How do I survive my fiancee's suicide?
August 27, 2017 8:45 AM   Subscribe

4 weeks ago today, my boyfriend, who I had planned to marry, took his life. I found his body first. I loved him more than I've ever loved anyone. My future was with him. His death has destroyed me emotionally, but it has also left me essentially homeless and destitute. How do I survive this?

I am trying to carry on for my family and friends, but I have some questions about how to try to survive this. Personal suggestions from anyone who has lost a partner or loved one to suicide. Book suggestions. Survival suggestions. (Is it awful of me to go online and beg friends and family for money?)

A month ago I was as happy as I could be. I was with a man I'd loved for a long time, who had loved me for a long time, but because of of the closeness of our families, timing and other things had been seeing each other casually for just the last 2 years, had gotten much closer in the last 6-12 months, and had moved in together in a fully committed relationship this April. In May I was laid off from my job but he said I could work with him, doing his business. He had an "interior plantscaping" business--installing and maintaining office plants--and asked that I do that with him instead of going back to work right away. I am ultimately extremely glad that I did because it allowed me to spend so much time with him this Summer, but he just paid for everything I needed--all my food, clothes, whatever I needed. We had planned to become official business partners, but then, we had planned a great many things that will never happen now. I have $3 in my bank account. My grandma sent me a couple hundred dollars and my dad just paid for a $200 prescription that will last me 2 months, but that's about as much as my family ca do right now.

4 weeks ago we had been staying at my mother's house. Her husband had made a suicide attempt of his own--more of a cry for help than anything--in and was in a mental hospital and I knew she didn't want to be alone, so we stayed with her for over a week.

When I met my boyfriend, I knew he used cocaine sometimes and drank. I have never been an "uppers" kind of person but I started doing coke with him sometimes. It would make him paranoid, particularly with regard to our relationship and his baseless concern that I might want to, or may have already, cheated on him. It also made him open up and talk a lot, which sometimes yielded some good things, sometimes not. He would often drink to "bring down" the high. I hate alcohol. I happen to think it's a very hard drug. I don't judge anyone for their vices or addictions, but alcohol would seem to deactivate his ability to feel empathy if he drank too much. (Ordinarily he had more empathy than most people--he felt too much sometimes.) I strongly discouraged it, and for the most part, he had stopped except for small amounts on social occasions.

Unfortunately, we found ourselves bored and wanting to get coke the Saturday night before he died, so we did. This ended up having disastrous consequences. He was obsessing about text messages I had deleted from a male friend (nothing that he shouldn't have seen, but when I deleted them I thought it best not to worry him at all in the first place). He became agitated and angry and left my mother's house. I followed in his car because mine was at his place. He lived on 22 acres with his mother. He had his own apartment above a greenhouse from a defunct family nursery business and he and his mom shared the home. He loved the property and so did I. I've known him and his family since I was 15 and have been very close with them. They have always come to my birthday parties, and we've done Christmas Eve with them every year for decades and so forth. His sister and mine are close friends. He and I had both thought it would be inappropriate to approach the other with romantic intent for a long time although the desire was there. Comically, he thought I was "out of his league" and I had thought the same of him. He often lamented that we didn't get together sooner, that we would only have a few short decades so spend the rest of our lives in. It was blissful finally being able to be with him. Honestly, the happiest time of my life was this summer. I've never loved anyone so dearly and in so many ways, or felt that love so deeply returned. I'm still wearing the ring he gave me and he wanted to propose to me "properly" but we only talked about being together forever, possibly having children (for the first time in my life I'd considered that I wanted to, with him).

I followed him home to his house to try to talk to him after he left my mom's house, but he was angry and so was I. I thought he was being ridiculous, not trusting me, and he was enraged that I hadn't managed to recover the deleted text messages to show him that nothing had gone on with me and dude who texted me and nothing ever would. (He wasn't ordinarily like that, but again, cocaine.) He had begun drinking. I tried to stop him, but he's a grown man. His mom had alcohol in the house and he could have gotten more, himself. My mother was stressed about getting her car back and he was being angry and dismissive, so I left and returned several hours later with my mom--to hopefully smooth things over and get my car back if he still needed time away from me. He had given no indication that he was thinking of killing himself. We had discussed suicide and he was adamantly against it, but drinking and being on cocaine, he was certainly not in his right mind. I never should have left him alone. His mother was there, but she didn't know what was going on besides the fact that we were fighting.

When I returned several hours later (excited because I had found a possible way to recover the text messages he was so worried about) I couldn't find him in either of his rooms. I asked his mom if she had seen him and she said she thought he was in his room taking a nap. I began to worry. 22 acres. We ran outside calling his name. I instinctively went to a deer blind that they had let hunters set up on their property. We used to climb up there and look out over the land and talk all the time. It was beautiful. It was our place. It was there that I found him. I prayed that he was still alive. We called 911 and his mother began chest compressions. We were both screaming his name, begging him to stay with us, but when the police and paramedics came they did very little except tell us that he was already long gone.

My poor mother had fallen, running to try to help, and broke her shoulder and foot, so after the coroner left we took my mom to the hospital. I was in quite a state. I kept saying that it was all over for me now, that there was nothing left. My mom and sister asked me to go inpatient and I agreed. I really just wanted to die. The truth is I still do, but I don't want to cause my family that pain. People tell me it gets better and I am trying to believe that. I am trying to get into therapy. I am trying. If I had found him like that alone, and been sure that he was dead, I would have followed behind him immediately. I've never loved anyone so much or so completely in my whole life (and I'm in my early 40s). I don't expect that I will again, and the thought of being with anyone else repulses me anyway. I love him. He is what I want. I know he'd take it back in a second now. He was angry and upset. I'm afraid he thought we were breaking up. I'm afraid he thought he had hurt me physically because I fell backward when he stood up while I was sitting on his lap, trying to reason with him before I left...

His mother blamed me. A woman I've known and loved since I was 15 years old. She probably still does. Hell, I blame myself. Most of my waking moments are spend thinking "what if" and "if only." It still hurts. When I came out of the hospital, I was hoping to be able to grieve with his family--his mom and his siblings who I have also known and been close with for decades--but I was excluded. His mother didn't want me there. My own mother lives in a large house and said I could stay with her. She and her husband and I were all released from the hospital at approximately the same time. I was and am destroyed, but at least I thought I'd have a safe haven in which to try to recover. To try to put the shattered pieces of my life back together. After 2.5 weeks, I guess my mom's husband (who has never been a "people person") began screaming that I had to leave. I have hardly eaten a thing since my fiancee's death. I wasn't gobbling up his food or leaving messes. I was caring for my mom and helping her bathe and giving her medication in the evenings. I was consciously avoiding him and trying to stay in my room most of the time. I could cry and write to my fiancee in my journal and look for counseling resources online, but he just went berserk. I don't know if it's a change in medication or just him being him, but he began screaming about how worthless I was and how I wasn't going to just sit around in his house while he foots the bill (this is a man who hasn't worked in over 3 years whose mother sends him over $4k/month to live off of). He said the most monstrously cruel things to me. Attacking me for how I've handled other romantic relationships I've had. Calling me worthless and a leach. It was insane. My mom thought she had him calmed down. I left the next day to spend time with my best girlfriend and he gave me $40 in gas money in exchange for the house key. I knew that wasn't a good sign, but my mom assured me that she'd let me in when I wanted to come home. I spent the night at my friend's house and the next day he refused to let me return. I feel awful for my mother (because she's still recovering from her injury) and because she really wants us to be together and he's making her choose. I'm also worried about her safety with him because I feel he is unstable and is consciously isolating her. I'm afraid he will hurt her but she doesn't seem concerned.
I'm incredibly lucky that my girlfriend is in a position to let me stay with her for a while, but being rejected by family at a time like this is extra painful. Being rejected by my fiancee's family was also painful--so many of his personal things were thrown in the garbage. I didn't want valuables, just things of sentimental value, but they clearly weren't thinking about my feelings...

I am trying to get a job, but I'm afraid of how well that will go given my inability to go more than a few hours without crying. I feel terrible all the time. I've been approved for Medicaid but can't even get an intake appointment until 9/11. I'm not ready to work, but I obviously need money so I am trying. My dad and sister are supportive but in no position to help me financially.

*One of my questions is: Will it be in really poor taste for me to create a GoFundMe account for myself to ask friends and other family members for money to get through this time until I'm working again? I don't want people to think I'm lazy or not trying. I am trying, but this is incredibly difficult.

*If you or anyone you know has ever been through this kind of loss, how have you coped? I'm interested in books suggestions or anything else.

*What kinds of things should I be trying to do right now that I'm not already doing? I have the therapy appointment coming up. I've been trying to get into suicide survivor groups. I am just a wreck. I can't stop seeing him the way he looked when I found him. I'm trying to reach out to as many friends and family members as I can but so few people understand this kind of loss...He and I hadn't spent more than hour apart in months, literally. He was my best friend, my lover, my partner. It seems very much like I am futureless now. I want nothing. I desire nothing. I feel utterly broken and don't know if I will ever heal.

I apologize for the length of this. That's another problem--I just don't know how to do this, who to talk to. I desperately want to talk about him and my girlfriend is good at letting me do that but she can't be the only one. Is there any advice on how I might try to reconcile with his mother? It hurts so much that she blames me. I didn't buy the coke. I'm a recovering opiate addict and had destroyed all of my contacts a year and a half ago. Maintaining my sobriety is important, too, but less so now to me than ever before. My life only has value to me right now because it has value to others and I have decided to "give it time" as others have suggested, but this is some bleak shit.

Any thoughts, suggestions, ideas on how I can help myself would be deeply and sincerely appreciated.
posted by apis mellifera to Human Relations (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I'm so sorry for your loss. You sound like you are in so much pain. Now is the time to reach out to as many people and supports as you can. Call your local crisis line, woman's shelter, church, get to 12 step meetings. Do it even if you don't believe it will help.
posted by SyraCarol at 9:02 AM on August 27, 2017 [7 favorites]

[It's totally fine to talk about the appropriateness and logistics of a fundraising campaign - it's not cool to talk about making pledges or actively fundraising *here*. The OP is totally welcome to link to one in her profile if/when one's ready to go. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:15 AM on August 27, 2017

You say you're "trying to carry on for your family and friends". However, it should be the other way around - your family and friends should be carrying YOU for a while right now. You have been hurt tremendously and you need to let yourself heal.

Please reach out to them. They love you and want to help.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:15 PM on August 27, 2017 [2 favorites]

I don't have experience with suicide, but my wife who was also my best friend died 3 months ago. I'm sorry you are going through this, I know it is agony. Here's what has helped me, everybody is different so take it all with salt:
- Try to remember that as bleak and dark as these early days are, there will be better days ahead. Take this as faith even and especially on the worst of days of which I have plenty.
- Be kind to yourself. Your fiancé doesn't and wouldn't blame you for this.
- For me, I try to avoid thinking of things that haunt me, such as her last weeks, until I choose to do so, when I know I have time to cry and mourn.
- I'm almost forty and none of my friends or family have been through this. Try to love them and forgive them when they try to help but just don't know what to say or do, or even if they aren't there for you.
- Look into Joan Didion's 'The Year of Magical Thinking' and CS Lewis's 'A Grief Observed'. Both helped me in different ways and the authors shed light on what we are going through without trying to offer advice like many of the other grief books. CS Lewis especially even if you are not religious.
- Visit Reddit's widows and widowers section- they are a great group to talk things over. Many a night just reading some posts has helped get me through.
- On the gofundme idea, have a good friend organize it in your place, and consider making it specific - i.e., money to help you move, or money to pay off death / funeral expenses of which there are many, I know.
- Go to bed tired. Nights are the worst for me, so I try to go running or do something tiring so that I'm genuinely exhausted. Try your hardest not to get sucked into drinking alone before bed. Been there, done that, just makes it all worse.
- I don't have specific advice on reconciling with his Mom, other than to give it time, and try not to blame her. Death pushes a lot of people into bad places. Maybe a letter that just says you miss her friendship and that you are there if she wants to talk. I don't know.
I'm sorry again you are going through this. Remember the good moments and that your fiancé loved you very much. Hang in there.
posted by machinecraig at 4:10 PM on August 27, 2017 [18 favorites]

What's your location?
posted by John Cohen at 4:37 PM on August 27, 2017

Thank you to everyone who has responded so far, especially machinecraig. I am so very sorry for your loss. Thank you very much for the suggestions. My best friend paid for and organized a simple memorial for him on the fly. His family almost didn't have one because of the shame attached to suicide, but my friend, bless her, knew I desperately wanted to be around other people who loved him and miss him as much as I do. His family has already done a fund raiser for for his cremation. And I don't have to pay rent, but I do have to pay for gas and a telephone (especially if I'm to get back to work or even to appointments) and some other bills. I don't need a lot, but I have been left with literally nothing in terms of money. My best friend can't cover EVERYTHING.

John Cohen, I am currently staying in Westland, MI--in Wayne County--but very close to Ann Arbor, where I've lived for many years, and also not too far from Detroit.

I have been trying to lean on my family as much as possible. Having my "step dad" throw me out has really sucked because I miss my mom. We talk and text over the phone, though. Sometimes I just feel so horrible I can't do things. Like, yesterday I managed to go to the Ren Fest with my best friend. I was sad, but I did it without bursting into tears until we started driving home, but today I couldn't get it together to drive an hour to my sister's house and back for dinner with her and my dad, which really sucks, because I love both of them. I just feel so bad and I don't want to be crying all through dinner, you know? I don't know which is better--staying home and crying by myself when I'm like this or forcing myself to go places even though I might break down and make people uncomfortable...
posted by apis mellifera at 4:58 PM on August 27, 2017

Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 and ask about survivors' groups in your area. They are wonderful.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 3:21 PM on August 28, 2017 [2 favorites]

Hello. I just wanted to provide an update and let folks who are interested know that I did go ahead and create a GoFundMe campaign. I posted to the link to my profile--if you click on "website" next to my username, it should take you there. Mods, if I have misunderstood and this is not appropriate, my apologies and please let me know. Thank you all so much. Every day is difficult, but I'm trying to make a go of it. Thank you again to everyone who has taken the time to respond and/or message me privately.
posted by apis mellifera at 9:59 AM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

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