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Posts from the ‘The Suicide and its Aftermath’ Category

Three Years Ago

As I sit typing this, I’m remembering. It doesn’t hurt like it did. It doesn’t cause the eruption of tears it once did. Tonight, three years ago, was our last date. We went and got ice cream and sat out talking, and when he got saturated by the surroundings we went home. We didn’t go out the next day. I have no memory of what I did that Saturday, as it has been wiped out. But, I can tell you what happened Sunday: that will never be wiped out. That was the day that he “did the deed,” as I now think of it.  

Pain like this doesn’t just disappear; it doesn’t do anything helpful. Pain like this is a pernicious tyrant of a thing, hanging around and teasing you. Just when you think there are no more tears, you start to tear up again. When you think you have the tears under control, they continue. Oh, they aren’t the same ugly tears of the beginning, but they are still ugly. This is an ugly cry on steroids. It is beyond description.  

Three years later I can tell you that grief and pain have altered who I am on some level. There are times when I have become selfish and ungiving. “I’m not that,” I scream to myself! And yet, when the pain surfaces in waves, “I am that.” Grief on steroids alters the soul.  

I’m having to be real about this. Getting through this means getting really real about what happens inside the mind as well as the soul, and how you handle it.  

Some of the things I thought I was certain about have become large uncertainties. In the beginning I thought that everyone would pull together and rally with me. Not so. What I discovered in the first six months was that people were clueless about what to say. Let’s be real here about what you do say to the widow whose husband did what he felt was, at that point in time, the only option he had left. Treatment had not failed him, but the thought of continuing on wasn’t an option for him. What does one say when the guy was in so much mental pain that the ultimate act was the only option left?  

I’d gone into things knowing the risks. We’d talked many times during our 22 years together about “What if the mental pain gets so bad that…?”  He knew how I felt about him and the suffering he was in. Three years ago it boiled over.  

I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Knowing what I do about bipolar illness just makes it harder at times. And now, as I write this, I cry.  

It doesn’t go away and it never will. Pain like this changes in quality and quantity, but it will always be present. 

You might be wondering, well, if it’s changed, then are you over it? NO!!! You work through some things, and when you work through that stack of stuff, other stuff surfaces because that is how life is. I can say this about my process but not someone else’s: in meeting grief head-on, it has reared its ugly face to me. Grief has caused me to stand stronger than I ever thought possible. I’ve had to risk, to grow, to survive, and to learn how to thrive on my own. I’m still working on it. You know that line from The Abyss where she drowns herself and he carries her to the pool and they’re trying to revive her and she isn’t coming back? Yeah, the one where he slaps her silly and tells her to fight because she’s never walked away from a battle. That one. Well, that’s me. I’m just doing what I’ve always done. This time around it really sucks.  

Yeah, three years ago, my life took a strange turn. Three years ago it altered me in ways I’m still discovering. Only three years and I remember it like it were yesterday. 

The Rose Room

As some of my readers know, I’ve just painted and will be painting the rest of the space soon. There was one room that has gone untouched. It is a beautiful rose color, and in it there are many treasures. It is the Room of All Things Gail.

On the walls there are works of art, and each piece has a loving history.

There is a painting that my aunt Ruth did way back when that I treasure. I love it because she let me have it, knowing how much it meant to me. There is the counted cross-stitch that my friend Leann labored to create for me. It is beautiful, and I cherish it because she performed a labor of love when she stitched it.

Along with that, my older sister Beth has a place of honor with the picture that has been with me since childhood. It is a Gail version of The Princess and the Pea. She put me in a blue dress on top of many mattresses. Each mattress is a different color and design. I love this so much and someday it will go to one of her daughters.

Hanging in the Room, and moved from the bedroom, is another counted cross-stitch. My sister-in-law Peg made this for our wedding. It, too, was done with love. Shared love is the only requirement to be placed in this Room.

I also have two stained-glass pieces of art that my mother-in-law Mary made. I am so thankful to have them.

Hanging in another place of honor is the wedding bouquet that my three sisters-in-law Peg, Bev, and Rebecca created for me.

There are two parasols that Jon hung up. I’ve mentioned in “Sneakiness is Happiness” that he backlit them for me. That is a day I will remember forever. Oh, the love that filled the space that day!

The Room holds objects that span the years of my life and are sacred to me. It holds something from a friend who I came to know in the last five years of my life. That friendship has given me many gifts of thought and hope. Thank you, Betty. The Room is my place of healing and restoration. I can sit quietly, get ready for my day, and read in that room.

In some ways the Room has existed for a few years, but in other ways the Room is new. The Room in its present form emerged into its new role in my life over the late summer and early fall. It started with knowing that I wanted to place a new piece of furniture in the Room, and as I envisioned where it would go and how it would feel in the Room, The Room grew in purpose and my understanding of the space began to change. What I had used as an office during Jon’s life would be no more. My office was to move to the other side of the house where the sunlight can stream into it and I can see out into a larger world.

This Room called Gail is a place of healing and hope. This is where my heart is found, where the healing is strongest, and where, when I enter, I find the most peace.

For those of you who read “Raw” or listened to the podcast (Parts 1, 2, and 3) that I posted late in 2017, my healing journey has been both traumatic, challenging, amazing, and in some ways even peaceful. I suppose that it has been a combination of watchfulness, the love and caring of others, and the understanding that this type of pain and hurt only dissipate when faced head-on. It is my tiny sanctuary, however, that allows me to find what I most need in my heart.

It is the realization that I can say a loving goodbye to someone I have loved deeply. He is not in pain now. It is also an acceptance that I can hold on to his memory in new ways.

The creation of this space has done its secret healing and holds a place in my soul that I didn’t understand until I let go to find it.

I don’t think that there is any single or correct way to heal from something like this. I think that the best healing comes from following your heart and soul and listening to your gut. Healing involves talking and finding a supportive listener. For the listener, you need to choose wisely. Find someone who you feel a bond with, someone who respects you, and who you respect. If there is not such a person in your life, then find a good therapist who understands both grief and the loss involved with a completed suicide.

Healing is about recognizing that you will have really good days, really bad days, happy days, and days of hopelessness. Healing is about allowing the depression that will come because of the death that has entered into your life. Sit with the depression for a time, and if it doesn’t fade, seek professional help. Healing is about understanding that the pain will diminish and calm. Healing is about loving yourself. It is about seeing yourself in the mirror as “enough”: no more and no less than “enough.”

Healing takes strength and courage. It is your own unique journey.

As I spend time in this healing space, I’m discovering its complete power. It is the power of the lit candle in the darkness. It is the homing beacon that steadies me. It is that place that tells me that I’m loved, both by myself and by many others who I both know personally and who I only know because of the Internet.

To walk through the process of healing is also to be able to look out the window on a grey day and see the sun that the clouds hide. It is a knowing that you and only you can fully understand. It comes from traveling through it and stumbling along the way. It happens when you stand up once more and say “AGAIN!” You are never beyond, but you have moved on.

Forward movement takes on many forms. Sometimes it is a return to the old haunts, and other times it is the unexpected and unfamiliar that call to the soul. In many ways, the Room of All Things Gail was totally unexpected to me. It was a feeling that I had to create a place of sanctuary.

As I write this, I am in my new, blue office space surrounded by books, my sand tray collection, and hope. This space is one I’ve claimed as mine. As I look out of the window, I see the stormy skies closing in; I see the other homes in the area. Most of all, I see LIFE. It is good. It is peaceful and this is my space now. This is the room where he wrote the notes. This is the room where he spent so many hours. And yet, this is not “that room” any longer. The painter came one November day and covered the rich green walls with my beautiful blue color. The painter took nothing away but what had to go. It doesn’t hurt like it did a year ago. This is a place I come to work and to enable the healing of others. This room also holds some treasures.

While blue is the color of my soul, it has not been the color of my deepest healing. That has been rose. That Room is just a few steps away from where I now sit working on this, and I shall go there to feel the warmth of the sanctuary: the Room of All Things Gail.

As I sit here, I realize that I could not have created this lovely space without the Room of All Things Gail. It was the power of healing that let me say goodbye to what had been, and greet anew what was to be. It was the power in that Room of Rose that set me on a journey to claim the space I’m now working on. It was the realization while sitting in that space that I could, and should, listen to my heart and follow my desires to create what I wanted for myself. Thank you, Rose Room. I think I’ll go there now to pause, give thanks, and continue the journey.