Several years ago, within the two week span after my fiancé, Dan, committed suicide, three different people said these exact words to me: “What did you do to him?”
The first time I heard it was about one hour after learning Dan was dead. At that time, I was too shocked to even respond. I wasn’t quite sure I had even heard the words correctly. However, within minutes I began asking myself the same question. What did I do…or didn’t do?
The second time I was asked that question, I blinked for a few seconds. Then I mustered up as much courage as I could and said, “I didn’t do anything to him.” But secretly I wondered if it was true. Already, I was playing the blame game, and assigning all the best parts to myself.
The third time I heard it, I again responded with silence. I had had enough time to figure out all the things that I “did to him”. I was acutely aware of all the things that I had missed, but should have seen. All the things I should have done, but didn’t do. All the things I should have said, shouldn’t have said, and should have known. How I should have been there when I wasn’t.
The simple ‘missing him’, which was enough to tear my soul apart, was compounded by my inescapable self-blame for his death.
Grief. Guilt. They walk hand in hand with you, one on either side of you, after a suicide.