It is never easy to talk openly about personal experiences in life, particularly if they have been tragic. But, as the sands of time shift, that necessary process does become easier. This is a subjective thought, but I also feel that it differs from person to person. It really depends on the woman’s personality and how deep the scars are. It could also depend on the type of friends or family she has about her and, in their turn, how receptive they are to being good listeners and offering support where it is needed.
In my case, I was very fortunate. Also, I was lucky enough to act as quickly as I did when given the advice to do so. So, when a loved one takes his life, you cannot imagine the shock and trauma experienced unless you’ve experienced this first hand yourself. If you have, please feel free to share your thoughts with us here. You never know, you might just be helping out another woman who is struggling to cope right now. Goodness knows, as strong as I may appear to be right now, I still need a bit of lifting every now and then.
I think the best way I can get this off my chest is by simply recalling the tragic events as it happened. Just a day after our family gathering, seemingly joyous and peaceful, I got the call that no-one would ever want to receive. It was my oldest brother. He had been the first to arrive at the scene after my mom’s shock discovery. After noticing that he had been gone for an unusually long time, she proceeded to go looking for my father. And then she discovered him in the garage.
Understandably, she simply collapsed from the shock. By the time she had recovered, all she could think of doing was phoning the next of kin. It was the right thing to do. My brother was the model man and handled everything as calmly as he could. When he told me the sad news I began sobbing immediately. Fortunately, my husband was there when it happened. Knowing that something was horribly wrong, he simply covered me with his arms. The children, confused, had to be left to their own devices for a while.
There was nothing else that could be done. The funeral arrangements proceeded swiftly and efficiently. So, apart from the sadness and the shock, we managed that as well as we could. No sooner had my father been buried, the necessary process of therapy had begun. At this stage, I can’t speak for my mother. But from day one, I handled my therapy sessions as amicably as I could. It was difficult at first because I am not one who easily reveals personal thoughts and emotions to strangers.
Fortunately, and I suppose I will continue to emphasize this throughout my life, I had my husband at my side. He was always supportive and thoughtful. He was, and still is, my hero. Apart from having to go into work every morning back then, he took over the roles of mothering the children and getting our meals ready every day. It helped, of course, that he was already a good cook and enjoyed the tasks. Fortunately for him, it was only a matter of days before I returned to my duties.
It helps to take the mind off troubled thoughts, even for a short while. For a long time the debate raged on whether my father had been suffering from clinical depression throughout his life. In his day, the benefit of being diagnosed and treated wasn’t there. Today, people have those outlets. One thing I do know, and I’m happy about this, is that neither my husband, my mother nor I suffer from depression. I pondered over this for a long time when thinking what we’ve all been through.
But they say that clinical depression can begin as early as childhood. It’s a lifelong disease for which there is no cure. The disease, like many other chronic diseases, my husband’s included, can only be managed with the proper care, treatment and medication. But where depression is concerned, it’s a tough call. Because the path to wellness only really begins when the sufferer has opened up and turned to someone for help. This, of course, is not so easy for a lot of people.
It certainly wasn’t for my father. Now, I’m not shifting blame away from us, or expressing any feelings of guilt when I say this. All I’m saying is that we were never aware just how secretly unhappy he was. And I understand partially what he may have been going through. It was always expected that men of his stature would be the strong, silent and leading types. To his last, dying day, my father lived bravely up to that standard. Today I am still so proud of him.
My husband, in spite of his illness, is strong. He, in many ways, is the ideal husband and father. But is he silent? Hardly ever. You know, there are some days when I wish he would just pipe down. He can be like a nagging mother sometimes. I worry about myself sometimes. Perhaps it’s a chip off my father’s shoulder, but I can be a bit moody and quiet sometimes. But, fortunately for me, my husband will never rest until I’ve opened up, even if it means he must spend days dragging it out of me.
And usually, it’s something not worth worrying about at all. My brother’s father has a wise saying. There is no point worrying over things and events over which you have no control over. All you can do is just try your best and make an impact on things you are able to control. Even if it’s only a slight sensation, girls, if you’re feeling downhearted, don’t keep it to yourself. Try and talk to someone. It may save your life and the lives of others.