*Content warning: discussion of suicidal ideation/suicide and psychiatric hospitalization
July 4th is one of those holidays that maybe you wouldn’t expect to be grief-y, but for me it is. Maybe it is more trauma-related rather than grief. Anyway, I thought if anybody would understand, it would be fellow widows and grievers. So, I thought I would share why this holiday is hard. Some of my details might be foggy, but the person who was there with me to confirm my memory is dead, so my foggy memory is all I’ve got.
On July 4, 2017, I took Boris to Ridgeview Institute, a psychiatric hospital, for active suicidal ideation. This was his second hospitalization but his first at Ridgeview (he went back in December 2017). We called ahead but we had to fill out a bunch of paperwork when we arrived. I could tell that Ridgeview tries really hard not to “look” like a hospital. It is sort of tucked away behind trees and they use a dark green and other natural colors in their logo and in the furniture and wall colors. The waiting area is pretty quiet and large. There are magazines and brochures on small tables. At one point, I left Boris in the waiting area and stepped outside to call our mental health therapist friend. She was at the lake with her family for the 4th. I remember not being able to hear her well, but I remember feeling comforted by her and confident that we were doing the best thing. I returned to Boris. I remember filling out a form as his “person” about his habits and what I have observed, including alcohol and drug use, sleep, etc. We waited for a long time, not sure how long exactly, before they took Boris back for an assessment. They said they’d come get me in a little while. I sat and watched the small TV playing a July 4th celebration of some sort. Bobby Brown was performing. I think it was in Atlanta. I could hear fireworks in the background outside of Ridgeview. Lots of them. Might have been from the Braves stadium that is not far from there. This was all happening in the background of my brain as I was trying not to freak out that my boyfriend and best friend was about to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital to hopefully help him get through his suicidal ideation and get to a “better” place.
Finally, they called me back. I think that is how it went. I just remember going through a couple of doors and down a hallway with little rooms on both sides. Boris was inside one of the rooms. I sat next to him. We waited a while longer. It felt like forever. They fed us dinner. It was chicken fingers, but that’s all I remember. I remember writing phone numbers down for him because he would not have his phone. We had a small bag of clothes and things for him. He had to give me everything that was prohibited, including his belt. I remember they sort-of strip-searched him in a separate room right before taking him back.
I remember feeling helpless and lonely. I was scared. But I just wanted him to be okay. I don’t remember what else I did that night after I left him there. I just know I heard fireworks and wanted to scream at them.
I have never been a huge fireworks fan. Plus, they are bad for the environment and terrible for nervous pets. But, since July 4, 2017, they have had this horrible association for me. I associate them with sadness, worry, and guilt. I can still feel the nauseating feeling I had when I left him at Ridgeview.
If he hadn’t died, maybe I’d feel differently about it. I don’t know. But, he did die. He died by suicide after three hospitalizations, tons of therapy, and all the “right” things. And, those memories are really hard.