Dealing with Anger after Suicide

Our Side of Suicide

One feeling that has resurfaced since my Dad’s death is anger towards him. As I said in my last post, my husband and I recently bought a house. After selling my Dad’s house the year after he died, my husband and I stored all of the family heirlooms that used to be in my parents’ basement (family pictures, family China, my Mom’s Snow Babies and other knick knacks she collected, as well as a few boxes of stuff from my Grandparents). The boxes added up, and that is not stuff you just throw away. For the past two years, it had been in a storage unit so it was “out of sight out of mind” for me. Since we moved into the house, we got rid of the storage unit and brought all the stuff to our new house. Every time I see all these boxes stacked up and my husband and I plan on where we will store them, I get so angry. I am sure anyone else who has a house knows the value of storage space, and we don’t have a crawl space we can just throw the boxes in. Writing it out now, it sounds so petty, but I get mad at my Dad for leaving me with all of this stuff that I don’t know if I’ll ever really want or use. But, I have to store it. I feel like it’s just another burden he left on me, just like so many others that I had to deal with in the aftermath of his death.

Then in one day, I go from anger to sadness as I sort through some of the stuff that my brother and I saved from his garage. Yesterday, I was using some shop rags to clean off some wooden chairs I was getting ready to spray paint. I thought of how excited my Dad would be that I’m using some of his beloved garage things to work on my new house. In my last support group, a member made a great point that with this grief process we can be at a “peak” and then drop into a “pit” in one day. That is exactly how I have been feeling lately in regards to my Dad’s death and the exciting things going on in my life. Dealing with anger after suicide is completely normal, and one of the many stages of the grief process. One minute I’m so happy that I have this new house and my husband and I will start new memories with our baby that is due later this year, and then that exciting peak disappears and you’re brought down to the pit when reality sets in because I remember that my Dad is not here to celebrate all that we have to look forward to.

I am just trying to take it one day at a time, as I know this roller coaster of “peaks” and “pits” are going to continue for the rest of my life as life goes on for me as a survivor.

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  1. says

    This came to me on a day I really needed it. I have been on a peak for a 2 weeks and have hit the “pit” hard.
    My husband of 29 years committed suicide on March 21, 2014.
    He suffered general anxiety his entire life but for the most part led a very normal happy life. Created a successful landscaping business, was very handsome and looked like he was age 40 when he was 59…and had the energy of a 30 year old BUT on December 31, 2013 he suffered a severe L5S1 back rupture (must have had a herniated disk un diagnosed for some time) and our lives forever changed on that day.
    The rupture was so severe that he had terrible numbness and weakness in his left leg and could not feel his foot. He could walk with a limp but not to far as his weakness in his legs prevented him from walking or standing for too long. He tried hard for the month of January to “get better” but when he realized this was his new normal, anxiety set in and after beginning anti anxiety medication (clonzapam) he sunk into a deep depression (a side affect from the drug I now know) and he spiraled into constant anxiety and depression despite all the doctors and therapists that were treating him.. He detached from all of us, was obsessed with his numb leg, detached from his business and on Friday morning March 21st, I went to take a shower and he strangled himself. He took apart my exercise resistance bands (not a hanging) and ended his life.
    He said to me days before , our life was perfect on Dec 30th and on Dec 31, life as he knew it ended in his mind. He became terminally mentally ill as he had lost control of his body and he could not live with that. This was a man who would do a root canal with NO NOCACAINE, nothing…afraid of being numb (yes a bit of a control freak with himself). Never took a pill and NEVER drank…needed to always feel in control. Best husband and Father but could not fly in a plane, elevator etc….
    We, me…. doctors… asked him numerous times if he would hurt himself as his attitude with the depression was, I will not kill myself BUT I wish I was dead…this is no way to live…..and this was a man who had everything…. A great marriage, home on the water, great business, no debt, a 4 year old grandaughter and a brand new one month old grandson (I forward your blogs to his daughter).
    Mind blowing and I try to cope but the pit was coming on for a week…all the things he is missing or will miss, all the burden he left me (running the business)….and I just feel like I am losing an up hill climb but know there will be peak days to come. One day at a time.
    You blog is a life saver to me. Thank You.
    I had all the signs and I still could not stop it. I blame myself but am learning it was his illness and neither he nor I are responsible.
    But this week I felt the pit building, so tired of being “strong”…trying to survive the trauma/guilt and plain missing him.

    Patty Carbone
    Palm Beach Florida

    • Jessica says

      Patty, I am so happy to hear that our blog is helpful for you! As survivors, we know how difficult the grief journey can be. Your story sounds awfully familiar to mine, as my father’s life was forever changed after a major back surgery. He too struggled with anxiety his whole life. He tried everything after his surgery, including a number of psychotropic medications. I believe that the medications pushed him over the edge, as he lost hope that life could be happy again. I have struggled with guilt myself, as my father was very open with me. It took awhile to not only forgive him, but to forgive myself. On my grief journey I have learned to accept the ups and downs. Through that acceptance I have found peace, and learned to live again. It is a journey. I do not think there will ever be a day when my father’s death no longer impacts me. Acknowledging this has allowed me to be sad when I need to, and not feel ashamed. PLease feel free to reach out at anytime Patty. I know I speak for all three of us when I say, we are always here to listen.

  2. Heather Hamblin says

    I completely understand. My son was 17 when he committed suicide. I have all of his stuff… I can’t get rid of anything. So it is all stored, these things had meaning to him so I’m stuck. We did get rid of the bed his killed himself on but everything else is still here. I feel anger at times, but most of the time I am so withdrawn that I don’t do anything. I get where I can’t even get out of my chair I’m so depressed. I feel like I carry a heavy weight on me all the time. We creamated him so there is no headstone for him anywhere which I think is wrong but I can’t afford one so I just have a memorial in my back yard for him. It seems so empty but no matter what I do I can’t help but think something more needs to be done. I carry this weight around and I don’t know if it will ever be gone.

    • Jessica says

      Heather, I am so sorry for your loss. I have created a small memorial to honor my father as his headstone is in Colorado and I live in Chicago. Being a survivor is not easy, as we are often left to carry the weight of our loved ones. I think it is great that you have kept your son’s belongings. One day, you will be able to look at them and remember all of the happy times you shared. I have a box of items from my father that remain in storage. I have opened them once, and cried as they were all a reminder that he is no longer here. However, I keep them because they make me feel close to him. The guilt, shame, anger and sadness are overwhelming in the aftermath of a loss. They are feeling I know too well. I found a support group in my area that truly helped me process my feelings. I also sought out individual counseling to help me learn to live again, as I too struggled to get out of my chair. Grief after losing a loved one to suicide is different as I do not believe you ever truly get over it. Instead, you learn to live with it. Literally, you learn to LIVE again. I saw a quote after my father died that gave me hope. It is simple, but made me rethink how I should grieve. “It is not about getting over it, it is about getting through it.” I love this quote. I will never get over my father’s death; but I continue to get through it. One day at a time.

  3. Amanda Boyington says

    On May 3, 2014 my family and I woke to my brother’s last Facebook post. After 8 years of fighting a debilitating depression and anxiety (from his own personal loss) he asked us to understand that it was his time to go and told us not to grieve for him because he was all round us now. From the moment I learned his body had been found on the top of the mountain behind his home I knew he was finally free of his suffering and grief and that ours had just begun. My first love took his life 22 years ago. A friend who was at the birth of my son took her life 5 weeks before my brother and I’ve known a scattering of people in between who also chose to leave by their own hand, but I have never known a pain like this. I knew sorrow, anger, remorse, but I never knew grief until now. Grief is such a perfect word for what this is. 12 weeks, 12 weeks my little brother has been gone. He was 48 years old. He was the baby in our family. We always coddled him, protected him, made excuses for him….maybe we always knew how truly precious and delicate his sweet heart was. I saw all the signs. I knew he was contemplating suicide. I talked to him about it many times. I told my family members. Three weeks before, I even begged him not to leave us. He assured me I was overreacting. I have been beating myself up because I KNEW! In my heart I knew! What I am coming to understand though, and maybe this is the acceptance, is that my mind could not fully wrap itself around the depth of the horror of losing my little brother to suicide and so my mind talked my heart out of it. My mind listened to Gregory’s and everyone else’s reassurances. My heart knew, but my mind would not accept the truth because the truth was/is too tragic to fully conceive. I have not felt I moment of anger towards him and I am a person who goes to anger very quickly. I just know how much he loved us. I know how he loved life. God knows he squeezed ever once out of it. I know how hard he tried to stay here… for us! And I know that even as grief stricken as I am now I have no concept of how bad it must have been for him that putting a shotgun to his beautiful head was the better choice. Wow! I am glad he is relieved of such unimaginable pain. He did not kill himself. He had a terminal illness in his mind that finally ended his life. He was a fighter, a survivor. He would have never hurt anyone, let alone the people he loved. He just couldn’t stand the pain anymore. I must come to accept that. I’m told by people who know that how I feel is only one tenth of what he went through. If that is the truth, I have nothing to forgive him for. I am forever changed. I’m not a big sister anymore. Part of me is gone. He took with him a huge part of my heart that morning on the mountain. He did not die alone because part of me died with him. The rest of me will go on though. Even though, at times, I don’t want to. I need to eventually find a way to honor my funny, bright, kind, LOUD, crazy little bro so I will continue to search and seek. I thank you all for sharing your sorrow with me. My heart goes out to each of you. Even though we have all suffered a tremendous loss in a similar way it is only now that I understand that I don’t fully know what you are going through, but I can say that I truly sympathize with you. May we all find some measure of peace and acceptance here on Earth and trust that our loved ones are free, happy and watching over us from beyond. Xoxo

    • Jessica says

      Beautifully stated Amanda. I have a similar perspective as you, which has helped tremendously with my grief. I also knew in my heart that my father would likely take his life, but my head could not believe it. It just didn’t seem possible. Grief in the aftermath of a suicide is so much more complicated than grief by natural causes. I have found that the only way to accept what has happened is to change my view. This has helped release the heavy weight of guilt and anger that I felt in the aftermath of my father’s death.

      Thank you for sharing your perspective Amanda!

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