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Suicide is a Unique Kind of Pain

September is Suicide Awareness Month. While I applaud our society’s efforts to educate the general public, those who have lost a loved one to suicide are PAINFULLY aware every day.

I wrote this piece for those left behind….


Suicide is a unique type of pain.


It consumes you as you try to find “the why. Missed clues and hidden signs rob you of sleep and keep you wanting answers.

It startles you when you reach for something, only to see the wristband you wear daily to remember them. To NOT forget them.

It washes over you like a salt heavy wave as you reach out to their surviving spouse across the table, hoping your words won’t make their pain worse.

It overpowers you while driving on Interstate 95, passing the exit where they used to stop for their favorite BBQ.

It holds you prisoner as you look through photos, inspecting each picture closely….looking past the smiles to find the sorrow in their eyes.


There is no pain quite like it.


It is an angry, narcissistic pain that asks “Why didn’t you call me?” As if we could have changed their path to destruction with nothing but our voice.

It is a haunting pain that holds our hearts hostage as we try to remember the words they spoke, or the late night conversations we shared.

It is an engulfing pain that takes down families and friendships, leaving more questions than answers.

It is a hollow, aching pain that takes up space in our hearts. Sometimes a big space, sometimes just a small corner….. but it never leaves.

It is an immobilizing pain that hinders us as we try to find the words to eulogize the person who couldn’t see their own worth.

Who couldn’t let go of their own shame… their own hurt…their own fears.

Who couldn’t understand the wake of agony they would leave behind.

Suicide is a unique kind of pain.



*This piece is dedicated to all the families struggling with loved ones in crisis. To read more of KP’s work, visit her M:M Author Page.


*If you know someone in crisis, get help at 988 Lifeline or visit MilitaryOneSource for more resources.



  • Kathleen Palmer

    Kathleen is an educator and project seeker from Texas. In her 25 years as an Army wife, Kathleen has taught and coached in six different states and Germany. Kathleen has a big heart for both Army families and soldiers having served as a Soldier for Life counselor in both Germany and Korea. Her favorite part of Army life is her acquired community of battle buddies! Kathleen loves words (both speaking and writing them) and has contributed to AWN, NMFA, The Fort Hood Sentinel, The Army Spouse Handbook, Inside Abu Ghraib, Memoirs of Two US Military Intelligence Officers, and The Army War College at Carlisle. Her favorite writing piece about being an Army wife is “The Lady in the Grey Suit” which was published in 2015 in Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors (Vol.3). You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, or on her website, Life Is Messy, Love Big. Just like Kathleen, the site is a WORK in Progress! She also currently serves as Mission: Milspouse Director of Content.


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