Erin discusses the difficulties in coming to terms with death, and how to cope with a loved one taking their own life. - Erin Cadden
Losing any family member or friend is difficult. Dealing with grief is the hardest thing you’ll have to face with in life. But losing someone to suicide - this can be even more heart destroying.
People say that those who take their own life are selfish. The people saying this are naïve in thinking that it was the individual’s choice to make this life-ending decision. Mental illness controls your brain and your thoughts – thoughts so consuming and loud that sometimes you lose track of the fact it’s not you talking, but your mind.
I was 8 years old. It was 2006 and my Dad was only 40. I remember coming home from a sleepover with a close family member and entering the living room to my mum in tears. As an 8-year-old you don’t think losing a parent is something you’ll have to experience. In fact, at this age it’s something you can’t even mentally process. How is anyone this young meant to understand that someone who was supposed to love you so much has taken their own life? How are you meant to understand that you’ll never again get the opportunity to hear their laugh, to feel their hugs or see their face? It was, and still is, soul destroying.
The movement of tectonic plates could not compare to the shift in reality that had happened for myself and my family that day. We not only had to mourn the reality that we had lost the most important man in our lives, but we had to come to terms with how it happened. I’m now 19 years old, and if I’m completely honest, I still don’t fully understand the passing of my father.
In cycles, I went through the different stages of grief. To this day I still do, trying to come to terms with the fact my father left us. Some days, I get angry. I blame him for it all, blame him for ending his life, for leaving my family, and for making us have to live life without him. Sometimes I just feel sad and empty. Sad about the fact that I never really got to know him. About the fact he will never watch my sisters and I grow up or walk us down the aisle.
But sometimes I’m happy knowing that I experienced him, even if it was for a very small amount of time in my early childhood. I’m happy to remember the small memories I shared with him, and I’m happy to know that wherever he is, he’s no longer suffering. There’s a massive hole in our heart that will never be filled by anyone. Dads are one of a kind. But my Dad was someone incredibly special.
My father’s death raises a lot of anxiety for myself. You can’t blame people with mental illness for taking their own lives, because it’s not themselves that make the decision, but the illness itself. The fact I now suffer with mental illness means I can empathise, and go some way to understanding what drove my dad to do what he did. It wasn’t his fault. The darkness just overcame him.
Those who take their own lives don’t make that decision themselves. Don’t blame the person, but the illness. You can’t take anything for granted. You can’t know what’s going to happen in a year, month or even hour. All you can do is live life to the fullest, loving and being loved.