Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How Long is Long Enough?

Everyone who experiences a loss in their life handles it in their own way. There is no timeline showing how long a person should grieve or exactly when the grieving should end. I believe we each approach the task of grieving in the way that works best for us. Generally though, the first year is the most difficult for everyone. That is when we experience the "firsts" without our loved one - the first birthday, the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, the first anniversary - the first everything. But making it through that first year doesn't mean you've reached the finish line in your race to complete the grieving process. Grief can continue in varying forms and intensities for years. So the only answer to the question of how long a person should grieve seems to be as long as it takes.

I began writing my blog in May 2011 just over two years after Eddie's death. I wrote regularly in the beginning in an effort to tell the whole story of his suicide and what it did to those of us who were left behind. Writing proved to be great therapy for me, and my blog (unexpectedly) seemed to offer comfort and inspiration to others. I was surprised at the number of people I heard from telling me of similar experiences they had been through in their lives. I never knew how "common" suicide is until I experienced it in my own life. My writing has tapered off during the past year. I've mainly written when something specific happened that I wanted others to know. There have been a couple of times when I've thought I was ready to end my blog only to have something come up later that I felt needed to be shared.

I recognize now the time has come to bring my writing to a close once and for all. My blog has provided an outlet for expressing my grief, anger, sadness, frustration, guilt, resentment, and questions. It served its purpose, but I believe continuing to write about my experience now is only keeping the wound open for me. I have reached the point where I feel it has been long enough. It is time for me to let go of the past in order to move ahead with my future. Letting go completely isn't easy - I have to let go of not only what happened but also how it made me feel about myself.

A very close, special friend put it best to me recently when he compared the aftermath of Eddie's death to a broken glass. He said I have been sweeping up the pieces for four years, and it's time for me to stop sweeping now. He told me I have cleaned up all I can, and I'm not responsible for fixing or repairing what happened - I cannot put the glass back together again. He was very firm with me (which I obviously needed) and told me things I've heard a hundred times before - what happened wasn't my fault, I didn't cause it, I couldn't have prevented it, no one blames me so I shouldn't blame myself, I have nothing to feel guilty about, and I have to give myself permission to be happy again. The difference was this time I actually began to believe all of these things are true.

Until now I've been afraid to let go because I thought it also meant forgetting. But I know now that isn't true - letting go does not mean forgetting. Eddie was a part of my life for almost 30 years, and I will remember the good times we shared. He is the father of my child. He had many positive traits that made him a very special person. He is a part of who I am today, and he will be a part of me for the rest of my life. Eddie made the choice to end his life - it was his choice and his alone. Now I am making my choice - I choose to continue my life and to make every effort to be as happy as I possibly can. I believe I have reached my finish line, and all I can say is it took as long as it took.

"Lord, help me to realize how brief my time on earth will be. Help me to know that I am here for but a moment more. We are like grass that is green in the morning but mowed down and withered before the evening shadows fall. Teach us to number our days and recognize how few they are; help us to spend them as we should." Psalms 39:4; 90:5, 12 (TLB)

Please Remember Me ~Tim McGraw

"When all our tears have reached the sea
Part of you will live in me
Way down deep inside my heart...
The days keep coming without fail
A new wind is gonna find your sail
That's where your journey starts...
Remember me when you're out walkin'
When the snow falls high outside your door
Late at night when you're not sleepin'
And moonlight falls across your floor
When I can't hurt you anymore...
Please remember me."