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Navigating the Tragic Death of My Husband and Finding Purpose Again

“One thing I did was to force myself to get back into the water, something I loved instead of staying in the house crying. Getting back to surfing began my journey to a new “me”. The ocean has a way of washing away whatever feels wrong. This was my best therapy. I strongly advise others to find something they love to do and rekindle their spirit to make good things happen.”

Struggled with:

Hello! Who are you?

My name is Cyn Kubiak. People call me intense, yet I like to try to find humor in everything I can.

I was born and raised in the San Diego area, where I enjoyed surfing and running. My late husband and I took multiple vacations a year to shark-diving destinations.

I worked most of my career as a self-employed graphic designer. For over 20 years, I provided my clients with design and copywriting from concept to finish. I was quite successful, owing my prosperity to my faith in God and the talent I was blessed with.

I remarried 8 years after my late husband’s murder, and now live in the Northern Mariana Islands.

I believe happiness is an individual choice, but there were times when the circumstances in my life made it seem I had no choice but to be miserable.

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What is your struggle and when did it start?

My struggle is overcoming the shooting death of my husband which happened right before my eyes. We were married for 20 years. My husband, Patrick, struggled with depression and addiction his entire life so you could say the issues began with our marriage.

Patrick’s issues stemmed from parental physical and emotional abuse. He had radical ups and downs, and I was on that same ride alongside him. He lived as though he wanted to die, and a lot of times his daredevil ventures were a lot of fun for me.

But his suicide attempts were not, and I lived in fear that I might find him dead in the garage at any given time. Yet I stood beside him, eager to fix what was wrong.

My struggles were even darker after I witnessed his inhumane and unnecessary murder by law enforcement. It was an unspeakable horror that I eventually summoned up enough courage to write about.

In doing so I had to reveal the truth about my own shortcomings, as I am not blameless in all of this. This true story unfolds in the book I wrote as part of my recovery, Immune To Murder, which is currently being made into a movie.

My late husband and I during happier times.

Early on I tried to find happiness in everything I could, but when it came to my late husband’s depression, even surfing or running couldn’t make me feel better long enough.

I found myself on anti-depression medication to cope. The medication did not work long-term and I had to find other ways to cope, to heal myself. I still think about it every day.

How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?

First Patrick’s depression caused work issues. He was so depressed that he didn’t go to work for 6 months, I was angry about having to work extra hard without his contribution.

When I would go into the garage in the morning and find him asleep in the van instead of at work, I would feel desperate. He would ignore me, which infuriated me. At the same time, I lived a life of fear that I would find him dead. I felt useless and forgotten. He treated me as if I wasn’t even there.

His work issue caused me to live in fear that we would drown in debt and never get our lives back. The anxiety of having to work so hard because he wasn’t made me put that before everything else.

My friends wanted to know what was happening but I ignored them, ignored my family, and even ignored Patrick. I was angry at him almost incessantly.

He ignored me for so long that out of revenge I had an affair to try to get him to pay attention to me. He still ignored me, which fueled the fire to continue the affair. The affair made me feel terrible and I really hated myself. It was the lowest I could go, and all it did was hurt all the way to the tragic end.

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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?

My business eventually began to take off and I started to earn more money. I thought that might change things. The extra money enabled me to buy Patrick all types of items I thought he would like and enjoy. He found temporary satisfaction in the acquisition of material things.

He hoarded surfboards, skateboards, and guns. He had multiple of all these things, which I knew we didn’t need. But I kept my mouth shut because I knew it made him happy. We also went on 3-4 vacations a year.

This was a great time for both of us. I was happy when he was happy. He was not suicidal during this time, and this was during the first 13 years of our marriage. We were both having the time of our lives.

This lies in sharp contrast to my indescribable terror as I watched my husband die, shot to death right in front of me. It took me a long time to get over the shock, and there is a part of me that will never stop grieving.

Years later, I met my present husband. I felt love again after so much pain. Writing Immune To Murder helped me sort out the confusion I still felt as to why things happened the way they did.

It gave me the opportunity to share my experiences with the hope that my true story may help others by increasing awareness about mental illness and not avoiding speaking out about this very critical issue.

What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?

First, one thing to avoid is spending money on material things. A new this or that may give you some momentary happiness but won’t help in the long run.

Trying to keep my husband out of depression was costly with vacations, toys, and more. It began to take a toll on our credit cards and we entered a journey into a spiraling abyss of debt. When we stopped spending it put a strain on our marriage. He would still buy things we didn’t need.

We enjoyed surfing and water-related sports but when he walked into our house with our 36th surfboard, I had to say something besides that it was beautiful.

I told him we didn’t need it. He told me he bought it with his money. But his money was our money. I didn’t keep fighting about it because he was happy. It was impossible to talk sense to him.

At that point, I focused on the memories I had of our good times and made it my mission to get them back. So I worked extra hard, long nights and weekends.

This took me away from Patrick and made me focus on something other than him, which was good for me, but not good for our marriage, even though we needed the money. I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t.

After his murder, I seriously thought about joining him. But I had a beautiful daughter and two loving dogs. I thought of my family whose grief would be compounded if I took my life away from them.

One thing I did was to force myself to get back into the water, something I loved instead of staying in the house crying. Getting back to surfing began my journey to a new “me”.

The ocean has a way of washing away whatever feels wrong. This was my best therapy. I strongly advise others to find something they love to do and rekindle their spirit to make good things happen.

A second thing I did was to find ways to laugh. I read astrophysics textbooks out loud to my dogs at night in my best but very bad British accent. It made me laugh at myself.

I also slept on Patrick’s side of the bed, which made me feel less alone. I prayed a lot. In a terrible way, I felt relief that I didn’t have to worry about Patrick killing himself anymore. I wanted to be alone because I didn’t want to burden others with my grief. This felt right to me.

Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?

Sharing these issues was difficult. It was no secret to my friends and family that something was wrong in my relationship with Patrick especially when we were all together.

His behavior was unpredictable and bizarre. I always covered for him, even when he was embarrassing me. He acted crazy and I was his caretaker.

One could say he ruled my life, but I let him. I loved him intensely and he was a lot of fun. When things got bad for us, some of my friends would tell me I should think about divorce, but I didn’t want to because I still had it in my head that I was going to fix him.

He was my life, and I enjoyed the challenge of keeping him happy because I was happy when he was. I thought divorce would push him over the edge into suicide mode and I wouldn’t even consider it.

In order to get my anti-depression medication, I had to go see a psychiatrist. I told him my story but the sessions did not help me. I had to repeat myself over and over again, reminding myself of my misery, which in turn kept me from escaping it. I was not able to get any advice that I didn’t already know. I found it to be a gut-wrenching waste of time.

If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?

Do what you love, even when you’re still hurting. The more you do what you love the better you will feel.

You can’t change a person. Either you can live with your circumstances or you can’t. Change what you can change. It’s a choice that’s never easy. The choice I made to stay with my husband through his worst times was one I don’t regret.

I believe I delayed his self-destruction and therefore prolonged his life. I tried to give him the best life possible. I think this made me a much stronger person.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?

This may sound weird, but reading textbooks on subjects that were challenging for me in college helped me think about something other than my pain. Reading out loud kept my mind from wandering, and I began to ask myself questions while I read.

This prompted me to do a lot of research and I learned a lot. It took my mind away from wallowing in horrible memories and made me think of a world much larger than myself. This was a huge step for me.

Where can we go to learn more about you?

My book, Immune To Murder is available on Amazon. It reveals the entire truth about my life living with someone who was mentally ill… 

You can also read more about me here, or on Instagram and Facebook.

💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I’ve condensed the information of 100’s of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇

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Hugo Huijer AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Founder of Tracking Happiness, with over 100 interviews and a focus on practical advice, our content extends beyond happiness tracking. Hailing from the Netherlands, I’m a skateboarding enthusiast, marathon runner, and a dedicated data junkie, tracking my happiness for over a decade.

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