It is imperative that we, as suicide loss survivors, are able to differentiate between guilt and responsibility. Even still, almost two years later, I feel guilty every day that my boyfriend died by suicide. I feel guilty that I didn’t recognize the telltale signs. I feel guilty that I lived with the man and I was supposed to be the closest person to him in the world, but I didn’t see the situation for what it was. It is the true meaning of the phrase “I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.” Friends, there were so many trees. As much guilt as I feel, I am not responsible for his death. He made his choice, and no matter how illogical that choice was, it was his choice and I had nothing to do with it.
It is normal for a suicide loss survivor to feel guilt. The “what if’s” will fill our heads for an undetermined amount of time following our loved one’s suicide. The guilt weighs very heavily on our hearts. What if I had only stayed home from work that day? What if I had just come home at lunch? Somehow our imperfect mind turns those what if’s into guilt. Of course we could have saved the day, right? But friends, if you only take in one thing from this post, take in this – YOU ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE. Read this again.
You are absolutely not responsible for your loved one’s suicide.
You did not cause your loved one’s suicide.
And probably, most importantly, you most likely could not have stopped it.
So, I need you to realize that it does not matter if you got into a big fight the day before, it doesn’t matter if you accused them of something just before they died. None of that matters. Suicide is not a normal reaction to anything – not the loss of a job, a breakup, the loss of a marriage, criminal charges, nothing. Suicide is an act of desperation from someone who has a sick mind. Yes, a sick mind. The mind can get sick just like the heart or liver can. If your loved one had died of a heart attack or kidney failure, would you experience the same feelings? Would you be walking around blaming yourself? Chances are you would not. Suicide is an act of mental illness. Give yourself permission to let go of the guilt and responsibility you feel. It’s okay to do so. Friends, we are going to be okay.