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Thursday, March 3, 2016

The long term effects of suicide on those left behind

These are my actual, real life experiences.
I am always appreciative when my posts are shared and I'm always hopeful that these posts will help another person. The one thing I ask, please, out of respect to me and my personal experiences - please do not take this blog piece and re-post it as your own.  We are all in this together.  Thank you ~Jenn

This post has been in writing for more than a month. It is very difficult for me to get through because these are my truths.

I ask for a pardon for any grammatical or punctuation errors - this is totally unedited due to the nature of the post & where I had to go within myself to put this out there.

As always, I hope this helps even one person struggling with depression and / or suicidal thoughts.

March 28, 1984 - The day my father left this planet at his own hand.

That date is one I will never, ever, ever forget. Really, how could I?
That is the date that most important man in my life, at the time, left me - without warning, without saying goodbye, without an explanation.

I was 18.

For YEARS I had the exact same re-occurring nightmares of my father's suicide. Not the actual suicide, per se.  Luckily my dad did not die in our house, nor I did not find him or see him in that state. I, instead, dreamed of the article of his death written in the local newspaper.

The article that laid it all right out for me and created a mental picture I didn't recover from for years.

Hawthorne Man, 42, found dead.  Self inflicted gun shot wound to the head. Victim found slumped over steering wheel of his 1982 AMC International Scout.

That's not the article verbatim - but that was what formed the template of the nightmares that ensued for more than 20 years of my life.

The same dream, every night, of walking up to my dad's truck and seeing him slumped over the steering wheel, lifeless, bleeding from the wound to his head. Feeling scared, helpless, distraught, out of control, traumatized.

I don't have enough words to describe every single awful emotion I experienced. I always woke in a pool of sweat, crying, shaking, terrified.

I had that nightmare almost every night for more than 20 years, until I had a procedure called EMDR to make the nightmares stop.  (If you are unaware of what EMDR is, you may click on the link above to give you an explanation. Please note:  This link is not meant as an endorsement to any particular agency and is meant for informational purposes only.)

That treatment DID stop that particular dream, but it did not stop all dreams related to my dad's suicide.

More than 30 years later, I still miss my dad every single day.

Yes, I know - people miss people who've passed all the time.
I've lost others close to me in my life, either naturally or due to sickness or tragic accidents. Some were old, some were young. I think of them and I miss them. I'm not minimizing any loss.

Loss by suicide is different.

If I could express one thing - any thing to someone who is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts and thinks that if they just die they will stop being a burden, you are so wrong.

I've said so many times - if you are a person struggling and just want the pain to go away - please KNOW the pain is NOT going away. All it is doing is magnifying and moving on to those you love, who are left behind to try to make sense of it. Your family, your friends will carry this forever. They will never make sense of it.

Trust me.
There is NO CLOSING that gaping hole that is left behind by the suicide of someone you love. It is NOT the same as someone dying because they're sick, or because they've been in an awful accident, or it was just their time. It's awful. It's traumatic. It's life altering. It's a permanent hole that never quite heals.

It's been a long time since I've had one of those nightmares that I did the EMDR treatment to stop -  but I do still have those types of dreams. I think I always will.

"It happens as usual, I'm lying in my bed asleep, when I realize that my dad isn't home.  I get up out of my bed and I wander around my house looking for him.  In my confusion, I realize that nothing looks the same.  I hear the television in the other room, it's my husband watching television - but it's almost like I look through him.  I'm confused wondering where I am, where my dad's room is.  Why does everything look different.  I go lay back in bed thinking, wait - why am I sleeping in my dad's bed?  I need to go to my own bed.  I continue to process the confusion - then I realize, it's not my dad's bed.  It's my bed.  I'm in my house, not the house I lived in when my dad died - and that my dad is gone.  Then the pain hits.  He's gone.  I cry myself back to sleep."

It's been more than 30 years since my dad passed. I still dream of him, both happy and sad dreams. I still miss him. I still feel the pain and trauma of the loss.  It never goes away.

The feelings of confusion and fear have not completely left me.
In my awake state, today, I can remember all I felt during my dream last night. I can remember wondering where my dad was. Why didn't he come home? Where is he? Where am I? Why did he leave me alone here?  Fear.

You see, the pain of this loss - it never leaves.

...and it has a way of permeating a family.

My brother, Eric, took his own life - the same way as my dad - in 2007.

Suicide hurts everyone.

Neither my dad or brother said goodbye.
-A good bye would not have been better.

Neither my dad or my brother left a note.
-An explanation would not have been better.

Even if they did, it would not change the fact that someone I love left this place at his own hand, and I was powerless to stop it.

Please, I ask you - I beg you, if you are someone who is struggling with the pain of depression and/or suicidal thoughts - PLEASE reach out to someone.

Yes, I know you feel no one wants to hear it or is tired of hearing it.
Talk to someone else.
Yes, I know you feel no one will understand how you feel.
Someone may not completely understand, but they will try.
Yes, I know you feel that you would be burdening someone with your problems.
Someone will gladly want to help.
Yes, I know that sometimes you don't care about anything at all.
Care anyway.

Don't drown. Ask for help. Reach for a life line.

Please know;
Someone DOES love you.
Someone WILL miss you.
Someone WILL suffer every single day of the rest of their life if you leave.

Please stay.

Please reach out.

Someone WILL reach back.

It does get better.

You are loved.

Thank you for reading my blog.

My Daily Jenn-ism ~ March 2016

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1 (800) 273-8255

In loving memory of the very first man I ever loved - my daddy and my younger brother, Eric.
Missing you both forever <3

Related Posts:

How Suicide has Affected Me - My Real Life Story

Let's Talk Taboo

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  1. Today just happens to be 8 years since my mom shot herself in the head. I totally understand all that you are saying. Blessings to you and I am so sorry for all the reoccuring dreams. You deserve better.

    1. I'm so sorry for your loss. There are so many like us. Big hugs to you, my sister in pain. I know today is a hard day. Lots of love.


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