by Shannon Smith, survivor and LOSS volunteer







My life significantly changed November 21, 2010.

I had been married going on close to 11 years to a wonderful man, Brian. We had been together for about 13 years, and it was an amazing adventure. We were not your typical couple. We did not have big aspirations of starting a family and living in the suburbs. We had plans of living our lives together and enjoying the natural part of life. We strived to live in the country, remote and away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We purchased about 40 acres located 45 minutes outside of the city and immediately planted 5,000 pine tree seedlings in the hope that someday our property would have a forest barrier. Our desire was to build a log home and spend our evenings relaxing on the deck, drinking ice tea and watching the sunset and the deer graze in our fields. It was a desire that was never completely fulfilled.

It took just over a year for us—including my in-laws—to get the log home in a livable state. Yes. We basically built it ourselves. This was certainly going to be a project that would continue for many years to come, but it was worth it.  It was absolutely beautiful and everything we thought it would be, including the deck and the deer. Our dream was almost complete, minus the relaxing nights sipping ice tea and watching the sunsets.  On November 21, 2010, the part that was to last forever was gone.  In looking back, I question as to whether there were signs or clues that I missed. Because how could I have not known he was in so much pain?

When I reflect back to that day, I recall a typical Sunday. My husband took his own life in the beautiful home we built for our future. How could this happen? Why? Was our life not worth fighting for? How could he leave me alone? These questions pounded my heart for a long time and occasionally still pop into my mind today.  The death of a loved one is hard for anyone, but when that death is by suicide, it leads to more unanswered questions and a greater sense of blame for their loved ones.  So many “what ifs” causing so much guilt.

I was numb for so long after that day that I questioned whether I would ever get past it. I had a hard time showing my emotions, crying in front of people, and letting anyone see my pain. Grieving looks different on everyone, so whatever you do, please do not judge someone because they are not acting the way you think they should. Survivors of suicide share a lot of things in common, and those who have never been affected by suicide truly cannot understand. For so long after his death, I felt as if I was going to be judged or criticized if I showed any emotion or behavior that was not sadness or despair. Well, anyone who knows me knows those behaviors are the furthest from who I am.

This is the first part of Shannon’s story. Read the rest of it here.