Life After Suicide

After I go through the when and the what of things, I inevitably get lost in the why, and it’s dangerous territory. I try with all my might not to stay stuck there for too long. What is too long? An hour? A day? A lifetime?


It’s been nine months since he died by suicide. Nine months. The same amount of time it takes to bring a life into this world, and that’s been stuck in my head for the past several days. I don’t know why; it’s odd the way I count time now. Perhaps it’s a way for my mind to trick me into a false sense of reality, a softer way to think about time since he died, the after death. It seems every measure of time now is put into categories and depending on who I’m talking to, what we are talking about, or what I’m thinking about, the verbiage might differ but the bottom line is that it’s either before my Pops died by suicide, or after he died. That’s the when of things.

There is also the what of things. I ponder a lot of things now that I never spent much, if any, time thinking about before. Before he died by suicide. Many of those thoughts are far too raw and painful to share. But some, well some that seem so trivial steal every ounce of my energy. They consume me. I wonder what happened to the Chargers hat he always wore, was he wearing it that night? I remember him opening it on Christmas – he loved that damn hat. I have at least ten pictures of him wearing that hat. I wonder why he liked it so much; was it the colors or the design? Did he like it because it was a good one, one he wouldn’t have purchased for himself? I look at photos and stare at the expression on his face, searching his eyes; what was he thinking? Did he know how loved he was? Does he know he’s still loved? I remember the way we teased him about ordering shrimp and how he always referred to it as ‘fish bait’ but I’m not sure why he hated shrimp so much, and I think about that too.


I often wonder what his dreams were. What did he secretly wish for his life? Was there anything he wanted to do or learn? Was there a destination he imagined traveling to one day? I think back to conversations we had, and I analyze them now – every single word. Was there more he had to say but held back? I wonder if he wished things for us that went unspoken. Sometimes his eyes appeared blue like a calm sea, and sometimes they were bright green, I wonder how he would have answered if asked his eye color.

After I go through the when and the what of things, I inevitably get lost in the why, and it’s dangerous territory. I try with all my might not to stay stuck there for too long. What is too long? An hour? A day? A lifetime? I can’t answer that for myself or anyone else. I know when I’ve overstayed my welcome in that dark place, and usually, by the time I recognize it, it takes heavy machinery to remove me from its depths. The days that follow always feel flat and empty. It’s hard to be around others, and it’s hard to do anything that resembles living. But I do. I try. The why’s are the worst mainly because they’re irrelevant at this point, but also because no matter how many times I circle the questions, from whatever angle, using any fabrication or reconstruction, there will never be answers. Never.

In the nine months since his death, I could have created life. I don’t know why that strikes me as profoundly as it does. I will take it as a sign that it’s time to breathe life back into myself. I can’t stay stuck here because if I do, then his death will continue to subtract from living. I’d like to find a way to make his death equate to something significant, something positive. It’s hard to write that, and the mere suggestion that something positive could come from his death by suicide causes a feeling of disloyalty. That’s my heart talking and feeling. My brain knows that the only way to make Pops’ death by suicide become something of value is to use his story, our story, to assist others. And I do. I try.

#StopSuicide #YouMatter #ChooseHope

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide please reach out,
someone is always listening. You are not alone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Have you lost a loved one to suicide and need a resource?
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention can help.

© R.J. Belle and Transfer Of Pain, 2017



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