I wish you wouldn't have done that
January 13, 2012 2:27 AM   Subscribe

The love of my life killed herself last July. Months later I still don't know what to do.

(NOTE: Please don't talk to me about therapy. I've been in and out of goddamn therapy since 4th grade and I can't afford it now in the first place. No, seriously, I really can't. If I could be in therapy right now, I would be but it is absolutely not an option right now. Seriously.)

I think I need to admit that it's been freefall since midsummer, that I've had a murky idea at best of the point in living for months and months now. When 2009 became 2010 I thought I'd been in love before but then I met Corinne, who was broken as I was but also beautiful and amazing and possessed of a poetic vision gift that an English major like myself comes to believe will occur only once in a very fortunate generation. We had something brief and unbelievably intense that neither one of us could define or walk away from. Every attempt we made to make it work failed and for a long time that didn't stop us trying, but in time it became too painful to keep smashing into the mountain. I told her I loved her too much to be in her life halfway anymore, that I had to walk away.

Almost a year later. she made contact with me, asked if we could be in each other's lives again. I said yes, said I wanted to catch up and maybe hang out again, but reserved the right to back out if it proved to be a bad idea. We talked a little but I was still so raw from how much it hurt to give up on loving her so I was cautious about being in too much contact with her and kinda hung back, even though she told me that she was in the depths of despair and couldn't hear music or taste food anymore. A week after that exchange, her brother called me up and said she had taken her own life, that he was sure she would have wanted me to know.

I've been off ever since. I'm not sure what the route to Normal Again is even gonna look like but it's really breaking me down to be out here like this, Lonely and not even sure what Not Loney could possibly look like when the woman I loved like none other is gone forever no matter what I do. So I'm calling on AskMe because I'm literally not sure what the hell I should do, what to do next, how to love or hope or want for anything when a woman more amazing than I ever could have dared to hope for entered my life for just a little while then went away forever. Did you endure something like this? Did you move past it? Where did you start? I haven't the slightest goddamn clue where to even start.

My life has been hovering in a holding pattern ever since Corinne killed herself. There's no way to explain to you how much I loved her, how much she meant to me -- you're just gonna hafta take my word for it. What I need to know is how you keep living when someone worlds more amazing than anything you'd ever thought of living for is gone forever. I feel like such scum for not getting over my selfish, petty hurt when she reached out to me last summer, when she told me she didn't see the point in living and I told her I needed to think about what we were gonna be to each other if we couldn't be lovers. I feel like such scum for being so selfish, like I could have saved her if I'd been less cowardly. I know this is folly but in the small hours of the night, logic does nothing to drive these thoughts away. And on nights like this, nights where all the amazing opportunity in my life and wonderful friends I've got around me should be sending me to bed content and joyful, how Corinne is missing it all and how desperate I am to hold her tonight is still about all I can think of.

And I'm so lonely now and I feel like such a piece of shit for not wanting to be lonely, for wanting to be with someone else and every now and then it kills me all over again to recall that she reached out to me this summer, desperate and I couldn't hear what she was trying to tell me. Nothing I ever do will ever change how I failed her, no matter what.

I don't know if I can have a future with this in my past. I don't know what the hell I should do. I haven't even the slightest goddamn clue. Do you?
posted by EatTheWeek to Human Relations (34 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so very sorry.

I haven't been that far down the dark path, but I have lost very beautiful love. There won't be another like her - but there will be people in the future that are completely and incomparably amazing, that you in your maturity will be able to even better appreciate and connect with. You can't understand how the world can make it up to you, but it will. You'll see.

I haven't been that far down the dark path, but I do know that when nothing else helps, then helping others will make me feel better. Give and thou shalt receive, says an old, oft-misunderstood book. Maybe at some point you'll be able to work for charity or something like that.
posted by krilli at 2:36 AM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

How heartbreaking. I do not have any good advice, but just wanted to say that I am very sorry for your loss. From your story it seems that it's been 6 months (maybe a bit less) since she passed. That is not a long time for a loss like this. Please do not beat yourself up because you are still grieving, and please please do not blame yourself. She died of depression---a disease---not because of you. My condolences again, and please take care of yourself.
posted by sesquipedalian at 2:47 AM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


You did everything you could. Everything.
posted by tel3path at 2:53 AM on January 13, 2012 [26 favorites]

I am so, so sorry for your loss.

My boyfriend died suddenly in November 2005. The grief and shock I felt on learning of his death is something I hope I never experience again. For a long, long time after he died I kept my life very small - work, home, work, home, barely any social life apart from having dinner with friends from time to time.

There were times when I was so stricken with grief I'd just lose it - I remember shoppers backing away from me in John Lewis with horrified looks on their faces when I began bawling and howling. I cried myself to sleep night after night. I wanted him, but he was gone, and I felt so lonely and so guilty for not wanting to be lonely but knowing I couldn't have him and that if I found someone else it couldn't be him.

So, what I'm trying to say is that, based on my experience, what you're feeling is understandable and natural and, above all, not wrong.

Bit by bit I started to go back out into the world again, stepping a little further out of my comfort zone each time. It took a while for me to feel well enough to date, nearly two years from G's death, and now over six years on, I still consider him to be the love of my life, but I am open to a new love coming along one day. But I also have a very full life outside of 'not having a boyfriend' - doing things I enjoy, hanging out with good people who accept me and love me for who I am, helping myself be as mentally and physically healthy as I can be.

You are not scum, you are hurting, but this isn't like a visible wound that everyone can see, it's a jagged raw lump ripped from your heart. Please be kind to yourself. For me the route to Normal Again was baby steps, one at a time.
posted by essexjan at 2:59 AM on January 13, 2012 [43 favorites]

First off, I'm so sorry for your loss and I can't begin to imagine how painful this must be for you. I hope that whatever responses you get here go some way towards helping you start getting yourself better.

One caveat before I start: I'm going to guess that much of what I'm about to say is stuff that you've already thought about/considered/expected.

1) Don't blame yourself. Nothing you did (or didn't do) led to Corinne killing herself, and nothing you could have done would have stopped her. Down that way madness lies, but you have to accept that you can't be responsible for another adult's actions, no matter how attractive that proposition might be. Blaming yourself doesn't change things, and I suspect you'll likely stay in this state as long as you believe that her death was something you could have prevented.

2) I don't imagine that you'll ever truly 'get over it', but I think that you can go some way to 'accepting it', two quite different things I suppose. As trite as it is, you had the chance to have Corinne involved in your life, and that in itself is a wonderful thing. You shared something special, but brief, and while it's painful to know that you'll never have that again, one way of thinking about it is at least you had the chance to experience it. Cherish those memories.

3) As difficult as it might be (and perhaps in contradiction to point 2), I think that you have to start thinking about taking Corinne off the pedestal (so to speak). She sounds like a wonderful person with whom you had an amazing, life-changing time, but grief can sometimes force us to remember all the good times at the expense of the 'bad' times, thus biasing our account and making it more difficult to move on with our lives. It might feel like 'sullying her memory', but putting someone on a pedestal is never healthy (IMO) and making Corinne 'human' again might go some way towards helping you reframe the relationship you had with her. It sounds like it was a very intense period in your life, and intensity is infatuating but also destructive. Your relationship, for whatever reason, didn't work out the way you both might have wanted it to, so there were obviously aspects of the relationship which weren't 'amazing' (re: your 'smashing against the mountain' comment). Confronting this might help you develop a healthier orientation towards Corinne's memory.

4) You're not going to be 'normal' again. Something like this changes you as a person, and you're going to have to accept that this is something you're going to have to carry with you. Again, you need to make peace with this and rather than thinking about 'how can I get back to how I was?', thinking about 'how can I move forward?'. You're getting there with asking this question, and I'm sure that you'll get more advice from people who have been through this.

5) You're not a bad person for not wanting to be lonely, not even close. You can have a future and you're working towards building that. As hard as it is for us to accept when people close to us pass, life does still go on and we have to do what we can to keep on going.

6) I know you said 'no' to therapy, but have you considered grief counseling as an alternative? It would deal directly with the issues you've raised without necessarily putting a 'therapy' slant on it. I'm sure there will be lots of resources in your city.

Again, I'm so sorry for your loss and I hope you find the answers you're looking for.
posted by Scottie_Bob at 2:59 AM on January 13, 2012 [12 favorites]

I am so sorry for your loss.

I came here to further sesquipedalian's comment: Depression is A Disease. I recommend reminding yourself of this in a quiet but firm voice every time you tell yourself that it's partly your fault, that you're "scum" for not helping more, that you should feel guilty.

Picture her having some other kind of potentially fatal disease (apologies for the morbidity of this request), and ask yourself if you would have felt differently in that situation - my guess is that you would. If someone is sick, whether physically or mentally, it is their responsibility to seek medical help and unfortunately she seems to have just left it too late, or did not receive that help in time, which is so so sad, but not your fault. Sure, the people around them are responsible for encouraging them to do so and helping them do it if possible, but you are not her mentor, or her guardian.

Finally, remember that the death of someone in our life always focuses our emotions toward them intensely. If a friend dies, we think of how much we liked them but never said so, how we would have wished we spent more time with them or took more trouble with them. If a family member dies, we suddenly realise everything they did for us and how much they may have cared about us. Your love for her has been focused into a sharp, painful point that is piercing but will not kill you. Were she still here, I believe from the history you have given us that it would remain but recede gradually, one of those scars that never leaves the heart, but not the love of your life. We all have them, and they still give us the familiar shivers and pangs, however happy we may become with someone else. Yours has been painfully focused in this way, but will not always be. Time and love will help to release this pressure on you, sooner rather than later I hope.
posted by greenish at 3:06 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

It seems to me that you need to grieve or to finish grieving.

Maybe just the act of something as simple as lighting a candle, saying a thank you out loud for the light she brought into your life, saying how much you miss her and blowing out the candle.

Trust me, I don't suggest this lightly.
posted by plinth at 3:13 AM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm very sorry for your loss. Why don't you try to find a support group for survivors of suicide? There are online groups that may be able to direct you to an in-person group. Local hospitals or a suicide hotline may be able to direct you to one as well.
posted by unannihilated at 4:05 AM on January 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

This book helped me immensely through several difficult times in my life. Maybe it will do the same for you? I'm sad that this happened to you and hold you in my heart.
posted by motsque at 4:19 AM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

You need support. Here is some info on grief support groups in your area - I think they are free. http://www.providence.org/swsa/facilities/soundhomecare/hospice/e25support.htm.
posted by yarly at 4:24 AM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]

Therapy is off the table, but what about a support group? There are groups for survivors of suicide victims, and though your relationship with Corinne was in flux when she took her life, it still affects you deeply, and I'm pretty sure that a group would understand.

I think it's important for you to hear others' stories, and to understand that a lot of people in similar situations have similar feelings. I also think connecting with other people is very important right now.

If that's too intense, then any group of people who can be around you, keep you talking, and keep you engaged in person is going to be important. Surround yourself with folks who have some interest in your emotional and physical well-being...and I don't mean online. People who can see you and check in on you and figure out how you're feeling even if you don't tell them. That's what I think you need right now.

I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by xingcat at 4:27 AM on January 13, 2012 [5 favorites]

You have my deepest sympathy.
Do not feel guilty about wanting to be "normal", happy, and connected to others -
that is what she would have wanted for you.
posted by Flood at 4:53 AM on January 13, 2012

I am so sorry. Maybe some resources on this page are helpful for you.
posted by davar at 5:05 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

You say that the only reason you are not in therapy is that you cannot afford it. Please consider this free resource.
posted by prefpara at 5:23 AM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Did you endure something like this? Did you move past it? Where did you start? I haven't the slightest goddamn clue where to even start.

I don't know if I can have a future with this in my past. I don't know what the hell I should do. I haven't even the slightest goddamn clue. Do you?

You should be in what I call low key survival mode at this point. No big plans about your future, nothing concrete. Your tasks are to stay alive and stay reasonably health and sane. Anything else is probably impossible for you or anyone else at this point. That's completely and utterly normal.

It's trite and cliched, but take each day at a time. Your biggest goals for the day should be to get a shower, get something to eat, get a few sun rays and interact with humanity*. The last one is the biggie, in my opinion. Even if you're just sitting in rinky dink diner, having a few words with the waitress can be. The point here is to have a reminder that you're not alone. It won't completely fill the void, but a recognition that life continues and goes on, especially in mudane ways, can be helpful

I'm sorry you're going through this pain, experiencing this hurt. It's not fair or right, it doesn't match up to anyone's expectations of the curves life can throw you. But here you are and that's alright, you're not alone and you can get through this.

Definitely look into those support groups mentioned up above and the free therapy option. If you need help exploring or getting to those options, please say so in this thread. More than likely MeFites can help out, in some way. You are not alone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:43 AM on January 13, 2012 [11 favorites]

Have you considered going to church, or synagogue, or the mosque? Religion is all about dealing with death. And a priest, a minister, a rabbi, an imam, will give you spiritual guidance for free.

Also, have you considered volunteering? In grief we get very into our own pain. Sometimes it helps to get out of your own pain. And if you can make the world a little bit better by helping other people, it can give you something positive to look at. Also, the people who volunteer by your side are the kind of people you need around you right now.
posted by musofire at 5:53 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Coming from a different kind of grief (my grandmother was murdered by my grandfather when I was 12), all I can tell you is that it will take a long time to find a place to put it in your mind; to not think about it daily any more. You will relive it for a long time.

No amount of therapy will help you get over it. Therapy will help you with the day-to-day, but it will not fill the hole left in your heart. It will be with you forever. It is part of you. It will be a defining moment of your life. It took me years to grasp this crushing finality and find a place to put it in my mind.

You are approximately a year out from the loss of Corinne and the first few years are hard. It doesn't make any sense, it's not fair, but you did everything you could. Don't beat yourself up and call yourself selfish for what you could of done; it couldn't be helped. Again, my grief is different from yours, but we have both lost someone very dear to us in the worst way possible.

I am now coming up on 16 years after The Worst Day Of My Life, but it does get better. I promise. Please believe me. I don't know where you are, but I am hugging you as hard as I can.

It will take a long time to find a place to put it in your mind.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 5:57 AM on January 13, 2012 [7 favorites]

You've described your relationship with her in the most absolutely pure and romantic way possible - like you and her experienced the pinnacle of love. You might want to try and stop thinking this way. Yes you loved her and she loved you, but if you start trying to accept that not only was it not the platonic ideal of love, but that it was in fact a conflicted failed relationship, you may be able to start working towards healing. Of course it makes sense to feel grief for her, but it sounds like perhaps you're also grieving for this 'ideal relationship' that you've lost and 'may never experience again', and its just not true - you will meet someone again, and you will fall in love, and you won't fight all the time, and being with them won't be painful and hard, and you will realize that Corinne was someone you loved but was not this ideal one of a kind woman and is not the singular thing or person that can make you happy. Putting the person you're grieving on a pedestal is probably making the grieving worse.

In other words: grieve her as an individual, not as the platonic ideal of loveliness, and you may find it easier to work through the grief process.
posted by Kololo at 6:17 AM on January 13, 2012 [15 favorites]

I don't have anything to add that hasn't already been said, but I wanted to say too that I am sorry for your loss. I had a close friend take his life a few years ago and -- it does change you. It's never the same afterward.

You don't have to do anything. If activity helps you feel better -- rock climbing or sorting food in a soup kitchen or painting a landscape -- then you are free to do those things. You are still alive, and you are allowed to continue living into the future: you do not have to remain the person that you were with her -- you can have your memories and have a future as well.

I also want to suggest -- gently, and I hope without giving offense -- that your beautiful friend did something that was ultimately kind of selfish to you and to her family and to anyone who loved her. She was in tremendous pain when she did it, but it was still a thing that hurt a lot of people who cared about her. It hurt you.

And -- if you need to -- it is okay for you to feel angry at her for doing this. You can be angry and still love her. I'm angry at my friend: to this day I'm angry. I feel like he had no business not being there at his sister's wedding. I feel like he had no business making his mother cry like that, every day for months and months. Do I love him? Yes. Do I even, kind of, understand the impulse to do what he did? Yes. But also, I'm angry at him for doing it.

Time is the only thing that can help you, but you can also refuse time's help by trying to stay where you were when this awful thing happened. You can undermine your own growth by not letting yourself feel the feelings that are coming up next. Maybe those feelings are scary, maybe you don't want to be angry at her, or maybe you don't want to feel okay because she's not there to feel okay with you. Maybe you don't want to feel happy or in-the-moment even though your body might be ready to start trying those feelings out again.

Do what feels right to you. If you need to cry, cry. If you need to move, get up and move. If you need to laugh, laugh.

I am so, so sorry that this happened.
posted by gauche at 6:28 AM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

Did you endure something like this? Did you move past it? Where did you start? I haven't the slightest goddamn clue where to even start.

My brother committed suicide while I was stationed in Iraq, after he struggled with alcoholism and other issues for three or four years. When they told me he was dead, I wasn't surprised, because I saw it coming for a long time. In the short term, I had a father, mother and sister who had suffered the same loss, so at least we could grieve together. Even now, I haven't really moved past it (I'm not sure how you do that); I don't like to talk about it even with family, and I usually don't mention him to other people.

We found his journal after he died. The thing is, his grief and sadness weren't about me or the rest of the family. He didn't talk about us in this journal at all--I won't get into detail here, but he focused a lot more on the things that were painful in his life than the people who had nursed him through three years of depression and setbacks. It feels trite as I type this, but I think the reason why he killed himself was that he couldn't see past everything that was dysfunctional in his life and see that in a lot of ways he was an amazing person, and that people really loved and cared for him. The stuff that made his life suck obscured his vision to every one and everything else. All the support my parents gave him and all the good things that were happening in his life (straight As in college, steady job) just didn't seem to penetrate through these blinders that he had on.

That's the story I tell myself about him, anyway--I won't ever know whether I'm right or wrong. I was the younger sibling, and now I'm now older than he was when he died, so I've lost some of the he's-my-big-brother respect that I used to have for him, and I get angry because it all seems so stupid. He was in his early twenties and could have literally been or done anything. I have these moments where I see something that he would have liked, or his birthday comes around, and it kills me that he's ashes in an urn instead of a living person who could share this moment with me.

Time helps distance you from the pain. While I get really depressed about my brother's death, I'm also kind of resolved that I won't make the same mistake he did and let grief or pain blind me to the enormously good things that I have going on. It's like sitting down to a huge feast and starving yourself while you try to eat the silverware instead of the food. I really don't get it.
posted by _cave at 6:56 AM on January 13, 2012 [19 favorites]

You can bear witness to the beauty of her life. That is all that you can do. Also, I don't think she'd want you to be lonely, do you? Wouldn't she want you to be happy? So honor that -- of course you can't be now, but work towards it. It does get better, and I am speaking from experience, here.
posted by angrycat at 7:16 AM on January 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am so sorry for your loss.

My brothers best friend took his own life. My brother has spent the evening before with him and was the one to find him the next morning and like you he had a lot of thinking it was his fault. Luckily he lived in Australia so he was put onto free counselling by the local police who investigated.

It took him 18 months to fully grieve and get feel himself again and the one thing he said he clung to that the counseller explained to him was that "It was not his fault" and it's not your fault either.

He was also lucky in a sense that he knew that you can get through grief as he had done just that after our fathers death. You never forget a person but given time you can heal and carry on. The seven stages of grief idea works for some people, it never seemed to work like that in RL for my family, but some people find the idea something to cling to so it might be worth you reading up on that. Be kind to yourself allow yourself to grieve, 6 months is nothing honestly time is the best cure.

Remember you are grieving not just for her, but for the relationship you lost and for what might of been. Give yourself time. Some days will be worse, some better allow yourself to feel what you feel and move through it. Be kind to yourself, you have to go through this to get to the other side and what will happen is one day you'll find that you've been a little happy, you laughed at something, you didn't hurt for a little while and those days will start to happen more often and while the pain never goes it becomes easier to handle.
posted by wwax at 8:54 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is a tragic event that you CAN survive.

I respect that therapy is out of the question, so let me suggest that you search for a free grief support group, there's usually one in nearly every community.

When my son died, I felt much as you do, I could not imagine continuing on with the loss and feeling that pain, and I couldn't imagine it ever ending. Two things helped, one was finding out that a close professional contact had lost a child 7 years before. When she told me I just stared and her and said "How did you survive?", her response was simply it takes time, take care of yourself as you process through it. The other positive event was joining a grief support group that included folks with a new loss and folks who were ten years down the road.

You need to learn/see that people survive this, because, right now, you can't imagine that you can.

You also need to realize that the "what if" game is one you choose to play. I was "what if I had done this or that, and prevented his death" for a few years, and, honestly, I still go to that place once in a while and have to step back and acknowledge that the world and its events are much bigger than I am.

posted by HuronBob at 8:59 AM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

Hearing it probably doesn't make it feel any more emotionally true, but if course getting back together with her would not have healed her. There's an interview with DFW's wife Karen Green you might look up, just for the companionship.
posted by Adventurer at 9:57 AM on January 13, 2012

You are in a lot of pain and torment at the moment and I am so very sorry that you are feeling it. There's been a lot of very good and wise counsel upstream and I would reiterate that you are not the bad guy in any of this. People make choices about their lives (and deaths) that the vast majority of us will never be able to comprehend. Sometimes, though, those choices have a resonance in our own lives, and we are forced to contemplate the depths of someone else's despair, and that cannot help but have an effect.

You feel as if you let someone you cared about down - you didn't, you acted in all good faith with the information you had available and that's all any of us would have done in the same circumstances. You weren't to know this would come to pass, that this choice would be made. Any number of things, or combinations thereof, could have caused your friend to take the path she did - it could have been any thing at all or nothing at all that led her to that place.

You were actualy being placed in an impossible position - and it was (to this stranger at least) symptomatic of how distant and dark a place your friend must have been in that she couldn't see this - she sounded sensitive and intelligent, so if she'd been more like herself I can't believe she would have wanted you to suffer through her actions. It might help to forgive her - people we love and who love us don't want to hurt us and are sorry when they do.

I'm sure there are very many of us who play that awful "what if?" game (I know I do) - "what if I'd done / said / not done / not said X?" The thing is, it's just so much wasted energy because we just can't solve that puzzle. And we so desperately want to.

So we have to accommodate. Not accept - you don't really accept, or get over, the loss of a loved one. There will always be that missing aspect, that odd-shaped hole. What I have found is that at first your life twists out of shape to encompass the hurt and the loss and the sense of depair and responsibility (even where there is no responsibility). Then one day you will look up and another six months will have gone by. And you will still feel the hurt and the sadness, but it's somehow become malleable - it finds a corner and molds itself to you, rather than you having to struggle to contain it. And then over time you just build it into your world view and (to use a huge cliche) you find yourself older and wiser - and yes, sadder and more bruised, but still standing.

I also didn't have therapy. I did however benefit somewhat from free bereavement counselling from a voluntary group attached to the local hospital. I had been caring for my father (it was Mom who died unexpectedly and hard) and my own grief was tangled up and blocked by his, so for me it helped that unblocking. Having a disinterested observer / listener helped.

I wish you all the very, very best on this difficult journey.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 10:58 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

It was not your fault. Really.

As I have discussed here before, my best friend committed suicide four years ago (next month). We had been best friends for more than 25 years, he was like my twin brother, and I will never have another friendship like that. Of course I knew he had depression, and of course I knew that February was his worst month, and of course I blamed myself for not trying harder than one call to get in touch with him when I knew he probably needed me to (I had been through his suicidal periods with him in the past). I blamed myself even though I knew it wasn't my fault. Maybe if I'd called him he'd still be alive. Yep, maybe he would. But what about the next time? And the one after that? Eventually you have to realize that you are not responsible for someone else's happiness, or for giving them the will to live if they have lost it and will not or cannot seek help for their illness. Depression really is a terminal illness for some people.

It sounds trite, but it really does get better, please believe that. Not a day goes by that I don't think about my best friend at least fleetingly, and while I can't say I have "gotten over it" (I probably never will), I have found a way to come to terms with it (most of the time), and you will find a way to come to terms with your loss, too. I miss him terribly, but my life has gone on, I laugh and cry and am busy and lazy and excited and bored and all the other things we all do as time goes by. Be nice to yourself, lean into the grief when the worst of it hits you (and it will for some time yet), but don't feel that it has to be your 24/7 full-time job (although it will be for a little while). You are allowed to think about other things, that is part of how your mind will start to cope. I felt almost guilty at first when I realized I wasn't mourning but was thinking about something else, but that was healing happening.

It was not your fault, you will get through this. One day at a time like the AA folks say. Be nice to yourself. Feel free to MeMail me if you want to.
posted by biscotti at 11:50 AM on January 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

EattheWeak, dear, I am so very sorry for your loss. Please consider joining a grief support group, if there's one available to you.

Also, it very frequently happens that people who are about to take their own lives contact the people with whom they feel they have unfinished business. This is not generally a cry for help, but a farewell, and chasing yourself about how you might have done things differently is just a recipe for sorrow. Jill Bialosky writes about a similar experience with her sister in History of a Suicide, as does Paula Kamen in Finding Iris Chang; I had a similar experience with a dear friend (and ex-sweetheart) as well.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:15 PM on January 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

My cousin shot himself, which is not at all the same thing, but it gives me a brief glimpse. I went through therapy after his death, and my therapist suggested writing a letter to him, on paper, expressing all the anger and regret and sorrow. At the end I forgave him. Of course, I didn't send it to anyone, in fact I destroyed it.

I'd write a letter to yourself, too, expressing the anger you feel towards yourself, the regret, and the loneliness. But end with forgiveness.

A year is not really that much time. I can't even imagine how long it would take to pull myself back together if my husband killed himself. Concentrate on the little things - brushing your teeth, taking a walk, making your bed. One foot in front of the other. Life and the will to live is an enormous gift.
posted by desjardins at 3:18 PM on January 13, 2012

Response by poster: You are all very kind people and I'm really glad you're here.

The thing was, when I found out I had a show a couple hours later and a whole cast counting on me so I had to shove this down and keep it there til the end of our run. But then there was always something else and something else again. And I must be honest, I was stone drunk last night. I wouldn't have posted this otherwise. When I remembered that I did, I felt bad - like I shouldn't have done it. I'm not sure why that was but the feeling has receded. I really want to thank you all for being so kind.

In a lot of ways, I've kind of been a mess since she died. I don't really think I noticed to what degree til today, I don't think I've really, I don't know, had a lot of clarity for awhile. I still don't know exactly what recovery will look like but the weight, it feels like it may have scooted some. In the abstract, I understand I couldn't have saved her. It's strange though, how I keep trying to whatif around that, to whatif around the wise and true things you have shared with me.

It may be true that I have romanticized her, yes. She was an amazing person but flawed, of course. I don't want to list them but of course I was aware. She was smart and she was funny and she had already gone through so. much. shit. in her life by the time we met. And yes, our relationship was flawed and volatile and at times very, very painful. I never could explain it to anyone not in it.

But there were also times like when we were out behind the bar we always went to, smoking with her friend. All night, she'd been making me laugh and she was so damn pretty I could hardly handle it. When her friend went inside I lingered even though I couldn't think of what to say. She laughed at me and said, "You're hoping I'll kiss you again, aren't you?" After she did, she said "stop being right about everything."

There was also the day she got her bike and arguing about books and helping each other in class and tea in the woods and tangled legs under tables and lots of other things that we got to share. Sometimes it stings to remember them - other times, not so much.

And it was as much circumstantial bullshit going on in our lives before we met that forced us apart as it was our incompatibilities. There's a lot of whatifs there too, believe me. It always seemed like we were just on the verge of really getting it together right. And even though I walked away, in the back of my mind I was always kind of hoping that things would change someday, that life would just get the fuck out of our way for once and we'd have the shot we deserved.

I always kinda thought we'd have a real shot someday.

I've got a lot of work to do, friends. I want to thank you again for helping me today.
posted by EatTheWeek at 4:09 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm so very sorry for your loss.

I lost my best friend to an illness a few years ago. What you describe feeling now is so very similar to how I felt. I felt that there would never be another friend like her, another girl like her, that she was flawless and invincible. She was everything to me. I failed a lot of classes, shot myself in the foot as far as college applications go, let a lot of things spiral downwards around me and could not even care. Because as far as I knew then, she was the most important and everything else in my life was menial. My mindset has since mellowed some, but she remains the most influential person of my life.

It took me a long, long time to climb back up. There were things she mentioned she always wanted to do (she was young, 15, had so many things yet undone...), things she devoted herself to. My biggest steps forward were when I decided to fulfill them in her honor. She was a frequent volunteer in hospitals and with HIV/AIDS support groups - So I moved to Malawi [semi-foolishly] to continue AIDS research for her. After Katrina, I did what I thought she would do and left to build homes in New Orleans. In retrospect, these were so much more beneficial to me than they probably were for the people I was trying to help. It seems more selfish than selfless now. But the idea of doing things for her, in her honor, helped me feel close to her, helped me feel purpose, and helped me to get up and begin to heal. If there is something similar that you can uphold and continue in her memory, it might help you forge a new connection to her.

On therapy: I've had some bad experiences with therapy too, so I was extremely against the idea of grief counseling. I ended up being forced to go by my school. I'm pretty sure I spent most sessions either sobbing or silent, and I feel like it was only beneficial after the rawness went away, but I also recognize that it probably also played a role in getting my bearings back. If you find resources that let you get free grief counseling, I would go. You don't have to mention your past or your psyche or whatever, they mostly focus on managing the right nows of grief. It might help, if not now then later on.

You have my thoughts and my best wishes.
posted by xiadagio at 6:15 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

I had the sense, this morning, and have it even more strongly now that you've written again, that a part of you is getting ready to move into the next phase of grief and of your life. It might not be your conscious self, though. I think that's why you wrote last night.

It took a lot of courage to write what you wrote. No less because your inhibitions were down. Please write again if you need to -- memail is fine, too.

Take care of yourself. What you're going through is hard stuff, and it can make you feel a little crazy or overwhelmed. Sometimes it's too much. So take care, go slowly, and give yourself whatever you need.
posted by gauche at 8:08 PM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

You're not scum, not a coward. You did nothing wrong. You could not have saved her.

You're not going to be ok for quite a while. Grieve, be kind to yourself, go one day at a time, survive. Something horrible happened to you. It will get less immediate and paralysing, even while remaining painful. The pain will persist longer than the shock.
posted by ead at 12:41 AM on January 14, 2012

On the page I linked earlier is a booklet that goes into the "what if" thoughts a bit. They mention two mothers whose child died of suicide. One mother had had her child involuntarily commited to a mental hospital, and kept thinking that that was what pushed her child over the edge and about what would have happened if she hadn't insisted on hospitalization. The other mother did not want to sent her child to the hospital against her will, because she worried that that might make matters worse. After the child died, of course, she kept thinking that she should have insisted on hospitalization anyway, if only the child would have been at the hospital, they would still be alive.
posted by davar at 5:37 AM on January 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

EatTheWeak, I'm so sorry. A friend of mine killed herself in November, so I have a hint of what you're dealing with.

You are absolutely not selfish scum. You wanted to be honest and realistic with her, not start up some messy thing again, not lead her on. It is so hard to separate from our first love. It sounds like you were doing a good job of trying to be clear, honest, and kind. That's all you can do.

One thing that helped me a lot was talking to her other friends and family. I learned (more) about her decades-long struggle with mental illness. I learned how many people had been reaching out to her. I realized her death wasn't due to some awkward sentence I said, nor something I didn't do, nor the details other friends were replaying. It wasn't about you being cautious about getting re-entangled with her. The death was because both Corinne and my friend had mental illnesses that suddenly turned fatal. (I guess we all die of something, right?) Suicidal depression can be a deadly illness, and the love and care of friends is just not enough to save someone, no matter how much we might have wanted to, no matter what we would have given or done if only we'd known...

Have you spent some time with her other friends or family? Hearing other people's memories made the loss feel both smaller and bigger. It made it less "my" loss and more the entire world's loss of a wonderful person. My pain itself didn't grow fainter, but the wonder of her and her life shone brighter, and the happiness of honoring that, and knowing I got to share in it, offset the pain a bit. Hope that doesn't sound cheesy in a fake way; it's just the best way I can put it. Is there someone else grieving her who might want to sit with you and share memories, or look at photos, or see the writings that you two exchanged? I know you two broke up, but it's quite possible her family will appreciate hearing from anyone who cared about her.

Writing her letters helped me a lot. I wrote many that boiled down to just, "why??" It let me stop asking myself questions I couldn't answer. I also read about and listened to songs about suicide. You might try Streetlight Manifesto, maybe starting with A Better Place, A Better Time. The singer is dealing with his limited ability to save a suicidal friend. Alejandro Escovedo was separated from his wife when she killed herself in 1991, leading to the albums Gravity (1992) and Thirteen Years (1993). The suicide survivors groups are a good idea, too. Here are resources for survivors of suicide. Get yourself some help, a sense that you're not alone, y'know? Breaking up with the love of your life is hard, having someone you know die is hard particularly when you're young, and making sense of suicide is hard. You have all three of those things going on at once.

Man, I'm sorry about this. And maybe cut out the drinking for a bit, and take care of yourself? Survivors of suicide are at greater risk themselves. Seeing you write sentences like "I've had a murky idea at best of the point in living for months" makes me worry. Take care of yourself and don't go it alone.
posted by slidell at 11:06 PM on January 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older I'm bored of potatoes.   |   How can I download these streaming archived shows? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.