Suicide From the Other Side

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Suicide From the Other Side

My flip phone says 3 missed calls
2 from home
1 from him
I assume her phone died so she used his to call me
and I quickly relive the night before
up in the wee morning hours
listening to her tears
telling her
it’ll be okay
get to yoga
center yourself
you only want to be with someone who loves you no matter what

so I call home
and my dad’s voice utters
Miya killed herself
like if he gets the words out faster it won’t be true
and the wind is knocked out of me
like a bat smashing into my chest
flesh and bones spewing in every direction
ricocheting from incredible force

I hang up

I call him
illogically hoping
maybe she’ll answer
but it’s not her and he utters coldly
What do you want to know, Sabrina?
How? I ask
followed by a quick No, no, I don’t wanna know!
my voice unnervingly powerful

And I realize looking at my missed calls that he called me first
he wanted me to call my parents to inform them
politely
calmly
that their first born just hung herself
he wanted me to do it
not he who didn’t try to hoist her body up and out of the noose
not he who ran out of the house screaming
not he who showed up to the police station with an attorney
not he who wouldn’t let us in the house
not he who didn’t fly to Michigan for her funeral
he called me first

but I don’t know these things in the 3am moonlight of my Baltimore apartment
all I know right now are my tears and snot have soaked the sheets around me
and my chest is heaving
so I call home again and hear my mom’s voice followed by the thunder of my dad
rampaging through the house a thousand miles away from me
smashing walls with his fists
bellowing with anger and fear and hurt
so big his 250-pound frame feels like it might die from instant grief
and I’m rocking myself hoping my breath returns

I too feel like I’m hanging

***

This is suicide from the other side. The side that survived, that isn’t supposed to talk about it, that is left to pick up what’s shattered and demolished, those who scare the others. But talking and sharing is exactly what we should do.

This is why The S Word is so consequential. The film invites others into this unknown, unspoken world that we, the survivors, experience every day, trying to make sense of a reality no one wants.

It’s been over 9 years since I received the phone call that would disrupt my life.

I wasn’t prepared for what was happening, how I would be forced to change. No one teaches us how to behave, how to support, how to grieve. It’s an education no wants wants firsthand.

Many of my friends felt uncomfortable. A month or two or three after, they’d wonder why my family and I were still struggling. She’s gone, you’ve got to move on. What we don’t understand until it happens to us is grief intensifies over time. You transition from one stage into the next, seamlessly, and before you know it, you’re no longer in shock but angry as hell and wallowing. Literally watching yourself drown. Often with very little support. Add mental illness, addiction, and dysfunctional relationships into the mix and you’ve got quite the disaster.

Even the family therapist I was seeing didn’t know how to handle it. I’d speak and he’d cry in his arm chair.

I want us to start talking about loss, to talk about what people’s needs really are, to expose how truly life-shattering death can be, and with that understanding generate a level of support none of us expect we need until it happens to us.

When “we'” suddenly become “they.”

And it starts with The S Word. With greater understanding comes greater empathy, awareness, connection, and love. With greater understanding comes the hope that we, as a unified community despite all differences, will save even just one person.

By | 2017-04-18T09:35:05+00:00 April 18th, 2017|Loss Survivor, Stories, Understanding Suicide|11 Comments

About the Author:

A graduate of Johns Hopkins and Northwestern University, Sabrina Must is an author and blogger who uses the written word to inspire others to be authentic and raw. She runs SabrinaMust.com (where she writes about dating, travel, adventure, grief, self-growth, politics, and more), and is the author of Must Girls Love, a memoir, and the Living Witnesses Holocaust survivor series. She has lived on 3 continents and in 5 US cities, traveled to over 30 countries, and can always be found playing sports, surfing, climbing, and biking with her pug Monkey.

11 Comments

  1. Nikki April 18, 2017 at 8:48 am - Reply

    Beautifully written Sabrina. Through your words you are teaching all of us to communicate
    and understand the devastation that suicide brings and continues to bring to the
    survivors. People don’t always understand and your opening up has sure brought it home
    to me. So sorry for all you’ve been through and that which you continue to be haunted by.

    • Sabrina Must April 19, 2017 at 4:58 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Nikki. Always love reading your comments. Understanding others makes us understand ourselves better. So important to keep sharing.

  2. Dani April 18, 2017 at 9:10 am - Reply

    That’s such a written ride into the interior of emotional disconnect. Your words forced me to feel your pain and that of your sister’s. That pain must have been so lethal to her that it strangled and blinded her.
    It’s a tragedy . Hard to even blame the obvious perp the husband.
    That’s why I honor your putting out the S word into daily dialog.
    Maybe if Miya had not been so cornered by the oblique shame and fear if it ..even the word..she could have sought other solutions.
    Who knows. ? This certainly offers a wider scope of solution.
    Thank you

    • Sabrina Must April 19, 2017 at 4:57 pm - Reply

      Dani, thanks for sharing. Yes, very painful, but so important to share. I wish she had sought other solutions. I think at that point in her life she felt so beat down after overcoming so much that this was partly a cry for help and partly a fuck you. I’m quite certain immediately after she died she regretted the decision. The if onlys drive all of us survivors crazy. Big hug and kiss!

  3. Susan April 18, 2017 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing your post. I was a friend of Miya’s (we taught yoga together) and I think of her often especially when I’m practicing. I think one of the hardest things for those left behind is struggling with the nagging thought that I should have done more. More of what I’m not sure…just more.

    • Sabrina Must April 19, 2017 at 4:55 pm - Reply

      Susan, thank you for sharing. Always love hearing from old friends of Miya. That’s always one of the toughest parts: “I could have done more.” And trust me, we all feel that way. My mom had a flight booked to Gunnison the NEXT morning so basically missed her by about 15 hours.

  4. Teri April 19, 2017 at 6:13 am - Reply

    For me there is a hole in my life and in my heart that will never close. I have great joy and gratitude for my life, but it is like I can only ever get to 80% joy. It’s been over 4 years now and I am accepting that this is how it will be.

    • Sabrina Must April 19, 2017 at 4:48 pm - Reply

      Teri, I get that! For me, it’s like this: my life is great, I have awesome family, awesome friends, awesome work, awesome home/lifestyle. But to be 100% complete it’d mean all the people I love would be able to share it with me. But that’s just not possible. I’m not able to see my sister and go on trips together and climb and bike–that’s just really hard reality that causes a hole in me, and a part that I truly believe will never heal. And in a way I’m okay with that. That hole is a reminder of just how much my sister meant to me. And it reminds me of her every day, and in a way, keeps her alive a bit. Sending love your way! Reach out if you ever want to talk.

  5. Stephanie Chandler May 11, 2017 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    This is such a powerful piece of writing, and a tragic story. I’m so sorry for your incredible loss. I lost my husband to suicide in 2013. It’s a loss you never get over, but instead learn to live with. The aftermath is such a painful journey for all left behind. Depression lies; your loved ones are never better off without you.

  6. […] Suicide From the Other Side […]

  7. Annemarie June 13, 2017 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    Powerful words and so true. The silence from our friends and family is deafening. You never get over it; it’s a part of you. You compartmentalize and only share with those who listen. And you wonder if those closest to you, the ones who are silent, ever really knew you. Suicide survivors are the strongest people I know.

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