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I Want To Die, But I Have To Live.


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My son and daughter are long dead, stolen by death mere minutes after their birth. I barely survived their loss -- for years I lived only because I could not bear to kill myself and bring another loss to my dear wife. Now, my best friend is dead, his widow in an agony of the grief brought by untimely, unlooked for death.

In the grief of my friend's loss, I lost my way somehow. I SWEAR that I tried to do the right thing! I TRIED SO HARD to be a man of honor and I know I was doing much to be of comfort and help, but in a weak moment I fell. Now I must live all the rest of my days with the knowledge that I have failed the ones I love most. Though they forgive me, I see the wreckage I have wrought and I cannot forgive myself. I cannot die without bringing them more grief, and I cannot live with myself.

I go through each day pretending that I am fine and healing, and many days I even convince myself. But deep down I know that it should have been me that died. How can I go on like this? For years, maybe for decades? Every day I am presented with the consequences of my folly, and I hate the repugnant fool that brought all this about. I am trapped in his skin. God help me.

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I hear your cries of despair. Your words have not fell on ears that look the other way and pretend they don't see your pain. I hear you and I am not looking the other way. I am so, deeply sorry for your loss and for the pain you are in. Good for you for reaching out and posting here. You have found the safest site on the net that I know. You have made the first step, good for you. I know the courage that takes...I have been there too. I once felt exactly as you do now, and because I cried out in despair, I began the path of healing. I encourage you to feel the fear and keep reaching out, keep talking. Silence only causes our pain to grow.

I understand the feeling not wanting to be in your own skin so well. I understand you feel the folly you made is unforgivable and you have no right to live. You are human, you are trying to make your way through some HUGE trauma's in your life. That can blind us to all reality, and our thinking can become distorted. Clarity can happen, Despair can be transformed into determination to live, to heal.

I heard you! I care and you'll find an abundance of people here who care! I encourage you to keep talking as it is the only way I believe to become comfortable and at peace to live in your body again. Feelings are states of time, all feeling states eventually change.

Courage and Blessings, Carol Ann

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I have an idea of what occurred, but don't know exactly what happened in the weak moment you seem to feel has ruined everything, but I feel confident that if your loved ones have forgiven you, that you will be able to forgive yourself--if you work towards that.

Please bear with my long-windedness. We share a similar history in at least a few ways. My wife Tanya was 9 months pregnant with our daughter, whom we had named Chelsea. I had gone to the appointments with our midwife, we had read books on babies, children, child-rearing; had done everything to avoid doing some of the things that had made much of our childhoods miserable.

One day, we were out happily doing some errands in our car, getting ready for our new baby's arrival. While waiting to make a left turn, we were hit broadside--Tanya's side of the car. The impact crushed the car, injured Tanya badly, and killed our baby. (Skipping many details here) I went from being the most happy-go-lucky, best mood person you'd ever meet, to being chronically depressed--for years. Tanya tried her best to coax me into therapy, but I was a tough guy and thought I would get through it myself. It took close to a decade to get through it, and only after I finally listened to the smart half of us and went to a therapist.

Fast forward about twenty years, during my wife's first battle with breast cancer. One of my two best friends died--dropped dead on an airplane while on a business trip. His wife called me--she was stunned. Fast forward another couple years. Tanya is now fighting her second battle with breast cancer. My other best friend, Kenny, is visiting--and no, he didn't die! He's visiting because he was one of many of our friends who was just in love with Tanya, and he knew she was fighting cancer so flew in from Florida to support her. By now our little cat was doing very poorly, I took him to the vet, and had to have him put to sleep. For some, losing a pet seems a small thing, but our pets helped us immensely in recovering from the loss of our baby. Shortly after our accident, we got a little basenji puppy--something for Tanya to hold. Rikki was a neurotic little dog, but we loved her dearly, and having Rikki was very therapeutic for Tanya in the months after our accident.

Tanya was getting out of the house less and less during her second round of chemotherapy, lung draining, etc., so again, I took our 17 year old Rikki to the vet--our old dog was failing quickly. I had to have her put to sleep as well, and you won't believe how hard it was--especially without Tanya with me. Shortly after this, we received a call from Kenny's sister--they found him dead in his apartment. He was in his early 40s. We had just been with him.

Not long after, Tanya's body finally could not keep up with her spirit, and she died. Tanya was the best person most of us had ever known, definitely the best I had, and she was instrumental in making me want to change, improve, be more kind, and help others. It is in our nature to deify our loved ones, but she was without doubt the kindest, sweetest person I've ever known.

Why the long history? To illustrate that if you get the opportunity to live long enough, bad things will happen to you, bad things will happen because of you, and eventually, if you give good the opportunity, it will overshadow the bad. In my life, I grew up with a crazy mother, an angry father, I lost my baby (we were never able to have another), my best friends, our pets (surrogate children), and my very best friend, wife, and biggest cheerleader. It has been hard, and at times I have not wanted to go on. Tanya showed me that persevering, helping others when you are hurting, trying to be a good part of others lives--if you do these things, you will eventually recover.

Will you still feel the pain of loss, hurt, bad memories? Absolutely. But, just as physical wounds heal leaving scars, our emotional wounds do much the same. But, healing these wounds is far, far less likely to happen without working towards it.

I encourage you to seek help--continue posting here among people who care, find a therapist, counselor, chaplain--someone to lend an ear, offer feedback, to care for and help you deal with your guilt and shame. You are, by your own words imprisoned in your own skin. I believe you will find comfort in your skin by seeking help, accepting forgiveness, and most importantly, going through the process, and finally, forgiving yourself. ~ Steve

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EDIT:

It has occurred to me that others who grieve the same losses I do may one day read this board. That being the case, I feel I have been overly explicit in my description of the events that transpired and moved me to post here. Out of sensitivity to others who could be affected by this information, I am removing my original post. I will summarize in generalizations below the content of the original post:

Having lost two children, and then losing my best friend, I betrayed my wife in a moment of grief and weakness. I am struggling with great guilt over this, though my dear wife has forgiven me.

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I have to run out to a committee meeting, so this reply will be uncharacteristically and mercifully short.

I don't think you're going to get confirmation here from us that you're unforgivable, DM.

No doubt, what you did was wrong, you hurt people you love. In my opinion, sometimes shame is an appropriate response. But don't you think it is important that now that you've owned your action, to acknowledge that it isn't reasonable to reduce yourself to a single incident--to reduce who you are to one single episode in a lifetime?

If you were able to place your life actions on a scale, would this sole occurrence carry more weight than all your other actions throughout your life?

Would you treat someone other than yourself so harshly?

I'd like to think not.

It's difficult to avoid sounding trite, but the truth is the truth: You cannot undo the past, but the future is yours to shape--give yourself a chance--show humanity to yourself--work on forgiving you.

There is still time to make your wife proud again. ~ Steve

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Guest Nicholas

As the Lord Buddha taught, everything in this life is impermanent and in a state of flux. Go out and do good deeds, help others, make charity and donations and in due course, the gloom and guilt will lift.

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My dear friend,

My heart aches for you as I read your story, and I want to acknowledge your courage in sharing it with all of us. Clearly you are struggling with a huge load of guilt, but I can assure you that no one here is interested in passing judgment on you. We're all imperfect human beings, we each have our human frailties, and we've all said or done things (or failed to say or do things) about which we feel guilty. It is my firm belief that only the good people feel guilty, and the fact that you are feeling so much remorse about all of this tells me that basically, you are a man of good, solid character. As a matter of fact, guilt is one of the most common reactions in grief, and much has been written on the topic. Just this month, for example, an article I wrote for the Open to Hope foundation addresses this very topic (A New Year and the Burden of Guilt).

The real question for you, my friend, is what you intend to do with the guilt you are feeling now. Guilt is a powerful motivator, depending on how you view it and how you choose to use it. You can let it destroy you, or you can find a way to repent, forgive yourself and make amends. I'm reminded of a powerful passage from Jerry Sittser's beautiful book, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss:

Many people are destroyed by loss because, learning what they could have been but failed to be, they choose to wallow in guilt and regret, to become bitter in spirit, or to fall into despair. While nothing they can do will reverse the loss, it is not true that there is nothing they can do to change. The difference between despair and hope, bitterness and forgiveness, hatred and love, and stagnation and vitality lies in the decisions we make about what to do in the face of regrets over an unchangeable and painful past. We cannot change the situation, but we can allow the situation to change us. We exacerbate our suffering needlessly when we allow one loss to lead to another. That causes gradual destruction of the soul. This destruction of the soul represents the tragedy of what I call the "second death," and it can be a worse tragedy than the first. The death that comes through loss of spouse, children, parents, health, job, marriage, childhood, or any other kind is not the worst kind of death there is. Worse still is the death of the spirit, the death that comes through guilt, regret, bitterness, hatred, immorality, and despair. The first kind of death happens to us; the second kind of death happens in us. It is a death we bring upon ourselves if we refuse to be transformed by the first death. [pp. 99-100]

I'm also reminded of the Two Wolves parable:

TWO WOLVES

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil – It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good – It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

In addition to the support and understanding I know you'll continue to receive here, my friend, I hope you will do some further reading about guilt and forgiveness. You might begin with the two articles I've attached below: Positive Aspects of Guilt and Guilty, Your Honor: Guilt After Suicide.

PositiveAspectsOfGuilt.doc

GuiltyYourHonorGuiltAfterSuicide.doc

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Drowningman,

I am so sorry for all your loss and pain. I only wish there were words of comfort.

I just hope you will know that this is a safe place, nobody judges, nobody has any expectations.

The title of your post just simply had me nodding and agreeing as if I wrote it.

Our stories are so very different but I hope that you can find some tiny comfort (if not a big one!) here sharing with everyone. I'm not sure how I would have ever made it through this last year without everyone here. So I hope you will keep sharing here and there will be some comfort for you in doing that.

sending a big ((HUG))) your way

Niamh

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Dear DM,

First, let me explain the reason for my delay in responding to you. I was taken to hospital on Jan 5 by ambulance and discharged this morning, Jan 7. I have been having trouble with a dental abscess, and needed to receive some more iv anti-biotic, more fluids, get my blood sugars controlled, etc. In any event enough about me.

I DO NOT THINK ANY LESS OF YOU KNOWING THE DETAILS!!!!

IN FACT MY REGARD FOR YOU HAS DEEPENED!!!!

My heart absolutely just aches for you. All the loss you have experienced. I am just so sorry. I am proud of you for having the courage to embrace yourself. I am proud of you for not with-holding from your wife. I see a man of honour. I see a man consumed with grief. I see a man that is not unlike any other of his fellow humans. WE sometimes do or say things under extreme amounts of grief and loss that likely otherwise would not have been our choice. I think loss affects us cognitively, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I think at some level we are functioning as if in a fog, nothing seems to clear.

I agree with Steven in that is it fair to judge you by one single moment in your lifetime? I think not. There is so much more to you than that one event. Similarly, if I were to hang onto the one choice that my Melissa made by taking her own life, clearly that would be such an injustice to her and the reality of the wonderful brilliant woman that she was and is in heaven now. I think it normal perhaps for you to feel as you do keeping in mind that feelings are not always rational. My life with Melissa is not defined by her one choice to end her life. It is defined by the whole, all of it. I believe this applies to you as well. You are not defined by this one moment in time.

It is not fair to look at our behaviour in hindsight and judge ourself. I believe we do the best we can in each and every moment and that is all anyone can do. I really encourage you to really look at all the trauma, the loss, the grief that in my opinion contributed greatly to your decision that moment. I would also like to say that "A" also was present in that moment. You are not responsible for what happened all on your own. I have compassion for you both.

It is my sincere hope and prayer that in time you can look at yourself with compassion. You have taken so many steps already to try to reconcile that moment. You have not kept it a secret. You have found the courage, the nobility, to tell your wife. That takes courage, that takes a man of honour.

Thank you for sharing more with us. I will hold it in gentle care, and respect.

Blessings and Courage, Carol Ann

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Just wanted to say thanks to all of you for so much encouragement and acceptance. MartyT, though my friend was not lost to suicide, I found the "Guilt After Suicide" article you attached to be very moving. Maybe I can start to throw some bricks out of the bag I am carrying around! Sunstreet, I very much hope that you are feeling better! That sounds like a very unpleasant time in the hospital. I am sorry you had to go through it but glad you are doing better now.

Each one who responded has given me a lot to think about, and that is what I have been doing over the past few days. I can't begin to tell you how much it helped just to be able to tell someone. Though I suspect you know, since each of us has found our way here through our own griefs that need to be told. :)

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I am so grateful for this board, for everyone's honesty and openness and for the support and sharing, and for the non judgment. I reach out to all of you and join with everyone in offering my admiration for your openness. Forgiving ourselves is tough. In my fatigue and fear and denial there were days when I was not at my best with the love of my life. I sometimes get too focused on my failures in spite of having talked about it with my love. It is sooo hard to forgive myself and for many of us to forgive ourselves but we must and I will and so will you. Be patient with yourself and know we all care. MFH

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Dear DM,

I am so grateful to hear from you again. I am so grateful for this site and all the non-judgement and the safety to truly express ourselves as open as we have the courage to do so. I want to let you know that I am feeling...SO MUCH better! Thank you for your empathy for me, in the midst of your own pain, that also tells me the calibre of man that you are and the blessings you have to offer the world.

I too have done things, said things, that in hindsight and from a more restful and healed place we regret having said or done. It so hard to forgive ourself at times. It so hard to find empathy and compassion for ourselves. It has been my experience with my grief and loss that I am the most harshest judge of all in regards to myself.

I have to go a parole hearing in the morning and I am just so glad you posted today as frankly I was concerned for you. I encourage you to keep talking, and sharing, expressing your deepest darkest fears and pain, as it can be so liberating and healing. It is the silences, the secrets, that grow into the size of Mt. Everest and beyond that add to this already utterly difficult path of grief and loss, and it does not have to be so, but we are the one who has to initiate that climb up Mt. Everest, and if we fall some on our way up, we just get back up, and keep climbing.

You do not have to tell me how much it has helped just to tell someone. I know how much because I too have felt exactly the same way as you, like I was drowning, and I did not want to live inside my own skin, due to what I thought was unforgivable. I was wrong, and what a blessing I initiated my climb up Mt. Everest. I pray you decide to begin your climb.

Blessings and Courage, Carol Ann

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  • 5 months later...

Dear Drowning Man, I just wanted to tell you that I am so sorrry for your pain and suffering... My story is totally different but I have also found myself thinking about suicide and figure that I can not kill myself... I figure if I did kill myself I would just make it worst for the other siblings who have been left behind... My story starts 7 years ago when I lost my mom and dad, we were on vacation in the united states and my mom fell into a diabetic coma and ended up dying in hospital down there.. Than four months later I lost my dad to cancer and along with my dad I lost my childhood home, all my friends and neighbors... I also left my job and had to move to a new city, I also discovered that I have been sexual abused by my dad... I am now suffering from major depression, and anxiety problems...

I am really glad you found this website and I hope you continue to come back and read the posts.. The family here is wonderful and compassionate, and really understand what we all are going through... Shelley

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Thank you for these links and your words on guilt, Marty. Much needed. Mary mfh

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