It was Sunday, September 3, 2000, and we had a lovely day at church. Sunday dinner at home was so good and we all were laughing and enjoying each other. After the dishes were done, Warren, my husband of nine months, went off to watch his car shows with my son, Derek, leaving me to look after my Daddy who was dying of lung cancer.
By this time, Daddy was ready to take a nap, so I too went to bed to rest a bit. My job was very stressful and left me tired all of the time. Once I fell asleep I slept like a baby.
When I woke up my husband was angry. He finally went out to the garden to sit and think which often helped him sort things. Warren told my children that he would be there if they needed him. When I went to find him he was not there. In times of anger he would sometimes go for walks and calm down, so I suspected he'd gone off walking. The hours went by and I prepared my Daddy for bed. I went to administer his nighttime medication and that is when I noticed a bottle of pain medication missing. My brother came in and helped me look for the missing bottle. We then discovered a full bottle of Daddy's morphine was missing as well. Mark went out searching for Warren.
I laid down on the couch praying God would be with Warren and would bring him safely home to me. I suddenly felt something rip from within my soul and I jumped up running down the street before I realized what I was doing. I had no idea where I was going. Realizing where I was, unknown grief overpowered me and I wept as I returned to the house.
The next day I phoned Warren's mum to see if she'd heard from him at all. I also notified the police of Warren being missing. The entire town was swarmed with police of all ranks and firefighters from the surrounding towns who went from house to house and building to building in search of my husband. It was two-and-a-half days after the search began that he was found. Our town policeman and my associate pastor came to tell me. The overpowering grief I had felt days before brought me the worst reality. Warren was gone from this earth, but hearing those words from the police and my pastor tore at my soul so much that words fail to describe the pain. I remember not being able to stand up and crying that it could not be, and at one point saying that this would not defeat me. I could not let Warren's death be in vain.
My junior high school math teacher, Mrs. Willard, was the first to arrive and wrap her arms around my daughter, Krystal, and me. She was widowed to suicide and understood. Before the news hit the school, I had to pick up Derek, and she drove. On the way she cautioned of things that would be happening to my body and mind. She said I'd feel like I was going to die, but to remember the grief caused the pain.
Before I knew it, there were people everywhere. The mortician came by with my pastor to talk about what to do with Warren. They refused to let me see him, said it was best I remember Warren the way he was in life. To this day I find myself still thinking Warren will pop in the door and say, "Hi honey, I'm home!" Giving me that goofy grin he always did.
Warren was a full-blooded Scot, raised down in South England in a little town called New Romney. My family thought I'd lost my mind, but I was going to take him home."
When it was decided that Warren would be cremated, I was determined to take Warren home to his homeland, which was England. Warren was a full-blooded Scot, raised down in South England in a little town called New Romney, which is located in Kent, the garden of England. My family thought I'd lost my mind, but I was going to take him home.
My children and I traveled to England for the ceremony and scattered Warren's ashes on the beach he grew up playing on as a boy. It was by far the hardest thing I've ever done but I knew that deep within my heart it celebrated his life.
I was shattered when we returned home—there was no part of me left intact. My father still needed care, which my brothers, my children and I took turns with as we worked and went to school. I asked Daddy when he arrived in Heaven to give Warren a message for me, letting him know how very much I love him and always would. Daddy assured me he would relay the message. Two months after Warren died Daddy left us as well. It was when Daddy died, and I kissed him goodbye, that I realized how alone in the world I was. Both my parents and my husband dead within two years and I wondered how I would survive.
Yet survive I have and I continue to do so. I have eight brothers. In younger years I jokingly referred to them as my eight curses in life, but with Warren and Daddy gone I discovered why God gave me so many brothers. I needed each one of them to get me through this horrible time of my life and thank God he did bless me with them and their wives. They were my strength when I had none.
Around this time I was also given a website for grief recovery and logged onto www.groww.org. From there I was directed to a specialty room for loss to suicide called "Reluctant Angels/Survivors of Suicide." It was within that room that I found other people who had lost their loved ones. These wonderful people reached out and offered comfort, hope and love. I could share how I really felt in that room and no one was in shock at my feelings.
During my early stages of grief I created in my mind my "big red broom." Warren's Mum helped me realize guilt had no place in my grief, so I created this "broom" in my mind to visualize beating back guilt when it would come. With each whack of the broom I would say something positive about Warren, his love for us and our love for him. Now my "big red broom" is a popular item in our Reluctant Angels room and we all give it good use.
It's been over three years now since Warren's journey to Heaven and my world came crumbling down, shattering my soul. I've made it my mission in life to reach out to others who are hurting, be it from the death of someone or to someone who is so distraught in life that the pain is unbearable for them. I participated in "Out of the Darkness," a 26-mile walk in Washington, D.C., to help raise awareness and funds for the prevention of suicide. My goal was to bring honor to my husband and somehow bring healing to my children, Warren's family and myself.
During my journey with 3,000 other walkers I learned many valuable lessons that I try to carry out each day: Always do your best to show kindness to others, for it may be the only kindness that person receives in their life. Be willing to love others regardless of their lifestyle, habits or misgivings for so many go through this life needing someone to love them, and a little love goes a long way. Be willing to accept help when you cannot take one more step on this journey in life. See your doctor if need be. Take medication if you need to. Get counseling. Pray, pray and pray. Find someone who will listen to you. Most of all never be afraid to offer a hand to the hurting and never be afraid to accept a hand when you are hurting. We get through this life not by our own strength, but by God's grace and the love of others.
My journey in this life has not ended. I still have work to do on this earth and I refuse to sit in my rocking chair and watch life go by. I now have a job I enjoy, but my life is about helping others.
I host at GROWW (Grief Recovery Online (founded by) Widows & Widowers) as often as I can to give back some of what I've been given. And I will participate in the next walk to benefit AFSP. I hope to be useful in creating a fund to help those who have lost to suicide and create laws that prevent insurance companies from discriminating against the survivors. Insurance companies' refusing to pay on death by suicide only adds to the survivor's pain. It's time to stand up and say, "I've lost to suicide, but I am a normal human being. I am not strange or weird nor did I cause the death or fail to see their pain. I lost a loved one to a great battle. It's time you look at me without fear, without contempt, without judgment, but with love and understanding and offer a hand of comfort not just to me, but others who also suffer from this horrible loss."
I still have very dark days as my journey continues, but I live with a mission in mind; a determination to make this world a better place, where suicide ceases to exist.
Mary Rose lives in Bovina, Texas.