Wishing You Peace by Sandra Erdle

posted in: Uncategorized | 13

On TV tonight I was watching a show where a woman was told that her husband had died. It was ten years ago that my husband took his life, but tonight, I was right there again – feeling the shock, the loss, the anguish. I sobbed as I felt us both absorb the words. Sigh. It happens. I won’t lie-I imagine it always will. Triggers or memories will always take us back and we relive it all over again. While we will always be transported to those dark places occasionally, at least we won’t live there all of the time, the way we did at the beginning.

After Jim took his life, and those first few blurry days … or was it weeks … had passed, I began reading, EVERYTHING I could, trying to understand, trying to unlock the why. I found a wonderful book: No Time to Say Goodbye: Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One (by Carla Fine), that resonated with me. It might not speak to everyone, but it did to me, and even after I finished reading it, I carried it in my briefcase or purse with me everywhere, for months! I didn’t let it out of reach. It sounds kind of silly now, but it was like a security blanket! Probably because it was the first thing I read that gave me hope, that helped me begin, just begin to understand that I would never actually unlock the why. The way it resonated helped me begin to heal. Now, it’s been ten years, and I would not kid anyone, I’m not healed, I don’t know if I ever will be. I am resolved though, I have survived, and I have been able to move on.

My sons have been able to move on too, though I doubt they would say that they are healed. They missed their dad when they graduated from college and he wasn’t there, and they missed their dad when they married and he wasn’t beside them. When they have children of their own, they will feel the loss yet again, still. Nobody would ever, ever want this for their children. They were 20 when their dad passed – and as I have stood at their graduations, and weddings–unbidden–this thought “Jimmy, you should be here for this – you’re missing the good stuff!” just kept rolling through my mind. This was when I felt a touch of that anger that everyone told me I should be feeling.

In the course of my journey towards healing, I have learned a few things. The first thing I learned was that you have to walk right through the deepest, darkest, most painful places to get to the other side. Shortcuts don’t work. Neither do detours or skirting the edges – you must go right through the middle. Embrace the pain, cry and keep moving. It’s ok to say out loud that he/she ‘broke our contract.’ They were supposed to be here, to share our lives, the good and the bad, but they ditched, and in abandoning us, they let us down. After a time, when you are ready, set aside a specific period of time daily, or weekly to grieve. Make yourself remember, let yourself cry, listen to that favorite song or read old letters and acknowledge how much it still hurts. When the time is up (15 or 30 minutes), put it away and do something else. There will be time tomorrow.

Your friends and acquaintances will re-arrange themselves. Some people you least expect will become true champions, and some friends you may never hear from again. This hurt, and was hard for me to learn and accept, but I expect it relates to the final ‘lesson’ that I will share. I’ve learned that most people simply don’t have the ‘tools’ in their ‘emotional toolboxes’ to know how to react to you. Give them a break and a little help. Accept what they offer whether it’s a casserole with an awkward “gotta go,” or an authentic coffee and shoulder to lean on. If they ask, tell them what you need. They truly don’t know and they’re afraid, they say, to do the wrong thing. Be gentle with them, and with yourself. This is a truly life-altering event in every imaginable way. You, my friends, have survived. Wishing you peace.

13 Responses

  1. Mary-Jean Hunt
    | Reply

    So true. Sometimes when the anger comes out guilt follows. But when our small family is together and my cousin is not there, my heart is broken and yet I am angry at him.❤️

  2. Denise Hairfield
    | Reply

    That was truely beautiful. I lost my brother to suicide 1/1/2016. I’m constantly looking for the why and crying over the missed events that he’ll never partake in. Thank you for sharing you story as well as your journey.

    God Bless you and your family,

  3. Sandra herman
    | Reply

    For me it’s only been 2 years- but I have accepted the fact that I will never get over the loss, grief will be my constant companion- but differently than it was initially- and that’s ok. I loved deeply and was loved in return- I live my life, enjoy myself- have wonderful family and friends. And when the triggers come I allow myself whatever feelings come. It helps to know that I am not alone. Thank you for sharing .

  4. Lynne
    | Reply

    Fantastic. You’ve captured it all. I will share with my survivor groups. I appreciate this…and you!

  5. Denise Varga
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    Allowing yourself to deal with the emotions of the whole episode is key. My dad died when I was 5. Sometimes I feel like I wasn’t enough to keep him here. I do miss him even though I don’t remember much about him. I try to imagine being that hopeless, and I can’t. I have a strong faith and trust in God. That helps me through this life. I wish he would have stayed to meet his grandchildren.

  6. Julie
    | Reply

    Beautiful. Thank you so much.

  7. cindy
    | Reply

    It never truly goes away

  8. Marcy Klucznik
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    Thank you, Sandra, for writing to me. I say “me, ” not ” us,” because today I feel like I am the only one living in this nightmare, which is, “Life after you-know-what.” I feel alone all of the time, no matter where I am or who I am with. I talk to myself quietly, except in the car, where I cry out with questions that have no answers.
    My daughter, Lucy, took her life on February 1st of last year. I hesitate to even say that it is getting better. I’m afraid that may look like I don’t love her completely, that I am not suffering every second of my life. I am suffering, as we all are. But we just somehow keep getting through each day, adding them up and then looking back, wondering how we even got to this day.
    Thank you for writing to us. We are all here for each other now.

  9. Ann
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    Thank you for sharing. I will be looking at that book. My 18 year old son died by suicide on June 24/16. It’s been just over a year. I’m exhausted and feel like the walking dead. The guilt, the why’s, the should’ve, could’ve, would’ves. To make matters worse my mother just passed away June 23/17. Life just seems too cruel right now. I feel totally alone even though I’m not. I isolate myself from everyone because it is just too much to handle.

  10. Harry
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    Wonderful writing. Thank you. Most readers have suffered their loss fairly recently. For me it was over 50 years ago, when my father passed for reasons no one knows. After all these years, the pain still surfaces from time to time. Younger readers may want to understand that the trauma of suicide in a family may last a lifetime. It’s not something that should make your life miserable, but don’t be surprised about how long the feeling of loss hangs around.

  11. Ruth Roth
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    So true. Some of my closest friends didn’t know what to do or say. Others managed better, and pulled me through. I won’t ever forget their kindness. It made an enormous difference.
    Thank you for writing this beautiful article.

  12. Iris Riewer
    | Reply

    Thank you for your honesty and sharing this beautiful message. I lost my beloved companion on December 31st, 2016. Everything you have gone through sounds very familiar. I too learned much from Carla Fine’s memoir, and will still use it when I feel sad or down.
    You are an inspiration!

  13. Pam Jung
    | Reply

    My son took his life 8 weeks ago, at the age of 42, leaving a wife and two young sons. Of all my relatives, including my 5 children, Matt was the last person I would be concerned would choose this nightmarish route out of his pain. I’m ok not having all the answers as to why and how this could happen. I am so grateful to have God and the Bible as my anchor. Without Him, I would sink and drown in this almost unbearable sorrow and loss. The absolute worst part of this is watching his sons try to maneuver in life without their daddy. It’s excruciating for me, but I also have hope. Hope that God will bring them safely to adulthood, and will make them men of integrity and compassion. The most helpful compassion comes from those who have experienced unthinkable trauma and loss. I know I have a choice to allow this horrible loss to either make me bitter or better. I choose better. I also chose “better” when our 26 year old son died of drug abuse 10 years ago. Yes, two of our sons have died violently. Only by leaning all of me on God and His Word have I survived and yes, even eventually thrived. But healed? No. How can one fully heal from such a gutting loss? I’m learning (again) how to (one tiny step at a time) be ok with a broken heart, and still keep living a life of purpose and love towards all the other loved ones close to me. It helps me so much to know that others are going through this same dark journey. Thank you for sharing.

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