Friday, June 7, 2013
3 Months After the Suicide
In a few days, it will be 3 months since N's suicide. So many things are now happening beyond his lifetime, things he would have wanted to be part of or talk about or know about. Life is starting to move on, in fits and starts, without him in it.
Life was suspended for so many weeks, frozen in shock on the day of our son’s death and in the anguished, unbelievable weeks that followed. In those early weeks, it felt like my skin had been ripped off, my heart had been blasted out, my arm or leg had been amputated. I hibernated in our house of mourning, only gradually coming out to drive or visit friends or even turn on the TV.
This week, I went to the movies for the first time. I have started to wear colors again and to think about a haircut and pedicure. I can finally read [most of] the news like I used to without feeling overwhelmed by all the violence and death in the world. I can pass young people on the street without always thinking ruefully about N. I can hear friends recount news of their kids without tuning it all out in a blur of pain. My attention has begun to shift from full-time grieving to figuring out how to continue grieving while I re-join the flow of life.
I’ve heard that the period between three months and a year after a loved one’s suicide can be the hardest time. The unrelenting rawness of the grief has subsided—at least on some days; many suicide survivor support groups ask that people wait three months before attending so that they will have already absorbed the initial shock. The challenge at this point becomes how to integrate our wounded souls with the resumption of normal activities and routines—how to re-enter life after our child has willfully rejected it, how to function quasi-normally when we are still hurting, how to reconcile the need to go on living with the need to continue to grieve and the guilt that comes from moments of distraction and fleeting enjoyment. As I chronicle this point on the mourner’s path, I imagine I will be writing sometimes from that place of pain—as raw as it was in those first days—and sometimes from that place of tentatively reaching out for life and even joy—and all the places in between.