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.
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?
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.
Think of the last time you failed at something. I’m going to bet you can recall it in great detail. In fact, I know you play the entire scenario in your mind, over and over; a mini movie that you pause at certain intervals to capture and digest all of the littlest details.
We analyse our failures with incredible precision to see how/why we didn’t make better choices. We do a lot of: If onlys and what ifs.
If only I didn’t do that, this other thing wouldn’t have happened.
If only I did do that thing, the event/relationship/solution/insert-anything-here, would have gone better.
What if I had been there/what if I hadn’t shown up…that thing wouldn’t have gone as badly.
What if, instead of looking at past events as failures, we decided to view the offending incident as a valuable opportunity to grow and move into a different life direction, one that serves us better? How about taking on a broader scope of understanding and exiting with the experience as something that brought you to a higher place thus realizing that your failure was actually a planned success.
Let’s take a deeper dive into that: planned success. Every big experience that changes us in some way is actually designed to help us succeed. What we see as failures is really a path of events to show us we have alternatives and that we can act on them if we so choose to do so.
Have you ever found yourself repeating the same mistake over and over? Maybe you’re drawn to a certain personality type in your love life and the relationship always ends up in a big disaster. From the inside you can perceive yourself as always failing. From the outside, there is a much bigger message. And that is: this personality type has lessons for you and until you learn them, you will be repeating the same sequence throughout your life.
Your repetitious theme could be something as simple as self-respect or restraint. Only you will recognize the pattern that you’ve created. Maybe your mother was controlling so you have always dated controlling women. Can you see where I’m going with this?
Once we can recognize the pattern, we can break it. Once it’s broken, we can heal and move forward. This is success. If you can take away something of value from your past failures, this is success. If you can learn and grow; move a painful incident into greater awareness – then you’ve succeeded.
Instill your success in everything, even if you think you’ve failed. You haven’t; you’re just learning how not to do something or learned that you can do it better or differently to yield more favourable results.
There is always a better/different path waiting for you if you choose to take it. Don’t be afraid to mess things up because through this you’ll reveal your greatest triumphs.
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?
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’m not sure how I ended up with them; it could be that he still had them in his pile of things when he passed away, or he may have left them at the house when he moved out and my parents finally split up for good. I was seventeen. That was a bad day.
They are mine, now, and occasionally I take them out and look through them. When I was a little girl, we took them with us on trips to Waterton National Park in Alberta. We’d drive the three hours or so up there and wander around Red Rock Canyon and Waterton Lake. My parents used to feed the deer, potato chips. It was the 70’s and people thought that was okay, back then.
They are Tasco Model # 318 (the binoculars, not the deer) and they’re 7 x 35 zoom. They’re big, kinda clunky and I can get something a whole lot better and smaller for pretty cheap, today, but these are special. They hold memories that can’t be replaced; those that I keep sacred in my heart.
I still have the little plastic cups for the eye pieces and the lenses. I think, somewhere on this metal and plastic relic, my dad’s fingerprints might even be buried beneath years of mine, my mom’s and possibly my two siblings. Dad’s been gone for twenty-seven years, now. That’s a lot of finger grease.
Today the fading evening sun was tracing a lovely orange-pink outline on cotton candy clouds. They were in the distance and I wanted to see them better. I love clouds…rows and flows of angel hair, right?
So I got out my dad’s binoculars and went to it. I wasn’t disappointed. Fiery apricot sunbeams lit up the sky with sheets of warmth embedded in the indigo of this afternoons rain. It was magical.
Time is a funny thing. I know it was so long ago that he held them in his hands and I remember he got them, one year, for his birthday. Yet…I can still hear his laugh as if it were yesterday and I can see him squinting into the lenses of the eye holes, lit pipe in-between his teeth as he smiled into the distance. He loved this gift and we took them with us, every vacation.
I wonder if dad every looked at clouds through this spyglass. I wonder what he saw if he did…
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.
Some days I wonder why. Why all the violence, senseless murders, anger, fear and sociopaths filled with hate that may be the next leader of the most powerful country in the world?
What does it all mean? I think the human race, in our time, is experimenting on experiencing …
Just how bad, can or will it get before we let the light in?
They say: it is always darkest just before the Day dawneth.
I dare suspect it will grow considerably darker before humanity understands that we need to change our ways of thinking and doing on a global scale.
And then, there will be a dawn like no other but it will slip into the world so slowly and gently and with such love that it will take us a bit to realize that we’ve emerged out of one of the worst times Western Civilization has ever seen.
I seem to have begun a countdown to that tragic day, a year ago, when that really bad thing happened.
I’m not sure why I’m doing it but part of me wishes I wouldn’t torture myself with it. Yet…here I am, being some sort of masochist – reliving every moment.
I asked him, once: What did he see when he looked at me?
This was during his time in the PAU (psychiatric assessment unit) and all he could think about was “Her” – the woman who crushed his heart, the one from whom the only escape from pain, he believed, was death.
He looked at me completely dumbfounded and stuttered, shaking his head as he stared in disbelief at my question.
I wanted to know just what I meant to him at that point because here I was giving 1000% of myself to someone who was still lost in another relationship from his past. The woman in question was ignoring him and really didn’t want anything to do with him. Had she, I suspect I may have been tossed aside, but I can’t confirm that for sure.
I was feeling like quite the third wheel, yet I was also very much in love and trying with all my might to save this man’s life. I wasn’t about to abandon him and I swore to him that I’d never leave him during what would be the worst time in his life.
I kept that promise.
He could never tell me what he saw when he looked at me and I’m convinced he never really saw me for who I was or realized just what I had to offer. I think on the last day he may have had an idea but it wasn’t enough to keep him here.
I’m not complaining because I understand he was coming from a place of complete darkness and depression. His headspace wasn’t like anything a normal person would understand. His perception of the world was so skewed that I’m not even sure he was functioning to full capacity even though he put on an amazingly brave facade.
He was lost, and for him, there was no way out of the labyrinth he’d built for himself. There was simply no escape and seeing her – yet again, was a sign for him that his pain was never going to end unless he ENDED it.
So, he did.
I’m not angry at him for not seeing me as he was seeing everything through eyes that were not seeing the world as it truly was.
Mental illness is so very misunderstood. It is so often unnoticed and swept under the carpet. There are those that live and function with it for years without anyone knowing any better. This is what he did. He kept it all on the down-low; nobody really knew. Even when it became very evident something was very, very wrong, it was only the two of us that he let in on his little secret.
So…what do you see when you look at someone? Are you really seeing them for who they are, their struggles and pain?
Look again. Look more closely. You may find they’re living in a dark jungle of half truths and terrible secrets. They do this because society is harsh. They are judged, ridiculed and not taken seriously.
It’s time we really looked at ourselves and the ones we love, a little more clearly.
It’s time we were aware that too many suffer alone.
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.
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.
Another day to remember him; an opportunity to meet more souls that loved him.
Peeling back the layers of truth and unwinding all of the tightly coiled springs of instant grief is humbling. Every now and then I have a reality check; I remind myself that I was blessed to even know him for the short time that I did because I suspect there was a large possibility this was always going to happen.
I believe we make choices on what we want to experience in each lifetime before we get here. I guess he and I agreed to experience this, together, should he decide to use this exit strategy; clearly that’s what he did. He would have had to agree to experience this with every other soul in his life so…in essence and on a higher soul level, we already knew this was going to be a strong possibility.
So. What do we take from that? What have we learned?
I’m still processing that.
For those of us moving through this journey, we’ve coloured our paths with him differently, so each journey is unique. Thus, each of us is learning about this terrible pain and sorrow in our own way.
It’s like learning how to swim in and ultimately escape quicksand. It’s hellishly difficult but not impossible if you know what you’re doing. Evidently…slow and careful movements are called for.
We’ll get through this, all of us, but there will be scars.
People are confused, broken, cracked open and are having great difficulty really processing exactly just what the hell happened and why it did. Personally, for me, I’ve been thrown off of the life tracks I was on and I’m currently trying to pick myself up and find my footing while getting constantly caught up in-between the rails.
In truth, my heart thinks it’s been shredded. I’m running around trying to find all of the tiny pieces so that I can somehow shove it all back inside my chest. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men are having great difficulty putting Carrie back together, again.
It happened; it’s real. He’s gone and he ain’t comin’ back in the same form that he was in.
He left us in body but he’s still around for us, of this, I’m certain. Talk to him. Tell him how you feel. Speak his name out loud and understand that the veil between earth and the afterlife is incredibly thin and close.
As for the why’s…we’ll never really know and understand that but we can and will find an explanation that we can live with. That’s all we can do as this was his path and pain, not ours to understand.
Some days it feels like I’m standing at the bottom of the ocean with the incredible pressure of the sea holding me hostage. Other days it’s as if the big picture reality of everything sinks in and I ‘get it’. I get that this is temporary and so very short in the big scheme of things. I get that we’ll all be together with our loved ones, soon. We’ll all leave this place – just when that is, is the unknown.
I asked the question of why we don’t know this; why aren’t we able to know the time of our impending bodily death? The answer I got was that our choices and experiences would not be as wonderful and enlightening if we did. Instead of living life, we’d be sitting around waiting for ‘that’ to happen so we could return home and probably not pursuing adventures that wouldn’t turn out so well. It defeats the purpose of why we chose to come here, in the first place!
We are here to experience this physical plane in the fullest, most wonderful and amazing way possible. This means every part of life – the good, the bad, the bliss and the pain.
Is why…we are here.
Tomorrow is…another day. Another day to remember why I fell in love with him and be thankful for every single moment that we shared. I’ll be with him, again. When? That’s not for me to know and in the meantime, I need to remember that I have to go out there and love/live…life.
Sharing memories, tears and laughter with people who came together to honour and love a man who touched all of our hearts in the most beautiful way.
It occurred to me that we’re really all the same, struggling to find our way through this sorrow and as I gazed into new and familiar eyes, I realized we are all cut from the same cloth.
Losing someone you love tears people apart; it rips at the very fabric of bonds that were possibly made in heaven.
But unconditional love…
Now, this jewel, brings us all back together, reuniting souls in our grief and loss, giving us a little closure, perhaps a bit of peace and a whole lot of grace. It reminds us of who we really are. And it shows that the one we loved so much…was truly made from~
Ohhhhhh, now I’ve instantly pissed off a bunch of people!
Funny, that. It’s even funnier that I really don’t care.
Let me quantify this with my expressed option (and it’s just that – MY opinion) as well as offer up a disclaimer.
Firstly, I am not religious. That means, I do not belong to any one organized belief system about God. My belief system is base more upon metaphysics. Now, let me define exactly what that means, because, I think a lot of folks don’t understand it.
the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, substance, cause, identity, time, and space.
There, copied and pasted from the Internet.
Are you still with me?
I like to refer to myself as a cosmic girl. I have many beliefs and theories that resonate with me and there are some aspects of religions that gel with me, too. What I don’t practice – is one, specifically. I also spend an exorbitant amount of time researching and attempting to understand all aspects of life and after life. Seriously, I could send you about a dozen links to what I’m investigating.
Therefore, you could not call me a Christian. Nor could you call me an Atheist.
I do, however, believe in GOD – or the One Source. Or any other name you wish to call it. I also believe we, as souls, are all part of GOD. We are all connected. Each and every one of us, along with every other life form on this little blue-green planet.
We’re all in this together. We are all one – and yes, we’re individual, but all part of THE ONE.
At any rate…again, MY opinion.
I will point out that if your beliefs differ, that’s totally cool with me. I respect that and you. You can believe in whatever you like and if the Hindi faith rocks your boat, go for it! It’s your belief, your path, your heart and life. Not mine.
I don’t judge.
I do, however, resent those that do.
Oh! She’s got a point to all of this…!
Yes, yes, I do.
Something really terrible happened to me (and many others that shared his brief life) just over two months ago. The man I loved and adored left the world in a terrible, terrible way. He chose to take his life.
While the complexity of this situation is steep and almost insurmountable at this stage, it’s a simple fact. He’s gone. He’s gone and those that love him are left here to deal with how we feel. Well, I think I can speak for all of us. It’s complete devastation x about a billion. Scratch that – x about a billion to the 10th power.
Yes, it’s really, REALLY… THAT bad.
Those that know me and those that I’ve decided to let into my life during the past 49 years (there aren’t very many, I’m choosy) know how I feel about religion. To start preaching to me, YOUR views, especially at a time like this, is seriously disrespectful. It will make me mad.
So, now I’m mad.
I’ve decided it’s not in my best and highest good to have these people in my life. Now, more than ever, I’m standing up for what people believe in and the right to do so. And, oddly enough, this would include YOU!
I’m talking about a lot of things: sexual orientation, personal rights and personal belief structures – I could go on. If there is one thing my mother taught me, well, it’s to: live and let live.
“Each to his own!” she’s always saying.
I like that. It works for me.
As long as you’re not harming anyone else, do whatever the fuck you want.
I don’t judge.
You shouldn’t either.
It’s not up to you. It doesn’t matter if Brian was an Atheist or a Communist. He was neither, by the way, but raised Catholic. It doesn’t matter what YOU believe in. What matters…is that those that loved him are in a shitload of PAIN so intense that if you’ve never experienced it, you should get down on your knees right this moment and pray to whatever God you worship that you never, ever, ever have to go through it.
We don’t need to be told where to find the Lord/Lady. We already know where SHE/HE is and she’s/he’s NOT lost. We don’t need religious Hymns sent to us and to have you jump onto your soap box and start preaching the WORD.
WE – are not interested in YOUR beliefs.
We do, however respect them so – please respect ours.
If you don’t, you will find yourself not included in our lives from this point on. You will find we won’t communicate with you further and you will find that you no longer have us as your friend.
I have a one-way written dialogue going with you and it seems to have spilled over onto my blog. My shrink told me that some people count because they have a specific date in mind, a goal, to which their grief will end and everything will return to normal.
Only, it never does, does it?
We change, we vacillate between being ‘okay’ and totally NOT being okay.
You never met my younger sister. She thinks I should be better by now. She doesn’t get it. She can’t understand how the mere mention of your name constricts my throat and sends a 10′ wall of saline to come flooding out of my eyes like some swollen spring river. She doesn’t understand that I can’t talk about you, unless ‘I’ bring it up and I’m ready to discuss things without falling to pieces.
She means well. She only wants to help take the sorrow away. This is like wanting to cure cancer with a thought. Good luck with that, baby sis.
I’m sleeping like shit but I think I dream of you. Only…I can’t be sure…they’re foggy and filled with undertones of shifting colour and surreal conversations.
It’s been damn hot, here. You’d have needed a fan in your little apartment. Although…it was evident by your camping slippers you shuffled around in, early mornings, and the bathrobe + jammies you’d slip on after sleeping in the nude…that you enjoyed being warm. 🙂
I found that cute, those massive slippers with your pajama pants pooling around the high topped fabric and draw string (because we wouldn’t want any heat to escape…) like a little boy wearing his big brother’s clothes.
“I like to have my feet warm,” you’d state matter-of-fact.
Then, you’d smile your smile, a combination of subtle shyness and a challenging: ‘Go ahead; I dare you to make fun of them’ – look. I’m not sure just how you accomplished such a thing.
You were always sporting opposites like it was normal to do so. Like, being this athletic cycling-dude whilst completely being addicted to Coca-Cola and candy. You actually ‘shopped’ for candy; as in…you had specific places where they sold just the right kind. I thought this both a little odd…and extremely funny. I think you were always a little boy, at heart.
I wonder when I’ll stop ticking off Mondays as: ‘that day when that really bad and horrible thing happened’ ?
Maybe, next week?
I doubt it. I suspect this will carry on for quite some time.
Since Brian’s passing, I’ve not only spent countless hours researching this subject but I also purchased a book. My ‘headshrinker’ (as Bri would have called her) is quite helpful and between us…we’re trying to piece together the “why’s” that all of us who knew him, are grappling with. There is the immediate ‘why’ and all of the interesting nuances that overlap that. But, there is also a much bigger picture. It’s the picture of a man who had been struggling for many, many years.
Sometimes it really appears like they’re okay and have healed. Often it’s just a mask they wear as they get by in life, barely clinging on while burying their pain, and the true issue is never addressed. Smart people don’t always tell the professionals that are paid to help them (or people that they love) everything. He told me this, himself. He would pick and choose what to say and to whom he’d say it to.
Life is about choices. We can either choose to be here, or not to be. The majority of us choose to stay. Then there are the few who don’t. In the end we’ll really never know “why” he chose to leave us the way he did. But, I was told that it would do me good to come up with something that I could live with.
Not a damn day goes by that I don’t cry, usually several times throughout the day. Some people have gone on with their lives and are dealing with it in their own way and, most likely, better than me.
I read that as we are all individual people, we all grieve individually and the length is TBD only by us. No one has the right to say ‘get on with your life’ or…’don’t cry’… When we cry, we deal with the pain and heal from it. It’s a process.
What happened is such a TABOO subject that I dare not even write the word here for fear of judgement. But I know people can read between the lines. One day, I’ll be okay to speak about it, openly. That day is not here, yet.
I’ve gone on to do the most difficult thing I’ve yet had to do in this whole healing process. I’ve forgiven him. I’ve forgiven him for many things, including what he did. As well, even though I never met her, I’ve forgiven the woman who brought him so much terrible pain, last November.
I miss him about a million times a day. I only knew him for all of three months and I’m sure there are some out there who think I should just get over it.
But I loved him, you see. I loved him more than any other. There was such a strong pull towards him and even if I didn’t want to, I simply couldn’t ‘not’ love him. I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life. I was completely captivated. He wasn’t … (haha)…but he did care very much for me. I’ll eternally be grateful for that.
I don’t believe in chance. I believe I had to fall in love that deeply to keep me there by his side while he went through this. I think he needed to know that even though ‘she’ didn’t care about him…there was someone who loved him immensely.
Between his best friend (and ex-wife) and I, he felt safe and secure in being who he needed to be during his suffering. I don’t believe either of us could have done this alone and for her support, I’ll always be incredibly thankful.
He became an open book and told me not too long before that terrible night, that he was terrified. I suspect he was; I know I sure as hell would be.
And so one month and two weeks after ‘it’ happened, I’m still on the healing road…but at least, I’m on the road.
I look forward to the day when I don’t post about Brian, when I put fingertips to keyboard and write about something happy, something wonderful.
It may be ways off – I hope not, though. I hope joy is just around the corner.
A dragonfly is a symbol of metamorphosis and transformation. I don’t believe we ever really die. We simply transform into another state of being – we become spirit.
This pic is for you, Brian; I know you’re watching over us and visit, from time-to-time. I hope you like it. 🙂
With those thoughtful pieces of advice in mind, let’s bleed…but just a little.
Last year, a woman I loved and adored, abruptly left me. I spent four years with someone who, I’m quite embarrassed to now admit, never really let me into her life. Ouch, that hurt to write. Aside from a final few obscure texts, she simply silently bolted. I will most likely never know how someone that I trusted, could so swiftly and coldly toss me away. With no exaggeration, I’ve had first dates that were terminated with greater compassion and grace shown towards me. There is some solace in knowing I am not the only one on this planet to experience this, nor will I be the last, sadly. Such is Life.
In my 46 years, it is without a doubt the most hurtful thing anyone has ever done to me.
Officially, it was yesterday. The ‘official’ one-month mark since he chose to leave this world. I had to leave work, early, and work the rest of the day from home as I couldn’t stop crying in my office. It’s a non-stop show of waterworks, these days. I think I’m starting to show my age.
I’m not sure how others are coping; I don’t think I’m doing that well, but everyone’s grief is different and I was his girlfriend, after all – the woman who was ridiculously in love with him.
The morning of May 11, he texted me this:
I don’t think he knew he was going to go, that evening. I really don’t. Circumstances happened and he couldn’t cope. But I’ll remember this, always. I’ll cherish it like I cherish the memories of his touch, his scent and the soft sound of his voice. I hear him, often, in my head.
Maybe this sweet little sentence he sent will hold true for me, one day. I can only hope, dream, believe…
Perhaps I’m expecting too much for the short three weeks since his passing. I find myself breaking down several times a day, when privacy allows it. I can’t function for 5 min. without him wandering into my mind.
How did I miss this in the very beginning? What if I’d had my phone with me? Could I have changed things? What could I have done better?
All of these questions, rolling around in my head as if they were massive boulders, crashing into each other and bruising my thoughts.
I want to run away somewhere and leave every thought behind…but this isn’t real life; this is just fantasy.
Time will heal, they say.
Nothing heals this. It may deaden over time, but the wound will still be open.
He was someone who would take out your garbage. Not because it bothered him for it to be there but because he felt it was something he should do. He was a gentleman like that and he was all too happy to do it.
He’d hover over me when I made dinner/breakfast because he couldn’t stand not helping out (even though cooking wasn’t really his thing). When he saw that whatever I was making was pretty much done, he’d rush over, grab cutlery from the drawer, pour the wine, paper towels, everything and then he’d set the table. From the first meal to the last one I made for him, this is what he did. I never, ever asked him to help or showed him where stuff was.
He just did it.
He was someone who felt a little guilty about drinking your alcohol but would never let you bring a bottle of wine to his place. The first time he showed up with several bottles of wine, to re-stalk my vino collection, I was shocked. This was a first for me.
I did buy him one of the scotches he liked, rum, whiskey…whatever he used to drink at home…and pistachios (he LOVED those) – because I wanted him to feel comfortable at my place. He reciprocated by purchasing (no less than) 5 different loaves of bread, once, (I ate toast in the morning) and honey. He didn’t know what ‘type’ of bread I liked…but rather than ask, he just bought one of every kind. I still chuckle over that!
I wrote him a love poem. He didn’t know how to take it, it was too early in the relationship for him and he was a little taken aback. My poetry is filled with metaphors and similes. He admitted he really didn’t ‘get all of it’. But, he was the kind of man who would read it over and over again. He printed it out, framed it and hung it up on the wall beside the bed. I didn’t notice until he told me. When he did, I burst into tears with love, respect and guilt (that I didn’t see it).
He was like that.
He’d do things for you but not make a big deal out of it. He was a giver.
Brian was… possibly the sweetest/kindest man I’ve ever met.
Let me tell you about my first date with Brian, my darling who recently passed away. I was running late and as I’m dyslexic and rather directionally challenged, I drove into the wrong parking lot to where I was supposed to be – meeting him at a local restaurant.
I knew what his pictures looked like from the dating site but you just never know who you’re really going to meet. Let me just say, his pictures didn’t do him justice. Brian was gorgeous.
He didn’t wait inside the restaurant, like all the other men would have…no, he waited outside by the door, in the cold and rain (February in Vancouver) for me. He looked amazing, smiled at me with that angelic smile of his and we said our hello’s and quickly hugged.
I noticed he had a little package in his hand and after we were seated, he handed me a little box of Roger’s chocolates that he’d gifted me with. This was a first! I’d gotten the occasional rose (but not often) but never chocolates. It was incredibly sweet in a gentlemanly, old-fashioned way.
He ordered an Old Fashioned and I had a glass of wine. We talked for hours and connected immediately. He made me laugh; I made him laugh. 🙂 I didn’t want the evening to end, but of course…it eventually did.
He walked me to my car…hugged me again and as I drove home, I wondered what on earth he thought of me and if he’d ever want to see me again.
Turns out he did… 😉
He’d driven home to a complete sports commentary in his head about how badly he thought he did. Before he signed off and went to bed, he wrote me a lengthy email which was hilarious! Someday I may share it.
When I tried to read it on my iPhone with blurry eyes at 4:30 am, the next morning, at first I thought it was possibly the world’s longest rejection letter. It wasn’t. He liked me very much and really wanted to see me again…
That was about 3 months ago.
During our time together, due to circumstances – especially the last month, we grew as a couple, much faster, than would normally happen.
That being said, I do believe in love at first sight.
When I saw him standing there, box of chocolates in hand, at the door of the restaurant, I knew that I loved this boy.
I always will….
Bri napping on the couch with Zephyr. He’d shoot me for posting this but it’s the only pic I actually was able to take of him.
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.
Every day it’s going to get a little better; it’s going to hurt a little less. Go easy on yourself – you’re a good heart, a deserving heart. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to grieve…but it’s okay to hope, too. Just be realistic and most importantly…be true to yourself.
You know your real value, your worth and what you’ve accomplished. You know who you are in the world, where you are going and where you’ve been.
There will be a day when you look back to this one and smile. You’ll be grateful for the experience and grateful that another soul trusted enough to let you into their life …it doesn’t matter for how long. Life is far too short and good people, I mean REALLY good people should be cherished. Always and forever.
Know that you’re going to be okay. You’ve survived a hell of a lot worse and you’ll live through this, too.
Never forget what you’ve learned and be ever so thankful that you were gifted this chance to learn from another. It’s a precious thing that should never be taken lightly.
Understand that you’re worthy. If all is lost, someday, when you least expect it, there will be another that sets, YOU, my heart, on fire, once again. You need only be patient and in the meantime….take some ‘me’ time.
Sweet heart… you WILL heal. It just takes a little R&R, a little TLC and a whole lot of time.
You’ve mostly likely heard that Leonard Nimoy passed away, this morning. He was one of my childhood heroes.
I started watching Star Trek (re-runs) at the tender age of three. Yup, Star Trek was right up there with Batman and my favourite character was/is the iconic – Mr. Spock. I am still a HUGE fan.
Although why I liked him then and why I like him now are for very different reasons; does a 3-year old know why she likes someone? Maybe I had a teensy-weensy little-girl crush.
It was his differences. Half Human and half Vulcan, always at war with his ‘emotions’, unobtainable …but enigmatically interesting! I mean, nobody could figure this guy out!
The character was a hit and continues to be. But that only scratches the surface of the real man and suburb actor behind the mask of make believe.
Leonard Nimoy was a gifted actor and director with such accreditations as: playing opposite Ingrid Bergman in a TV drama called “A Woman Called Golda” as Israeli leader Golda Meir’s husband. He also played Vincent van Gogh in Vincent, a one-man stage show on the life of the troubled painter.
He appeared in many classic films such as: The King and I, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and My Fair Lady.
He was a writer, a publisher…
and, well…there was this:
As much as I loved and adored ya, Len…after seeing this, I may need therapy.
I read that, initially, he didn’t like being constantly referenced to Spock as, truly, he was more than that. However, he candidly admitted that:
‘Of course the role changed my career – or rather, gave me one.’
Star Trek will live on, I should think, forever. But real people don’t. If we’re lucky, we get to grow old and then eventually we succumb to something – be it disease or simply old age. In the end, we leave this world and (I believe, anyway) move onto another.
I think you did live long and you did prosper, Leonard. I think you left an amazing legacy and inspired not one but several generations and more to come. Well done.
Mr. Nimoy’s last tweet was beautiful and poignant.
‘A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.’
This past weekend, a dear friend of mine broke up with his girlfriend. He’s completely devastated by it and although I’m sure she feels a hell of a lot worse, we often forget the emotional perils that the person doing the ‘breaking up’ feels. Of course, it’s not always the case (and I can attest to this from experience) some people just don’t give a shit if they rip out your heart, stomp all over it, light it on fire and then kick it to the curb, all the while pointing and laughing at you.
Do I sound a little bitter?
No, I’m over all of that and came to a decision a few years ago that the best course of action was to accept what was and then wish that person well. I mean, if they’re not the one for you, someone else out there is, right?
Back to my point. Whenever I’ve had to “do the deed”, which hasn’t been very often in my case, I’ve nearly had a nervous breakdown figuring out how to ‘end it’ without causing too much emotional damage to the other person. Because there will be. Especially if they don’t see it coming; which I admit to, some have not.
I liken it to intentionally causing a serious car accident where you know you may nearly kill someone. No one actually dies (hopefully) but it sure seems like it. Unless the person whom you no longer want to be your sweet Honeybunch is a lying cheating jerk/bitch or abusive, you’re going to feel a lot of guilt and hurt, for yourself.
After all, ending a relationship is like a death, they say. If you can remain friends and it’s mutual, all the better! But how often does this happen?? I can count the number of times on one hand and have a few wonderful friends myself, to this day, who are past lovers. I also respect a man more if he has some as this proves maturity, graciousness and endurance. Some women feel jealous and possessive, personally it’s a bit of a turn on that a man is ‘MAN enough’ to realize that just because things didn’t work out – doesn’t mean that you can’t still value a person in your life and move past all the crap. The world evolves; people do, too.
You’ll question yourself: Am I doing the right thing? What if I’m horribly wrong; will they take me back?! Could I have done more? Did I try hard enough?
Most of those questions you won’t know the answer to. And take it from me, if you decide that the worst mistake you made is to let this person out of your life and you give it another go…9 x out of 10 it still won’t work out. There’s a reason you’re thinking of breaking up in the first place.
The key, of course, is communication. It always is and without it, everything will fail in time. We need to tell our better half what’s bothering us, what’s not working for us and suggest a solution(s) if there are any. That being said, we need to do this in a constructive and kind way as opposed to:
“YOU did this! YOU made me feel that! I don’t like it when YOU… YOU! YOU! YOU!
This is accusing, destructive, attacking and instantly puts the other person in defensive/must find an appropriate verbal weapon to protect myself with/angry, position. It’s a terrible way to communicate and will never resolve the issue but WILL create anger/resentment/depression and in some instances retaliation.
Instead, sit your sweetie down and let them know (in a gentle way) that you wish to speak to them about something that’s important. They’ll look at you all worried, wondering what the hell they did wrong and what the consequences may be– this is unavoidable. Smile at them, be reassuring and then say what you feel in a constructive manner.
“Hey, Cindy, it’s not that big of a deal, but when brushing your teeth, often there are splatters of toothpaste all over the mirror; do you think you can wipe that off, after? It would help me out if you did and I’d really appreciate it. Would this be OK?”
Then smile at Cindy in a sweet and non-sarcastic way. She may get a bit miffed but in the end she’ll see reason and most likely oblige you. If she questions you further, tell her that it’s your OCD, you can’t help it but she could help alleviate some of your terrible urges to wash ever mirror in the house by simply giving that mirror a quick wipe.
Say what you need to say but keep it quick, simple and kindhearted.
Even better, if the issue you’re having is a bit weightier I use the three x rule: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.
“Hey Cindy, I want to talk to you about what you said to my mother the other day, do you have some time? I wanted to tell you that the information you gave her caused some issues between us and I was wondering if the next time you could maybe talk to me first beforehand? So, sweetheart, are you okay with what I suggested? It will make things a lot smoother and I know you understand my relationship with my mom needs some work!”
You get the idea.
Something else we often forget to do in relationships is: LISTEN. Yup, just stop talking, shut the fuck up and listen to what your darling has to tell you. Even if it’s boring you to tears or if it’s annoying. Tough, suck it up. LISTEN. It’s important for people to be heard. If you don’t listen to what they have to say, you can’t expect them to listen to anything you want to convey.
Think on that. And, listen.
Could my friend’s relationship be saved if they’d communicated better? I don’t think so and I know things were discussed but there were many underlying issues that will never change so it was best if they parted ways. Even if for the time being it hurts like hell for the both of them, it was for the long-term good.
Although not every relationship can be saved by communication alone, many will and every single one of them will flourish a lot more when two people DO talk to each other, discuss rather than fight, suggest rather than demand and stop doing all the talking and listen to what someone else has to say.
Nobody wants a break-up and no one wants to do the breaking up, either. It’s a terrible thing, a sorrowful thing that weighs heavy on our hearts (well, most of us) but sometimes…a necessary thing.
At the end of the day, life goes on, doesn’t it? If it didn’t work out, know that there WILL be someone out there for you who it will work with. Be grateful for what you’ve learned from that other person and DO wish them well. If you carry grudges or hate/anger, this will only impede on YOUR healing process, not theirs.
And most importantly…approach your life with love.
I’ve been lucky and I’m grateful for everything that’s come my way. I enjoy my career and I’m good at it. I live in a lovely home and I’m healthy. But sometimes things we take for granted come to light. I had a feeling about a year ago that the little grey and white cat that I’ve loved for the past 12 years wasn’t going to last as long as I’d hoped he would. I don’t know how I knew, but I did.
We all know that most pets won’t be with us an entire lifetime; they simply don’t live as long as we do. That doesn’t mean we don’t become attached but let’s face it; none of us are getting out of here alive.
That being said, we can talk practical and logical all we like but as emotional beings, we face the pain of losing that which we love. Pets are particularly important to those of us who are alone, single and childless. Many don’t understand and there are plenty who don’t like pets and would never have one. But for those of us who were fortunate to bond with a little furry friend and experience that true unconditional love, we can’t gush enough about it. It’s the most wondrous thing as they are the most beautiful of souls.
Let me tell you about Zephyrus – because he’s really all that and no matter how old I live to be, I will never be able to love as effortlessly and purely as he does. Our pets are like Angels if you believe in them, purest of heart with the innocence of a new babe.
Years ago, I volunteered at the MEOW Foundation. Every Saturday morning I’d go there and clean, feed the cats and, of course, visit the kittens if there were any. I was newly separated from my husband and well…let’s just say he kept the cat. I thought I should adopt another but in a place with over 100 cats, it’s a hard choice.
One fine morning, I saw him. He was lounging on one of the cat trees, napping. I think he was probably about 9-10 months old at the time. He was lovely and I’ve always adored long-haired cats. I didn’t know his temperament but knew how to find out. I went over, picked him up and flipped him on his back in my arms, cradling him like a baby. I wanted to find out if he’d attack, freak out or simply relax.
He did a few things, first he just stared at me and then he thought to play bite and make a game of it. When I didn’t put him down, he relaxed and started to purr – very loudly, I may add. He gazed up at me with those massive yellow-green eyes of his in adoration as I rubbed his belly and I knew he was mine.
The first night in his new home was quite interesting. He was naturally scared and spent several hours hiding in the guest room closet. I’d bought him various toys, a new cat tree, litter box…the lot. I silently prayed to all the cat Gods that he’d use the litter box and would be okay in his new home.
Sometime in the middle of the night, perhaps around 2:30-3:00am, I was woken up by something very odd. It seems something was in my bed and they were jumping about and causing quite a stir. I knew it was him but instantly worried he was having some sort of seizure or perhaps conniptions yet…he wasn’t making any noise; most peculiar!
Swiftly and gracefully I turned on the bed light.
Alright, that’s a lie. I was half asleep and stumbled around for what seemed an eternity, knocking over a book in the process.
What I saw was nothing short of adorable and quite funny. He’d carried up about 3-4 of his new toys, one by one, into my bed and was having a little party. I guess he wanted to play (being still a kitten and all) but didn’t want to be lonely and all by himself in the process.
So there he was, picking up catnip mice in his mouth and tossing them into the air where he’d pounce on them, knock them off the bed and then jump down to retrieve them and start the process all over again. He stopped when I took notice…but only for a moment. It seems, his toys and play time were far more important than his new mistress’s sleep.
Eventually he settled down against my feet …I put his toys next to him in the event playtime would present itself, once more.
He’s nearly 13, now and has kidney failure. I may have him for another year…or another month; it’s hard to say. In the meantime, I will cherish him, every day. He still sleeps on the bed, but has moved up in the world to claim the entire other half. On the occasions where I’ve had boyfriends, he’s been gracious and moved back to snuggle up on my side or resided down by our feet…but he still sleeps with me and always will.
Once, someone asked me, I believe it was my mother, how much I’d spent on vet bills and his keep over the years. I can guess and think it would be the following:
Food, toys and other paraphernalia: $4000
Vet bills for his periodontal disease: $2500
Other things I can’t remember and current vet bills: $2000
It’s probably less but I’m being generous.
What Zephyr has done for me:
Greeting me at the door every time I’ve returned home for 12+ years
Approx. 250,000 loving head butts and cheek smooshes
Countless consoling hours for such things as a broken heart, lost jobs, general upset and just plain bad days
About a billion snuggles
Untold hours of playtime (mostly tag and hide-and-seek but he’s invented a few games of his own)
Coming when he’s called (well…mostly)
Never biting me, hissing or scratching me – EVER. Play wrestling doesn’t count
Posing for about 500+ pictures for a budding photographer
Making friends with dogs, cats, boyfriends and family and being really polite about it
Never caring one bit if I’m: looking like shit on a stick, sick, grumpy, depressed, pissy
Never complaining if I: don’t have time, am late feeding him, late coming home, leaving him by himself for work or pleasure
Always being there when I most need him and always happy to cuddle, purr and generally give me a whole lot of love
I’m at a pinnacle point, standing on the edge of an event horizon and trying desperately not to get sucked into oblivion. Does this sound dramatic? Well, if you’ve ever been ‘served notice’ at work…it can be terribly dramatic.
Actually, stress doesn’t even scratch the surface and most of us have been there. Losing your job is horrid but one has to ask: Is this a sign that I should be doing something else? Perhaps something that I actually enjoy doing? It’s a risk; it’s scary as hell but I’m starting to think that there is never a good time to do something so ridiculous. Therefore, there is really never a better time than when your ass is being shoved out the door.
I say forget the sky, aim for the stars, baby. In fact, the universe is yours; go for it and never look back.
We aren’t born pretty and we certainly don’t die pretty – at least, for the most part. We enter a squalling wrinkled thing, covered in our own birth fluids and as fragile and unique as a snowflake. When we leave, many of us fight. We hang on to life with an iron grip, gasping at the air as if there could never be enough of it. We shake in pain, clutch at our humanity, stare upwards looking for a sign of relief and release, yet we can’t find it.
No, don’t close my eyes, they may never open again. Let me see the sky – is it still that perfect blue? Where is the sky? I need to see the world for a little while longer.
I wonder, often, why God or any other higher force that one may believe in and might exist – simply doesn’t take pity on us and bring us on home….instead of watching some of us suffer so.
Then something occurred to me. Maybe they try and we fight it. Perhaps our will can be so strong that even though the door is open to us…we resist. When it’s our time, I truly believe it will happen no matter what, yet some will choose to cling to our earthly body, not matter how worn out and sick it is.
I believe we do it because it’s all we know and we are afraid. We are afraid to let go. I think that when we do, when we let go our grip of an old or sick or broken body, when we finally see that there is something else, only then, are we ready to go home. Our real home.
It’s not often I post pictures of my family (ok…never) but seeing as there are very few who actually look at this blog and no one actually comments, I thought, what the hell….
This was taken in 1978 or ’77 on July 4th. It’s my dad, my younger sister and myself. I remember that day – we were camping at Waterton Park and I was grumpy. I hated having my picture taken; I still do. My dad, on the other hand, loved it.
Grief is a tormenting thing, sneaking up on you out of nowhere and demanding your attention when you really don’t want to give it. It’s a possessive, bossy emotion. There is no hiding from it when that hand reaches inside your chest and squeezes your heart like a vice-grip will a grapefruit.
It really does hurt physically. You can’t breathe properly, words get choked into squeaks and blurts inside your throat and that excruciating pain in your chest gives new meaning to: a broken heart.
Grief is ugly, too. People don’t cry pretty crystalline tears that ever so gently roll one by one down their cheeks to pool at their chin before disappearing into the next scene. Oh no. There are gushing sobs; one’s face becomes a battle field of twisted anguish while a flood of saline turns any hope of seeing straight into a pathetic underwater blur of hazy reality. A red and snotty nose causes further breathing problems so that taking great gulps of air in-between any attempt at gaining self-composure becomes absolutely necessary for survival.
If you wear make-up, you’ll wish you’d forgotten that extra layer of mascara as now, you don’t even look human. You’ve transformed into some monster covered in a layer of runny foundation with a lovely coat of black trailing crooked stripes down your once serene face.
It isn’t always this way but sometimes it is.
He wrote me a letter once, close to 30 years ago when I was but a girl. It is full of spelling mistakes, sentences that aren’t real sentences and difficult to read scribbles but I knew what he meant. He missed me. He missed his little girl and he wanted me to know that he was ok and that I should take care of myself because as I was in college, I needed to eat properly. I think he thought that I wasn’t. I guess I was rather skinny back then.
In broken English, his concern was disarming, sweet and heart-felt. When I happen upon it and read those scrawled words, I forget. I forget about the drunken rages, the threats and the resentment towards us. I forget about all the horrible things he did and just see a man, worried about his young daughter living by herself…for the first time.
I see love.
He signed it: Dadd…. Just like that. I smile now at things like this but there was a time when I couldn’t read it without that grief overwhelming me with lost possibilities and opportunities. He died painfully twenty-two years ago this August. I have pictures of him in my spare room.