I Love You, But I Hate the Choices You Made

It’s so much simpler to grieve for people who died a “normal” death.  Not that the loss itself is easy to bear, but people tend not to question the life of the person you are mourning.  Everyone feels sympathy towards you when your loved one dies from cancer, or heart problems, or a natural disaster. People say kind things about your family after a child dies from an illness, an elderly grandparent finally ends their time on this earth, or a beloved nephew dies in an auto accident. You are able to just be sad, and miss them, and think about how unfair it all is, how no one could have done anything to save them.

And then there are the other kinds of deaths. The ugly and shameful deaths, the deaths that people whisper about when they think you can’t hear them. The overdoses, the drunk drivers, the suicides, the reckless behaviors, the alcoholics. Somehow, when they happen to people we love, we have to find a way to grieve those deaths, too.

When I was in my early twenties, my aunt Jean died of stomach cancer. She had been sick for a long time, but I don’t think that she or my uncle or cousin ever really accepted that she was dying. Her death left a tangible hole in the family. My uncle and cousin, who had always been drinkers, began to drink more. A lot more. They didn’t really know how to talk about what had happened, so they drank instead. My cousin, Jeff, was just a few years older than I was. He was an accomplished gourmet chef, and had held positions with some of the top restaurants and caterers in town. When his mother died, Jeff lost job after job, and his drinking spiraled out of control.

My family knew that Jeff’s drinking was a problem, but what do you say to a 30 year old man who has decided to give up? He would fall asleep at family meals, would sneak to the bathroom where we knew he had more alcohol hidden. It was not a time I like to remember.

Finally, a few years after my Aunt Jean died, my uncle found Jeff on the floor in his bedroom. While he didn’t technically kill himself, his drinking, his unresolved grief, and his lack of desire to live had done it for him. His body had just given out.

When they took his body away from the house, I helped clean out Jeff’s room. I still get sick to my stomach when I remember what we found there. Jeff had spent the last few months of his life essentially living in his bedroom. There were liquor bottles everywhere. Big plastic gallons jugs that once held cheap vodka were piled in his closet, balanced on shelves, and stuffed under his bed. No matter how many I threw into the huge black trash bag I held, the piles just seemed to go on forever. I knew he had gotten bad, had been drinking a lot. In reality, I had no idea how awful things had become. I couldn’t match up what I saw in his room with the person he had been to me.

We didn’t really have a funeral for Jeff, since we didn’t see much of a point.  He had been so close to his mom that he never really bothered to get close to anyone else, not even his dad.  I went to the funeral home with my mom, and watched as she sat alone and wept next to the body of a man who had been like a brother to her for her entire life.  I wanted to go in and to sit with her, but I couldn’t.  When I saw Jeff lying there, his skin a yellow-gray from the abuse he had put his body through, I ran from the room and threw up in a trashcan in the hall.  I’d been to a number of funerals, but Jeff somehow looked more lifeless than anyone I had ever seen.  And I knew he had done it to himself.  It was so hard to see, so impossible to understand.

Of course, I told people that my cousin had died, but I only shared with a few close friends what really happened.  I guess I didn’t want the Jeff that I knew, the smart, quiet, soulful man who used to make the most amazing meals, to be thought of as “just an alcoholic.”  He was so much more than that, and I was so angry and upset about how his life had ended.  And to be honest, I was angry at myself as well.  I know we probably should have tried to get him some help, but I didn’t, and I don’t have any reasons or excuses for that.

For those of us who have faced these ugly losses, grieving includes forgiveness, both for ourselves and the person who died.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that I could love my cousin, and hate the choices he made.  It’s an odd feeling to have such conflicting emotions in my heart.  I’ve had to accept that in the end, none of us can truly make decisions for someone else, no matter how much they may mean to us.  A few years after Jeff died, his father (my uncle) also died, also as a result of his drinking.  In less than 10 years, that entire limb was gone from my family tree.  It didn’t have to be that way.

An ugly death should not overshadow a beautiful life.  Have you ever made a decision you regretted?  Said something you didn’t mean in anger?  Felt so sad that you forgot what happy looked like?  We all have bad days, and we all make bad choices.  Most of us are just lucky enough to not have those days and choices cost us our lives, or the lives of people we love.

I believe that a person should be viewed based on their entire lives, not just their final months or minutes.  I also believe that a death that may have been prevented is still a life to be celebrated, and a loss to be grieved.

If you have had a loss like this, a loss that you have struggled to share with others or to come to terms with in your own heart, we would love to hear from you.  You are welcome to leave your comments anonymously if you choose.  The more we talk about these deaths and recognize how many others are facing these feelings, the more we can give ourselves permission to grieve and to grow.

Photo Credit.

33 Comments:

  1. Meg Coldwells said on November 5, 2010 at 2:33 pm ... #

    This article truly moved me. Although there is a lot of addiction in my family, it resonates mostly with my relationship with my youngest brother who will turn 47 tomorrow! He is in Rehab at the moment (his 3rd attempt) and I am ‘cautiously optimistic’ about his success this go around. I must admit over the last 2 years, thru my own mother’s chronic illness and death that I worried my brother would not live to see his birthday tomorrow.
    I do agree, we must celebrate the life that was lived, not how someone ended their life. Thank you for your eloquence.

  2. Claire Perkins said on November 5, 2010 at 6:10 pm ... #

    Having been through one of “those kind” of losses, I really appreciate this post. My oldest son, who had battled addiction for several years, died of a drug overdose in a county jail cell at age 26.

    There was so much that was unseemly and unacceptable about the circumstances, I couldn’t bring myself to even tell my parents the details of his death.

    You are so right about celebrating the entire life – and there was so much that was wonderful about my son. That is what I choose to remember.

    You are also right that one of the most important things, and often the hardest, is self-forgiveness. We have to learn to cut ourselves some slack and let go of all the “if only I’d” thoughts.

    Truthfully, addiction (whether alcohol or drugs) is a terrible disease and one for which those of us on the outside can do little unless the addict him or herself is ready and willing to do the work it takes to break the cycle.

    Thanks for posting your story here – it always helps to know that others have experienced the tangled web of emotions surrounding a complicated loss.

    Claire Perkins
    http://www.DeepWaterLeafSociety.com

  3. Anonymous said on November 5, 2010 at 6:14 pm ... #

    I lost my boyfriend in May. He had numerous health problems, many of which were a result of his alcoholism. He was only 45, and had been drinking heavily for most of his life. Even though he’d been told time and time again that it would kill him, but I feel that somehow deep down he never believed it. He was the type that was invincible! And the drinking had led to other addictions, which he finally overcame.
    I have so much guilt deep within me because of his death. I am full of “what if” and “why didn’t I.” Rationally, I feel that there was nothing I could do–he was an adult and did what he wished to do. I am working very hard at forgiving him. He passed away in our bathroom and when I found him he was already gone. I was very upset that he would put me through that shock, panic, and devastation. With the help of God and my fantastic friends, I am getting closer to forgiveness each and every day!

  4. Anonymous said on November 5, 2010 at 11:29 pm ... #

    I lost my father at age 16 to suicide he had suffered with heart disease almost his entire life and he knew how to induce a heart attack by not taking his medications and by poisoning himself with alcohol. Then 6 years later I lost my twin brother to the drug trade and addiction. He was murdered because he owed so much money to his dealer. I have felt that if my twin had learned how to process his grief of our father and our best friend passed 6 months prior to my twin he would still be with us today. Processing grief is what saves lives after our families lose loved ones. I am thankful that I was afforded the opportunity to attend a young adult camp at CZC. I feel disenfranchised as a young adult as to how to process my grief with my own peers. None of my friends have experienced three significant losses over the span of 6 years so they do not know how to help me. I really hope that CZC will consider adding young adult camps back to the camp schedule because there are many disenfranchised young adults who cannot find resources to process their grief with peers. Camp changed my life and has sent me on my journey to process my grief. I hope other young adults can find a place to feel safe and not alone on their grief journey’s.

  5. B said on November 10, 2010 at 11:21 am ... #

    What a beautiful and well written article. It particularly spoke to me and to some of the members in my family. I saw alcohol destroy a relationship between my grandparents to where my Grandfather’s last words to my grandmother were “the worst thing I ever did was marry you”. They made it through their marriage based on their love to drink, and that wasn’t a way to live and eventually die. I saw how it took a toll on their relationships with themselves and my Dad, Uncle and Aunt. My Dad and Uncle no longer talk to my Aunt because of the decisions she’s made just like my grandparents. No one wants to talk about these types of losses or the effects it has on the family. But it does effect them. I recall so vividly as the US Navy Sailors folded the flag for my Grandfather, handed it to my Dad and I saw my Dad start to tear, but then he got up to the 2 Urns of my grandparents, and said “Well, have you ever seen them this close and not fighting”. That has always weighed on me. All that was due to their alcoholism. But, at the same time, I think of the son they raised, my Dad, my roll model, the Dad that I can only hope to emulate when I have children, the Dad I know will be my best man at my wedding. So I think of the happy outcome these things created and the man it made in my Dad and the man it has made me.

    It also rings to true to my Uncle, who was murdered at his store by former employees who just needed some cash, they killed him and wounded my cousin for a little over $300. I always heard the whispers in the hallway in High school, I still hear them. People thought it was some kind of mob hit because he was Sicilian and other silly things like that. I thought, can people really be this ignorant and hurtful? I know that is a different type of loss, but it was hard to hear those whispers and rumors. But I know that my Uncle had actually helped those men that robbed him before, he had loaned them money after he laid them off and he was a good man for doing that, and they just didn’t appreciate it and what they did was a horrible thing, but I reflect on the things he did before he passed, and I know he was a good man for it.

  6. Sneha said on November 10, 2010 at 9:28 pm ... #

    My mom killed herself a little over too years ago and I can really relate to this article. What kind of world are we in when an ugly death takes away from the fact that people are grieving? I remember weeks after my mom died. People I didn’t know very well would come up to me and ask right out if the rumors were true? Did your mom really kill herself? I remember how people would offer condolences but with that slight shift in expression that told you they think my mother deserved it as she brought it upon herself. Death becomes a topic of gossip because nobody imagines how they would feel in that situation.
    Though people make stupid mistakes sometimes…they were still loved and simply people, not a thing to be discussed like today’s weather. My mom was a wonderful person who sang me to sleep and helped me with homework. I wish that people wouldn’t stereotype and try to see the person behind the ugly death.

  7. joyce said on November 10, 2010 at 11:08 pm ... #

    My beloved daughter-Megan-died physically 2 years ago-she was lost to drugs long before.She was also
    my 1st born,an athelete,a young woman who would give you the shirt off of her back…and so much more…and I forever feel obliged to tell people this..because of the looks,the lost friendships,the questions..also from people i barely know…and whom never felt the need to talk to me before,and,ask..”do you think this could have been prevented?”,if it could have,of course I would have.Sneha,you are so right…my daughter was an angel to me..with faults…one being drug addiction which in the end killed her.She is truly an angel now…..But I miss her so very much.Megan left behind her little girl…and she is a treasure..she misses her mom so very much..and sees only the good in her mom..even though she lived through the worst of times…if a 9 year old can be so forgiving..why cant adults be the same?

  8. joyce said on November 10, 2010 at 11:13 pm ... #

    Just one more thing I needed to say..as a grandparent struggling to raise a child who has been through so much…i have struggled with my own grief..and realized that @ adult camp..last spring…if anyone sees this..and it touches their heart in anyway..please donate to Comfort Zone so that I can continue on the path to healing.

  9. Anonymous said on November 16, 2010 at 11:22 pm ... #

    Thank you to all for sharing. This was so helpful for me to read that I am not alone. I lost my husband just a few months ago to an oxycodone overdose August 15. I am battling with my feelings of deep sadness at the loss of this beautiful person that I knew was there when he was clean, and hating the disease for the decisions and behaviors he did when he was using, and for robbing myself and our beautiful 3 year old daughter of our life with him. I grieve for the moments she will not have with him and for myself. For 13 years, we have suffered as a family, and now my daughter and I suffer alone in a different way, without the love in our life. It is indeed hard to openly talk about and I still feel the shame of his decisions. I just keep working through therapy and hope in time we can find joy in life again and remember the beautiful man he was who suffered himself with this horrible disease.

  10. shannon said on November 17, 2010 at 6:28 pm ... #

    wow..I truly felt this story in my heart. My husband killed himself almost 3 years ago and I blame myself every day and night, the last thing he said to me was “thanks shan you just killed me” he then walked out into our garage and hung him self with me and four of our five kids in the house. We were together for 23 years i met him when i was 16. We partied until i got pregnant at 18 i stopped and he never did. When i finally got up the confidence to tell him we were done he told me he couldnt be a dad without me…..I told him we would both be better no more fighting about everything all the time. I guess he meant it because hes gone and it feels like it just happened, everyday i see him clear as day and hear him tell me it was my fault. People have told me not to blame myself that he had deeper problems, but I look at my kids and just feel so guilty and I have kids that are messed up and I dont know how to fix it! I wish I could rewind…will the pain ever go away I have forgotten what happy looks like.

  11. joyce said on November 17, 2010 at 9:10 pm ... #

    Shannon, your husband was an adult..so wa my daughter…if me taking the blame would bring her back..Megan would still be here,,sadly she is not.she blamed me on more than 1 occasion for ner habit..she was always furius that I locked eveything up…had to she stole anything and everything that would help her get money.Dearest Shannon..love your husband but dont let this take over your life..he blamed you..because he wasnt strong enough to stop..just like Megan it was so much easier to blame us..then to quit..Im sure your husband was a beautiful person..but he was an addict..and that is was kiled him.not you..this comes from someone who has been there..a few months before Megan died i was getting ready to take custody of he only child..my grandaugher-kate-I knew Megan was going to hate me forever..but I had to do what was best for Kate..Megan wasnt capable of taking care of Kate.Her drugs were to important..she died before that..you saved your children..please for you try to move forward…Joyce..said with much love and understanding.

  12. Kathie said on November 19, 2010 at 8:13 am ... #

    Thank you for sharing your sadness and helping me to share mine. I have been struggling with the death of my husband for 9 years. He lost his battle with addiction in a rehabilitation facillity where he had been for 11 weeks. It was his first and last attempt at recognizing he had a problem and seeking help. He was found in his room 3 days before he was to come home to me and my son who was 6years old at the time. He died from a 100mg fetenol patch that posioned his liver almost instantly. My husband was the best doctor of medicine I have ever known. He was loved by all his 3000 patients for his healtfelt commpassion and concern, not to mention he was brilliant at medicine. Although my son knew at the time that his Dad was getting help with ridding his body of a medication, he does not remember today at 16 years of age, what happened. We talk about him often and he is so proud of what a great father and Doctor his father was, but I can’t bring myself to talk to him yet about the last 8 months of his life. I have a strong faith and that has helped me in more ways than I can begin to mention, and I know God will help me when the time comes to talk with my son and remember that a life cannot be defined by death. Thats a contradiction. His life was filled with so much more and that is what I remember.Thanks for sharing, this feel “good”.

  13. Alisha said on November 19, 2010 at 1:59 pm ... #

    I’m honored that each of you took the leap of faith to share your stories here with us. This was a difficult story for me to write, and I can’t pretend I wasn’t nervous to open this part of my life up to anyone who might read it. I am touched beyond words to see the raw honesty of your posts, and the support you are offering to one another.

    Thank you, thank you, and thank you again.

    Alisha K.

  14. Anonymous said on November 23, 2010 at 11:24 pm ... #

    After reading the article, I was not initially planning on commenting. However reading the other comments, I too would like to share I understand the pain of losing someone who made poor choices, who chose to blame me for everything bad in his life, who told me how much he loved me as he shot me, whose intent was to kill me before he killed himself in total selfish disregard for his two children. I survived.

    It is very difficult to mourn someone who selfishly left us to clean up the mess of his life. I had already mourned the relationship as I prepared to leave. I try to bring up good memories for the children, but his last act so far overshadows anything good he did in his life. This is a topic that is very important and I thank everyone for sharing so openly.

  15. Alisa said on January 13, 2011 at 12:46 am ... #

    Alisha,
    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I am still having so much anguish over my son’s murder. This is due primarily to the way he was living his life and the addiction that he just couldn’t seem to break free from. This is something that will take so long for me to overcome and so far, the only help I have gotten was from the parent camp last year. Jeremy would have been 31 in 6 days so as his birthday approaches my emotions are very raw and I am trying so hard not to give in to the anger I feel. He was so much more than an addict. He was a good provider for his children, he loved his family and friends, sometimes to a fault. He would help anyone that he saw needed help. He was artistic and wrote poetry. He deserves to be remembered for the good things, not the bad.

  16. a grandaughter said on April 5, 2011 at 3:52 am ... #

    I was very close to my grandparents who also took care of their disabled son, my uncle. They were great inspirational examples to every one. Very happy and devoted to their religion. My grandma and uncle were getting sick and it became to much for my grandpa. He loved them so went to measures of shooting them and himself. I believe because he loved them so much he couldn’t handle their sufferings.

  17. dede said on November 8, 2011 at 11:10 am ... #

    My soulmate of 5 years killed himself 7 weeks ago. He suffered from addiction to alcohol and depression. He had been through a divorce and gave her everything out of guilt. He had been very successful and felt like if he couldn’t give you things, he had no value. I had spent the last two years trying to get him to go back to rehab or at least take his meds. He left this world on the 21st of september and my life will never be the same. He left behind three sons in their 20’s and I see them frequently but feel I have lost half of my family. My husband of 20 years died 11 years ago from a brain tumor leaving me and our 2 children then 16 and 18. This loss is so different as I feel he could have gotten help for his drinking and depression. I will never understand how someone can choose to leave their loved ones… I know that there is nothing i could have done…all I know is you cannot love someone well,they must love themselves.

  18. Claire Forsyth said on February 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm ... #

    I just wanted to thank Alisha for opening her heart with this story. So honest and so true. I am grateful for the simple, loving song you have written here which will no doubt help many to heal. Bravo!

  19. Kay Carson said on April 19, 2012 at 5:27 pm ... #

    This story teaches us how the loss of a mother/wife had such an impact on the rest of the family. Thank goodness there are organizations such as Comfort Zone Camp where people can talk about their losses rather than dealing with it in silence and turning to substances.

  20. Melissa colon said on April 19, 2012 at 6:15 pm ... #

    @Shannon. My story is very similar to yours. My husband also hung himself after I made the final decision to leave. He left me with children also. It was a very painful and tragic loss but unlike you my children are doing well thanks to a loving and supportive family and all the prayers they have done for me and my children. It wasn’t easy in the beginning but after 5 years I can see hope.

  21. julie said on July 29, 2012 at 9:37 am ... #

    My mother was dying with lung cancer. After a battle of over 2 years, she passed away nov 2010. My brother was devoted in caring for her up until the end. She passed away in Nov 2010.
    Then, in Jan 2011, his wife of 26 years left him. He was in denial for days that she could do this to him. As facts came out, he found out she had been cheating on him during the time he was dealing with a dying mother. It was more than he could accept.
    He started drinking, then more and more. Eventually, his 2 boys didn’t wan’t to be around him because he was drinking all the time. He would drink until he passed out. I talked to him several time about his drinking problem and that all of us (family) were worried about him. He would slack off some and I would think things were getting better. Then next think I know, it was bad again.
    Finally got him to agree to rehab in late April 2012. He came out clean and sober, although he never really had his zest for life back. He refused to attend the meetings they required as follow up. He insisted that he didn’t need to hear other people talk about their problems. I told him that it helped to share and realize that you’re not alone. Other people are facing similiar issues. He would not go.
    He did ok after rehab for about 2 weeks. Then, we could tell he was drinking again. When I talked to him, it was always someone who was ‘driving him crazy.’ I sympathized and advised him to just avoid those people. Apparently, he couldn’t. His drinking got worse and worse. Everytime I talked to him, I would ask him to let me take him back to rehab. He would say ‘not today,’ but I might go back one day this week. We never made it back.
    The last time I talked to him was on the phone July 8 2012. He sounded so good, the most sober, clear headed I had heard him in weeks. I told him Dad was wanting me to bring him over to visit. He told me ‘no, we’ve already left.’ He was headed to a restaurant with his girlfriend. I thought he would be with her the rest of the day and all was well. Once again, before I hung up, I mentioned rehab and he said he might have to go and that he would call me the next day if he decided to go. The next day never came.
    After going out to eat, he and his girlfriend got into an argument and she left around 2 pm. He must have started drinking as soon as she left. She had tried to call that night and he wouldn’t answer (which was normal for him). She got worried and decided to come check on him. She got there around 7:30 am and found him dead in his kitchen floor. The scene of the house showed what a terrible night he had had. He had been sick all over the place and the house was a disaster. I still can not accept that he is really gone. I feel I should have done more to get him back in rehab and spent more time with him. As I’ve talked to other family members and friends, I know we all feel the same, that we could have done more. Everyone just thought there would be another day, but it was not to be. It hurts so bad. I just don’t know how to deal with this guilt and grief.

  22. Alisha K. said on July 31, 2012 at 9:15 am ... #

    Julie, your response to my post just hurts my heart. I am so very sorry that you’ve faced so much loss in such a short period of time. I also lost my mother, also to cancer. And, of course, I’ve know the pain of a loss from addiction as well.

    I hear so much guilt in your words, and I know how hard it can be to let that go, and to accept that none of us truly have any control over the choices that someone else makes. What we can do is love them, and honor the memories of all of the wonderful things that did exist in their life, and in our relationship with them. It took me many, many years, but I now remember family dinners and board games with my cousin more so than I remember him passed out in the living room chair he always retreated to.

    I’m not a counselor or therapist, just another person who lost someone they loved to an illness that could not be tamed. Please know that you are not alone, and that you deserve to find peace in all of this. I hope that you would consider counseling for yourself if you haven’t already. All of these feelings you are having are so very valid and real, and you would be doing a disservice to yourself and to your brother to just hope that they will go away on their own.

    You clearly love your brother immensely, and offered him every ounce of support that you possibly could. I do hope that you will offer yourself that same amount of love and support, because I certainly believe that you are worth every bit of it.

    Alisha K.

  23. julie said on August 6, 2012 at 3:31 pm ... #

    Alisha, Thank you so much for responding to my post. As I reread your post, the similarities between your cousin and my brother are chilling. It could have been written about my brother. (The large trash bags full of empty beer cans, etc.)
    It has been 4 weeks today and I don’t think there has been a mihute that he has not been in my thoughts. I realize now that I had no concept of the actual depth of his depression. Had I been aware, I would have tried harder to force him to take action…. Sadly, I just did not understand.
    Several family members try to ease the pain by saying that he just didn’t want to live anymore, that he wanted to go on. I don’t really believe that. None of us understood how badly he needed help. We all let him down when he needed us most.
    I’m trying not to dwell on the last few months of his life. He was always such a happy, easy going guy until everything came crashing down on him.
    We have many good memories and I know we need to try to let them overshadow the bad.
    Thank you for letting me share.

  24. Shady said on August 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm ... #

    Wow.

    This article eases my mind. I’ve been struggling with this kind of ‘love/hate’ grief for over a year now due to the loss of a friend who battled with anorexia. That line about Jeff not having killed himself, ‘his drinking and his unresolved grief did it for him’ – change that to ‘not eating and her unresolved grief’…and you have the situation my friend left us in.

    Thank you for this piece, it is very helpful.

    Shady

  25. Jan Stephens said on August 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm ... #

    I relate to this not because of addiction issue but because my husband died suddenly from undiagnosed heart disease, something, he HAD to have felt and HAD to known that something was wrong.
    There was no warning; he mentioned no symptoms to me but he did have them.
    He never went to the Dr in the 20 years I knew him.
    I put my foot down and had a complete physical scheduled for him a week to the day he dropped dead. He cancelled at the last minute.
    Would it have prevented his death? That is unknown but HIS death was completely preventable. If he had regularly seen a Dr, this would have never happened and the suffering my children and I have had to endure
    would have never happened.
    Now, I do know he did not know how bad it was because he wouldn’t have wanted this to happen… but still….

    He knew something was wrong.

    I don’t hate him for it, never have, but I wonder what he was thinking.

  26. kara said on August 21, 2012 at 1:18 am ... #

    Boy did this thread hit close to home. It is so difficult to mourn my husband’s loss without being angry at his actions. For years I tried to help him and finally decided that it was too unhealthy for me and for my boys to live with someone who was so deep in depression and anger and inaction. He blamed me – his last words to me were of how I let him down and that if I had been a better wife and mother he would be ok. And then he turned the gun on himself.
    The funeral was honest; we didn’t try to deny it or hide from what happened. It was important for my boys, who were 11 and 8 1/2 at the time, they deserved to be able honor their father no matter how dishonorable his choices. My dear friend, the pastor who performed the service, spoke of how my husband’s life should be remembered for what was good, not for one poor choice at one desperate moment. But there were so many years of poor choices, of selfish acts, of denial of the depression that turned my loving, engaging, fun husband into an angry, self-loathing, violent mess.
    How do you tell children what their father did? How to explain it so that it makes any kind of sense to them? The first thing my older son said to me that night was that Daddy was selfish, that he all he thought about was himself and didn’t give any thought to them at all, and that was just one more mess for Mommy to clean up; one more part of their lives that I was stuck trying to make right. I can’t imagine the pain he must have been in to do something so selfish, so cowardly, so heartbreaking. But at the same time, I’m so angry, so incredibly angry that he bailed on us. That all the promises “for better or worse” turned out to be empty, that I will forever struggle with the inability to trust anyone so completely again, that my children have to somehow learn to believe that they were not at fault, that they couldn’t have changed events, that even though I know in my head that I did everything I could to help him heal, to help him find help, in his heart, he blamed me, he felt that I turned my back on him. My children deserved better. We all did.
    It’s so easy to be angry. It’s so hard to let that go and remember and celebrate the good. My husband, when he was healthy, was a good man, and I loved him more than I ever thought I could love anyone. I hated the man he turned into. I hate that he allowed this to happen, that he refused to seek help, that he took the easy way out. And I’m struck by such pity that he was in such pain that he couldn’t see any other way out. I try to tell my children that I find some comfort in the knowledge that his suffering is over. That maybe, as hard as it is to believe, that he’s found some peace. My boys don’t find that comforting. They are angry that if he did find peace, he did it at their expense. That their world came crashing down around them because he thought only about himself.
    I don’t know how to mourn him without being angry. And that makes me incredibly sad.

  27. Rita said on August 22, 2012 at 7:37 am ... #

    This is a good site for me to read what others are facing and how they are handling it. My daughter of almost 26 years, took her life on 6-8-12 and I found her in our home on the floor when I came home from work. I was unable to conceive and this was the child that I prayed for and God gave to me when I was 33. My only child, whom I loved with everything that was within me. I think she may have suffered with a little depression. We think she may have been Bi-polar, which does have a high inciendence of suicide. She had a great need to be needed and she found a man and his three boys who fit the bill for her. She told me that for the first time in her life, she felt like she had a family and she felt like a mother. He kicked her out. She had told me a few months before that “Mommy, I can’t live without him and the boys.” I thought that was just a statement, I didn’t take it literally. We found the picture of the three boys on her steering wheel of her car that she had driven to my house. It was heartbreaking for me to find her. I was in shock and couldn’t believe what I was seeing laying there on the floor. I later found out that suicide runs in our family. I fight with myself everyday over wanting to end my life as well. I think about —- I may loose my job, I am overweight and unhappy with that, we need financial help, if a plan I am working on fails, and the biggest one of all—-I want to be with my daughter because the pain of being left here without her and knowing how much pain she was feeling, is too much for me.

  28. Alisha K. (HelloGrief.org) said on August 27, 2012 at 5:08 pm ... #

    Rita,

    Thank you for sharing part of your story with us. It is not uncommon for your world to feel turned upside down after the death of a loved one, especially considering some of the circumstances that you described. We encourage you to look into finding local support for yourself. You can also contact the 24 hour hotline, 800-273-8255 (if you live in the US). If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself, please take them seriously and go to your local emergency room for support. The following organizations may also be able to provide you with support, The Dougy Center and Bereaved Parents of the USA.

    Please be advised that the recommendations/advice provided by Comfort Zone are based on the limited information that is provided for a specific question. It is not intended as a substitute for a clinical evaluation. In the event of a psychiatric emergency, please seek immediate assistance by dialing 911 or proceeding to the nearest emergency room.

  29. Leah said on December 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm ... #

    My 20 year marriage was filled with my husband’s bad choices. Finally I couldn’t handle it any longer and at 41 I took our three teenagers and left him to protect ourselves. He blamed me for all this problems. Within a year he had died. He was killed in a fire in his apartment. I believe he was drunk or passed out on prescription meds and didn’t wake up when the candles he had lit burned out of control. I’ll never know the details though. That was 5 months ago. I try to not feel responsible. I supported him financially and emotionally throughout our marriage. He barely worked. Grieving is difficult. I’m angry for the bad things and I’m angry about how it ended and mostly I’m angry for our children. But I’m sad too. I’m sad that I gave myself to someone who didn’t love me enough to make the right choices. I’m sad because that guy I married was wonderful…at least for a couple years and then he disappeared. So many people assume I am relieved that he is dead and in many ways I am. But grieving is so much more complicated than that. I moved across the country to where I grew up to get away from the familiar places we knew and although that’s helping me, my teenagers are not happy about moving.

  30. Sherrie said on June 6, 2013 at 12:14 am ... #

    In 2011, I fell in love with a man I knew in the early 1980s. I admired him then, but when I gave in to my feelings, I fell like a rock. He was amazing, unlike anyone I’ve ever known. But we struggled in our relationship, and I’d just divorced after 37 years married to an angry, controlling, and abusive jerk. Last December, my boyfriend/fiance and I were making plans to marry this spring. But I knew it was soon for me. I needed more time. We fought about it on Christmas Eve. He took an intentional overdose on Christmas night.

    Thank you for your incredible insight and for the courage it took to be so transparent about a very personal pain. I miss my fiance so much…but I’ve also been so angry with him for committing suicide, the ultimate I’ll-show-you. You’re so right. He was at a very low point in his life, and he showed poor judgment. I’m certain that if he could have looked into the future and how hollow and sad my life would be without him, he would not have killed himself. He’d sill be with me.

    He was amazing, and he deserves to be remembered for his life, not his death. Thank you again for helping me see this. Thank you so much.

  31. meow said on July 3, 2013 at 1:39 am ... #

    I am 23 and my fiance/father of expectant child was 22. He passed 6/7/13. I blame myself for that. He had a warrant out that night and i took him to the jail and he did not want to go, instead he wanted me to drop him off at a house with this girl that I knew was no good but being pregnant I was emotionally and needed a break because things were not going well. He begged to stay with me and I refused him because he had been high all that week with me. The whole month of may we were rocky and did not talk much because I made him leave the apartment bc that girl had been there while I was at work and I did not know about it until I found make up there. That night he and that girl went to a man’s house where he took methadone. He never woke up. My last text to him was “If you ever cared, you would let me be. I hurt.” he asked why I hurt and to please answer him. I never did….

  32. Anonymous said on September 30, 2013 at 11:32 am ... #

    thank you so much for what I read. 10 months have passed since my honey died on Dec 1, 2012. It takes alot of courage to speak so openly about the toll of addiction. I find, especially with the medical field the reluctance to accept what alcohol does to the systems. It was like an uphill battle. One doctor even accused me of lying cuz he said there is no way anyone can drink that much and walk. Thank you so much to all who posted, for your transparency and sharing. It’s good to know that we’re not alone. Maybe too, if there is more honesty there may be less denial. I so struggled with his drinking buddies who claimed to care about him who encouraged him to have’two beers after work’ and bought him liquor for Christmas. I know it was his choice to drink it, but perhaps they could have offered him a coffee instead. i continue to pray for his drinking buddies, so that their children and grandchildren don’t have to see their drunkness as ‘normal’ and hopefully they won’t have to stand next to their coffins as i did with him. I miss him so much. Sometimes it feels like a bad dream. Thanks again for sharing.

  33. Anonymous said on January 17, 2014 at 10:01 pm ... #

    Thank you for this perspective. It is hard to find other people struggling with grief in addition to anger about poor choices our loved one made. My child was just old enough to suffer the effects of her dad’s alcoholism. He was drunk all day, loud and belligerent, stumbling, yelling, unreliable, uninvolved, driving drunk, passed out, getting sick in the kitchen sink. She yelled at him, begged at him to change, cried and cried and yelled some more. He was dead before he got the chance to apologize. Before she could grant him forgiveness and tell him she loved him but hated his choices. He was gone before he made a change. He didn’t get to do better tomorrow. He wasted today and now it’s gone forever. No second chances, no forgiveness, no going back. No more sorry. No more I love you. No more. Just pain that is lonely unshared, hidden, shameful angry pain. People can’t understand the loss of someone who hurt you with their choices while living and crushes you with the unfairness of death. With it goes the hope you held that ‘one day’ they’d be better, they’d be happy, they’d whole and healthy and back to normal. It is a darker grief to mourn the loss of hope. There is little comfort in the constant wrestling of sadness and anger.

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