AIBU to still beat myself up over this on a daily basis?(40 Posts)
Sorry for this thread in advance because it is a bit of a downer.
It's coming up to the anniversary of my friends death in a few days. In the run up to her death she had gone through a really tough time to say the least, I won't go into details but it was pretty rough for her and I'd been spending a lot of time at her house and staying over at her house with my dc (1 year old at the time) and just making sure she was okay and looking after her dc 8 months.
The night before she died she rang me and asked me if I could go over, any other time I would of gone but I was starting a new job the next morning so had a lot of things to sort out and was up early the next day to get dc to the childminders. I had to iron the clothes for the next day and just get all my final things sorted for work. I told her I'd call in the next day after I'd collected dc from the childminders. She said okay, we chatted for a bit. Told her she would be okay and said goodbye.
The next morning she rang me at 9.17am, I'd started my new job at 8.45am and I'd left my phone in my bag on silent. She also rang one of our mutual friends around the same time who also couldn't answer because she was at work. By the time her child's father had arrived at her house to drop their dc off at 10.30am she was dead. She'd taken a massive overdose and was found on the bathroom floor.
I can't get over the thought that if I'd of just gone round to her house the night before or had my phone on me that morning she would of still been alive. The guilt is no better now than it was then. Why didn't I just go round when she needed me? I knew what she had been through, I should of gone round. AIBU to still beat myself up over this every day? My DH thinks I am.
It is not your fault.
Have you been to any sort of counselling, because i think you may need some to put the guilt behind you.
It sounds like you was a very supportive friend.
If you had, there would have been another time, and another, and another. Would you have given up your entire life to look after her? She made her decision, she would have done it no matter what.
You poor thing. What a difficult situation. Your husband is of course right, but guilt is never reasonable, and it's not long ago. You were clearly a huge support and help to her, but you cannot ultimately take responsibility for the life and death of another person. I agree you should see a good counsellor and talk through your feelings, and learn some strategies for dealing with the guilty feelings.
I'd like to echo what McNewPants2013 and OnTheBottomWithAWomensWeekly said - it is not your fault, and there is absolutely no guarantee that you could have prevented it. It is understandable that you feel guilty but it is in no way deserved.
I think you should look into counselling, though, as clearly your husband telling you that it isn't your fault and you still feel guilty. Someone trained in counselling is probably better able than him or us in helping you.
I didn't want to read and run and don't feel "qualified" to say much.
It's not your fault though. It's just not.
It sounds like you were a brilliant friend to her though. Being a good friend does not mean stopping living your life though. You had a new job and that's important for you and your family. She knew you would be coming over, but for whatever reason she couldn't wait and that wasn't your fault.
If she was such a good friend, would she really want you to feel bad about this?
I have dealt with a friend with depression/ mental health issues. We would spend hours talking/ rationalising whatever. Then she would go home and hours later she would have self-harmed Or got angry again with her on/off bf. It ended in her taken an overdose. I did happen to find her. If I had got there half an hour later, she would not have been able to open the door and would have died.
In that situation - it worked all together - she was found, she was treated. She is now a wife and mother and nurse. These things are luck, chaos, chance and the dark dark blackness that is mental illness - it controls people beyond our capacity to reach them sometimes.
Your friend was in a devastating pattern probably beyond her control and definitely beyond your control . Although my friend survived I had to take measures to have my own support system - no-one is responsible for the mental wellbeing of another. You can't control their thoughts.
Be at peace, celebrate her memory if you can, know that you loved her and that somewhere she knew that, but was sadly unwell. There is nothing you could have done differently.
Chances are- she rang you both knowing you wouldn't answer the phone, it is not your fault, she was very ill. I second the posters suggesting you get help dealing with this and getting closure.
You were a good friend and she was very ill - it wasn't your fault. That said, I'm sure I'd feel the same way in your situation, I'd imagine it's a normal response.
I wholeheartedly agree that counselling would be a very good idea.
Sorry you had to go through that, OP.
Although it's not the same situation, myself and my mother both gave up work to care for my grandmother when she was terminally ill with cancer. It was hard, even with both of us. She was transferred to a hospice after 18 months and the majority of the family visited each day. The day I skipped to get my strength back for the coming week was her last day. I beat myself up for years about this, always concentrating on that one day missed and never remembering the 18 months of very, very hard unpaid work me and my mum took on out of love. Now it's twenty years in the past, I think about all the things I did right and I'm proud. Not many grandsons would do what I did.
Similarly for you, I understand why you are focussing on one thing you didn't do. But don't forget everything you did do. You sound like you were a good friend when it was really needed.
It really isn't your fault and likewise you're not unreasonable in feeling guilty. I agree that counselling would be a good idea.
A relative of mine took their own life. It is incredibly hard not to think if only I'd done this or said that. I once heard that really severe depression can be a terminal illness, and we should think of it in those terms. For some death is inevitable. You were no more empowered to prevent the death of your friend that you would have been if she'd been battling an aggressive cancer. And if that had been the case, you wouldn't be beating yourself up about how you weren't able to magic up a cure in time, you would be thinking that although the anniversary of her death is terribly sad and hard to face, at least you were able to give her and her baby a lot of support when they needed it.
You sound like a fantastic friend OP x
Another vote here for:
it is NOT your fault
DO seek counseling.
[thought Do you know the other friend she called - can you speak to them about this? They may be feeling the same as you ..... ]
remember the fantastic things you did, you were there
The happy times you had with friend
You do need to take steps to make sure this is not adversely impacting on your life now
Chin up x
Just want to add that although it's not unreasonable to feel guilty, that guilt is misplaced (just in case it wasn't clear!). I didn't want to invalidate your feelings IYSWIM.
It is not your fault. I completely understand how you feel, and no doubt I, and many many others, would feel the same. It is not your fault. There are no guarantees that anything you could have done, or subsequently, would have made any difference to the final outcome. If someone wants to kill themselves badly enough, they will find a way.
Have you had any counselling to help you through this? It sounds like some could be helpful.
Have a hug. XXX
Would she blame you? No, of course not.
You sound so lovely and caring I would love to have you as a friend.
You are still grieving and trying to come to terms with her death and it may be that you need some counselling. Don't dismiss the idea. Counselling is not just for close relatives and spouses. You had a very close relationship with someone who died in tragic circumstances and so you are a victim of a horrible situation. Get any help you can to make your life everything she would have wanted you to have. For her.
* could have done THEN, or subsequently...
It is not your fault.
I can understand why you feel guilty, it's the "what if" element.
But you can't torture yourself forever over it. Nor should you. You sound as though you were a good friend to her,she was just unwell.
Almost everyone in the vicinity of a suicide (and other traumatic deaths) lives with "what if" guilt.
Essentially, our thinking brains want to somehow redo events in such a way that the person remains alive. We keep going over and over, re-imagining things that have already happened and cannot be changed. It is very human, and very normal, which makes it no less painful.
Some people find that it is easier to live with if they keep in mind that it is a perfectly understandable need to try and make it all not have happened that drives what presents itself as guilt. It's not that they are actually culpable.
I hope that makes some sense. My bereavement counsellor put it more clearly than that I think!
Its not your fault. Its human to feel guilty, but at some point you had to not be available to her, because you have family responsibilities. Sometimes there is nothing that could have been done, even if you had been available.
Although it's natural to question yourself in this circumstance, your were an excellent friend and this was dedicatedly not your fault.
oh god. listen I cant even attempt to imagine what you have been through as you sound like a brilliant friend. I can only say that I am sure a lot of people in your situation would think "what if" and "if only". please don't beat yourself up about it. perhaps talking to someone might help. and try remember all those times you were there for her. I don't do cyber hugs but I think you deserve one ((hugs))
It is not your fault. It just isn't like that.
When someone very close to me killed themselves and I was tortured by what if's.
It took me a long, long time to accept that even if I'd been there that time there was probably nothing I could have done to prevent it happening at some time. I hated that feeling of powerlessness. I could not accept that I couldn't help someone that I loved so very much.
It took a long time but I accept now that I couldn't have prevented her from taking her life if she wanted to any more than I could have cured her from cancer or heart disease if that had been what killed her instead.
You may find counselling helps or talking to others who have lost close friends and family to suicide.
Finally don't let your friends choices and her illness destroy your peace of mind.
How awful for you to have gone through this. I feel so bad for you.
Saying that, there is absolutely NO WAY WHATSOEVER that this is your fault. Unfortunately, your friend was ill and if it wasnt that time, it would have been another time after that. You couldn't have given up your whole life to be permanently on standby.
I know you probably would have done if you knew you would be saving her life but it just doesn't work like that.
Please seek help to let this go. It's not doing you any good torturing yourself and I'm sure that your friend would be upset with you if your life was spent depressed and wondering "what if...".
Absolutely not your fault. Do find someone who can help you with your guilt.
Someone who wants to die will find a way to do it, no matter who does or does not answer their phone.
Flowery you sound like a wonderful friend.
It is not your fault at all - please do as many others have said & find some help for yourself.
it is tragic she took her own life but it absolutely is not your fault. However im sure you go over and over it in your mind thinking about it - dont torture yourself though - always remember it was your friends state of mind which caused it - not you.
i had a simliar experience with a friend - i kind of knew he was on ADs but he didnt seem that depressed with life. he was always chatty, laughing and joking, had a good job, no money probs, nice house etc. etc. one night i spoke to him and we arranged to meet later that week however i found out the next day he hung himself later that night. i always thought why didnt he say he was feeling that way, even though he lived about 30 miles away i would have went and seen him - many of his friends would have but unfortunately his state of mind made him think otherwise - it was a tragic waste of life - i think about him regularly, poor soul.
I remember talking to a psychologist about my sisters suicide attempt. Though the situation is different, what she told me has never left me and I hope it will give you a bit of peace.
'If someone is truly suicidal. You won't stop them.'
That's from someone who helps depressed people for a living. If she was that low, there was nothing you, or anyone else could do. I'm so sorry for what you all went through and for what you're still going through. You are an amazing friend, truly. You did everything right.
You poor love. This isn't your fault at all. She was ill. You sound like a good friend who helped her a lot but you can't be there 24/7 for people especially when you have your own family/commitments.
Please talk this through with someone. You don't deserve this stone around your neck.
I'm sorry about your friend. My son took his life so I do understand how you feel to some degree.
I'm so sorry.
This exact thing happened to my DH.
His friend had been calling and calling...it was in the days before mobiles.
He is still very sad also.
Oh my gosh. Dear OP. I'm so so sorry. What a terrible thing to happen. Of course it isn't your fault but it's understandable to have 'what if' questions in your mind.
Imagine a car accident. (Sorry, it's not the best example) Someone could spend their life wondering what would have happened if they'd not got in the car that day, or taken a different route.
What i clumsily men is that some things are outside of our control. Your friend made an awful and desperate choice. She did not know how to live or how to manage what anyone can only imagine were awful, desperate and confused feelings.
I would suggest to you that you perhaps seek some counselling, perhaps bereavement counselling too.
I just wrote a long post but lost it (thanks DD).
I've been in your situation OP. My friend committed suicide hours after I lost my patience with her and told her to "pull herself together and stop making a big deal of everything".
For such a long time I blamed myself and I think others did too. Normally I was very kind and patient with her and I tried to help her whenever I could. I must have said thousands of positive and supportive things to her and just one negative when I was having a bad day myself.
It has taken time but I have now kind of forgiven myself for not being perfect. It has taken years and I now work in adult mental health as a result. Studying the "Why" helped me understand and process it all.
I just wanted to echo what others have said, if someone really wants to commit suicide then they will. You may have saved her many times already and if it hadn't been that time it may have been later. She would have found a way.
Good luck OP. Be kind to yourself.
Also if you need to talk but don't feel your DH can help you, then call the Samaritans. They will listen and it may just help you process what happened and
You poor thing. Having been suicidal myself I can tell that someone in that frame of mind isn't rational. When you think about it logically for a person's strongest instinct, their survival instinct, to be short circuited something has to be really really wrong with their thinking. When I was in that place I honestly thought dying was a solution, it was as if I forgotten that dying was forever. I just was not thinking straight at all and I only didn't go through with it because my thinking was slowly getting better due to the ADs I was on. If I hadn't stopped myself, no one else would have, no amount of calm reasoning or comfort could get through to me when I was in that state.
I think counselling would really help you. Your guilt shows what a good and kind friend you are, but it's hurting you and you need to work on letting it go.
How are you doing FloweryOwl?
No. Not your fault. In fact your friend knew you couldn't be there; either that night or the following morning. I don't think tjere was anything you could have done.
Sorry you have to go through this. You probably kept her going for a log time but you personally could not have done any more x
Please, every time you think 'that was my fault' try and redirect your thoughts into a time when you did answer the phone, or go round, or stay with your own baby.
Answer every 'guilt' thought with a 'I did my best to support her and it wasn't my fault' thought.
Because you did do your best to support her and it wasn't your fault. It was her decision, a completely uncomprehensible decision, but her decision.
And please, please, please get some counselling. You don't need to carry this burden, you can lay it by the side of the road. I wish you peace and strength to do so.
It's not your fault. It sounds like she would have done it at another point sadly. Poor you. Poor her. Life is horrendous sometimes. Perhaps you could talk to someone so you can begin to move forwards.
My parents' neighbour committed suicide and they blamed themselves. He couldn't cope with unemployment and they were in a position to offer him odd jobs and could have financially supported him if they thought he was going to do something like that. They found that hard. They did however begin to see that if it hadn't been that then it would have been something else. He just couldn't cope with life. It sounds like your friend really struggled. Not answering the phone didn't do this. Life did
Sorry for the delayed reply, it's been a hectic day.
Thanks for all the supportive messages. I've been told a few times that if she hadn't of done it that morning she would of done it another time and I couldn't be there all the time but it doesn't make it feel any better. She was my closest friend since primary school. I do see a counsellor but it's over something completely unrelated, it's been mentioned before but only briefly. I'll make it my goal to talk more openly about it. it isn't helping that I haven't been able to see her DC in about a year because of custody arrangements.
Thanks to everyone who has wrote back, hearing kind things from people I don't know has helped, it's expected from friends and family but hearing the same things from other people has reassured me a bit that maybe they are right and I need to try and let go of the guilt.
It makes me wonder what she would of said if I did answer the phone though. Would she of told me to get to her house as soon as she could because she didn't trust being in her own company? I knew she felt afraid of being alone, hence sleeping at her house so many nights.
I don't know the answer to that one Flowery. Maybe your friend would have said something or maybe she would have said her goobyes or maybe she might have talked about last nights tv, the weather or could you get her something whilst in town.
All I can reiterate is that it's not your fault, you didn't control your friend's thoughts or feelings.
Many people who attempt suicide say that their overriding feeling is just to escape from the pain not realising that if the suicide attempt succeeds (hate to use that word in that context) that there is no coming back.
When my dd made her second suicide attempt I wanted to give up work to stay with her. The hospital mental health service talked me out of it. They pointed out that even if I stayed in the same house 24/7 I would still have to sleep, I would need to go to the loo, I might need to go to the doctor's; there would be plenty of opportunities for dd to get away and do it if she really meant to. In fact, the only chance of keeping her safe was to give her the message that she was responsible for her own actions. And then to stand back.
I knew they were right, so this is what we are doing. And dd is only 16. But I cannot run her life for her and it would not be right for me to attempt to do so.
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