A Suicide in the Family

We’ve never had a suicide in the family that I can remember. Until now. My cousin killed herself yesterday. I’m trying really hard not feel guilt. She sent me a message yesterday asking me to call her and I was so busy packing that I forgot. By time we got finished for the night, she was probably already dead. I don’t know if I could have said anything that would have changed the outcome. I’m choosing not to dwell on that.

I have always had mixed feelings about suicide and life in general. I don’t subscribe to the Christian belief that “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” Nor do I believe if you take your life because it’s just too much that you spend eternity in hell.

My cousin was a tortured soul. On the outside she had unwavering faith & belief in God, but eventually, her demons won. Sometimes you can be dealt more than you can handle.

I used to firmly believe that suicide was selfish. You wouldn’t have been able to convince me otherwise, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that there are lots of reasons that a person might take their own life. It is not always because they are weak or selfish.

I never understood the part mental health or lack of mental health resources played in suicide.

I remember a year or so ago, it was late fall, I was sitting at a stop sign and out of nowhere, I almost pulled out in front of a city bus. I wasn’t “suicidal.” Nothing was “wrong.” But nothing was right, either. My Seasonal Affective was working overtime and the sun was on vacation in Florida. I didn’t want to die. I just didn’t want to live. I also didn’t want to tell anyone how I felt.

I knew something had to change and I knew what I needed to do to feel better. I needed to get a therapy lamp (my daughter sent me one shortly after this), I knew I needed to eat less processed food and more whole foods, they are scientifically proven to have an impact on your mental health because of gut health. I knew I needed to meditate, move my body, exercise; movement is the body’s way of destressing the mind. And, luckily for me, I was still in my right mind enough to get those things in check. I’ve had other years where I’ve spent all of my non-working time in bed, under the covers, only getting up to eat and use the bathroom and do the bare minimum parenting duties. Crying in private, smiling in public. But I never thought of ways to die. I had the will to live.

Ending it was never something I would have entertained, but I know there are a lot of people who can’t say the same. I guess my cousin is one of them.

I’m sad we didn’t get to say goodbye.

I wish I would have taken the five seconds to give her a call.

Life is short. There are no do-overs in this life. People make mistakes. Some are forgivable. Some are not. When they are, you should.

Like all of us, my cousin made choices. Some good, some bad. She burned bridges, made mistakes. Then she ultimately made the choice not to exist in this realm anymore.

If there is a God, I hope the pearly gates open wide for her. And if reincarnation is real, I hope my cousin gets a do over and gets more happiness in her next life than she ever knew in this one. And since I don’t know what actually happens on the other side when we die, or if there is another side at all, I will just be grateful that she’s not in pain anymore.

Love you, Paula.

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