Engaging Life After Suicide Loss


~the engagement of suicide loss-comforting its place as the late season blooms~

The police have teams assigned for situations like this. There was the response team for the 911 call, an officer partnered with the local fire chaplain, additional police that seemed to be support persons for the scene, another officer who became the point of contact for the police report, and the medical examiner along with those he brought with him. They were kind, respectful, professional and doing their job.  From the moment the first police arrived, there was someone engaged with me at all times in some capacity–observing me, asking questions, giving me resources and being available for my questions.  I was calm and astute as to what was being asked of me, but I was really not able to function and think clearly. The only thing that was clearly embedded in my mind was that the very protective, private, and independent person that I am, needed people.

I linger on that first day, “day one” as I call it–as many of my flashbacks are centered here–with this moment in time and with the events before and after it. It is a day of such sorrow, but it is also “day one” of my triumph–the triumph–the triumph of learning what it is to just be able to survive and live through such a day like this–the triumph in realizing that I am now part of the awareness of destigmatizing suicide and not falling into the societal shame of it. The triumph of acknowledging and processing the effects of mental illness of my partner instead of hiding it. The ongoing triumph of moving through and moving forward, of moving backwards, moving sideways, and moving again and again in that swirl of just moving to move……moving in the swirl of change, moving with it.

“the only thing that was clearly embedded in my mind was that I needed people”

After his initial orientation with me, the chaplain offered to call someone. I could not think of anyone. We do not have local family, I did not have a large support network–just a few select individuals from my former work. I typically did not call anyone- I handled every aspect of my life and any family need with myself and my partner–privately.  I could not figure out anything other than that and as it became clearer and as more understanding seeped in–I realized that I did need people around me–as the one person who I always looked for and relied on had just died.  There was no getting around it, he was gone and I was without my “go to” person. 

It took me several hours to realize that I could call someone else, that someone else would come and help me, but once I figured this out, I engaged.  I did not know what I needed, but I decided that I just needed people, I needed people around my daughter and myself. If we were going to get through this, then we needed people around us. That is what I could think, so I made two calls–one to a work friend and the other to my elderly parents–once I reached her, my work friend asked what she could do and I said, “I don’t know what I need, please tell everyone”….and then without realizing it, she engaged for me. She started making decisions of support for me–she made the decision to leave her work to be by my side, and she started the process of “please tell everyone”…and from there, it siphoned out to more and more people–another key friend came over immediately and then others throughout that day and night, and “everyone” started texting, calling, emailing, messaging, mailing cards, sending money, bringing food, dropping by the house, family arriving from out of country and out of state….within a few days, “the people” I needed, and the “please tell everyone” had been organized and our support was in place.

Much has changed since that first day with my grief and wholeness journey……but even at this present time, I am so thankful and in awe of how that all sorted itself out and was arranged for me by the “wonderful people” who came and continue to be in my life. I am grateful that “everyone” came. Even amongst their own rippling shock and grief, they structured the support I needed. I allowed them to take care of me and to take care of “the kid”. I engaged and people engaged with me–and because of it, I started to experience for myself what I already knew- that love can heal what hurt divides.

“love can heal what hurt divides”

It has been ten months and thirteen days since that day, I still read and reflect on his texts and I still listen to the only recording I have of his voice.  I take a shower feeling him with me as I sort out my responsibilities which were once ours together. I sleep on his side of the bed with my arms wrapped around me as if they are his and I stand in his side of the bathroom and talk with him.  I pray for him in my dreams and look for those “signs from heaven”.  All of these things bring me comfort as well as tears.  But it is the tears and the amazing memories inside those tears that somehow flow differently.  They hold the healing of my heart and the peace of his. They come like the water from a  fresh snow melt flowing steadily from the mountain top finding its way to the valley below–flowing and flowing over the rocky crevices, smoothing the rocky bed until the river is paved and until the season has changed and there is no more water to flow.

And just like the snow melt from the mountain top, over time the “people” have trickled down to those close few who still check in on the kid and I–text us, email us, message us, invite us to something, drop by after work, help me with the logistics of single parenting, take an active interest in the kid and her goings on…..it is the engagement of it that is important to me now, that the kid and I stay engaged with our support and allow ourselves to lean on them and them on us as we regain our strength.

“they hold the healing of my heart and the peace of his”

It is the riding of that swirl of grief in a journey of seeking the truth–the whys, the how comes, the how did I not see this, the guilt, the rekindling of the knowledge of the spirit within me and without me–the blessings, the blessings, the blessings in moving forward, and the mingling through and toward the wholeness of it. In the purest sense, it truly is a process of unknown surrender. Whether that surrender is willing or unwilling, whether it is known or unknown surrender, it is that process which is the wholeness journey–and the “it” of the journey is what I engage toward, what I release toward, what I surrender toward….I am not moving on, but moving through–carrying with me the passage of how I knew him and how I am knowing him now. He is a new guardian in my life and ever present in the effervescence of my life journey. Love can heal what hurt divides.

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