Grief Mental Health/Wellness Suicide

An Open Letter to the Family and Friends Who Just Lost a Loved One to Suicide

An Open Letter to the Family and Friends Who Just Lost a Loved One to Suicide www.herviewfromhome.com
Written by Bailey Koch

Dear loved ones,

First of all, my heart breaks for you. I’m so very sorry for your loss and your pain. Every night, my family and I pray for you. We pray for everyone affected by depression, suicide, and other forms of mental illness. We pray for a cure, and we pray that daddy’s depression will continue to be healed and symptoms kept at bay. You see, my husband Jeremy is a five-time suicide attempt survivor. Our prayers center around helping others who live a reality very similar to our own.

But I know you need more information than that right now. I know you need answers. While I can’t give you straight answers, what I can tell you is that we understand the reality of suicide for the person suffering. And I’d like to tell you what was likely in your loved one’s thoughts when suicide became the best option.

I live in Central Nebraska and work in Kearney. Just yesterday, news broke that a 16-year-old boy took his life. Cody was a junior at Kearney High School. I received word of what happened from my friend who happens to have a daughter who is a sophomore at Kearney High and the news was announced to students before it became available to the general public. Even if others didn’t know Cody personally, they are deeply affected by his suicide. Why? Because suicide is wildly misunderstood and the pain of not understanding is intense.

I’ve heard so many say phrases in the past like, “It was just so selfish. He wasn’t thinking of his family at all.” And what I want to say to those people is this…

If you do not know the person and you do not understand the reality of suicidal thoughts, kindly send your prayers and keep the rest of your ignorant comments to yourself.

So now to the family and friends who just lost a loved one to suicide, I want to say this…

Your loved one was thinking of you, and likely only of you, when the decision was made to end life here on this earth. The reality of life in a person who is contemplating suicide’s brain is flipped. It does not make sense to us, those who do not live in a brain overtaken with suicidal thoughts. The pain was so intense that your loved one believed himself to be a burden on you, no matter how different the reality actually was. He knew how much you loved him, and he truly believed you would be better off in a world without him.

Suicide was not, is not, and never will be anyone’s fault, including the fault of the person who took his or her own life.

Another phrase I have heard is, “Suicide does not end the pain, it transfers it to someone else.” While I agree with part of this, I can’t say I agree completely. And the reason I can’t agree completely is because I have a close relationship with God and I know He understands mental illness. I know a special place in Heaven is reserved for those whose pain on this earth is so great that they feel the need to end it themselves. The part I wholeheartedly agree with in this sentence is the pain left behind for the loved ones…those who lost someone they deeply cared for but couldn’t save.

On my husband’s final suicide attempt, he left me a note. While it’s very personal, we also decided that we could not help anyone suffering if we were not completely honest. In 2012, Jeremy left me this note:

I can’t do it anymore. I live with this day in and day out and I don’t know what to do. This is what goes through my mind and I can’t stop it. I changed my career. I can’t stop it. I love my wife and my kids. I can’t stop it. I have an amazing life. I can’t stop it. Is my roof high enough? What if I jump off? Would it kill me fast enough? I don’t want to be paralyzed and make Bailey take care of me for the rest of her life. What if I lit the garage on fire? Would they find me? And what if Bailey really knew about the other times? The time I put the bag over my head…that felt weird. But grandma showed up just in time and I put it away. Then there was the time I locked myself in the garage with the diesel loader running…the exhaust burned my lungs. But God entered my mind and I began saying a prayer. I jumped off the loader and hit the garage door opener with such force I could feel the pain come out my fingers. I rushed into the open air and gasped, God had saved me again. But why? Why does He keep saving me? But this is it.

I love you with all my heart.

I just don’t understand this.

Have them find me in the garage, please don’t come in there.

Love, Me.

For years, my prayer was that my husband’s life on this earth would end. I prayed for him to be successful in his suicide attempts. It sounds terrible to many, and I understand that. But please hear me out. I did not pray for my husband to die because I didn’t love him; I prayed for Jeremy to die because I loved him so fiercely that I wanted his pain to end. I didn’t understand at the time that life could get better. Just like my husband, I fell into the belief that suicide was the only option. Today, in 2016, this is my our family (photo credit goes to Gleason Photography):

 An Open Letter to the Family and Friends Who Just Lost a Loved One to Suicide   www.herviewfromhome.com 

God answered my prayer, but not in the way I thought or even wanted at the time. Life gets better. God made it clear that Jeremy was still here on this earth for a reason, and he fights every single day to live, not just stay alive as he once did. We live to help as many as possible understand the reality of depression, suicide, and other mental illness. Your loved one loved you fiercely, but suicidal thoughts won in this life. We are so sorry for your pain. We are here for you in prayer and in any other way possible.

All our love,

Jeremy, Bailey, Hudson, and Asher Koch

 

***Our book and true life story, “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith”, is available via eBook on Amazon or via paperback on www.jeremyandbailey.com. Follow our journey on Facebook. And read our blog at www.jeremyandbaileyblog.com. Please contact us via Facebook message or email at [email protected] to speak to your group, school, church, etc. God bless.

About the author

Bailey Koch

The story of Bailey Koch finding her love for and strength in writing begins with near tragedy. In February of 2012, Bailey’s husband was nearly killed in a head-on collision with a semi truck. As a method of getting information to friends and family, Bailey began a Caring Bridge page. Immediately, others began commenting that Bailey should be a writer. “Yeah right!” Bailey thought. “There’s no way I could do that!”

“Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith” was published in March 2015 and is written by Jeremy and Bailey Koch. It details their struggles with severe depression and the journey toward understanding their purpose, accepting help, and finding faith. High school sweethearts, Jeremy and Bailey know their lives were meant for each other and to help others by being honest about their story. They are proud parents of two beautiful, and often rambunctious, boys. Hudson and Asher are 10 and 7 years old. You can learn more about their journey and even purchase the eBook or paperback copy of “Never Alone” at www.jeremyandbailey.com.

Jeremy and Bailey found their purpose in helping others find hope when suffering from a disability, especially unseen illnesses like depression. Jeremy, who suffers from suicidal thoughts, continues to learn to live, not simply stay alive, through hope from God and the acceptance of help. Bailey is his biggest supporter and left her teaching job, after being in public education for seven years, to focus on what the two know to be God’s plan. Bailey now works as a Lecturer in Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and will graduate with her doctoral degree in Special Education from Walden University sometime in 2018. Jeremy and Bailey co-own and operate Natural Escapes, a landscaping and greenhouse services business that also includes a paint your own pottery and canvas family art studio. The passion to advocate for those who can’t easily advocate for themselves is strong. Bailey has a message of hope and acceptance for all; she has plans to completely demolish the societal stigma attached to mental illness.