Before and After

Before the 28th December 2017, I hadn’t thought much about suicide

Before the 28th December 2017, I didn’t think suicide was relevant to me

Before the 28th December 2017, I thought suicide only affected addicts and people with serious mental health illnesses, like Schizophrenia. I didn’t think it affected normal families, with an education, and jobs, and children, and happy homes

Before the 28th December 2017, I never imagined suicide was being considered under my roof. I never imagined he would hide his feelings from me

On the 28th December 2017, he disappeared

On the 29th December 2017, I found him dead. He was 43, He was my husband. He was the step-father of my children. He was a teacher. He was a son, a brother, a friend, a colleague, a music lover, a cricket player, a song writer, a Broncos supporter, a runner, and more and more…..

After the 29th December 2017, I found out that he had been suffering, more that I could know

After the 29th December 2017, I found out that he had been planning his death

After the 29th December 2017, I have thought about the phenomenon of suicide everyday

After the 29th December 2017, I have found out that suicide is the most common cause of death in Australian men aged between 15 -44 years

After the 29th December 2017, I discovered that almost 2 years afterwards; the shock, the pain and the grief still hold me in their grip

After the 29th December 2017, I realised there is no such thing as a “strong person”; we are all just human

After the 29th December 2017, I see everyone differently. I see each person, no matter their gender, their age, their wealth, their education, their job, or their happy home, as a vulnerable individual…….

After the 29th December 2017, I have tried to be a better listener to anyone who wants to talk. Now I see how just listening can help, even when we cannot solve the problem

I want to go back to before the 28th December 2017,

I want to go back and change the story,

I want to go back and see his pain that I missed,

I want to go back and know the signs of suicide that were there,

I want to go back and listen and listen and listen.

I think I could have changed the story if I knew then, what I know now……

Learning to Fly

I remember the day you took your life and ours broke apart.  It was a day of celebration, my son your nephew was about to graduate from Primary School Year Seven and head off for the new adventure of High School.  We lived in different places, us in Albany and you in Perth, you couldn’t attend his graduation, but mum and dad did and we were all so proud.  How could I have known that less than five hours later I would receive that phone call … God that phone call that changed so many lives….That phone call when you hear your mother sobbing down the phone that “Bryan is Dead”.  I stood there at the phone trying to comprehend the words I had just heard, my brain telling me that there must be some mistake…..My baby brother DEAD.  I grabbed the boys and drove over to mum and dads, I still don’t remember the drive over there, but somehow I arrived.  Do you know the feeling of having dad fall into your arms sobbing….I do it’s not something I will ever forget, that feeling of utter despair coming from the man who had always been so strong, my sons standing there trying to understand why grandad was crying and what was going on.  How do you tell a 12 year old and a 8 year old what has happened….that their uncle had killed himself….how do young boys comprehend that and process that, all they saw was Nanny and Grandad crying and upset and me just trying to hold my family together……YOUR FAMILY ….

We buried you on Christmas Eve, Christmas’s have never been the same since…. I never grieved for you properly, I was too busy holding my family together….Our lives changed on that fateful day that you decided to end your life…Dad had his first Heart Attack three months after you died and within another nine months he was gone….A broken heart…..

Our lives went on and I went through a time of hating you for what you had done to our family, so many emotions go through you when you deal with a suicide, your suicide…the whys…..the anger…..the guilt……the shame……and just when you think you have dealt with it something reminds you of it all again.

You have missed so much of life in these last few years….my boys your nephews growing up and becoming such fine men, our achievements and our sorrows, birthdays, Christmas’s, weddings and just being here, God you would have had so much fun with the technology that’s around now.

And finally after all these years I can and have grieved…I have come to an understanding of how and why you did what you did…..and you taught me the hardest lesson I have ever had to learn in life, NOT TO GIVE UP, when times got hard for me and I thought of ending my life I didn’t because I never wanted my sons to go through what we went through as a family…..YOUR DEATH SAVED ME…..it was the only good thing to come out of such sorrow, I am still here because you are not….

I wish we could have saved you.

For those reading this who feel despair or have delicately balanced on that tightrope called Depression….hang in there, talk to someone, breathe, think of the people who you are leaving behind who you think wont care or miss you…THEY WILL….their lives will never be the same….believe me I know

Chris

You were the light

                                   the joy of sunshine
                                   now there is darkness
                                   and empty tomorrows

You were the laughter
                                   that brought the smiles
                                   now there is silence
                                   and acrid tears

You were the soulmate
                                   the pain that was shared
                                   now there is heartache
                                   for lost moments gone

You were the child
                                   you were the man
                                   you were here
                                   and now you are gone!

Olwen Schubert 1991