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What You Stole & What You Didn’t

It’s the one place where no matter what is going on, or how I feel, I can go to find peace. You took that away from me today.

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This morning began like many others. My daughter, Bella, and I went to town early to grocery shop, buy flowers, and visit the cemetery. We skipped through several songs on the way to his spot trying to find a song that held special meaning. We parked in the same place, and went through the same routine; Bella carried the jug of fresh water, and I gathered up his bunches of fresh flowers and the cemetery bag.

As we made our way to his spot, we stopped and said hello to Silvia and Joanne, like always. Bella located the ducks swimming in the pond and commented on how happy they looked, and I admired the trees along the path to his space. As we got closer to Pops space, I could tell something was out of place. Last weeks flowers were on the ground, and his vase—it was gone.

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It took me a minute to digest what I was seeing. I knelt down to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. I wasn’t. After looking around to see if the vase had simply been knocked over and someone had moved it to the wrong spot, I finally accepted the fact that someone had taken it. Someone stole my Pops silver vase. Bella was upset, and she began crying. Consoling her was the only thing that kept me from losing it. She calmed down, and we continued to the task at hand. We cleaned up the mess the vase thief had left for us, swept the area, cleaned off the stone marker, and placed one of the flowers we brought by Pops’ name.

I was shaking during the entire ride home.

I’m going to explain to the vase thief what he or she took from us today—from all of us, including my Pops. I had to let several hours pass before sitting down to write this because if I had penned it when I got home, it would have been full of words like asshole and fuck.

Thief:
You took me right back to the anger I have worked for over a year to calm, and that hasn’t been easy to do. Moving from a place of anger toward something that feels more like peace has been painful and difficult. My rage stems mostly from the treatment my Pops received from jerks like you. People who treated him as less than. People who took without giving; people who were cruel and selfish. My anger has been directed toward those people since I lost him to suicide, and now it’s directed at you. This place at the cemetery—his resting place—it was the one place I felt I could protect him from such people. It is the place I go to honor him, to talk to him, and visit him. It’s where I go when something awesome happens, and it’s where I go to cry. It’s the one place where no matter what is going on, or how I feel, I can go to find peace. You took that away from me today.

Pops space at the cemetery is where my kids, his grandchildren, go to talk to him. They go there to visit and tell him about school. They go there to cry too. Today when his youngest grandchild was there she cried; she cried because of your selfish deed.

Pops space is his space too. It’s the place where he is safe and honored. It’s a sacred place. And let me tell you something—he is worthy of so much more than the inconsiderate act of you stealing his vase. He deserves better. You took from him today too.

Maybe you have a loved one at the same cemetery, and perhaps you, for whatever reason, didn’t come with a vase to place flowers in for your person. However, you are not entitled to steal from someone else due to your lack of proper planning. You might have thought taking someone else’s vase was no big deal. Maybe you figured it would go unnoticed. It’s been hot this week, and I’m sure my Pops’ flowers were slightly dried out, and perhaps you thought they had been left long ago. That’s not the case, but even if it were, none of that makes what you did okay.

Maybe you’re a kid, a teenaged punk, trying to impress your friends. I’d like to think that if this is the case, your parents taught you better. I’ve never had the “don’t steal from a cemetery” talk with any of my children, but I can guarantee you none of them would ever do so. Common decency seems to be uncommon these days, and I know there are so many “role models” on TV and social media that treat nothing as sacred anymore, and maybe you followed their example. But, I’m letting you know right now that there are lines you do not cross and this is one of them. Now you know, and I expect this won’t happen again.

Just one more thing and this is the most important because we aren’t the type to play the victim card—this is what you didn’t take today:

Cloudy sky
You didn’t take away the beautiful blue sky or the sun shining down on Pops’ space.
You didn’t take the red dragonfly; he still greeted us today.
You didn’t take the ducks; they were still swimming in the pond.
You didn’t take our love for Pops, or his love for us.

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You might have taken my peace for a few hours today, but I’ll bet that you’ll lose more peace over this than I will.

One more thing—if you’re the praying type, pray I never witness you stealing from a cemetery. Pray real hard I never catch you stealing from my Pops’ space. 

 

I Saw You Today

The brilliance of the blue, like your eyes, caught my gaze and for a moment I felt I was floating. Not feeling pain or guilt; just love and peace.

Yesterday was one of those days; I saw you everywhere.

I saw you in the homeless man sitting on a bus stop bench. Frozen at a red light, I watched as he gave his food to the woman sitting beside him. His eyes were clear and kind. His mannerisms soft and gentle. His hair—a crazy, tangled mess of steel gray, just like yours. The light turned green, and I had to pry my eyes away from him to drive forward; the cars behind me inpatient and unconcerned with the reason for my momentary delay. I didn’t want to leave.

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I saw you in the man at the coffee shop. From my vantage point at the drive-thru window, I could see his profile, silhouetted by the incoming rays of the sun. The same hat brim and smile; I could see and feel the kindness of his soul. Like you, he made me happy without saying a word. His energy seeped out through the small window and filled my car and heart with warmth.

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I saw you in the bright blue sky and the puffs of white cloud on my way through the country back toward home. A song pouring from my speakers, both the volume and the lyrics reminding me of you. The brilliance of the blue, like your eyes, caught my gaze and for a moment I felt I was floating. Not feeling pain or guilt; only love and peace. I wonder if this is how you felt when you were leaving.

Once I had returned home, the sting of loss reappeared. I pushed myself to think back to that bus stop bench. I tried to pretend you weren’t gone, not for good. But walking down the hallway to my office I remembered. I saw you there in a picture frame with a vase of flowers next to your smiling eyes. I see you each time I turn any corner in this house. You—forever in a picture frame. I’d rather see you somewhere else; somewhere walking, breathing, living, and laughing.

I will look for you again tomorrow, out there, away from here where you are forever trapped under a piece of glass, stuck in the last place you’d ever want to be. Each day a reminder of what we had, and of what we lost.

You can read about my journey through grief after the loss of a loved one to suicide here.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide please reach out,
someone is always listening. You are not alone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Have you lost a loved one to suicide and need a resource?
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention can help.

#StopSuicide #YouMatter

 

Suicide Loss ~ The 12 Steps That Saved Me

Transfer of Pain

On August 13, 2016, my Pops died by suicide. He sent a text saying goodbye and died. He died alone at a nature preserve in southern California.
I hate the three sentences above. I miss him every day.

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Following Pops’ death, I did a lot of reading and spent countless hours researching suicide. The statistics are staggering. Those of us left behind have a long journey to get close to something that looks like healing. The truth is, I’m not sure a complete healing can ever happen. What I do know is after losing a loved one to suicide some grief paths can lead to extremely dark destinations.

I’ve been thinking about what I would write at the one-year mark. Over the past few days I created an outline for this blog post; each point I wanted to make listed on a tear stained legal pad. Sharing details about the painful…

View original post 2,460 more words

Suicide Loss ~ The 12 Steps That Saved Me

Those of us left behind have a long journey to get close to something that looks like healing. The truth is, I’m not sure a complete healing can ever happen. What I do know is after losing a loved one to suicide some grief paths can lead to extremely dark destinations.

On August 13, 2016, my Pops died by suicide. He sent a text saying goodbye and died. He died alone at a nature preserve in southern California.
I hate the three sentences above. I miss him every day.

loss

Following Pops’ death, I did a lot of reading and spent countless hours researching suicide. The statistics are staggering. Those of us left behind have a long journey to get close to something that looks like healing. The truth is, I’m not sure a complete healing can ever happen. What I do know is after losing a loved one to suicide some grief paths can lead to extremely dark destinations.

I’ve been thinking about what I would write at the one-year mark. Over the past few days I created an outline for this blog post; each point I wanted to make listed on a tear stained legal pad. Sharing details about the painful days and everything they bring isn’t nearly as important as what steps kept me above ground for the past year.

My Pops was an amazing man. He mattered. He matters still. I could write an entire post on the life lessons he taught me, and what an awesome human being he was. You can read about those things here. What I want to share with you and what I think he would want me to share is what helped me get through the past twelve months without him. The most important thing I can do to honor my Pops’ memory is to be a part of the solution by trying to help others.

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The most important steps I’ve taken over the past twelve months:

1. Get rid of the guilt.
Let it go. Today. Guilt is one of the most toxic emotions available in the suicide loss arsenal. I’ve spent no less than seventy-five percent of the past twelve months beating myself up for what I didn’t see, what I should have said, and what I could have done. At times convincing myself that I could have saved him—that I failed him. Guilt has been one of the hardest things for me to let go of and I still struggle, but I’m learning to let it go.

2. Forgive.
Big sigh as I type that word. I’m still working on this one too but I’ve arrived at a place where I know (and believe) forgiveness is necessary. Not for them, but for me. A lot happened around the time of my Pops death. A lot of ugliness and chaos. I know for many of us, the person we need to forgive is the one who died by suicide. For me, I’m not angry at my Pops, but I’ve held on to a ton of anger at others. People who were cruel to him. People I was sure would be there when my world shattered into a million pieces and when they weren’t, it hurt. The pain of loss is like a hurricane, it has a way of causing total destruction of everything in its path. Pain amplifies absolutely everything making it impossible to see clearly. I found it easier to be angry with people and situations outside of the pain of my loss than focusing on that pain. Distraction can be a good thing sometimes, but distracting pain with anger just leads to more pain. And guess what? There will never be enough distraction to make this pain disappear, it always returns. I know to find peace I have to forgive. I’m not saying I (or you) have to or should go back to the relationships that might have fractured after loss but forgiveness is a necessary step toward achieving inner peace.

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3. Obsessing over the ‘what-ifs’ won’t grant a do-over.
And re-writing history won’t change the past, but it can and will fuck-up your now. One of the things that haunt me most is the fact that my Pops was alone at the end. I’ve come just shy of erecting monuments in his honor since his death. I often feel like I’m screaming at the top of my lungs, “HE MATTERS!”
I spend sleepless nights wishing I had done the same when he was alive. What if I had said I love you with more conviction, what if I had made more of an effort, what if, what if, what if…
No amount of what ifs will change reality. The reality then or the reality now.

4. Therapy is important.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard, “You are such a strong woman…” Seriously, I’d be driving something other than a Chevrolet. I thought I was strong too. I thought I could handle anything and could do so all on my own. Guess what? I was fucking wrong. A few weeks after my Pops died by suicide I started searching for a therapist. I was one of the lucky ones, it only took two appointments for me to find Dr. G. and he has made it possible for me to start sifting through the pain and figuring out what to do with it. It sucked to admit to myself that I was a total mess and couldn’t fix this deal on my own but I was desperate and vulnerable and scared enough to know I needed help. I urge you, if you do nothing else—do this. Find someone you can talk to. Real talk. Honest discussion. And go talk to that person. There are many resources out there with or without insurance. This is a good place to start: AFSP.

5. Make a safety plan.
In the beginning, even though I’d heard of safety plans, I certainly didn’t believe I needed one. I did. I still do. I wish my Pops had had one in place. Everyone has different needs in a safety plan, and even if you don’t think you need one—if you feel stuck in grief, please make one.
For information on how to create your safety plan click here. Or here.

6. Be real about your grief.
“I’m okay,” and “I’m good,” are the two most common answers I give when asked, “How are you?” In the beginning, I replied in this fashion because I had no idea what else to say. I didn’t know how to articulate what I was feeling. After a few months, I knew how I felt but had no idea how to change it or fix it. I certainly didn’t know how to ask for help, and I believed nobody around me would understand if I tried to explain.
So I wrote.
And wrote some more.
And published a book.
Although there were pieces left out of my story, what I chose to include is as real as it gets. There was a lot of editing involved, mostly removing the work ‘fuck’ which I used at least fifty times. Per chapter.
My point: I didn’t hold back when sharing my struggle through darkness after losing my Pops to suicide. I was honest about my grief and writing the truth allowed me to begin the healing process. Talk to someone about how you really feel. Write your feelings down. Do whatever you have to do to be able to speak your truth. Bottled up emotions are dangerous and destructive.

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7. Make a new playlist, but don’t delete your old one.
For me, music is life. No matter my mood, the right song (or set of songs) can change or sustain it. Music doesn’t work one hundred percent of the time but pretty darn close.
Choosing the songs to use for Pops’ celebration of life video was tough. I was torn between the not-too-sad, not-too-happy, songs he liked, songs I liked, and songs ‘befitting’ a memorial. I ended up choosing four songs and they were a combination of the above. I listened to those four songs repeatedly leading up to and for weeks following Pops’ memorial. Then came a day I hit skip when one of them started playing on Pandora. I continued to hit skip for a few months, even using the thumbs-down feature on one of the songs. I felt guilt immediately after doing so. Then I spent months trying to create a new playlist. I fell in love with new songs, songs that made me feel hopeful. But there was a part of me that missed the old songs. I listen to the old playlist during times when I feel like I can handle hearing those songs, or when I want to cry but the tears won’t come. I use music to help shift my emotions and for me it works. My old favorite. My current favorite.

8. Establish a new routine and find a hobby or passion.
I’m still working on this one but I’m making progress. Little by slowly.
Once upon a time I had a routine for everything. I was sitting on my porch a few weeks ago and it occurred to me that I now have a routine for nothing. Not one single positive thing I do consistently. For the past eleven months, nineteen days, and six hours, I’ve sat on my front porch drinking Rockstar or coffee and smoking. I guess I did have a routine, just not a healthy one. I suppose it served me well through those early days and even the middle months but for the past several months all my routine has done is cause more pain. I get stuck thinking about the things I should be doing. What I should be handling and accomplishing. That brings guilt. Then more pain.
I ran into an unexpected medical issue about six weeks ago. After starting the roller coaster of doctor visits that I thought would surely pinpoint what was wrong with me physically, I came to a startling realization and made a decision. What was wrong with me was a year straight of intense stress and grief with little relief. A year of not taking care of myself. A year of toxic emotions playing in my head on repeat. I decided that it was time to take my health back, but that has to start with getting healthy in my head and heart.
Where do I start?
You create a new routine. You start small and grow it from there. You make a decision to rise up and take a little step at a time. You do whatever you have to do to inch yourself out of the darkness. You remember or discover your why and hold on to that with everything you are. You come to a place where you believe you matter and you are enough and you’re worthy of love. You learn to love yourself.
That was where I had to start. After all the loss and the heartbreak, the pain and disappointment, I felt I was no longer worthy of love and connection. That’s the most dangerous space I can think of to be in. So I made the decision to pick my broken self up and dust her off. I searched for the smallest glimmer of the light I know I have inside and I did what I had to do to begin to grow that light. That’s where I am now, working on growing my light and loving myself while being ever mindful of my why.
Little changes over time equal big ones.
I made a nutrition plan I could follow, and I don’t beat myself up if I fall short. I started exercising again. I committed to getting dressed every day. I quit making long lists of the things I need to do and began giving myself one goal to accomplish each day.
I write.
I started doing AFSP Out of the Darkness Walks.
I talk with others who have lost loved ones to suicide.
And I quit beating myself up. Instead, I praise myself for whatever I accomplish each day.
Little by slowly.

chose her over everything

9. Make time for yourself and make time and room for others.
Somewhere between August 13, 2016, and now I successfully isolated myself from the people I love, my life, and the rest of the world. I spent a lot of time alone. There were a few months in the middle when that felt good. I felt best when I was alone. I didn’t have to fake a smile, I didn’t have to explain myself or be the me I was before suicide intersected with my life. I could just be alone in my grief with no accountability. Then I became lonely, like dark night of the soul lonely. And in the short time it took to get to that place, I’d somehow forgotten how to reach out to others. I’d forgotten how to connect. One thing I’ve learned is that connection is vital to life. Real connection, deep connection with others. So I began to force myself to say yes sometimes. Of course by that time there weren’t many who still asked me to commit. I’d made excuses and said no for almost a year and I felt like I was no longer relevant to the circle I once claimed as mine—my people. But there were a few stragglers—my tribe—who continued to ask, pushed even, and I started to say yes. By this point I had become caged by anxiety and going to Vons felt like a chore. I rarely left my house so this was a huge step for me. It’s a step I’m still working on but I’m saying yes. Today one of the stragglers from my tribe made a surprise visit and we spent hours on the porch talking and catching up. It felt good to smile and laugh. It felt good to hear someone say his name. It felt good to feel light. It felt good to have an adult conversation with another adult. So, yeah, I adulted today and I’m damn proud of me. It was so much fun I think I’m going to do it again this week.

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10. Fake it if you have to, just don’t quit.
I’m not a big fan of faking it, but sometimes I have to. There is something to that saying, “practice makes progress.”
Not perfection.
Progress.
Show up. Get dressed. Eat. Go for a walk. Smile. Watch the sunset. Look at the stars. Sing in the shower. Fake it all if you have to for now. Just don’t quit.

11. Death does not erase love.
This was hard for me because I knew Pops loved us and I know he knew we loved him. I couldn’t understand him taking his love away.
He didn’t.
His death doesn’t erase his love. It’s still there in a million different ways. Whether or not I choose to feel his love is up to me.

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12. You matter.
To someone you are everything. You are the reason for someone’s smile. For someone you are the anchor. And you need to be those things for yourself too.
Learning to believe that I still matter has been a long and arduous process. I deserve to be happy, feel joy, laugh, be proud of myself, and pain and loss don’t change that. The same was true for my Pops. The same is true for you. You matter. I matter. We matter.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide please reach out,
someone is always listening. You are not alone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Have you lost a loved one to suicide and need a resource?
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention can help.

 

Logic and Suicide Prevention

I looked at the display on my dash, and although I didn’t recognize the artist by name, I knew the title right away. 1-800-273-8255 is the song title, and it’s also the phone number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

I was driving the other day and had the 6lack station playing on Pandora. A song came on, and the lyrics caught me off guard. I replayed the song three times.

I’ve been on the low

I been taking my time

I feel like I’m out of my mind

I feel like my life ain’t mine

Who can relate?

I looked at the display on my dash, and although I didn’t recognize the artist by name, I knew the title right away. 1-800-273-8255 is the song title, and it’s also the phone number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Since August 13, 2016, I’ve become intimately familiar with many things suicide related. A life was lost that day, and mine was forever changed. Our family fell apart. My perception of our reality changed. I learned what loss feels like down in the deepest layer of my soul. I learned about grief, guilt, anger, depression, and I learned about suicide. On August 13, 2016, my Pops died by suicide.

Losing Pops was a massive blow, the most painful tragedy I have ever experienced. It was unexpected and brought with it so many questions. Why became my new word and even if it wasn’t coming from my mouth, it was constantly on repeat in my mind. Why didn’t I see the signs? Why didn’t I do something? Why didn’t he reach out for help? Why didn’t he know how much he mattered? The why’s sent me searching for answers and one of the first places I looked was the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.

I’ve done a lot of research over the past ten months. While writing Transfer Of Pain, I had the opportunity to speak with others who have lost loved ones to suicide, and people who have survived suicide attempts. I’ve poured through data and statistics, read articles and news stories, and several questions consistently surfaced. Why do we find it so hard to talk about suicide and mental health? Why are there still so many that shy away from the topic? Why does the stigma exist? What can we do to change this?

All this other shit I’m talkin’ ’bout they think they know it

I’ve been praying for somebody to save me, no one’s heroic

And my life don’t even matter

I know it I know it I know I’m hurting deep down but can’t show it

I never had a place to call my own

I never had a home

Ain’t nobody callin’ my phone

Where you been? Where you at? What’s on your mind?

They say every life precious but nobody care about mine

For me, the topics of suicide, suicide prevention, and mental health have become personal. Something I cannot understand is why these issues aren’t more important to all of us. There are countless people in the spotlight who have voices and large audiences hanging on their every word. Voices that could be used to spread messages of hope. Why aren’t more people using their voice(s) to bring light to important topics? Then I came across Logic

It’s the very first breath

When your head’s been drownin’ under water

And it’s the light that’s in the air

When you’re there chest-to-chest with a lover

It’s holding on though the roads long

Seeing light in the dark, yeah, these things

And when you stare at your reflection

Finding hope in who it is

I know that you’ll thank God you did

The fact that Logic is using his voice to prevent suicide is amazing. It’s a huge step in the right direction. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 10-14, and the second among persons aged 15-34*. With Logic’s highest listener demographic (by age) being in the same range as some of the largest demographics (by age) of individuals who die by suicide, he is undoubtedly saving lives with his message.

Imagine if we had an entertainment industry/music industry that used a collective voice to talk/sing/write about things that matter—things that really matter.

I finally wanna be alive

I finally wanna be alive

I don’t wanna die today

I don’t wanna die

Thank you, Logic, for bringing suicide prevention to the forefront. Keep doing what you’re doing, keep saving lives.

Listen to 1-800-273-8255 by Logic

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If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide please reach out,
someone is always listening. You are not alone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Have you lost a loved one to suicide and need a resource?
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention can help.

*CDC Data

#Logic #suicideprevention #StopSuicide #NSPL #YouMatter #18002738255 #ResponsibleMusic #LogicsEverybodysTour

Grandpa, Graduation, and Dragonflies — After Suicide

She talks about him in the present tense and points out the signs that my hurt and anger sometimes prevent me from seeing. I also watch her cry and hold her tight when I don’t know how to answer the very first question she asked that horrible night in August.

Today marks ten months since my Pops died by suicide. Although every single day brings the sting of grief—the ones when we celebrate something important are the most difficult. One week from today will be a big one. It will signify the end of elementary school for my youngest daughter, his youngest grandchild.

Pops and Bella share a special bond, they always have. He has kissed her boo-boos, protected her from the boogieman, sat at our dinner table helping her learn the ABC’s, and held her hand at Children’s Hospital.

Pops was the one who waited outside her classroom at the end of most days, and the one who walked her to 7-11 for Slurpee’s. He played a hundred games of Candy Land, helped carve pumpkins at Halloween, and pretended he couldn’t tell it was her when she rang his doorbell dressed as a pirate.

I remember taking a picture of Bella and Pops after kindergarten graduation and will never forget the pride in his eyes. He thought she was the smartest and bravest little girl in her class and he made sure everyone knew that was his granddaughter.

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For Bella, Pops held a magical power, and that hasn’t changed. Pops was the one who made every bad day into a good one. He made things fun, and he always made her giggle. No matter what we had planned or where we were off to, she always asked if her Grandpa was coming. He was her favorite. I’ll admit, sometimes I was a little jealous of their relationship. When I was uptight and stressed out, he was calm and smiling. After a long day at work when all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head, he made time to play games and tell bedtime stories. He made our household run smooth. He was a big part of what made us a family during the years we lived next door to each other.

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Bella still talks to him. I know this because I can hear her in the room carrying on conversations with him. She talks about him in the present tense and points out the signs that my hurt and anger sometimes prevent me from seeing. I also watch her cry and hold her tight when I don’t know how to answer the very first question she asked that horrible night in August. After I ended my call with the police department and had to explain what suicide was, I did my best to answer. She has asked the same question many times since.

“Doesn’t he know how much we love him?”

My answer is yes. But when I try to understand that question from a child’s perspective, it breaks my heart. For Bella, there is no doubt that he loves her. She keeps him and his memory alive more than anyone else in this house. Rarely does a day pass without a random observation on her part and she makes sure we know his favorite color is blue, he tells funny jokes, and he hates shrimp.

Those who have followed our journey or read my book know the dragonfly story. It didn’t take much thought to come up with the perfect graduation gift. The only thing better than what I chose would be to make Bella believe that her Grandpa indeed knew how much she loved him, how much we all loved him. We love him still and always will. Love is the only thing that doesn’t end.

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I’m excited to watch my little girl receive her promotion from elementary to middle school. I’m proud of her; she has the sweetest smile, a heart full of love, and she isn’t afraid to share either freely. She’s funny like her Grandpa, and she knows how to worry less and smile more. Next week we will celebrate her milestone with a flower lei and dinner at her favorite restaurant. I’ll hold my tears and try not to let my grief seep out onto her day.

When my little girl wakes up on what will be her last day of elementary school, I’ll sit next to her and watch as she opens her dragonfly necklace. And, I will tell her that her Grandpa knows how much she loves him.

 

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide please reach out,
someone is always listening. You are not alone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Have you lost a loved one to suicide and need a resource?
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention can help.

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© R.J. Belle and Transfer Of Pain, 2017

#stopsuicide #griefisajourney #transferofpain #graduation #dragonfly

 

Life After Suicide

After I go through the when and the what of things, I inevitably get lost in the why, and it’s dangerous territory. I try with all my might not to stay stuck there for too long. What is too long? An hour? A day? A lifetime?

It’s been nine months since he died by suicide. Nine months. The same amount of time it takes to bring a life into this world, and that’s been stuck in my head for the past several days. I don’t know why; it’s odd the way I count time now. Perhaps it’s a way for my mind to trick me into a false sense of reality, a softer way to think about time since he died, the after death. It seems every measure of time now is put into categories and depending on who I’m talking to, what we are talking about, or what I’m thinking about, the verbiage might differ but the bottom line is that it’s either before my Pops died by suicide, or after he died. That’s the when of things.

There is also the what of things. I ponder a lot of things now that I never spent much, if any, time thinking about before. Before he died by suicide. Many of those thoughts are far too raw and painful to share. But some, well some that seem so trivial steal every ounce of my energy. They consume me. I wonder what happened to the Chargers hat he always wore, was he wearing it that night? I remember him opening it on Christmas – he loved that damn hat. I have at least ten pictures of him wearing that hat. I wonder why he liked it so much; was it the colors or the design? Did he like it because it was a good one, one he wouldn’t have purchased for himself? I look at photos and stare at the expression on his face, searching his eyes; what was he thinking? Did he know how loved he was? Does he know he’s still loved? I remember the way we teased him about ordering shrimp and how he always referred to it as ‘fish bait’ but I’m not sure why he hated shrimp so much, and I think about that too.

 

I often wonder what his dreams were. What did he secretly wish for his life? Was there anything he wanted to do or learn? Was there a destination he imagined traveling to one day? I think back to conversations we had, and I analyze them now – every single word. Was there more he had to say but held back? I wonder if he wished things for us that went unspoken. Sometimes his eyes appeared blue like a calm sea, and sometimes they were bright green, I wonder how he would have answered if asked his eye color.

After I go through the when and the what of things, I inevitably get lost in the why, and it’s dangerous territory. I try with all my might not to stay stuck there for too long. What is too long? An hour? A day? A lifetime? I can’t answer that for myself or anyone else. I know when I’ve overstayed my welcome in that dark place, and usually, by the time I recognize it, it takes heavy machinery to remove me from its depths. The days that follow always feel flat and empty. It’s hard to be around others, and it’s hard to do anything that resembles living. But I do. I try. The why’s are the worst mainly because they’re irrelevant at this point, but also because no matter how many times I circle the questions, from whatever angle, using any fabrication or reconstruction, there will never be answers. Never.

In the nine months since his death, I could have created life. I don’t know why that strikes me as profoundly as it does. I will take it as a sign that it’s time to breathe life back into myself. I can’t stay stuck here because if I do, then his death will continue to subtract from living. I’d like to find a way to make his death equate to something significant, something positive. It’s hard to write that, and the mere suggestion that something positive could come from his death by suicide causes a feeling of disloyalty. That’s my heart talking and feeling. My brain knows that the only way to make Pops’ death by suicide become something of value is to use his story, our story, to assist others. And I do. I try.

#StopSuicide #YouMatter #ChooseHope

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide please reach out,
someone is always listening. You are not alone.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Have you lost a loved one to suicide and need a resource?
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention can help.

© R.J. Belle and Transfer Of Pain, 2017