Remembering Someone's Deathday
Recently I heard a long term suicide loss survivor say that she remembered the first time she forgot her son's deathday. The day that I heard her say this was the 7th anniversary of my daughter's death, and I thought NO WAY. Then I immediately felt a glimmer of hope that someday this would happen to me, too. I hoped I would forget.
I wondered how this could be... How could she forget? How could I? I've tried staying busy, and I've tried staying in bed all day. Every year I feel like there should be something I can do to lessen my yearning and sadness, and every year I learn that nothing does.
This grief feels like carrying - always carrying - a duffle bag filled with bowling balls. At first it seems like there will never be a way to carry the absurdly ponderous and painful thing. Then slowly, I learned. I take it everywhere, and sometimes - carefully - I even manage to shed it for a time.
There is so much shame that comes with suffering a suicide loss. Can we memorialize our loved one? If so, how? We hear about suicide contagion. Is there proof about specific types of memorials doing/preventing more damage? Because of this confusion about memorials, loss survivors have taken to the web in droves to find support in their memory making efforts.
We are told that expressing grief is healthy and keeps us alive. If our grief is stilted, how are we supposed to stay alive for our remaining children and other family members? People have lost their dearest children for pity's sake. How do we grieve in a healthy manner without mentioning our loved one?
We need to learn how to better help the survivors of suicide loss. Because, isn't refusing to discuss our yearning just a way to silence the suffering? I think so.
Maybe now that veteran supporters are coming into the conversation this will happen. Maybe now that musicians like Logic and Rascal Flats will turn the tide. Maybe it'll be when we all learn to say "when that happened to me" as we find someone suffering.
I know for sure that being with other mothers who'd lost their babies to suicide is what healed me. They modeled strength in sadness, grace in grief, and they understood me. They not only said "when that happened to me," but added "this is how I continue to walk through the fire."
I wish you peace, Erica