1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Coming up on the Anniversary

Discussion in 'Grief and Bereavement' started by IDS_Bill, Apr 15, 2010.

  1. IDS_Bill

    IDS_Bill New Member

    I just joined this forum, maybe because I am trying to get some insight on what my father was thinking and maybe to understand how to deal with his suicide. It's coming up on 2 years since he died next Wednesday (also my birthday). This is something I wrote about it.......

    What is the true meaning of the word Regret?

    If we take it by its most literal meaning, the standard Webster’s Dictionary defines it as “A feeling of disappointment or distress about something that one wishes could be different.”. It is the feeling that we didn’t do what we could have or should have. But the bell has rung and time is up so now we live with the remorse of actions never taken and words never spoken.

    I returned from vacation the other day and got a call from my twin brother. He told me that my father had passed away while we were on vacation. My father was 69, in perfect health and those close to him say that he had never been happier in life. My first thoughts weighed in, as most peoples’ would, and I began wishing that I had called more often. I should have told him how much I appreciated his presence in this world and that, knowing that he was only a phone call away, I felt better about life and my daily trials and tribulations.

    “He killed himself,” my brother explained…

    The sentence stunned me to my core. How could this man – my very definition of emotional strength and stability – take his own life? It didn’t make any sense. Why would this happen?

    “He laid down on a set of train tracks,” My brother continued. ..

    My God! If it isn’t bad enough that he chose to take his own life, why did he choose such a brutal and violent way to achieve his goal? My father always had a flair for the dramatic but this was borderline ridiculous. I spoke with my brother about a familiar chord from one of my father’s books and wondered why he chose his method of personal execution.

    “He did it on our Birthday!” He added…


    Some say there are Five Stages to grief. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. The news of the my father’s choice of which day he killed himself sent me right through the first stage and into Anger. What the Hell did we do to deserve that? I asked myself. Why on our birthday? What could a child possibly do to provoke such retaliation by a parent? The birthday that had just passed was our 40th and we had spent it in Micronesia, on a liveaboard dive boat. What could this message be that he was trying to get across? I not only must face the fact that my father is dead and that he took his own life but that he chose a significant event in our lives to make his morbid point – whatever it may be.

    I stood alone in the kitchen after I hung up the phone. No one was home yet except for my canine children who wandered around my feet in search for attention. I walked over to the bar, selected a cigar from my humidor and looked for a bottle of scotch on the shelf. There was none so I grabbed a bottle of brandy. What I was looking for could easily be achieved with any form of liquor at that moment. I walked outside and sat in the dark, lighting up the big cigar and pouring a tall glass of brandy. I sat there, staring into an unlit fireplace, trying to process the information that was just given to me. I alternated between crying and clinching my fists and teeth so hard in anger that it hurt. My wife came home and was puzzled to see me with the cigar and the bottle until I told her the news. She began asking questions for which I had no answers. There was a lot of talking to be done with my brother and my stepmother but that would be for another day.

    As the days progressed, I wanted answers – as most people would. I began with ordering every book that my father had published from the internet. I had never read the books and now I wished that I had. One sounded to be a thinly veiled autobiography of how he dealt with his father’s death. I began reading the book, The Backside of God, while grasping to find any clues to my father’s reasoning. After one hundred or so pages, I gave up. The book seemed too far divorced from reality to help so I abandoned my literary pursuit of answers to yet-to-be-conceived questions. I performed many internet searches and came across a few articles here and there but nothing that made sense. I got in contact with a friend of my father’s who had breakfast with him regularly but I hit a snag. My stepmother was telling everyone that my father died in a car accident on Interstate 10. This confused me even further. There was no service. She did not publish an obituary. Now she was covering up my father’s irrational actions. Why?

    I waited several weeks to contact my stepmother to allow me to process some of the anger that I had boiling to the surface of my subconscious mind. When I finally got the nerve to call her, it was not the secretive, manipulative conspirator that I had expected on the other end of the phone. It was a widow – who was shattered by the loss of her best friend in the whole world. As I spoke with her, I began to answer my own questions and I put myself in her position. Every single person who found out asked the same unanswerable questions. She had already re-lived his death dozens of times through having to explain and describe it to others. I began to feel truly sorry for her and it brought feelings back to the surface that I had spent the previous weeks denying. I had regressed back to Step 1 I supposed.

    In the end, I guess there are no answers – only questions that will forever live in our hearts and souls. I began thinking of the memories that I had with my father. I have so few from my childhood that I can put together into a coherent thought. He left when we were 7 years old but I do remember playing with a large inflatable ‘bouncy’ ball that he would toss in the air to us. He called the game Idiot’s Delight as the ultimate objective of the game was to let the ball bounce off of the top of our heads as it came back from his toss into the air. I close my eyes and try to put together more thoughts from my childhood but they just aren’t there. So I cry…

    My one sense of comfort is knowing that he and I shared several emails after I sent an article about my brother and me volunteering to search for a man who had been lost in a nearby lake. The Sheriff’s Department could not search in water that deep so we volunteered to find the husband and father of two children. My father told me in an email how he swelled with pride when he read the article and how proud he was of us and the men that we had become. I wrote a piece back to him thanking him and explaining to that, no matter how old you are, a parent’s pride and approval is the most important thing in the world.

    When I am alone, though, and allow my thoughts to wander, I picture him driving out to Interstate 10 that night – April 21st, 2008. I see him in my mind and wonder why he is crying and so angry with himself. I watch as he parks his car and walks across the highway to the train tracks on the other side. I see him write the brief note and place it in his jacket pocket. Then I see him lie down on the tracks. My thoughts yell for him to stop.

    Don’t Do it!!!

    Get up!!!

    Godammit Dad – I love you!!!

    But nothing happens. He is gone and there is nothing I can do about it.

    We are all left with the questions and regrets. I will never know if the day had any bearing on his decision. I am left confused and hurt but ultimately, I will have to work through and accept that there is no explaining suicide. I tell myself that I should have called more. I should have emailed more. I should have visited more. I regret these things and always will.

    Another definition of regret comes from A Competitive Minimax Approach to Robust Estimation of Random Parameters by Y.C. Eldar and Neri Merhav. In the book they define regret as a function of the Mean Square Error of Grief. In their explanation they represent regret in the following equation:


    When it comes down to it, I think I like this definition the best for the simple fact that I have no idea what it means. To me, that sums up grief and regret. I can’t explain any of this, but I do know that I will forever regret the things that I did not do while I manage to cherish the good times and good conversations that we had.

    Good Bye Daddy – I love you. I will miss you…
  2. Sadeyes

    Sadeyes Staff Alumni

    Hi and so sorry you had to find us under these conditions...I cannot tell you anything about what your father was experiencing, but I would be available to talk about my own...sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we cannot find reasons...I have been confronted by this condition in healing from a severely abusive childhood...I had to move on from 'why' to what can I do for myself now...again, so sorry your birthday was confounded by such an horrific situation, and yes, it was not fair...please PM me if I can provide any information and/or support...big hugs, J
  3. total eclipse

    total eclipse SF Friend Staff Alumni

    I just want to say i am so sorry as i know the grief cannot be taken away. The saddness will forever stay and the question why and maybe if i did It is so hard because i live with the guilt as well thinking one could have done more to prevent it . You could not have know his pain his suffering as he kept it to himself It is peaceful to know how proud he was of you and your brother sometimes there is no logic no answers. I hope you have lots of support around you and try to remember the happy times okay Your father would want you to be happy
  4. IV2010

    IV2010 Well-Known Member

    reading that brought tears to my eyes....I am very sorry for the loss of your father...
    probably he was so distressed he didn't even realise it was your birthday..
    ...there will always be if onlys after suicide but if he new you loved him that's what mattered..
    I'm glad you shared that..take care
  5. summerschild

    summerschild Well-Known Member

    I'm so sorry that you are going through this. My cousin died by suicide the day before his mother's birthday. But I don't believe he did this on purpose. He was in so much pain I doubt that even clicked.
    I'm glad that you found us here. I don't know if we can give you the answers you are looking for. But here you will find support and as much comfort as we can give you.
    If you ever want to PM me please do. I will do all I can to help you. One piece of advice I would give you is to be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself with as much gentleness as you would give to others. (hug)