When I began my journey of self-development after the whole Brian incident, I had no idea where I’d land. In fact, it’s still an ongoing process. At the time, I was on a spiritual mission that quickly became a mental health advocate mission. In the last 7-years, I’ve gotten 2 certifications (Life Coaching and Life Counselling) and 1 diploma (Counselling Hypnotherapy).
As the Province that I live in will soon be regulated for Counsellors – I have to yet take another course to get my Counselling Diploma so that I can become an RTC (Registered Therapeutic Counsellor). This will take me approximately 1 more year as I don’t intend to start until next Jan.
To all of you who work full-time and attempt to go back to school full-time, I feel your exhaustion and your pain. It really is a lot of work.
Changing careers in your late 50’s isn’t for the faint of heart and takes a lot of determination and dedication. I never would have seen myself taking this on and had a very different idea of how my life would look at this stage of the game. I wanted to write and get published. I have 2 really good partially written manuscripts that I wonder if I’ll ever get back to. Maybe in my late 60’s?? Who knows…?
I ask myself, sometimes, if all of this is just my way of coping with the trauma and unsatiated grief that still wells up, occasionally. I don’t have an answer for that but suspect it to be at least part of the equation.
Either way, I’ve learned a hell of a lot about human behavior and how to help people move forward with their lives.
I’m having my website re-done to reflect being a Counselling Hypnotherapist and will update, soon!
Still working on quitting my day job but that will come in the next 3-5 years, possibly sooner if I’m really lucky. 😉
Recently I had another birthday and I’m now officially smack dab in the middle of my 50’s. It’s been an interesting decade, thus far. And, of course, in a few months I’ll put another imaginary ‘tick’ on the imaginary calendar in my head and write- Brian 6-years died by Suicide.
It’s not that I’m worried I’ll forget about it, but for some odd reason those who have been through complex grief, tend to measure time, going forward, with references back to the traumatic grief (be it a death, divorce, breakup…etc.). It’s as of time was different before the trauma. And well, it was.
So, this year (6-years since Bri flew our earthly plain) I started thinking about life a little differently. I started wondering what my life would have been like, who I’d be and where I’d be if I’d never met him. It’s not that I’m regretting it, but let’s be honest, I was a very different person before the whole Brian episode, and I emerged a whole new person afterwards.
Let’s rewind 6-years and 3 months, shall we?
It’s January of 2015. I’d just been dumped (via text no less) by a guy that I’d just spent (hard earned) cash on for a Christmas/present trip to the West Coast of Vancouver Island to go storm watching. I paid for the hotel/ferry/food, etc. To be fair, he did drive, so there’s that. I also made him buy me lunch on the way back; he never would have volunteered so I simply told him this is what was going to happen. Yeah, I was being a bit bitchy, but I was also being taken advantage of by someone who chose to earn just barely above minimum wage because he wanted to be a ‘minimalist’.
If you’d seen his apartment, he was anything but. He was a hoarder and a bit of a jerk. Okay, he was a giant jerk and on New Year’s Eve ditched me with a cryptic text. I wasn’t even upset, just relieved. Moving on, then…
Despite getting dumped on the last day of 2014, I was really in a good place in my life and had all of my ducks in a row. I was in good shape for 49, I was debt free, and I was making some decent money in my job which I really liked. All in all, I was happy just being me. There were cool hobbies that kept me busy, I had my cat Zephyr (best kitty EVER), a really nice place to live and I was even saving money to buy my own condo.
Life was good! Then I met Brian, and nothing was the same ever again – but that’s another story that you’ll find in lots of older blog posts.
So – had I carried on and maybe not even dated…just hung out with me/myself and Z (the cat), where would I be today? I certainly wouldn’t have become a Life Coach because that had never crossed my mind; I didn’t even know what a Life Coach did and had never heard of it. You can cross out life counselling too and if you’d have told me that this would be something I’d love doing, I would have informed you that you’re very mistaken.
There is a lot of:
~maybe this would have happened…
~or perhaps I’d have met this kind of person …
~and what if I’d really buckled down and went into a whole new direction…what would that look like, today?
These are great questions and as I ponder them, the sky is really the limit. I had a plan, you see. Well, I sort of had a plan, but it was a good one! I was starting to write this sitcom about online dating. Brian and I worked on it a little bit, but I actually started it about half a year before and it had a great plot! It was also really funny. Think ‘Friends’ (but not roommates) with the twist of online dating. I had 7 people who were infinitely different but who’s lives intertwined in the most interesting way. All of them were single (some had previously dated or even been married) and all of them would hang out about once a week to talk about their dating woes. Online dating, of course.
These characters had dimension, real problems and challenges – heartbreak/ache and they were diverse in ethnicity and interests. It wasn’t just fluff and silliness.
I felt that I had a lot of experience in the dating department, and I had some great stories to tell that I could incorporate into my seriously awesome characters. I mean, nearly every single person alive in North America has had ‘some’ experience with online dating. I even signed up my elderly mother several years back! She’s off it now, but there she was on a senior dating site!
My point is: people could relate and there still isn’t anything out there like this. Please don’t steal it, I still may do this. 😉
I had also started two other manuscripts (both very different) and maybe, just maybe, I would have finished them. Now, I am under no delusion that anything would be worthy of publication and I have no idea how to pitch a sitcom, but at least if I finished any of them, it would be an adventure and an accomplishment.
Then there was photography. At that time, I was seriously thinking of taking a proper course. While I would never be a wedding photographer (I have no desire to take pictures of people) I was pretty good at other things. I still am and have recently put more effort into it.
On the other side of the coin – who would I have met? Pete wasn’t looking at that point (at least I don’t think so) so I could have ended up with someone completely different, long-term. I might have even married! I kind of am (common-law) but he has no desire to march down the aisle and share his last name with me. I’m okay with that.
The one constant that I truly believe would not have changed is my current 8-5 job. Regardless of meeting Brian or not, I’d definitely still be working for the organization I’m currently with. I’m doing exactly the same job as I was 6-years ago, just with a much (MUCH) better company for more $$ and nearly zero anxiety. I love my current job but the game plan into retirement would have looked radically different had I missed that opportunity on Match.com with one Mr. B. Caffelle.
The most important change I’d have missed out on is learning to be so much more empathetic and compassionate. It’s not like I wasn’t before, but I wasn’t ‘enough’ – if you know what I mean. When I read about someone dying by suicide, I didn’t even blink. I didn’t care. It had nothing to do with me so why should I give it a second thought? Mental illness? Yeah, so what? Again, at that time – not concerned. If it wasn’t present in my life, I didn’t think about it. I’ve changed that tune, drastically and my typically judgmental self isn’t so judgmental anymore. There is a lot more inner reflection and awareness. It’s ongoing; I’m far from perfect and need to still work on a many aspects of my life.
I also learned to love someone without asking for anything in return. Brian never told me that he loved me (oddly, on his last day on earth, I believe he tried to) or showed it, and he was always apologetic that he couldn’t return my feelings for him as he was convinced his heart still belonged to his ‘ex’ girlfriend. This made things very awkward for me; what does one do in this situation when a) you’re in LOVE and b) the person you’re in love with is planning on killing himself? Had I walked, would it have made things worse or better? I’ll never know. What I did know was that I simply couldn’t leave.
When we (his best friend and former wife and I) waited with him at the hospital to be checked in to the psychiatric assessment unit – he turned to me and, said:
“Well?! How do you like me know?!”
Quietly and shyly, I answered: “I love you.”
In the end, she, the ex-girlfriend – not the ex-wife, (yup it’s as complicated as it sounds) didn’t want anything to do with his heart or any other body part of his for that matter. In fact, after all of his efforts to meet up with her for what he said was to say a proper good-bye (but really secretly try to win her back) she cancelled on him and then sent him a very cold text to leave her alone and never contact her again.
Had she been interested; he’d have dumped my sorry (but cute) ass as quickly as he could have managed it. Probably in an email. And that, would have been that. If she’d still been with him today, he may very well be alive – but his suicide ideation went far beyond this woman so I’m certain that it would have surfaced again, just in another form and for a different reason.
I lost a bit of myself during that short affair and afterwards. I don’t think I’ll ever get it back. I used to be romantic in a sweet but authentic way. Don’t misunderstand. I do love the man I’m with, but I didn’t ‘fall in love’ with him. Ever. I just felt one day that I loved him. I somehow bypassed all of the infatuation/honeymoon fun part. And now, 5+ years into a common-law marriage, I can’t even begin to wonder where I’d go looking for it. That part of me seems to be frozen in the year 2015.
I do, however, feel…settled. That’s something I’ve never felt for long. I feel settled in my work, my love life and in my future. It’s peaceful for the most part. You can’t put a price on that.
For what it’s worth, I think had I never met him, I’d still be okay at this tender age of 55. I believe I would have figured my life out, either way. My path would have headed in a new direction, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – just a different thing.
Still, this trauma I carry with me wouldn’t exist, yet I would never have experienced the bliss of post traumatic growth, either. It’s really quite something to walk out of a raging fire only to find yourself a better human being.
It has been and continues to be a journey.
Next year, I’ll mark year 7. I don’t know if I’ll feel much different but maybe, I’ll be a little lighter in spirit, a little less sad and perhaps I’ll not miss him and all of the possibilities I’ll never know (including all the ones I’d have had if I’d never met him) as much.
I’m curious about the me I would have been, now, if my life had taken a different path without Brian, but it didn’t, and here I am.
Time to continue to move forward with the life I do have – including all of the terrible and beautiful post-suicide trauma that makes me everything that I now am. Each year I let a little more go. I feel a little less devastated and somewhat more grounded.
Time does heal. But not completely; if you look the scars are very much there, yet they start to fade after a while. I am not ‘over it’ but with it. What that means is: I’m choosing to live and move forward alongside this complex grief and trauma. It’s a part of me. It’s remade me into a softer, kinder and more aware, human being.
People. I’m going to try and explain this a little differently because I see there are still many of you out there who don’t get it. You’re taking this personally and you’re reading this message incorrectly. Firstly – unless your Black, it’s NOT About YOU.
Let that sink in a little while.
I’ll say this again, because it’s extremely important that you understand this. If you are NOT Black, this is NOT about YOU. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a positive impact and help make the world a better place for everyone.
I’m going to assume that you’re aware of the oppression of Black people, specifically in the US, that started ohhhhh… in and around the time that someone (a whole lot of white someone’s) decided it was an awesome idea to kidnap people from their country, force them onto ships, bring them to the New World and other places (which they stole from the locals that were already there for thousands of years…don’t get me started on THAT) and enslave them for profit. Let me be clear, these human beings were a commodity. Just like O&G or Steel or Wheat. Here are some fun facts to mull over.
Now. Taking that all into account, let’s break down this whole hashtag and try and understand just what it is. It’s many things, a campaign, an awakening, a revolution, a demand for change, a spotlight on what’s wrong with America (and Canada and the whole world), a massive movement…so many things.
If you think for one minute that people of colour have the same rights as us privileged white people, you couldn’t be more wrong. And we can’t even imagine it because we are treated completely differently. We have more rights, we aren’t targeted by police, we have never been enslaved. We are privileged. I – am privileged.
I’m not going to point you to all of the evidence simply because there is SO much that it’s overwhelming. Even with this Movement in full swing, terrible things continue to happen to Black Americans AND Canadians. Yes. It happens here, too.
Now, pay attention because this is where I’m going to take you on a little journey of perception and perspective.
There are a whole bunch of you who are jumping up and down, waving your arms about at the audacity of all of this because you feel that: All Lives Matter.
Of course, all lives matter. This was NEVER in question. EVER. Where did you get the idea that by focusing on a terrible injustice to others that this somehow undermines you? Who posted that because Black Lives Matter that somehow, other lives don’t?
Nobody did. Anywhere. Not once. Not ever.
You simply came to this conclusion because it wasn’t focused on you. Again. This isn’t about you. It’s about the oppression of black people and change that needs to happen. You can either be part of the solution or the problem. Which one will you choose?
Remember when Greenpeace launched the campaign: Save the Whales? This movement was launched in April of 1975 right in my own neighbourhood from the docks of Vancouver. If some of you were alive in 1975 (I was 9-years old at the time) you’ll know that there was no such thing as: the internet, the home computer, cell phones, social media (you get the point). But, if there was, imagine the impact (or non-impact) of this very worthy cause if a whole bunch of people started jumping up and down, flapping their arms about and started proclaiming: Save the Planet! Save the Elephants and Rhinos! Save the Amazon!! Save the…(insert whateveryouwanthere)!
If that had happened, all the focus on saving endangered whales would have been marginalized, minimized and soon it would be shuffled to the back of the line because the focus of this worthy cause would become ‘unfocused’ and lost in the swarm. Suddenly, Save the Whales would be insignificant.
This is what you do when you proclaim: All Lives Matter. You shove the whole Black Lives Matter Movement to the back of the line and out of sight where it does NOT belong. There is a spotlight on injustice, racism, intolerance, poverty, police brutality… STOP trying to snuff it out.
Shine a light on it, instead and by doing this, you still highlight that LIFE MATTERS. Your life, my life, every soul, every life, every day, every hour and minute…matters.
Don’t you get it? By lifting others up, you also stand tall. By bringing awareness to and doing what you can to change the state of the world so that Black lives shine, Black people have equal rights, you bring to light that (get ready for it) –
We. Are. All. The. Same.
We. Are. All. Connected.
Underneath our skin colour, all of our blood runs red.
We are all Homo Sapiens and change starts with one movement at a time.
Save the whales. Black lives matter. Save the Amazon. Save the rhinoceros.
Pick your cause but don’t take away from, distract or detract – from any one of them. They are all so important.
Some of you reading this may become a little uncomfortable. Others may be triggered by previous trauma. Please be careful and take care of yourself as this concerns a very delicate and difficult topic.
Something happened to me a very long time ago. When this ‘something’ happened, I was left feeling very confused. I did not know if I was supposed to be upset or cry…or be angry. I wasn’t even afraid when it was all over although I was pissed off during the episode.
The only feeling I could muster was confusion. What the HELL had just happened?
Up until recently, having this memory bubble to the surface while I do work on myself and learn about trauma (including sexual abuse and rape) in my counselling class – I’d forgotten about it. Afterall, it was more than 30-year ago. Then, when my perpetrator (and ex-husband) contacted me via Facebook completely out of the blue, the memory started to weigh on me like water-filled rubber boots. It was too hard to move forward and past this without talking about it.
I had never told anyone about it. Ever.
It was the late 1980’s. We were both college students and newly engaged. I think I was 20-years old at the time. He would have been 21. I remember we were in the bedroom of my rented apartment on Millstone Ave. It was the 1st place where I’d lived all by myself. No roommates, no rented room. A whole 1-bedroom place all to me.
We had started kissing – making out, the usual stuff we got up to. But something was different. For some reason, I had changed my mind. I can’t remember why I did or if I just wasn’t into full-on intercourse. Maybe I was tired. I really can’t recall the reason, but I DO know that at some point I said: “No.”
He didn’t take me seriously and thought I was teasing, that this was some sort of game. It wasn’t and I wasn’t, but I couldn’t convince him.
I got up and left the room, slipping away from him easily enough. I thought that this was the end of it, and he’d go home for the evening. He was still living with his parent.
It was not the end of it.
He followed me into the tiny living room or kitchen (I can’t recall exactly where it all started getting ridiculous and weird) and continued to insist on kissing me, trying to take off my clothes. I resisted and again, told him that NO – I wasn’t interested. Once more, he thought this was part of the game I was evidentially playing. I may as well have been having a conversation with the fridge because he wasn’t listening to anything I was saying.
Let it be noted that although I struggled and kept telling him that I wanted him to stop, I didn’t scream. I didn’t cry and I wasn’t hysterical or afraid. I just did NOT want to have sex. It was that simple. I was also angry that my wants and rights were being ignored.
Perhaps he thought this was some kind of kinky role play (although we’d never done that before), perhaps he thought it was all an elaborate game to turn him on. I don’t know because I never asked him.
In the end, in my attempt to get away, I ended up on the floor, scrambling back while he pulled my jeans off, along with his pants, and has his way with me against my wishes. I believe it hurt.
He didn’t hit me or yell. In fact, he was laughing the whole time, which makes me think he was completely clueless as to what he was doing.
What he was doing, was raping me.
Afterward I sat on the floor, feeling that weird surreal confusion, and thought: did I just get raped?!
I really wasn’t sure and in 1986, given that we were a couple and to be married, I very much doubt the law would have thought so. What was the point of saying anything? I really believe he didn’t know what he had just done. He was generally a sweet and gentle guy.
I thought about confronting him about it seeing as he wanted to send some things of mine that he’d held on to (for 30+ years) back to me. I doubt he’d remember the occasion. To him, it was all just fun and play.
Had he (or anyone) tried the same thing, today, it would have gone down much differently. Maybe if I’d shouted or become scared or really mad, he would have stopped. I don’t know.
Today things are very different and thank GOD for that. Rape has no grey areas. Consent MUST be given and NO MEANS NO. It doesn’t mean chase me around the apartment until I trip and fall while you grope me and then force yourself on me. It means FUCKING STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING NOW.
Yes, you can ask someone to stop before and during sex. You have rights. You can change your mind any time you wish as it’s YOUR body and you get to decide what you want to be done to it.
No one else on the planet can do that for you. No. One.
I was young and rape wasn’t talked about. There was no internet; you couldn’t Google sexual consent. It wasn’t exactly taught in schools. I sometimes think I didn’t know any better and should have fought harder. Part of me wants to blame myself, even now, and find excuses for him.
But the harder I look, the less I find. There are no excuses. He should have known better. He should have stopped when I asked him to. He didn’t.
I’ve been hesitating to pen a blog post on this as there is SO much. So much emotion, fear, worry and so much information and misinformation. Where does one start? How can you tackle thoughts on the worst global pandemic in the last 100+ years?
I’ll start by saying there are many forces at work, here. We have the perceived good, bad and the indifferent but mostly we have massive change. It’s not an easy thing to do – shutting the world down in the blink of an eye, but it’s a necessary one. Our values are being re-written, our needs are being challenged and our beliefs are being tested.
We’re collectively struggling and grieving. When you have that many humans caught up in a global web, all stuck in one spot, you get division. You get those who are struggling to put food on the table and are not getting help so shutting down seems pointless and impossible. You get those who will do whatever it takes to keep themselves and others safe because all life is important, and they’d rather do without and suffer – than risk the lives of so many.
Division isn’t new and it’s always been prevalent, however, we are divided now more than ever and especially in the US where there is no central voice that is attending to all, speaking for ALL and listening to ALL. As a Canadian, it’s difficult to comprehend this and although there is division in my country, it’s muted; for the most part, we stand as one and most of us are doing our part to slow this killer down so that our hospitals do not become overwhelmed. Thus far, it’s working but we have failed our elderly and vulnerable and we’re failing them badly.
My point is, we are all discovering (or more appropriately, big problems that were being brushed under the carpet are having spotlights shone on them – really bright ones) our flawed systems and are being forced to now deal with them. This is good and bad. Good because something is finally being done and bad because it should have been taken care of long ago.
Let’s talk about exposure. COVID-19 is exposing all of us: the way we cope and react, the way we adjust or don’t, and the way we give or take. We are learning different behaviors and it’s hard. It’s like being a kid all over again and figuring out social behaviors. It’s changed and it takes time to adjust when we really have very limited time. How fast a country can turn on a dime is relevant to how that country naturally behaves. Every system is different due to belief systems, patterns and culture.
Yet I will say, Earth has turned a page and its human citizens are more on that ‘same’ page than ever before. So, in a sense, we are more united than we’ve been since…well long before I was born.
I think the really big questions are yet to be answered: what positive changes will we take away from this experience once it’s over, what negative ways will we return to just because we can and we don’t want to give up our perceived luxuries of consumerism? This is yet to be discovered.
Still, I have hope. I have hope that we will emerge a better species, more tolerant, more adaptable, more alert to our environment and the need to protect it. I pray that we will be better focused on healing, caring, alignment of nurturing collective thought patterns and just plan taking care of all (not just us).
We are in a perfect storm and that storm is different for each of us. How we’ll be after the skies clear and sun comes out is up to each of us, as individuals to discover. We’ll be looking at a different world. Some will adapt, some will struggle.
At the end of the day, we still all have choices. Collectively we can choose to change what is important to us. We can collectively choose to work together to make a better planet and better life for everyone.
We are starting to wake up and really know that we don’t ‘need’ many things we’ve always thought that we needed. Or, maybe we can need ‘less’ or need differently. There is always a better way to do things that serve everyone. It’s up to us to figure out what that is. I believe we are at the tipping point to not just think about it but begin to put best practices into place.
As I do every year on New Year’s Eve (you probably do this, too), I think about the last 12-months of my life and contemplate just what went on.
Was it a good year? Did some bad things occur? What good things happened? Was I grateful enough? Did I learn anything? Am I a better person or…a worse one? Do I feel grief for anything? What made me smile and what made me weep?
Oh… So many laughs and way too many tears. We said goodbye to my best fur friend of 17-years and turned around and said hello to a new forever kitten who lit up our lives. We continue to work and cope with mental illness and drug addiction in my family and do our best to forgive. It’s hard work. It’s worthy work. It keeps me up at night and it offers a wealth of learning.
I try and be the best version of myself, but then I slip up and disappoint. I get up again and for a while, I am the best I can be. Then, I fall down, once more and anger gets the better of me.
I think it’s called ‘being human’. We all rise and sink to our occasions.
I think New Year’s resolutions should be kept simple:
Be the best you can.
Love with your whole being.
Forgive, forgive, forgive (include yourself in there).
Be open. Open your heart, your mind and your soul.
Be happy in the NOW. Now is the only time that actually exists. Always remember that.
Dance. Have fun. Be silly. Laugh. Please, laugh until tears are in your ears!
Remember who you are: A Soul having a Human experience.
Can you do that? Can you be better? Can you do better and make the changes in your life that raise your vibrations and add to the light in the world?
We have a new little addition to our family. He’s not a replacement; Z will always be in my heart and I miss him, every single day. It’s really hard to believe it’s been a whole 45 days since he took his final breath with my hands gently supporting him (he refused to lie down even with the happy drugs) with Pete standing by.
Little Breeze (his name, in honor of Zephyr) is a handful. He also came to us very sick. Although this is typical of rescue cats and kittens, it’s not cool that the rescue organization didn’t make sure he was perfectly well before allowing him to be adopted from where he was kept…in a cage with his brothers and other kittens at a vet animal hospital in Vancouver.
We’re not impressed with either the cat rescue organization (they didn’t bother to check up on us even though they’d asked for 2 references and our vet’s #) or the animal hospital (who told us he was fine, just finish his meds, it’s only a little URI).
Nope! It’s a massive bacterial upper respiratory infection along with a tummy infection AND eye infection. The poor little guy was a mess! We’re talking snot rockets, mucousy eyes and diarrhea.
After God knows how many rounds of meds (and $500+ in vet bills AFTER the $350 it cost to adopt him) he’s getting better. He’s now 4.5 months old, rambunctious as hell and after 4 weeks with us, Sabrina (our Tortie) has finally accepted him. They play, she tries to groom him, he gives her the paw of NOPE then they settle down and sleep side-by-side. They wrestle, play tag and then run to the kitchen for snacks.
It’s adorable. They’re adorable.
His sleeping habits need some refining. It’s not cool to sleep ON my face (and then sneeze snot rockets all over me…my pillow, the sheets – you get the picture). I’m hoping in time that he will start to snuggle with Sabrina – or, she’ll ‘let’ him. She’s not there, yet. But, it’s early days.
This is a hard post to write but many will relate. Our pets are our family and for those of us without children, our Fur Babies. We love them. They love us and more importantly, unconditionally.
Just over 16-years ago, I was newly separated from my (now ex) husband. I was renting a little house in Calgary. It was Spring. I volunteered at an organization called the Meow Foundation. It was/still is, a cat rescue place; I came in on Saturdays and cleaned.
That place was sterilized from top to bottom, every single day. It was a fair-sized house with many rooms so at any given time there had to be at least 200+ cats and kittens there. That said, it was extremely well-managed and organized. Feral cats had their room, new mothers, kittens and expectant mothers had their area. There was a spot for sick cats, and we had to walk through some sort of antiseptic so there was no cross-contamination.
In the living room, were all the friendly cats who got along with everyone. Down stairs, were several more rooms with new intakes (a few who were injured and had to be kept in cages for their own good) while others roamed around and became acquainted with the place.
When I first started seriously thinking about adopting one for myself, I took a good look around. I spotted him lounging on one of the cat trees, just taking it all in. He seemed to be just coming out of kittenhood and knocking on the door of being an adult male cat. He’d been brought in with his sister; she was waiting for her spay and was in another room. He’d already had his neuter.
Both were wandering around a neighbourhood, seemingly lost or abandoned. They ended up wandering right up to someone’s front door and she took them in. The next day, the kind lady called the Meow Foundation. No one ever claimed them.
They were named Smartie and Skittles because of their sweet nature. Smartie was the male. Both were grey and white with Smartie being a long-haired cat and his sister, not.
I ended up adopting Smartie a few weeks later and renaming him Zephyr. He was the sweetest, most easy-going and definitely the handsomest cat I’d ever had the pleasure of sharing my life with.
I’d never had a cat quite like him and I doubt I ever will again. He had just enough quirks to make him interesting and adorable. He also had the temperament of a Saint. That cat never bit, hissed or scratched me out of anger or fear, in his entire life. You could do anything to him and if it bothered him, he’d either complain about it or leave.
He had his naughty moments, too, but he was just being a cat. One certainly can’t fault him for that. There are simply far too many cute Zephyr stories to list them all, here. But I will say that when he was young, he was a kleptomaniac. He also loved to invent games to play, and we had many. One involved a red bucket and an ex-boyfriend. I still have that red bucket.
He was a lover not a fighter. Whenever his path crossed another animal’s, he’d always try and make friends. Just because I know you’re wondering…he made 2 doggie friends and 0 cat friends, although he did try very hard (Xanadu, you nasty little thing, he was SO in love with you…your loss, honey). I could include Sabrina, but I really think he tolerated her more than anything.
I got to share his life for just over 16-years. He was 17 and had been battling kidney failure for the last 4 of them. On June 1st, he’d had enough. For 2 and a half days I did everything I could to make him better, but he wasn’t having it.
It was his time. So, with a heavy heart, Pete and I sent my best friend home. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done, but one that I simply had to. I made him a promise that I’d never let him suffer. He was suffering. It had to stop.
It was quick. Pete and I cried. I then cried some more and every day since then, but it was the right thing to do. There is no question in my heart.
I was Z’s mommy and I’m pretty sure he thought that, too. He listened. He came when he was called. He took up half of my queen-sized bed for more years than I care to admit. He was kind of a big’ish cat. 17 lbs in his prime.
I’ll miss him until I see him again on the other side. I love him dearly. He was one in a million and a huge part of my life. If he didn’t like you (and he liked just about anybody once he got over being shy) you weren’t to be trusted. He had a sense about people. He also never forgot anyone. It could be months or even a year in-between visits, but he’d always remember you.
Zephyr was the best pet I’d ever had; I’d also had him longer than any other animal. 16-years is a long time to have anyone in your life. It’s longer than any man has ever lasted, I’ll say that!
At least…so far.
I love you, big guy; you were the bestest kitty EVER. And that red bucket! How you made us laugh, brought us joy and shone a bright light into everyone’s life you touched.
I want to say that it’s a little better with each passing year, and it is…but marginally. I still get taken aback by the rush of grief that spills into my daily routine, unannounced and unwelcomed.
The tears still sting and the ache in my heart really isn’t any less. It’s just less often. There are daily reminders of his existence on earth and in my life; I’m grateful for them and accept them with grace. He still is and always will be: the one that got away. Only his ‘away’ was pretty horrific.
I’ve built up my life around softness, empathy and understanding. Yes, I still have a wonderful (forever) man in my life. He’s not going anywhere and for that, I’m so, so, happy. He’s my rock and grounds me to this earth when my spirit wants nothing more than to fly away.
In a month, it will be THAT day. That terrible, horrid, worst-day-of-my-life, day – and, once again, it will all come crashing down around me. It’s okay; I always prepare. The lead-up, however, is easier, this year. I don’t go over old emails and texts from him, still looking for some clue that I should have known this would happen.
Thankfully, I’ve stopped that. It’s pointless, really. A little torturous, too.
I was so inexperienced with his mental illness, so new in our relationship, so in-love and so terrified. I don’t think there was anything different I could have done, given the tools (and lack of) that I had at the time. I simply didn’t know how or what to do – other than to do everything in my power to be there, be present, love him, do what I could to keep him safe and then…have faith that he’d stay.
He didn’t. But we all know our story didn’t end well.
I want to tell it. REALLY tell it; it’s quite a love story, after all. A tragic, messy, funny, sad – love story. I’m almost ready, but not quite.
I still miss him, and I know that we all do – all of us that he touched. There were many. I’m not the only one grieving and I know, out there, there are others. Others like us who understand the depths of suicide grief and it’s never ending dark and deep hole in our lives. It really feels like a part of you died with that person. And as you constantly struggle with trying to understand…
Somewhere in a gentle and loving stillness, there is forgiveness. Not just for them, but for us. For not being able to save them, for not being there, for being angry, for so many things, I’ve lost count.
Forgive yourself. You, who travel this road of sorrow, with me. You did all you could; they know that. HE knows that. A choice was made that wasn’t ours to make or judge.
My story has carried on, but I can still tell his in the best and most loving way that I can. We can still honour their lives here and in the Afterlife.
I’ve learned SO much and continue to grow with this experience. It will walk with me, until I walk into the light. I’ll always advocate for understanding and to end the stigma, the secrecy and the embarrassment. The finger-pointing, the judgement and the ignorance that comes attached to suicide – both for those who’ve taken their lives and for us who are still on Earth; it has to stop.
Let’s replace them with: Love, Compassion, Understanding, Openness, Communication & Kindness.
Recently, someone close to me lost their job for the 2nd time in just under a year and a half. As you can imagine, this is devastating, and he feels like he is a complete failure; his self-worth stock suddenly took a nose dive and there he was, just another worthless piece of garbage tossed to the side of the curb. All of the hard work he’d put in, 60+ hour weeks, not taking vacation and doing everything that he could to be all that was asked of him, now meant nothing.
To make matters worse, he didn’t see it coming. The circumstances didn’t make sense. Just a few months, prior, he’d had his one-year review, and all was well, in fact, he got a nice raise! There were no indicators that something had gone awry. It was shocking, and the reasons given didn’t add up.
This is just one example of having our power taken away.
When we are let go from our jobs, whatever the reason, there is a deflation of positive energy and an inflation of negative energy such as anxiety; you’ve just been tossed into a black hole of: WTF just happened?! Suddenly our livelihood is in jeopardy, our sense of self and worthiness is now in question. Worse, we often feel we’ve let those that depend on us, down.
Negative emotions will surround someone who’s power is yanked from them, no matter what the circumstance. In this case, this person was powerLESS to do anything about it. There are huge waves of grief, anger, confusion that they’re riding on. There is depression, sadness, (there is a difference) guilt and denial. All of these are completely normal.
At some point, there will eventually be acceptance and ultimately surrender. The damage is done but soon, the healing will begin.
When someone or a circumstance takes your power, the most important thing to remember is: You can and will get it back. The fastest way to do this is to stop denying all of the uncomfortable emotions that bubble up and first, acknowledge them, and then work with and through them.
Denial gets you nowhere. Shoving your pain away is like trying to constantly keep a massive beachball, underwater. The damn thing keeps popping up and smacking you in the face and the farther you push the ball under, the more energy it creates so that when it pops up, it has a greater force and intensity. As well, there are usually several beachballs at once, each a different colour with a different emotion attached to it.
When this happens, stop shoving them down, pick one up and look at it. What do you see? Is it guilt? Let’s work through that. Remember you’re not alone, you’ve got people who care about you and will listen. You’ll need to express yourself, talk about why you’re feeling guilty. Reach out to your partner or friend, family or clergy – whomever you can. If you’re feeling there is no one, there are numbers you can call to talk to someone at no charge. There is no judgment. Here is a number you can text or call 24/7 1-877-870-4673.
The same is true for all of the beachballs/emotions. You’ll be angry, so BE ANGRY!! You have every right to be! BE sad, it’s good to cry and cleanse. Take responsibility for what you did or didn’t do but don’t accept blame for something that had nothing to do with you.
BE. Be kind to yourself, take it gently through the first few days. You can and will get back up on that horse. Little by little, you’ll feel you’re back in the driver’s seat. Take action and take stalk of everything that you DO have. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak; it makes you human – just like the rest of us.
Many will tell you that the “why’s” don’t matter and you should just let it go. I disagree. When you’ve gotten your power back and feel you’re ready to move on, you’ll realize that the outcome would have been the same, no matter what. But, in the moment, when it’s fresh, you’ll want to understand what happened and I’m going to say most of the time, the situation won’t make sense.
Knowing what went wrong will bring you a little peace. However, I caution you; you may never fully know. You’ll want to hash it out, ad nauseam, and that’s okay. Remember, express yourself. Talk about it, write about it, get it out and into the open so it’s not stuck, inside, and all bottled up. You’re liable to burst like a soda pop on an automatic paint mixer, if you don’t let yourself vent and explore the situation from every angle.
Once you’ve reasoned things out and realize you’re not such a terrible person (assuming you actually didn’t do something terrible) you’ll feel better, increasing your energy and voila, you’re starting to get back into your own Power.
When someone or a situation takes you out of your power, it can feel like you’ve lost part of yourself. Know it’s not forever and it takes a little time and self-care to get it back.
It’s been a while since I’ve had the energy to write a blog post and I thought the reasons why (anxiety/stress/fear/grief) would be a good topic, and how we need to look after ourselves during difficult times.
Maybe you’re one of those people; you know, that person whom everyone else relies upon. The Dependable One. Is this sounding familiar? You are that individual that people turn to when times are tough. Maybe someone has lost a family member, or your neighbour was in an accident and they need your help. Perhaps you have a good friend whose life is full of frustration, and they need someone to really hear and see them. That someone just happens to be YOU.
The thing is, you’re probably going through your own stuff. Maybe you have people in your life that you care about that have addictions. Perhaps there’s an ill family member or your job is dragging you down. It could be a number of issues and situations that cause feelings such as anxiety/stress/fear/grief, or even, anger/depression/hopelessness. All you need to do is pick one.
Thus, along with being there for everyone else, you are dealing with your own shit, too.
This can be difficult because you may not be the kind of person who feels comfortable reaching out for help, for yourself. You may not post about all of your ‘stuff’ on social media. In fact, you could be really quiet about what’s going on in your own life, only sharing with a select few…so not many really know that you’re suffering, too.
During these times, self-care is imperative. Let’s call it emotional health rather than mental health. I don’t really like the term coined by science: mental health as opposed to physical health, because it implies that our brain is separate from our physical bodies. It is not. However, our emotions/feelings are intangible results of situations and, ultimately, our experiences.
We could get into quite the lengthy debate over whether our experiences are stored in our brain, our heart, or our soul. I think all are true. That said, we can’t exactly examine an emotion, touch it, feel it, measure it, in the same we can a physical body part. It’s an invisible energy/force that has a ripple-effect on everything.
So, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of my point. During stressful times where there are elements beyond your control that cause upset, one needs to slow it down and take a little care of both our physical body and emotional wellbeing.
Yet, so few take the time to do this. We’re all caught up in a race to some finish line (possibly death) and not many make time to simply BE STILL and allow emotions to settle down, so we can better serve ourselves. If we can’t serve ourselves, we certainly can’t serve others.
How many times have you heard this phrase uttered by breathless, stressed-out and angry people when told to slow down: “I’ll slow down/sleep when I’m dead!”
People, I have news for you; life doesn’t end when your body is dead and there is no slowing down or sleeping in the Afterlife. But, that’s another blog post so let’s carry on with the presenting theme of this one.
Are you still with me?
Make. Time. For. Your. Self. That is all that is required. Whether it’s meditation, physical exercise, reading a good book or simply going for a walk, in nature – all of it will help you cope.
Take care of your feelings. Let’s dig a little deeper into that sentence.
Caring for your feelings. This would indicate that you have to acknowledge that you’re having some that are causing you problems, in the first place. Then, you have to figure out which one/s they are, and finally why/what is the underlying cause AND (last but not least), care about them.
Drilling down and taking a deep dive into ourselves can be a bit foreboding but once you’ve identified what’s happening, you can move forward with a plan to create a better environment for you to heal and, ultimately, feel better.
Does that make sense?
There are tons of posts about self-care, out there, and I don’t want to get into self-indulgence because this isn’t what I’m writing about. More to the point, I’m writing about holding space for yourself before you hold space for someone else. If we’re not at our best with our own body and spirit, we can’t be our best for someone else’s.
It’s okay to say: No.
Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s simply respecting your own space and creating boundaries. There will be times when you’re overloaded while dealing with your own personal life, that you simply can’t deal with another’s. That’s okay. No one will blame you and if they do, that’s their issue. Let them go; you don’t want these types of people in your life, anyway. They’re draining, and they’ll suck the life out of you.
Creating boundaries doesn’t make you selfish. You’re not a narcissist if you’re giving yourself some consideration, once in a while, instead of always putting everyone else, first.
It doesn’t mean you have to give a play-by-play on Facebook about how/what you’re doing for your self-care. In fact, during this time, I recommend that you stay away from things like Social Media, entirely. There’s a lot of BS on there that we can get all caught up in and let me tell you: things are not always what they seem.
So, what are you going to do to take care of your emotional health? When are you going to start putting up a few boundaries and say no, once in a while, to allow yourself to move through your own stuff?
At what point will you discover you’ve got so little energy that it’s time to S L O W down and make room for some healing?
I’d say the time is now. In this very moment. Just do it. Start the process and watch yourself become a better, healthier/stronger, you.
It’s odd how we count the days/months and then years after someone passes over to the other side. I think the passage of time leaves little tick marks that dig deep into our hearts to remind us that although it still hurts like hell…we’re still here.
Life on earth goes on without them.
We endure the absence of these loved ones in our daily live and if you’re like me, their presence is never far away. Even as the years pass by, our missed people still linger in our thoughts and dance in and out of memories like sun beams across the floor.
It’s year three since Brian left us and as much as I’d like to say it hurts less, it simply doesn’t. It does, however, grow into a smoother transition and although I had my share of tears, I smiled, as well.
I sat in the morning sun with my favourite tarot cards and asked him, out loud, if he’d guide me to pull out the card that I wanted. This would prove to me that he was really there. I was emotional and didn’t trust (as usual). It took a few tries between salty tears to hear him properly and after dropping the deck a few time, I was successful.
Finally, I stayed still long enough, and calmed my heart, to hear his voice.
“Use your right hand,” he gently said. “That’s it…take a deep breath and carefully choose with your heart. Take your time; I’m here.”
(He’s ridiculously patient with me.)
I slid out one card with eyes shut tight. Flipping it over, I smiled while launching a fresh volley of rain from my half-lidded eyes.
The Love Card.
It’s the one I always wish for when I feel him near. If I try too hard, I fail. This time, I didn’t and showered him with my gratitude. It was a wonderful start to a sad day.
A while ago, I took a little writing course. One of the exercises I had to do was write a letter to myself (from my future self), one that I’d read, back in time. Of course, I had to choose the most difficult day of my entire life to send this letter to: the day after Brian took his life.
I found this exercise most powerful and healing. I will incorporate this into my Coaching sessions as I think it’s valuable to people.
Feel free to give it a try.
May 11, 2017
You’re reading this the day after that really bad thing happened (May 12, 2015). That’s what we (as in- you and I) ended up calling it. Sometimes we simply can’t bear to speak it out loud. It’s been two years. In fact, today is the 2nd anniversary of his death.
I know you’re in shock. I know this is the very worst thing that has every happened in your life. We both know there have been a lot of very bad things – this one tops all of them. I believe with all my heart we will never have to deal with anything this terrible, ever again. That’s a good thing because I don’t think you/we could survive it.
Right this moment, you’re torn apart and your heart just went through a rusty shredder. It’s been hurled all over the place, bits and pieces of bleeding muscle and everything is soaked in your tears. The very sky is dripping with sadness in spite of it’s perfect spring-blue. The cherry trees are still blooming and a warm west wind blows in to ripple the Pacific, but all you see is black.
I want to explain a few things to you so that eventually, you can take back something that you had so strongly before this happened: Hope.
Our love for him was enormous, vividly deep and hope was our wings; we defied everything. We felt it would carry us and him through those dark and inky days. We were wrong about that because it was never our choice. It was always his.
I need you to know that hope lives on and that this pain will ebb back into that depthless sea from which it came. Like a shadow moving through the light, it will take on many forms, grow, recede and finally it will only follow you around, a ghost, catching your attention, now and then, instead of staring you right in the face as it’s doing now – screaming that this CAN’T be true, there MUST be some sort of mistake because Brian CAN NOT be dead.
You’ll eventually come to terms with this and please know that he is here, always with you, always sending you signs and he hasn’t stopped. He won’t unless you ask him to.
I want you to understand that we made it through the fire. Oh yes, we walked right on through the centre of agony and didn’t stop. We just kept on moving forward even though it was excruciating and when we emerged, black and scorched, we turned back to look but the fire was gone. We’d used it all up, consumed it in our grief. There was nothing left but our smoking footprints to show us where we’d been.
We’d made it.
YOU, will make it. You HAVE made it and even though there are moments when you are raw again, broken apart and the tears flow like muddy rivers…you never let go of that hope. It carries you, it cradles you and now it leads you to where you’ve always needed to be.
So, cry and sob and be angry. Scream, weep softly and know you loved like you’ve never loved in your life. Remember him. Speak his name, often. He’s around and you can feel him in the stillness of the morning, just before the birdsong, moments before the first rays of dawn and seconds after the darkest part of the night.
Hello me…it’s me. Today is the first day that he’s gone – really gone… you feel as if you, too, may leave this world from your torn apart heart. You won’t. You’re still here, better than ever. Hope, your love, his love, all that brought you here and all those days yet to be born, are waiting just for you.
So…what would you say to your past self if you could send a letter from the future?
I’m taking an online introductory course in Counselling and I’m currently reading a book called: The Skilled Helper. It’s interesting. I’ve barely started and already I’ve noticed that there is something very important and fundamentally missing in our Western system: we do not teach our young how to manage their mental health. At least, not on a large scale.
We show them how to take care of their bodies through eating well and exercising. We teach them to read, write and problem solve with equations. Sometimes we send them to Church and teach them about religion and morals, but….what about how to handle a crisis? How about teaching our kids about how their emotions work and that it’s okay to talk about them? What happened to focusing on alternative ways to handle situations, emotionally?
This is why we have Coaches and Counsellers! It’s not about telling someone what to do and how to handle their life but helping them discover and identify unused resources and opportunities that they already have, such as: How to cope during an emergency, how to deal with life’s stresses, how to handle emotional pain/anger/death/grief etc.
Do they even talk about this in school? How about at home? I’m not a parent and I can tell you that when I went to school (a LONG time ago) it was never covered off, not even remotely.
Now, I did a little research and it looks like in the British Columbia, curriculum under Physical Health, this subject is touched upon, briefly. So, I’m encouraged but from what I’ve read, it’s certainly not extensive. Big topics such as: sexual identity, bullying, emotional and physical changes during puberty and managing problems related to mental health are all in there. That’s great! This is 100% better than when I was a kid, but what about the nuts and bolts of everyday life? What about how we always tell boys not to cry and to suck it up? And how media encourages girls to look ‘western’ pretty (thin/sculpted features/large breasts…you get what I’m saying. Most of them do not look like that; I didn’t and sure don’t, now. What about female role models? Has that changed much? By looking at the books with key female roles, not so much.
My 22-year old niece worshipped Barbie from 2-years old until around 8 or 9-years old. What are we telling our kids who grow up thinking Barbie is what a woman is supposed to look like?
Our world is SO fast-paced and intellectually engaging for our young. We give them high-tech electronics practically at birth but do we ever sit down and talk about what it’s like to be sad or mad? Or, what this growing emotional being thinks about all of that? Think about it. Emotions RUN our lives. If you believe differently, just look at the news and then come back and tell me how it made you FEEL.
I’m just saying, folks, we need to change our entire strategy. What good is having a degree in neural science, having a perfect body, being wildly successful in your career if you’re not happy on the inside?
Now, I know a few AMAZing parents who nurture their children wisely and by the time they are teenagers, I’m willing to bet they will be highly sensitive, functional and intelligent beings capable of making very good decisions. That’s not the norm, though.
So what is the answer? How do we prepare the next generation so they can help fix this world? Who is responsible? Parents? Teachers?
Everyone. What’s who. Without a group effort, this paradigm shift will not take place any time soon.
It’s been two years to the day that the man I loved ended his life; an odd anniversary of sorts and there is still so much to say and so much that I’ve already said. I feel, sometimes, that I’m endlessly repeating myself.
So, I’ll be somewhat brief.
If you’ve known someone or loved someone who has experience with losing a person to suicide, or intimately understand what it’s like because you’ve been through it…
Be gentle. Be kind and be empathetic to those that have survived and yourself, if you – like me, have learned to live with it.
You see, that’s all you can do; live with it. You don’t get over it and you don’t forget about it just because it’s behind you. You live with the stigma of suicide around you, every day.
I’m not a grief counselor but I will become an educator. This happens so much more often than I was ever aware of and I’m guessing most people are not aware of the staggering statistics.
Why? Because we, as a society, sweep it under the carpet. It’s a dirty little secret and we talk in hushed, whispered tones, quickly looking around to make sure we are not overheard.
“Did you hear? He killed himself…”
Then, everyone not involved, goes about their daily life and tries not to think about it. Yup. We typically don’t reach out to the survivors, we don’t try and understand mental illness; we try and forget about it if it didn’t concern ourselves directly.
Before Brian, I’d never had any experience with suicide, suicide grief or had known anyone close to me who’d chosen to leave the world by their own hand. So, I can’t say that I was any different, or any more compassionate. Honestly, I can’t remember if the topic ever came up.
My point is that it’s not a fault of the individual; it’s the fault of our culture and the lack of education and understanding.
So I will become one of the educators because I really need to. I need people to understand that you can’t get over it. It lives with you, daily. It becomes a part of you and rather than reject it, I choose to embrace it.
I choose to take this experience and make something positive out of it.
Brian’s life mattered. ALL lives matter, no matter what our exit strategy is out of this world.
So please, don’t pretend it doesn’t happen. Don’t avoid the topic or whisper about it.
YELL IT OUT.
Everyone needs to know and learn about mental illness and how to help those that are suffering.
Because it can kill.
Just like cancer.
Just like any other disease known to humans.
It’s time to make this a priority and stop pretending it’s not a massive problem.
Suicide is a major cause of premature and preventable deaths.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people of all ages. In 2009, it ranked as the ninth leading cause of death in Canada. Among those aged 15 to 34, suicide was the second leading cause of death, preceded only by accidents (unintentional injuries).
I blog a lot about Brian and how his suicide changed my life. However, this post isn’t so much about Bri, but more on how those changes have taken root and grown in the past (almost) two years.
It’s a little early as it’s two months away but the closer I get to the date, the harder it becomes, emotionally. Today, however, today I can write/talk about what’s happened in the span of almost 24 months.
Firstly, it DOES get easier. It really does. Not a lot, but I’ll take any tiny bit of peace I can get. It’s not that I still don’t think of him every day or get weepy when a song on the radio comes on that reminds me of him…but it’s a little less. I feel I’ve turned a corner on this grief and I wanted to share that with you.
If you’d met me pre-Brian and today, you’d definitely know that I’ve changed as a person – for the good and not so good.
I find that, for nice people, I’m more willing to do just about anything, should they ask. For jerks, I have zero tolerance and I tend to lose my temper, a lot. I’m mindful of my meltdowns and, for the most part, I can calm myself and not fall apart when something makes me irate.
From what I understand, this is still part of processing what happened. It’s getting less and daily meditation is helping.
I find that I’ve become an advocate, of sorts, and will not tolerate any jokes towards mental illness. I’m extremely sensitive towards people talking flippantly about suicide but I’ve also become more aware and caring as an individual. I do what I can for my fellow human and I find that I will cry, easily, over sad or touching pictures/events/videos/etc.
I FINALLY know what I want to be when I grow up! Yes, it’s taken 51 years, but better late than never, right? Had you told me I was going to be a Life Coach? I would have asked: what’s a Life Coach??
I believe in myself (my abilities) a whole bunch more, but my self-esteem still needs some work. No matter how many times my sweetheart assures me I’m NOT fat, ugly, old…(insert every female insecurity here) I have a hard time believing it’s true. Pre-Brian, I was pretty certain I was doing really well and for 49, thought I was hawt! Now, I’m not so sure how I feel about ‘me’. Part of it has to do with that Woman, whom he was still smitten with and who broke his heart (which lead to his premature demise)… and part of it has to do with getting older. Starting Menopause has not been a whole hell of a lot of fun, I can tell you that.
Two years ago, I was doing very well at my job, LOVED it, in fact, and was kinda proud of myself for doing well and being finally debt-free. I really liked myself and knew I was in a good space for a lasting relationship with the right person. I didn’t have any baggage, was saving to buy a place and felt I had a lot to offer.
Today, I’m actually financially even better off (thanks to Brian’s life insurance) but other than having a great down payment for a home and paying off the new car I bought (after I accidentally murdered the old one in a bad accident), the money means nothing to me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate it, that’s not it at all. I really do!
It’s just that money, in general, doesn’t = success/fun, any more. It’s necessary and I need/want it, but it’s just kinda there. Prior to this tragedy, had I come across a large sum of cash, I’d be planning trips and having an awesome time but maybe because I didn’t ‘earn’ this money and because of the circumstances around it, it seems like I shouldn’t spend any of it on anything other than stuff that’s necessary (car/home).
Funny story – when I went to pay off my car loan, the loan clerk looked at me and said (knowing that I’d gotten the cash from an inheritance): Congratulations!!
I just stared at her in disbelief thinking how what I’d do/give/sell (my soul??) to have Brian back. She finally figure out that this wasn’t a ‘happy’ inheritance (what ones ever are?!) and said her condolences for my loss. Idiot.
Today, I appreciate my career but believe it’s not what I’m supposed to do. Today, it’s not about feeding my bank account but feeding my soul and my urgent need to help others.
Two years ago, I ‘may’ have been a tiny bit arrogant. Today ‘humble’ is my middle name. I have a hard time NOT being empathetic to people that, in the past, I would never be. Although, if you say or imply anything bad towards Brian or mental illness (of any sort) the claws come out, quick.
They are quite sharp and lethal, I assure you.
Two years ago, I couldn’t have imagined meeting someone like Pete who is the first man in I-don’t-know-how-many-years…whom I actually BELIEVE is truly in love with me. Seriously, he adores me rotten and I don’t know how I’d be doing, now, without him – me this broken, fragile remanence of a woman.I’m surprised he stuck it out; life with me isn’t always easy.
I needed someone with really BIG LOVE to come into my life…just as Brian needed the same from me. Funny how that works, isn’t it? I helped him, even if he took his life, anyway, I think he stuck around a little while longer because he knew I loved him so VERY much.
Sometimes BIG love is enough, sometimes it isn’t.
I get it now, Spirit, thank you for that lesson.
Two years ago, if you’d told me that I’ve have my own website, little business, and be planning to completely change careers, mid-life, I wouldn’t have believed you.
Two years ago, if you’d told me that I’d come out as a Psychic Medium, I would have burst out laughing. Today, it’s just part of my everyday life.
Two years ago, just before I met Brian, I was really lonely and wondered if I’d EVER find someone to live the rest of my life with. Today, the man I love not only lives with me, but I can’t imagine a day where I wouldn’t wake up next to him. He doesn’t fill the hole that Brian left (it’s a rather large one) but, instead, fills my whole heart with love and joy. I couldn’t be more thankful for him.
Two years ago, I was just going along …living life and not really paying too much attention.
Today, I live in every moment, pay attention to everything and feel blessed for every hurt/tear/sob/scar; because without these, I wouldn’t have grown. I wouldn’t have known the plight of those who are suffering (mostly in silence) with mental illnesses and I wouldn’t have discovered what I really had in me, as a Soul, having a very HUMAN experience.
It’s coming up to two years since Brian passed away by his own hand.
TWO. Years. About a week ago, (back 24 months) we’d just met.
Some days it seems like it was yesterday and I can still hear his laugh and feel the smoothness of his skin.
Other days, I’m lost in the moment of what my life is now: established relationship, getting ready to purchase a condo, together, same job…and of course, a new little company that I’ve started on the side.
I’m now a (proper) Professional (certified) Life Coach. (happy dance!)
If I look back, I’ve come a long way since that fateful May evening but on the other hand, it still haunts me. This, more than anything, confirms that grief knows no template or order.
It simply ‘is’ there and will show up whenever it feels like it. Or…not at all. I can now go whole days without shedding a tear, but I still think of him, often. There’s all the little reminders sprinkled around my life. I think, once we move, it will get a little easier.
This event is so significant that I don’t feel I’ll ever be able to put it behind me, rather, it will accompany me on my journey – kind of like a little stone I carry around in my shoe. It hurts, but I’ve grown used to it and there are now calluses to help mitigate the ache. I think I’d miss it if it should disappear.
I hope I’m wiser. I hope this has made me a better (more kindhearted and caring) person. I pray that I never have to maneuver through this kind of hell, again. I don’t think I’d survive it. I ask that I be able to continue to help others in any way or by any means that I can. I will always advocate for mental health.
I really should proof-read at least 10 times before hitting the “post” button. It would seem I double copied some of my previous post and well…that’s just never fun to read, is it?
Most sorry about that and all fixed now. 🙂
Aright – onwards and upwards.
I’ll list 5 more little known (or maybe you DO know them) items one may want to think on when going through any type of sorrow.
Create a safe space for yourself to ‘do’ the grieving. Crying is just part of it. You may want to yell, scream, throw things or simply curl up into a little ball and whimper. All of this is OKAY. You’re going through trauma and shoving all that raw emotion down into yourself will make it worse. Let it out.
Think about what happens when you put on a pot of water to boil with a tight lid on it. What happens, eventually, when the water boils? It’s all about the pressure. At some point, we will boil over as there will be a tremendous amount of pressure building inside us and it needs out.
Again, let it all out. If you’re not comfortable doing this in front of anyone, make sure you’re alone. If you have someone who can be there with and for you, tell them exactly what you need to do. It’s less scary that way. If you need to scream while someone is holding you – do it.
It’s okay to be angry and sad. In fact, it’s completely normal. Remember, your life has just been turned upside down and all the contents that were YOU have been dumped out. You’ve now got the task of collecting yourself and reassembling YOU. It’s not an easy job.
Be ready for the waves. I’ve heard the analogy plenty of times and it’s such an accurate one. My counsellor told me that there will be massive tsunamis and small swells. You just don’t know when they’ll be coming because they’re stealthy little shits.
You may be in the middle of a meeting and suddenly “WHAM!” you remind yourself that you should call someone about something funny that just happened in said meeting and then the very next thought is: “Oh yeah, so-and-so is DEAD.”
And just like that it’s game over. You’re reliving everything and preventing tears is extremely difficult. I believe this is a good example of why just getting on with your life and keeping yourself busy may not work so well.
So how do you deal with that? I would say any way you can. I’ve feigned having to use the ladies and excused myself. I’ve sucked it back, finished the meeting and then allowed myself to have a complete breakdown in my car, afterwards. There is just no easy answer as that elephant in the room that you’re trying to ignore comes over and steps on you, every once in a while.
It’s not like you can say: “Sorry, my wife just asked me for a divorce out of the blue so I need to take a moment and cry; is that alright with you?”
But hey, wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a world where that WAS okay to do? Where people were so compassionate that they’d understand completely?
People will avoid you. Well, most people will when they find out. That’s because, as humans, we’re not good with seeing others grieve. We’re uncomfortable and we really don’t know what’s expected of us. Some, will reach out briefly to offer condolences but then disappear back into the abyss. Your true friends, however, will be there and they will check in on you regularly.
Typically these are the people who have been through some sort of traumatic grief, themselves. My best friend battled (and won!) against breast cancer but it took its toll on her and she went through hell.
SHE, got it. We were there for each other and it didn’t matter how often I needed to talk about it, she listened, and listened and listened some more. I can still talk to her any time. And she knows she can talk to me, anytime, about everything she is still going through. She lives on the other side of the planet but we’re thick as thieves.
It’s okay to let those people who ARE there for you, know when you need some space. Sometimes you need to be by yourself to process everything. It’s understandable, as you desperately try and make sense of what happened. In the case of suicide bereavement, you may never make sense of it because, to the ones left living, we can’t ever comprehend what was going on in their minds and hearts.
Know that you’ll learn to live with this. If you need some solitude, take it. Always be kind to yourself.
For a long time, it will be like you’re walking in a fog. You will go through a torrent of emotions and no, they won’t be in a nice little package labeled: The Five (and I’ve seen seven) Stages of Grief. Yes, those emotions will be knocking at your door, but there are no neat little ‘stages’ where you can tick off each one as they come and go. NOPE, it doesn’t work that way. In fact there are a ton of emotions to get to know.
I’d like to point out that I never went through denial. I also didn’t go through bargaining. I am, though, quite good friends with depression and anger. Each visit me, frequently, and we get on quite well. Sometimes they show up for tea at the same time and we have a big ‘ole party.
Now, guilt. Guilt and I are practically best buds. This is such a fun emotion (not) and even though I know full well I could not have saved Brian, some part of me still likes to think I could have and that if I’d only done this or that (like not forget my damn phone) he’d still be alive. The fact is: he made a choice then and there and it’s already happened. I cannot change the outcome.
And just like that it was all over and my whole world changed. Yours will change, too. It’s maneuvering those changes that I can help you with.
I think this is a better representation but we’re all unique and going through grief is different for every person.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the US’s recent election (I’m Canadian) and thought I should write about that. Then, I realized that I really needed to figure out the next step in my career (which is to help heal those in grief through Life Coaching and other healing modalities).
Oddly enough, the two collide as I watch my Southern neighbour come to grips with who their next leader really is. I see many in grief.
So this might be apropos; but let’s stick to the topic…
Some of the things you need to know and that I’d cover off in sessions are (I’ll start with 5):
It’s okay to grieve. Whatever society (by that I mean religion, upbringing, culture, etc.) says to you, It’s OKAY to feel bad when you’re going through a shitty time. Whether it’s something incredibly traumatic like a suicide or something immediately life altering, like losing your job, you need to grieve. It’s not only healthy, it’s necessary.
In fact, you can’t NOT grieve as even if you stuff your emotions deep down inside yourself, they’ll come bubbling up in a violent torrent and (trust me on this one) it will be much worse than just letting it happen right from the start.
Grief comes in a nice variety of forms. From tears to rage to quiet depression and everything you can think of, in-between. It’s a hell of a ride. It can haunt you in your dreams, prevent you from sleeping, cause you to overeat, under eat and wreak havoc on your immune system so you’re more vulnerable to getting ill. The message? Take care – EXTRA care of yourself and know that your behavior will be anything from normal. Again…it’s okay.
Grief is going to change you. This change starts from the moment that bad thing (whatever it was) happened. This change is ongoing and could move within you for sometime. Where you’ll land is undetermined but while you’re changing, it may be helpful to be cognizant of it, at least.
This will help you a great deal when it comes to determining the changes you want to make in your life. It could be something small or, in my case, it could completely change who you are and what your prime focus becomes.
Not every one is going to be understanding of your pain. Even if your child is taken away from you prematurely, there still may be some asshole who says something ‘not’ empathetic like: Well, at least he died peacefully… Know this: when life takes a turn for the worst, you learn who supports you and who doesn’t. If you encounter someone who brushes your pain off, tells you to ‘suck it up, buttercup’, or just plain avoids you, let them out of your life.
I’m not saying you need to be mean, but you’ll be doing yourself a favour by lovingly letting these people go. They are not in alignment with you and vice versa. Keep those around you who don’t judge, don’t give you their opinions, and most of all, are there to LISTEN to you or just be with you when you’re on your knees or curled up in a little ball of heart wrenching tears.
Get lots of rest and take as much time off as you can. When Brian took his life, I took all of 4 days off work. He died on a Monday. The next Monday I was off on a plane to visit a client in the interior of BC for meetings and presentations.
The amount of effort it took for me to a) stay on track, b) NOT burst into sobs and c) be coherent – was incredible. I think it took every ounce of will within me to keep sane. People told me to ‘just get back into it’ and that I’d feel better.
They were wrong. Keep yourself busy! My boss told me. I wanted to shimmy under my bed and hide from the world for an eternity. Sometimes it was so overwhelming and confusing, I wanted to die. Not take my own life, but I literally prayed for death. It was so much more than I ever could have imagined: more terrible, more heart breaking, more surreal, more painful, more of everything.
So, take all the time you need and don’t short change yourself.
Stay tuned and don’t touch that dial…there’s more comin’ your way.
Yep; thought that title would grab your attention.
As an out of the closet Intuitive Medium, I chat with Bri on a regular basis. It’s healing when you’re going through a shit-ton of grief. It doesn’t matter that I have a new man in my life whom I adore and it doesn’t matter that it’s been a year and a half. The ache, the pain, it’s all still there and I need consoling.
So yeah, he knows when I’m in tears and when I have doubts and when I’m heading towards the darkness of depression. He’s been there, you see, so he totally gets it. Having someone he thought he’d spend the rest of his life with suddenly walk out on him and tell him to never bother her again, was devastating to him.
Having a man you’re completely in love with take their life over thatis equally devastating. I have some bad days. In fact, I have many bad days where I feel like I’m drowning but somehow I manage to tread water long enough to get to the next day…and the next.
So what does he tell me? He tells me to hang in there. He tells me I’ll be okay; sometimes I don’t believe him but I listen, anyway. He tells me he loves me. I sometimes don’t believe that, either, but that’s just me playing the ‘hurt’ card. I know, in my heart, he does.
He tells me to do it for him and that he’s here for me like I was for him. He thanks me for being so patient with him and never giving up hope. He has high hopes for me. At times, he’s playful (he always did have a stupendous sense of humour!) and sweet. Other times, he’s serious and gets frustrated with me constantly questioning his feelings. He wants me to know, quite adamantly, that he loved me then, loves me now, and will continue to do so.
But sometimes I can be a little shit and I go through the ‘I’m mad at you’ feelings and I slink down into unworthiness and guilt; those are SO much fun to deal with. I loop back around to compare myself to HER – and I can’t because I’m not 13-years younger with a perfect yoga bod with long blonde perfect hair and a perfect pretty face. I’m 50 for God’s sake. Although I think I’ve held up well…
I feel that I wasn’t ENOUGH for him but I know the truth. He wasn’t enough for himself. He wasn’t leaving ME, or HER – he was trying to break up with himself. As he found out, this cannot be done but I assure you the unbearable pain he encircled himself with is long gone. He’s fine – regretful, but fine.
He hangs around, patiently, while I move through self-deprecating emotions and waits until I come to the same conclusion, every time. That I was enough for him and that I DID have what he was looking for in a relationship, and then some. If I can quote him: “A relationship can’t survive, or be of any measurable substance, if there’s no depth. A pretty face and nice body is not depth.”
I have depth in abundance.
What you need to know is…they are around you.
Talk to them. You know who I mean, the one you lost and loved. They are near you a LOT. They see your tears and can hear you just as plain as day. Speak to them out loud and look for signs; they will send them. They are OKAY; they are with Spirit and GOD/Source whatever you want to call IT.
They are alive! They are without hurts and afflictions, they are whole and healthy and happy. And possibly the thing you need to know the most:
They Miss you. They Love you. And they do these things, constantly, as much as you do.
One of the things I was never told in my counselling sessions since Brian passed away, is the fact that I was in the process of changing and would continue to change. In essence, I am becoming a different version of myself.
Now, many things trigger changes within ourselves but suicide is pretty major. I can only tell you my personal experience with this but I know it’s the same for every person going through suicide bereavement. We just don’t look at the world the same, ever again.
In fact, I don’t even look at my friends and family the same or life, in general. Every person’s suicide survivor story is unique to them, as are the changes that occur.
One of the services I wish to offer, in future as a Life Coach, is to help determine what those changes are and how we can best use them to our greatest and highest good. I had to learn to put my life back together, by myself. It was hard because my family and many of my friends didn’t want to discuss it and wished I’d just get on with my life and forget about the whole thing. After all, I’d only known Brian for all of 3-months, didn’t I? How come I was still so upset?
Well, we know that love doesn’t come attached to a time frame and because I was smack in the middle of the infatuation/honeymoon part of the relationship, I got kind of stuck there. Being still “in love” with a man who took his life is very complicated – specifically seeing as the ‘trigger’ event was another woman. As you can imagine, this comes with its own assortment of interesting issues. I had to sort through that, myself, too.
I suspect having help with this from someone who can understand what it’s like to move through the pain and sorrow, could and would be helpful.
I’d like to put together a program of healing and movement. What I mean by that is:
Acknowledging feelings and moving through them over time with the goal to be able to express them in a helpful and healing way. I started colouring! It helped me relax my brain and stop the constant chatter that was going on in there.
Determining next steps in your life and identifying the changes that are taking place in your beliefs, relationships, spiritual understanding etc. I broke up with a few friends and reinforced a bond with another.
Set up goals and touchpoints (to make sure we’re on track) and align them with our core desires. I discovered that I didn’t want to do my day-job any longer so I started taking steps towards something more fulfilling.I’m not there, yet, but I’ve started the process.
I could go on, but you get the point. What worked for me may not work for others but there is something out there that WILL help. The new YOU may or may not be similar to the old YOU and one needs to prepare for that. I think my family is finally starting to see the differences in me, little by little. And, not all changes are that positive so we have to be mindful. You may find yourself not as tolerant or patient, for example, but these are things, once recognized, that you can work on.
I’m embracing the new me but she’s not done transforming. It will be interesting, in the next few years, to see where she lands and I’m rather excited about it.
So, if you’ve been touched by suicide and all of this actually makes sense, know that you’re going to change and that it’s perfectly okay to do so. How or if you choose to help the process is your choice but be aware that these changes will take place through time and if you can identify them, along the way, it could help you through the process.
As I’m meandering my way through my Life Coaching Course, I’m learning a few new things and validating others that I already knew. Not ever being a fan of sympathy, I was happy to learn that empathy trumps it (NOT the Donald) every time.
Do you know the difference? I could write an entire chapter on this but simply put: sympathy is pity; empathy is understanding.
It’s always a better scenario to have someone ‘understand’ your feelings rather than feel sorry for them. Why? Because that’s how we relate to one anther – by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
It’s a pretty basic thing…but I will never give a ‘Sympathy’ card out to someone who has lost a loved one, again. I don’t want to pity them, but empathize with what they’re going through. I think we should rename those cards: Empathy cards. Sympathy is the weaker/annoying cousin to empathy – you know…the cousin whom you haven’t seen for a decade that shows up for dinner, one night, expecting you to entertain them. They are just not up to snuff when it comes to hard core feelings such as grief, like empathy is, who will show up only when you need them and want them, but also take you out for a nice meal and throw in a few glasses of wine, to boot.
Empathy listens without judgment. Sympathy interrupts with platitudes and then possibly makes it all about them.
So the next time someone comes to you for a shoulder, listen with empathy. Don’t judge them and let them know they were heard and you’re there for them.
I think it no coincidence that today is the day I end up taking Brian’s ashes to scatter them on a beach he played on, as a child. I was supposed to go, last week, but seeing as it was the Saturday before the last long weekend before School is back in, my sister and I thought better of it. Long and busy ferry lineups are not our thing.
I didn’t even clue in that we’d re-worked our plans for THIS day. There are no coincidences…this was meant to be.
I miss him. Every day, I miss him.
For new readers, my late boyfriend, Brian, took his life on May 11th, 2015. It is a day that I’ll never forget and one that changed me for the remainder of this life.
Every blog post I read about those who have lost someone that they love, to suicide, tells a similar story. Gut wrenching pain and all too stupid and insensitive comments; platitudes that are tossed out there to us like left over scraps thrown towards a starving street dog.
I’ve heard it all and if you’ve gone through it, so have you.
Mental illness is not treated like other diseases and can you imagine if someone came up to you and said: “Well that was very selfish of him to die of cancer that way!”
That’s the trash we get from friends, family, people who should know better as well as strangers.
One of my all time favourites: “Why aren’t you over it, yet?”
They don’t know any better. We’ve been taught to be uncomfortable around the word: SUICIDE. Why? Because, in our culture, it’s an unacceptable way to die. We’re not supposed to choose to leave on our own. If we spoke about this out in the open, discussed it with our children and loved ones, early on, so it wasn’t a taboo and unholy subject, I believe less people would die.
For those who are battling depression, anxiety and have ever thought of taking their life or who have attempted it, ignorance and societal judgments, as well as, misunderstandings are just the norm. It’s sad and it makes everything SO much worse and I dare say contributes to the rising rate of suicide and suicide attempts.
Those that are so desperate to end their emotional pain that they are willing to end their lives are treated like criminals and outcasts, and that is the worst crime of all.
I’ve met others who’ve had a brush with suicidal thoughts; it’s far more common than you think. I know a suicide attempt survivor who is a good friend of mine. One thing that was said was: “thoughts of ending your life never leave you, they are always at the back of your mind. I’d decided that if I ever needed to attempt it, again, that this time I was going to get it right.”
Brian’s story isn’t new. His isn’t unique although his reasons and pain are unique to HIM. How many other people out there are suffering in silence, afraid to ask for help because we criminalize their pain, lock them up like a common killer, and take away every shred of their dignity and all of the things that make them feel human and provide a sense of belonging?
We can do a better job and we have to. In a future blog post I’ll describe the initial PAU (psychiatric assessment unit) that Brian was put into. I will say, now, that it was frightening and he was very scared. I would be too. I’m sure there is a way to fund some sort of community temporary home that allows safe personal items as well as protects people from themselves in a more loving environment. I strongly suspect that family would be willing to help. I would have been.
One issue that is brought to our attention is that our youth are greatly at risk. One in 5 teens have considered suicide, last year according to this article.
In, Five, teenagers…children, for God’s sake.
What is it going to take for us to be comfortable to talk about this in the open? When are we going to let suicide out of it’s closet, because it’s bloody well banging on the door.
Take your religion out of the picture. Take your presumptuous thoughts and set them aside. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. It could be your best friend, your spouse, your daughter or your dad. It could be your uncle, your cousin, someone you work with, someone you go to school or the gym with. You could save a life. We could all saves lives if we brought this out into the open and just talked about it.
It could be you. You need to know that it’s safe to talk about.
So, let’s do it. Right here. Open up the door and let it out because if you don’t, it could destroy you.
My goal is to help, to council and to coach. My path is to assist in your healing and guide you to your next steps on your journey. Remember, your soul wants to be here. You chose to be here and everyone has everything to live for.
Chances are you know someone or know someone who knows someone who has been touched by suicide. You may not even be aware of it but I’m betting that this is the case.
You see – people don’t talk about it. But, they should for so many reasons and I’ve written about them here.
Please be aware of the signs. Sometimes there are no obvious signs; had I not been warned by one of my Guides, I wouldn’t have been prepared at all. As it was, Brian showed no outward signs that he was suicidal. He kept his pain very well hidden. In the end, only his ex-wife and I knew what was going on. Often it’s a very well kept secret that the person who is suffering, is embarrassed by and they’re afraid to talk about it because our Western Culture shames them and criminalizes mental illness.
Don’t be afraid to call 911 if you think someone is in danger of harming them selves.
September 10th is World Prevention Suicide Day. I’ll be posting my future intentions as a Metaphysical Life Coach, Grief Counsellor and Healer.
I’ve wanted to write about this for a while and I believe I’ve attempted it, many times, and in various forms. The fact is: Suicide is a problem and the biggest part of the problem is that it’s kept in the closet.
It’s not only kept their by people who have either attempted it, who are thinking about it or have successfully (and most tragically) succeeded at it. But it’s sent into the closet by everyone else. For the most part, the reason is that our culture not only doesn’t really understand this off limits subject, they don’t want to deal with it at all. I’ve personally experience this. In hushed tones, odd looks and behind closed doors – that’s where the topic of suicide lurks.
Nobody wants to fucking talk about it.
At least, not many, unless you’re exceptionally brave and have been battling it. Or…you’ve been touched by it in the worst way. Most religions not only frown upon it but many outright tell you you’ll wind up in HELL (that’s eternal damnation, fire and brimstone for those who are not familiar with this myth). In essence, if you do this, you’re a VERY BAD PERSON. No wonder people don’t seek help. They’re shamed and looked down upon.
This does nothing to help or heal those that are battling this terrible struggle. Quite the opposite, it promotes self-oppression and wrongly points a finger at someone who is deeply in pain and suffering. What element of humanity promotes the condemnation of the mentally ill, those that battle depression and those that are bullied? We do it all the time. Shame on us.
I’d like to point out there have been great strides towards recognizing mental health issues such as depression, bullying, etc., that can lead to suicide. Project Semicolon is one of them and I’m SO, SO, happy for this. It’s incredible but it’s not enough. Many are completely unaware of it and as a survivor of suicide grief, I can tell you most people (including members of my own family) still don’t get it and really don’t want to talk about it.
So. How do we get people talking about it?
This is what I’m all about. This is what part of my new life-focus will become. We need to help. We need to help those that are battling themselves and those that are in terrible sorrow and struggling with the aftermath. It’s hellish. In fact, it’s beyond hellish.
Do you know that suicide grief survivors are 10x more likely to take their own life? I betting you didn’t.
Did you know that even very young children have thoughts about suicide? Think about that…think about what would drive a 6-year old to want to take their own life.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for all ages. Yup. An estimated quarter of a million people per year, become suicide bereavement survivors just in the US.
Suicide among males is 4x higher than females but more females have suicidal thoughts and their attempts are 3x’s as often.
1 in 100,000 children aged 10-14 die from suicide every year. Did that grab your attention?
This is mostly based on US statistics but I’ll assume that Canadians are close behind based on POP variables. Now, we don’t have a lot of guns, here, and firearms are the most common method of suicide among males but that won’t stop someone who is serious about it. Trust me on this.
Here’s an interesting STAT. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in the WORLD for those aged 15-44 years. THE THIRD. In 2012, it was the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year old’s. SECOND.
It’s embarrassing. It’s thought to be selfish. You’re told to ‘get over it’. Did you know that when my late boyfriend took his life, last year, I received one card of sympathy?
Thank you, Debb. I appreciated that more than you know. Now, had Brian died from cancer or had been killed in an auto accident there would have been an outpouring of support from co-workers, family, friends and whatnot. It would have been talked about and NO ONE would have told me to get over it.
But he didn’t. He quietly hung himself on a beautiful spring, May evening.
We need to talk about it.
I’m betting (and I’m not a betting woman) that there will be some who read this who’ve either thought about suicide, have been touched by it or have even attempted it. But they’ve told no one.
We need to talk about it.
This is preventable, if we educate ourselves, our children and – TALK ABOUT IT.
There is one death by suicide in this world about every 40 seconds.
For your sake, for your loved one’s sake, for all of our sake; let’s talk about it.
I will continue my plight in bringing this subject to the surface, out of the closet and out in the open.
One year ago to the day, Tara and I sat with Brian at the VGH Emergency check in for about 7-8 hours to have him committed to the PAU (Psychiatric Assessment Unit). For five days he was locked in there. It was a Saturday. The Friday night, before, he’d set up everything to end his life. He’d had a last meal; his fav…bacon & eggs and chocolate cake. He’d left a note on the door, had changed his will and left a note for Tara. Everything was in order.
At the last minute, due to the constant texting and calling of Tara and I – he called her and said through tears: “Guess what I’m doing?”
This was his rock bottom for the second time in less than half a year. This was his spiral downward to the bottomless pit of doom that he’s created for himself. So, we checked him in. They took hours and hours but finally committed him, took all of his treasures away (clothes, iPhone, wallet, money, keys…) and gave it to us to look after.
I can’t even begin to imagine his embarrassment and humiliation but we stood by him and took shifts in visiting him; Tara by day, me by evening.
It kept him alive for an extra two weeks as he struggled to cope and did his best to recover.
We brought him fresh things to wear under the prison-like PJ’s (he jokingly called them his crazy clothes), food, coke, things to read and I even brought his little chess set and we played a bit when I was there. I still have that chess set of his.
Half way through, he was moved out and up to another ward which meant they felt he was doing better. He even chatted up a few others there and made some unlikely short-term friends. Well…sort of.
He didn’t like the food, much, so we made sure he had plenty of the things he loved; juice, coke, chocolate, I bought him dinner several nights in a row. I remember he was bored out of his skull because they didn’t allow his cell phone, there, so he went through several books.
I’ll never forget it. The weather was summer-like. Parking there wasn’t as bad as I’d thought and it was very close to where he’d lived. There have been times when I’ve had to drive by the area and felt such anxiety over the memories. I try and avoid VGH if I can.
I was helpless. Nothing I did really made much difference, at least…I don’t think it did. All I could do was love him, keep the Beacon of Hope lit, be there for him, spend time with him, bring him whatever he wanted and was allowed to have in there.
He was on a few anxiety drugs and anti-depressants. They didn’t do him any good at all. They made him jittery and he was as fearful as ever.
I don’t think I ever loved him so much. I was so proud that he fought so hard to keep it together. I can’t imagine what he went through. I don’t think I’d have done half as well had it been me. His struggle sucked up so much of his energy and when I saw him he looked like a little boy; fragile and wide-eyed, timid yet sweet and soft spoken.
He was so scared; so were we.
This past month has been one big lead up to the day he took his life and my emotions are so raw. I can recall so much of those 5 days but the next 6 months after May 11th is a complete blur. I do recall going to Australia for two weeks but that’s about it.
At the end of all of this, we still have to go on. We still look to thrive and must find some light at the end of our own dark tunnel.
I imagine what it’s like on the other side. I imagine it being so filled with beauty and light.
My newness to digital art makes my fractal creations somewhat primitive compared to those that actually know what they’re doing. I manipulate them and blend them in Photoshop to resemble things I can relate to as best I can. I ‘think’ I’m getting better and hope that I am.
I imagine I’d like to have a tree of light, over there; one where he and I could sit and talk and work things out. There’s so much I long to understand. Even just to tell him, in person, how much I miss him…
I believe in life after life. Or…life before life (depending on how you look at it). Some say that the ‘afterlife’ is our true home and our 3D Earth plane is simply a place to experience things we can’t as well as learn and grow.
I don’t have all the answers. I can only say what resonates with me. Sometimes in the chaos of grief and death, we find beauty and inspiration.
I’ve blogged about the loss of my late boyfriend, Brian, a lot. But, I haven’t really addressed what it’s like, personally, going through something this life changing in a lot of detail.
Or, if I did, I don’t remember being as this specific about how it affects someone on a daily basis.
This whole suicide grief thing is new to me. I’ve never been through anything like this in my entire life.
Thank GOD for that. I don’t think I could handle it more than once. I don’t know how anyone could, yet people do.
Let me just start by saying it’s a thing you have to deal with, every day, and sometimes many times a day. At first, it’s a constant wave of horror, guilt, unimaginable sadness, disbelief and shock. Then, as time somehow moves along (for us it stands still) the waves start coming at different and varied intervals.
It’s going on 11 months and no…it definitely doesn’t end, here. Most people think you should be over it by now. I mean…haven’t I moved on with my love life? Yes, I have. It doesn’t matter. The pain is still there. The questions, hurt, guilt and every other emotion that is associated with this tragedy is STILL THERE.
It doesn’t go away like magic but, it does fade a little bit. 11 months isn’t really that much time and I’ll tell you that there are moments when it seems like it all happened, yesterday. It’s just that raw and fresh in my head and heart.
I hear and have read that it’s pretty much this way with everyone that has the unfortunate task of wading through this life event. It’s complex grief and often you have such a mix of emotions that it threatens to tear apart the very fabric of your sanity.
I get angry, often, with him. Then, I feel guilty. After that, there is extreme sadness. Sometimes, it’s all around the confusion of the whole mess he was in and I pick apart every minute detail of whatever I can remember during the time when he first saw his ex-girlfriend while going for an innocent walk around Granville Island… and right up until the time I last said good-bye to his very dead self, lying on his bedroom floor with a breathing tube still taped to his mouth and rope burns around his neck.
I comb through all of his texts and emails looking for answers. There are none. I try and see how it could have gotten so bad so quickly but there was no way of predicting he’d really do it after he came out of the hospital and was seemingly doing well.
Not a day goes by that I don’t tear up, my throat constricting in some awful manner making it painful to swallow and breathe. It’s usually while I’m driving to and from work. I think these are my ‘alone’ times so I allow myself to grieve.
There are few precious days where I DON’T cry. Those were busy days and it’s usually when I’m not by myself. I think we push the overflow of emotions away until we feel safe to face them.
Do you stop loving a lover because they’re dead?
The answer is no. It’s also a complicated ‘no’ because I think I’ll always be a little ‘in love’ with him and I’m okay with that. It’s the possibilities that I’ll never see, the future I’ll never realize, that I’m in love with. It’s all of the wonder in a new and budding romance that was cut very short in a violent way. All of these dreams are still with me and I play them like a short movie in my head, stopping now and then to examine every frame of: what might have been.
The -I love you’s- he will never say, the adventures we’ll never go on, the creative endeavors that we started but will never be completed…these are the things I still covet in my heart. This is our story that will never play out. This is why my tears are so many.
For everyone who has lost someone we know and loved/cared about, to suicide, we play it back in our heads over and over and over. We don’t ‘get on with life’ in the same way. We can’t. It’s simply impossible.
We learn to live with the pain and the questions. We deal with the guilt and the lost years with them we will never see in this life. All of us will suffer through it until it is our time to leave this world.
In years to come, I hope that Brian isn’t on my mind all day long, every day. And if he is, I hope that it’s in a very different way. I hope to heal from this.
When do we heal? That’s an individual thing and there simply is no time limit. It will happen if and when it does. It’s as simple as that.
If I mention Brian’s name to family, it’s in passing and very infrequent. I can tell they’re tired of hearing about it. It’s only my very good friends and those who were involved and knew him that I still talk about ‘stuff’, with.
Those that are deep in suicide grief often deal with this; people simply don’t understand and the fact that this is soooooo taboo doesn’t help us. No one wants to talk about it. The worst is when they say hurtful things. This doesn’t help us and in fact, calling someone who completed suicide ‘selfish’, is not only callus but incredibly insensitive.
If you know someone who is going through any kind of grief – give them as much time as they require. It may take a lifetime so be prepared for that. Be kind and gentle. If you don’t know what to say, don’t say anything; listen instead. Most times that’s all we’re looking for.
Talk to your loved ones about depression, mental health and what suicide is. It’s the misunderstandings and fear around it that make it worse. Educate yourself and then educate others. Talk to your children about death. They will be dealing with it in some form or fashion at some point and being prepared always helps.
Understand that it’s more real than you think and it takes only seconds to change your life, forever.
Understand that those left behind are struggling and are 10 x more susceptible to suicide, themselves.
As with all people suffering in grief, little things set us off. For me, it’s songs that I liked when I was with him, songs that I associated with that time and that remind me of him.
With others it may be smells, places, certain times of the year of anniversaries (birthdays) and such. I will tell you that when we’re hurting, we often live in our own little private hell that we simply can’t share with others. It’s just the way it is.
Be respectful. We don’t want to hear your empty platitudes; they are meaningless to us. We don’t want religion shoved down our throats if we’re not religious and suicide is NOT a sin. It is a choice some people choose and it doesn’t matter if you think it’s right or wrong or somewhere in-between. We don’t care about your beliefs, we only care that someone we loved died and it’s killing us a little, each day, to be without them.
It happens. It’s real and it’s devastating.
This is grief. Our hearts are broken and mending them will take one hell of a lot of love, understanding and patience.
Does it make sense to wish someone a Happy Birthday when they’re dead?
I don’t know the answer to that one, but because his loss is still so raw with me and because he only ‘would’ have been 47, today…and tomorrow is Christmas, after all… I’ll do it anyway.
Happy Birthday, Brian. xo
For three months in my life, you were everything to me, although it seems I knew you for years. You mattered, most. Your presence made me a better soul. I learned so much from you. Your leaving still hurts like the most unimaginable hell. I hope you’re okay. I love you. I hope you’re being cared for and healing, where you are. I miss you. Thank you for being part of my journey. And finally, I’ll see you again, some day. 🙂
You’re so very missed and so VERY LOVED by so very many…
It’s been one hell of a year and I know I’m not the only one who will be glad when it’s over. I will welcome 2016 in, with open arms.
I recently had a conversation with someone around time, the New Year and how I felt about all of it. He said that he doesn’t put any reference on one year to the next. I do but didn’t always. There was a time when the New Year meant just another day to me. I’ve never stuck to and rarely have any New Year’s Resolutions.
But, when someone we love dies, and especially when it’s sudden or violent, we seem to count the time in which they left. We can’t help it. I asked my shrink why, once, and she said it’s because some people put a time-limit or time-frame on grief. They think at some point in ‘time’ we will start to feel better and we lead up to that. Apparently it’s not how it works. Grief has its own time dimension and we are not in control of it.
Lots of people left this world in 2015. We always miss those whom we love and are not with us, any longer, around the holiday time/birthdays, the most. It doesn’t help that their birthday just happens to fall a day before Christmas, either.
I never got to spend a birthday or Christmas with Brian. I am grateful, though, that there is a new person in my life whom I will get to spend Christmas with. I’m hoping that when his birthday makes an appearance in Feb., that he still likes me and I’ll get to share that with him, too.
All of this doesn’t take away from missing those who aren’t present in body, any longer. Last week one of my colleagues lost his father…another colleague passed away from an unexpected heart attack and shocked us all. Both on the same day.
Even if it’s somewhat expected (and let’s face it, at some point it will be – none of us are getting out of here with our bodies, alive) the rest of us simply have to mourn, miss, and cope with the absence. Until, it’s our turn, of course.
I take solace in my belief that we DO go on and not only that, but check in on the peeps still left here on Earth, often. I remind myself of that every time I gaze at the bottom shelf of my book case and spy those who’ve gone on that I love. I wave…say hello…tell them I love them and know they’re around me. It doesn’t stop the tears but it softens them.
I’m coping. I’m learning to live with it as my shrink said that I eventually would. I’m learning to be okay with life the way it is and allow others in so that I can move forward and find joy, peace and maybe…if I’m really lucky…Love.
I don’t know if it ever gets any easier. I don’t know how I’ll feel in one or ten years from now but I do know that I’ll always find a way to cope. Time doesn’t heal…it just doesn’t. What it does do is put things into perspective as we get on with it. It lessens the pain, somewhat, but it doesn’t take it away.
What heals, is other people that stick it through with us. Other people that are still here on this little blue and green globe. People that need us, love us and count on us. Other souls, just like me, dealing with grief, daily…and others who are simply there because we need them to be.
Recently, a wonderful new person in my life painstakingly skimmed through my blog in an effort to know me better. His comments were that I seemed to take two steps forwards and one step back in reference to my suicide grief.
I’m going to politely agree to disagree on this one.
Here are the reasons why:
Any sort of grief is very personal. It’s different for everyone. It’s not a set of stairs that we’re standing on or a path where we are moving forwards or backwards. In reality, we cannot physically move backwards in time – so there are only two choices a) to go forwards and b) to stand still.
Grief is a journey and it’s one that, I believe, is lateral vs vertical. I think we sidestep back and forth when the waves of grief over take us and we learn to surf them. We lean to incorporate them into our lives and, quite frankly, get used to them.
We live with them and these waves don’t exactly ask permission before they come along and try to sweep us under. They take us unawares, from time-to-time, and leave us feeling a little empty. But, we fill up again because we know that we have so much to be grateful for. We fill up with the beautiful things that surround us. We fill up with the love from our friends and family. We fill up from knowing we’ll see our loved one again.
It’s a process that will lessen with time but will never completely go away. Something this huge will be with us for the rest of our lives.
I try and look at it more analytically, these days, as in: what emotional damage have I taken on and what good things came of it. What have I learned? How will/have I changed? How will I be better as a soul on this earth? How can I make sure I have done my best for myself and everyone around me who is involved?
All these questions I address, one-by-one, on a regular basis. Daily, actually.
When I started writing about Brian, it wasn’t my intention to chronicle my grief. I simply wanted an outlet in which to help heal from and being a writer/blogger, it just made good sense.
Yet, here I am; here I am yabbering on and on about it.
On the plus side, it does help my fragile ego – but I suspect, some, find it annoying. If you do, just don’t read my blog. 🙂
Eventually, the ‘Chronicles of Carrie’s Suicide Grief’ will subside and dissipate like autumn leaves in a November wind. I’ll write about normal stuff; the things I find interesting, odd and wonderful. I’ll post the odd rant about this and that – the usual blather I’ve been blabbing about for the past four years.
In a nutshell, I’ll move forward. But occasionally…I may stand still. Just to be in the moment, to experience, to re-assess, to see if there’s something I have yet to learn, but mostly, to remember.
It’s okay to stand still, because there is always only one direction in which to go – and that is forward.
Noun: the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.
Hope is a funny thing for me. I covet it, rely on it, and it manages to propel me forward when I feel stuck inside myself. But things don’t often turn out for the best, do they? This is where I struggle.
Why does one ‘give up’ hope? Should we ever? How can we keep that fire burning, even if it’s dwindled down to a lonely little ember?
I am a writer, businessperson and a photographer, daughter/aunt/sister/friend/cat-caregiver. But mostly…I am just a woman.
I love too hard, hope too hard and try too hard. It’s who I am and I wonder if it’s time to change that. I wonder if it’s time to rein it in and somehow give up…some of that Pollyanna wistfulness and toughen up, but just a little.
My brain tells me to suck it up. My heart tells me to feel. Feel, everything and be okay with whatever flows through me – be it pain or joy. I’ve been accused, many times, of being too sensitive, taking words and actions to heart.
The thing is, in order to be true to myself, this is how I walk through life. This is what brings me the urge to create, to take pretty pictures and text poetry to people who may or may not appreciate it. These are the chances I take. These are the passionate expressions of me. This is how I paint my world. This is how I always manage to LOVE.
I’ve had two men walk through my life in the past twelve months that have left me swaying from grief. One wasn’t ready for me and I was simply someone to make him feel better while he found his self-confidence. Once he did, I was no longer needed and set out with the rest of the trash. He couldn’t even bring himself to be a friend; today I got a final – goodbye. Perhaps it’s for the best.
The other had so much darkness and emotional pain, he encased himself in, he took his own life and shattered the lives around him that loved him the most. But he is the one I always forgive. He is the one I continue to send love to. His was nothing short of the saddest tragedy resulting in the most unbearable circumstances.
I feel somewhat raw and exposed. But still…
There’s that little ember, glowing away underneath all the black and burnt parts of my heart. I can even feel a little heat from her. She’s fragile, tender, yet forever resilient.
But most of all…she is filled with an immeasurable amount of…
I belong to a community called: Alliance of Hope. It’s for people who are dealing with suicide grief. Although I don’t participate as I used to, I do get email updates of what they’re doing.
This is worth sharing. It was sent by the founder: Ronnie Walker who lost her son to suicide, years ago. This is what she has to say:
Last week, we asked our Facebook community to help us design awareness material to educate the public about the experience of suicide loss survivors — for example, the complex emotions, physical or financial challenges, impact on family and friends, etc.
We asked: “If there was one thing you would want people to know, what would it be?”
Here are some of the many responses we received:
“Be patient with us – our lives changed in an instant and we are dealing with physical, emotional, spiritual and mental anguish.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask what happened. Most of us want to talk about our loved one all the time and want people to be aware that we don’t want other people to experience this pain!
“…Very few people understand. In fact in 2.8 years I have not encountered a single person who has understood except the people here on Alliance of Hope.
“Be careful shoving ‘suicide prevention’ information down our throats. We live with enough guilt, we don’t need someone handing us a checklist of all things we coulda/shoulda done differently.”
“…that after losing someone to suicide, we ourselves are at risk of becoming depressed and really need support even if they can’t understand our experience.
“I would like people to know that our loved ones shouldn’t be criticized or blamed for their actions. There are so many complex issues involved in most suicides. My own son died following a battle of many years against mental illness and it really hurts me to think that some people (who have very little knowledge of what he went through) would accuse him of being selfish or thoughtless for ending his pain.”
“…be mindful that it hurts when people make comments like … ‘I want to kill myself’ in passing. They say it because their day isn’t going right – not aware that to someone who has experienced loss in this way it’s like laughing in their face or pouring salt in a never healing wound.
Amongst other things, this is a sailing term. Many years ago, my now ex-husband co-owned a sailboat. And thus I was privy to learning how to sail.
Running, in sailing terms, is heading downwind with as much canvas as you can muster. This is what a spinnaker is used for. If you’ve never seen a spinnaker in full bloom on a windy day out in the bay…I highly recommend it. You’re missing out.
It’s truly an amazing and beautiful thing to see a sleek vessel completely under wind power, gliding across the sea with a massive kaleidoscope of coloured cloth, leading the way. It’s a high-speed, whimsical ride with whitecaps crashing on your bow and deep waters, rushing by.
It’s somewhat short lived, but it’s part of every journey and after we furl the majestic spinnaker to replace it with easier to maneuver sails like a jib or genoa, we can carry on our journey in the direction we wish to. We can tack or jibe with relative ease and not worry about the direction of our wind because we are in control, now.
The wind is our power source and we are the manipulator, the conductor of it.
However, there is something about having the wind at your back and not being in complete control that is exciting. There is a danger to jibing (you don’t want to do that when you’re doing this) and you have less steering ability; your boat is less stable. A sailboat that seemed under control can instantly become over-canvassed and in danger of a sudden broach.
The past three months, actually even before that, have been the most challenging, the most groundbreaking and life changing months of my life.
I think I’ve tackled my grief head-on and walked, consciously and directly into the centre of the fire. It burned like hell. But to dance around the outskirts, yelling that it’s going to hurt, is fruitless. This is how I live my life; I deal with the shit without hesitation because I’m only prolonging the inevitable if I don’t. I read that many people who go through suicide grief become numb. I was never numb. I didn’t shove the pain aside and busy myself with life. I’m incapable of doing that.
Bring on the fire, let me experience the pain and the burn. Let me live in the intensity so that I understand and truly appreciate the love I felt before and after it.
At times the sorrow has been unbearable and I’ve questioned my very existence. In fact, I’ve questioned every aspect of my life, many, many times.
I have no answers, only more questions but I’m stepping outside of that fire and pain. At least, for a little while… I may return. I may waltz right back in there so that I never ever forget just what I lost. I don’t want to forget. I want to remember everything in minute detail. This is how I learn.
But now, I’m on my boat, with the wind at my backside and it’s a fine wind, I feel the power racing me forwards into full on sunlight. I hear the roar of the sea, smell the air and taste the salt on my lips.
It’s time to start healing, time to carry forward in every moment, relish every breath, drink in the day and fly into the night.
I wrote a rather lengthy post. Then I deleted all of it, except for those two lines above.
Please. If you’re going to end a relationship with someone, particularly a serious partner where time, emotion, and energy were greatly invested, give them closure if they ask for it.
Leaving someone to feel tossed away, or that they didn’t matter, is hurtful and damaging. And if you have done that, I would venture to say that it is never too late to give them peace. It’s a generous gift that costs nothing, and yet has immeasurable value.