I keep my career and personal life separate. I don’t write about my job here because don’t want to get them/me in trouble. I’m breaking from that today because my personal life and work life have come together in a very sad situation – a very senior colleague killed himself by jumping off the roof of one of our offices.
I received the news with shock, in at the end of the London working day (thank God I could leave the office), and I experienced the disbelief and ridiculous thoughts that I imagine many of my late wife’s colleagues must have felt too. ‘But I only emailed him on Thursday. He said he was looking forward to working with me on a project next year. He didn’t sound like he was going to kill himself! Maybe he was overworked. The life insurance payout is going to be massive. What are we going to do about the conference agenda?’ I checked his LinkedIn profile as if it would include some sort of announcement that this is all one horrible mistake. Devastatingly, it is not. I google stalked. I looked at his picture for any hint of depression and sadness in his eyes. I checked the news – it’s there, albeit without a name. It’s like I’m a suicide widow on the information hunt again.
It takes me back to the first few days after my wife died. I read everything I could find about why people commit suicide, susceptibility factors, desperately trying to understand how my beautiful woman could have cut her own life short. I read medical studies about the suicidal side effects of her medications. I scoured through her emails and text messages. I rifled through the laundry, as if it would present clues as to why she decided to hang herself that Sunday. No answers were forthcoming. I read about common reactions to suicide. I blamed myself in the absence of any other answer. She was in pain and I must have been part of it – I am her wife!
I read resources that told me not to blame myself, and I armed myself with everything I could to battle this extremely complicated grief. There comes a point though when you realise you’ll never understand ‘why?’ and the information you read and grief resources you digest just aren’t enough. What’s gotten me through has been my own determination to be fucking superwoman, my widowed community, and prayer.
Prayer? I’ve gotten pretty intimate on this blog with various antics and emotions, but I haven’t written about my faith before so maybe this comes as a surprise since only a handful of you actually know me in real life. It’s incredibly personal and I had a difficult time with church because of my sexual orientation, but I think I have a good solid solo relationship with God. I’m fully aware that I sin like crazy, yes.
Tonight, since I am powerless in this tragic situation of losing a colleague, I find myself praying for a woman I don’t know but have so much in common with. I paraphrase my tear filled verbalised version from a few minutes ago.
A prayer for a stranger widowed by suicide
‘Father God, I don’t know how to help in this situation so I’m coming to you because I know you’re the only one who can really provide any comfort to the woman who needs it so, so much. I pray for T’s wife. I don’t know her, but I know she needs you. Wrap her up and protect her, but give her strength to just get through one hour at a time. I pray she has the survival instinct that I had and that she has a support network of people who love her and will stick with her. Lord, I pray that you equip her with what she needs to deal with future losses that are going to happen – of friends, of family, of reputation – and to soothe her through this heart wrenching pain. Can you try to make sure the people around her aren’t total fucking knob ends who make ignorant, stupid ass comments even with good intentions? Thank you, God.
I pray that she can sleep and can nourish her body. Give her energy but allow her those moments of weakness where she comes crashing to her knees. I know she needs to experience it so she can start to process this horrific loss and her newly earned but unwanted status as a widow. I hated it, God, but I now see why I had to experience that.
Father, please don’t let her blame herself or go around in circles questioning why she didn’t spot this. Please don’t let her blame anybody. Please don’t let her be blamed. Please help her through the emotional minefield of anger, love, guilt and despair. Please help her to process the feelings of shame and inadequacy as a wife. Basically, can you sort out the blame shit? That’s the worst bit for her right now and it fucking hurts.
Can you just do everything that needs to be done to keep this woman alive, and eventually bring her back to life? I know you will in your own way. I’m still working out this living with grief for myself, but thank you for being there. I don’t get it, but I accept it, and I know that ultimately, there’s a point to all this shit. I still believe you’re there and I love you. Sorry for swearing and can I please have a dream visit from wife? I need it. In Jesus name, Amen.’