My father committed suicide 7 years ago today. I wanted to mark the day, and since you've already read about my journey as a daughter, I give you my mother's journey - in her own words. My parents were married for almost 25 years, and were the happiest and most-in-love couple I've ever met. Here is her story...
Suicide Survivor. When I first heard that term, it totally confused me. I couldn't figure out how anyone could "survive" a suicide. Of course, I was under the incorrect assumption that it was their own suicide they were surviving, not someone else's.
Then came March 10, 2003, the day I joined the ranks of the suicide survivors. It's fitting that Melissa asked me to write this today, on the 7th anniversary of my husband's death.
My husband, Brian Blake, was diagnosed with a rare sinus cancer in November of 2002. He underwent a huge surgery, rigorous chemo and radiation and finished up with all of that in late February, 2003. Then we began to see a change in him. At the time, we attributed his sadness and fatigue to finishing up the chemo and radiation. Looking back now, I can see that he was preparing himself for the end of his life, saying goodbye in so many different ways to us and to the life he had lived, wrapping up loose ends and preparing for his own death. Whether his suicide was caused by the radiation to the frontal lobe of his brain, depression due to his cancer or to other factors, is something we will never know. He was one of the happiest and most-content people I have ever known, so there was no way I had even thought about the danger of his dying from suicide. That's just something I have had to come to terms with.
The last seven years have taught me many things. When Brian first died, I was devastated and in shock. That lasted a long time. Through reading literally hundreds of books and articles on suicide grief and through the skills of a gifted therapist, I began to heal. When you have found your husband dead from suicide by electrocution, there is so much trauma to heal from before you can even begin to grieve the death of your partner and the life you shared.
It took several years for me to be able to think about Brian's death without that sense of panic. For the first year, each time I thought of it I had to stop whatever I was doing and hold onto something so I wouldn't fall over. But, as time went on, the haze started to lift, and I could remember Brian as he was when he was alive, not as I found him when he was dead.
I also learned that I was a lot stronger than I thought I was. I had two daughters to take care of, plus had to go to work and maintain our house. It was difficult, but sometimes when you are able to do something you never thought you could, you end up even stronger than you ever thought you could be. I often think of that quote "stronger at the broken places," and I can see that in myself. I am a different person than I was seven years ago...kinder, more patient and more understanding.
Brian's death has also led me to new experiences. I run grief groups at the school I work at for students who have had traumatic loss in their lives. Out of the devastation of my loss, I hope to help others through their journeys as well.
Today, on the 7th anniversary, I find myself taking time to reflect on who Brian was, our life together and our children. And I like what I see. While I will never stop missing him, I am able to go on with life, stronger at the broken places.
So, on this Words of Wisdom Wednesday, I leave you with some advice...cherish those that you love, live each day as though it could be your last and take care of yourself and those that you love.