear that they are being selfish by not wanting to deal with the pain any longer. The ironic duality that ends in misery for everyone.

As someone who has come close to ending my life, I felt entitled to my anger.

I stayed, why couldn’t you?

I would immediately feel guilty for blaming them, knowing how I wouldn’t want them to be mad at me if I decided to follow their movement.

I have no desire to follow in their footsteps though. How could I? How could they?

On Sept. 5, 2023 my mother had told me that my other aunt, Mia, went to heaven. Mia was only 40 years old. My mother has now lost both of her sisters.

I didn’t initially ask what happened, but a part of me knew.

She had been struggling for a while. Her home situation wasn’t ideal and she had blamed herself for a lot of things that weren’t going right.

“What happened?” I asked.

“We don’t know yet,” my mother replied.

When we were told they found an empty bottle of pills by her bed, we knew. The impermanence of life became much more frightening.

Who’s next? Is this a coincidental pattern or has it become our family’s go-to scapegoat?

It felt like a joke to me at first. National Suicide Prevention Week was coming up the next week and our thoughts were already prepared to be flooded with thoughts of Mariah, more than the typical day-to-day thoughts. But now, my family has two lives to honor every notorious annual prevention week.

Grieving suicide is a different kind of grief. Despite having experienced loss prior, I didn’t understand the “five stages of grief” until I lost my aunts this way. The grieving journey is not linear. I find myself rattling between the stages of anger and acceptance.

Still, there’s so much I don’t know, which is another difficult part of grieving this kind of loss. It feels unfair to form feelings when I don’t know their full story; I don’t want to guilt trip them.

If you’re reading this, please stay. Our days are much brighter with you in it.

Dial 988 to speak with someone from the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.

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