On Suicide and Selfishness

Friday, July 31, 2015
Today marks the second anniversary of my daughter's death.

It's been two years since she chose to end her life, and I'm two years into my grief journey.

It's been a long two years. It's now easier for me to talk about. Sometimes I can even do so without crying. I can share memories of Moe with those who love her, and take pleasure in the sharing. I believe I've come to some level of understanding about her suffering, and why she felt she had to choose the path she did. I'm far enough along that I feel ready to write about it, while recognizing that I'm not done, not by a long shot.

Based on my reading and conversation with other suicide survivors, I understand that many people become very angry when a loved one chooses to end their life. Survivors consider the victim to be "selfish," and curse them for inflicting such horrible pain.

I've never felt that way.

The thing that eats at my heart and brings me to tears is imagining the depth of Moe's suffering. How bad must her inner life have been that she would take such a drastic measure?  How lacking in hope, how intense her pain that she would remove herself from the world, knowing the pain it would cause to those who love her? It breaks my heart to think she was hurting this much, and also knowing that her depression lied to her about the availability of help and of hope. I would have cashed in my life savings, sold our home and lived on the streets to pay for her treatment, if that's what it took. I suspect she knew this, and didn't think she was worth it. Which breaks my heart all over again.

But I'm not angry, nor do I think she was selfish. She knew how this decision would affect those who loved her. She had been thinking about this for months, and held on as long as she could because she knew that taking her life would "make Momma and Poppa and Linda cry." She held on as long as she could, not for her own benefit, but for ours. 

In my mind, my own insistence that she continue to suffer in this horrific fashion to benefit my own happiness would be the act of selfishness. Who damns their own child to a life of suffering and pain so that they don't have to hurt?


Would I have rather she received the treatment she needed so she could have come out of the darkness and into the light? I can't even tell you how much I wish this. Every day, I grieve for her lost potential, for her light that has been extinguished in the world. Every day, I grieve for that lost outcome, and curse myself for not seeing the depth of her suffering. But I know she couldn't see the truth of the matter. In her mind, she was going to feel that way forever, with no reprieve or hope of recovery.

And because I know she felt that way, I cannot be angry with her, or consider her selfish. She wanted to end her suffering. I can now acknowledge and understand that fundamental truth of her life. And so when I think about my lost Moe, I feel sadness, and regret, and love, and loneliness. But not anger.

Eventually, I hope to reach a point where I'm emotionally strong enough to participate in suicide prevention activism. Not today. Probably not this year. But someday. 


12 comments:

Anne C. said...

I love you.

Shawn Powers said...

*HUG*

Carol Elaine said...

Love, support, and hugs, my friend.

PaulM said...

No words.

PaulM said...

No words.

neurondoc said...

I understand your feelings just a tiny bit, because of my cousin. Sending you love and hugs through the UCF teleportation devices.

mom in northern said...

She has been in my head all week...Lov ya

Dana GATE Seminar said...

Thank you so much for sharing your and Moe's story. It gives me strength as a mom with severe depression amd a with a daughter suffering horribly right now. I so identify with your view of the selfishness and guilt our society ascribes. Thank you and I wish you love and healing.

vince said...

Love and hugs to you!

Yogi said...

Always in our hearts. You and Moe both.

Unknown said...

thanks for sharing. "Courage."

Steve Buchheit said...

Love and hugs, my friend. Through you I have a better understanding and empathy when I X-ray patients on suicide watch (or overdoses, which I'm convince that most aren't "accidental"). Thank you for sharing.