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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.


04/27/2014 at 2:36 AM
Greg Hood
I lost my wife 11 Feb 14. Four days before my birthday and 5 days before hers. She had been in pain seeing a psychiatrist every 2 weeks. She slipped into very deep despair when our beloved cat died from her illness feline leukemia. I left for work and spoke with her on the telephone during lunch and she told me to get something for dinner and we discussed what I was going to get. I got home at the usual time and she wasn't home. I found on the coffee table a note form her saying "I'm so sorry". She left her bank books her address book the deed to the house. I was calling her cell phone leaving messages and waited for her to return home. Because I never thought she would do something like this. When she didn't come home in the morning I contacted her family and told them I thought something was wrong and asked them to contact the police. (We live in Japan). She drove to a hardware store bought a charcoal heater and lit a fire and with the help of sleep medication fell asleep and never woke up. We found her 24 hours later using her cell phone GPS. They estimated she died around 8 PM that evening I was waiting for her. I am devastated, crippled mentally and emotionally. I need help coping with this crippling grief. Thank you.
12/14/2013 at 1:01 PM
My wife committed suicide November 17, 2013. I really don't know how to cope without her. I got home from work that evening and found her in our bed. She had shot herself. I really want to go be with her, but what do I do about my kids? They're grown and on their own.
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