coping with death
Because dealing with death is hard, no matter what age.
Children of suicide are trying to understand a loss that brings grown-ups to their knees. It's a very challenging path to walk, both for the children and their remaining parent or caregivers. And not only are the children trying to understand the suicidal death of their parent, there is the additional stress, possible abandonment and rejection due to social stigma, shame and taboo around suicide.
We grieve for the dead, but, in reality, we are grieving the pain of the loss of connection with our loved one. I suggest there might be more than merely the physical plane and your deceased loved ones are applauding your efforts regularly. You know the feeling of love and connection; perhaps, it is closer than you think.
While for many the holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, for others, they are dreading the oncoming festivities because they may mark the 1st, 5th or 50th season without a loved one. No matter what denomination they are or what holiday they celebrate, there is one common factor that binds all of them together: someone they loved is gone.
The grief is still there. But suddenly, from somewhere, almost eighteen months later, I do now occasionally experience the unadulterated joy that I never thought I would again. To my surprise, I am no longer numb. The flowers in the park, a small child patting my dog, the flight of a bird, planning a visit with my grandson with his friends -- these things bring a lift to my heart.
Today marks four months since my daughter Rehtaeh ended her life. It's said that losing a child is the hardest thing a person can experience and if there is something worse I can't imagine what it could possibly be. The last four months have been hell peppered with smiles as I think back on memories. I cherish those when they come, even if they last for only a moment. This is the hardest thing I have ever faced. This is an ocean of grief. I'm treading water in a tidal wave of pain, disbelief, anger, sadness, waves and waves of heartache.
Early one bright sunny morning a year and a half ago, my wife died of cancer. For hours I held her pills in my hand, convincing myself that I had no reason to live. I've never had cancer but I'm a cancer survivor, nonetheless -- and there's good reason for that.
I have not always been so blunt about death or talking about death. To be honest, before my husband died, I never said the word. I was superstitious and felt that by uttering the word I was inviting trouble. I did not have a will, afraid that I would jinx myself. That all changed the day my world collapsed and my healthy 44-year-old husband died suddenly. I had to face the "D-word" head on. There was no turning around and avoiding it.
What started as a regular holiday season for me ended up being the worst time of my life. After nearly three days of not knowing where my daughter's plane was and whether or not she was alive, I found out, on Christmas Day, that she had in fact, died.