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Navigating through my second Christmas without my dad, the weight of grief seemed even heavier this year. In fact, everything felt and looked different to me. As I unwrapped the ornaments and cards he gave me over the years, a tidal wave of madness and sadness engulfed me. I know many feel sadness and grieve during these times, but let me just say . . . suicide is a different type of grief.

My vibrant, happy, physically fit dad committed suicide on April 30th, 2022. There, I said it.

In the aftermath, a myriad of emotions consumed me. One perplexing aspect is that he didn’t fit the stereotypical profile of someone who would take their own life. This disbelief is compounded by the fact that my grandmother did the same when I was just two years old. Is there truly a “type” for those who decide to leave this world without any kind of explanation, a note, or even a sign? I mean, how could he have done this to me?

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Reflecting on that fateful day in 2022, it was seemingly ordinary. I was babysitting my grandson, having spoken to Dad earlier, and the evening unfolded with routine plans of sharing pictures and a potential FaceTime call. At 5:02 p.m., a simple text from Dad saying, “I love you,” was very routine. Little did I know, an hour later, as I struggled to put my grandson to sleep, my world was about to shatter.

Ignoring a large number of phone calls that night, I prioritized my grandson, blissfully unaware of the devastating news awaiting me. When I finally answered, the coroner’s call plunged me into a heartbreak I never anticipated. I remember the immediate nausea I felt and wanted to run. How can this even be true and why?

Since that moment, grief has taken on a new form, laden with unanswered questions and occasional anger toward him. The pervasive “I could have helped” feeling gnaws at me, amplifying the void left by his absence. People often wonder why families can’t see the signs. Now, I find myself questioning if others are pondering the same about me. Didn’t she know? Honestly, why didn’t I notice something different? His voice that Saturday seemed normal and content as most of the time he did. Another day for him at the beach and going to the pool.

My memories of my grandmother’s suicide are hazy due to my young age. Learning later about her Huntington’s disease adds a new layer to my family history. Now, I grapple with the possibility of my dad having had Huntington’s, a question left unanswered due to the lack of conclusive tests. The uncertainty intensifies my grief, leaving me with a multitude of unanswerable questions. I have read books and talked to counselors (all have been wonderfully helpful); however, I still have that pain that comes with these circumstances I assume. I know I am not alone in this type of pain.

RELATED: When I Wanted To Die, Here’s What I Needed from You

Despite the pain, I cherish the moments I shared with my dad. Yet, it pains me that he never felt he could confide in me about his pain. Perhaps, this is a natural facet of grieving a loved one lost to suicide. I mean, does every parent tell or express their pain to their children? I know I don’t. I don’t want my three adult children to worry about me.

Opening up about my experience, saying it out loud, has been a cathartic journey. Speaking out loud helps me shed the shame I feel and helps me get through the days when I feel grief overwhelm me. There is just never enough time to spend with a loved one.

My name is Kim, and my dad committed suicide.

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Kimberly Fleshner

I am a mom of three adult children and a beautiful grandson and another on the way. I live in Texas and am recently remarried to a great man. I enjoy football, dancing, and spending time with all the family.

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