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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

11/01/2018 at 4:45 PM
Justin
I just my wife to suicide on 10/13/2018 I'm in need of help
09/19/2018 at 10:20 AM
Brandon
I am now 23 years old, last year I lost the love of my life, my wife to suicide. I was the only person there when it happened. We were together five years and married for two. That’s nothing compared to older couples, but like them I know she is my rock, the best part of who I am. I miss her with every part of me. I would do literally anything to be with her again. She discussed with me a lot of her pain and depression in her life from traumatic experiences in life that no person should go through. I know I tried to help any way I could and anyway she asked. But I used to be a happy person, I never knew exactly how depression affected someone. I used to think maybe it was in your head. Now I see I was wrong, it consumes a person. I have mostly shut people out of my life. I don’t want to but for me people judged me for everything I did, people used my wife’s suicide for attention, people wanting sympathy for themselves when they spent no time trying to even know my wife. People always telling me I’m an A-hole at every reaction I have. When in reality I feel I see how life really is and how people really are now. So my reactions are different, everything is different. I had a very close call myself afterwords but I called my sister in law first because I knew I didn’t need to make people who care about me feel the way I do. My sister in law made me feel like I needed to be here so I stayed. It feels like someone ripped my heart out yet I’m walking around pretending like I have a reason to be even walking.
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