I have blogged about my mom, but not much about my dad. I think I had a closer relationship with my mom. My dad was a quiet man, worked hard to provide for his family. And I loved him dearly.
He committed suicide back in 1996, Halloween to be exact. I can remember the phone call from my brother clearly. It was actually evening in Germany, earlier in the day back in the states. We were handing out candy to all the German and American Military trick or treaters. My oldest brother called and said "They found Buddy", and I knew what he meant, my dad had been very depressed since the death of my mother in 1995. All I could say was "I can't do this...I'm not done grieving mom yet". Of course that lasted all of a minute, and there wasn't anything I could do about it, and I couldn't "stop" the grieving for either one. It is life, things happen and I have learned from both my parents that you work through it and come out the other end.
Anyway this is not a blog post about how my dad died or much about the grieving process. I didn't have any guilt about his death, it was his choice. He knew I loved him, and he knew he was welcome to come stay with us, he knew where there was help, and I had even tried to get help for him. He was a fisherman and I think there is resistance there, fishermen don't need a "therapist", you just deal with your stuff. I was so sad, I did feel that my kids were robbed of a grandparent, both now, as my mom had did previously. But I worked through those feeling, and we do talk about both of my parents often in our household, so my boys do know how I was raised, what their grandparents were like, things like that.
But you know there is that social stigma attached to suicide. No one knows what to say to the family, although for me it was the same as when my mother crossed over, I was still grieving the same, for me suicide or an automobile accident, it didn't matter, the hurt was deep. But the community reacts so differently. The vast number of visit from friends and family, the food that filled the kitchen, was noticeably missing when my dad died. Not many visitors at all, no food to speak of. I don't think people know what to do or say. It is the thought that it is wrong, that he was doomed to hell for his action.
I hadn't really thought much about it. I live with the knowledge that we all make choices, and I do believe that only the individual can decide what is right for himself. None of us can judge that choice as we have not been in those shoes, have not lived that life. So I have always felt that it was my dad's choice. But now I am coming to a deeper understanding of his choice.
I really feel my dad did what was right for him, in that moment, given the tools he had. I do not judge him, I do not believe he is in hell, I don't believe in hell. I know that he is with my mom, in spirit, exactly where he wanted to be. But just breathing in that thought "my dad did what was right for him in that moment". To sit with that statement, and let it soak into my soul. It gives me a breath of air, a moment of new understanding and clarity.
I think mulling all of this over, I have a new/different perspective on suicide. Having been through this I do not shy away from family that have lost a loved one from suicide, I know the grief feels the same. And I do hope that one day our outlook on suicide will change, there will not be that stigma attached to it, that "burn in hell" mentality. That we as a whole will see it as a choice, and work toward helping our children cultivate lots of different tools to deal with change, grief, pain and loss.
I appreciate my dad, and all that he has taught me, including this.