We weren’t exactly orthodox both pertaining to a death surrounding suicide or in the manner of the grieving process. Once the initial shock of the realization that this was a suicide wore off, I’d say we were fairly accepting of her decision overall. Perhaps because it wasn’t an impulsive decision, or something done out of hate, revenge or to make a statement. I remember my dad saying ‘this is the only selfish decision she’s made, everything revolved around other people and trying to make them happy, it’s hard to be mad at that.”
I’d say the remainder of the stages, at least to me, are kind of one in the same. It boils down to a new reality and acceptance. And I don’t know if that word ever really fully makes sense in the aftermath of it all. To go back through the journal entries and read the repetitive words over and over again is so painful. It’s as if there were different ‘go-to’ thoughts that were the ‘theme’ depending on which stage I was in.
For awhile it was the word ‘never ever’. To say “never ever will I see her again, never ever will I be able to hear her laugh, never ever will she stand by my side at the altar, never ever will she watch my daughter grow up, never ever will I have nieces and nephews, never ever will I be able to make it right, never ever will I have be able to kiss and hug her again’. That one word – NEVER – was such a cold and harsh word to wrap my head around. And I remember breaking down every time the thought crossed my mind.
Not many are lucky enough to say they not only have a supportive family but to say I was able to grieve semi in sync with mine, seems to be a rarity. From what I remember, although very engrossed in my own life, fog and daze – my parents and I were usually on the same page, or not far off from each other. I’m sure the experience for my parents was different as they were with each other more then I was with them, but I remember my mom saying when one was down, the other was up, so they were able to offset each other.
When it came to my personal household however, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. I hated coming home, the only place I wanted to be was my parents, just because I knew they got it. They got it on my level – the deep seated agony, hurt and overwhelming sadness. My ex tried to be supportive, but it wasn’t the same – there was so much that he didn’t get – and so much, too much, that I expected to him understand. After awhile, always being with them became another driving force between him and I and in many ways that was my escape from dealing with things at home, things that were there before this, but far worse since this! He wanted our lives to get back on track with some routine and normality. To me, there was no such thing – there was NOTHING about my life that was going to go back to what it was, and he was insane for thinking it would! And there was alot of it, that I didn’t want to go back! There were many parts I swore were going to change from that point on, promises I made to myself and to her, that it’d be different from here on out. He didn’t believe in the ‘crazy shit’ I was reading, that she could still be here, or that the soul is still present – he believed she went to heaven and I needed to start remembering what I had sitting in front of me, which was him and my daughter. But I had no interest. He would say ‘you’re here physically, but mentally you’re nowhere to be found’. I couldn’t explain things to him and it be a 2 way conversation, he wasn’t open to it and many times, I didn’t know how to express it. My parents just got it – it was effortless and I expected him to just ‘get it’ too. But I see now that it doesn’t work like that. I was expecting him to understand something that was literally impossible to “get” unless you’ve actually felt it for yourself first hand , but at the time, I didn’t care – I didn’t have it in me to care – I was exhausted.
I suppressed alot of it, the replays and play by plays – for about 6 months before I had my own breaking point, at which time I was put on meds and enrolled in the outpatient program to avoid going inpatient. From that point on, I pretty much stuck with the thought ‘if this is how she felt every day of her life without anything significant happening to her – I don’t blame her one bit for choosing to leave.” From then on it was a constant toying thought of doing the same, the constant thought of just wanting to be able to see her again. I think my parents and I were all in that same boat for quite awhile, it was just the thought of “I just can’t wait to see you again!” For me, it almost became more of a dream then a statement, like, really, I just want to come see you, I don’t want to live in this horrifying, heavy pain anymore!
In a large way, I think that was the beginning of my acceptance phase, and it really came quite early. ‘It’s ok Jos, I don’t blame you, you didn’t deserve to have to live like this, you didn’t do anything to deserve this terrible feeling flooding you on a daily basis and never having any idea why you felt that way.” To all of those that initially refer to suicide as ‘selfish’ or think ‘what kind of person does that to their family,’ ‘it’s never that bad’ or ‘they took the easy way out’ has simply never stood in those shoes. I’m sorry, and it’s not to say that isn’t sometimes the case, but alot of times, it really, honestly isn’t. I have tried to explain many of times to many different people that isn’t, or at least wasn’t the case with her, and it isn’t that easy to just “snap out of it.” I remember being told by a counselor at Mayo that ‘suicide is often the last missing piece to the puzzle – they’ve tried everything else, from meds (which only 50% of people actually benefit from a medication that will truly help), being more social, a different job, an exercise program, etc. It’s as if they’re trying to constantly force this piece of the puzzle, but nothing seems to fit, and it comes to the point that, after being so exhausted, this is the only one that seems to make sense, this is the final missing piece that will put an end to the suffering. I heard this within the 1st month after she left but for some reason, that has always stuck with me. And the more I began to feel the depths of that pain, the more I began to see how much it really made sense.
Sometimes I wonder, are we all looking for that ‘missing piece’ of the puzzle in some area of our lives? It seems if we’re satisfied in one area of our life, we’re dissatisfied in another. It’s as if we get one piece that matches, just to lose another component. Home life is great, but I hate my job, finances are shit, but my kids are thriving. It’s hard not to feel as if we’ll never have all of the pieces, and maybe we won’t to some degree, but I wish she could’ve seen that in many areas, she wasn’t the only one feeling like that. I think that’s the importance of it all – is being aware that none of us are in any of it alone, that it can get better and be better, maybe some of the missing pieces were the absence of the conversation to begin with. Maybe if we weren’t made to think or feel as though our private lives were that different from the next persons, some of those gaps would be filled.
8 years into it, there are still plenty of days that when I actually stop and look, really look at her picture, it doesn’t seem real. There are times I’ve actually questioned ‘were you ever really here? or ‘are you really gone’? So, on many levels, I often wonder what the word ‘acceptance’ truly means, or is there such a thing of really being at peace with it all? To so many degrees I really thought I had accepted it, that it was her choice, and one we needed to accept. One choice that to many degrees, was perhaps the only selfish thing she ever did do. But there are times like these, when I go back and read the entries that acceptance is furthest from my truth. To read the letters and think ‘it didn’t have to be like this, or who would you be today?’ But despite how I replay it, how I accept it one week and deny it the next, it’s the truth and sobering reality of our life. So, I suppose I’ve ‘accepted’ it the best I know how, as much as the human brain can wrap their head around the thought ‘never ever.’ There isn’t an award or a checkered flag at the end of the stages saying good job, congrats – you survived it! I guess it’s just knowing some day we’ll meet again, and until then, I’ll trust that despite how many people call it ‘crazy’ I do believe she is still by our sides. I know she’ll be the first face I see when angels sing and for now, that’ll have to be my ‘acceptance’.
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