Not Selfish

Last night I was telling someone about Dan.  I spoke candidly about my widow journey since his death, and in particular, how his suicide had impacted on me.  It's nearly been two years and ten months since his death and when I remember back to that first year in particular (as well as the second) it can feel like a lifetime ago while also being as familiar as if it had been yesterday.

As I described what had happened, and how I navigated through the debris of my tattered life, it almost felt like I was telling someone else's story.  A woman familiar to me but someone I haven't seen in a while. 
One of the questions I was asked again last night was, did I think his death had been selfish.  This is something I've been asked before, and is easy for my to answer.  I know this person wasn't coming from a place of judgement, but having no exposure to mental illness directly and with no knowledge about suicide, I wasn't offended by the notion.  I saw it as an opportunity to open his mind.

Dan's death wasn't selfish.  He died from a disease.  If anything, in that moment of darkness where his mind lost all control of his actions, I believe he was attempting an act of selflessness.  His disease had convinced himself that there was no other way out.  In the midst of his psychotic episode, his ill brain was sure that he was losing his mind and that be leaving, he would be saving those he loved from what he felt was a lifetime of pain and suffering.

He was of course wrong, but he didn't die because he was weak or cowardly.  He didn't take the easy way out.  He didn't decide that life wasn't worth living or our future wasn't worth fighting for.  His suicide wasn't a selfish act.  

Before his death I too had never had never known anyone with severe depression or been forced to consider what drives someone to take their life. I had made many assumptions and been ignorant about the fact that depression is a disease that kills, just like cancer or diabetes.

I've had to tell his story so many times now, I feel like an expert on depression (well, on his experience with it anyway).  It took a long time to find acceptance and peace in what happened to my darling husband.  Last night, after sharing his life and death with someone new, and helping them to see that suicide is not a selfish act, I realised again that even after he's gone, my brave, caring, thoughtful man was still teaching people what it means to be compassionate and open-minded and to always come from a place of love rather than judgement.  I am so proud of who he was and how he lived his life.

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  • commented 2016-05-14 17:54:47 -0700
    Your blog, Soaring Spirits, and Camp Widow have been such a blessing for me. It’s been almost 5 years since my husband’s suicide and it has helped so much to talk to, and spend time with others who have lived through this horrible disease. I believe that my husband also considered this an act of selflessness that would free his family from the pain that his illness caused. I will never let anyone get away with calling suicide selfish again. Thank you for educating people! ❤️
  • commented 2016-05-08 23:10:15 -0700
    Keep sharing his story Rebecca, there are so many in this world that need to hear it.
  • commented 2016-05-08 11:31:07 -0700
    u write with heart and intelligence and sincerity and fairness and i really wish u well