On January 29th 2014, I went to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, my father was gone. I spent a long month doing all I could to find him, to hope that he would come home and open that front door, but he never did. On March 3rd 2014, he was found a victim of suicide. I am not sure what was worse: when he was missing or the confirmation of his death. However I do know I was filled with immense grief for the first time in my life. It was a real life nightmare.
I became an adult suddenly and my whole life changed overnight. None of it felt real and I was filled with all this pain I had never felt before. I had lost my Gran a few years before, but it didn’t hurt this much. My dad was my everything – my best friend and my rock. Initially, I was not given time to grieve. I had to plan the funeral, do all the chores and shopping, and plan a house move because my mother and brother were unable to. It was like I was so busy trying to keep everything together for everyone else, I neglected myself.
Very quickly, I fell back into substance abuse. I became so reckless because I could not deal with the pain. I just wanted to be numb and pretend that nothing happened. In April 2014 I tried to take my own life. All I could think about was the funeral and how it was said we will see him again one day. I didn’t want to spend one more day without him – I just wanted my daddy.
A part of me was angry. Not at my dad; he was so strong and I know what he did was not to hurt us. He’d never hurt a soul. He was just tired and had tried everything. This was his last resort. I was however angry at the universe. The month before it seemed I had a perfect life: I was with someone I loved; I was on track to pass college with flying colors and I had every chance to be successful. Now that was all ripped from under me.
It has been a huge rollercoaster ever since. My life has changed drastically over the last four years, although it feels like yesterday that it happened. I have made some bad decisions through my grief, but I have also changed my life and good has come of it. I am lucky enough to have met my husband three years ago. Now married and in our own home, my life is so much better. I feel stronger. My only regret is that my husband and father never met because they would have been best friends and my father would have been so proud and happy for me to find such a lovely man.
I have been seeking help for a little over a year. I have had to take medication as I have had suicidal thoughts often since my father’s death and now, four years on, I am finally going to start cognitive behavior therapy, trauma therapy and bereavement therapy. My life is looking up. I am excited for my future, to have my own family and to do all that I can to make the most of my life, as it is short. Writing this, I can smile because I just don’t want to die anymore and I am so at peace with my dad’s death.
It is not to say, however, that I have not spent many nights crying over my father, looking at photos, listening to his funeral songs and cursing the world, even now. I miss my dad. I wish he could have been there at my wedding and through all my future holds, but I have accepted that life did not deal me that card and my father is finally at peace and no longer in the torturous pain he suffered.
The important thing about grief and what has helped me, is that we all need to grieve in our own time and way. There is no wrong or right way to do it. You may make mistakes but the important thing is that you carry on, that you know that there is light at the end of this very dark painful tunnel. You will never move on but you will learn to cope and you will feel some happiness again.
I have dedicated all my time now to raise awareness of mental health and to prevent suicide. I write often, which helps me understand myself – it’s a form of therapy. I have learned from my father’s death that I need to look after myself better, to respect myself and to beat these feelings that tell me to give up. Through all of this, I have met likeminded people – people who share my pain. After all, suicide is a very lonely thing and it’s unlike any other death. I’ve found this community and I no longer feel alone. The biggest help has been being able to talk about his death, understanding it more, supporting others and knowing that my father would be proud of me as he did so much also to prevent suicide. In this way he has saved so many lives.
You will never be prepared to lose someone you love to suicide. I suppose we all live in the idea that they will live a long life and die of natural causes because it hurts to consider anything else. Perhaps this is why it is often such a shock and why we attack ourselves as suicide survivors, as we feel guilty for not knowing the signs. But always know, suicide is no one’s fault, not yours, not the victims, not anyone’s.
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Author Bio: Charlotte Underwood is a writer and mental health advocate from Norfolk, UK. You can follow Charlotte Underwood on twitter at @XCharlotteFoxX.
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