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 ❤

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