My mom killed herself two years ago yesterday. She took the pills that killed her on December 1, her's and my dad's wedding anniversary, and then died on December 2 in the early morning. She was found later that morning or early that afternoon by someone who'd come to check on her.
Last year, I missed my mother so much on this date... I wished she hadn't killed herself and I was very sad that she was dead. This year was different: I found myself thinking about what that last day must have been like for her and how she must have felt before deciding to die. I know that I can never really know what was going through her head but for the first time I felt myself looking at things through her eyes and imagining what it was like. I talked this through with my psychologist today and this helped find the words to express these thoughts.
My mom must have been so sad and so lonely. She'd been mentally ill for years and years but had been stable when my dad died in 2008. She spent almost two years after that in the place where they'd lived but she was having trouble living on her own. She dissociated a couple of times and "came to" not knowing what had happened, which is very scary (if you've ever been in a drug- or alcohol-induced blackout, you'll understand how scary that can be). Then she came down with some kind of respiratory infection and became very, very sick; she had COPD already, and she was so sick that she couldn't think to call an ambulance to take her to the hospital.
After that episode, she knew she couldn't be completely on her own any more, so she moved into a light assisted living bachelor apartment in the other tower of her complex. She took two meals a day with other residents and someone would look in on her each day. She never really loved it there; it was different, and she didn't like the people with whom she ate her two meals. She was never much of a conformist and she didn't much like being around people so this was no surprise, but I think it left her feeling alone and lonely. And maybe even a bit angry at being left out, as odd as that sounds. Her daughters weren't reaching out to her and she didn't reach out to them because all those years of mental illness had scarred us all.
In the fall of that year, mom got a new psychiatrist. She'd been with her previous psychiatrist for years and didn't like the new one at all. He wanted to change her treatment, which she didn't like, and she also didn't like him personally. Most specifically, she din't like his shoes, which were very trendy. At the time, I didn't understand how she felt but I think now she felt he was young, that he was railroading her, and that he didn't respect her as a patient or as a person.
So she was sad, alone, and lonely, and angry, and resentful, and she felt like she didn't belong, and she had no support network. I think she'd experienced these emotions for years without killing herself but on the anniversary of her marriage, I think she'd finally had enough and decided that it was time to go. I think she couldn't bear the pain of living any more - and that for her, suicide wasn't a permanent solution to a temporary problem, as some describe suicide, but permanent solution to a problem that she'd endured for years.
I think that she'd probably spent much of her last day crying and missing her husband. I think she may have cried while she was taking the pills but once they were in her, I suspect she felt some relief that she was really going to die this time. I hope she found some peace before she died and that her death was painless.
As I say, I don't know if my thoughts about how she felt that day or in the days leading up to it are true but they feel true to me. I still miss her terribly, but I feel like I have a better understanding of what things were like for her and why she chose to kill herself. Thinking about how she got to the point of killing herself gives me much more empathy for her.
I still miss my mom terribly and I still wish she hadn't got to a point where she needed to kill herself... but I understand and I forgive her.
I love you, mom.