There are many things in life I don’t understand. Why the average Brit would vote for Brexit. Why there are internet trolls. Or why one of my closest and oldest friends ended his own life. And why I’m even writing this blog post about something so surreal and intangible.
I’m aware that the majority of the visitors to my site expect to find fun information about things to do in London. They shouldn’t be ‘bothered’ with such a sad story. But this is my life and my sad story and something I feel I need to share in some way. It wouldn’t feel right to just starting blogging again about ‘fun’ things without the slightest mention of such a poignant moment in my life.
The birthday that couldn’t happen
Today we should be celebrating Eric’s 46th birthday. One of my teeny tiny inner circle friends for more than 21 years – over half my life! – and once my partner of 11 years. I already grieved for him over a decade ago when we broke up. It took me a long time to get over the fact we had fallen out of love with each other. (I alluded to this period in my Dutch-language post: Mijn laatste blog als een thirty-something.)
Yet, afterwards a different kind of love and special bond developed. A bond Hubby understood, respected and supported. And on top of this, Hubby and Eric even became good friends too. How lucky was I in this unusual and for many people undreamable and incomprehensible situation?
However, instead of Eric’s birthday we are commemorating the fact he’s been dead for four weeks already. How is it even possible I’m writing this sentence?! How is this nightmare reality?
I keep checking WhatsApp in the hope that the date he last opened it will be updated to today. That’s it’s all been some sort of misunderstanding. That he changed his mind and decided to come back after all.
At times it still feels so abstract. Until the sick reality of it all hits me again, punches me in the gut, paralyses me, leaving me in tears.
I bought him the birthday card you see above last week, wrote it but will never get the chance to post it. I was hoping writing it would be cathartic. Surprise, it wasn’t some miracle solution after all.
And now what?
One day I will hopefully be able to accept and respect Eric’s wish to end his pain. A pain I didn’t get the chance to help remove. A pain I’ll never understand. Such a deep pain I never saw. Should I have seen it? After all, wasn’t I supposed to be his best friend? We’d often stood in the same position as Winnie the Pooh and his friend Tigger in this picture here. Patting each other’s shoulders, saying we’d be mates for life, no matter what.
But for now the disbelief and grief is too much to bear. I’m constantly feeling overwhelmed and am drowning in a sea of complex emotions, thoughts and questions. Trying to find ‘peace’ with it feels like an impossible task. There are just too many puzzle pieces in this complicated and unsolvable ‘whydunnit’ where everything but the perpetrator is unknown.
The complexities of grieving after suicide
I’m unfortunately no stranger to grief. Since my early teens I’ve been losing loved ones. With a few exceptions, none of these people got the chance to grow old. And hardly any of them died in peace. Whenever I read about someone’s 90+-year-old (grand)mother dying in peace surrounded by their family I feel a sharp pain in my heart. Good for them of course, but why has life been so cruel on so many people I’ve ever loved and deeply cared about?
It was only recently I wrote about the death of my dear ex father-in-law when I was just 26 years old followed by the traumatic and sudden deaths of my mother-in-law and brother-in-law in my thirties. Eric commented on the blog post (When the Magic of Christmas Is Gone) at the time, saying he had tears in his eyes when he read my words about his father. And now I can’t help but crying endless tears about him. His death has also magnified the deaths of all those others I’ve lost already. I know from painful previous experiences I will get over the sharpest pain eventually, but once again life will be altered significantly.
Dealing with a loved one’s self-chosen death raises so many more emotions than with a ‘normal’ death. First of all there’s the abrupt and violent nature of it. And then there’s a whole array of different feelings. Feelings of guilt, of powerlessness, for some even anger, and always that horrible feeling of the unknowing, the horrible unanswerable ‘What if… ?’ questions.
People tell me I should be grateful for having had such a vibrant soul in my life, to cherish the memories. That I should be grateful for the people and things I still have left in my life. Of course I know this all and believe me I do feel grateful for them. But the fact that our WhatsApp conversation has abruptly ended, doesn’t mean my feelings have suddenly ended or diminished as well.
Eric’s death has made me adamant to live my best and fullest life. To make a difference in people’s lives and leave behind the same unforgettable and indelible impression as he did, captivating people from the very second they met him due to his charismatic and flamboyant personality.
But not just yet.
As for now I first need to grieve and try to deal with the fact that a big part of my life, of my youth, of my identity, is gone. Snatched away from me. Many decades too early.