Monday, December 5, 2011
First, acceptance. I never thought acceptance would be possible. Mike's death was an unacceptable fact that traumatized me on a daily basis. I couldn't even imagine what acceptance could look like. But now, two years in, I have moments of acceptance. I accept that he was ill; I let go of the guilt and regret, and imagine him as something or somewhere peaceful and/or embrace a memory of him that is joyous and not wrapped up in depression and death. More often than not, believe it or not. In just two years! That's the miracle of our capacity for healing. How else could we survive? Loss is a fact of life.
Second, remember to celebrate life. As much as possible, I try to remember Mike alive. I have deconstructed his suicide ad nauseum, looking for clues, flagellating myself for the clues I didn't see or upon which I didn't act, absolving myself for what we could not possibly have known, hindsight being 20/20, that we couldn't have stopped him anyway, etc. etc. to the point of insanity. I try not to do that now. Instead, I remember his deadpan wit or individual fashion sense or beautiful photographs or goofy text messages or homemade peanut brittle and deep-fried turkey. The memories that make me smile instead of cry. Celebrate the memories and let the rest fade into the distance.
Third, connection. Death is inevitable and everywhere. Since Mike died, how many others have gone?How many of my friends have lost siblings? How many other survivors of suicide have reached out? (And just today I finally checked a Gmail account I've never bothered to check, and discovered messages from some of you lovely readers which brought tears to my eyes. I will respond to each of you, I promise. Please forgive my delay.) My grief journey is just one of many, all woven together. Your journey helps me, mine helps someone else, and so on.
Finally, be gentle. There is no standard for what suicide survival is supposed to look like. Grief is a crazy drug. It's all over the map. I thought I could write a weekly blog. I can't even keep up a monthly blog. Sometimes I need to move on with my life. Other days I can't get out of bed. Even now, two years later.