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Some Days, The Heartache Won’t Leave You Alone…

For several days, I was euphoric about the new house. It was good. It was freeing. It was beautiful. It was PROGRESS!

And then a few sidewinders hit me.

On Tuesday, October 17, a local moving company moved many of my worldly possessions from the old rental in Portsmouth to my new home in Suffolk. On Wednesday (the very next day), the same company delivered about 50 large boxes from storage (from my old house in Norfolk) to the garage of my new home. Fortunately, it’s a very spacious garage. Unfortunately, October 18th was the 18 month anniversary of Wayne’s decision to commit suicide.

Opening up those boxes and revisiting my old life ripped a massive scab off my soul that is still trying to re-heal. Pawing through each and every item in those boxes - things that I’ve lived without for 18 months - was excruciating. Due to my emotional state, I did not participate much in the packing up of the old house in Norfolk, so every box was a surprise.

Several items caused me to abandon the garage and run to my bedroom where I collapsed and wept for a time. There were a few boxes that left me unable to return to the garage for the rest of the day.

As one small example: As I looked at the number of dusty old books I owned, I thought to myself, “No wonder he killed himself. Look at all these stupid used books. Who would want to live with someone who buys so many old books?”

To the unenlightened, that may seem like nonsense, but to my tired, terrified and grieving brain, it made perfect sense, and it was devastating.

And what’s worse is that the nightmares have returned. With a vengeance.

I’m so very tired of this struggle. I’ve read repeatedly that “second-year grief” can be worse than the first.

I do know this: Suicide really is a “death like no other.”

Yesterday, I had a short visit with a 76-year-old widow. Her husband died from a combination of old age and a few ancillary ailments. She talked a lot about the many shared, happy memories. She talked about his last words. She talked about how his death was, in some ways, a relief due to his advancing years and declining health.

I found myself absolutely envious. That was supposed to be my story. But it’s not.

Here’s the very best article I’ve ever seen on what it’s like to lose a spouse to suicide.

It has ten bullet points, and they’re all spot-on, but #6 described my life the best:Six (6) :

Your friends and family will find it difficult to believe that you (the man who committed suicide) did this without provocation. They will search for someone to blame. And that person will be your wife. They will whisper that she drove you to it. They will find it hard to be around her. She will have to survive this thing on her own.

People like to talk about the “new normal.” There is no new normal. What’s normal about having the man you love go insane and end his life? What’s normal about losing your spouse, your social standing, your income and your home - all in one moment?

I know that several people have told me that they’re glad “I’m better now” thanks to this lovely home of mine. It’s true, I’m better and I have some stability now, but not an hour goes by that I don’t struggle to keep moving forward.

There is no new normal. There’s just plodding along and hoping that eventually, the days will get easier and that my heart and my soul might one day find true and lasting peace.

The old “friends” are mostly gone, but a handful have remained and have shown their true mettle, and for that handful, I’m supremely grateful. And I’ve learned a lot about those folks: I’ve learned that they’re strong enough to stick around when the going gets tough.

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Author

Mark Madoff was the son of Bernie Madoff. In 2010, he hung himself at the apartment that he shared with his wife, Stpehanie. I'm in the process of reading this book - a little bit at a time. I've had to skip over parts of it, because it's just too painful. Nonetheless, the title says it all.

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  1. Gemma
    October 30th, 2017 at 14:42 | #1

    Saturday evenings/nights are still hard for me, dear Rosie. That’s when I kick back and enjoy Welk, the British comedies, and the British murder mysteries.

    We continued to watch our Saturday evening lineup after our son’s passing unless Festival interrupted. Then we had a bit of reprieve. Things had to change then, and it was for the better.

    To my high-functioning autistic mind, I had to see how life was going to be lived with our son no longer with us. There had to be a certain number of days without him before I could see what life was going to be like.

    We are still here. We are still intact. Our hearts have times of grief, but thankfully, such is brief (poet and don’t know it). Our son’s room is renovated and the new furniture is slowly going in.

    I may eventually have a desk space upon which to write with the laptop. Right now, the machine is truly a laptop.

    I still maintain that Wayne had something wrong.

    He was at the age when it manifests in the way he exited. I can only “hold you in the light of God’s love.” Try praying, “Jesus, I trust in you.”

    With each crying fit, tell yourself that’s one less crying fit. And try hard not to blame yourself.

    Perhaps sit down and think of all the things you would’ve done differently if you’d known there was something wrong. Ask a mental/health care professional to be a sounding board for you.

    Having their support in what you could’ve done can really mean the world and help you move on.

    I did the same, and now I am free enough to think about the future.

  2. Linda G
    October 31st, 2017 at 15:47 | #2

    Rosemary, you are quite obviously an intelligent and sensitive person; but even to those who should know otherwise, grief and guilt seem to be a package deal.

    My husband died a natural death seemingly out of the blue; but looking back, there were signs. I have tortured myself with the thoughts of things I could have done differently that might have saved his life.

    That is just a natural part of grieving a sudden death.

    But I can well see how the suicide of a spouse would greatly increase the length and breadth and weight of that guilt.

    However, I completely agree with Gemma. Wayne had something wrong with him, something he chose not to share with you or anyone else for that matter.

    If his decision to take his own life had truly been your fault (which I doubt), he failed you utterly and more colossally than you could have ever failed him by any human fault or flaw.

    He had a duty as your husband to let you know what he found so “unlovable” about you and give you the opportunity to make amends and change if you chose to do so.

    Please look in the mirror and tell yourself what you already know…that Wayne had choices. Suicide is not normally the “go-to” option for an unhappily married man.

    Some men choose to have affairs. While that’s a dirty rotten thing to do, it would have allowed you to clearly see yourself as the wronged party that you are.

    Some men have enough sensitivity to talk to their wives about their unhappiness and opt for marriage counseling. Still other men choose to leave the marriage.

    Wayne didn’t choose any of these options because he did not want to be stopped. He did not want to be given a reason to live because he was tired of living life on life’s terms.

    He wanted to live life strictly on his terms…he wanted to be in control.

    I believe that your husband had a myriad of problems that pre-dated his relationship with you. He may have brought those problems into the marriage expecting you to make things better, fix him and make him feel whole again, or at least less empty.

    When you failed to do that because you didn’t realize that was the expectation and also because it was not your responsibility, he chose to blame you.

    That is the meanest angriest thing I have ever heard of anyone doing and my heart aches for you having to bear that undeserved burden.

    You continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. November 7th, 2017 at 11:03 | #3

    I sincerely regret that this happened to you. I myself experienced a similar situation.

    My wife 6 years ago got drunk on pills because of the death of our common child. It was not just a feeling that the earth had left from under the feet and the sky had crashed down - I was completely devastated.

    I didn’t see the point in life at all, and I seriously thought about putting an end to all this.

    The most difficult was the realization of the situation where I was - at that time I was 28 years old, I lost my child and wife. I mentally began to search for the meaning of life, seek for what to fight next, what to strive for.

    For the most part, my sister saved me, since she had a son, a year older than mine. To get away from all this, I tried to shift my attention to them, to work, which eventually allowed me to accept.

    Nightmares will never pass, but they will visit less often, and instead of an irreparable loss there will be a feeling that Wayne is with you, and memories of him will even warm your heart.

  4. Lydia Jasper
    November 8th, 2017 at 12:45 | #4

    Hi, Rosemary, I stumbled on your site while perusing Pinterest. Your site is so informative - in so many ways.

    I cannot speak to the tragedy that’s come to you; never been where you’re walking.

    Your ordeal broke my heart and I cannot imagine your pain.

    All I can do is thank you for having the courage to share your experience, teaching at least me to be grateful even more for the blessings in my own life…and to see the pain around me.

    You won’t ever get over this…this I know from my own experiences, but I will pray for you and for healing.

    God bless you and keep you in His loving arms and comfort you.

    Lydia (Newport News)

  5. Amanda
    November 8th, 2017 at 15:13 | #5

    I lost a close family member to suicide 5 years ago.

    I read every book there was on the subject to try to understand my grief and heal.

    This was by far the best one I read: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0385485514/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510168284&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=no+time+to+say+goodbye&dpPl=1&dpID=51Lwj0-uR%2BL&ref=plSrch

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