Mourning Two Losses by Mandy Walter

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Suicide touched my life before I was even born. My mom lost her younger brother while she was pregnant with my brother in the early 70’s. He was never talked about and I didn’t even know he existed until I was about 10 years old. I guess that’s just how things were done back then, push it way down and don’t talk about it.

The last time I saw my dad was when he walked me down the aisle at my wedding. 18 months later I received a phone call from my aunt that would instantly alter the course of my life. “Your dad is gone” is what I heard, but nothing could prepare me for the “how.’ The next week seemed like a blur, I didn’t eat or shower and I only left the house to get some sleep-aid pills just so I could get some rest. I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I remember constantly checking the mailbox in hopes that there was a letter from my dad. There never was. I was just left with the feeling of fear and I no longer knew who I was. I felt myself questioning every aspect of my life.

Growing up, I was an outgoing and very social person. I always wanted to be where the action was and I enjoyed being out with friends. I even was voted class clown of my graduating class in my senior yearbook. I am no longer that person; I always find an excuse to say I can’t make it when, in reality, I’m just not comfortable with myself right now. I miss the person I once was, not only was I grieving the loss of my dad but I was also grieving the loss of my former self.

I’ve made it to the two-year mark. I’ve survived two of my dad’s birthdays without him, two anniversaries of his death and two fathers’ days. I find that it’s more of the anticipation of the dates than the actual “day” for me. My wedding anniversary is a bittersweet time, it’s a reason to celebrate with my husband but it’s also the anniversary of the last time I saw my dad. When I’ve reached milestones in my life like purchasing my first home and turning 40 I am able to find the happiness in them but I also find myself feeling guilty for being happy. I deserve happiness and it’s slowly entering back in my life. I have an extremely supportive husband; he was next to me when I received the phone call and has never left my side since. He checks in on me and encourages me to talk and to let him know if I’m feeling down or not myself. I attend a support group for survivors of those left behind by suicide. Knowing there are others out there who understand and want to listen has been crucial to my healing and moving forward.

I’ve heard the mundane phrase uttered many times that “time heals all wounds.” It may not seem like it right now, but it gets better, it really does. The initial sting of the loss has worn off but I still cry, I still have an anxious mind, I still replay scenarios in my head, and I still have regrets. They may not know it but I look at my grandparents as a reason to continue on. They lost their only son to suicide; they are in their 90’s now but have built a wonderful life for themselves and their family. Thankfully, for me, things are much different now than they were in the 70’s. There are so many resources available and suicide isn’t seen as such a hush-hush subject as it once was.

6 Responses

  1. Anne Baker
    | Reply

    Thank you for your sharing here. It matters. I facilitate a suicide loss survivors group and I’d like to share your post with them. I know that it will be meaningful to them. Thank you again.
    Anne B.

    • Mandy
      | Reply

      Thank you Anne! Support groups have been very important with my healing process. It’s a safe place to openly talk and everyone is super supportive.

  2. Nola
    | Reply

    I too lost my father on fathers day 43 yrs ago when i was 11yrs old to suicide. It devastated my childhood a d carried into adulthood. I am so sorry for your loss. The one thing I have taken away frim this is I would never do this to the ones that love me. So please try and find whatever positive you can out of this darkness. Prayers and blessings to you.

  3. Kelley
    | Reply

    Thank you for this piece. Every story is unique & yet the survival process is the same for many of us. I need to know “it gets better”. I lost my sister 9 months ago and the anguish and torment my brother and I are living with is nearly unbearable. I wish I could turn my mind off!
    Thank you for bringing some hope that things will get better.

  4. carol trinkley
    | Reply

    Lost my 44 yr old son 1 yr ago and my grieving is still so bad. My life and his sister’s will never be the same with out him. Hoping to hold on and make the pain lessen

  5. Julie Davis
    | Reply

    Thank you Mandy for sharing your story. I lost my older brother 5 years ago, and I still grieve him, and like you, thankfully it is much less intense. Weekends are still hard for me sometimes ( have too much time to think). Reading your story made me realize I grieve my former self as well . I miss that girl that could call her big brother and talk about anything.
    We were so close. <3 I too have been going to a bereavement group for 5 yrs. Suicide loss is so devasting and complicated that I feel that it still helps me heal. It is not a suicide support group. I wish it was, but my wonderful grief counselor runs it. I try to honor my brother as much as I can . I am currently raising funds for an Out of the Darkness walk in Memory of him and my husband's friend. Thank you again for sharing. Hugs to you.

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