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When one survivor survives and the other one doesn't

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My partner of 7 years killed himself about 2 weeks ago.  I found him, he had put a bag over his head and used nitrous oxide.  According to the ME, he did it about 4-5 hours after I left his apartment.  I could tell he was stiff when I found him (it was about 8 hours after he died), and cold, but I called 911 and did cpr anyway.


It was a shock, but not because I didn't know he was intensely suicidal.  I went to his apartment to check on him because I was scared he might have killed himself.  He was a survivor of severe abuse who struggled with intense PTSD (as am I, which is how we met) and depression for well over 15 years (he was 33).  He was, at some level, always suicidal because life was so hard for him, it was just a question of how acute it was.  I knew that it was possible this would happen, that I could only do so much.  I knew that he needed to be in the hospital more than he was (but it just wasn't feasible), that he needed more support than he had access to.  I tried to listen and make space so he could tell me about feeling suicidal without my trying to save or shame him.  I tried to watch so I could tell his therapists and him when it seemed like he really had to get into the hospital to stay alive.  I knew he was having a particularly hard time.


He had made attempts, but never anything quite like this.  They were never quite so dangerous and sure of success (though still very serious), and he always got help when he tried something.


He fought so hard to stay alive.  He was in so much pain and he fought so hard.  He was so committed to healing, and he could not have worked harder at it than he did.  He was in therapy, took meds when it helped him, started and facilitated a peer support group, pursued so many avenues from mindfulness to art to self-documentation.  He had grown and healed so much already.  He was amazing.


There are so many ways people try to "comfort" partners of people who killed themselves that make me so angry and leave me so alone that I find myself shrinking away from suicide support groups and forums or just offers of comfort in general.  This is partly, or maybe largely, because I am also a survivor of similar abuse, who also has severe PTSD and depression.  It has never expressed itself as suicidal impulses, but I am not "on the other side" of this. I was just the non-suicidal one of us.  His pain is not quite so "other" to me.  We were both already survivors, it is just now I am additionally another kind.


Things people say to "help":


"Suicide was his choice" - no, it wasn't.  not in any meaningful way.  he was in so much pain and had been abused so intensely that, at that moment, he had no other option.  people say this to try to tell me it isn't my fault, but it has nothing to do with it being my fault.  When your spouse dies of a disease it isn't your fault *and* it isn't their choice.  and why would it be comforting to tell someone that their partner "chose" to leave them, as opposed to losing a struggle to something impossible to bear.


"It was his responsability" - basically same as above, but this places even more blame on him in the supposed service of taking the blame off of me.


"At least his pain is over" - yes, life is filled with pain, so his life being over means that pain is over.  that is either meaningless or cruel, depending on whether you interpret it as a life in intense pain is worth less than non-existence.


"There is nothing you could do" - you don't know that.  you don't know the specifics.  you don't know what i could or couldn't have done.


"There is nothing anyone could have done" - same as above, but much more so.


and I do feel responsible.  So when people say these things it makes me feel even *more* responsible because then I have to defend him and his pain instead of getting to deal with my pain and grief and anger.



He was my love, the one I talked to and trusted and held.  He was compassionate and subtle and brave and my partner in healing.  I still have my therapist, who is really amazing, and a support group for survivors (which he co-founded), which is also amazing, but I still know I have lost my life.  I can't let anyone near me.  I don't talk to anyone outside of my share in group and my therapy sessions, except for logistical details about handling his affairs.


Before this, my PTSD had already disabled me.  I thought it was really painful (I mean, it was painful).  But I have never, ever felt anything like this.  and it makes me so upset that now, now that I can finally understand being in so much pain that carrying the possibility of suicide is one of the only comforts I have, that I can't tell him.  I wish I could tell him I understand now.


but I don't have wants anymore.  or wishes.  I don't have anything anymore.

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