Do The What Ifs And Whys Ever Stop When You Lose A Loved One To Suicide?

In the last year, several world famous celebrities, including Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, committed suicide. People wrote articles, published posts, tweeted, expressed their disbelief for several weeks after their death, then life went back to normal. But what about their families and close friends? Did life go back to normal for them? No! On that day, their lives changed forever, not just for a few weeks! In Kate Spade’s case, her 13-year-old daughter will have to deal with the loss of her mother for the rest of her life, just like my kids and I do with the loss of their dad. And with suicide, there is so much more to the grieving process because you can’t stop asking yourself so many questions. Do the What ifs and Whys ever stop when you lose a loved one to suicide?

Already 5 Years!

It will be 5 years this Christmas since my husband took his own life.

He was 46 at the time of his death, and this coming Sunday, it’s his birthday. He would will turn 51. My kids and I plan to celebrate his birthday together, the same way we have done it for the last 5 years. This year, my oldest daughter ordered a wooden plaque engraved with his name to put on his tree (a tree we randomly selected the first year, in the near by provincial park where he used to bike or cross country ski depending on the season). As in previous years, we will make a stop at his (ours too) favorite coffee shop on our way there. The day will be filled with lots of tears but also a lot of laughs as we share our respective memories of what life was like when he was alive, before his depression.

Since he past away, we shifted our focus on celebrating his life on his birthday instead of focusing on his death on Christmas Day. I thought it would be better for my kids and, so far, I think it has been. Of course, our thoughts are with him on Christmas Day, we can’t change that! Nothing can. But we put so much focus on celebrating his life on his birthday that I think it has helped my kids to manage getting thru the Christmas Holidays.

Related postHow My Husband’s Depression Changed Our Lives Forever

Grieving Progress

There is not one day that goes by I don’t think about my husband, there is always something to remind me of him. It also doesn’t help that my 17-year-old is a spitting image of his dad, even his smile! We spent 22 years of our lives together and have three kids, I guess it makes it harder to try to forget!

I no longer cry everyday on my way to work. It took me a long time to get there, my drive to work was my sanctuary, all alone in my car I would allow myself to reminisce freely about our life together. I don’t anymore or rarely.

I no longer spend hours looking back at pictures of happier times, if anything I avoid them most of the time. It is still too painful, I am hoping one day it will be a little easier.

I often think about his suicide, how could this happen to us? Suicide doesn’t happen to us, it happens to others, it happens in movies…not to us!

I ALWAYS worry about my kids’ mental health. Are they going to be ok? Is this going to mess them up? Can I make up for their dad not being there?

From the outside, I have moved on, but in reality, on the inside, I haven’t. I am surviving, one day at a time. Some days better than others.

It is very painful when you lose a loved one. I lost both my parents to cancer and I miss them dearly, but losing a loved one to suicide makes the grieving process so much more challenging.

I am even resentful sometimes! Not my proudest moments, but dealing with three kids on your own is not always easy, and sometimes I resent him for leaving me alone to deal with it all.

Related post: Even If I Had All The Money In The World, I Can’t Bring Him Back!

Definition Of Suicide

It took me a long time to start using the word suicide when talking about my husband’s death. This post is the most I have ever used it! Almost like if I was ashamed of it. Now I am more comfortable with the word itself, I decided to look up the actual definition. As per the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, suicide is :

the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally

This is what makes it so much harder to comprehend; voluntarily and intentionally. How are the rest of us supposed to deal with it? Did he not love us enough? Were we not good enough? How could he deliberately decide to leave us?

My On-going Struggle With The What Ifs And Whys

What Ifs?

I basically replay our entire life together (yup, most of the 22 years! The good and the bad) with What If’s. It’s a lost battle, I will never know what would have happened If! So why do I keep torturing myself with the What Ifs?


Same with the Whys? I will never understand how a loving father (and husband) can lose the will to live and give up everything he worked so hard for.

How Do They Know ?

They say it’s a disease, they say there is nothing anyone could have done. They say it doesn’t matter if I had done things differently, he would have taken his own life eventually (because he was sick)! I am told I shouldn’t blame myself, it’s not my fault!

How do they know? Do they have proof? Can they replay our lives to see if, with a few tweaks, the ending would turn out differently? NO!

Wrapping Up

I don’t think there is ANYTHING anyone can say that will ever make me stop wondering and asking myself What If and Why.

The only one explanation, that makes any kind of sense, is that sometimes people commit suicide because they feel like they are becoming a burden to their loved ones and they can’t control that thought. Thinking back, I guess it is possible my husband felt so depressed that he thought he was doing our kids and I a favor by taking his own life. So sad to think it could have been his thought process.

He LOVED our kids so much, what other explanation could there be?

I know I will struggle with the What Ifs and Whys for the rest of my life and need to cope with it the best I can, and so do my kids . It’s one of the toughest challenges I will ever have to deal with but life MUST go on.

And I still have so much to be thankful for.

In loving memory of my husband.

Happy Birthday R.  We miss you.


If you think you may be depressed or have suicidal thoughts, talk to someone and get help, here are some of the many resources:

Do the What ifs and Whys ever stop when you lose a loved one to suicide?

20 thoughts on “Do The What Ifs And Whys Ever Stop When You Lose A Loved One To Suicide?

  1. The sister of a close friend took her own life.

    My friend told me: “Everyone has skeletons in the closet. People who commit suicide leave their skeletons in other people’s closets.”

  2. i can’t say i know how you feel, but at least you’re alive enough to have yourself moved to tears. i would worry if you just got numb in place of that. i lost a close friend my same age to alcoholism 2 years ago. he was the best man in my wedding and we worked together for a long time. i didn’t hear from him for awhile and that wasn’t all that unusual until somebody called out of the blue with the news. i always wondered why he didn’t reach out or at least say goodbye when he knew his liver had failed. i wonder in the same way if he didn’t want to burden anyone. it’s hard to be in somebody else’s head i guess.

    happy birthday, R. peace.

    1. Thanks Freddy, yes it is VERY difficult to put yourself in somebody’s head. I hope I stop trying eventually. But at least I have a lot to be thankful for.

  3. Thinking of your family this weekend. Celebrating his life on his birthday seems like such a respectful choice to honor the good parts of the journey that you shared together.

  4. Makes me feel so sad for what you’re going through Caroline. I think it’s better off to celebrate his life on his birthday rather than his death on Christmas. Doing this seems to think of the happier times all of you went through as a couple and as a family.

    1. Thank you Kris.
      The sad part is that, I often worry that other people don’t enjoy their life as much as they should because they think their happiness will last forever. I was one of them!
      Remembering the happier times work for us:)

  5. Hi Caroline, it’s good you and your kids celebrate your husband’s life on his birthday. Yeah, the loss and pain may never go away. Wish you and your family the best.

  6. I’m so sorry Caroline, that your husband took his life. I can feel your sorrow through your words and I am tearing up as I read your moving post!! 🙁

    Take care of yourself, hugs, chocolate, and wine.

  7. So sorry, Caroline. It is wonderful that you and your children celebrate his life. My grandmother killed herself. It’s a bit surreal to even say because I couldn’t even go to her funeral. I always thought that’s something that happens to someone else and not us.

    Wish you and your children the best you all deserve….

    1. I can so relate. I never thought it would happen to us! Never thought it could happen to MY husband! But it did and life has to go on.
      So sorry to hear about your grandmother passing. Take care.

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