We attended a funeral last week. It was one of my husband’s family members. At 88 years old she had been in a nursing home as long as I have been in the family. I visited her twice. To be honest they weren’t pleasant experiences. Meeting a stranger with memory and hearing problems in a nursing home just isn’t fun. But, attending her funeral made me think about other funerals I’ve been to over the years.
I believe the first funeral I can remember was one of my great-grandmothers who passed away when I was pretty young. I know this number isn’t complete, but in just a few moments I can think of 15 funerals that I’ve been to over the years for a variety of friends and family members.
So, being at the funeral home and cemetery last week to honor the life of an older woman made me think of all those other occasions that I’d done similar things. Though there are similarities, each situation was different and each had it’s own type of sadness.
But, for me, by far the worst were the 2 funerals I’ve attended for family members that have committed suicide.
The most recent was in November of 2011. My cousin had made the horrible choice to end his life. My daughter had just turned 2 months old, so the three of us flew in for the services. As I walked from the car with her to the place where my cousin would “rest” I recognized that his plot was not far from my mother’s. I gave my sweet girl an earful of thoughts that she’ll never remember hearing.
I told her that I loved her, that I hope she never ever doubts that love. I told her that suicide is the worst decision a person can make. I told her that we didn’t need to all be there experiencing this terrible grief; that he could have done something different. I told her that she needs to always know that there are more choices to make, that suicide is one of the only ones that truly is permanent. I told her that though she will have tough times, this solution that ends at the graveyard is never the right solution.
Sickness is bad, funerals of loved ones who died from illness are hard. Accidents are shocking, funerals of those die in accidents are painful. But the funerals for those who lost a battle with their mind and gave in to suicide are just awful.
Funerals that result from suicide suck. These are ones that truly are preventable. Those funerals don’t have to happen. Those people could wait to die another day, from another cause.
See, in my situation, having a mother who committed suicide has had quite a list of consequences. Three of us finished growing up without a mother. She wasn’t there for special events, wasn’t there for birthdays, graduations, dances, little league games, band concerts, weddings, births, just everyday fun stuff. She’s not here to hug the grandchildren, not here to love on my daughter and give her the special things only grandmas can give. Not here to make special meals with/for us to celebrate. Not here to cheer on my nephews and niece as they explore competitive ventures.
The anniversary of her death was a bad day for years. In fact, a whole holiday was tainted, if not ruined for me and some of my family for many years because of her choice.
But besides all those things she missed, all those things my brothers and I got to do without her, we each had our own list of questions/doubts to deal with. As I continued to grow I found myself thinking that if she had just loved me she would have stayed around, so maybe I’m not that lovable. Yes, plenty of other people loved me, and showed that in a whole variety of wonderful ways, but always at the back of mind, adding a bit of doubt was her choice, making me wonder why didn’t she choose to be there for me.
So, if you are struggling – please, please, please seek help. You may feel alone and uncared for, but I can assure you that someone, somewhere does care about you. If you give in to the feelings and end it all, they will grieve. For some that grief will be very difficult to get through.