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Losing a Wife

By Noel Braun, author of No Way to Behave at a Funeral.


Maris, my wife of forty-two years died by suicide on the 30th October 2004. following years of struggling with depression. She tried everything to relieve her suffering-medication, counselling, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, meditation, innumerable self help books. She was seeing both a psychiatrist and psychologist at the time of her death.

I could not imagine how I could ever cope. I was standing on the cliffs of despair. I could have fallen off the edge, succumbed to despair and futility, taken to alcohol or to womanising. I wanted to withdraw into myself in isolation.

There was no way around my anguish. I met it head on. I decided that, although I had no choice in Maris’ tragedy, I did have choice in how I responded.

Instead of slumping into despondency and inertia, the sadness that I experienced led to a passion that gave tremendous energy and restlessness. I wanted to build something constructive, of benefit to myself and to others bereaved by a similar tragedy. I was desperate to reach out to others. I needed a focus. I concentrated on my writing, sought interviews with radio and newspapers and spoke to any group that was prepared to listen about the insidious nature of depression.

My restlessness led to undertaking a round-the-world trip in 2005 and again in 2006, part of my efforts to rediscover myself. In 2010 I walked the Pilgrims’ Way, known as the Camino, an ancient pilgrimage route that people have followed for one thousand years. I walked 760 kilometres through France to the border with Spain. This year, 2011, I plan to return and continue the walk through Spain to Santiago. I dedicate my pilgrimage to the memory of my wife Maris. She is a continuing presence in my life and continues to inspire me.

 I wrote my story and dedicated it to my wife. My hope was that my book might give some support to those whose lives have been shattered by a loved one’s suicide. I hope that others will find they are not alone in their anguish, their grief, their guilt, their feelings of inadequacy and inability to cope.  In particular, I want to reach out to other men. Men tackle grief in a different way, often totally avoiding facing it. Some men build a fortress around their feelings. The pain of loss is just as intense for men as for women, but society praises those who “hold up well," who maintain “a stiff upper lip," who adopt the strong, silent stance, as if the stoic mask provides some protection. On the contrary, instead of shielding against pain, the mask hurts. In hiding pain, it has to be carried silently and alone. Everyone handles grief differently but I believe you need a focus. You need to accept help and to share the suffering. In reaching out to others you help yourself.

There is always hope in the worst of situations.

Comments

02/02/2018 at 1:49 PM
Paul
My wife and I were married 31 years. After 3 years I find it getting worse. I feel just as you do, I just want to die myself. I'm 63 and I wish I could get out of here to be with her. My life is destroyed. As she would say, we were soulmates. How could she have done this? WHY!!!!
01/30/2018 at 4:28 PM
Sheila
I'm a wife of 11 years and contemplating suicide. I'm so tired of the silent treatments. He doesn't realize it but he's teaching both of us to live with out the other. I think deep down and bubbling on the surface he really hates me. I'm sure he feels trapped, though he is very wrong. I love him so much that if being with me is so awful I will quietly and respectfully help him pack his belongings and pay for his new home. It's far less dangerous than how he makes me feel. I have endured years of being talked down to, disrespected& disregaurded. Sometimes I can feel the hatred pouring out of his soul. But I have a right to be mad when he says, " I'm going to my Mom's, be home soon!" Then is gone for 7 hours and comes home wasted. Then I get "the treatment" for MONTHS!! I have no support system, he hated all my friends and my family is an annoying inconvenience, so I have lost those relationships over the years. He says he, " wipes my ass" but it is my 55 hour a week job that keeps his ass clean, in all aspects, and keeps him fed, with smokes, monsters and his own extra $$ for atv's. All the while I am broke, haven't had more than sandals to wear through 2 Maine winters and have no time or money for a hobby and am feeling more and more suicidal. I am sure he would be better off without me. I am sure the next woman to come along will be better. He was abused as a child, his love map is jinky, but he does love. He just loves the cats more than he loves me. I don't even get the same common courtesy one would give to a stranger. If I do this maybe he will learn, you can't treat loved ones like this. I fantasize about waking him up, "Hey baby" then BANG!!! Off with my head. But my real thought is to go for a long walk in the snow. There is a perfect hole in a hillside, take some anti-nausea, 250 mg of morphine washed down with Johnny Walker Blue, crawl into my hole and hopefully fall asleep and stop breathing. My .45 at my side just incase I vomit. With the entrance to my hole nicely covered up no one should find me. I will just disappear. He says he "loves me so much!" then why do I get treated like shit? I have never belittled, disrespected, emasculated, or restricted him from doing anything, though I will say,"How would you feel if I had done that?" I must be awful though. Why have I stuck around you ask, because he is sweet and kind to others, he is progressing in life (in general) though at his own pace, he works 40 hours a week every week though he hates his job, he loves his nephew's( sats he can't leave me cause I'm their aunt) they are a big part of his world, he is loyal except for all of the porn, most importantly I love him, more than life or boots or hobbies. Friends mean nothing next to him. I think he needs this from me, so he can move on and maybe one day be truely happy, something I have only seen from him in bursts, something I obviously can't give him. If I cuddle him he says I'm clingy, he says my touch feels so good, but I'm not allowed unless he asks?! I'm sure he wants a touch, just not mine. I must go so he can find his love, as I found mine. It's ashame we couldn't find happiness too. Guys, talk to your girls, NEVER yell, both of you walk away if your yelling, let her talk, empathize with her and love her. Hopefully she won't end up like me...walking dead.
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