“As the months pass and the seasons change, something of tranquility descends, and although the well-remembered footstep will not sound again, nor the voice call from the room beyond, there seems to be about one in the air an atmosphere of love, a living presence…It is as though one shared, in some indefinable manner, the freedom and the peace, even at times the joy, of another world where there is no more pain…The feeling is simply there, pervading all thought, all action. When Christ the healer said, ‘Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted,’ he must have meant just this.” -Daphne DuMaurier
As I sat with a survivor today, the topic turned to what “their” last moments were like; what depression, mental anguish, and hopelessness filled their minds and for how long had they struggled? THIS is what we as survivors are left with. We work through the feelings as they come – over and over again. We get through the firsts, the seconds, and the thirds…We watch other daughters with their living moms, other parents with their living sons and daughters, other spouses with a living spouse, other siblings with all of their family in front of them, on this earth. The painful hell we live trying to imagine their final moments is, yet again, something we can summon in a heartbeat.
“She is in Heaven; she is happy; all her pain is gone.” Okay, I can run with that. Eternal life. “She’s back in many forms. She’s where you feel her.” Yep, I can go with that as well. There IS a tranquility of sorts that eventually came for me. Or, perhaps, just the acceptance of the horrible thing that had happened TO ME! I couldn’t change it or wish it away.
Eventually, the shock was replaced by the goneness. The phone ringing did not mean she was on the other end. The smell of her perfume did not mean she was entering the room. In a moment, I can return to that day, that minute. I have, however, learned to rechannel it…or not. Not?
Perhaps I have to sit with it yet again and then let it go. Sitting with it doesn’t mean I’m worse or that I haven’t grieved or even that I’m falling backwards. It can be a moment. It’s a flash in time. The process goes rather quickly. Why? Because the outcome is always the same.
As I work in my garden or drive to work, I can pull to me the essence of my mom: her kindness, her generosity, her love and, then, her overpowering sadness. I wonder where we’d all be if she’d lived and survived a 2nd suicide attempt. There are things worse than death. What if she’d lived and been in a coma for years? I’ve known people that that has happened to.
Here’s how I put it in context. I pick one of the very few times in my life that I was in pretty bad physical pain. I try to equate that to mom’s emotional pain (this is my story…bear with me!) Once my pain ended, by a drug or surgery, I felt better. So I tell myself that her pain was bad for quite a while and now it isn’t. Boom! Done!
This is when I can feel “the freedom and the peace, even at times the joy, of another world where there is no more pain.” I think of the first time I walked into Disney World, in 1972 or 1973 and felt joy and peace and happiness. This, then, is how I imagine where she is right now. How can it be any other way?
We end our SOS meetings with this: “I don’t know why. “I don’t have to know why” But I DO know why. Mom’s multiple losses over the years only added to her depression. She simply could not do it one more day. The absence of my mom is a part of me just as is the joy and love we felt in the presence of one another is a part of me. I am the daughter of suicide. I was raised to beyond early adulthood by a mom who loved me and gave me strength and joy. I have a solid foundation under me because of my parents.
So, if you and I can return to that moment, let us agree that we can also feel the love and the comfort. She’s in the butterflies and the orange flowers. She’s in the air around me. Mostly, she’s in me and I’m of her. Each and every one of us can say the same. Feel the power of their love. Pull the memories to your heart. I guess it’s true that we weren’t promised “forever”; but it would have been lovely to have had them with us longer… I am surviving… You are surviving… Feel the community of survivors…