My thoughts are on survival, constantly, day in and day out.  Something that people do not realize about suicide survivors is that we do not consciously think about “the suicide” every minute, but every minute it is with us.  How does that work you say?
An example would be this past week in my life.  My oldest daughter gave birth to her first baby, little Evelyn Lea, the cutest little thing you have ever seen.  I was there for the labor and delivery along with my youngest daughter, Grant and Heather, my oldest daughters boyfriend, and the boyfriend’s mother, father, and brother.  The night before my Sarah went into labor I could not sleep.  I fell asleep on our couch around 6pm and slept till 10 then was up for the rest of the night and all that next day.  It was that next day when Sarah went into labor and we went to the hospital at 8:00 p.m. and I was up all night again.  Now even without being in grief staying up for two days and two nights without sleep will make anyone act a little out of sorts, but when you have such a heavy load on your mind…it makes it that much worse.
Over tired is similar to drinking in a lot of ways.  The emotions are heightened, the sad ones.
Sarah was having so much trouble with pushing and the baby not wanting to come out.  They were discussing other ways to get that baby out of there.  I sat down and started to speak to Fred. I told him to please help Sarah and please make sure Evie made it into this world safe and sound.  Fred had been heavy on my mind anyway, I always think it is so unfair he is not here during these times, he should be here, he should not be missing these things.  I raised my head and a nurse change and midwife change happened, the new nurse came in and introduced herself and told the new midwife she would return in a few minutes.  The midwife proceeded and took charge knowing Sarah had been pushing for several hours and knowing Sarah had been in labor almost 30 hours.  Nothing.  Nothing changed, same problems, same results.  No baby.
The nurse came back in.  Very cheerful, very different from any of the other nurses.  A comment was made in my ear that “I liked the other one better”.  I just looked straight ahead, waiting for a change.  She mentioned that Sarah should get on her side, it was brushed off under other conversation.  She said it again.  Again ignored.  She finally told Sarah to move over to her side and the midwife started to help a little bit, within 30 minutes Sarah had the baby.
My emotions got the best of me in that room.  I had tears that fell throughout the night, hiding my face, knowing that the other family present would not understand.  I was proud of Sarah and excited for the new baby….but thoughts of my lost child, my pregnancy, my labor and delivery, it all got convoluted.  The day was not about me or Fred, it was about Sarah and Evie.  But grief doesn’t work that way, especially when you are exhausted.
I have learned to just go with it when I cannot stop the tears and when I experience triggers that throw me into a memory rewind of Fred and our lives with Fred in it.  I have learned that even when I am not consciously thinking of Fred’s face, I still grieve and feel sadness.  That is part of surviving.  Accepting that I will not stop missing him, grieving for the loss of him, and I will not stop loving him. Accepting that part of me is gone.
I held Sarah’s hand and watched Evie be born right next to me.  When she entered the world her face was turned so I could see her, she was right there 6 inches from my hip, beautiful.  It was so amazing to watch my daughter experience the birth of her daughter and to watch her cry and bond and love Evie with everything she has.  That is what we do as mothers, we love with everything we have, we give our children everything we have got.  It was just ten months ago that I did the same thing with my youngest daughter.  I went through labor and delivery with Tracey, and stood there and watched my grandson, Eoin, come into this world.  I was equally happy and proud, and equally a mess inside .
We don’t get over it.  We learn to live with it.  We are missing a limb, we are not whole.  We have a large gaping hole in the middle of our bodies.  We have lost a piece of ourselves.  We have suffered a trauma.  Shell shock. We are broken, meaning our spirit was broken and now we claw and scratch to find it.  We are changed.  We are part of a group of people in this world that walk the earth with a new perspective on life.  We dream in color and we live in black and white.
“Are you still sad?”, “Oh, I didn’t realize you were still in grief.”, “Shouldn’t you be over this already?”, “Wow you are really different now”.   I have heard it all and don’t know how to respond to any of it other than saying, I’m sorry.  But really I am not sorry.  I am not sorry that my grief makes those around me uncomfortable.  I am not sorry that people do not understand.
It is easier for many to sweep us under the rug and ignore us.  It is easier to not say anything for them.  It is easier to look away or avoid.  It’s easier to not call, not visit, not say what they think — good or bad.  It is easier to not make the drive, the phone call, the text message, the anything. But we do understand, as weird as that may seem, we do understand.
It really is a true story of survival.  We do what we can and what our heart and body will let us do.  Some days we can only focus on the small things, other days we can focus on a larger picture.  We survive with each other standing close by.  Each of us, the forgotten 5, we forge new paths and an altered normality.  We fall down.  We get back up.  We try to move forward, taking steps and making progress.  We reverse, completely falling lower and depending on each other to lift us back to the road.  I dust them off, they dust me off.  We all dust each other off, give hugs and words we need to hear, we often talk without words and other times talk about where we are with things.  Sometimes we wait too long in between conversations about our grief and about our Fred, but we realign and reinforce, we keep moving.
Fred would be proud of us.  We honor him in our everyday lives, we let pieces of him through in our own personalities and our own new normal.  He taught us so much in his life. He has taught us even more in his death.  This really is a God’s honest true story of survival.