Sunday, January 10, 2016

When Life Hands you Big Bad Things

On Wednesday, my husband got a phone call from his dad. He stood up and walked around the living room, "My dad is calling."
"Answer it," I reply.
"No," he says, and he sits, staring at his phone. 
A few minutes later he reads a message his dad sent, that he has named him the beneficiary of a health savings account he has with a small amount in it, with instructions to divvy it up amongst the siblings if anything were to happen to him.
"It sounds like he's going to kill himself," I say. It's just a weird out-of-nowhere message. 
"No," he replies.

On Friday, I get home a little after 11 pm, walk in the door, and take a look at my husband. He looks like a mess. 
"What is it?" I ask him. I immediate start thinking about his brother with the drinking problem, maybe something happened to one of our boys. Panic.
"My dad killed himself."

He walks me through how he got a text message from his dad with his suicide note. I see the messages my husband sent in return. Pleading. Concerned. Desperate. 
His dad left the contact information for his ex, who happens to live in the same area, halfway across the country. He says he called her, he called his grandpa, no one knew what had happened, his dad wouldn't answer the phone, the police were dispatched for a "rescue" mission, and how he had gotten the news around 9 pm that his body had been found and he had been dead around a day.
His dad had a postmortem text sent to my husband with his suicide note.

I don't know how anyone deals with something like this. This isn't normal. This isn't ok. This is horrible. It's selfish. My husband and his siblings are a month away from mourning the loss of their mom to cancer 6 years ago and now they have to work out their feelings about their dad killing himself. 
He cheated on their mom. He abandoned them. He had a horrible drinking problem. His suicide note talks about how miserable he was, broke, lonely, how he should have never drank.
The siblings keep asking me when the funeral will be.

We met with my husband's grandparents. They live about 10 minutes from our new house. While upset over the death of their son (step-son for the grandma, since my husband's original grandma passed when he was 7), they said they have been expecting this call for awhile now. He's been a hard drinker for quite some time, unemployed, broke up with his one serious girlfriend he had after the divorce. He'd been hinting about it on facebook apparently. Could anyone have said anything to stop him?

My husband wishes he would have answered the phone call. He wishes he could have driven down there, picked him up, gotten him to see some hope. Would it have been enough to stop him from killing himself? Is it a darkness that would have crept back in eventually?

My sister-in-law told me that their dad called three of his children that Wednesday and not one answered. All emailed him back, but not one answered. To be fair, the majority of the time that my husband did answer the phone, his dad would be severely intoxicated, oddly rambling about stuff. What is it like to hear the slow descent into mental illness and addiction? I've only met the man maybe 4 times, once at our wedding. The other three times were when he came into town and took all of his children out to the bowling alley so he could drink while he hung out with them, the youngest sibling being a teenager.

When we met with my husband's grandparents, they said they want to tell people. They want everyone to know and talk about suicide and addiction. People keep quiet about it, about mental health issues. 

We can't even properly grasp the situation. A man has taken his own life. Can we even mourn it? He was a good dad sometimes, when they were young. He got lost in the grasp of addiction. It cost him his wife, his children, and eventually his life. Is it worth it? Is alcohol worth it? Are drugs worth it? Pornography, gambling, sex? Are any of these highs so fantastic that they are worth a life? Do you have a funeral to memorialize an addict? A philanderer? A man who abandons his children? He had no friends at the end, just him and an addiction. The addiction certainly won't come to the funeral.

I'm an outsider to all of these events. When my mother-in-law had cancer, I poured myself into helping, into trying to fix, into praying. But it didn't make me have any more of a right to be upset or feel a loss, because she wasn't my mother. I had her as a mother-in-law for about a year before she died. I mourned her for my husband, for the loss of a grandmother for the baby I was carrying, for all the things she could have been for me and my family. I mourned her for my husband. How do I mourn this man now? I barely met him. I would often run through conversations I would want to have with him, words I'd like to say if I ever had the chance to sit down with him, to discuss the impact he has had on my husband and his siblings. I won't get the chance now. My husband never got to say any last words. At least with his mother, we knew she was sick and that she had limited time. We had the chance to spend time with her, to make a few good last memories. 

And now I am left with a legacy of loss. My husband has inherited a strong cancer gene that killed one parent, and a strong mental health gene that killed another. My little boys have a quarter of each of those in them.

I am at a loss. I don't know how to deal with this.

My husband is in bed, sleeping. It is nearly 11 am. I can't tell him how to grieve. I don't know how I will one day process the death of either of my parents. I am lucky. I am privileged. 

I am left wondering if one day I will lose my husband to cancer or addiction.
One of his brothers has an arraignment next week to find out if he gets jail time for his 3rd DUI.
One of his siblings just got off parole for DUI and has completely changed her life.
One of his brothers just got diagnosed with mental illness and is trying to get out of the fog.

How do you even begin to wade through the process of coping with a suicide?

1 comment:

  1. oh, dearest friend, I identify strongly with so much that you are feeling. as you talked about parents a lot, I thought about my dad - while it is a completely different situation in no way related - I think the grief that comes with that is grieving the loss of the idea of a parent, the idea that they could change one day and be a good parent.

    One thing that has helped me a tiny bit in grief is remembering that Jesus was called "Man of Sorrows, well acquainted with grief". even though I don't think verses or songs or anything can help this situation. it is so outside of any other experience. it just helps me to know that He weeps with us.
    Love you and the fam infinite amounts. xoxoxoxoxoxo