Content warning: suicide
The day my husband died was the longest day of my life. It was neverending. If purgatory is real, it exists within the day that your loved one dies. Life unfolded before me as before. Seconds turned into minutes turned into hours. And yet, it wouldn’t stop. The day wouldn’t turn to night. When night finally visited, it dragged on into infinity.
I woke up that day, tired, weary. The fight from the previous day still fresh in my mind. The anxiety of continuing the conversation sat heavy in my belly and I looked forward to the break that work would provide.
The conversation would never be finished. The thoughts would never be fully articulated. Our anger would never be pacified. Our problems would never be fixed.
I think mere minutes passed between waking and finding my husband’s body, but in my memory, it could have been seconds, it could have hours. Time had no place that first day.
I’d find his text, his suicide note, later in the day. I’d show the officer, the messages hitting my cell out of order.
I’d call my best friend, scream and cry into the phone. What did I say? I don’t know. She’d run down the stairs so quickly, her partner thought she had fallen.
“Are you okay?” he’d ask.
“It’s Gloria. She’s in trouble.”
They’d both run over.
I’d call my command afterward since I was military and needed to report to work. My commanding officer would also come over. I still remember how he crossed the room and pulled me into a fierce hug. I think it was so I wouldn’t fall over. I cried into his shoulder for a minute or an hour. I don’t know. I cried more than I thought a person could cry that day.
A lot of people would visit within the next several days, but I barely remember what happened. There was a rush to plan a funeral, invoices that had to be paid, words that had to be chosen.
I felt the absence of his life acutely. I used to walk into the living room, surprised that he wasn’t there. I would pick up my phone to call him and remember that he’d never answer.
Once, I felt ready to do normal things again and visited the mall. When I disclosed to a vendor that I wasn’t married anymore, not sure how to explain my marital status, she assumed I was divorced and kept cracking jokes about divorcees. Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and informed her that he had died. She fell over herself apologizing and I fled from her discomfort.
My friends felt uncomfortable and kept trying to push me to date.
I don’t think it’s easier to be older and widowed. But I do think the comments are different.
- At least it happened young…you’ll love again.
- You’re so beautiful, you’ll be okay.
- At least you were having problems in the marriage. Imagine if you weren’t fighting at all?
- Everything happens for a reason.
- (When I didn’t mention him much or didn’t cry at his name) You’re so strong.
- (When I did cry or decline invitations to go out) You need to be strong for your kids.
- (When they knew about the life insurance) You’re so lucky.
People are uncomfortable with loss, with grief. There’s this weird belief that grief lasts a short period of time. One day…you’ll be over it. But that’s a fallacy. Grief is forever. Mourning is forever. The pain, the hurt is temporary. But, man, does it last a while.
A full decade has passed and I think of him daily. I rarely cry. I can reflect on the bad and good. The guilt is still here, clinging to the underside of my skin. The what-ifs like to try and toy with me, but I push those deep under my chest.
My husband died by suicide at 27-years-old. I’m older than he ever grew to be. It’s a strange thought.
I get angry at him, especially when our children hit a milestone. His death taints every accomplishment with bittersweet notes.
The scar of his death has been etched onto my lifeline, but the memory of his life is safeguarded in my heart.
If you or are a loved one are considering suicide, please reach out to someone or a healthcare provider. National resources are:
In cases of emergency — Call 911
Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Lifeline) at 1–800–273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1–800–799–4889. All calls are confidential.
Contact the Crisis Text Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by texting HELLO to 741741.