Should I go to my ex-coworker's memorial tonight?
September 25, 2013 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Should I go to my ex-coworker's memorial tonight? He committed suicide a few weeks ago. I kind of don't want to go because I'm more pissed off than I am sad.

We weren't terribly close, but we were friends, and we worked together daily for almost 10 years. He wasn't the most chipper guy in the world, but no one–no one–in his large circle of friends and family had any idea that he was thinking about offing himself. The lens I'm seeing things through today is like this: if depression is a disease, this is a person with a terminal cancondition who knowingly didn't do anything about it, refused to seek treatment, and kept it a secret from the people closest to him until it finally, unexpectedly (to us) killed him.

I don't want to go to his memorial. I want to go home, sit zazen and spend time with my kids. But I know that my feelings and view will probably change down the road, and I don't want to regret not going.

I have no experience with suicide and little with funerals in general. What should I do?
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas to Human Relations (89 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Go. It is easier to forget something if you later decide you wish you hadn't experienced it than it is to go back in time and attend something you wish you had attended.
posted by kindall at 11:36 AM on September 25, 2013 [31 favorites]


You should go. Think of a nice time the two of you had together and tell his family about it. It'll be a comfort to them to know people will miss him.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:38 AM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


You're right, your feelings will change - I've been there. Have compassion for the guy and recognize the pain he must've been in to see suicide as his only option. Go.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 11:39 AM on September 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


His suicide is not about you. Depression is a mental illness, not a simple physical disease like cancer. Part of what makes it so insidious is that it makes seeking treatment seem very difficult and even futile to its sufferers. Regardless of whether you decide to go to this funeral, I'd suggest learning more about serious depression so you can get past your anger at depressed people; it will almost certainly touch someone else in your life someday. Maybe even you.

Someone you care about died. If he had died in any other way, would you go to the funeral?
posted by something something at 11:39 AM on September 25, 2013 [138 favorites]


Grief is a strange emotion. Your anger is part of your grief. If you decide not to go because you are angry, and you regret not going in later years, be kind to yourself. You're in grief and you can remember in your own way.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:39 AM on September 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I will tell you a story.

A guy we worked with was diabetic. He was a bit slip-shod about taking care of himself. We were all out at happy hour and I ordred a steak. I was eating dinner and noticed that Don was just drinking beer. I said, "Hey Buddy, if you want, have some of my steak, I'm concerned about all that sugar." He pooh-poohed me and other folks gave me shit too. I shrugged, people make their choices.

That was Friday. Over the weekend he had fallen into a diabetic coma and died.

I went to the funeral, although I was pretty pissed off, because at the end of the day we were honoring our friend, not his illness.

Also, FYI, depression is such a sneaky bastard that it can convince you that you don't have a problem and don't need help.

Be angry at the circumstances, but go to the memorial to honor your friend and to support his family, who must really be hurting.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:40 AM on September 25, 2013 [17 favorites]


Would it help to change your lens? I don't think all those things in your list were conscious, knowing, deliberate decisions. When you have an ailment that affects your brain, well, you can't always make good decisions.
posted by CathyG at 11:41 AM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I have missed one funeral because I didn't feel like I could deal with the whole "funeral thing" in remembering the deceased. I regret skipping it.

And you don't know that he didn't do anything about it. Treatment for any illness, be it cancer or depression, does not have a guaranteed survival rate. What you know is that he didn't show you that he was struggling, that he was putting on a face for you.

Look around at your coworkers. Wonder how many of the rest of them are facing down such demons. They'll appreciate a showing. Or, rather, the other folks who attended the funeral I skipped would have appreciated a showing. Sometimes you've gotta shake hands with the other survivors.
posted by straw at 11:42 AM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


if depression is a disease, this is a person with a terminal cancondition who knowingly didn't

If depression is a mental disease, "knowingly didn't" doesn't work the way you think it might work. You should go - and learn.
posted by Namlit at 11:42 AM on September 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think you should go too.

And while anger is perfectly okay.. I also suggest reading up on depression. Especially when people describe what it's like. Something is fundamentally wrong with the thought process of someone suffering from depression. So much so that they think dying is a good idea. Their ability to think is broken. Depression does vile and evil things to your ability to think about anything reasonably or even logically.

I'm sorry about the loss of your friend.
posted by royalsong at 11:43 AM on September 25, 2013 [17 favorites]


It is more than okay for you to be angry. I'd be angry as hell too.

Anger is as much a part of grief as sadness. So be angry at him if you are. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

It is okay to go to his memorial angry. It is okay to go to his memorial and go angry and then be sad. However you are grieving is okay.

But I know, for me, I'd rather go to the memorial pissed off than regret not going later because I was pissed off.
posted by zizzle at 11:44 AM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


If you have to ask, go. This is a one-time deal. You can sit zazen any time.
posted by zippy at 11:44 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you think you might regret not going, then go, and if you want to leave within five minutes (or a half hour, or an hour) of being there, then leave. Grief has more allowances toward behavior than almost any other emotion.

...if depression is a disease, this is a person with a terminal cancondition who knowingly didn't do anything about it, refused to seek treatment...

If it helps, you are missing a critical part, which is that self-neglect is a very common symptom of the disease. It's a vicious, vicious circle.
posted by griphus at 11:44 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I disagree.

To my perspective, the memorial isn't for you, and it isn't even for him, it is for his loved ones. The most important thing isn't what you will get out of it, it's what his loved ones will get out of it.

So, I would say, only go if you know that your demeanor and behavior will be a comfort to his loved ones rather than a source of any sort of distress.
posted by cairdeas at 11:44 AM on September 25, 2013 [42 favorites]


Logical disconnect: A brain is unhealthy and needs treatment, but the brain involved is unhealthy and therefore cannot seek treatment. If it was healthy enough to seek treatment, then it potentially wouldn't be sick enough to require it.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 11:44 AM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


He's not going to know if you're there or not. Unless you knew his family well they probably won't notice if you're not there. If you don't want to go, don't go. Some day, if you come to terms with his suicide, pay your respects in your own way.

Go make a donation to a suicide prevention charity and spend the night with your kids.
posted by bondcliff at 11:45 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The lens I'm seeing things through today is like this: if depression is a disease, this is a person with a terminal cancondition who knowingly didn't do anything about it, refused to seek treatment, and kept it a secret from the people closest to him until it finally, unexpectedly (to us) killed him.

Depression is a disease, but it doesn't quite work like cancer or a cold. It's a disease of the mind, and one of the things it does is change the way you think about everything, including the disease itself.

Your friend likely killed himself not because he wanted to die but because he wanted to stop suffering, and the disease made him think that the only way to do that was to die. People who are depressed suffer from distorted thinking that makes life, events and themselves appear much more negative than they really are. They can no longer see possibilities or hope. He probably thought things like, 'People are better off without me.' or 'I'll never get better.' or 'I'm a failure, what's the point?' or 'No one cares about me.'

Depression is a treatable illness but your friend killed himself because he couldn't see that anymore.

Go to the memorial.
posted by unannihilated at 11:45 AM on September 25, 2013 [15 favorites]


if you know how to sit zazen, you know about metta (loving-kindness) meditation, right? perhaps that will help you with your answer.
posted by desjardins at 11:47 AM on September 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


re-frame it this way: if his family had "no idea" - then they very well might extract more the comfort by your support.

also - you don't have to go to every single minute of the memorial. attend, meet some people, say some words, sign something, go home. you won't regret that methinks
posted by mrmarley at 11:47 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Memorials and funerals aren't for the dead, they're for the people the person left behind. Go for yourself. Go for his family. You are still allowed to be pissed off.
posted by cecic at 11:48 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Feeling angry is absolutely valid and I've been there with people I've lost. You should do what feels right to you, but a couple of things to think about:

1. His friends and family are probably angry and bewildered about all of this too. It would mean a lot to see that others cared about him. That he was more than a mental illness and that he matters more than this awful decision.

2. It's easy to get bogged down by the negative emotions about someone in a situation like this. Sometimes the funeral is a great opportunity to shift your thinking. You can remember the funny stuff about him with other people who were there to see it, and you might also be able to gain a bit of compassion for how much pain he had to have been in to have felt that dying was the only option available to him.
posted by goggie at 11:48 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


It sounds like you're making a lot of assumptions about this guy. First of all, not all people who commit suicide are depressed, he could have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and not told anyone, been horrifically abused as a child and couldn't battle the memories anymore, you just DON'T KNOW. Furthermore, if he was depressed, who's to say he didn't try to get treatment? The mental health system is incredibly flawed, the pills they throw at people often don't work, and therapy is not a sure thing. Some people do all the "right" things to treat depression and things just get worse.

I say don't go if you can't summon up some compassion for this man. With the attitude you displayed in the post, it doesn't sound like you'd be a comfort or help to his loved ones.
posted by horizons at 11:50 AM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


I strongly recommend talking about your feelings on this issue with one of your meditation teachers. Zoketsu Norman Fischer, abbot emeritus of the SF Zen Center, said this during the memorial service for someone who had committed suicide:

As many of you know, the first of the ten grave precepts is not to kill. This extends to our own life, we should not kill our own life. This means that we have to give ourselves respect. So if someone comes to talk to me and says that they think of committing suicide, I always say, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! You should preserve your life.” Sometimes people have a great deal of suffering, but there’s always a way to work with suffering and to find some relief. So I always plead with the person not to do this. But when someone does commit suicide, we don’t think that they broke a precept and we don’t blame them. When someone dies, we honor their life, including the end. We honor their suicide, and we don’t think that it’s a failure. We don’t think there’s some mistake.

You know, it’s impossible to understand another person’s mind. It’s impossible to understand another person’s heart. Sometimes there can be suffering that is inexpressibly terrible. . Sometimes the compulsion to take your own life can be stronger than your will. We just don’t know. And it’s wrong if we think we can know someone else’s actions and blame them or blame ourselves for something that has happened. So at the end of a life we always celebrate that life and we celebrate its perfection as it was. And even though, because we love the person, we may wish that it was different, we accept the way it is and we recognize that we don’t understand what this life needed. Perhaps it was just as it needed to be.


And this about memorial services:

...[n]ow I feel differently about memorial services than I did many years ago. Now I know that the memorial service comes directly from our zazen practice, and it really is not different from our zazen practice. I may, in the near future, end up also doing memorial services all the time, nothing but memorial services. Maybe I’ll just do them privately in my own home all day long just to remember so many people in my life that I miss.

I really recommend reading the whole talk. He says many important things in it.
posted by janey47 at 11:50 AM on September 25, 2013 [19 favorites]


Go.

A not-so-close friend of mine took his own life last year, and even though I did not know him well, he was part of my network of friends for close to 20 years. So, I decided to go, not so much for myself, but to be there for others who were closer to him. And it turned out to be so tremendously moving and valuable. In his death, he brought so many of us together, and there we all were, truly aware of how precious a thing it was for us all to be able to be with one another, no matter the circumstances.

And we all took that feeling away with us, and though he apparently could not bear to remain in the world with us, that was a final gift that he gave us. And I love him for that, and will never forget it. I am not saying the same thing will happen for you if you go to your friend's service; but you can take some of that feeling with you to the service and share it with friends and family who are all, no doubt, also filled with a whole tempest of emotions. Go. It will be a good thing.
posted by fikri at 11:51 AM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


All: I do understand that my anger is unfair. It's still what I've got right now. I'm sorry about that.

His family will not be there. They live in another state where they had a "real" funeral. This is a local memorial for friends and loved ones.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 11:52 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, to add: You can both go to the memorial service and sit zazen. You do not have to choose between them. Zazen is not about taking yourself away from the world. It is about participating fully in your life.
posted by janey47 at 11:53 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


You sounds like a caring, thoughtful person. I think you should go. You'll have a chance to be of help to the family (even just being there is helpful) and you'll probably learn something too.
posted by dawkins_7 at 11:54 AM on September 25, 2013


Can you go and celebrate his life? Can you remember him for the good person that he was, and talk with other folks and offer them comfort as you accept theirs?

If you don't honestly feel that way, and you just don't want to go, then don't.

This kind of stuff isn't on the test. It's more extra credit.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:56 AM on September 25, 2013


It's OK to be angry. A lot of people are going to be surprised and/or shocked at it if you let it out at a memorial, though. If you're capable of being civil, at the least, then go. It might help you move on to the next stage of your grief. If not, at least you tried.

I don't see how going could hurt you, or make you feel more upset. If this is going to be your last chance for communal grief over this guy, take it. There's healing to be had, sometimes, at things like this.
posted by Solomon at 11:56 AM on September 25, 2013


I say go. I'm still angry at a friend from college who committed suicide. Anger is a natural step of the grieving process and it's not "unfair" to feel that way.

The memorial could well be a show of support for one of his friends, or a mutual friend, who will get shocked into treatment at the show of support and remorse following a suicide, just in case they've been feeling like no one would care if they checked out, too. Suicidal ideation and depression are sneaky, quiet and manipulative things that tell the sufferer (1) they don't need help; (2) they don't deserve help; and (3) no one will miss them when they're gone. Your presence just might tip the crowd; a conversation at the memorial might just tip the scale of someone who's torn between the decision to give into the depression or to seek help.
posted by mibo at 11:57 AM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


He wasn't the most chipper guy in the world, but no one–no one–in his large circle of friends and family had any idea that he was thinking about offing himself.

You also don't know this. For something this personal, don't assume that you would be privy to anything that had happened.

This reminds me of something that happened with 2 of my friends recently. The 3 of us are very, very close. Friend A is having a private, painful issue that she has told both of us about. There were new developments in this issue. Friend B made a very oblique comment about the new development to me, and then immediately backtracked hard because she didn't know if it was shared with me too. We then had a very awkward, hesitant, and lightly-treading conversation where tried to figure out if we were both talking about the same thing, without intruding into anything that hadn't been shared with us. These are 3 people who are VERY close and all care about respecting each other's privacy.

If we act like that with each other about each other's private stuff, we're not going to go around talking freely to random co-workers about what we know about these topics.
posted by cairdeas at 11:58 AM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anger is part of the emotional process of loss. Rationally, we know not to blame the individual.

Go and participate as you are able to. Sit, sit alone, sit with others, talk, don't talk, tell stories.

Also, if helpful, Hyperbole and a Half did two insightful illustrated posts about her depression: Link 1 and Link 2
posted by inevitability at 11:58 AM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, since it's just a memorial serivce, not the full funeral, then I'd recommend going --- if it was the actual funeral, I'd suggest you not attend, just go to the viewing at the funeral home.

The thing is, this for-his-friends memorial service? Mostly people will be standing around, sharing their sorrow at his loss as well as everyone's memories and stories about him, with a bit of general catching-up going on for folks who haven't seen each other for a while. Go, try to stay half an hour or so, then quietly leave if you need to.
posted by easily confused at 11:58 AM on September 25, 2013


Sorry to keep popping in, but it just occurred to me to mention that anger is one of the five stages of grief. Grief is everything, not just anger, bargaining, denial, depression, and acceptance. It's also relief, and guilt, and just about every human emotion.

Ultimately, this is why I would also recommend going to the memorial service -- since you have little experience with suicide or funerals, for all you know this will be your immediate reaction every time a death occurs. If that's the case, it's worth exploring in order to see into your heart and see what else is there. There is much to learn about ourselves in our reactions to things that make us uncomfortable. And isn't the point of life to learn and grow?
posted by janey47 at 12:01 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Paraphrasing Elie Wiesel: the opposite of care is not anger, it's indifference. You are angry because you've cared about your friend. Go, you'll meet other people who also cared.
posted by przepla at 12:02 PM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


We weren't terribly close, but we were friends, and we worked together daily for almost 10 years. He wasn't the most chipper guy in the world, but no one–no one–in his large circle of friends and family had any idea that he was thinking about offing himself.

I think it's really important to be cautious about how much right we feel we have over others' lives. You are not the primary injured party here. You may disapprove of this guy's action, but it's a much more abstract disapproval than that of his family or close friends. You are angry because this guy - for whatever reason - made a choice you don't approve of*. Most of us are friends with people who make choices - even big life choices - that we don't approve of. We are not necessarily entitled to be angry even if we disagree.

That's not to say that you don't feel anger, or that you aren't processing shock and fear as anger. But that's different from feeling legitimate anger that you should act on.

*I believe, somewhat differently than most people on metafilter, that the freedom to stop living is a fundamental freedom. That doesn't mean I think suicide is good, or that people should refuse treatment for depression, or that treatment for depression isn't effective. I also think that it's really difficult to know just how "free" any choice is - how many choices that we make every day aren't really "chosen" at all but are instead the product of our depression, anxiety, compulsiveness, addiction or socialization?
posted by Frowner at 12:04 PM on September 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


All: I do understand that my anger is unfair. It's still what I've got right now. I'm sorry about that.

Your anger is your anger. You're allowed to feel what you're feeling, and anger is valid. Don't apologize for it.

I think that people are surprised to learn that anger is a very common emotional response to suicide. (And as janey47 points out, it's one of the five stages of grief - it's an expected reaction to loss.) It can feel strange or wrong to be angry at someone in this way, but it is not abnormal, nor is it wrong.

Years ago, I lost a friend (and co-worker) in this way. It was really hard, for a long while. Many of us were angry (and sad, and shocked). I went to the memorial & to the funeral & I am still glad I went. I think you should go. Memorials can help us process all this stuff, and it's a lot to process.

Be kind to yourself and as kind as you can to the other people around you in this time. Later on, it might be easier to be kind toward him; I think the memorial can help with that.
posted by dryad at 12:07 PM on September 25, 2013


We weren't terribly close... I have no experience with suicide...

So, you can proceed with the truth that he died of a mysterious condition you really have no concrete knowledge of.

Is there a formal service-type-thing and then a social hour-type-thing? If so, maybe the easiest thing for you to handle would be to put in an appearance at the latter; that way if it got to be too much you could excuse yourself early.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:08 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's okay to be angry at him. He left behind a family, and suicide can be devastating to the survivors. Go express your condolences; it will help them a little, and probably help you as well.

And here's a great article on suicide. art-kleiner-how-not-to-commit-suicide
posted by theora55 at 12:09 PM on September 25, 2013


For strictly selfish reasons, I think you should go. The experience of going through this event calmly while you are experiencing anger will teach you something about yourself.

Also, it will be important to your work social dynamic. You will be showing respect for your coworkers and the bonds you have built up over the years. Your absence would be noted, and not favorably.

There's nothing wrong with being angry. Pack up your anger and carry it with you to the memorial, and observe what happens internally in you. The anger will bear fruit.
posted by nacho fries at 12:12 PM on September 25, 2013


I am still angry with a friend from high school who committed suicide in another friend's house. Going to his memorial service was definitely the right call. I didn't hide my anger, though I didn't also demand that other folks should be angry too. It was much more "I'm still processing, but right now I'm still just overwhelmed by how angry I am that he would put us through this much grief"

A lot of other folks felt the same, and I still think we were comforted by the knowledge that our way of processing grief wasn't "wrong".

(I suffer from depression, so you'd think I'd be more empathetic. But I still find it so abhorrent to transfer that much suffering onto those you love most, even if it's not the most rational of responses.)
posted by politikitty at 12:12 PM on September 25, 2013


... if depression is a disease, this is a person with a terminal condition
which made him feel tired all the time, filled him with blackness and despair, and constantly told him that there was no point in talking to anyone or doing anything.

Then it would sometimes go away for a short time, so it seemed like it wasn't that big of a threat, and it left him perceptive enough to realize that making it an issue might well drive away the people closest to him, either because they couldn't take his neediness, darkness, or seeing him as inferior and weak.

He also probably thought that his ability to make a living would be threatened if he was known to be depressive, and he might also have worried about its impact on his ability to maintain health insurance.

And then, again, relentlessly, it made him feel tired all the time, filled him with blackness and despair, and constantly told him that there was no point in talking to anyone or doing anything.

All this made him keep it a secret from the people closest to him until it finally, unexpectedly (to those who weren't psychic, as well as to himself) killed him.


Your feelings are perfectly valid, but they are also probably temporary.
posted by amtho at 12:23 PM on September 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I do understand that my anger is unfair. It's still what I've got right now. I'm sorry about that.

Nobody is saying your anger is unfair. Your anger just is. It's part of your grief. It's part of your shock. This is all natural.

You can feel your anger and go the memorial. You don't condone his suicide by showing up; you go to honor his existence and the pain his loss is causing.

Feel your anger. All I would suggest is that you don't also neglect to search your heart -- whether you can do it now or much further down the road, maybe after sitting zazen a hundred times -- for a tender place of compassion and empathy and sorrow for him, and for the suffering he must surely have been in.
posted by scody at 12:25 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a local memorial for friends and loved ones.

Then go stand up for your friend. This anger is going nowhere and not going proves nothing and states nothing to nobody. Going, however, says he was your friend.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:26 PM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


My friend's mom died of cancer that she knew about and could have been easily treated had she actually received the treatment her doctor prescribed.

Several years after the diagnosis, she collapsed and was taken to the emergency room where her family learned that she had been diagnosed with cancer years before and hadn't taken action. She only lived for 2 weeks after her collapse.

I went to her service because I wanted to support her family. I was friends with her daughter and wanted to support her despite being angry at her mom (I had known her mom for 15 years at that point). As much as I was angry, I didn't want to punish her family. I wanted to be another person in the room who she knew loved their mom. If everyone was too angry to show up, it would have been really sad.

People do things for reasons no one understands. Thinking about her mom's choice still makes me a little angry because it was so baffling and sad, but I am glad I was able to support her family in a small way.
posted by parakeetdog at 12:31 PM on September 25, 2013


[Folks please keep answers focused on "Should I go or not" and do not turn this into a generalized discussion about suicide. OP is not anon, you can MeMail them.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:31 PM on September 25, 2013


Yes, go. I'm still mad at a friend who committed suicide in 2004 (though not as mad as I was), but I'm very glad I went to his memorial. For one thing, I was not the only angrysad person there, and even though none of us talked terribly explicitly about the angrysadness we were feeling, it was still good to be together.

Also - you probably know this - depression is a disease that will keep the person who has it from seeking treatment. That's part of what's so terrible about it.
posted by rtha at 12:41 PM on September 25, 2013


One thing about depression is that it isolates people and makes it difficult for them to seek help.

Go, for lots of reasons, including that we are collectively and individually better off facing mental illness rather than looking away.
posted by Good Brain at 12:43 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


As it turns out, I too had a friend commit suicide and his memorial service is tonight and I'm pretty pissed at him. But I'm going even though I don't feel like it.

But I know that my feelings and view will probably change down the road

this is probably true, and it may be helped along by attending the memorial service.

I was planning to sit in the back and just represent for my two out-of-town best friends who, unlike me, were very close to the guy, but they asked that I read something for them. So I'm doing that. Which feels better than just going. And, just going, in turn, feels better than not going and just getting on with my life on my own. Because I'm mad and that mad feeling is not going to let me just carry on as if it didn't happen. Attending the service is going to help me process it. And it has the added benefit of helping out his friends, some of whom are very good friends of mine, because we're in this awful thing together.
posted by *s at 12:51 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would suggest going. If you find it to be completely intolerable, you can always leave. But a memorial is for the living, it is a place both to comfort others, and to be comforted.

All too often I think people are willing to go to the happy occaisions - the showers, the birthday parties, the weddings, but we avoid the difficult ones, because we are afraid of how we will feel. Death is another part of life, and we grow as people when we are open to experiencing the difficult emotions. In fact, difficult emotions become easier to cope with, the more we allow ourselves to experience them.

You might talk to a few people at the memorial about the difficulty you are having in processing your anger over his death. You most likely will find you are not alone. You may find someone who can put it in perspective for you. At the very least, you will likely find some kind of fellowship.

In a few weeks, when it is less raw, if you still have difficulty processing your anger with your friend, you might think about going to one or two grief counseling sessions. Sometimes an outside view can help us put things in perspective (I don't mean to suggest you shouldn't be angry - your emotions are real and valid. But sometimes we need help figuring out what to do with those emotions, so that they don't become overwhelming and embittering).

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.
posted by vignettist at 12:54 PM on September 25, 2013


I think it is important to take time to honour people's lives and contributions and attend their memorials. You would be attending for everyone else there that are also grieving your friend. It would be terrible if one of his friends was also considering suicide and went to the memorial to find out that few people had shown up and seemingly didn't care about your friend - it would probably make them feel that they, too, should kill themselves because probably no one cares about them either. You will never know the impact on others that your actions take; when given a choice, default to being kind and assuming the best of your friend that until their final choice they had been a good friend. The saddest part of suicide is that it does not make the pain go away; it just spreads it out to the survivors. I am so sorry for your loss and your friend's loss.
posted by saucysault at 12:58 PM on September 25, 2013


Oh, and another thing.

The rest of your coworkers and attendees at the memorial are also going to be angry. It's a good place to meet with people who feel just the same way you do, to let it out a little bit and reminisce about your friend.
posted by mibo at 1:02 PM on September 25, 2013


One of my friends killed himself a few weeks ago too. I took the day off work and drove NYC-Philly-DC and back to pick up friends and go to the memorial service with his family and local friends. We only knew a couple of the other people there and mostly talked to each other about how completely shocked we were. All of us were expressing varying degrees of anger, shock, surprise, sadness, etc. It was a grueling day - 9 hours in the car plus stops plus all the emotions - and it was really hard to say goodbye to him (especially since we had a conversation about how he thought suicide was a shitty thing to do at another friend's memorial after his suicide a few months prior).

Despite all that, despite the still unresolved anger/sorrow/WTF I have going on, I'd do it again in a hot second. Go to the memorial. Do your own private thing later if you want to, but go to the memorial.
posted by bedhead at 1:04 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


As people are saying, funerals and memorial services are for the living left behind, not the dead. However, from there I seem to go the opposite direction to everyone else.

You are one of the living left behind. If you do not want to go, don't. There is no one-size-fits-all pattern of grief, and not everyone needs the same things. It sounds like you have your own sense of the rituals and observances that you need right now.

It's okay to tend to your needs rather than to go to look after his other friends. If what you need is to take space for you and allow your feelings freedom rather than going off to observe social forms that you don't really feel right now, then I don't see why you shouldn't. You know whether staying away is making the best decision for you as you are; if it is, then that is what it is.

While there is a chance you might look back and think you'd choose different, you'll know that you did what was right for you at this stage of your grief. That would make the difference for me; will it be enough for you? Will you be able to find ways to honour him later, if that's what you need - visiting his grave, perhaps? (Coincidentally, Metafilter is currently suggesting this related question.

It's not quite the same thing, but I have a chronic illness, and have had to miss many significant events - weddings and naming ceremonies of dear friends, funerals, milestone birthdays, you name it - despite wanting to go with all my heart. While I occasionally think "Oh yes, that event. It would've been nice if I could've made it," these events don't really trigger a sense of regret at all, let alone hang over my head as constant sources of it. Had I been weighing up a different set of factors, I might have made a different decision - but I wasn't, so I did what was right for Me-As-I-Was. It is what it is, and I have the present to attend to, so I try not to spend my energy wishing I could change the past.

When you're ready, I would suggest reading up on depression and how a person can be driven to suicide by it. In addition to the Art Kleiner and Hyperbole And A Half links above, I'd suggest Depression Comix as an insightful portrayal of depression from the inside.
posted by Someone Else's Story at 1:06 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


My grandfather committed suicide long before I as born, but it is very close all the same. He did so because he was mentally ill, was living with his family, isolated, on a farm, with only the church elders to turn to. He asked for help, they told him he wasn't right with god and if he was, he would feel better. His mental state got so bad he was hearing voices that told him to kill his family, being a kind man, instead, he killed himself. As a suicide, he was buried in an unmarked grave, with no funeral.

You have absolutely no idea what is going on in the mind of another, what they have done or not done to help themselves is really not the issue, this is your chance to open your heart, and perhaps learn more about the suffering of the world that is occurring all around us, all of the time, whether you go to the memorial or not.
posted by nanook at 1:07 PM on September 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you're on the fence about a one time event that seems to be important, always err on the side of going.
posted by inturnaround at 1:09 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


If your heart isn't wanting to be there and you'd rather process this in your own time and in your own way, please do that instead. This internet stranger gives you permission. You are not disrespecting your friend's legacy or his life by not being at the function. There is nothing specifically magical about a memorial service. Some people find it healing and it can give them a sense of community and connectedness as they process the loss. Others find that it's not the way that they choose to mourn or experience saying goodbye. Either is a perfectly healthy and legitimate approach. You are not obligated to do what others expect. Do what feels right to you.

I've attended memorials, organized memorials, and I've elected not to attend memorials. I've not looked back at any of those choices with regret after the fact because in each of those cases I quietly asked myself what I wanted and needed and my answer was there. Trust that inner voice, it will be the one that guides you through how you need to heal.

I'm sorry for your loss. Suicide is so very hard for everyone it touches.
posted by quince at 1:14 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


My mother didn't speak to me for the last 15 years of her life. When she died, I chose both to view the body (privately) and to go to the funeral. In fact, I even had a major part in planning it. As I saw it, a funeral does not just allow for a goodbye. It's not something where everyone feels and behaves the same way.

It is a time and a place to focus on the dead, though. With other people who are thinking about them, whether they are happy or sad or angry thoughts. You are allowed to go to the memorial angry. Maybe during it, you can come to terms with some things. The only behaviour I would advise against is dragging someone else into your anger. That's not so awesome.

But go. Feel. Think. It's alright. And I'm so sorry you are going through this.

I also give you permission not to go, if you don't want. That's fine too.
posted by b33j at 1:21 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The lens I'm seeing things through today is like this: if depression is a disease, this is a person with a terminal cancondition who knowingly didn't do anything about it, refused to seek treatment, and kept it a secret from the people closest to him until it finally, unexpectedly (to us) killed him.

I'm guessing you know this is an irrational way to think about this. It's an emotional reaction that will disappear, probably sooner rather than later. In, say, six months you won't feel this way.

So: What would you do if you didn't have this temporary emotional reaction? Whatever your answer to this question is, will be what you wished you had done six months from now.
posted by spaltavian at 1:24 PM on September 25, 2013


I lost two acquaintances to suicide this year. I am pissed off at both of them, still, even months later. I still went to the memorials. For me, it served two purposes:
1) Connect with my close friends who were their close friends, help comfort them, and participate in the community.
2) Process my grief by getting to know the people better.
I recommend going -- at a minimum, participating as a member of the community is good for you and for the other members of the community.

Suicide is vicious. I have found this article on the increase in suicide rates to help me learn compassion for the people I know who've died that way.
posted by linettasky at 1:25 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


His suicide is not about you. His family's grief is not about you. If you can't project love and comfort, keep away. I am sorry you're angry, but mourn some other way if you're not in the funeral place right now.

I have some idea where you are coming from. A college friend died a tragic death. He was my friend, but he was also kind of an asshole. We parted on the mediocre terms you might expect. Around his death was just the amount of canonization you might expect re: someone with a sweet exterior who died young.

I stayed away. Some of his other friends with mixed feelings did a memorial for him a year later and I was a big part of the planning for that.
posted by skbw at 1:36 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


In case you want some anecdata to back up the 'other people are angry too, and memorials are good times to connect and share compassion with those people' here is my story.

I lost a good friend to suicide last spring. It was a complicated relationship, one that people who didn't know my friend well could be judgmental about, and we didn't share many friends during his life. I was angry not only at my friend himself, but also at the circumstances in the world I saw as exacerbating his depression. (You can probably get a sense of some of those circumstances from some of my posts and comments on the blue.)

At the memorial, another friend of his who i'd only met briefly before approached me and asked 'hey, do you want to join a reading group?'

That group lasted for almost a year after, and was one of the great lights of my life for much of that time. Most, though not all, of us shared the same late friend. His name didn't come up often, but I could see the subtle ways he shaped our thinking; someone would mention a certain movie, say, and of course we'd all seen it because of friend. The group also gave me an opportunity to channel my rage, especially my political rage, in more constructive ways than directing it all onto myself. (This was a specifically politically-oriented group.) Being around people who understood both my grieving rage and my rage at the larger structures of the world was incredibly helpful.

That group seems to have fizzled lately. I moved to a different neighborhood than most of the others, and I don't know how often I'll see them now. But I feel a lot stabler and more at peace with things (though not completely so) now; even if I barely see them again, I'm so grateful for the year of weekly group meetings.

Tl;dr: go to the funeral. You never know what can happen from there.
posted by ActionPopulated at 1:52 PM on September 25, 2013


I feel like, you're more likely to regret not going than you are to regret going. Also, because everyone else has covered other points very aptly already, I am just going to repeat this for emphasis. It's not the most important fact at all, but it's another point in favor of going:

Also, it will be important to your work social dynamic. You will be showing respect for your coworkers and the bonds you have built up over the years. Your absence would be noted, and not favorably.

And you may be asked (innocently) WHY you didn't attend and then you're going to have to choose whether to lie (not ideal) or get into this whole thing, which makes it all about you. I think it's RIGHT that you go to the memorial, but I also suspect that it is socially EASIER for you to do it, too.

No one WANTS to go to a memorial for a variety of reasons. Most people suck it up and go and are glad they did. A dear friend of mine recently died of a cancer that she led me to believe was cured. I was (am) devastated and pissed and a whole lot of things. I didn't want to go to her memorial because, among other things, I knew it was going to be TREMENDOUSLY UPSETTING to me personally. But I went. I'm glad I did. It didn't negate any of my very complicated feelings about her, but it felt good to be with other people who -- perhaps like your coworkers -- felt much the same way.

You should go.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 2:05 PM on September 25, 2013


Memorials are for the living. It isn't like you are APPROVING of the suicide by going to this memorial.

One of the reasons you are so angry is because of the effect that suicide leaves on those left behind. You should go because all of you need each other right now.

(There are those of us who have dealt with the big D who understand how the big S can happen....at some point perhaps you can come to a point of compassion for him. You don'thave to approve of his action to be able to do that.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:14 PM on September 25, 2013


I have never been in this situation, so I can't say what the appropriate course of action would be for someone who is in this situation. You feel what you feel, and you can act accordingly. Nowhere is it written that you are obligated to do anything or say anything to anybody.

However, I know that learning to be PRESENT in other people's lives, whether or not I feel comfortable doing so, has been one of the greatest gifts of learning to be an adult. And being able to hold a SPACE for people to be who they are (even when it doesn't make any sense or pisses me the fuck off or makes me want to run through the streets screaming about how unfair life is) makes me grow as a human being and expands my ability to have love and compassion in my heart in the midst of such sorrow.

Peace to you.
posted by strelitzia at 2:46 PM on September 25, 2013


i think it would be good to go simply because he was your friend. i do think you may likely regret it if you don't go. it's okay to be angry that he took his life, but suffering from major depression isn't as simple as you are making it out to be. i've lost several friends to suicide and have felt that depressed myself. there are not always easy answers and treatment doesn't always work.
posted by wildflower at 2:52 PM on September 25, 2013


In the immortal words of the Butthole Surfers, it's better to regret something you have done, than something you haven't done. Go, and leave if you have to.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:23 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Go and be present with any feelings you have of anger while there.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:39 PM on September 25, 2013


Thanks all. I am considering everything I'm reading here.

I want to add a couple of minor points. One: there is zero chance of my behaving badly if I go. Two: I am angry with him for apparently letting no one at all know that he was suffering from any emotional turmoil in any way, and instead doing so in complete silence up until the day he blew his brains out. His death, though very upsetting, didn't hurt me as much as it must have hurt his many dear friends and family. We had many, many mutual friends, and no one has reported anything than complete, out of the blue shock, family included.

Typing that out, I realize that I seem to be angry on their behalf, which I can see doesn't make much sense. It is more just a sense that he behaved very cruelly, and I'm having a tough time wanting to pay respects to someone who would do such a thing.

So...I guess I gotta go, if for no other reason than to try to find something, anything that will help me forgive him a little bit. Some excuse, something I didn't know about.

Uuuuggggghhhhhh.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 3:51 PM on September 25, 2013


One thought that might help you through the memorial: rather than framing his suicide as a selfish, cruel act, ponder the probability that he kept himself going as long as he did out of kindness to others, and no doubt at great pain to himself. He kept it together as long as he could, as best he could.

It's not a matter of forgiveness -- it's not your job to absolve him of anything. It's simply fair-minded and rational to acknowledge that he did the best he could with what he had to work with (as you yourself are doing).
posted by nacho fries at 4:02 PM on September 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


I guess I gotta go, if for no other reason than to try to find something, anything that will help me forgive him a little bit. Some excuse, something I didn't know about.

I'm so sorry you're hurting so much. I wonder if it might help if you try to stop essentially imposing certain emotional tasks on yourself right now -- framing it like "I've got to figure out how to forgive him" or or "I should feel something else" or "I need to go to find an answer" puts a lot of pressure on yourself to make sense out of something that is, at its heart, senseless, while at the same time denying where you're really at. So if you go, just go to honor his life. Just go to be present with others who are hurting. That's it. That's all you have to do right now. Realistically, it's probably all you can do right now.

It's perfectly OK to be present with your anger. Period, full stop. What's happened is a terrible thing. It's caused enormous pain. Its ripples will be felt by some people for the rest of their lives. Of course you're pissed off. You will have different feelings (and different insights and realizations) in the weeks and months and years to come. But leave those feelings and insights to the future. Be gentle and present with yourself and your colleagues and friends right now.

My best to you.
posted by scody at 4:06 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am angry with him for apparently letting no one at all know that he was suffering from any emotional turmoil in any way, and instead doing so in complete silence up until the day he blew his brains out.

This is, sadly, often the case. My lifelong best friend killed himself in 2008, and while I knew he'd always suffered from depression, he didn't let me know he was feeling that badly (and I had helped him through this before, he was someone I lived with for years, we were as close as twins, and if he could have told anyone, he would have told me).

Depression is a terminal illness for some people, but unlike most other terminal illnesses, it often manifests as something which robs you of the ability to seek help and treatment for it. For some people, depression is fatal, and they are completely incapable of seeking treatment for it. Period.

I have never experienced anything as painful as my best friend's death, I am still so angry that he deleted himself from my life, I still think of him every day and miss him, actively, but I respect and understand that he euthanized himself, just as I would respect and understand that from anyone else suffering from an unbearable and incurable disease. The only difference is that so many people simply don't understand depression the way they understand cancer or heart disease or ALS. Your friend in all likelihood just wasn't able to seek help for his depression, because of the depression.

Forgive your friend, and go to the service, and please try to understand that this wasn't about you, or anyone else, or even about your friend, it was about stopping something that was unbearable and which your friend likely felt had no appreciable chance of ending any other way.

I am sorry for your loss, remember to be kind to yourself, you are likely reacting this way at least partly out of shock.
posted by biscotti at 4:07 PM on September 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can understand your emotions. I still agree that you should go.

I would be angry on his family's behalf, too. I know that I would be terribly angry if a family member killed themselves. I've considered that in the past about suicides "how could he, knowing how it would make everyone who loves him feel?"

As a person who has never experienced depression, asking that question helped me realize how truly painful depression must be, when a caring and compassionate person feels that their only option is to take their own life, and that overpowers what must also be a strong desire not to hurt their friends and family.

Thinking that question also lead me to another thought - is it really my place to tell someone else that they ought to continue a life of suffering so that I don't have to suffer?
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:15 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I haven't read the other replies, but your "lens" is foggy. Blame cannot be apportioned here. When you're in and out of a depressed state it's very difficult to rationalise. Depression is also really really private, there is a stigma attached.

Go/don't go if you want to, and I get that you're angry about this - but don't apportion blame.
posted by mattoxic at 4:20 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


It is more just a sense that he behaved very cruelly, and I'm having a tough time wanting to pay respects to someone who would do such a thing.

Then you probably shouldn't go. Funerals and memorials are for the living, and those on whose behalf you profess to be so indignant would likely not benefit from being exposed to that anger, however much you attempt to stifle it. This person suffered profoundly, whether he talked to his colleagues about it (?!) or not. If you can be there to share compassion for him and for his loved ones, then go. If not, don't go.
posted by headnsouth at 5:27 PM on September 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


People who get treatment for depression (like SSRIs) are often more, not less, likely to commit suicide. He may have gotten treatment. You'll never know. Also, you don't what demons he was battling. Go.
posted by bananafish at 5:34 PM on September 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


So...I guess I gotta go, if for no other reason than to try to find something, anything that will help me forgive him a little bit. Some excuse, something I didn't know about.

I don't know if this will help or hurt, but depressed people who consider suicide often believe it will be a favor to their loved ones because it will remove the "burden" of having to deal with them and their illness.

Despite the fact that you don't have a mental illness, you are emotionally upset enough to need to be talked into doing the right thing (going to your friend's memorial service.) Please try to consider how much more difficult it might have been for your friend to reach out for help.
posted by lalex at 5:47 PM on September 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


It does seem cruel, doesn't it? As if your friend ignored all of the love and affection and help that was extended to him, just waiting for him, had he just reached out and connected. Now all of you have to come together to grieve, and mourn his decision- his death - a terrible way to spend a day.

But the thing is, I don't think your friend was trying to be cruel. He wasn't trying to be selfish. Depressed people's motivations around suicide aren't to hurt others - it is to stop their own pain, their own misery. They are like starving people who eat and eat, and absorb no nutrients, and so they starve. Depressed people can be surrounded by love, lavished with it, and feel nothing, or feel grief, and wonder why they don't feel joy. It is a frightening feeling, and a hopeless one. And no creature can live without hope.

Be angry at the still somewhat what inexplicable shit that goes on in someone's mind that tricks them into not being able to see or feel the love and support that surrounds them. Grieve that your friend was one of the people caught in this trap.

That doesn't mean you need to go to the funeral. Personally, I think you could just as honorably go to your favorite restaurant, have a wonderful meal, and secretly buy the lunch of someone else sitting at the next booth in their honor. "Tell them carl bought it, just as a good deed. Pay it forward one day". Or go to dinner with a friend just to talk about your friend, and what you liked about him. There are many perfect ways to honor our imperfect friends and our feelings. Whatever feels right to you, do. I think your friend would understand, and not want you to agonize over it. In the end, I think we all wish the best for those we consider our friends, even when we aren't healthy, or can't take care of ourselves.
posted by anitanita at 6:54 PM on September 25, 2013


[Folks answers sort of have to answer the main question or please MeMail them to the OP]
posted by jessamyn at 8:05 PM on September 25, 2013


I think it's cruel to expect someone with a "terminal condition," who was apparently living in anguish, to stay alive so other people don't feel bad about his death. Go to the memorial.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 8:05 PM on September 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


I've come to understand blame as a way to protect myself from the anguish of regret. Being around others feeling similar emotions would make it easier for me to let down my guard and become open to my own sorrow. I hope you went. Best wishes.
posted by macinchik at 10:30 PM on September 25, 2013


I'm sorry, I have not read the other answers but my husband committed suicide last year. It came as a terrible shock to his mates (less so to me and his family) and many of them were angry and at first threatened to boycott the funeral.

This hurt me deeply.

However, on the day EVERYONE came. His ex-wife, friends of his parents, long lost friends. It was such a comfort to me to know that he had a decent life with lots of family and friends around, and helped to remind me that he chose this end and it wasn't my fault.

Please go, to show solidarity for the ones left behind. And it does help to chat to people who probably feel the same as you.

I hope this helps.
posted by Youremyworld at 12:12 AM on September 26, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't want to go to his memorial. I want to go home, sit zazen and spend time with my kids.

Don't go. He is dead, you are alive. Enjoy it.

Also, no need to surround yourself with people who are going to make you feel bad/sad for not going. You have no obligation to the deceased or anyone there.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:19 AM on September 26, 2013


We weren't terribly close, but we were friends, and we worked together daily for almost 10 years. He wasn't the most chipper guy in the world, but no one–no one–in his large circle of friends and family had any idea that he was thinking about offing himself. The lens I'm seeing things through today is like this: if depression is a disease, this is a person with a terminal cancondition who knowingly didn't do anything about it, refused to seek treatment, and kept it a secret from the people closest to him until it finally, unexpectedly (to us) killed him.

If you "weren't terribly close," then how do you know any of that stuff? These conclusions don't make sense if he was just a coworker. I'd even question it if you were close friends. I'm not saying to go or not go, but many of your stated reasons for not wanting to go don't make sense.
posted by John Cohen at 4:04 AM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't know if this helps, but the only funerals and memorial services I've regretted were the ones I didn't attend.

I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by Punctual at 6:19 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am angry with him for apparently letting no one at all know that he was suffering from any emotional turmoil in any way, and instead doing so in complete silence up until the day he blew his brains out.

I have been depressed, and several people I know have been depressed, and I haven't ever talked to anyone who hasn't been through a long period where they thought that, unlike everyone else who suffered from depression, they didn't have real problems and didn't deserve to be helped. I spent a very long time trying desperately to keep the pain I was going through a secret from everyone around me, because I wanted to protect them from it. Every time I asked for help - and it was only a handful of times, really - I felt like the worst person in the world for making my personal weakness into somebody else's problem. I thought I had a responsibility to keep my pain from becoming their pain. Every so often, I still have the thought: maybe, as I've always suspected, I suffer not from depression but from a deep and poisonous metaphysical evil which will contaminate anyone I speak to. I know to fight those thoughts now, but only because I eventually found a way out of the wasp bottle. If I hadn't, I wouldn't be here, and most of the people who knew me would have been just as baffled, and maybe even just as angry, as you.

I am describing this not to make you feel bad for feeling angry, but to open up that window through your anger that you seem to be seeking.

Typing that out, I realize that I seem to be angry on their behalf, which I can see doesn't make much sense.

Sometimes when people are grieving, they feel various things that don't make much sense. Please be gentle with yourself and with the people around you.
posted by Acheman at 7:10 AM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have been depressed. Not suicidal exactly, but I thought about what it would entail. A lot. Probably, you would have described me the same way you've described the deceased.

I'll tell you what: you should stay home. You're really only thinking about yourself here and that's not what you're supposed to do at a funeral, especially the funeral of a "friend." If it were me in the box -- and I wasn't, you know, oblivious -- your presence would be a burden and an embarrassment. You haven't even bothered to speak about this "friend" respectfully. He "wasn't the most chipper?" He "offed himself?" Really?

I think you should take some time to think about what it means to have empathy, and try to understand that some people live through unfathomable pain that appears to have no cause, no physical symptoms and no easy remedy. None of this makes it any less real, and if it's hard for you to wrap your head around it, try to imagine what it's like to actually suffer through it yourself. Actually, no, don't use your imagination, do some actual investigation. That is, if you care.

While you're at home with your children, think long and hard about how you will feel and what you will do if one of them becomes mentally ill. Maybe you'll have some kind of epiphany. If that happens, by all means go. Otherwise, forget about it.
posted by klanawa at 8:04 PM on September 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


we worked together daily for almost 10 years.

Go; regardless of what killed him, the fact that his family is having a memorial means they're moving beyond the issue of his mental state and death into remembering him for the years they had together.

And that's what you need to do.

People all around you have deep emotional problems that you don't know about. Sometimes those things become overwhelming - and you still don't know about them. Not everything we are is on display to the world.

Go to the service and focus everywhere except upon his death - and by all means, leave yourself out of it. He didn't die to annoy you.
posted by aryma at 9:14 PM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is so okay to be incredibly angry with him and be at the funeral.

My uncle committed suicide. He drove full-speed into the river I love most in the world and I hate it that he tainted such a beautiful thing. He was my favourite uncle and he made it impossible for me to introduce him to the man who became my husband. How dare he take that from me? (Do you see the love in this?) My father took a trucking job not long after that, partially because it gave him many hours every week to be alone in his truck where he could yell at God, yell at his brother, yell at everyone, his anger like fire. This wasn't part of the deal they had as brothers. He wasn't supposed to leave on purpose.

Here's what happened at the funeral:

We shared so many stories about him, stories of pranks he pulled and his horrible puns. Stories of the way he cared for us, his unmatched cheapness, his talents, his favourite foods, his games with his grandchildren.

Stories of his final weeks. Of his wife asking him if he was suicidal, and his surprise that she knew and his determination to buckle down and try to deal with it himself. How my cousin's husband was the first paramedic on the scene. Details of what they found. That his daughter had seen his car 15 minutes before he must have done it, and decided not to stop to say hi because she would be late for work and surely she would talk to him later that day anyway. What if… what if. How dare he.

There was a brief window, maybe 2 weeks, where my staunch don't-air-dirty-laundry family actually talked about mental health. Where we were allowed to mention his suicide as a suicide, where we were allowed to be publicly raw and angry and hurt and heartbroken. Where we let the other mental health skeletons out of the closet. We stood together, angry and hurt.

That time is long over now, and we are each alone with our continuing grief in all its varieties.

So I would go. Now is your chance.
posted by heatherann at 9:11 AM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


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