Better Off Without You

by Lori Dwyer on January 30, 2012 · 81 comments

Every now and then I get an email from, or talk to, a bloke who tells me they empathise with my husband, that they’ve been in the state of mind he was in when everything went wrong. A lot of them have read the post I wrote about men and suicide.

Some of them say thank you, just reading that helped me. Others of them say that had they read my blog, the living, grieving aftermath of a suicide, they may have felt differently when they were considering it themselves. And there are those who say that reading my blog wouldn’t have made one iota of difference to how they felt or how they acted.

All valid reactions, and thank you, gentlemen, for your honesty and candor. I love feedback. I love correspondence. I love to know if and how this blog is effecting people. It helps…. death always has to has to have some kind of purpose. Meaning making- the human skill of giving death a deeper meaning than the stopping of the heart, the slow decomposition of cells- it’s what allows to move on, psychologically, from grief.

But I digress. I was getting to the part where I say that there is, I’ve noticed, a common theme amongst the men who write to me, those who have considered- or attempted- tot take their own lives before. Women say it too, but not as frequently as men… never as often as men.

“I really, honestly, thought my family and the people I knew would be better off without me.”

It scares the shit out of me, how often I’ve heard this. How deep the conviction behind it. How solid, and irrefutable and logical people tell me it is. Not just a misguided belief that no would miss them much at all… but a deep core belief that the rest of the world- their loved ones in particular- would really, truly be better off without them.

And I know, first hand and in terrifying technicolor, just how very wrong that notion is. Just over twelve months after my husband took his own life, and I see the spiraling, spider-webbing consequences of it every day.

And if you don’t believe me, I can prove it. The consequences stack up day after day after day… it’s written in the life stories of myself and my children and so many people I know and love.

I can tell you about it, show you the proof.

A mother, broken, waiting to die. A sister who has lost the only man she could ever depend on, so devastated by her loss she just can’t control her pain and lashes out at others cruelly and indiscriminately. A teenage girl who’s lost her anchor, her rock, her hero.

A woman, not even thirty, who’s had everything taken from her, who’s crippled with grief and pain and anxiety. A little girl who knows Santa better than Daddy. Who will never, ever know her father, who called her his princess. A little boy who, at four years old, understands more about death than any child should, and sometimes still curls up on the floor, with his father’s pillow, listening to his dad’s favorite CD, and he talks to me about how tall Daddy was, how high he could jump. He tells me, when I cry, that it’s OK, Daddy is watching me from Heaven and I can still talk to him.

And did reading that last paragraph break your heart? Good. Because that was my intention. If you ever think anyone would be better off without you, I want you to remember that image. And there’s more. You think that’s where it stops, with the people closest to you, those immediately involved with you? You are wrong.

I can show you a man who was already grieving, who’s lost the only bloke who understood him, the only other male he could talk to. I can show you a woman who has had her faith in God badly shaken, her belief in happiness undermined. I can show you a couple, together for twenty years, now divorcing- the result of compounded events, part of which was the poison that invaded their lives when mine fell apart.

I can show you a child who should have a godfather, two grooms who were missing their best man. I can show you an ambulance officer who will never look at things the same again. I can show you a psychologist who had all her perceptions realigned. I can show you a man who had to live through his own father’s suicide all over again.

I can show you two small children who miss going to daycare with their best mate, who don’t understand why he left to move far away. I can show you a boy who became a man in the week he painted the Purple from my life. I can show a woman who is haunted by CPR. I can show you men, a few of them, who seem to have lost their balls when they lost their friend.

I could go on, I could write this list forever… but it hurts, and I don’t need to. I’m sure you understand what I’m saying. You really, truly think that anyone in your life would be better of without you, after reading the list of pain my husband’s suicide has left behind? Can you see how far it reaches, how it didn’t just effect us, or his family, or even just his friends? It left a pattern, a long, long path of destruction, and after twelve months, it still has not stopped.

No one will be better off without you. You can even think to yourself “It will hurt now, but eventually, in a few months, they’ll be better off”. And I can tell you- you are wrong. No one will be better off without you, not now, not in the future, not ever.

Suicide, taking your own life, however it’s done or however minimal you think the harm may be- you are wrong.

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