Suicide Shadow

8 Aug

Letterbalm Suicide ManDear LetterBalm: The suicide of my husband’s mother is still casting a dark shadow 20 years later. My husband is reaching the age when she died, and he’s clearly extremely troubled by this. He’s angry, moody and drinking a lot every day, he has trouble sleeping and he doesn’t want sex or even just a hug. This isn’t the man I married five years ago. I always knew he was bothered by the death of his mother, but he’s pig-headed and doesn’t think therapy will help him. A couple of months ago, my great-aunt was diagnosed with a terminal illness, so this could be adding to his stress. I’ve suggested he see his doctor, but he won’t do it. I love him very much, and it breaks my heart to see him so depressed and out of control. We’re fighting all the time. I can’t be married to him if this goes on. How can I help him?

–Wit’s End

Your husband’s mother died young by her own hand, and, understandably, this terrifies him. It reminds him of his loss and his mortality, and his depression is adding to his pain. Ms. L.B. thinks you need to enlist help. Does your husband have a good relationship with a sibling who has handled his mother’s passing in a psychologically better way? Or, does he have a close friend?  Is there anyone who can talk privately with him – urge your husband to see his doctor and seek counseling and help him understand what he’s doing to himself and those who love him? In the meantime, you must have a loving, yet firm conversation with your beloved. Pick your moment when he’s not addled by alcohol and, well, let him have it. You have one chance to reach him:

Darling, I know you’re going through a terrible time, and it breaks my heart to see you like this. You’re coping with a big sorrow – the terrible loss of your mom. But if you won’t get help, you’re going to continue in this downward spiral until you hit rock bottom. If you don’t stop, you’ll lose everything that matters to you. Your brother has tried to talk with you, so has your friend Joe. I’ll do everything I can to help you. We’ll get you to the doctor for medication and to a counselor to work through the demons that are haunting you. But you need to know this in no uncertain terms: I can’t stay with you if you continue like you are now. If you won’t get help, I’ll have to leave you, and that would devastate me because I love you more than anyone. But I can’t spend the rest of my life in a marriage like this. What do you want to do?

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