There are so many words and terms around suicide. I’m not really sure why; whether it’s trend, or avoidance and denial of reality.
I read a line where one woman referred to her loved one as having died by ” s”. I’ve heard people use the term ” completed” , or ” transitioned”. ” Committed” is an older term which I think goes back to the arcaic belief that suicide is somehow a sin or against the law.
I’ve read from other mothers who simply can’t use the word ” dead” or ” died” because it sounds so final.
The grim reality is this: it is final. Refusing to use a certain word doesn’t make it any less real that our loved one is no longer here.
Our society has taken on such an unhealthy approach to death and grief. It is a reality that we all face one day. It is imminant. No one gets out alive. I believe that how we grieve determines how we heal. Denial will neither bring our loved one back, nor will it allow us to move forward in our own lives.
When I refer to my son’s death, I say ” he died by suicide”. Because that is what happened. He didn’t ” commit” anything, nor did he ” complete” anything. And he died.
By sidestepping around the reality, we serve only to feed the stigma around mental health and suicide; or to never allow ourselves to move forward from their death.
Grief is multi- faceted. There are many stages and they don’t necessarily fall into any specific order. Grief is the human body’s way of dealing with such a tremendous impact on our heart, and on our body. Grief is healthy, but when someone becomes entangled within it by refusing to accept the reality of loss, it can lead to many years of mental challenge, and even mental illness. I see so many struggling for years with their loss. And it’s tragic. I wish they could find the beauty in grief rather than all the denial. Grief means we loved. And I believe those who are gone would rather that we linger and hold on to the good memories of them rather than remember the heartache of their death. But I know: it is hard and some days not coping is just easier than facing it.
I have good days. I have ok days, and I have bad days. I’m beyond the bargaining and begging stage for him to be alive and be OK. Reality set in a few months ago and I have accepted that there is no coming back. Occasionally now, I will still wake up and wonder in the moment between awake and asleep if I am dreaming but a quick glance at the tattoo I had done for him is a quick reference that pinches me into wakefulness and reality. I often wrap my hand around the dragonfly pendant i wear around my neck that contains his ashes, to feel close to him. I no longer wait for the phone call that won’t come, or the text. I’ve accepted that they aren’t coming. I am grieving, but it no longer debilitates me to the point of being a puddle on the floor.
While I still cry, alot, I have begun to function as well as I did before Sam died. In someways, I function better. I don’t have the fears or the hesitation that I did before we lost him. I’m not afraid to speak out. I’m not afraid to be assertive. I don’t care so much what others think of me: I have learned to believe in my self and that has made me more outspoken. Not in a bad way of course, but I’ve grown spiritually and I see life differently now. The things that seemed so important aren’t so much anymore. There is a much bigger picture.
I started to ride my motorcycle more now that the warmer weather is here. I was nearly sideswipped the other day. Literally, the woman just decided to change lanes at the last second: no indication, and probably no mirror or shoulder check. Her car came within mere inches of my front tire and my leg and I had no time to react. I was astounded at calm I was. Normally, I would have jerked the handlebars to avoid the collison and that probably would have put me on the ground itself. With a car behind me, it would have been messy. But I just carefully steered out of the mishap as she quickly ducked back into the lane she came from ( she too was lucky not to be hit from behind). The old me would have been heart pounding and yelling and possibly gesturing her obscenely, but instead, I accept that people make mistakes every day: no one is exempt. I hope she didn’t lose sleep over our near miss, but I hope it will make her more alert so that she is more careful the next time. But who knows : maybe the near mishap caused her to yell obscenities and gesture obscenely toward me as she drove to where ever she was headed. But my point is this : we are all on a journey and at some point , that journey ends and we transition to the next place. Staying angry and upset about daily tribulations serve us nothing in the big picture. Everything happens for a reason. Forgiveness, kindness and understanding serve us by far greater. That is the lesson I am taking from my grief: we are all sentient beings underneath all of who we have become throughout our lives, and how easily it was to lose site of this over time. But the empathy is in all of us : some have a harder time finding it, but it is there. It’s who and what we were before we were born. And we still are : it’s just buried deeper in some than others.