I stand here in my grief, looking at you….and definitely seeing you in a different shade of light.
The first year has been the hardest without our son, the whole family has had to learn to live without him.  He touched so many lives, all in such a good way, it is hard for all of us.  Grief has been like a strict Catholic Nun school teacher, smacking my knuckles with a ruler on a daily basis.  The lessons learned have come hard.  Not just hard in a sense of uncomfortable, but HARD, like running a marathon and struggling on the last mile.  I am the marathoner that has fallen throughout the race, my knees are skinned up, my face is long and tattered.  Sweat pours from my head and body but I see the finish line in my mind. It is a vision of open arms from the people who I love.  I stay focused, I lose focus.  I want to give up and stop, then I find within me the surge of endorphins and desire to go on.
Grief is a workout, it really leaves you feeling as though you have exercised for hours.  You have people telling you how you should grieve and what you should do constantly.  You put those things in a list, parallel to your own list of what you have to do to survive.  It is exhausting.
I do not tell people how to grieve.  I know that everyone is different and all I can do is be here when they are ready for me to help or need support.  So I just ask the same from anyone else in return.  For the most part I get that, unconditional love and support and allowance for me to grieve how I need to.  But others put limits or rules or expectations on me and my grief that I cannot deliver to.  That is what puts a wrench in the whole process and halts everything that flows positive.
I have the honor of being a part of my grandchildren’s lives on a regular basis.  I am someone who can influence and make a difference for them.  I look back to how I mothered my own children frequently and draw from experience and my own best practices.  They mean the world to me just like my own children do.  The tiny fingers, the little smiles, the energy that is endless, and the hungry minds that want to learn constantly.  I frequently loosen the boundaries, because I am the Grandma, that is my job.
Grief has to be pushed aside when I am with them.  They need to experience positive emotion and learn positive interactions.  There will come a day when they will need to understand, and Fred’s daughters will have issues that we will ALL need to be there to help them through.  Losing a parent to suicide is something that they will live with for the rest of their lives.  My grandson and new granddaughter both have lost an Uncle to suicide, also something that they will have to know about much later in life and will need help through as well.
I do the same thing with my children.  I feel the need to put the grief aside and have them experience positive emotion and positive interactions.  They are living through the days of pain and trying to understand right now.  They have lost a brother to suicide, and they will live with that for the rest of their lives.  The weightlifter experiences muscle memory, the suicide survivor experiences something similar.  We feel the pain, over and over,.  In strength training the movements are done eventually by the body, allowing it to be performed without conscious effort.  Our grief remembers, and it performs without any conscious efforts, without any warnings, without any real “sense”.  But then, over time and repeated process, along with positive healing and postive reinforcement in our lives, the grief process decreases the need for constant yearning and sadness. It creates a stronger “muscle” found in our hearts, our minds, and our souls. We emerge from the bottom with increased efficiency, experience, and true strength within our motor and memory systems.
I have become confused at times on this journey, not knowing how to be there for my children.  Not knowing what is expected of me, a mother grieving the same loss they are grieving.  I don’t want to talk about it too much.  I don’t want to talk about it too little.  I try to read too much into their daily emotions at times, usually coming up wrong.  I back off when I think I am being too pushy, I ask a lot of questions when I feel they are being too quiet.  Grief emerges from both sides, and smacks my knuckles.
All I can do is try, all I can do is live.  I self manage my pain and feelings of disappointment.  I am disgusted by the world at times, and then suddenly surprised by how beautiful it can be in a different light.  I am learning.  I am a student of grief, suicide, rebuilding, living, and surviving.  I make mistakes, I screw up and I fall to my knees.  The journey has taken a limb, put a hole in my heart, altered my mind, changed my life, left me incomplete.  But I get back up every time a new wound appears or an old wound opens and bleeds.  That’s right, I get back up and I keep running to the arms of people who love me, unconditionally, wholly, and without expectations of my present and my future.