What color my husband’s suicide made me SanTan Sun News

What color my husband’s suicide made me

What color my husband’s suicide made me
Opinion
0

Missy Palrang
Guest Writer

I became a “Red” when my husband, Scott McComb, died by suicide. That was over four years ago…March 27, 2015 to be exact. He shot himself the day after his 49th birthday. Aug. 10 of that same year would have been our 24th wedding anniversary.

Scott and I began dating in 1988 when we were both students at Oregon State University. I later graduated from the Counseling program and went to work as a Parole Officer. Scott graduated from the Fish and Wildlife Program and was accepted into the OSU Veterinary program.

Not surprisingly, he was the class president all four years. He was one of those types — he was a leader.

Upon graduation, Scott was commissioned as a Captain into the U.S. Army. He served for three years as the base veterinarian at the Davis Monthan Airforce Base in Tucson. The Army provides veterinarians to all branches of the military.

During that time, I trained to be a helicopter pilot and eventually started working for Quantum Helicopters in Chandler. When he separated from the military we moved to Chandler to be near my place of employment.

I’ve worked there for over 20 years, most of that time as the Chief Flight Instructor. Scott opened and eventually sold three veterinary clinics. He was still working at the largest of the three, Crossroads Veterinary Hospital in Chandler, at the time he died.

Our life together was very much like most couples. We loved to travel together, golf together, eat together, and plan for the future together. When we weren’t at work, we spent most of our time with each other.

Neither of us spent much time with others since we were always together. I thought I knew him as well as I knew myself.

On March 27, 2015, I learned I was very wrong.

On that day — the very worst day of my life — everything I thought I knew and understood about him changed. I can retell the details of that day for one reason only…I began documenting my life in a journal.

In the beginning, the journal served as a place to temporarily park everything that was spinning out of control in my head. I think I imagined that putting the words on paper would take away the pain. It didn’t. But it helped.

Later, I approached my therapist, Jill McMahon, with the idea of making my journal available to others impacted by suicide. I’ve learned this includes nearly everyone. I asked Jill if she would contribute a therapist’s point of view at the end of each chapter and she agreed.

Late last year, we published our book, Frantic Unleashed, Navigating Life After Suicide — A Survivor’s Journal Part 1.

Parts 2 and 3 are scheduled to be released later this year. Part 1 includes the entries I wrote during the first three months of my experience. Part 2 is months four through six. And Part 3 is months seven through the end of the first year. It’s difficult for me to re-read.

The months following a loss to suicide are filled with debilitating grief, anger, foggy thinking, hopelessness, hate, helplessness and confusion. Many of us have nothing in our past to help us cope. This situation is not like anything we’ve experienced and we simply don’t know what to do. Nor do those in our support system.

There was so much I didn’t know.

I have high hopes for our book. I hope others survivors will recognize some of their own struggles in mine. I hope it will make them feel more “normal.” I hope they will realize life can be joyful again — that not only can they survive this tragic event, but eventually thrive. I hope they can see through my experience, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t want others to think I’ve done anything special, I want them to think, “If she can do it, so can I.”

Each chapter contains three sections:  my journal entries, the perspective from a therapist and a list of things I wish I had known in that time period. Here are a few examples of those things…


The opinions of others are less important than they might seem in the moment. Do what is right for you.


You will find yourself grasping for anything to return your life to what it used to be.


You might feel hesitant to ask others for help.


They want to help…sincerely, they do. They don’t know what to do in this situation either. Allowing them to do something helps both of you.


You’ll feel sorry for yourself. It’s ok. You’ve been handed a huge mess to deal with. Wallow for a while if you need to and it makes you feel better.


You might continue to feel angrier and angrier, even about little things.


It’s normal to find yourself filling the deceased person’s role in your life with others.


You will be OK.

The moment Scott died, I became a “red.”

The wearing of Honor Beads is a tradition promoted by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. Each color represents a specific loss. The display of beads is a way to show your personal connection to the cause. The beads are common at events held to promote awareness and prevention of suicide.

Wearing red beads shows one has lost a spouse or partner. Gold indicates loss of a parent. Orange is when one has lost a sibling. Purple says the individual has lost a relative or friend. Silver shows support for loss of a first responder or military. Green indicates the wearer has personally struggled. Teal is worn by those who support loved ones who struggle. Blue shows general support of the cause. Many survivors wear more than one color. Most people wear at least one. Which one are you?

Missy Palrang’s book, “Frantic Unleased, Navigating Life After Suicide, A Survivors Journal – Part 1,” has received the Readers Favorite 5-Star Award. It’s available at Changing Hands bookstores and various online distributors including Amazon and Barnes and Nobel. You can contact Missy at franticbookseries@gmail.com or Facebook @franticbooks

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