Gone Too Soon
I've been torn about whether to share this letter on here. To not share it...is to keep it in the shadows, gloss over a pivotal day in my story, and censor myself for fear of the reprecussions it could have with the people who have tried to silence me before. But to share it...it does make me feel some fear because it's about a very painful and sensitive matter that doesn't involve just me. This letter is one that I wrote on the first death anniversary of a loved one who ended their life.
And that's a big reason why I'm also torn. More people need to speak about suicide. We need to take it out of the shadows where there is too much associated shame and stigma and bring it out into the light because I believe that more people could be saved if we did. And we need to eradicate the shame and stigma.
So...I'm going to share my letter. Not all of it. Especially sensitive parts will be omitted.
March 26, 2019
There are a lot of broken hearts around the world today because of you. Our hearts have been broken since you took your life, exactly one year ago on this day. We are changed because of you, forever imprinted by the horrific way that you left us. Anguish. Confusion. Pain. Torn. Guilt. Sorrow. Horror. Grief. That is what you left in your wake. I don't say this to you with anger, dear cousin, though anger too is what you ignited in so many. I say this because this is the truth. And, perhaps, if more people began speaking the ugly truth fearlessly, in a world that can be so cruel and closed off and ignorant to what is true, then maybe you would still be here with us. What you did was selfish (side note: I do not see suicide as a selfish act in the usual, judgemental way that many people do. I disagree with the way we've painted the word 'selfish' as only having a negative connotation. Selfish can be a good, positive, and even necessary thing that we do for ourselves - an act of self-care, of choosing to do something for ourselves). But I also don't say that as an accusation. It is a gentle whisper from my broken, pained heart to yours, wherever you are. At some point, before your peripheral vision blacked out and what you could see became so narrow that you only saw this one way forward, you must have known that killing yourself would have destroyed us. You must have imagined what it would have been like for (section omitted) all of us, your family, feeling the shockwaves that reverberated from one household to the next as this devastating news spread; and for all your friends, left behind, their dreams of experiencing life with you suddenly snatched away. You were intelligent beyond measure. You absolutely would have known. Because I would have known. I have known. I have imagined, every time that I contemplated taking my own life. So selfish, yes. But I think you needed to be selfish, just as we all NEED to be selfish at times. It is not negative to be selfish in some ways. It is imperative to keeping our fire stoked, it is the decision we must make to prioritize ourselves in a society that persecutes and unfairly judges you for investing, upholding, and loving yourself.
I will never know your WHY. I will never know your full story. You are silent now, and you were always a silent, reserved soul. I wonder now if that was not just your personality type or nature, but a sign of suppression and depression. Of learning that it was not safe for you to express yourself, to fully BE yourself. (section omitted)
So I understand the darkness that consumed you. The absence of hope. The void, the emptiness felt deep in your core. There was no light breaking through to give you a touch of warmth and comfort amidst your pain and suffering. And so you took it into your own hands - the powerless reclaiming his power and authority over the one thing he felt he could control. You took your life. You gave yourself that release that you needed (as terrifying and indescribably hard as that would have been for you to do) and that you believed you would never get in this lifetime, in this world.
My heart breaks for you. For the loneliness and isolation you felt. My eyes sting with unshed tears for the hollowness you would have been lost in, for the injustice and frustration and anger that burned inside you, and for the feeling of being misunderstood that gnawed away at you. Did you cry? Did you ever collapse under the weight of hopelessness ad helplessness? Did you feel bound to the point where you didn't believe you could help yourself or that there was someone who loved you enough to know how to help you? (section omitted) Did you feel trapped and suffocated? Did you..? Did you..? Did you...?
As I am bound by my own human nature, these questions will rest in my heart and likely resurface from time to time. But I know they will never be answered. I also know that if all we do is dwell on these unanswerable queries, we will have missed the point. Because now is not the time to be asking you. We should have been asking these questions while your heart beat and air filled your lungs. These are the questions we should be asking those who surround us while they are alive. When it matters. Before it is too late. I am sorry that we failed you in that regard. Please forgive us, just as we will need to forgive you for making this irreversible choice and for not believing in yourself, that you could one day find a way through your suffering and create that liberation for yourself.
(extremely important section omitted for sensitivity)
And I will have to forgive you for the utter hell that I went through (section omitted and the following words edited in so that the rest makes some sense) from the uneccesary drama thrust into my life because of your death.
I can write this now from a place of unheightened emotion and far less turmoil. Composed, regulating my breath, not seizing up in seismic tremors and shakes, though my hands are now ice cold and slick with sweat. This is hard.
It is because I see the purpose and value of being tied to the stake and set on fire, left to burn alive. What they didn't know is that from the fire of their hate, vitriol, pain, suffering, ignorance, and brokenness, I would be reborn. That I would absorb that fire into me, that I would eventually use it to ignite in me a burning resolve to NEVER be shamed and silenced and unjustly persecuted like that again. What they didn't know is that I am a phoenix, rising from the flames and ashes, and that in trying to diminish and break me, they have made me unstoppable. Or I should say, they have acted as the catalyst for ME making ME unstoppable. And so, little lost cousin, amidst this intricate web of complex emotions and thoughts, here too is my gratitude. I would rather have you alive than dead, but I thank you for this unexpected gift that you unknowingly blessed me with. I am forever transformed and you have played an integral part in that. It is in my resilience, my fire, my newfound love for myself and my growing strength, that I will carry your memory forward in life with me. Rest in peace, cousin. Be free. Know that you are loved and missed. I will always love you and miss you. (name omitted) I see you, I hold you, I release you. With love, always and forever, your big cousin, Christina