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The Widow Next Door

26 Oct 2018 — 3 min read

By Heather Cruz


Hide and Seek

Oct. 26, 2018 - My life changed forever when my husband took his own life, on New Year’s Eve 2012. I was the closest person to him, and never saw it coming. I was married to my soulmate and best friend. After years of heartbreak with miscarriages and infertility struggles, we had finally been blessed with a little girl just seven months earlier.

My entire world came crashing down. I was now a young widow, a single mom, and a survivor of suicide. The world lost an amazing man, and I was not prepared to face it.

That evening, and the days that followed, were a blur. I woke up the next morning at my parents’ house to the blunt realization that this was not a nightmare. It had actually happened, despite it feeling so surreal.

Looking back at that time now, I have moments of vivid recollection, while other moments just seem to be missing, like images laying on a cutting room floor. I was numb, with a sensation of looking down at myself as an outsider, as though it wasn’t me living the experience.

One blurry week later, the funeral was over and his body laid to rest. Everyone was leaving, and I was starting my new life.

I didn’t know how to live without him. My husband, partner in life, the love of my life, and father of my child was gone. I felt as though I had been pushed, kicking and screaming, into a life of widowhood.

In the weeks to come, I was amazed that I was even able to get out of bed, get dressed and function. I may have been wearing track pants and a t-shirt, and may not have showered in two days or more, but I was still standing.

I had a seven-month-old daughter, Alexa. I decided then that I would not die with my husband. I vowed I would continue.

I had always wondered how people went on after a major life-altering tragedy. Here was my answer: you just do.

Still, I felt I needed a way to heal and to grieve, and to make something positive from the trauma I’d been handed.

Some people avoid discussing the topic of suicide, or hide from it. I’ve always been a very open, honest person, but I struggled at first with what to tell people. I wondered to myself: “Should I even tell people how he had died?”

In the initial days and weeks, I spoke about it on a “need to know” basis. The people in our lives were as shocked as I had been. While many were supportive, others were not. I felt blamed. I felt stared at and shunned. Some people felt I was lying.

I decided to share the reality of what I was living. I felt that the biggest way I could make a difference, to make my husband’s life mean something more, and to create a safe space for other people to speak openly about suicide, was to do it myself.

I began writing a blog. I reminded everyone who knew my husband to remember him for the amazing person he was, rather than defining him merely by the circumstances of his death. Not only was it incredibly cathartic to get my pain out of my own head, I knew it could make a difference to people traveling a similar path as my husband, or to those, like me, who had lost someone.

I couldn’t save him, but I am determined to save others.

We need to end the silence.

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