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the aftermath of suicide
reaching acceptance, little by little
by alex b (@Lexistential)

As I sit down, I take note of time passed. It's been two months since my aunt chose to kill herself, an eight-week span that's shaken me and my family to our core. Two months is a pretty decent chunk of time. My day-to-day life is easy to go about once again, and I can sleep without rewinding the details of her death in my head.

But, her story still makes me shiver.

In the time that's passed, I also discovered relevant details that colored my aunt's mindset in her last days. My cousins told me that my aunt had become a hoarder, and had enough dresses, bags, and shoes to set up her very own flea market. But, her numerous acquisitions sat ready to be discovered; they were in neat stacks and piles, as though she purposely made it easy for people to dispose.

Apart from fashion leftovers, I discovered something more significant. Organized in boxes were numerous letters in my aunt's handwriting, pages of love, reconcile, and apology addressed to her children and family members. Some were written recently, while others dated from as far back as 2004.

Discovering this collection set a whole new a whole new light to the aunt I'd believed was a villain, someone I had categorized as harmful to be in a family with. Strange as it felt to initially accept, my cousins and I came across an element that we didn't see coming, but one we desperately needed: forgiveness.

Though my cousins are nowhere near finished in getting over the loss of their mother, they've welcomed her words; thanks to her letters, I too know that my aunt cared about having a better relationship with them and our family. I too have the freedom to remember her as a fun, loving person. I just wish that I could see her as that figure in present tense.

I know it's impossible to wish for time travel, but I wish my aunt had made time to mail a letter. Had she done so, I know she would have dissipated some of the strife that characterized our relations. But I also wonder if we, as a family, were capable of listening to her and prioritizing her needs. With how stubborn, opinionated, and occasionally self-righteous I know us to be, it haunts me that she held her words back and only allowed them to be known by killing herself.

Ultimately, down the road, I know that all the people in my family and I will reach our own places of acceptance about my aunt's suicide. We aren't finished mourning, and I am not at total peace yet. In some ways, dealing with her immediate death was easier because I could call her selfish and could take thinking of her as a bad person for granted. Now, I simply mourn someone who shouldn't have left by her own hand, and I don't know when that will end.

I suppose the truly hardest lesson to learn in cases of suicide is acceptance. Like it or not, I and the rest of my family are forced to know my aunt's wishes by her permanent absence. I accept her loss by default; there is nothing I can do to resurrect her, nor could I (or anyone else) have prevented her from taking her own life. It's a loss that still stings after the fact, one that I will always live with.


An expert in coloring outside the lines while reading between them, Alex B has a head for business, bod for sin, and weakness for ice cream during all seasons. Apart from watching Bravo marathons and enjoying haute bites here and there, she writes about TV, pop culture, and coloring outside even more lines. She sneaks Tweets via @lexistential.

more about alex b


looking at the l-word
what it feels like for this girl
by alex b
topic: writing
published: 2.4.07

a holiday ghost story
silencing the rattles and chains of relationships past
by alex b
topic: writing
published: 1.12.07


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