“The reality is that you will grieve forever.” ~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler
March has always been difficult for me. It has been this way since March 21, 2017. That’s the day my eldest son, then twenty-seven, found his father hanging in our basement. Sorry for being so cruel. However, it happened.
You can’t be grieving if you don’t know. Five years from now and still, when March comes around, you can find yourself in a fetal position on the ceramic floor of your kitchen—howling like a wounded dog because a memory slashed unbidden across your brain and cut you so deep that your legs couldn’t hold your heavy, heavy weight. And you wonder—no, you know—that this will go on for the rest. Of. Your. Life.
How to describe what it’s like when your heart breaks… It’s something I’ve been trying to do for five years. It’s not something I say out loud because people tire of hearing it. It is more difficult to explain it myself. In the hope of being able to move on, I try to describe it.
Sure, I’ll go on. We do. You can trust me when I say that muscle memory makes up 90 percent. This percentage would be even higher in those initial days. Sleep, get up, make food, eat, feed the dog, put clothes in washer, clean the dirty dishes, put out the garbage, sleep, get up, make food…
Suicide loss, I’ve found, is unlike any other loss. It is not about comparing feelings. Each loss of a beloved one must be deeply felt. No contest. However, suicide loss results in unending waves of destruction for survivors each day of their remaining lives.
My sons are my inspiration. Always. Forever. His best friend was his father. The mutual respect that had grown between them was a rewarding maturation. They enjoyed each other’s company. Although the youngest was only twenty-three years old, I saw potential for closerness. He was spared seeing his father’s lifeless body.
We all now live with the special baggage of suicide survivors: guilt (why weren’t we there? It could’ve been prevented.Shame, anger (how could they?!), rage, trauma, fear (will my sons, will my mother, will my brother…), regret and deep sorrow for yesterday, today, and what will never be. The Band-Aid will be ripped off at every anniversary, each milestone, and every holiday.
Sometimes the loss’s full effect can take time. For me, the first year was a “roller-coaster of emotions”—a common, but completely accurate phrase.
The outside world saw me as pretty much normal. I maintained my house, entertained people, joked, went about my business, and kept it clean. The cracks were not noticed by many, if anyone. They included gradual isolation, forgetting to take a bath twice per week, financial problems, abrupt breakdowns, emotional crying, and crying while driving, shopping, or on the phone. Many of these symptoms are still present five years later.
The full loss of weight, not only in the first year but also the second year is complete. WegThe following is a list of losses: ReasonsFor the loss, Eternity of the loss hit me—a full body slam of something too heavy to survive. It seemed so.
It was a good experience. I was able to talk with her and she allowed me to weep. Antidepressants were prescribed to me. It didn’t help. Through the days I functioned on a primitive level, showing only that part of me to the outside world.
No one, I don’t care how well-meaning they are, can understand this loss other than another suicide survivor. It’s true. It’s true. Just like the parents who lost their child, the survivors of suicide also experience a unique, intense pain.
It’s important to seek out those who understand our pain. This is something that I strongly recommend. Also grief counselors. Those who specialize in PTSD therapy. They are available.
A group of suicide survivors met every month. I was able to understand the value of a support group for those who have suffered the same losses as them, particularly the death of their children. In the hollowness of these survivors’ eyes, however, even as we embraced, I could see the singularity of their respective journeys. While we might share our pain, it is not the only way.
My memories are what sustain me. Others have said it so well. Sunny days on the beach can be calming (unless they remind me of my past vacations with my children). If I’m able resist the temptation of blissful noness, drugs and drinks can offer temporary relief. My mind can restrain from endless black thoughts by having the company of others. The power of music can make you feel better. Or dangerous.
“Stay active! Meet new people! Go out! Do something! It’s time to get on with your life! Get over it!” I can hear the words of concerned family and friends.
Most people mean well. It will all pass. There are always things to be thankful for. Things happen. Some of our most dearly-loved ones will also die. Understanding that death is constant has helped me to accept that other, more cruel deaths are possible.
They are the reason I live. Period. The thought of their pain was the only thing that has kept me alive in my worst times. That will not happen to me. I know they are aware that their death could mean mine. It is certain that I would not be able to survive such a situation. They must be okay.
They say I will put one foot in front the other each day. If not for myself, then for my children. They are now grown. They have their lives, of which I play a small role. They have suffered enough. I need to keep my life going. Suicide survivors are aware of that.
March, however, is my worst nightmare. In January, I start to hate it. It is February before I start to think of excuses not to go. On any given night of March, I can be found lying on my kitchen tile, howling as a wounded animal. The next day, however, I am able to get up again and attempt another.
About Vicki Schneider
Vicki Schneider has been alive for sixty-seven. Her two children are thirty-two year old Vicki Schneider and twenty-eight years old. Her oldest son is an Ohio public defender, while her youngest is a Colorado developer/IT system administrator. In 2017, her husband committed suicide. Her husband, their father, committed suicide in 2017. In 2013, she retired. After spending over a year in Saint Augustine FL trying to find her way, she moved to Ohio.
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Tiny Buddha’s first article, The Enduring Pain of Suicide in Losing Someone You Love appeared on Tiny Buddha.