I am getting a little better with forgiveness.  It is a step in this process and one that I have avoided for several months.  I have forgiven myself for not accomplishing things, and forgiven myself for not being a perfect person.  But, beyond that I have started to forgive others around me. In my journal of lists, I add to my forgiveness page, things I can safely say that “I forgive you…”
I forgive the friends and family that have not been present in my life at my strongest time of need.
I forgive those that are ignorant to the facts around suicide.
I forgive those that do not understand the complexity of losing a son or sibling suddenly.
I forgive those that think or wish we were over it.
I forgive myself for my sometimes bizarre behavior during my grief.  Outbursts, grief attacks, closing myself off from the world.
I forgive myself for being vulnerable to many things.  I have learned from this vulnerability, I see a little clearer now.
I forgive myself for wanting to give up. Many times. And I will have to continue to forgive myself, for this feeling will not go away.
I forgive myself for not being able to forgive those that disrespect our son in thought, action, and words both in his life and in his death.
I think as survivors we want to do anything to protect our lost one’s memory and this can show through as denial in our most vulnerable times.  Denial, guilt, shock, confusion. I talk myself into believing that nothing else matters in life anymore.  My son died by suicide, that is the most important thing and the thing that is causing all and any unhappiness in my life.  That is not a true statement.
We all have troubles before our lives are changed by a tragedy.  We have to face things with a realistic mind and find realistic solutions.  That never changes, we will still have problems and will still need to resolve them.  What does change is how we perceive them and the priority they take in our rankings of “The worst thing that happened in my life“.  Losing someone to suicide will most likely be the worst thing that happens in our lives.  This sudden change in our priorities can cause deep insight as well as deep problems in our relationships.  For me I have become passive while keeping the thought in my head that “I cannot be expected to do or feel much at this time”.  While this is completely true, people around us need to be sensitive to our grief and lower expectations…we cannot become “shut off” to the world and we cannot blame our loss for all of our problems.  We cannot hide behind it when we become uncomfortable and we cannot use our grief to stop living or caring.  This is a sticky and messy area, it feels like walking through a sticker field blindfolded while writing about it.  There is not a line where one stops and responsibility starts up again without grief attached.  We have to remember that WE ARE changed and we do look at things differently.  We are not ruined or destroyed.
One of the most typical things to happen after the loss of a child?  Marriage difficulty.  Any problems that existed before a child’s death will only become more complicated if your marriage experiences stress due to the death.  For some couples a death can bring you closer and for others it can cause a wedge and a reason to avoid each other all over again.  Grief ebbs and flows at different times and it would be rare or unreasonable to assume that two people would be at the same point in grief at all times.  There may be blame from one parent to the other for why the child is no longer alive.  There may be anger thinking that the other is not sad enough, or too sad.
For us we didn’t talk a lot about it at first.  It was the obvious, all too obvious and avoided in little ways.  After a few months we started to talk more and realize that we were both having the same feelings but at different times.  More time went on and a conversation about giving each other permission to grieve and giving each other a promise that we would support each other through it.  And here we are today, not avoiding the other, both of us knowing we cannot be stuck in an unremitting and unchanging mourning for long-term.
It is normal to want to overcome and survive any problem.  We were full of hopefulness for life before our son died.  We dealt with problems as they came, we brushed off the silly ones.  We tried to confront things head on, if someone was having a problem or we found ourselves in a crisis….we did whatever we could to fix it. That does not change today.  We both do want to overcome and survive.  We want to be hopeful and deal with problems as they come.  We do not want to hide behind our son’s suicide to keep from confronting other things. We do not want to fall, never to get up.
Barbara, whose daughter shot herself, was obsessed with trying to figure out why this happened.  She paced the living room, could not sleep, daydreamed, and could not function outside of her house.  She frequently would stand in her daughter’s room and wonder what was going through her mind at the time.  She was young, full of life, loved by so many including her husband and kids.  Her daughter loved to come home and spend time in the room that Barbara kept the same for her from high school.  What was she thinking, what was her pain?  Each day Barbara did this, stopping in the room while cleaning or while walking by on the way to her own room .  She stopped…going over and over in her mind.  How could I have saved her? How will I go on?  On one morning she changed the routine.  Instead she went to the living room and retrieved the gun that her daughter used to take her own life.  She walked to her daughter’s room and stood in the middle of the floor, for hours.  She held the gun at her own head, just as her daughter must have done to hers.  How long did her baby stand and think?  Barbara eventually took the gun down from her head and called her neighbor to come and take it out of the house.  Barbara could not trust herself around self-destructive behaviors or self-destructive events.  It was unsafe for her to be alone in the house, it was too easy for Barbara to give up.
This is the scariest place to be, contemplating suicide after a suicide.  We are not in our right minds, we are vulnerable and in denial.  We are in shock and feeling hopeless.  We have to get rid of any self-destructive means around us and around other friends and family members that are also at risk.
I forgive myself for feeling suicidal after Fred’s death.  And I continue to forgive myself for this.  I forgive myself for not taking care of me.  I forgive myself for not being able to see my husbands needs and my children’s needs over my own at times.
My problems today form a line at the door, they wait for me to surface out of the deep waters of pain.  Each knock and each glance, I work at perspective and distinguishing which root is the weakest….which root problem can I pull and which one will remain.  Not every problem in my life is caused by my son’s death.  That is true and reality.  How I deal with each problem IS absolutely affected by my son’s death and the fact that I am grieving.  That also is truth.  That is now what I call my reality.