My Grief Care

Widow Grief

7 Episodes

Episode 5 : I Lost My Husband By Suicide. Now What?

I Lost My Husband By Suicide. Now What?

Any loss of someone in your life can be tough to work through. But the loss of your husband, a person whose life is deeply entwined with your life, and the knowledge your beloved husband died by his choice – well, that is truly life-shattering. There is no doubt that losing a loved one to suicide is different than other losses. I want to share with you some of those differences so you’ll know what you are experiencing is to be expected in your special circumstances.

The first, and perhaps the worst, issue is that you may be feeling RESPONSIBLE for your husband’s death. We’ve worked with many widows who report that their final interactions with their husbands involved a disagreement. That can leave a widow questioning if she might have initiated her husband’s suicide. Similarly, widows frequently believe that they should have seen the suicide coming. Neither of those thoughts is true. Whether you question your part in causing suicide or think you should have or could have prevented it – the truth is you are NOT responsible. People who die by suicide are not thinking rationally. They are usually feeling absolutely hopeless. At some point, they decide that they are so miserable in their skin that they would rather die than keep on living in intense psychological and emotional pain. They almost always keep their distress to themselves. This is particularly true of men. Please listen to what I’m saying.  You didn’t cause it. And you couldn’t predict it. But I understand that, right now, you may be thinking otherwise due to feelings of guilt or inadequacy. How you feel and the facts of the matter can be very different.

You may also feel shame. You might think that a good marriage could never end by suicide. So, you might think, I must have been a failure as a wife. Again – this is not true. But that doesn’t mean you won’t feel that way. 

Many widows tell us they feel a shame and stigma from the suicide.  That people judge them and their husbands.  Like there is a big S on written on them.  Sometimes, people can say some really awful things.  “Didn’t you see the signs?”  “He was a coward for doing this to you or selfish.” You might notice that some people act differently around you. Some might be standoffish. Even good friends may seem to just vanish. And all this can leave you feeling rejected and judged by others. Often, your friends have no idea what to do or say so they stay away.

Please hear this, “Your husband is so much more than how his life ended. There is a huge past that should be recognized and remembered.  This last act does not define him.”  

It is also common to sense that what you are experiencing is not real. You might find yourself thinking, “this can’t have really happened!” How could my husband do such a thing? How could he do this to me? Not having a clear answer as you feel the pain and confusion following his death can cause you to resent him and be furious because he left you that way.

All widows experience secondary losses. Changed relationships, financial pressures, fear of being alone, single parenting, and a loss of shared dreams are just a FEW examples. These losses tend to be tougher for women who are widowed by suicide.

I am telling you all these things to assure you that what you are experiencing is to be expected under the circumstances. You may feel hopeless, helpless and fear you are going crazy. But I can assure you that you are not crazy. Your thoughts, fears and emotions are to be expected. So what can you do to survive and gradually recover?