Finding Peace

It’s been one month since you’ve shot yourself. That’s four weeks I’ve had to live in the wake of your consequences. 30 days that I’ve spent in pain, crying and questioning everything. Ever since you sent me that message… “Nvm…don’t come…” my entire world has changed. I’ve changed. I don’t know what “normal” feels like anymore and I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to normal. This last month has been a whirlwind of emotions; pain, grief, sadness,  guilt, anger, etc. and right now, I feel a mix of every single one of these. I feel like I am walking on eggshells every day, scared that I’m going to shatter and burst into tears. Each day is spent picking up pieces you left behind and putting my life together. It’s a tedious and fragile task, and so exhausting. All I want is to be happy again, but I’m not quite sure how to get there nor how long it’s going to take…

And I feel like you know that…That I’m trying to be happy. All I ever wanted for the both of us was to be happy. So I appreciate that you’re trying to help by sending me reminders everywhere I go. Whether it be talking to your sister or your mom, or hearing a song on the radio. Sometimes it will make me cry, and other times I’ll shed a tear and smile and a moment of happiness is brought into my day.

Unfortunately though, the pain still hasn’t gone away, but the severity of my pain has changed. Some days it’s a throbbing, aching, hole in my heart that courses through my entire body andother days, it’s just an ache . And then there’s brief periods of time when the pain is masked by memories. These have been my favorite moments… because the pain lessens for a bit and  I can feel my heart trying to heal. I think about all the wonderful things that made you, you and all those memories we made together. That’s what has been keeping me sane the past few weeks, and that’s what I’ve been holding on to. Without those memories, I don’t know what I would do.
The memory I’ve been clinging to the most lately is our first date. It was first time I heard you say, “God damn. You’re beautiful.” and the first time I realized that you were someone I’d be happy spending my life with. When we started dating, you talked about wanting to go there again. So, yesterday I took you with me. I spent hours there, hiking the trails and climbing up to our rock. I sat there and listened to your favorite song and looked out onto the water. It was such a beautiful day and it felt good to be in a place where we shared memories together. And while I was there and reflecting on our memories… a moment of peace passed over me. It felt like I finally accepted the fact that you were gone, and that you’re never coming back. It was a very overwhelming and emotional moment for me, because I still don’t want to let you go. I still miss you and I still ache for you every day. But somehow it helps accepting that you’re no longer in pain, that you’re happy and you just want me to be happy too.

I know that you don’t want me to suffer in pain anymore. That’s why you keep reminding me of all our special moments together…that’s why you send me messages in songs and memories from your family. And that’s why I’m able to share memories of us with your family too, because it brings them and myself happiness as well. I can tell your working hard to ease our pain… but it’s going to take some time to heal…

I’m not sure how long this healing process will take, but I know it’s not going to happen over night. I honestly still can’t believe it’s been a month already…some days it feels like yesterday and other days it feels like it’s been a year. I can’t decide. All I know for sure at this point is that it sucks that you’re gone and it’s still hurts (whether it’s been a month or a year). I hate that you had to leave this way, but if this was the path to ending your pain…then I need to learn to accept it. I’m not saying I’m okay with your decision, but I’m okay just knowing you’re not in pain anymore.

There are so many people who love and miss you so much, Chris. We hope you continue to send messages in memories and you continue to Rest In Peace.

Finding Support

I woke up this morning going through the same routine I’ve been following for weeks; rolling over, looking at the empty space you used to fill, checking my phone for messages, and contemplating how late I could sleep-in and still make it to work on-time. I have become very proficient at sleeping-in until 7:45 and strolling in to work right at 8:00. But today was different, because I couldn’t sleep in that late. I knew I had to get up earlier. I needed to do something with my hair, put some make-up on and at least make an effort to look presentable to the world. Today was a big day for me, I was helping interview a new nurse for a position at my work and I was going to my first “Suicide Survivor” support group. A group dedicated to people who have lost loved ones to suicide.

I was so excited and so scared at the same time. I called the leader earlier today to ask her questions about the group. “Where do I go? How does it work? Do I have to talk? What if I cry?” The lady on the other end responded back and answered all my questions. She was so sweet and caring and I could tell right away this support group was going to be a positive outlet for me.  We talked a little more and then she asked what your name was. She asked who I was missing in my life. I hesitated for a moment and said, “His name was Chris.” And I started crying again. It was light tears at first, but once I got off the phone, I sat on the floor and sobbed, for the third time that morning.

I don’t know why today was such a rough day for me. It started out like any other day, but for some reason, so many things triggered tears and I couldn’t stop it. I’m surrounded by so many things and memories that remind me of you. There’s still that empty photo frame on my desk…sitting there, just waiting for me to put a picture of us in it, one that I never got to take. And then there’s my patients. The sweet patients who ask how my day is going. I smile each time and reply, “It’s going great! How are you?”, because that’s what I have to do, but in reality I want to say, “I’m not great. I wish Chris didn’t die and I wish my pain would go away.” But I can’t say that, because I have to smile. I have to take care of my patients and get my work done. It’s so exhausting pretending to be happy and smiling all the time, when in reality all I want to do is crawl into my bed and cry.  And it’s days like today that remind me of how disconnected and isolated I feel from the world around me.

Maybe it’s because I’m the only one here mourning your death. Your mom, dad, sisters, family, friends…they are states away, and I’m here in Minnesota, alone. It’s like I’m stuck on a deserted island, crying without anyone to comfort me. Of course, I have family and friends who are here to support me, but they didn’t know you like I did, so they don’t understand how I feel. They don’t know what suicide feels like and they can’t comprehend or even begin to imagine the pain and agony I am going through. So in my grief, I feel alone. And your family, they understand, but they are states away, and are only available to comfort me through phone calls and text messages. So even with their love and support…because they are so far away, I continue to feel alone. I’m am so tired of suffering and grieving alone. So I have been holding on to hope, that going to a support group would give me a sense of belonging, and I wouldn’t feel so alone anymore.

And that’s what got me through today, this long terrible day full of breakdowns and tears. Initially when I pulled up to the building, I was excited, but then I quickly became nervous and fearful. I realized I was going into an unknown world with others that have experienced the same pain I have felt, and I didn’t know what to expect. I walked into the room, awkward, like it was my first day of school. The atmosphere was calm and everyone I encountered was so welcoming, and the group quickly felt like home. Of course I sobbed, when I first introduced myself, but then I spent the next hour and a half talking and crying and listening to the stories of other suicide survivors. It felt so good to finally be around people who understood me; who understood my pain, my anger, and my grief. I left feeling like I inherited a new family, one that would grow and support me on this new journey.

Anyways, I’d love to talk more and share about my experience, but I’m so mentally exhausted that I actually feel tired tonight and I’m going I to try and get some sleep. Goodnight Chris, I hope you rest easy ❤

Surviving the weekend

So this past weekend was rough. You’ve been gone for three weeks now… I thought I was moving forward, but somehow this weekend felt worse than the last one. On Saturday I woke up, rolled over, and realized you still weren’t there. I didn’t cry like I usually do, so that was progress. Then I looked at my phone, and still no message from you. Again, I didn’t cry. I just felt sad, hollow, dissapointed. Sometimes I feel like you’re just ignoring me, and I’ll wake up one day with a missed call and a voice message saying, “I’m sorry. I miss you. Please call me back.” But I know that’s not the case…It hurts thinking about, “What could have been.” and where our lives would be right now.  I wish so much that I could have saved you. That I could have been the one to prevent you from taking your life.

I ache and hurt everyday, and in so many different ways. I’ll feel fine one moment, and broken the next. I can literally go from laughing to crying within a few minutes. It’s like I’m a piece of glass and the slightest memory can make me shatter. That’s how most days feel, and that’s exactly how this weekend was.

Saturday my friends asked me to come over for a BBQ… I quickly responded saying I’d love to join, because I knew I had to get out of the house. My apartment has turned into a black hole for me. A comfortable black hole where I can be a hermit and just forget about everything. I’ve spent most of these past few weeks at home; “watching” tv, mindlessly scrolling through old photos, wasting time on the internet. I haven’t been productive about anything…and I’ve been okay with that. Every day the guilt from your death creeps back-up and consumes me. It brings me to such a terrible place, where I feel lonely and depressed and I don’t want to do anything. All I want to do is stay home. It’s so comfortable hanging out alone in my black hole…but I know it’s not healthy. I’ve struggled with depression most of my life, and I know staying at home alone is the worst thing I could do. So, as much as I wanted to cancel plans with my friends, I forced myself to get dressed, put on some make-up and go to their BBQ. I went, and I had fun. I spent the evening laughing and giggling and joking…and I forgot all about the guilt. For a moment anyways. You though, were still on my mind. You’re always on my mind in some way.

When I’m out with my friends and laughing, I think about how much they’d love you. I think about you laughing along with us and smiling and having a good time. And when I’m playing with my friend’s children, I think about how much fun you and your son would be having with them. And then I think…If only you had more time…you would have gotten to experience those moments with me…and then my mind wanders back to that place. The place of “What if’s” and “Why’s.” and guilt and pain. And that’s how I end my evenings, feeling sad and guilty all over again.

And then Sunday happened. Overall the day was just a blurr of emotions. I tried to keep busy, but again, found myself getting comfortable in my black hole. I spent the morning wasting time; searching random stuff on the internet, mindlessly watching whatever was on TV. I realized, I was letting myself get sucked into that negative place again…so once again… I forced myself to do something. I forced myself to get dressed and leave the house. I threw on a hat, and a jacket and just left. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew I just had to do something, because it’s been three weeks and I’ve spent almost everyday cooped up at home.

I drove around for awhile and found myself parked at the Verizon store…I was eyeing up a new phone and decided to check it out. That ended up being one of the most difficult things I’ve had to face recently. I walked into the store and quickly realized…the last time I was here was when we went together and got your new phone. We probably spent a good 4 hours in there that day. Just looking at random stuff for no reason, laughing, giggling, talking about the future. While we were waiting, you eyed up all the cool gadgets and talked non-stop about how awesome it would be to have a game camera. I saw that very same game camera on Sunday… the one that you touched, and played with, and talked about. It was there, but you weren’t. And I just lost it. I cracked and I started crying and ran out to my car.

How is it, that something so simple, makes me think of you and I just lose it? I see a random object you once touched and just shatter like glass. Most times I cry out of the blue for what feels like no reason at all… but really it’s because something I saw reminded me of you. I’m reminded of you everywhere I go and it’s so exhausting…because I feel sad and cry all the time and I continue to use all my energy trying to act normal. I hate how I hurt so much. I hate that I’m so exhausted and that I cry all the time. I hate that I can’t change anything to bring you back. I can’t change the fact that you’re gone. I can’t change the fact that I loved you and that I hurt so much. I can’t change any of it. All I can do, is continue to heal and keep taking each day, moment by moment, one step at a time. I don’t know how I’m going to get through this… but I know I have to. I’ve gotten through the past 22 days and somehow I have survived. It hasn’t been easy, but I know that’s because I loved you so much. I still love you and I miss you every day.

Pain. Guilt.

I’ve spent hours on Google since you’ve left. Researching suicide. Why do people do it? What happens after you do it? Why does it hurt so much? I’ve found a lot of  posts catered to “suicide survivors”. The people you left behind. They talk about how to grieve and get help after someone commits suicide… I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that grief and healing can take longer than any other type of death. That it’s normal to feel so much pain, and so much guilt. And that it’s okay to feel angry and sad.  But what I can’t find…is how survivors really feel. Maybe I’m not looking in the right places…or maybe I’m not ready to find those answers yet. All I really want to know right now, is how do they cope and adapt to life with all the pain they are in? Because I need to know how. How do I keep living my life with so much pain, and so much guilt? How?

I’ve experienced loss in so many different ways. I’ve had family members and friends pass away. They’ve died from cancer, an infection, disease, old age, a car accident. Whether the loss was expected, or a tragic accident, it still caused immense pain and heartache… But none of them felt as terrible as this. You didn’t die by accident. You died because you physically chose to end your own life. You took yourself away from us; your mom, your dad, your family, your friends…and me. You left us here to live without you. On purpose.

So what does suicide do to a person? The people you leave behind?

It tears you apart from the inside out. First your heart hurts. It physically hurts. It throbs and it aches. Your stomach. It gets tied into a knot and it feels like someone just ripped it out of your gut. You can’t breath and the rest of your body goes numb. And then you sob. Uncontrollably. You drown in your own tears and it feels like you’ll never be able to stop. And your skin. It feels cold and bare. It longs to feel your skin and to hug you. All of it is pain. It feels like pain that will never go away…And you’d think this is what it feels like anytime you lose someone you love. But this is worse. It’s much worse.

I’ve never felt pain like this before. I have never felt so much guilt, regret, self-blame or sorrow. I feel like I failed you. Like I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t help you when I should have. My whole body aches all the time. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. At times I feel like I can’t even breathe. My eyes burn from crying all the time. My head is fatigued, from replaying scenarios and thoughts over and over. My heart continues to ache. My body is exhausted, physically and emotionally. Something as simple as a shower has now become a chore. If I could, I’d just lay in my bed all day and wait for the pain to go away. But I can’t. I still have to wake up. Brush my teeth. Go to work. I still have to be me. Somehow. Someway.

And of course, the guilt. It just causes more pain. The guilt takes my gut and turns it and twists it and tears me apart even more. It causes my heart to ache more than ever, and my mind continues to race. The guilt reminds me of all the things I think I did wrong…I knew you were sad. I knew you were lonely. I knew you struggled with depression… After we broke up, I still promised you that I’d be there for you. And even then, you’d ignore me and push me away. You were so good at doing that… But I still worried about you and cared about you. I told you to reach out to me when you needed a friend. I told you I’d be there for you. But when you’d text me or call me and tell me you needed company. When you told me you were lonely…I turned you down. I thought I was ready to be your friend…but I wasn’t. I was scared of getting hurt again and I didn’t want to get hurt anymore. I just couldn’t do it. And I feel terrible about that. I feel like I was being selfish. Did you know that Chris? That I felt so guilty?

I keep replaying those messages and phone calls in my head. What if I would have agreed to see you when you asked? Would you have still done it? What if we hadn’t broken up? Would you have still done it? And Why? Why, when I finally agreed to see you, did you send me that text? The text that still haunts me…You knew I was on my way to see you. You had just spoke with me on the phone an hour before. You asked me to come over… And at some point, in-between our phone calls and your last message to me, you had already texted your parents about your decision. What was going on in your head after our phone call? What were you feeling? What made you do it? Did I do something wrong? Were you mad that I chose to have dinner with my sister first? Did I not respond to your text fast enough? Did I not call you back fast enough? Or did any of that even matter?

All The “What if’s?” The “Why’s?” Those are questions that just continue to haunt me and I continue to replay scenarios in my head. And your mom and your sisters, your family, your friends, they all have their own questions…their own guilt. We like to think that if we would have done something differently. That maybe you’d still be here. That maybe we could have saved you. But that’s not the case. You had already made your decision, and not I nor anyone else could have changed your mind. I know I shouldn’t feel guilty…but I still do. That’s what guilt does. That what suicide does. It plagues the mind with guilt and it causes pain. Pain that won’t go away.

Learning to Live Without You

So it’s been almost three weeks since you’ve left. I’ve written so much. I’ve written about the night you killed yourself, my experience, the physical/emotional burdens from your suicide, and my deepest thoughts. When I look back and read those stories…it seems so dark and troubled and it scares me. But it’s the truth. The truth about your suicide is dark. It is troubled…and because of that, I haven’t been able to share or post those stories. Those words and thoughts scare me and I’m not sure if I’m ready for the world to hear them yet. I’m not even sure if I’m ready to go through and relive them yet either. Writing helps process my feelings, but reading what I wrote, is a whole other experience. It can be overwhelming because it brings back so many memories. Even without writing, I’m constantly dealing with a pool of emotions…One moment I want to scream and yell at you, the next I’m crying uncontrollably in tears. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t do anything. Every day is just a constant battle of thoughts and emotions…

On the nights that I do fall asleep, I wake-up the next morning and I’m instantly saddened, because I roll over and you’re not there. The truth is, I struggled with that feeling even before you left. I’ve been feeling that way ever since we broke-up. But it feels worse now. Before, there was hope that you could be there again and now that hope is gone. I’m never going to wake-up with you next to me again. I’m never going to get sweet messages from you again. I’m never going hear your voice, hear you laugh, and have you tell me about your day again. I’m never going to hug you, kiss you or hold you again. I’m never going to go on walks and watch the sunset with you again. Nor will I get to fall asleep cuddling you on the couch again. There are so many things that we did together that I’m never going to experience with you again. And all the dreams and plans you made for our future, we’re never going to experience those together either… and that just breaks my heart. It’s hard waking up and feeling those emotions over and over every single day. I know eventually it will get easier but right now, it’s just so difficult and so painful… and I’m so exhausted and so tired of fighting.

I fight a battle every single day…I have to fight to wake up, shower, go to work, and just be “normal.” I feel like I use up all my energy just going to work, because I still have to take care of patients and make sure my job gets done. I put on a face and pretend to be happy, even though I’m not. I’m so far from happy and it’s so exhausting. Everyone tells me it’s okay to be sad, and it’s okay to grieve, but I hate being the “sad girl” who cries all the time. And I cry…. all the time now. All I want is to be happy and to feel normal, but I know that I’m never going to be normal again. Suicide changes people. It changes me, your family, and the world around us.

It feels so weird trying to move on in this new world. This world where you now exist in memories. I’ve lost a lot of people in my life; my uncle passed away unexpectedly, my friend’s dad passed away from cancer, my friend was killed in a car accident, and most recently (3 months ago) another friend quickly became ill and had to be taken off life-support. With each death, I went through grief. I healed. I learned how to survive in this world without them. But this world without you. It’s a lot harder to adjust to and it’s a lot harder to live in. And I think it’s because you chose to die, and they didn’t.

It makes me so angry to think that you felt you needed to die. That you decided to take your own life.  I’m so angry that you did something that has caused me and your family and your friends so much pain…and so much grief. We all hurt so much and we ache everyday, and you did that to us, and I hate that! I understand you were in a terrible place, so I feel guilty when I do get mad at you, because I know that’s not fair. You were fighting a battle that we couldn’t help you with and as much as I’m mad at you for leaving us, I’m also happy that you fought as hard and as long as you did. I’m happy that you fought hard enough to be around in this world to become a part of my life. I’m happy that you fought long enough to have a relationship with me and to show me I could fall in love again. I’m happy that you kept fighting so we could create memories together. Wonderful, beautiful memories  that I will cherish and forever be grateful for.

And that’s where the happiness becomes bittersweet. I’m happy you’re not in pain anymore, but that means you’re no longer here. That means we can no longer make new memories together. Processing that thought has been so difficult for me, because I’m still not ready to believe you’re gone. Somedays I still hope to pick up my phone and see a missed call from you or get a text message saying “I’m sorry.”. I still hope to wake-up with you next to me and learn that this has all just been a terrible dream. But it’s not a dream. It’s real life. You are gone, and I am here. I seriously miss you so much and I think about you everyday. I’m still not sure how to live in this new world without you, but I know eventually I’ll find my path. I have a difficult journey ahead of me, but I promise I’ll keep trying and I’ll keep fighting, just like you did for me.