Tonight at work there was a reading and discussion about an anthology of stories from people who’ve survived the suicide of a loved one.

As someone who’s attempted suicide, I was touched by how deeply and for how many years suicide can affect those left behind.

I was disheartened, however, when people said how sad it was that people who complete suicide don’t consider or care about the pain of those they leave behind.

As someone who’s been there and come out the other side, perhaps I can shed some light.

I know I cannot speak for everyone; perhaps some who attempt or complete suicide don’t care. All that follows is based on my own experience.

But I feel it is important to break the silence in this instance, to come out against the myth that suicide equals not caring for one reason:

I know I did.

I wish I could express how deeply and profoundly it’s possible to care. I wish I had words for the guilt compounding already unbearable pain and desperation.

For those who are grieving over the loss of a loved one to suicide, I want to say I feel sure they loved you very much.

I am sure the thought of you kept them going for many days, weeks, or months longer than they would have otherwise.

They also knew you loved them, and there is nothing you could have said or done to stop them.

But love isn’t always enough.

Notice I didn’t say you didn’t love them enough or they didn’t love you enough. Love, in and of itself, no matter how deep, no matter how strong, isn’t always enough.

This is one of the biggest myths our culture tells us. We are told that if we just love someone enough, we can fix their problems, make life worth living, or any host of possible cheery outcomes.

Love can help a great deal. Love can shine light into otherwise impenetrable darkness. Love can heal wounds. Love can give strength and courage.

But love isn’t always enough.

I believe suicide marks the point where pain, hopelessness, desperation, and exhaustion outweigh love.

I have not experienced the suicide of a loved one, so I cannot say I understand the grief which accompanies it.

I am sure there are some beliefs which make that pain easier to bear, but our cultural unwillingness to empathetically consider the forces and factors which might lead to suicide has done nothing to stem the tide.

I can’t tell you the number of different scenarios I walked through in my head in those days, and how many times I vetoed one because of how my actions would affect those around me.

There’s shame and guilt enough to go around on both sides of the equation, believe me.

It isn’t that they didn’t love you. It isn’t that they didn’t think of you.

But for some people in the midst of unbearable pain and anguish, for whom there is no light at the end of the tunnel, love just isn’t enough.

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