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What I Wrote in My Journal the Day My Father Died by Suicide

I don’t remember writing anything on this day — but this is what I wrote in my journal when I was 12 years old. This was the day I lost my father to suicide.

I was rummaging through old possessions in my room and I came upon an old journal of mine. I was never one for keeping a diary or journal much, but it was a gift to me from one of my mother’s best friends, so every now and again I would try and write in it. Mostly I wrote about boyfriends (in middle school, that was a big deal). Then things in my life started getting overwhelming, and I would write poetry or vent in my journal because I didn’t want to talk to anyone about anything.

By the time I was 12 years old, my parents had already been divorced for seven years, so I was used to that. That’s pretty much all I knew so it didn’t have a big effect on me. The older I got, though, the more I noticed my father’s severe depression. I did not understand it; but I knew something was wrong.

When I found my journal, memories I had buried in the back of my mind came flooding back to me. To this day, I don’t think about it in depth due to the sheer anger and sadness I still feel. I  don’t know if it was part of the grief, but I don’t remember writing in my journal the day my father died — or much of that day and the following weeks at all. So when I found it this year and began looking through it, reading it was extremely difficult.

I have never shared my journal entry with anyone, but suicide still has a stigma and many people do not understand it. People who have lost someone to suicide can feel guilt that is unlike any other, even when they know nothing is their fault. I am choosing to share this article because there are so many people affected that do not speak up, and I want to try and be a voice for those still scared to speak out about their grief or knowledge of mental health.

When I talk about my father to people who did not know him, I do not talk about his mental illness or how he died by suicide. It makes people uncomfortable, which then makes me uncomfortable. I never wanted to make anyone feel bad. But this is real. The main thing I remember is coming home from school after running the mile in gym class. My mother was downstairs with detectives and/or police officers and told me to sit down. She said, “Your daddy passed away.” When I asked how, she finally said he took his life. My memories from there are all a blur.

This is what I found in my journal from May 2, 2007.

R.I.P DADDY I LOVE YOU FOREVER AND I ALWAYS HAVE. Worst day of my life. Today. He’s gone. I can’t believe it. It’s bullshit. It’s not fair. I need a Dad. Even if he’s messed up. Just a step-dad isn’t the same. Why today? I mean did it really have to be? What did he do to deserve this? He meant well, he wanted to get better. He was trying to get better!! I may not have had the best relationship with him, but I don’t care, neither me or him deserve this. Last time I saw him was Sunday, today’s Wednesday. That’s the last time I talked to him, too. I said, “Bye Daddy, I love you, I’ll call you later or somethin’!” Last thing I ever said. I’m so sorry Daddy. I was going to call you, I’m so sorry. I was tonight too, but its too late. Me and Claire were going to be at your house tomorrow.

Daddy, I love you so much no matter what I ever said. You ARE the best Dad I take back anything I ever said about that. You’re the best. You’re the nicest man I’ve ever known. Most loving, most everything. It doesn’t matter you were mentally ill or whatever the hell you call it. It doesn’t matter because you’re my dad. Words cannot explain how much I still loved you and hoped and prayed for you no matter what happened. Just why now. Why. Why are everyone’s dads dying, it’s not fair. Sorry I was a brat and never patient. Sorry if I swear in this, I know you hate it. You don’t want me to until I’m 18. I’m never gonna forget, you’re a winner. You can do anything. Be a good kid, a good student, going to college, quit drinking, quit smoking. Who cares you did ‘stupid’ things when you were young? You were a kid of course you did. You never did a ‘stupid’ thing when you were my dad. Were? You still are and always.

I promise Daddy I’ll never smoke, never be an alcoholic, and ABSOLUTELY NEVER GIVE UP! And it’s all because of you. You’re my idol, my role-model, my dad. We all loved you so much and we always will. Promise me you’ll always be looking down on me. I promise I’ll remember when I have boyfriends if you would approve. Daddy I don’t know what else to say. You’re up in Heaven with Matthew and Daniel. I hope you’re happy with your sons and tell them I said Hi and I love them too. Daddy I love you so much you have no idea. I miss you so much already. Tell me how Heaven is soon, okay? I love you.

Don’t be afraid to share your story because you’re never the only one, no matter how isolating it can feel. I still struggle every day. I’ve only read this journal entry a handful of times in 12 years.

But it’s real, and it’s me.

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