Celebrate Recovery, Encouragement, Family, My Story, Suicide Awareness, Uncategorized

This is grief…

dad.jpg Fall is by far my favorite season.  Temperatures are suppose to be cooling off (we are in AR though!), pumpkins are everywhere, sweaters are a staple and apple cider is served at all the parties.  But in the midst of my favorite season is October 4th.  4 years ago this day started having a significance in my life.  It is the day my dad died.

If you have followed my blog  you know that it was a tragic day.  My dad ended his own life a few months shy of his 60th birthday.

Grief.  If you haven’t ever experienced it, there is no way to truly understand it and it certainly looks different for everyone.  I didn’t understand it before my dads death.  I thought I understood it- there are 7 stages to it.  I am sure you just work your way through each stage. That is what I thought.  I couldn’t have told you the stages or anything about it.  Grief was sad, I knew that much.  It seemed like some people struggled with grief more than others but I never had taken time to really understand.

I made a counseling appointment within days of my dads death.  I knew I needed it, even though at that time, I had no idea how much.  I remember being shocked when my amazing counselor explained that the stages of grief didn’t happen in a particular order  and it wasn’t like you work through one stage and then you are done with it.  Sometimes you bounce around several times, through several stages, over several months, potentially years.  He said on average, the initial grief lasts 12-18 months.  DO WHAT?  No way!  This was not what I wanted to hear.  You see, I am a tell me what I need to do to overcome this and I will do it kind of girl.  Grief seemed to have no real rules, guidelines, boundaries, OR a step by step guide.  I was discouraged knowing it wasn’t going to be over quick.  That he wasn’t going to hand me an outline that I could neatly work through.

I am so thankful that my counselor explained grief to me.  It allowed me to have grace for myself in the process and not get so hung up “doing it right” or feeling like it wasn’t going as fast as I thought it should.  I tend to place expectations on myself that are fairly high (working on this!) and I know without his guidance, navigating grief would have left me a bigger hot mess.

It has been 4 years and there is still grief.  I still experience all the stages at times.  I honestly don’t know if it will ever go away completely,  it is a major loss.  But grief today looks so different compared to grief the first year.  At first, I was a roller coaster of emotions and EVERYTHING reminded me of my dad.  I worked hard to get past the initial PTSD responses I had.  We found my dad, the day was very traumatic.  It left a lot to work through.  Once I was past that, every time we ate a food he liked, drove past a place he enjoyed, or really anything- I would either cry devastating tears that my dad wasn’t here to experience it or I would laugh and smile recounting the memories we shared.  It was  fairly constant up and down emotion.  When I say EVERYTHING reminded me of him, I  mean it.

Suicide probably complicates grief a little because there are so many what if’s.  The what if’s are so difficult and it took me a long time to let it go. I put in lots of work, trusting my counselor in the process and now the what if’s don’t consume me.  They creep up from time to time, but I remind myself of truth and move on.

4 years later….. I still think about my dad and wish he was still here so there would be a chance our complex, not traditional father/daughter relationship, could have a opportunity to heal.  I think about my dad often and usually I process the emotions that come, and go on. I still get sad he never met our 5th baby or that he is missing out on so many amazing things my kids are doing.  I can’t go eat BBQ or catfish without thinking about how much he would be enjoying it right now.  We think about good times and good memories- like the way he ate 1/2 a peanut butter sandwich with a glass of OJ every morning, like clock work, and never missed his Irish Breakfast hot tea. The library is such a fond memory too, because as long as he could get there, he went daily.  He loved to read and remembering him reading to my kids is the best.

But sometimes, I am overwhelmed by a rush of grief over his death, that takes me by surprise, leaves me breathless, with a face dripping wet in tears.  Sometimes the what if’s flood my mind and cause me to be angry.  There are times that I just don’t understand and none of it seems real.  At times, I have found myself smack dab in the middle of grief, 4 years later.

“Don’t worry, it gets easier with time.”  This is something people say to comfort others.  I often wonder if those people have experienced grief.  I guess maybe easier is an ok way to say it, but I just think it gets different.  I am never going to not be sad my dad died.  Honestly, that is just a weird thought.  I think saying it gets easier potentially puts expectations on grief.  Loosing someone you love is never easy.  Time doesn’t make it easy.  Time has made it different.  Grief over my dad will probably always be here, but I am thankful there is peace.  I am thankful I have healed so much.  And I am thankful there is grace- even when the grief creeps in and I am crying crocodile tears.

If you are struggling with grief and haven’t seen a counselor, I highly recommend it.  Give yourself grace, but also allow yourself to process and heal.  It is truly a process and I for one, haven’t given it an end date.  Grief hasn’t kept me stuck, but I have accepted that it hasn’t fully left and maybe it never will.

{I am not a counselor or professional.  These are my opinions, thoughts, and experiences that I am sharing simply to encourage others.}

For more on this topic see these posts:

My Truths about Suicide & Depression

Suicide Still Hurts

When God Fulfills His Promises

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Recovery, Encouragement, Family, My Story, Suicide Awareness, Uncategorized

Suicide still hurts

dadToday is an anniversary I wish I didn’t have to remember.  It has been 3 years since I walked up to my dads door, waited for him to answer, but he never did.  3 years since my sweet husband bravely walked inside to find him.  3 years since he walked outside to tell me the heartbreaking news.  “He’s gone.  He took his life.”

It is still crushing to even think about it all.  To remember the pain of the day and wonder what happened.  Suicide leaves questions that will never be answered.  I can’t wrap my mind around it.  I am someone who always looks for answers.  I want to understand everything.  But this one, no matter how much information I seek, I will never fully understand it.

Suicide leaves behind so much.  It leaves pain and what if’s for all of those left here.  It leaves grief and tears.  Sometimes it leaves anger, hurt, or frustration.  3 years later, and although I have done so much healing, there is still healing to be done.  I don’t get anxiety when I drive past the community where he lived any more.  I don’t cry about my dads death every day.  But there are days that the grief just comes out of no where.  Days where I am just sad he isn’t here.

This topic is still something that not everyone is comfortable talking about, but it is one we need to talk about.  I have learned of 2 suicides this week and even though I din’t know either person, I have mourned over them.  My heart is broken for them.  For the pain they were in.  For the hurt they felt.  For the fight they fought.  My heart hurst for the their friends and family as they wrestle with all of the emotions that come with suicide.  My prayers for them are pleas with God to hold them together as they process.

Friends, our country needs support, encouragement and love for those who are hurting.  Depression is real.  Emotional pain is real.  Lets search our hearts and find compassion to see others.  To really see them.  We are all human and we all struggle!  If your struggles don’t look like someone else’s, thank God, then ask Him to help guide you as you reach out to those in your life who you know are hurting.

Be a friend.  Ask questions.  Offer your shoulder to cry on.  Don’t judge.  Just love.

And if you need a friend, let me know.  If you are looking for community to love you through your pain, Celebrate Recovery is the most incredible place to find people who truly love and accept folks just as they are!  I would love to help connect you!

1-800-273-8255 is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  Call them if you need them.

Other posts on this topic:

My Truths about Suicide & Depression

When God Fulfills His Promises

Encouragement, My Story, Suicide Awareness

My Truths About Suicide & Depression

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On October 4, 2014 my world was shaken, broken.  We went to pick my dad up to take him with us to our son’s soccer game, but my dad didn’t come to the door.  Fear filled my body and I rushed to the car to tell my husband he had to go in and check on him.  As I waited outside I will never forget the anxious, awful feelings I felt, but they can’t even compare to the feelings that came next when my sweet husband had to tell me that my dad had passed away.  In the split second before I knew how, I thought heart attack? It had to be a heart attack! It wasn’t.  My dad chose to end his own life.  The heartbreak, confusion, anxiety, the questions, it all came flooding in.  Like a rush of lies at first.  I laid on the grass making noise but not sure I made sense.  I was in disbelief and shock.  I wanted to cry but no tears came because my body hadn’t processed the fact that this was real.  The days that followed were full of tears.  Planning a funeral, cleaning out an apartment, and visiting with an overwhelming number of people was truly an emotional experience. 

I love to write and share my life.  It is a great joy of mine.  I have wrestled multiple times in the last 11 months about writing this but could never bring myself to do it.  See suicide is a touchy subject.  Not everyone can talk about it.  Not everyone wants to talk about it.  It is difficult to know what to say.  How much is too much?  Will I offend anyone?  Will I offend my family by telling this story?  But I feel now, more than ever that now is the time to share this story.  You see, in the last week I have learned of 4 suicides in our community.  One of which was the 2nd student in our town to take their life this year.  To add to this, in the past year, 2 students have taken their lives in the very tiny community where I grew up.  I am devastated, heartbroken, and just plain sad over this.  The day my dad died I was praying and telling God I wanted to wake up from this.  I did not want this to be part of my story.  I wanted nothing to do with suicide.  I wanted it to just go away.  But I felt peace after I was done praying and I felt as though God said to me “You will be better equipped for the purpose I have for you on the other side of this.  I will not waste an ounce of this pain.”

In the midst of all this tragedy, I want to share a few truths.  They are truths to me anyway.  I am not an expert on suicide or depression, in fact until my dad died I knew very little about suicide.  All I really knew was it seemed very sad and confusing.  My prayer is that these words, this story, could at least touch a few lives and help people see things a little different. 

Depression is real. It may not always look “text book”.  It doesn’t always play out like you see in a movie. People who are depressed often continue to live life normally on the outside.  A lot of times, depression is  an inward struggle. I have experienced it, felt it, endured it.  It is not fun and there were times where it felt like the world was just caving in around me. I wondered if I could go on.  I wondered if I just left if the people in my life would be better off.  I was in darkness.  It was all I could do to just take care of the absolute things.  I was not functioning like I use to or knew I could.  I battled hard everyday.  I cried a lot.  But everyone else outside of my house, they thought I was fine.  I smiled, I kept my responsibilities, I tried to be happy.  I even told several friends I wasn’t ok but they dismissed it.  “You are fine, you are just in a rough season” but it was more then that.  I was hurting, in darkness.  Sometimes when you are there in the darkness you can’t see any hope for the light. 

If someone asks for your help, please offer it.  Don’t try to down play their feelings or tell them they are not valid or real.  I promise, even if you can see the truth, they might not be able to.  Be supportive and loving.  Don’t stop letting them know how much they are cared for and needed.

If you need help, set your pride aside and get it.  I have been in counseling since my dad died and it has been a huge help.  I did a year at Celebrate Recovery to overcome self esteem issues, codependency, and lots of other things.  (Learn more about my Celebrate Recovery journey here) Getting help is hard.  Going to the difficult places it takes to get better are emotionally are hard, but you know what?  Hurting is just as hard.  The difference is  the outcome!  You CAN be healthy.  You CAN overcome things.  It won’t happen over night, but you can do it! 

Suicide is the most painful thing I have ever had to deal with.  I don’t understand why my dad chose to leave us and I never will.  If you are reading this and feel like suicide is an option for you, I beg you to please take that option off the table.  Check yourself into a rehabilitation facility.  Go see a counselor.  Just get help.  I promise that leaving those in your life behind will hurt them deeply.  It will create a hole in their soul.  It will leave them with guilt.  They will never stop questioning why.  Your loved ones need you. 

This is a plea for everyone to look around you.  This world is full of hurting people.  You may not see it, but the person you pass at the grocery store may be living in darkness even though no one knows.  The lady who greeted you at church on Sunday, may be dealing with struggles that she keeps to herself.  Your boss at work, his life may be a mess on the inside.  We are all human.  We all need to feel loved, wanted, needed.  Start looking around and seeing people.  Start giving out hugs, high fives, or even just flashing a smile.  Slow down, look people in the eyes, and be genuine.  I don’t know how to end this tragic thing called suicide, but all I know is, I want to do whatever I can to help and I ask that you join me.