Heartbreak of suicide loss haunts families


Dear Amy: My husband, “Don,” battled substance abuse and addictions, major depression, anxiety, and severe sleep apnea.

Don and I also had relationship issues, much like any other married couple after 20 years of marriage.

One day this past April, I learned that Don had once again stolen my legally prescribed pain medication.

I became angry with him, said harsh words, and then I asked him to pack his belongings and leave.

Instead, that day, he took his own life.

I called 911 and they walked me through CPR. In the end, I could not save him. He had shot himself.

This is all still quite fresh to me. I am often asked, “How did your husband pass away?” and I find that an incredibly intrusive question, even if he hadn’t died from suicide by gun.

In order to reign in my emotions and anger, I’d like your advice on how best to respond to those questions — whether they’re from people I’ve never met or people with whom I do have a relationship.

If you feel my question and your answer would be of value to your readers, I do hope you will publish it.

— Recovering

Dear Recovering: As a public service announcement, I’m going to remind people not to inquire about a person’s cause of death. In my (sadly extensive) experience, grieving survivors will often volunteer this information on their own after condolences are offered and they are feeling more comfortable. If this information isn’t offered — don’t ask.


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