My Father Didn’t Kill Himself
By Russell Nohelty
YA Mystery. This book deals with death, loss, and grief. There are difficult concepts to deal with and uncomfortable.
How would you cope is somebody you love committed suicide?
Delilah’s father is the greatest man she has ever known. When he commits suicide her world is shattered. She can’t eat. She can’t sleep. Her bubbly personality becomes ascorbic. All she wants is to be left alone.
When his insurance policy refuses to pay out, Delilah sets out to prove what she’s known all along: that his suicide was in fact a murder.
A story of getting over grief and learning those you idolize aren’t perfect, told in blog posts through Delilah and her best friend.
On the surface My Father Didn’t Kill Himself is a mystery book, but right below the surface is a story of how people get over grief. And not just how Delilah gets over her grief of losing the person she idolizes most in the world. Also about how a wife gets over the grief of her husband, a husband that was supposed to provide for her, but instead left her alone and destitute.
Mixed with that is the loss felt by Alex, Delilah’s best friend, in losing her best friend to the anguish of grief, watching her slip away and pull back from the world, feeling helpless.
Posted by Delilah Clark × December 15 at 9:31 pm.
Here is what The Suicide Handbook says about drowning.
Drowning in cold water is supposed to be like going to sleep. For me, it was a nightmare.
Shivering, freezing, I sat for a minute until my body adjusted to the cold. Then I sunk down under the water. The cold washed over me, but my lungs were on fire. Before I could pass out my natural instincts kicked in. I couldn’t fight them. I kicked and screamed until half the water was gone. I gasped for air. It was frightful.
I performed my experiment much like J. I laid down in the tub until my body adjusted to the temperature. Once I was acclimated, I sunk below the water. I breathed out until there were no bubbles. And I waited. It didn’t take long for the fire in my lungs to start. Soon, it was unbearable. My body thrashed around for a moment before I shot out of the water and gasped for precious air.
I wholeheartedly endorse every word J said.
On top of that I realized something.
If I died in this tub, my bowels would empty, and I would be sitting in feces-filled water until somebody found me. That is not a dignified way to die—my bowel excretion muddying the water and coating me in a fine mist of poop. They’d be scrubbing for days to get me ready for the casket.
No thank you.
Posted by Delilah Clark × December 16 at 7:22 pm.
Before every session with Dr. Bennett, Susie drives me to the cemetery and tries to coerce me into visiting my father’s grave.
I’d never been to his grave before; not since the funeral. It didn’t seem important to me.
It’s not like he’s in there anyway. Maybe his body, but not him. If he’s anywhere, he’s by my side as I try to fulfill his last wishes, not hanging out in a cemetery.
But Susie always insists on driving to the cemetery anyway. The cemetery is a weird place full of weird people. There’s this tall undertaker who seems a little too into the dead people’s families. He’s like overeager for them to buy something. His smile creeps me out.
There’s a grave digger who has to be high on something because he moves slower than molasses. Sometimes I catch the funeral director yelling at him, as if that’s going to motivate somebody that digs graves for a living to pick up the pace. Shocker, it never worked.
They’re not weird in a bad way though. Some of them I could like if I didn’t hate everybody on principle. There’s this guy who is always reading comic books. He introduced himself to me one day as “Roscoe. Roscoe Fay.” Like he’s James Bond or something. He just sits under this tall oak tree overlooking the cemetery and silently reads comics. I would watch him read sometimes, letting my eye catch a cool image every once and a while.
I would usually just sit there, looking out at the cemetery, until Susie gave up and drove us away. But today was different. Today, I felt a twinge in my stomach, a pang, not quite a stress baby, but maybe a stress zygote, or an unfertilized egg.
I needed to see his grave. I needed to talk to him.
Susie was ready to fight, but before she could open her big mouth I pushed out of the door and walked over to his grave.
It was weird.
For all my research on death, I had no idea how to act in a cemetery. I saw a few people crying over graves and placing flowers on them as they rehashed their day.
That isn’t me. I’m cried out.
His gravestone was simple and to the point.
Tim Clark. Devoted husband and father.
I read it over and over again. Have you ever noticed that any word you say over and over again sounds super weird? Just try saying neck two hundred times and tell me that’s not a silly word by the end?
By the eight millionth silent loop, my dad’s name sounded like an alien language. Maybe Zorgblopple, which I just made up.
“Hey dad,” I finally said. “How are you doing? Probably not so bad, right? I mean worms might be eating your insides, but at least you can’t feel how cold it is, right?”
I paused, waiting for a response from him. I felt like an idiot.
“It’s been snowing here a lot. Remember when Mom went out of town for the weekend and it rained? You always said that God was crying because he missed her. I thought that was silly, but I always think about that when it rains or snows now.”
I liked it. I liked it so much I skipped therapy and sat there most of the day. I really can’t tell you how much better than therapy it is.
Who wants to talk about death, huh?
I love death.
I love thinking about it. I love reading about it. I love the idea of it, even though it scares the piss out of me.
That’s a weird thing to say, I know. I’m not a Goth. I don’t really like horror movies. I don’t watch death videos or snuff films. I don’t like seeing death bodies even. I’m not morose or sullen, either. By all accounts I’m a pretty happy person.
But I love the idea of death more and more every day. It comforts me. Unfortunately, it usually seems like I’m alone in that.
Do you know how hard it is to find people to talk with about death? Ones that don’t want to commit me after five minutes? Or say I’m being a “bummer”?
I’ll tell you it’s really hard because I try all the time. It’s so hard my own wife didn’t know about my obsession until after I released my second book, My Father Didn’t Kill Himself (which you can and should buy on Amazon).
It’s really an endemic problem in our whole society. This idea we can’t talk about death because then it might sneak up on us like Voldemort. That maybe if we just stay silent then we’ll be safe. It’s dangerous, honestly, and you are missing out on having a great friend.
I’m as scared as death as the next person, but I use death as a motivator. It gets me up in the morning. It gets me writing. It gets me pounding the pavement to build my business. It helps me remember that I have one less day to live my dreams. It helps me live every day to the fullest.
To me, death is a friend. The kind of friend I wish I had more of, frankly. The kind that inspires me, kicks my butt, and lives with me every day even when I’m not very pleasant to be around.
That’s why I wrote My Father Didn’t Kill Himself, honestly. I didn’t want another book about death where the protagonist is saved by some boy who shows her life if worth living. I didn’t want a book that gets hijacked from the messy parts of life by a romance. I didn’t want to divert reader attention from the death of this girl’s father.
I wanted something that delved into the deepest recesses of the human brain while being entertaining and funny at the same time. Because that’s what death is to me. It’s a motivator. It’s quietly funny in the best and worst ways. It’s an intrinsic part of life. It has to live with you.
That’s what My Father Didn’t Kill Himself is about at its core. It’s about a girl who doesn’t fall in love with a boy to save her. It’s about as girl who pulls herself up from the deepest recesses of herself and learns to live again with death, instead of fighting with it.
Yes there’s a mystery. Yes there is comedy. Yes there is all that stuff, but really it’s just a conversation about death we all had more often.
If that sounds like your kind of book, try out My Father Didn’t Kill Himself and then find me and talk to me about it. I’m always looking for more people to talk with about death.
Russell Nohelty is a publisher, writer, and podcaster. He runs the publishing company Wannabe Press and The Business of Art podcast. When he isn’t thinking about death, he’s writing about the messier parts of life.
Russell Nohelty is a writer, publisher, and consultant. He is the publisher of Wannabe Press and its main author. Russell likes to write genre fiction with deep character studies. He’s sadistic with his characters, putting them in the worst situations and watching them claw their way back up, just to kick them back into the abyss. Russell started his career writing comics, and now writes novels and children’s books as well.