Hindsight, suicide and advice for those who have lost

by Stacey Bailey

?Hindsight, it?s a wonderful thing?. Everyone would love to have hindsight. If we had this ? things would run smoothly, and life would be perfect right? But we don?t have hindsight. So, life isn?t perfect. I?m not sure it?s meant to be that way, anyway.

We don?t have our own hindsight ? but the hindsight of others can teach us all so much. By that I mean, I can sit here and say to you ? in hindsight I should have, could have, would have?.. So let my hindsight help you. Take some advice from my story. My hindsight.

I’d always looked at families who had lost a loved one suddenly and tragically. My heart would always ache, just thinking about how they were actually going to cope with losing their loved one. Death is so final. Death is forever. So much has to change after death.

I always selfishly thought to myself, ‘I’m so glad it’s not me’ or ‘ I hope that never happens to me’. Because for me personally, I’d never lost anyone close. These things happened to other people not me, and that was the way I wanted it to stay.

Never did I think it would ever happen to me. But – It happened to me. It happened to my children. September 11, 2014.

?September 11?. How often have you heard that horrible date over the past 13 years? A day everyone will remember forever. September 11, 2001 ? So many lives were lost, so many families destroyed, so much pain and heartache.

And now September 11, 2014. Another life lost. A father. A soulmate. An amazing friend. A handsome and talented man. Why? Because he couldn?t see a way out. He was unwell. So unwell, that he couldn’t see how much everyone loved him. People showed nothing but love and admiration for him, yet he couldn?t come back from this. He suffered in silence.

I’ve been in the Police for nearly 14 years now. During that time David and I had a family. We had two beautiful children together and David had an older daughter who we had shared custody of. We were both successful in our careers; I qualified as a Detective while the children were young, and David was well regarded in his line of work. We were involved in a range of sports, and on the face of it, things were great.

David came from a loving family of five siblings. His family were all extremely close and affectionate. He was a perfectionist. I called him my “MacGyver’ because he could make or fix anything. He was also extremely handsome and intelligent. He was an amazing father, and our children just adored him. He played the guitar, and had a great voice. He was an all-rounder at sports. He couldn?t be any more perfect.

Just like any other couple, working full time, paying a mortgage, bringing up three children – our relationship was sometimes challenging. Personally, I had accepted that that was just part of life and having talked to people more recently – this just appears to be the case in most relationships. You put time and energy into everything else. Relationship ? second.

Over our 9 year relationship it was apparent to me that David suffered from depression on and off, however it was never apparent to me how bad it actually was. He never ever admitted that outright, he never said “I suffer from depression”. I think he felt that if he actually said that out loud, I would judge or think less of him. I wouldn?t love him the same.

To all our family and friends, David was always ?happy?. He always wore a handsome smile from ear to ear in public every single day. He was a fun loving person to be around, but people had no idea what was simmering under the surface. David hid that well.

Now I am not going to pretend to understand what it feels like to suffer from depression. I have never personally suffered from it, just as I?ve never had a cold sore, influenza, a broken arm. What I do understand, is what it?s like to live with someone who suffers.

He would get “low” (as he put it) at anniversaries of his late grandparents deaths or birthdays. He would get “low” over things that I considered trivial, and because I considered them trivial, I never took the time to understand why he was truly feeling that way. Instead, I?d simply remind him of all the great things in his life ? his children, his great job, his good health. It was like I was saying indirectly ? ?get over it, it?s not that bad?. I wish I had of taken more time to truly understand.

In the many years of being a Police Officer I became accustomed to suicide. Sadly, Police attended numerous suicides every week. While attending suicides I always thought it was such a selfish act. Sometimes I feel it still is. But let me explain why.

I truly don’t believe the person who dies from suicide is “selfish”. In fact I believe that person is very brave. It takes great courage end your life. But the act of doing that is selfish. I think its best explained in this quote: “?killing yourself is like taking your pain, multiplying it 10X, and giving it to the ones who love you.” “? imagine yourself wearing a suicide bombers vest of explosives and walking into a crow of innocent people”.

It’s the devastation that is left behind that makes this act selfish. If only David was well enough to comprehend that ? there is no way he would have done this. No way. No one would do this if they were mentally well enough to realise devastation that follows. And that?s why the “selfishness” of suicide is not a personal attack on the individual – they simply aren’t well enough to understand or think rationally, and they simply can?t comprehend the catastrophic effect it has on those left behind.

David was the most loving, kind, generous person I’ve ever meet. He was in no way selfish. He would do anything for anyone. We have to remember ?depression is a deficiency in chemistry, not character?. It can happen to anyone. It happened to David. It could happen to you.

The night before David’s funeral I sat alone with him in my lounge. It was hard to believe that that was my last physical night of being with him in our lounge together. For the past nine years we spent the evenings together in that living room. It was “our time”. And now – this was our final night together. Our final night together, ever. When they placed the lid on his coffin that was the last time I would ever look at him. I would never ever see him again after that. My final look at him.

It’s hard to be angry at David because I now understand now how unwell he was. Yes, when the kids are upset, I get angry, that goes without saying. They don?t deserve this and I shouldn?t be bringing them up on my own. It?s hard to believe, they will now only know their dad for a small fraction of their lives. My daughter only had her dad for 3 years of her life. My son, 6 years. How is that fair?

In the months that followed, David consumed my thoughts every moment of the day. I constantly ran scenarios through my head about all the things I should’ve, could’ve or would’ve done to prevent this. Hindsight.

The guilt and self blame was so intense. I failed him and hindsight truly is a wonderful thing. Thinking back to all the small things, the small signs – how could I be so dumb not to pick up on them? “You can’t blame yourself Stacey”, something I heard day in, day out. Self blame is, in my eyes, a natural part of the grief process for suicide. Friends of ours were blaming themselves for things they should’ve, could’ve, or would’ve done to prevent this, so of course I was going to.

So, my hindsight lessons to you are:

You never know what is around the corner so always put time and energy into you loved ones. Every single day. It?s not hard, so make the time.

Try to understand. Talk to them about it ? that might be your only way to understanding. I guess I selfishly thought it wasn?t as bad as it actually was. I selfishly thought ?he?ll get through this rough patch, and we?ll carry on, just like we?ve always done over the years?. Never underestimate how sick they actually are.

Reach out. Include other family members and close friends. Seek help from professionals and don?t keep this to yourself. I felt that if I was to say something to someone, I?d be betraying his trust, and embarrassing him. I kept second guessing myself ? was I overreacting? I know now that I wouldn?t have been.But its too late. If there is one thing I could change now, it would be this.

Family is everything. Appreciate each other. Forget the lawns, or groceries on a weekend. Go and do something as a family. Too often did I sacrifice family time for stupid things like this. I regret that.

Do not put all your trust in the professionals either. They get things wrong too. Always remember ? you are the one that knows this person the best, not them! Make sure you?re included in all the decision making. Mental Health let us down. They let David down. What?s done is done. I can?t change anything now, but I am going to do everything in my power to make sure this doesn?t happen to anyone else in the future.

Lastly ? you are responsible for your own happiness. We get one chance at life. Make the most of it. Live and love like there is no tomorrow.

To those who have lost

Don’t feel guilty for smiling or laughing. We are entitled to be happy too. I remember the first real smile after David died. It must have been about 3 months later. A genuine smile ? the muscles in my face actually hurt.

The old saying “it will get easier” is actually true. Slowly the good hours turn into good days. The good days slowly turn into good weeks. Don’t get me wrong, there are still heaps of sad moments, and there are still tears and heartache, but “it does get easier”, slowly. I’ve been there, I’m still there, I know.

Sleep is important. Tiredness multiples grief tenfold. Good sleep means less tears, less sad moments.

Choose a small group of friends that you can lean on. These are the friends that will answer your calls at 2am, cry with you, NOT ask you ?what is wrong? or tell you that ‘they know how you feel’. You’re dependence on these friends will lessen over time, but your friendship will remain stronger than ever, for eternity.

As time passes, you slowly realise that you made the decisions and choices you did at that time, because you believed they were the right decisions / choices to be made. Yes hindsight is a wonderful thing, but reality is – if we are looking in hindsight, it’s simply too late.

I believe self-blame is a natural part of the grief process for suicide. But self-blame does lessen over time, but only with acceptance. Acceptance ? this is a gradual thing. As you slowly start to ?accept? you slowly start to move forward. “Accept was is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be”.

I’ve now accepted that David made his own decision to end his life, I played no part in that. I’ve accepted that nothing I can do or say now will change what has happened. He?s not coming home. I?ve accepted that when I take my kids to see their dad, it?s at the cemetery. I’ve accepted that with life comes death

Lastly, to my soulmate; you and I will meet again one day, but for now I’ve got a whole lot of living to do. You haven’t seen the best of me yet. I’ve got two amazing children to enjoy and a whole lot of living to do. I’ll be seeing you again David, but not for a long time yet. x


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