About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The blame game

I don't know if you watch reality television or not, but last week a husband of one of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" committed suicide.  Immediately the blame game began:  must be the wife's fault for being on reality television...must be the network's fault for portraying him badly...must be the pressure of living beyond his means that got to him...she looks like a cold bitch...she must have been too selfish to care.  

This all hit close to home with me.  When Sean committed suicide, I was that wife who everyone started wondering and whispering about.  Wow, she must be horrible to live with.  Didn't she know her husband needed help?  Why didn't she make him get help?  It doesn't matter than making a grown man do anything he doesn't want to is impossible.  There is a reason that therapists say someone cannot be treated unless they acknowledge that they need help...and then want help.

Some how and in some way I had to be the reason why he chose to leave this earth.  People needed someone or something to blame.  I remained alive; therefore, I had to know the answer as to WHY, right?  

I didn't know the answer as to why.  Still don't.  Sean's suicide was not my fault.  No one's suicide is ever the fault of anyone else.  It is not the fault of anything outside of that person, for that matter.  Suicide is a solo decision born out of despair and a darkness so all-consuming that it distorts rational thinking.  Suicide is a purely individual act.  

Death is tragic--whether it is cancer, war, murder, accident or suicide.  A loss has occurred.  Period.  Mourn the person's life rather than speculate over the WHY of death. 

Even six years later, I feel the stain of suicide on my life.  I carry it with me always like a giant S tattooed on my forehead.  When I meet someone new and they discover I am a widow, I am always asked how Sean died.  I don't know why people need to know HOW someone died, but it always has an adverse effect on the mood of the conversation.  I doubt a divorced person is immediately asked, "why did you get a divorce?" in a casual setting by a virtual stranger.  But I am always asked how--regardless of if I am in an exercise class, a bar or a party.  Geez!  Are manners a thing of the past?

Have we as a society lost all sense of boundaries and common decency?

Even if it weren't suicide, it's not a good subject to bring up in a social setting.  But it happens.  I meet a guy...he asks if I'm divorced...I say "no, I'm a widow"...he asks, "how did your husband die?"  REALLY?!  I don't want to talk about the how--no one does in a social setting. I have tried all of the answers like "I don't like to discuss that" or "now isn't the time for that"...but the reaction is always the same. They still want to know how.  And, once the S word is uttered, I see the wheels spinning, the dynamic changes and the conversation becomes awkward.

People who survive the suicide of a loved one live with it daily--even years later.  We don't need to be reminded or criticized or judged.  We do not need to openly discuss the why or the how with you just because you're curious.

Let it be.  If someone you meet says they are a widow or widower, let it be.  It's not your business as to how...or why...or anything else. 

Stop the blame game, the judgment, the speculation and the whispering.  If you learn anything from me, let it be that suicide is not the fault of anyone.  It is a tragedy like any other death.  It is not open for round-table discussions about how evil the spouse/parents/significant others must have been.  It is not a stigma.  It is NOT entertainment.  

Maybe as a society we have become desensitized.  Personal boundaries have blurred.  Respect seems like an old-fashioned concept.  Compassion is rare.  Kindness is labeled as weakness.  Personally, I think that is a tragedy that affects us all. 


  1. Love is not always enough to save the deeply wounded.

    You are not alone, Amber.

    A friend of mine, a few years ago, who I sometimes played music with (he was a guitar player), took his own life.

    He downed a couple of bottles of sleeping pills and drank Scotch until he passed away.

    His girlfriend of three years, a really sweet person, was devastated and could never figure out why he did it.

    If you have never had a serious bout of depression, you will never understand how debilitating it can be.

    It destroys everything you believe in, everything you care for.

    And you are left feeling like the ultimate outsider, always excluded from the enjoyment of life.

    Like being forced to stare out a rainy window, while everyone else around you is allowed to frolic in the bright sun.

    Suicide, sadly, for some people who have to face the rain, seems to be the only way out.

    The only way to stop the pain.

    It is no one’s fault why these terrible tragedies occur.

    It could be due to brain chemistry, addiction, a number of psychological reasons.

    I think people ask about your husband, and why you think he did it, because most people do not understand what serious depression is.

  2. Great comment, John. Sorry about your friend. You are very insightful in your views. Thanks for sharing.

    I don't really care about why someone asks about Sean's death. When I am at a Pilates class, that is not the time to talk about it. I just want to be doing Pilates and making small talk. When I meet someone new, that is also not the time to discuss the how. Am I divorced? No, I am widowed. That is a fact, not a conversation opener. Make sense?

    Obviously, as anyone can see from this blog, I am willing to talk candidly about a variety of issues. When I know someone well--or at least in a one-on-one situation--I am more than happy to tell them about Sean if they want to know. But when I am out to have a good time and am living my life, then that's not a good time to ask how. Even if it weren't suicide, that would dampen the good-time mood.

    And I don't think it is open for speculation from outsiders, as in the case of the RHBH husband. Celebrities may have chosen a life in front of the camera, but that doesn't make them immune to sorrow.

    No one knows what goes on behind the closed doors of a home and should not be so quick to judge or speculate.

    Wow, I'm writing another blog post! LOL Thanks again, John. I always love your comments and your brilliant insight.

  3. You too have an insightful mind, Amber.

    There is a reason I am drawn to you.

    I think you would have more luck finding companionship with people who are intellectuals.

    Not snobs.

    Smart people who would know better not to delve into that issue, unless invited.

    I for one would rather read your novel and see how you took that painful situation and turned it into something productive.

    I admire that in you.

    The rose

    is beauty,

    thorns and all.