Gayle’s Story


There are many readers of Planet Grief who have been bereaved by suicide: some have written privately to me and some I have met in ‘real life’. My late husband’s first wife, Kay, died from complications after a suicide attempt. I cannot comprehend the complexity of emotions that suicide brings, I only know that at times there is intense anger at what feels like the ultimate selfish betrayal, yet at others, enormous compassion for the courage to say, ‘I’ve had enough. I can’t go on.’ I also know that these two emotions (and many shades in between) can be felt by the same person within minutes, such is the rollercoaster of grief, compounded by the additional emotional complexities suicide brings.

There is a quote in my book, When Bad Things Happen in Good Bikinis from Emma, who was widowed after her husband took his life in circumstances which hit the headlines. In part of the quote Emma writes:

The stigma and awkwardness on someone’s face when I follow the words that I am a widow with, ‘my husband died by suicide,’ well, it’s a bit like  slap in the face every time. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of experiences of suicide, just not the method and circumstance of M. Then I think of the man that was, and this is just another thing that I can put down to being ‘unconventional’.

Gayle, thank you for your story which is painful to read, but even more painful to live. What I would say to you is that there are people reading your story right now who have first-hand experience of losing a spouse by suicide. I am sure that they would agree with me that life will never be the same again for you or your family, but that you will forge a new life, a new normal, and that it can be a good life. It takes time.

After 20 years of struggling on and off to keep my husband alive during his periodic severe depressive phases, he/we finally lost the fight two months ago. We had been together a total of 30 years and one evening at midnight he walked out the door, without a word or a glance and he didn’t come back.

The next time I saw him was in a hospital mortuary.

His walking out occurred two weeks before we were due to move house. We were downsizing, the move would enable us to be mortgage-free, pay off the overdraft and credit cards and make a fresh start financially, without the burden of debt which had dogged us for years. So two weeks after his disappearance, I packed up our home of 27 years and moved into the new house on my own, unsure of what the future was going to bring. Two weeks after I moved into the new house the police visited me to inform me my 57 year old gorgeous, loving husband had taken his own life. A member of the public had found him in his car, he’d cut a main artery in his arm and bled to death. The demons he had been fighting most of this life had finally won and we were all the losers.

The nature and circumstances of his death haunt me and I don’t know how I am ever going to come to terms with his dying in this horrible way and so alone. There was no suicide note, but the note he left on the night he first walked out told me he loved me, but that I would be better off without him in the long run, because he had brought me so much grief and worry over the years. And yes, this is true, he had brought me huge emotional grief, but during the ‘good times’ when the depression wasn’t rearing its ugly head we were very happy and had a loving relationship.

My daughter and I are bereft and my little two-year old grand-daughter has lost her “Bubba” – he adored her. But even having a loving caring family for all these years wasn’t enough to fight the depression when it struck with its full force. I strongly suspect my husband was bi-polar, but this was never diagnosed and I constantly felt the medical profession simply didn’t do enough and never seemed to have adequate resources.

The premature loss of your husband is bad enough, but when you also add suicide to the maelstrom of emotions and grief it feels like an added dimension and burden to cope with.
I have no idea when/if I will return to being the person I once was; confident, happy, outgoing, sociable and loved, I just know my life is forever changed now in ways I detest and things will never ever be the same again.

10 Comments

David
Reply December 8, 2015

Like many others, I wish you well and offer you the knowledge that it is possible to rebuild. The cracks will always be there but sometimes the light will be just right and you won't see them - for a while anyway...
It will be a new you, a new normal as Helen says, that eventually emerges from the maelstrom of emotions and grief, one that is inevitably stronger and more understanding, broader if you will.
Have patience and faith, not necessarily in a god, but in yourself.

Gayle
Reply December 8, 2015

David - thank you for taking the time to respond to my story. I think I do know I will eventually come out the end of this long black tunnel. But the big question is, how long is the tunnel and how long until I feel anything like my old self again - no-one has that answer. The two steps forward (or sometimes one step forward) one step back, way of living I now lead, is just so very tiring and my inherent impatience finds it extremely hard to be living in such an uncertain fashion. Thank you again for your kind words of encouragement.

Planet Grief
Reply December 8, 2015

Gayle, if you have a look on the Planet Grief Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/theplanetgrief/?ref=bookmarks, you will see that Emma has left you a comment. Please have a look. xx

Bridget
Reply December 11, 2015

Gayle, your sadness, deep loss and raw emotion are so profoundly felt when reading your story. I am always so saddened to hear there is another widow dragging herself along this path that none of us want to be on. This path that seems to lead to nothing positive and is unbearably hard going most of the time.
My wish for you is that the better days start to outnumber the awful ones and that you may find some small comfort in knowing that you are not alone. We are here, in our numbers, grieving the loss of our loved ones too. x

Gayle Gover
Reply December 17, 2015

Thank you Bridget. I have found the whole build up to Xmas particularly hard to deal with. I'm overwhelmed with memories of happier Christmases, which can never be again and feel like I'm being bombarded with reminders on a daily basis. Xmas cards read like In Sympathy cards and I don't even want to display them, they are sitting in a pile in my kitchen. I had a total meltdown at the weekend, my worst day yet and really wanted to just run away from this ghastly life I now lead and never come back. Anything just to escape the pain, but of course you can't run away from your feelings, can you. But eventually I calmed down, plastered on my 'public face' and went out into the world again. It does feel like a battle! X

Lyn
Reply December 27, 2015

Gayle it took me years of ups and owns and almost seven years later I still get bouts of sadness and there are time the unfairness weighs on me. Mostly though life is good. I am not the same person I was before Josh died but there are similarities. I made drastic changes to my life along the way and I am not typical (if there is such a thing) in most ways however in one way I am. I took the broken pieces of my life and I used them to make a new one that I could live with and eventually one I learned to love. I can't say how you will do this but I feel that you will find your way and though you may not feel it I am sure you are loved xx

    Gayle
    Reply January 12, 2016

    Hello Lyn and thank you for your message. I think one of my biggest problems, other than the obvious, is my total lack of direction and focus. I feel as if I have been living in a state of limbo for the past 5 months, just floating around like a rudderless ship. I know I have to pick up the pieces, I know I have to move forward and not be stick in the past, but I just don't have a clue where to point myself. I feel unable to return to my old job, which was very pressurised and target-driven, so this also has left a big gap in my life. I'm a planner, I usually know where I'm going and what I'm doing and this new life is totally alien to me. Where does one start?? Yes I know I am fortunate in being loved, by my daughter and close friends, but that cannot possibly match the type of loving relationship I had with my husband these past 30 years. And although my greatest fear is to be alone for years to come, I also can't conceive of how I begin to build a history with someone new. All so confusing.

Louise
Reply January 17, 2016

Hi Gayle, I just wanted to say hello and say I am on a similar journey. It's been 11 weeks since my husband's death by suicide. I understand your confusion... and the pain... I don't want my life to be over but yet it kind of feels that way. I've no answers and I don't want to depress you but i want to give you a virtual hug and let you know that you have a few shipmates on your boat.

Patricia wilson
Reply February 2, 2016

Good evening Gayle. I came across your story by chance on Facebook. The word Suicide drew my attention as I too lost my dearly loved husband John just over year ago. My heart goes out to you thousand times over. your comments of your feelings fears utter anguish is deeply close to my own. I had been married to John 34 years we have 2 amazing children and our much loved 1st much awited adorable grandchild who John absolutely had fallen in to heaven when he was born, he would say his heart was bursting with love It hurt. So why has he left us , so much pain heartache he has left behind. I will never be the same he was my love my friend soul mate and yes we were still in deeply in love. Don't get me wrong he wasn't perfect, but to me he was my hero . That day will haunt me forever when the the police called to say they had found john hanged . My darling John what took you to that place of no return. He had suffered depression all his adult life but managed really well exercise was is medication. He had some big bangs along the way but never complained always worked was the most fantastic support fun loving father to both our children indeed was so respected by so many people who loved him too which was made so obvious at his funeral .it has been so sad to read your story but in a way helped me to think there is someone else out there who knows what it feels like the very word suicide brings all sorts of contagions I feel. My own life goes on as that of my family you have no choice but as some one said to me you either live or you die inside you have a choice. Very true how close the two are. It is particular hard for me to come to terms with the way John died that I couldn't save him , you see Iam in the profession at the cutting edge of saving lives but I couldn't save the life of the most precious impotent person in my life my husband that does not sit well me me at all . I wish you well Gayle, in finding some peace and fulfilment in that so big void in your heart much love regards Patricia

Joyce
Reply April 20, 2016

Hi
My husband took his own life 2 and a half years ago after a severe bout of depression and anxiety. He was 56 and we had been married for over 30 years. I just want to give some hope to the people at the very start of this journey by saying that after 2 and a half years I really do feel that life is good again. It will never be the same and just below the surface there will always be a sadness there but it is possible to be happy again. I found dealing with things gradually in bite size chunks helped and trying not to expect too much of yourself. You need to be kind to yourself and only make time for things and people that help you. I was lucky because I have two lovely grown-up children and some very good friends. I have spent hours and hours talking and crying to them but it really does help to talk,talk, talk and to finally come to some sort of acceptance of the situation I found myself in through no fault of my own.After a year or so I moved home and found that a fresh start really helped me to move along. I just hope this will give some encouragement to others who find themselves in this ghastly situation. Lots of love to all Joyce