Suicide is something no one expects to experience personally. The life you once knew shatters into millions of sharp pieces, ready to cut deep at any time without a warning. Being a survivor to someone who has committed is extremely tiresome. Knowing you have to get up every morning and face the demons left behind for you is enough to keep someone awake for days, shuddering at the thought of what could have been. You can make this tragedy into a learning experience, or you can let the death of someone you love kill you slowly. Ultimately, the decision is yours.
I was 12 years old during the summer of 2009. In late July, I found out the gut-wrenching news that my own father had taken his life short with a gunshot wound to the chest. The childhood I had grew short like the life my father took. There was absolutely no turning back from it. For years I had let his demons become my own. The troubles he let go of the moment he pulled the trigger became my pain and suffering for quite some time. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I knew I couldn’t continue living like I had been. I knew the past wasn’t taking me anywhere worthwhile. I pray to God that you don’t end up in the same situation I did, but if life takes you an unexpected route, this is what I have learned. I hope you can take something from it.
1. You will find out you are stronger than you realized.
I dealt with an ongoing battle with clinical depression and mild anxiety after I lost my dad. There would be days I just did not want to live anymore. Getting out of bed was a chore. There would be days I wanted to cry at the thought of actually living. I truly believe this all stemmed from my dad’s departure. Finally, I had woken up one day and decided I could no longer live in the shadows of my dad’s past. I had to do something. I had to live. The strength is not easy to find, but when you learn to embrace it, the struggle becomes less agonizing and more fulfilling.
2. Trust issues will destroy you if you do not control them.
Maybe this is not the same for everyone, but I have extreme trust issues when it comes to romantic relationships due to my father’s actions. Before he died, he swore to me he would never take his own life. When I learned of his permanent decision, I was equal parts angry and heartbroken. How could someone I loved so much lie to me like that? I understand now that the decision made was beyond his control due to his mental state, but this lie still haunts me. It is awful to put my trust into people now, but everyday I’m doing my best. I realize that not everyone is out to hurt me.
3. Not everyone will understand, and that is okay.
There is nothing more awkward than explaining to someone that your parent took their own life. Some people look at you in horror, disgusted that a parent to a young child could willingly die on their own terms, leaving their little one behind. Others stay quiet. Some might even try to understand the pain. Unless they’ve been through it, they will not know how to react. That’s perfectly okay. Personally, I’m relieved when they don’t understand what it feels like. I hope they never do.
4. There will be people who try to manipulate you.
Though unfortunate, you may experience past partners or friends who use this as a way to control you. If this is the case, please run as fast and as far away as possible. These people are no good for you. I’ve been in a situation where a past boyfriend threatened to take his life if I did not stay with him. He knew it was a way to get me to listen. It struck a very obvious chord in me. However, I promised myself I could not let this happen. Anyone who tries to control you based on your past is a person you do not need in your life.
5. Only you can control how you carry on with life after death.
It’s not easy. I promise, it will be very hard. The good thing is, bad days are just that-bad days. It is not a bad life. It is not the end. If anything, it is the very beginning. I can say that there is nothing more exhilarating knowing that after all these years, I can breathe. I cut off those demons in return for my life back. I miss my dad very much, and as twisted as it sounds, his death saved my life. I would not be the person I am today if he hadn’t taken his course of action. If there is a heaven, I know he is shining down on me. I know he isn’t far, for every time I see a ray of sunshine, a beautiful sky, or a bright star, I know that’s him. I know he’s alright.
I know I will be too.