Ten Years Later: Finding Hope on the Anniversary of My Father’s Suicide

Yesterday marked the ten-year anniversary of my father’s death. He went into work early, a length of rope coiled in the trunk of his car, and hanged himself in the warehouse.

My mom called my husband first, knowing he was out of town and I would be home alone the kids. He walked out of his conference, called a cab, and headed straight for the airport. I remember opening the door, so excited to see him, only vaguely aware that he wasn’t supposed to be there. That’s when he told me. And my heart broke.

I’ve written before about surviving my dad’s suicide. His loss and the way that it happened is a reality I carry with me every day.

For the first few years, I suffered panic attacks that seemed to come from nowhere. I remember once, about a year after, being on a camping trip with friends. We went fishing, something I used to do a lot with my dad. Later that day, I wound up at an urgent care center, frightened and unsure why I felt so dizzy and unwell. I’ve been in and out of therapy ever since. It’s helped, and I’m grateful. It’s something I wish Dad had done. If he had, things might have been different.

In the past, I’ve spent the anniversary of his death under a bit of a cloud. I don’t get depressed exactly, but the tragedy feels closer, heavier. The pain is more acute. All the emotions I don’t make space for on other days feel fresh and raw, the anger, the sorrow.

This year, the day completely passed me by, and it was only today that I realized I’d forgotten it. Ten years, such a significant date. And I’d done nothing to commemorate it.

And you know what? I think that’s okay. In fact, I think it’s progress. It doesn’t mean I don’t care about my dad, that I don’t miss him every day. But it means I’m healing. It means I can carry on without the weight of clouds.

It means there’s hope. There is light. Time is a wondrous healer.

To all the survivors in the raw stages, my heart aches with yours. Know that God is good and time is kind. If you can believe it, know that there is peace in store when you are ready to receive it. It may be a long time in coming. It was for me. But one day, it will arrive, and you’ll only realize in retrospect how far you’ve walked on this journey through grief. Until then, be kind to yourself, and take care.

Love & light, my friends.

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