Losing someone you love is never easy. Losing a parent, at any age, is difficult. Unexpectedly losing someone you love is even harder.
When someone has been physically ill for some time, or they are elderly, losing them is still something no one wants to go through, but in a way, it’s expected. Being 13 years old and having a physically healthy, at times even vibrant, 43 year old father torn from your life is heart wrenching, to say the least.
If there’s an accident, in a situation such as this, it’s still jarring, still something to grief over. But in that case, people say things like, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”, “Everything happens for a reason.”, “He was so young, only the good die young.”
When someone loses their life by their own hand, the things people say, change. At my Dad’s funeral, a woman that went to church with my maternal grandmother came up to me and asked if I knew that my Dad was burning in hell, since he killed himself.
People whisper, they pontificate among themselves, trying to figure out, why? He was so young. At times, he was so vibrant and full of life. He had a wife and two young children. He had wealth, property, and many friends.
Why would he kill himself?
I’ve asked myself that question more times than I can count over the past 27 years. As a young teen, for quite some time, I was convinced it was my fault. That I wasn’t a good enough daughter, that I was too mouthy, just too much in general. Maybe it was because I had finally gotten to a point where I would stand up for myself when it came to my abusive mother. Maybe he just couldn’t deal with that.
As I’ve gotten older, and gone through even more in my life, suffered from below rock-bottom rounds of crippling depression myself, I’ve even come to the conclusion at times that I completely understand why.
That life is just too difficult, too bright, too sad, too much, all at once, to deal with.
It’s not an excuse for him, or even for myself at those moments, but I do understand. I no longer feel that way, for myself, but I can still see where he may have been coming from. Sadly, I will never know his entire story. My mother refuses to share a lot of things with me about his treatment, the things he went through. It’s doubtful she ever will. She likes to control any piece of information she can, especially when it comes to my Dad.
Today is the 27th anniversary of his death. I have been through all five stages of grief, many times over. I still miss him, daily. There are times, such as today, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, big events, that I miss him even more than usual.
I’m only three years younger than he was when he died. That seems insane to me. I’ve mentioned before, it is very difficult for me to picture him any older than he was when he died. He’s forever 43 to me. I think I’ll feel even stranger when I outlive him, years wise.
Today, I just want people to realize that mental illness isn’t something you have to hide. Talking about it helps, getting available help, helps. Therapy and medication aren’t the be-all-end-all answer, I know. But sometimes, just knowing for certain that you aren’t alone, means more than anything.
Quartermaster 3rd Class USNR (SS)
August 26, 1947-April 21, 1991 RIP Dad
Fair winds and following seas.