Invisible in Loss
I am not sure exactly where I fit in concerning grief. It seems as though my situation is so specific that I can find no one to relate to.
I have been friends with Rob for over 15 years. As our marriages fell apart, we relied on each other to get through relatively messy divorces; we began exclusively dating about two years ago. I have known this man long enough to remember when each of his children were born. He made the decision to keep me out of his teen-aged children’s lives. As he put it, “When you will make a difference in their lives, I will introduce you.” His ex jumped right into “serious” relationships before their divorce was final, marrying again less than a year after their divorce. The children were expected to accept the men in her life whole-heartedly, and a couple weren’t so keen on it. That being said, I understood his reason for keeping me out of their lives. However, I have come to know his children through him. He’s a great father, and the divorce was very hard on him. His kids have always been his first priority. Again, being a parent myself, I’ve always understood this.
Just when it finally seemed that we could begin moving forward, the unthinkable happened. One of his children took his own life, with no warning, no explanation. My long-time friend, my new significant other, became a familiar stranger in a split-second.
I don’t know what to do. Yes, I understand that he needs support and understanding; that is a given. Living in the wake of his devastating loss has changed me, too. I listen, I try very hard not to offer suggestions of what to do, since I really have no clue of what he is going through. He lives in almost constant fear that another child will follow in the brother’s footsteps. He’s assured me that he himself wouldn’t also make that choice, but has also expressed that if something happened to him that made that choice for him, that would be OK. I do the right thing by reminding him that his other children need him, because they do, but I also want to scream “What about me?” It makes me feel so selfish. We’ve discussed that there is a difference between wanting to die and not wanting to go on, but when he goes into that pit of grief, on the days when he feels disconnected from his other children, I feel so invisible, that he doesn’t consider what the loss of him would do to me. And, I don’t feel like I have the right to tell him that.
The following thought came to my mind about a month after the death: I am GRIEVING for him, and I am grieving FOR him. I am grieving the loss of the man I have come to love. I feel stupid for even thinking I could say that directly to him, in light of his terrible loss.
I don’t know where to get support for myself. There are two people in my life that I would turn to for help like this. One of them is Rob, the other is my best friend, whose own child attempted suicide only weeks ago. Whining in light of what they are going through just seems ludicrous.
Where does the girlfriend of the man whose child took his own life go for help?