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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

 

 

Celebrating Release Day, Celebrating You

Allowing others to love me, and not being afraid to share and show my brokenness with them is something that’s been difficult for me to do. You left me no choice; I couldn’t have survived your death on my own.

On the eve of release day for Transfer Of Pain, my book, your book, our book, we should be celebrating – it should be a joyous occasion. Writing a book is a big deal, and you always made me feel special on release day’s past. You were my biggest fan; I’d like to believe you still are. Tomorrow, on release day, I will be celebrating you, and I will be celebrating the lessons you’ve taught me.

I will hold on to what you taught me by the way you lived your life. Those lessons are a huge part of what has helped me to get through the past seven months, sixteen days, and twenty-one hours. One of the most important lessons you taught me was how to be resilient – how to go on when life threw a curveball. Losing you was the biggest curveball ever, but I’m still standing. I’m moving forward, reluctantly some days, and ungracefully, but still, I rise and do my best.

You never took life too seriously, and you always made time for us. You could make the most mundane things fun. I can recall countless adventures filled with belly laughs brought on by your silliness. You told me time and time again to slow down and enjoy the little things. I now know that those ‘little things’ were the big things. I try to remember that daily, even on the toughest days. I watch the sunset and smell the flowers. I practice listening to your grandkids when they talk; listening fully and being present in our conversations. I dance and sing loud and off-key to make Bella laugh. Sometimes I hear a belly laugh – it always makes me think of you.

Although I hold on to the things you taught me during your life, I have to admit something: your death has taught me many lessons too. Your death and how you died taught me that each day is a gift. Every moment I have with the people I love is a precious commodity with no guarantee of a ‘next time.’ I’ve quit putting things off because the opportunity might not present itself again. Death is final, and once it happens, there are no do-overs. Instead of dwelling on the many regrets I have of things we never did together, I’m trying to focus on not missing the opportunities in front of me today.

Your death taught me that kindness matters. It matters more than we realize. I often think about your last night and wonder if one smile or a kind word to you from some random person along your path could have altered the outcome of August 13, 2016. I consider what’s hidden behind the faces I encounter each day. What struggles someone might be facing – the ones they mask with half-smiles. I practice kindness more frequently now, even when I don’t feel like it, I do it anyway.

Since your death, I pay more attention to the people in my life. I listen closely to their words, or lack thereof, and I keep an eye out for signs of trouble. I ask questions and offer my ear. I look for the brokenness that most of us are so skilled at disguising. I say ‘I love you’ more often. I love harder and speak softer.

RJ Kingcades window

My inner circle has changed, but your death taught me that allowing others into this raw and painful space is what will help me heal. Allowing others to love me, and not being afraid to share and show my brokenness with them is something that’s been difficult for me to do. You left me no choice; I couldn’t have survived your death on my own.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned since your death is that it’s okay to walk away from toxic relationships. I’ve learned how to stand up for myself. I’ve learned that I’m allowed to let go of people who breathe negativity into my space. I’ve learned that I don’t have to make others happy if it costs me my inner peace for that is too hefty a price to pay. I know now that I can use that rule with all people – family and friends. I’ve learned that I’m worthy of protection and setting boundaries is an important part of protecting myself. The importance of self-preservation is the biggest lesson you taught me when you died by suicide.

I wish I’d learned these lessons while you were still here. I would have shared them with you.

This book is one I wish I never had to write. I wish we were together celebrating some other book release, but I can’t change what is. Tomorrow I will celebrate you and hope that your story, our story, will save someone else. I know that’s your hope too. I will look for you in the sky and feel your presence in the breeze. I will watch for you along my path, and if there is someone who needs a smile or a kind word, please arrange for us to share an encounter.

You matter, Pops, and I love you always.

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#thisonesforyouPops #youshouldbehere #stopsuicide #youmatter #TransferOfPain

www.RJBelle.com

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

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide please reach out, someone is always listening. You are not alone. You matter – you and all of your broken pieces.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255.

Beautiful Failure

I’m not sure if failing at suicide taught me a lesson back then, but meeting Fe did – it taught me that I wasn’t alone.

Thirty-one years ago, I failed. It was the most beautiful failure I have ever managed to pull off, and that’s saying a lot because, well, I’ve failed quite a few times since then.

I was young, and lost, and depressed. I attempted suicide, and I failed. I’m not sure if I truly wanted to die, but I didn’t want to live. I was emotionally immature, and ill-equipped to deal with the chaos and dysfunction of my home life.

Following my failed attempt I was admitted to an inpatient facility. I remember being disappointed because I didn’t die, but happy I was going somewhere other than where I lived at the time. I also remember being afraid, not of the facility or the counselors, but the other teenaged patients. I never felt like I fit in and although I had friends, I didn’t connect on a deep level with any of them.

I was checked into a shared room, but the other bed was empty when I arrived. I had been at the facility for a few days and can remember waking up early one morning because they were placing another girl in my room. She was angry and trying to explain to the counselor that she shouldn’t be at the facility. I watched the scene quietly from my bed. When the counselor left the room, she sat on her bed facing me and introduced herself. A hundred questions followed, which I answered without elaborating, then she proceeded to tell me her story.

Fe was the first person I had ever met that I could relate to or that I felt could relate to me. She had an exotic beauty about her; she was outgoing, outspoken, and real. She seemed fearless and never hesitated to ask for exactly what she wanted; she was everything I wanted to be – everything I thought I was not. But she was also broken in the same places I was broken, and if you’ve ever been broken, you know the most powerful feeling is being able to identify with someone who is broken the same as you.

Fe and I would stay awake well past ‘lights-out’ talking about life, sharing stories of our past, hopes for our futures, and plotting; we became BFF’s almost overnight. We were rebels. Well, Fe was the rebel, but I was able to borrow courage when in her presence. We would sneak contraband into our room and to us, back then, that consisted of candy and new notebooks from the facility classroom. Fe ran the place and being with her made me feel like I ran the place too. In reality, and looking back now, we didn’t run much aside from our mouths, but we sure thought we did.

We spent Christmas inpatient, and although there were rules against anything from the ‘outside’ being brought in, they allowed my grandma to sneak in a small Christmas tree. The little tree sat atop a dresser in our room with a strand of blinking lights and a few ornaments. I loved staring at the lights at night while listening to Fe talk.

I left before Fe and leaving her was horrible. For a while I’d felt normal, I felt like I was loved and understood; Fe had a way of making me feel like I was somebody special. We talked on the phone a few times after I left; the facility allowed her to call me, but after a few months she went home, and we never talked or saw each other again.

I never forgot about Fe and most years at Christmas time I think of her and wonder if she made it, if she’s still running things, and if she ever thinks of me. However, it has been many years since I’ve thought about my failure, or the pain I felt leading up to my attempt. I’ve never thought about what would have changed or never been if I hadn’t failed.

Six months ago, on August 13, 2016, my Pops was successful; he died by suicide. What followed was painful, confusing, and lonely. It still is. I’ve been treading water for six months; sometimes praying I wouldn’t drown, and other times praying I would. I’ve spent a lot of time writing, and reflecting on Pops life, and my own. During the 2016 Christmas season, as I was putting up our tree, I thought about Fe, and I thought about my failure. For the first time in thirty-one years, I considered all the things that would have been different today if I hadn’t failed.

There would be four children who would call someone else mom, I imagine they would be entirely different, and I wouldn’t have had the experience of being their mom. I wouldn’t have been able to hold gram’s hand as she was leaving this world or hear the stories she waited to share until we knew her time was short. I wouldn’t have learned the lessons my Pops taught me, and I wouldn’t have the precious memories I have of Pops and my children together. And, this list could go on, and on.

I’ve failed at a lot of things in life. I fear failure but don’t fear it enough not to take chances. I beat myself up for missing the mark or making mistakes that lead to failure. I try to learn from my failures, but sometimes I need to fail a few times before the lesson sinks in enough to take hold. I’m not sure if failing at suicide taught me a lesson back then, but meeting Fe did – it taught me that I wasn’t alone.

It wasn’t until I experienced the pain of losing a loved one to suicide that I considered what would have happened if I hadn’t failed. The pain I would have caused, and all I would have missed.

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#youmatter

After thinking about that time for a few weeks I knew I had to track her down, I had to find Fe. I had to know if her broken parts healed the way mine had, and I needed to share my new broken pieces with the only person I had ever felt understood my type of brokenness. One of the amazing things about modern-day and social media is the ability to find people. A Facebook search produced results; she was the top of the list when I input her maiden name in my search bar. Thankfully she has a hyphenated last name, and there she was, her smiling face captured in a profile picture.

After writing and deleting it several times, I finally hit the send button on a private message and held my breath. I had no idea if she’d want to reconnect or if she’d prefer to leave that part of her past in the past. I hoped she would respond, and I waited. A few days went by with no response, and I doubted my decision to contact her. I didn’t want to open old wounds, I didn’t want to remind her of a painful time, and the worst was wondering if she just didn’t remember me. Then it happened – she answered. I could feel her excitement through the words on my computer screen.

We talked on the phone and filled each other in with a short version of the last thirty-plus years of each other’s lives. We got our calendars out and planned a day to get together in person. Fe still lives in her hometown, and I live an hour away. The soonest date we both had open was a week and a half away, but it had been thirty-one years so what was another ten days?

I drove down to Fe’s house today and smiled the whole way – I think it’s the longest I’ve felt joy since losing my Pops. We sat in her backyard drinking coffee and talking then visited the farm where she works. We walked through rows and rows of sunflowers, talking like teenage girls; we literally picked up exactly where we left off thirty-one years ago. We shared our broken pieces again, older and wiser now, but still as fragile as we were back then in some ways. We talked about love, and loss, and loyalty. I picked flowers for my Pops, and I could feel him smiling down, proud of me for being vulnerable and open to allowing someone inside where the real pain hides. With her, I don’t worry about being judged, and I don’t worry about being misunderstood. The broken pieces we have in common, those pieces we shared with each other when we were girls – they bonded us for life.

Thank God for broken pieces and beautiful failure.

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Fe and I and our broken pieces

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please reach out, someone is always listening. You are not alone. You matter – you and all of your broken pieces.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255.

 

#brokenpieces #failure #suicide #suicideawareness #friendship #loyalty #transferofpain

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Look for the beauty – it’s there.

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

What I Learned After Losing A Loved One To Suicide

There is no right or wrong way to grieve; it is different for all of us and it differs based on the relationship we had with the loved one we lost. There is no one-size-fits-all for this deal.

My Pops died by suicide on August 13, 2016. Tomorrow marks five months of living without him. There are days, a lot of days, that it hurts just as bad as it did on day one. There are other days that I can make it almost all the way through without crying. These are the most important things I have learned so far…

Grief is exhausting, and long-lasting, and difficult. There are several stages of grief and not a single one of them is easy, but they are each necessary. Embrace each stage and feel your way through each one – honestly and thoroughly.

Not all advice is good advice. If you’ve lost a loved one especially if the loss was unexpected or tragic – you are going to get a ton of unsolicited advice. My advice to you is to take what works and leave the rest. Nobody is going through exactly what you are going through, and few of your friends are going to be able to relate to your loss. People are going to say things to you – stupid things and things that hurt rather than help – ignore those words. That’s easier said than done, I know, but trust me on this.

Very few of us are prepared to figure out the details for making arrangements immediately following a loss. In my case, I never talked with my Pops about what he would want in the event of his death and certainly never expected his death to be by suicide. He died on a Saturday night and by Monday morning I had the task of making decisions and arrangements. Bury or cremate? What funeral home or cremation service? What cemetery? It was overwhelming, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of friends. Have someone go with you. Have someone talk about the choices with you. Talk to others who have had recent losses. The hospital or Medical Examiner’s office can give you a list of service providers in your area. Going through this process with my Pops made me evaluate my own affairs and prompted me to start work on a trust with specific wishes, so my children won’t have to think about these things when my time comes. When you are in shock and trying to cope during the first few days and weeks, this is the last thing you want to have to handle.

Showering and changing clothes every day isn’t mandatory, but eating and sleeping are. I don’t think I ate or slept for at least a week following my Pops death. By the time we had his memorial, I was a complete wreck, and I know the lack of self-care added to my shattered emotional state. Drink water, make some toast, go for a short walk, and try to get sleep. I know I would have handled things better if I had taken better care of myself.

If you aren’t able to speak about your true feelings, try to write them down. There is healing power in getting them out. Write a letter to your loved one and say everything you want to say, wish you would have said, miss about them, want to apologize for – write it all. But for writing every day, I surely would have gone mad.

Try to find that one friend or family member who you can be real with. The one who isn’t afraid to sit in that ugly, uncomfortable space with you. The one who doesn’t try to fix an unfixable situation. The one who will just listen and be there next to you.

Suicide isn’t a bad word. Death by suicide doesn’t make someone a bad person. The manner in which my Pops died does not define his life.

Don’t make any permanent decisions immediately following a tragic loss. You are in a valley, and that is never a good time to make significant life changes.

Life can change in an instant. Tell the people you love that you love them. If you know someone close to you is struggling, talk to them – talk openly.

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Life will never be the same. It will get easier, but it will never be the way it was before. Don’t beat yourself up if you want to skip a first holiday or special date. We celebrated our first Christmas in January and went to Disneyland – definitely not our usual holiday tradition. Don’t expect everything to go back to ‘normal’ because your new normal is drastically different than your previous normal.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve; it is different for all of us and it differs based on the relationship we had with the loved one we lost. There is no one-size-fits-all for this deal.

You will never get over it. Delete people from your life who expect you to be ‘over it.’

It’s not your fault, and there is no way to turn the clock back. The ‘why’s’ will most likely never be answered, and ‘if only’s’ will deplete precious energy that could be put to better use.

Do what works for you and do not let anyone else dictate what you should do or how you should feel. Don’t pretend because that will only prolong your grief process.

It’s okay not to be okay, and there is no time limit. This is a marathon, my friend.

If you or someone you know is struggling please know that someone is always listening. Reach out for help, please.

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

#grief #suicide #suicideloss #suicideawareness #youmatter #youshouldbehere #stopsuicide

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

First’s Without You

There is no time limit on grief. Death is final and grieving the loss of a loved one doesn’t have to end because others think it’s time for us to move on and get over it.

I wake up each day hoping it will be the day that the pain subsides. I find myself praying I will make it through an entire day without breaking down in tears or staring off into space for minutes, sometimes hours on end. Unable to move and lost in endless thoughts of what could have been while having difficulty taking in a full breath of air without feeling the weight of a hundred regrets. But, today was not the day.

If guilt were a button mine would be stuck on pause, or repeat, or both, simultaneously. I feel guilt over many things; the signs I wish I had given more credit to, and time not spent being present with loved ones still here – loved ones who need me right now. Tasks, too numerous to count, that have been left half-done or not done at all. I could list an entire page of things that I feel guilty about, but it usually circles back to one primary source. I wish I could have saved him. I wish I could have taken his pain away. I wish my Pops were still alive.

Deep grief has a way of bringing feelings to the surface, making us vulnerable to every possible jagged shard of pain and if you aren’t careful, it can drown you in its depths. I’ve spent almost every day since August 13, 2016, holding on for dear life. I thought I had begun heading toward the shore after Thanksgiving only to realize that Christmas was just around the corner. Holiday’s have always been a magical and special time for me but this year I wish I could skip them – all of them.

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Halloween 2012

Following Pops death by suicide in August came my daughter’s birthday in September, which we didn’t celebrate until October. Then came Halloween; one of Pops’ favorite holidays and one he always made great fun for the kids. Then came my birthday in early November, then Thanksgiving, and Christmas. If you are active on social media, specifically Facebook, you are familiar with the “Memories” feature. I have developed a love-hate relationship with this feature. I have always been an enthusiastic picture taker, and Facebook reminded me of holidays past regularly throughout the holiday season. Among the repeated memory reminders were pictures of my Pops; pictures of him smiling and enjoying the holidays with my children, his grandchildren. Pictures of him with us, here on earth, seemingly happy. While gazing at every one of those pictures my heart broke a little bit more. Although they were sweet memories I was looking at, captured in the still images I’d snapped in years past, it was also a neon-sign reminder that he wouldn’t be here this year. He wouldn’t be passing out candy, pretending he didn’t recognize his granddaughter while she shrieked with delight over the fact that her costume fooled her Grandpa. He wouldn’t be singing Happy Birthday to me or sitting at the Thanksgiving table with us enjoying yummy food. He wouldn’t be coming over half-awake at the crack of dawn to partake in the magical Santa moments that my little one still wholeheartedly believes. Nor picking out his favorite coffee cup from my vast mug collection while choosing my least favorite for me, and pouring us both a strong cup to get through the parade of present opening – all before six in the morning.

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Christmas 2012

What was once the normal way we celebrated each holiday has become a new routine that I haven’t figured out yet. The only thing new that I can put my finger on is that each holiday this year was lonely and the most prominent feeling in the air was one of loss.

I would love to say that I kept things moving forward and made things as ‘normal’ as possible for the kids and I but that would be a lie. I spent my birthday and Thanksgiving alone. My husband was still in the hospital, my daughter was with her other dad, and the college kids didn’t make it home. My husband, daughter and I were together on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning, and we did the things we do every year; cookies were baked and decorated, Santa came, and presents were opened at the crack of dawn while I drank strong coffee from my least favorite mug. However, I felt like an imposter – a shell of my once whole self – the me who was once full of excitement and ready to share in the magical moments that only Christmas morning can bring. I know I wore a smile and went through the motions but inside was secretly counting down the minutes until my daughter would leave to go to her other dad’s house, and it ended – the moment I could crawl into bed and ignore the fact that it was December twenty-fifth. I did just that, and what followed was more guilt.

The lesson in this roller coaster of grief and what I am starting to understand is that society’s expectation of getting over grief, of bouncing back, is unrealistic. The expectation we have of ourselves is unrealistic. Things will never be normal again, and I am not the same person I was before my Pops died by suicide. The pieces of my heart will not fall back into place the way they once fit together. The pain will always be present and no amount of time will ease it completely. After this type of loss, life is different, and it will always be different. The longing for grief to end is a fool’s hope, and it’s okay not to be okay. To continue to feel guilt over everything I’m not doing or not doing the way I used to must be replaced. It must be replaced with acceptance. Acceptance that I am allowed to grieve this way – for as long as I need to grieve this way. The way I grieve, and the degree and intensity is what will change, over time, but only if I allow myself to do so – at my pace. I believe that is the only way to arrive at a place of peace. It’s not easy. Losing someone you love to suicide is hard, and overwhelming, and heart-wrenching.

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Thanksgiving Eve 2012

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Firsts are almost unbearable. First Easter’s, birthday’s, Thanksgiving’s, Christmas’s, and anniversaries. I’m told the second and third year of all of these, are hard too. There is no time limit on grief. Death is final and grieving the loss of a loved one doesn’t have to end because others think it’s time for us to move on and get over it. The healthiest thing we can do for those of us dealing with complicated grief is to allow ourselves all of the time we need. Caring for yourself after this type of loss is incredibly important, and part of caring for yourself is not to allow others to dictate how you are supposed to feel. Find a support group – find others who can relate to you – others who have experienced the same type of loss.

Suicide will continue to take lives, and the most proactive thing we can do is to open up a dialogue about mental illness. We must start to treat mental illness just as we would any other disease. We need to be advocates for those who have a mental illness. We need to work toward better and more available mental health services. We need to raise awareness, and we need to be accepting of people who have mental illnesses. Reach out to your friends and family. Ask questions and listen carefully. If you suspect that someone you love is contemplating suicide, talk about it, openly. Don’t be afraid to suggest reaching out for help. If you are contemplating suicide, please reach out for help. Someone is always listening.

#stopsuicide #reachout #youmatter #survivorsofsuicdeloss #suicide #mentalhealthawareness #transferofpain #grief #firstchristmaswithoutyou #guilt

© R.J. Belle and Transfer Of Pain, 2017, 2016