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Surviving Suicide – Part 27

July 19, 2010


I’m supposed to be on a teleseminar tonight that deals with procrastination. One of the gals I attended a bootcamp with earlier in the year was putting it on, it’s something I do all the time, so when I saw it in my inbox, I decided to sign up. Was covering which styles you use to procrastinate, what you really want to get in your life and easy strategies to achieve that feeling without procrastinating to get it. Sounds perfect right?

The irony of missing the call so I could do a post isn’t lost on me lol! Thankfully these calls usually have a recording so I’ll listen tomorrow. I’ve been procrastinating on my blog so decided my intuition was telling me to blog and listen later. I’m a little burned out on teleseminars again, listening to others tell you what you need to know. I’m really realizing I have all I need to know and am learning to trust that now.

March 2001 – After Rob’s death:

My in-laws were really grieving the loss of their son and my father-in-law had already had a stroke in Nov. 2009 prior to Rob’s death. My mother-in-law had a stroke too on March 5, 2001 – I believe it was due to the stress and extreme grief and pressure she was under.

I don’t think those who commit suicide truly consider what those left behind go through. My in-laws never really recovered. We didn’t discuss it much, barely even mentioned Rob’s name for a very long time and so it was like a giant white elephant in the room and nobody wanting to mention it.

The psychic I previously mentioned in yesterday’s post also spoke of my in-laws, knowing that Rob would do this, that it was some sort of sacred contract (Caroline Myss – Sacred Contracts speaks about this). The psychic said it was pre-decided when Rob chose to be born to my in-laws, that all of this had been laid out. Sounded pretty far fetched to me and I’ve listened to Caroline Myss’ Sacred Contracts. I told the psychic if his parents knew, they sure weren’t taking it well at all!

I do remember that Rob at his 40th birthday party mentioned he didn’t want to see 50. He had a really hard time dealing with 40, was very badly behaved in the time leading up to the party and even though he ended up having a good time, he did make that comment about not making 50. I recall thinking it was a very strange thing to say at the time, but he was right unfortunately.

The same week my mother-in-law had her stroke, my father-in-law had some dental work done and had a tooth extracted. Something didn’t go well and he was losing a lot of blood and he too ended up being hospitalized in the same hospital as my mother-in-law on March 8th.

From the time Rob had died until March 9th, I did not know how Rob had ended his life. I had thought many times about it, but finally made the decision to stop tormenting myself with questions I couldn’t have answers to. On Friday, March 9th, the same week my in-laws were both hospitalized, I got a call at work from the Coroner’s Office.

They said I could come in and get the autopsy results and fortunately they were located not too far from where I had the business. I left the shop and drove there. The Coroner was a very nice, soft spoken man. He told me there was no way to know exactly when Rob had died as too much decomposition had taken place. He told me that the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning and that Rob had 80% levels which was extremely high.

The Coroner showed me a few pictures of a red gas powered generator. Rob had a number of them. I told him I sort of recognized it, but he had so many I couldn’t really tell one from the other. So it turns out that Rob closed the bedroom door on the boat, turned the gas powered generator on and laid down on the bed and went permanently to sleep.

I remembered thinking at least it wasn’t violent or painful, he’d have just gotten sleepy and fallen asleep, never to wake again. Once the generator ran out of gas, Rob would have already passed away, but with the door closed and the heat on in the boat, it tremendously accelerated decomp and this is why they couldn’t establish time of death and also why the mortician was unable to make Rob presentable to me.

I looked over the autopsy report, noticed that Rob had advanced hardening of the arteries which for a young man of 47 was not good. He also had a kidney stone. At some point in early December 2000, or maybe even November, Rob had been in exruciating pain and had gone to the hospital to see what was wrong. They did all sorts of tests but found nothing. Turns out it was the kidney stone.

The Coroner asked me if I wanted to see pictures of Rob, he assured me they were not close-ups, but I’d be able to at least see that it was Rob. I thought about it for a few seconds and immediately said no. I didn’t want to remember Rob dead. The Coroner left the room to make a copy of the autopsy report for me and it was then that I realized, this was probably the one and only chance I’d get to actually see a picture to help me have closure, and once he returned, I told him I’d changed my mind and wanted to see them.

He selected 2 or 3 photos that showed Rob lying on the bed, he was wearing his jeans, a shirt I was familiar with and his trademark white socks and Birkenstocks. I remember just staring and staring at the photos. I couldn’t see his face so much, but I knew it was him and for me, that was comforting somehow.

It then dawned on me that the red generator the Coroner had shown me pictures of was not on the boat. I’d been on the boat a few times and it was quite big so couldn’t have been missed. The Coroner told me the police removed it as evidence. My anger returned with the police thinking how dare they remove property of mine without saying a word! I wondered what else they’d helped themselves to that I’d never even be aware of. Then I told myself to just let that go, it was over now and no point getting upset about it, but added to my dislike of police.

I drove back to my shop, and was feeling quite sad. After seeing Rob’s pictures, I realized just how sad it all was. How do you get to the point that you decide to take your own life? I’d been through some pretty horrible times, but throughout it all – there was never a day that I didn’t want to wake up and see another day. It is very difficult to put yourself in someone’s shoes who is suicidal or having suicidal thoughts when you don’t and never have had those kinds of feelings/thoughts. It is probably THE most difficult thing for anyone to be able to do when counselling someone who is suicidal, but they receive training so to speak.

I felt comforted having seen the pictures and finally knowing how Rob had died. I called my sis-in-law when I got back to the shop, told her I’d been to see the Coroner and she was shocked that I’d have gone by myself. I told her the thought never occurred to me to take anyone with me and I hadn’t had a lot of notice. Even though I had many loving, caring people around me – there were many times where I was alone to do things like this and I was okay with that, almost preferred it in a way.

I told my sis-in-law that Rob had died from carbon monoxide poisoning with the generator. There was absolute dead silence at the other end of the phone. My sis-in-law got quite choked up and I was caught off guard that she’d take it so badly as I was expecting her to be like me and find it comforting to know he’d not suffered. Everyone is different.

I left work early that day and remember thinking that night, more like envisioning Rob’s last moments, as to what he must have been doing in preparation. I couldn’t imagine starting up the generator and laying down on the bed waiting to die. I wondered what thoughts raged through his head, I wondered if he cried, I wondered whether he was hoping someone would show up and stop it and save him. I remembered we’d all been together – his family – for Christmas Eve and here he was waiting to die. I wondered if he’d heard the many calls but chosen not to answer. I wondered if it would have made any difference had I called him that day to invite him to go to his sister’s. I cried and cried until I fell asleep.

That was one helluva week for sure! My son was off once again from school for Spring Break and I noted that the day following the Coroner’s visit, that I was really depressed and spent most of the day in bed. Of course I got up to feed my son his meals, but I was in no shape really to be there for him and felt bad for that too, but he entertained himself that day. The following day was Sunday and my son and I went out with my brother and his partner for a nice dinner at a local restaurant. I told my Mom and brother how Rob had died too. They took it fairly well.

I don’t remember if I asked my sis-in-law whether she’d be telling her Mom and Dad about the autopsy results. I know she never told them, and what I found very strange was that my mother-in-law never asked. I couldn’t imagine having lost my son and not wanting to know how he’d died, but she never asked me and I never brought it up. To this very day I don’t believe she knows. Again a lesson in how everyone is different.

My sis-in-law said my mother-in-law had to stay in the hospital for a bit after her stroke, but that my father-in-law was coming home and my sis-in-law asked if I could stay with him for a few days to look after him. I knew immediately that I wasn’t up to it, couldn’t take it on, I was far too emotional and vulnerable myself. I felt badly but told her I simply couldn’t do that. She was mad that I wouldn’t as this meant she had to and also had to arrange for someone else. This was one of the times where I immediately took a stand for myself without any thought and knew with certainty that I’d done what was right for me. Didn’t have a single moment of guilt about it, but I knew my sis-in-law didn’t like it.

My son and I went to visit my in-laws March 18th at their home, I think my sis-in-law was there too. My in-laws were both at home now, but neither doing very well. I was dreading seeing them, things had changed so much when we separated, but now even moreso somehow. It wasn’t any one specific thing, might only have been my own thought processes, but I felt it was different. It wasn’t as relaxed as it once was and I was on guard not to say anything that I shouldn’t in case it upset them.

March 19th I’ve noted that it was a “really sad day – crying, hopeless, demotivated, abandoned and dumped with troubles”. I guess I was really having a woe is me day, I was entitled. Another girlfriend from the yacht club called to see how I was doing, we’d been really good friends with she and her hubbie for many years, but Rob and her hubbie had a falling out and that ended the friendship as couples, but I’d always remained friends with her.

She asked me why I had stayed with Rob? I answered her “I don’t know, I loved him, I hoped and thought it was forever and that it would improve.” Things had not been good for many years, I’m not a stupid person, but for whatever reason, just didn’t take action to leave a bad marriage. I may have mentioned this earlier in a post, but in a way, Rob almost did me a favour by having the affairs and me finding out. It is what caused me to finally say enough is enough!

Although I was sad and would have never wanted things to end the way they did, I also saw even at the time, that everything happened for a reason. I knew had Rob remained alive, he would have made my life and my son’s a living hell. I just knew he’d never truly leave us alone, just as my Dad had done with my Mom when she left him. The parallels with my Mom’s life and mine were often very similar.

On March 21st it was Rob’s birthday, I’ve noted that he would have been 48. So young :(. I also noted “Why????” which was still a question I had no answer to and never would. It was a day I’d been dreading, but noted it was not as bad a day as I thought. It had been almost 3 months since I saw and spoke to Rob, I noted “hope pain stops”. I literally had chest pain where my heart was, wondered if my heart was physically damaged permanently, but you can and do really feel pain with a broken heart.

Since Rob’s passing, the gal pal WC still had the audacity to show up at the yacht club, even though everyone knew what had happened, including her husband who she was still separated from. As I mentioned on the day of Rob’s Memorial service, she wasn’t big on brains and didn’t seem to know what was acceptable – so that’s what I figured was going on.

Friends would call and tell me she was there at the club acting like nothing had happened, having a drink, visiting with friends and my friends didn’t think this was right, nor should she, the spouse of the paying member be allowed access to the yacht club when separated. I didn’t like it either even though I didn’t go to the club much.

I had been given some sort of honorary free membership for one year after Rob died, woop-di-doo! They’d given me such a hassle about moving my boat but made this pretense. I did call the General Manager once again to ask why WC was being allowed at the club and able to have signing priviledges? He didn’t have a real answer, but said he didn’t think it was allowed and he’d bring it up to the Board at the next meeting.

March 23rd the General Manager called me to say it had been decided they’d send WC’s husband a formal letter telling him that his wife was not allowed at the club. He was the paying Senior member, she was just a spouse and had no real rights or priviledges. On March 29th the police returned the generator Rob had used to kill himself. The officer carried it down to my basement saying “I didn’t think you’d want this back?”. I told him “Why? it’s just a machine, it hasn’t done anything wrong and I’ll sell it.”

All in all, March was a very stressful month once again! I had hoped things would get better, be less stressful, but didn’t seem to be in the cards. I had pretty much stopped asking or saying out loud “what else can go wrong?” because something assuredly showed up! 😉

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Daniel Hollywood permalink
    July 19, 2010 8:02 pm

    Hi Barb,

    Well, you certainly went thru an emotional roller coaster for the three months following Rob’s death, but luckily you’ve made your way thru it all. I think this Blog was a fantastic idea in that its been a cathartic relief which you’ve been holding bottled up inside for the last ten years, you’ve kept very good notes and also must have a very good memory with all the minute details you give.

    When my Dad died from the Heart Attack he was only 53 years old at the time and it came as a great shock to my Mother, he was the only man she ever loved, he passed in 1966, but she lived in a constant state of depression until she passed away from Alzheimers disease on Feb 2nd of 1990, I constantly asked her to see a counseler so she could get the grief out of her system but she always refused.

    I really give you credit for revealing all that you’d gone thru and I do think it will be of great help for anyone going thru a similar situation.

    • July 19, 2010 9:30 pm

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks once again for your comment, really appreciate it. It really is cathartic for me, I knew it would be, why I waited so long is another story, but no time like the present! I did keep a lot of notes, mostly just brief ones in my daytimer monthly tabs, but it helps with recalling all these many years later. I do have an outstanding memory and I feel when you’ve gone through something this emotionally life changing, you never really do forget, but it’s surprising upon reading my notes, what I had forgotten.

      I’m sorry your Mom wasn’t able to heal and move on. I’ve known a few others do the same and it seems such a shame to live out your life unhappily. I think sometimes when couples have been together a very long time, when one partner dies, the other never really does go on and recover. My Mom lost her husband about 5 years ago now and she’s never really been happy since either. It’s like she gave up on life when he died, she’s lost without him and isn’t really motivated to make a new life for herself. She did see a counsellor for a little bit, but stopped and is reluctant to start up again, although I often encourage her to. We talk very openly all the time, I share what tips/tools I’ve come across that worked for me, she’s not opposed, but doesn’t follow through consistently long enough to make change. If you want something different, you must do something different – it’s really that simple.

      My hope throughout all of this has always been to help others who’ve experienced the loss of someone to suicide come to terms with it, have open dialogue about it and heal so they have the chance to go on and live happy lives, which I truly believe we’re all meant to live.

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