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nat31

Guilt following dad's suicide

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My dad committed suicide in June. He was 61 years old. He had suffered from depression for many years. He constantly fought with my mom and sister. About 10 years ago my father moved out. I was devastated. Even though I knew that my father was in an unhappy marriage and constantly arguing with my sister, I was still horrified at the thought of our family being torn apart. After about 1 week I went to my father and convinced him to come home. He and I had a great relationship and I knew he always respected my opinions. He agreed to come home. The following 10 years were disastrous. The fighting between my parents intensified. In addition, the relationship between my dad and my sister got much worse. Then, in June of this year, my dad ended his life with a bottle of sleeping pills. I feel completely responsible. I knew he was unhappy and despite this I still pressured him to come home. I do not know how to ease the pain and rid myself of guilt. I have done a few sessions of grief counseling but did not find it to be much help. Is there anyone out there dealing with guilt following a suicide?

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Dear Nat31,

I am so very sorry for the loss of your Dad. I am so very sorry that you are in this tragedy and your life has been altered forever. It will be three years ago December 1st that my dear, sweet, loving little Mother committed suicide by shooting herself. She left notes and even the clothes she wanted to be buried in. Never in a million years did we think she would do something like this. My daughter and I found her and it is an image that is forever engrained in our minds. It was a nightmare and has altered our lives in so many ways. I cried violently everyday for a solid year and still cry often. It is life shattering and yes, you are right, the guilt is overwhelming. Why didn't we see any signs, why didn't we know she was that depressed, did I say something wrong, did I not let her know how much I loved and needed her, why, why, why. What could I have done differently.

 

First, please know that it was not your fault. It sounds as if you tried your best and you were trying to save a family. I believe that there are many reasons a person takes their life. Whether it is a born chemical embalance, drugs, alcohol, medicine causing suicidal ideations, whatever the reason, they are unable to cope with what they are going through. Millions of people have hardships, tragedies and problems everyday, but they don't kill themselves because they cope. Our loved ones couldn't cope and were tired of running the race. I honestly don't think they even had a clue what this would do to those left behind. While your Dad lost the will to go on and wanted the relief from his depression, and this was his last act of being in control of his own destiny, it was NOT your fault.

 

The pain of this tragedy will be immense for a long time.Your nerves have been shattered into a million pieces. You will doubt everthing who were ever taught in life, your views on life will change, you will have trouble focusing, you may even take up an addiction such as drinking, smoking, spending money, any type of distraction to ease the pain. The things I found that helped was praying alot, working hard, keeping busy, exercising, being good to yourself, and talking about it over and over until I was exhausted talking about it. My dear friends and co-workers were a God send and I am sure they got sick of me talking it through over and over, but it did help. Like I said, it has been almost three years and it took a good two years to come to grips with it. My daughter (who shared the same birthday as my Mother) still has not come to grips with it and her life has been a total mess since this happened. Who knows how long it takes to heal. Maybe never, but as time goes on, it will eventually begin to get better. You just have to find a new norm in life.

 

Never in a million years did we ever think we would have to experience this but we are. I never thought I could be such a strong person, but having been vaulted into this situation, I find that I am a very strong person and you will be too. It was your Dad's decision to take this action, not yours. Never ever feel responsible.

 

I would pray nightly that God would watch over and protect my Mom, but at first, I felt he let me down and didn't protect her. But then I realized that maybe she was so unhappy and so sad, that he answered her prayers instead of mine, to take her home with him and protect her there. I also realize that God and my faith are the things that have gotten me through this nightmare. I pray that God will wrap his arms around you, hold you close to his heart and give you comfort, peace and strength for your long, hard journey. Please feel free to contact me anytime you need to talk. Things will get better at a very slow pace, but it will get better. Please hold on and have faith. Sincerely, Sherry

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You only asked him to go home, but he chose to stay for 10 years.  He could have left again if he wanted to.  Also remember depression comes from the inside, not from circumstances or other people.  

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