I’ve written a few posts about thinking it would be easier to be a widow than divorced and wishing your husband was dead – I think these are very common thoughts even if it’s not talked about much. I believe most of the time, it’s just wishful thinking because it would mean you wouldn’t have to deal with the pain and trauma of divorce. It just seems like an easy way out. And then once you’re through the divorce, you look back and wonder what on earth you were thinking.
Debbie and I didn’t talk about if she had ever thought about this but her ex did commit suicide after their divorce. For Debbie, that brought very mixed emotions. Here’s Debbie:
After the divorced was settled, I did not hear anything from him at all. After about three months, I had a conversation with a couple of friends who knew him and they said,
“We have something to tell you that we don’t think you know.”
I’m like, “Oh great, here we go again.”
Well, apparently, during the year of the divorce proceedings, he had been arrested in an internet sting where he had been communicating with who he thought was a young teen boy, who was actually a cop. He had traveled about an hour from where he was living to meet this boy and when he got there, he was arrested and charged with sexual offender stuff.
The whole time we were going through divorce proceedings, he was also going through criminal proceedings but I never knew because it was in a different county. He was actually convicted the week before our divorce was final.
It was clear then that he was never going to have contact with our son again. He went to jail and registered as a sex offender.
That was in 2006. I was getting regular child support, there was no contact with him, no contact from any of his family – they just completely cut ties with us. Then in 2008, I got a letter that child support was ending because he had died.
I put my private investigator hat on, which unfortunately I had gotten pretty good at, and found out that he had committed suicide. It was a very planned thing, I actually drove out of state to get the police report and read it. I had also gone and read the court stuff from when he was convicted. I’m one of those people who need to know. I needed to know that information to be able to move forward. I needed to read his suicide note, which was horrible. It looked like he had built another life on lies and it was starting to unravel. He suffocated himself in a hotel room about 45 minutes away from where he lived. It wasn’t a cry for help, it was the ‘I’m done.’
My immediate reaction was,
“Oh my God, my husband just died.”
I had very much put him into two categories: the person who I loved, I married and I think was true, and then the person who was sick, was an addict, who had these problems and who I think was probably abused himself as a child.
I fell apart. It was almost like I was able to grieve in the way I had never been able to before. I remember picturing how bad it must have been for him to do this and in some ways it was incredibly sad.
It was also an incredible relief because I didn’t have to worry anymore. I used to have to tell the school, to tell every teacher,
“If someone comes in and it’s his dad, he’s not allowed to go with him.”
I used to have to give pictures to the school of the sex offender registry. It was a horrible burden to carry around.
In some ways, his death was a huge relief. I had very conflicting emotions.
The Divorce Coach Says
Debbie’s grieving is completely understandable but it’s so complex. Some of my first thoughts were that most of us go on to renegotiate our relationships with our ex’s . Those relationships can go on indefinitely as the children grow up, get married and have their own children – it means sharing special occasions with your ex . We get to deal with all sorts of co-parenting issues and decisions and no it’s not always easy but I want my kids to have a relationship with their father. That would undoubtedly have been very challenging for Debbie, especially if her ex didn’t respond to treatment.
Then I got to thinking more about her son. I’ve tried not to think about this in terms of if it is better that his father is dead – there was only one person that controlled that situation. Rather, it is what it is and I wanted to know what Debbie told her son about his dad, how much has she shared with her son, does she tell him his father loved him? Debbie shares the answers to these questions and more in the next segment.