Twenty Months Later by Deborah Greene

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Today marks 20 months since my father’s suicide. I suppose it is time to begin counting not by months, but rather “year.” One year and a half, one year and 8 months… That word… “year” is hard for me. It makes the time since his death loom larger than I am ready for.

I remain fundamentally and forever altered. I’ve set down the advocacy work for now. Though it imbued my father’s death with some sense of meaning, it had begun to take a toll on me. Dwelling in the world of suicide loss and prevention came at a cost. It felt worth it, until it didn’t. And hard as it was to admit, I needed to step away. Harder to admit was that I wanted to.

I need to figure out who I am, outside of being the survivor of suicide loss. Yes, I know I remain a devoted mother, wife, and friend. But where these newly altered pieces of me fit and how to fulfill and strengthen myself remains undefined. I began building a jewelry business. A business I once found successful & fulfilling. A business my father was so proud of. Ever so slowly it has allowed me to begin to see and slowly embrace a creative purpose, an identity… artist, designer, entrepreneur. These are titles, names that are not a part of the horrific loss I’ve endured. And there is so much symbolism in this endeavor. The beads are the pieces, stringing them together one by one, is like picking up the pieces of my life. They come together to create something new, something beautiful, quite different than before. My journey is deeply reflected in such work. Fragments and pieces coming together in this new self that is unfolding. 

Today marks 20 months. I will never ever be at peace with losing my father to suicide. Every day I strive to learn how to live with it. And I strive for a balance between giving his death purpose and imbuing my life with the same. I deserve that. Don’t I? Guilt tells me no. But I cannot let guilt define where I go from here. I don’t let many people in these days. I’m guarded, feeling vulnerable and fragile in many ways. But this is my truth. It’s still hard, every single day. But I journey on determined to find happiness, fulfillment, and joy. My dad would want that.

20 months… I miss him. I can’t undo his final act. But I’ve discovered that I can’t get lost in it either. The journey is long and hard. I’m tired. But I know there is a resilience within. He lost sight of his. I must continually tap into mine, even when I lose faith in it’s existence. He lost hope. I cleave to it, the notion that it won’t always hurt like this, that it will get better in time. His death has forever altered me. But I cannot let it define me. I still want to bring meaning to such a senseless loss, but I want more than that. I need to find that balance.

So onward I walk, I step, I falter, I stumble, but I get up and keep going. So perhaps I’ve already discovered that this altered self, is strong, courageous and braver than I’ve ever given her credit for. And healing is a continual process… even 20 months later.

And still, I miss him. That will never change.

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Twenty Months Later was originally written by Deborah Greene for her website, Reflecting Out loud. If you would like to follow more of her story, I encourage you to check out her writing over there.

5 Responses

  1. Bon Swade
    | Reply

    How fitting! We talked about this very topic last night at group. My husband and I have facilitated a support group twice a month for twelve years. We lost our oldest son to suicide. Guilt and anger seem to be the emotions most have a hard time working through.

  2. Kathy
    | Reply

    This is exactly how I feel, thanks for sharing.
    I lost my brother two years, one month and 15 days ago.

  3. Joann
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece of your feelings. I too wonder sometimes who I am and am pleased to read your story to find out that I am not the only person feeling that my identity has been lost in my grief. Your honesty has been a welcoming source of wisdom for me, and I hope that we can both find ourselves once again. Best wishes, and hugs to you.

  4. Kathy Stolar
    | Reply

    A sadness only few can understand I count each and everyday since my son took his life. I grieve every single day and sometimes can barely keep my head above the swirling water.
    God bless each of you and give you peace and rest.

  5. Debbie
    | Reply

    Kathy Stolar – I am the same way.

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