Who would have known our lives would have led us here? If you would have told me five months ago this is where I would be, I would have never believed you. But here we are, in a club in which no one wants to belong, all sharing a loss greater than we ever could have imagined.
Yes, I am early on in my loss journey, only four months, but to me, anyone of us can provide the gift of second. Since the loss of my mother to suicide, I have learned some profound lessons that I want to share with you, in hopes that maybe some of them will resonate with you as well. They may not make sense now, tomorrow, or even a month from now. But someday, somewhere in the future I hope these lessons come back to you and provide a little help in your healing journey. I, too, often have to remind myself of these lessons and will probably need to do so for a very long time.
Lesson 1: If you let it, this loss will teach you things about yourself that you never knew.
You will learn about your strength, your resilience, your perseverance, your value and your contributions to this world. People constantly ask me how I am ever able to do what I do with what I have lost, and the only answer that I can ever give them is, “You never know what you are able to do until a situation is thrust upon you.” You can and will get through this and come out a stronger person. Yes, there will be work and yes it will be hard, but you will find your new normal and find your way to happiness again. There is no set time, but you can and will get there.
Lesson 2: You have been given a gift.
Although it doesn’t seem like it now, and may not for a while, your gift is KNOWLEDGE. The
knowledge of the importance of your life in the hearts of others, and how losing you would impact them greatly. No matter how bad the circumstances or feelings you are experiencing, you now have the knowledge that you would never want to make anyone you love feel and go through what you are going through now. And maybe one day, you will be able to share your knowledge as a loss survivor to help others like you.
Lesson 3: What we learn once they are gone…
I feel that I know my mother more intimately today, four months after she took her own life, than I did in the 36 years we shared together. I have let those revelations resonate with me, the good and the bad, but in her absence, I have found a different closeness to her that I missed when she was alive. Do I still want her here? Every second of every day. But since that can’t happen, instead I take these revelations from her and try to apply them into my own life to better myself and help me get through my grief.
Lesson 4: The good, the bad, and the ugly
This grief process is not linear and from day to day, minute to minute our feelings of our loss and who we lost will change. But if you let it there is learning from all of them. Let yourself learn what makes the good and use it. Learn what creates the bad and try to build pathways around it. The ugly? Just try to plain avoid it as best you can. There will always be ugly triggers, no matter how far in our journey we get. But if you recognize the ugly and find ways to avoid it, you may find your journey a little less daunting.
Lesson 5: You can’t do this alone
Find ways and people to support you. Whether that is family, friends, therapists, support groups, or others. Allow people in, let them help you, and be there for you the best way they can be. All these people in your life are there because they care and want to help. Allow them. I know it’s hard to trust after a loss like this, but we were not built to handle this on our own, and we don’t get through to the other side of this without help.
Lesson 6: It’s okay
It’s okay to feel what you feel, when you feel it. It’s okay to say “no” or “I need help.” It’s okay to try new things as you build your new normal. It’s okay to grieve your loss for however long it takes. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to forgive and move forward and then fall back again. Finally, it’s okay to find moments of happiness. The best way we honor those we lost is by living. Making it out of the darkness and back into the light. One of my greatest lights in my loss that I have found is ways every day to make my mom proud of me. For her to be looking down at me and saying to me “That’s my girl.”
So, to you I say, look for your own lessons in the wake of your tragedy and loss, grief and pain. Find them, learn from them, use them, and share them with others. The only way we get through this is together.