Last night I was telling someone about Dan. I spoke candidly about my widow journey since his death, and in particular, how his suicide had impacted on me. It’s nearly been two years and ten months since his death and when I remember back to that first year in particular (as well as the second) it can feel like a lifetime ago while also being as familiar as if it had been yesterday.
Dan’s death wasn’t selfish. He died from a disease. If anything, in that moment of darkness where his mind lost all control of his actions, I believe he was attempting an act of selflessness. His disease had convinced himself that there was no other way out. In the midst of his psychotic episode, his ill brain was sure that he was losing his mind and that be leaving, he would be saving those he loved from what he felt was a lifetime of pain and suffering.
He was of course wrong, but he didn’t die because he was weak or cowardly. He didn’t take the easy way out. He didn’t decide that life wasn’t worth living or our future wasn’t worth fighting for. His suicide wasn’t a selfish act.
Before his death I too had never had never known anyone with severe depression or been forced to consider what drives someone to take their life. I had made many assumptions and been ignorant about the fact that depression is a disease that kills, just like cancer or diabetes.
I’ve had to tell his story so many times now, I feel like an expert on depression (well, on his experience with it anyway). It took a long time to find acceptance and peace in what happened to my darling husband. Last night, after sharing his life and death with someone new, and helping them to see that suicide is not a selfish act, I realised again that even after he’s gone, my brave, caring, thoughtful man was still teaching people what it means to be compassionate and open-minded and to always come from a place of love rather than judgement. I am so proud of who he was and how he lived his life.