My Dad Took His Own Life (How Do I Cope?)

My Dad Took His Own Life

My Dad took his own life on the evening of November 19th 2018 – that was when the prices of cryptocurrencies crashed. Back then, I was still oblivious about his finances but it was only after my Dad’s funeral that Mom revealed that Dad was heavily invested in cryptocurrencies. According to her, Dad mortgaged our house and invested his life savings into it. 

It took our family a good three years to rebuild a new life after losing everything in the last cryptocurrency bear market. 

I still remember the day when I first received the news that my Dad was no longer with us. I fell to the ground with my knees on the hot gravel.

I had thoughts of my wedding day, still thinking that Dad was suppose to walk me down the aisle. He was also supposed to dance with me and to give a memorable speech about his daughter.

That was a moment that I always took for granted and was always assuming that he will always be there when I need him. In just a split second, all of that changed.

How It Affected Me? (After My Dad Took His Own Life)

According to the National institute of Mental Health, suicide is actually the 10th leading cause of death in the US. Suicide alone resulted in 44,000 deaths in 2020 alone. (Source)

After my Dad took his own life, that episode left a huge void in my heart, even till this day.

I never saw my Dad cry, but deep down inside, I knew that he was in a lot of pain. His career wasn’t doing well and his job was just eating him alive. I vaguely remember how he used to complain to Mom about how his colleagues were bullying him at work – calling him inefficient and incompetent.

I knew he was trying his very best to be strong for our family. But what I least expected was that he would let go forever.

His suicide inevitably resulted in me having a series of panic attacks and anxiety issues – what the doctors call PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

My Anger Towards Dad’s Selfish Decision

Back then, I was really angry and mad at him for making such a selfish decision. Overnight, I became the sole provider for the family and had to take on the full responsibility for the family (as I was the eldest in the family).

My anger quickly turned into compassion after I started clearing his desk. I found unpaid bills with haphazard scribbling of a desperate man in the drawers. Expenses kept racking up but money wasn’t coming in quick enough.

Everything that we bought in our house was paid using installment plans, creating a mountain of debt that he tried to conceal.

At that moment, I felt that weight on his shoulders. My Dad was really struggling to keep our family’s head above water. I guess it was that stress and pressure that pushed Dad over the edge.

The only thing I wished was that he could have asked for help – whether was it from the family or help from friends.

Regretfully, he never asked for help. He wanted to fix it himself even though he was already falling apart mentally.

It is hard to imagine that Dad must have really hated himself in his final moments of life.

Sometimes, I really wonder if it was really the job or the financial situation that we were in, that made him end his life. Didn’t he think that there was another way out? Didn’t he think that leaving his wife and kids behind would have been a worse choice?

The hardest part about this devastating loss is that many of our questions will never be answered, leaving us to wonder for the rest of our lives.

How Do I Cope After My Dad Took His Own Life?

For anyone who has lost their loved ones to suicide, you’ll know that it not only changes your life forever but also changes your perspective about life.

You begin to realize that life is just too short to take anyone for granted. You become more appreciative of the people around you.

However, at times, it also leaves you helpless and completely lost.

Occasionally, you may also get angry, questioning how someone who you loved so much could bear to leave you to face this world alone, completely broken and feeling hopeless. While you try to piece the puzzle together in attempt to get an answer, you’ll only realize that there won’t be an answer. Grief after suicide of a loved one is complicated. 

To me, losing a Dad is one of the most difficult things that can happen to anyone. It forces you to confront your own fears and fragility. More often than not, it can take years to get over the loss.

Additional Readings: How To Heal A Grieving Heart? (6 Easy Steps)

Reminisce About The Good Old Memories

Every time when I miss my Dad, I’ll close my eyes and reminisce about the memories that we both shared.

Memories of our family vacations are usually where I would start. My Dad would find ways to entertain and amuse us, making our family the center of his attention. He always put us first before him.

Even when I got older and got busier with my career, he would drive a good one hour into the city just to grab lunch with me.

These are the moments where it serves as a reminder to cherish every present moment I have with my loved ones.

Accepting The Reality Of His Death

The acceptance of his death helped me to take a big leap forward and to move on with life. However, I do have to admit that my healing journey wasn’t linear. The journey was more of a two steps forward, one step back.

But nonetheless, there was progress. I began to realize that I was the only person who could help me to prevent myself from a downward spiral.

The urge to isolate yourself from others is also usually common. I have seen people who experience deep loss push away their friends and family away for fear that they might be hurt again.

It is important to let yourself grieve in isolation first before reconnecting with others around you. It is only after you come to terms with your Dad’s death, and then the scars will stand a chance to heal.

What I Learned From My Father’s Suicide?

After my Dad took his own life, I learned that sometimes the strongest people are the ones who we truly need to check in on. They are the ones who walk in silence, carrying the heaviest weight on their shoulders with a heavy heart.

My Dad has always been the strongest person I knew; he was the main pillar of support in our family. He had the brightest smile and was the one who brought joy and laughter to the family. Beneath the happy front that he was putting up was the sadness that he eventually surrendered to.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

My Dad’s suicide taught me to be brave and have courage to ask for help when I need it.

I wished that my Dad had never isolated himself from us when he was feeling down. If only he had shared his fears and worries. I believe we would have been able to help alleviate his stress.

I wished I could have reassured him that jumping through hoops or struggling financially through life together as a family wouldn’t be a problem for us. This is because we are after all a family and we would do anything to take care of one another.

Be Thankful And Hopeful

During the times when you feel like giving up, it is always important to first be thankful for the things you already have, and then be hopeful that things will go your way. Staying positive helps you move forward with ease even when the going gets tough.

It’s Okay Not To Be Okay

My father’s suicide taught me that it is okay not to be okay. Life isn’t a bed of roses and it can be hard and messy.

We are constantly struggling to juggle with our careers, family and daily life. This is because of our own expectations that we have to act or behave a certain way. We show up, put on a smile and tell the world that we are fine even though we are struggling on the inside.

My advice is to stop pretending to be something you’re not. It’s okay not to be okay.

If you are down and need help, vocalize your depression and seek help. No one is going to judge you.

Should You Forgive Your Dad For Taking His Own Life?

The short answer is yes, you should forgive your Dad for his suicide. Here’s why:

Looking back, I really didn’t see my Dad’s unhappiness and depression in the way that I should have. Or perhaps, it’s because he wanted to keep it from the family. And maybe, he just wanted to keep up with the image of a perfect husband or Dad who wanted to shelter his family from the storm.

I also believe that my Dad is a victim of society’s expectations of men.

We were taught since young that men are suppose to suppress their emotions, mask unhappiness and carry on even if the goings gets tough.

But sometimes I wonder, why do we pressure men to fulfill the macho persona? Do we have a role to play if we want to change our current culture?

After reexamining my Dad’s circumstances, I realize that he did not have a character flaw, nor was he weak or selfish. He was just ill, lost and petrified with no one to seek help from, making it impossible to cope with the pressure he had in his life.