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10 Things I've Learned in the 1000 Days Since My Son Died by Suicide

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Editor’s note: If you have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

My son Tom died by suicide one thousand days ago. The day seems like a milestone worthy of insight, so I have complied the most important things I have learned in these most difficult of days.

1. Tom’s death was not my fault.

His depression and anxiety were what killed him. For the most part, I have learned to redirect my self-blame to his disorders, but there are also times I still feel as though I failed him.

2. His absence is not less palpable.

I still feel it every single day. But I have also learned to function in his absence.

3. I still see his death scene.

But it is more episodic now, like something I can almost turn on and off. Except when I can’t. But I also have learned I do not need to remember it to remember him. Picturing our happy times together is far more enjoyable and constructive.

4. Finding an outlet for my grief has been a huge part of my healing process.

Writing and engaging in dialogue about our experience has allowed me a way to keep talking about Tom in a productive way.

5. Prevention therapy has been a key part of my healing.

Consoling those with similar recent losses, working to reduce the stigma around mental illness and instructing others about the steps to take if they are concerned about someone they love gives purpose to my life.

6. Counseling, to work through both my grief and PTSD, has been paramount in my moving forward.

Learning grounding skills makes it easier to work through the worst moments.

7. Counseling with my husband likely saved our marriage.

It’s helped us understand each other’s grief journey and likely saved our marriage after our life-changing loss. Knowing that we grieve differently and how we can best support each other during our lows has strengthened our relationship.

8. Choosing to recognize Tom’s presence rather than his absence brings joy to moments which might otherwise tear me apart.

Hearing certain songs, seeing yellow sunsets, hearing groan-worthy puns all remind me of Tom’s special place in our world.

9. Our family is supported.

Friends, neighbors, co-workers and family surrounded us with love and lifted us up in prayers and support. Each has played a significant role in our ability to talk freely about Tom and therefore, grieve openly. This emotional allowance has assisted in our healing process.

10. I have learned to be comfortable in my grief while at the same time knowing I will never be the same.

Tom’s death broke me, but through these thousand days, I have been reborn into someone new, someone with a mission, someone who feels things deeper, and someone with eyes to see further into those who are hurting. Tom’s legacy is making me a better person, willing to serve others in a new way in hopes of changing our world a little at a time.

I know there will come a time Tom will have been absent more from my life than he was present, but I cannot begin to understand how that will feel. I vow continue to face each day as best I can, honoring his presence while mourning his absence.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Photo via contributor

Originally published: December 16, 2017
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