Last December my friend Stacia’s fiancé committed suicide. As friends and family gathered immediately to her home I waited until the right moment to pull her aside and listen to her pain which at the time was so bone-crushing that I thought her tiny frame would collapse beneath the weight of it. I held her as she sobbed and screamed and pounded her fists into her thighs, a wailing, “WHY!” punctuating every sentence. I did not know about that quote at the time, but I did finally pull her close and say, “I know you are angry and hurt. And you’re going to be angry and hurt for a long time. But I know where he had to be to do this to himself. I know that kind of pain. I have lived with that kind of pain, and I know that you loved him so much that if you had the tiniest glimpse of the agony he must have been feeling in that moment that you would grant that he did not do this to himself. His depression and suffering did this to him.”
Stacia and I have always been close since we met in 2009, but since her fiancé’s suicide our friendship has become one of the strongest I have ever had. I have spent many nights with her listening to her cry, holding her as she continued to ask why, as she talked of the plans they had made, the memories they had already created. Early on in her grief while listening to the anguish in every word that she spoke I had a sudden realization that if her fiancé could somehow witness this devastation, this ongoing trauma that will last for years, this haunting unknowing that will come back in waves throughout the rest of her life that maybe it would have been the one thing that could have pulled him back from that edge. The grief you might cause when you think about suicide is very abstract. It’s not a real thing, at least not in the confines of your compromised brain. Often you have convinced yourself that no one will miss you.
If he could touch her grief with his hands would it have mitigated his own?