• Lauren

International Survivor of Suicide Loss Day 2019

I'm a survivor of suicide loss.

On March 25th, 2016, my husband, Devon Motard, committed suicide. He was 27 years old. Just weeks before his death, Devon and I separated.

In the years since then, I've had a whole lot of feelings.

The timing of his death is something I’ve wrestled with. I know that I’m not responsible, yet, it’s impossible for me to examine the circumstance and not acknowledge that our separation was a factor.

Devon’s family disagreed; they blamed me entirely. They said I should never have left him. Despite the tumultuous history of my ten year relationship with Devon, they clung onto my misdeeds alone as the "why." If Devon had never met me, maybe he’d still be here. His family was hurt, confused, and searching for answers. I know that. At my lowest moments I've wondered if they’re right, but I like to think I've moved past that now.

I’ve gone through frustration with Devon for wasting his potential. For taking the “easy” way out. I’ve been downright angry with him for the mess he left me with. For the emotional distress, sure, but for the more practical things that often go unmentioned. 

For a funeral to arrange, a eulogy to write. For a house full of belongings that became my second job to sort through. For two cars in disrepair, and one luxury vehicle with ~$20,000 owed on it. For leaving me to deal with his family. For having to spend my off days in the county courthouse settling his affairs. For the irony of the damn tree I tried to plant at his grave site that mocks me by refusing to stay alive. For having to constantly straddle the line between respecting Devon’s privacy and memory while still being honest and forthright with friends and family.

Praise God, I didn’t have to tackle all of this alone. I don’t know that I could have. I was supported by loved ones in ways I’ll never be able to repay them for. However, as Devon’s wife, I felt the weight of the responsibility on my shoulders alone.

At times, I’ve stifled my feelings because, of course, it’s Devon who's the victim, right? Ultimately, I think he is a victim. A victim of what exactly is debatable I suppose, but he’s most certainly not the only one who’s suffered.

I want to do my part to spread awareness to International Survivor of Suicide Loss Day because survivor’s guilt is much more common than survivor’s compassion. As a survivor, I’ve spent and continue to spend time remembering Devon and mourning his loss. He’s in my daily passing thoughts, I think of him on his birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, our wedding anniversary, the day of his death, etc. On these days, I choose to remember him in the best light and in doing so, I often ignore the pain his suicide caused me.

Rarely do I stop to consider the achievement of surviving. Through it all, I’m here. I'm well past the part where I ugly cry every day. I’ve completed a million cycles of confronting and distracting from my grief. I did the drinking too much and staying out too late thing for a while, but I'm over it. I’ve survived.

Survivor's Day is a day to remember that I didn't ask for this, cause it, or deserve it. It's a day to forgive myself for whatever errors or oversights I may have made along the path of settling Devon's affairs. Dammit, I did the best I could. Without any preparation or warning, I took care of business.

I don’t believe I was put on this planet to be a walking talking headstone for Devon. I’m allowed to move forward with my own life. To succeed, to laugh, to celebrate. To love someone and marry once again. It seems so obvious, but sometimes I NEED the reminder that happiness and grief can coexist.

When we talk about a "victim" of suicide, we aren't just talking about the deceased, we're talking about the estimated 6+ loved ones each of them leave behind. That's hundreds of people left to pick up the pieces EACH DAY.

Today, November 23rd, 2019, I implore each and every one of you remember the survivors. Lift up a survivor if you have one in your life. Know that the funeral really only marks the beginning of what may be a very challenging season for them. Love on them, listen to them, and be kind.

To learn more about International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, please visit AFSP's website here

Thank you Harvard Health Publishing for writing this informational article regarding survivors of suicide loss