Healing Takes A Lifetime

Early on in my grief journey, I realized this was not going to be a "get over it quickly" type of thing.  I had a strong desire to read everything I could on grief, suicide, and the afterlife.  I came to realize quickly that this journey will not end until I take my last breath.  People have asked me how I stay strong and this is what I explain to them.


Grief is like a major surgery such as open heart surgery.  Just as in a surgery like that, one must heal in layers from the inside out.  If you try to close the opening too soon you often have infection trapped inside and you may not know it for a long period of time.  So just like that, my soul needs to heal in layers, insuring that each step I heal infection free.  Acknowledging and accepting that it will take time allows your journey of healing to begin.


Also like surgery, sometimes you have setbacks.  I have them, I acknowledge them, and I move forward from them.  Anger is one of the setbacks that upsets me the most.  I don't like anger and/or hate.  In my mind, that is exactly what made my son take his life at age 17 in spite of the fact of a promising future ahead of him.  Anger and hate toward me from his father's side of the family that he was trying to protect me from, is a hard pill to swallow.  This also goes hand in hand with guilt.  The "if only"s drive me crazy at times.  If only  he had talked to me about what he just learned, if only he would have said some thing to me, if only I had gotten up in the night to check on him, if only.......

I liken all this to the infection one may get after a surgery.  You do all you can to insure a healthy healing but sometimes things happen that we just cannot control.  However, it is important to address them when they happen and combat those infections, so you can move on healing healthy.


As each layer heals, I learn new coping methods to make it through the day, and for me the worst, night.  One of those is my Tear Bucket.  I have what I refer to as the tear bucket.  When I feel the emotions building up inside of me and I know I have to let them go before an event or gathering that I am trying to hold myself together for I empty my tear bucket.  I will simply tell my husband I need to empty my tear bucket and will head off to the bedroom where I will think of my sweet Jared and empty that bucket of tears.  Sometimes, even when not full, it will spill, but it is becoming manageable.


Learning to live without someone in your life, that has been such a part of your life for so long, is like learning how to do everything you once did minus one arm.  It is learning to live completely different.  It is learning how to do the things you once did together, differently.  It is learning how to enjoy things you once enjoyed together, differently.  It is learning how to fill a void in a healthy way.  This is just like allowing our body to grow new tissue to replace the space left by infected tissue that was removed during surgery.  If we don't allow this to happen then that void can be a breading area within us for hate and anger.  For me, I refuse to allow the emptiness left by the love I shared with my son to be filled with ugliness.  I will only allow something equally as beautiful to take that space.


Also like a major surgery, it is important to surround yourself with the best medical staff available for a successful surgery, it is equally important to surround yourself with the best support system available for proper healing from your loss.  My support system has changed and morphed during my journey.  I also know as time continues it will continue to change.  Some people I was close with before are simply casual friends and some are nothing more than a friendly hello as I meet them on the street.  Yet others that were unknown or distant acquaintances, have become extremely supportive and helpful in my healing process. This also applies to family.  Some members have had to be distanced, some completely separated, and others that was casual in our communications, have become the foundation to healthy recovery.


Also like surgery, some cannot recover.  Grief too, can take those who cannot recover.  While I make no secret that I have begged for my son to take me too, He tells me it is not my turn yet.  There is a unique cry by mother's who have lost a child.  Once you hear it, you recognize it, and pray you never hear it again.


Just as any major surgery will leave a scar, so does grief.  It is not something to cover up and hide, but rather acknowledge the existence of it, wear it as a badge of honor to the loved one you lost, and feel NO shame from it.  We only grieve for those we love, and love lasts a life time.

About the Author
Deb is a survivor of suicide loss. She lost her 17 year old son, Jared, to suicide in June 2014. Since that time she has become an advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and founded Jared's Keepers Foundation, Inc, a non-profit suicide awareness and prevention organization reaching the youth community. She has become an active speaker and enjoys her time reaching students in middle schools, high schools, as well as colleges. She also has spoken to community groups, Fire Departments, Police Departments, Ambulance Departments and other organizations on how to safely talk about suicide to those left behind and the community in general.
I'm Grieving, Now What?