When You Have a Good Day After Losing a Loved One to Suicide
There are 24 hours in a day. Today, I spent three of them taking a walk and seeing a funny movie with some friends. The reason I mention this is those are pretty much all the things I did today. Today was a good day. Since my brother took his own life in January, I’ve struggled to engage with my world. The loss of my mother-in-law in June and a sweet, little cat last week have added to the black cloud that seems to follow me wherever I go.
Sure, I’ve done the things I had to do. I went to work, took the kids to practice and showed up for major family and friend events, but I haven’t initiated much social contact. If you see me out and about, you would likely assume I’m doing pretty well considering. If you saw me at home, you would wonder just how many hours a human can spend in bed before becoming a permanent part of it.
The sun was shining on Tuesday, and the normal 95 plus degrees was down to 83. Friends were texting about a group outing to see “Bad Moms.” There was a walking track and a one-hour gap between soccer practice drop-off and the start of the movie. It was 4 p.m. before I crawled out from under a blanket. I showered, put on exercise clothes that haven’t seen any action in quite some time and made it to soccer practice 15 minutes early. I set a walking goal, then doubled it. I laughed more than I have in a long time alongside some good friends during the movie.
By the time I got home, I’d come down from my happy place a bit. After feeling bad for so long, it’s jarring to feel good, even for a few hours. In a way, it’s scary. Does actually living mean, in some way, I’m OK with the fact my brother is gone? Does every laugh and smile betray the part of me that will never smile again?
For the answer, I look to my 12-year-old son, who has felt the pain and loss of his uncle deeply. Every day, I pray for his little soul to find peace. I ask for him to rejoice at every step he takes back into the world of the living. It has been a hard fight, but through counseling and time, he has found some measure of closure in the face of devastating grief.
As of now, I have been unwilling to grant myself the same peace. Holding on to the grief has felt like holding on to Dave. Deep in my heart, though, I know I can’t hold on to him. He is already gone. The hours and days of my life have been passing by, while I hide under my blanket of grief, unable to step out into the sunshine. Today, I took what felt like the first steps. True to the nature of the sun, in some ways it burned. In others, there was a promise of more light ahead.
Image via Thinkstock.