Four Years Later (The Continuing Aftermath of Suicide)


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.

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.

Right here. Right now.

In love & Light,

Carrie ~

 

HOPE

Deathiversaries


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.

I miss him, still.

The Letter


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

Hello me,

It’s me…

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? 
sad woman

The Aftermath of Suicide


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).

In memory of Bri

Two Years Later


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.

So yeah, I’m grateful…almost two years later. xosuicide7-copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes life moves on…but not really.


 

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.

And I will forever miss him.

b55a4137e666a0467fa329a1682ccd98

When People Judge


We’ve all been judged by others, all of us. We know how it feels, yet we still keep on doing it. I often wonder why it’s ‘okay’ for us to judge others but hate it when it happens to us. I suspect we can add this to another one of life’s little ironies, idiocies and hypocrisies.

The other day, my partner’s best friend’s daughter ran away. It turns out she’s been into various substances and is stealing. She’s all of 13 and this has been an ongoing issue. Thankfully they found her the following day but this isn’t going to be an easy journey for them.

I suspect it’s not one, but many factors at play that contribute to this issue. I don’t think she’s a terrible person. I don’t think her parents are terrible people, either. Life deals us shit sandwiches, now and then, and we have to understand how we’re going to eat them. What I’m getting at is that this isn’t a problem that’s limited to bad parenting, evil children or broken homes.

It could happen to you.

I was sharing a bit of this information with a certain co-worker and his response was the following: You need to get find yourself much better company, Carrie.

In other words, the company you keep is BAD NEWS.

What exactly did he mean by that? He doesn’t know my boyfriend, he doesn’t know these people and I suspect the underlying tone was directed at the fact my late boyfriend took his life.

Did this make him a BAD person? Fuck, no. It made him a person who was in an immeasurable amount of pain, one that fought mental illness and one that lost to it.

Is this little runaway a rotten kid? Again. NO. She’s a CHILD and unlike children of my generation, she has unlimited access to high-end technology that didn’t exist when I was 13. Like, the internet, cell phones, instant video and a plethora of (again instant) communication and easy transportation at her fingertips.

We have made it really simple for kids to access all sorts of stuff. In fact, it’s scary what they can do in the blink of an eye…like text a dealer for drugs and meet them very quickly with cash on hand due the handy-dandy bank card with the TAP feature. I suspect all she had to do was to go a store that had a cash-back option, buy something under $100 and ask for money back. No one would have questioned her.

I’m not sure if this was the situation but it could easily happen.

So how does this relate to why a middle-aged grown woman should chose better people in her life? I suspect this person put on his judge hat and thought that because a confused and easily manipulated little girl made some very bad choices, that the chain link up to her parents and my partner was littered with BAD people.

Because we ALL know that’s the case right?

I’m being facetious.

It has nothing to do with anything and I took a moment to decide NOT to find out if he was implying that Brian was less-than-worthy company because he chose to end his life. Nothing could be further from the truth and even remotely implying that to someone is not only judgmental, but sadly ignorant and plainly mislead by un-empowering beliefs.

So, I say to you, before you cast the first stone, turn around and make sure your support wall isn’t made of glass. Because life can take a turn for the worst in a matter of seconds…and this could be your child, your partner and when that glass breaks…it’s very, very, sharp.

Bad things happen to good people all the time. It’s just that the good people aren’t always being dramatic about it and drawing attention to themselves; we’ve got better things to do, like find our broken, yet much loved, child…and get on the road to recovery.

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Dealing with Grief 101 – Part II


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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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?

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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Dealing With Grief 101 – AKA Things Your Psychologist/Shrink/Counsellor – May Not Mention


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):

  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

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Conversations with My Dead Boyfriend


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 that is 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.

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You Will Never Be the Same Again


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.

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World Suicide Prevention Day


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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.

Let me share this: what suicide attempt survivors wish you to know.

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.

One.

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.

; None of our life stories are over, yet.

 

 

 

 

September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month


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.

Stay tuned and don’t touch that dial.

Helping Suicide Out of the Closet


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.

Over 800,000 die due to suicide every year and that doesn’t count those that attempt it.

Yet, we don’t want to talk about it.

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?

One. Just….one.

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.

Please.

I will continue my plight in bringing this subject to the surface, out of the closet and out in the open.

Until then.

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Surrender


sur·ren·der

səˈrendər/
verb
1. cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.

noun

2. the action of surrendering; capitulation, submission, yielding, succumbing, fall, defeat, resignation

I’m going to add another meaning to this word: To let be.

I feel that we can surrender to many things, but in a good way. It needn’t involve things like: submission, defeat, resignation or giving up. In fact, quite the opposite can be true. Surrendering can simple become – ‘you’ in the moment, letting yourself simply ‘be’ and letting go of everything negative to clear the way so that you can create a new path for yourself.

Just over a week ago, I was in a near head-on car collision.  To be honest, if you’d seen my car (or what’s left of it) you’d think I’d be a lot more injured than I am or…not be here writing this. The doctor who saw me, after seeing a pic of my car, said I was lucky to be alive.

But I am alive and after I collected myself, made sure the other driver was okay, I surrendered to the moment and let it unfold, as it should. I didn’t cry, or panic or get upset. I didn’t see a purpose in that. Yes, I was in shock, but even then, decided to let go of all the feelings I think should have been feeling and remain very calm. I knew it wasn’t entirely my fault and also knew that I couldn’t have anticipated the other driver’s quick decision to change lanes when he did.

However, things with insurance companies are very black and white – so I will be found 100% at fault. I was, after all, turning left. I guess that’s a bad thing…to turn left. 😉

That’s fine. I accept it and surrender to it and do you know what? It feels okay. I feel okay. I bought a new car; I’ll be able to pay it off, soon, and life goes on.

Tomorrow is a tough day; an anniversary of sorts. It will be one year since Bri took his life and I’m not quite sure how I’m going to be, emotionally, so I’m taking the day off.

I’ve decided to surrender to all of my emotions and just let it all flow through me throughout the day. Normally I can’t do this as I’m in an office dealing with clients or home and if ‘P’ is there, I don’t want to burden him with my ‘stuff’. He doesn’t understand it and doesn’t pretend that he does…so he’s quiet about it and keeps his nose out of my grief.

Not because he’s unsympathetic but because he simply hasn’t been through anything like it – EVER. He’s had a pretty easy life, thus far.

I also don’t want him to feel unimportant in my life and talk about Brian 24/7 – that would be unkind, disrespectful and unfair. My past is my past and P is my now and hopefully my future.

I’ll be okay. There will be much meditating and stillness as I sort through memories both good and bad. I will honor him and all those who have this pain and struggle.

I will surrender to this day and to what happened. I cannot change it but I can accept it and see it for the incredible life-changing experience that it was.

What will you surrender to?

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What do you see?


11 days.

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.

Eye in the Jungle

Your Watch


Time. Time we didn’t get, all caught up in and
dragged through those months of hell

For you,

Time was running out.

For you, I would have walked on fire but there wasn’t enough
Time.

Time to change your mind, time to kiss you once more, to hold you close

Time.

It passes with the hands on your watch; the one I wear with your initials
so worn and faint on the back, my wrist from your wrist

Your soft flesh are ashes in a box on a shelf and I want to scream

Time. Time to remember, to release, to forgive.
Time.

I will keep your watch ticking, polish its black face, wear it often.
I will remember you in better days, your laugh, that smile, those eyes

I will honour your struggle through my words, my tears and your story
Time. There is never enough.

I wasn’t finished knowing you.

This Day, Last Year.


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…

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Advice on Grief


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.

 

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Today’s Lesson Was Brought To You By the Letter A


“A” for Anxiety.

It’s been a hellish workday. It’s not over by a long shot but I’ve been reminded by the Universe that despite all the shit that went down and could still go down…

Nothing.

Nothing can compare to May 11th 2015 when Brian decided to take his life.

Nothing will EVER be or could ever be as bad as that. So, thank you Universe for putting life back into perspective for  me.

You may now return to your regular scheduled programming.

How To Love Someone


For anyone who has been reading my blog, you’ll know the man I loved and adored completed suicide, last May. I believe in my heart that I couldn’t have loved him more, couldn’t have done more to save him and I knew, early on in the relationship, that the worst possible outcome could actually happen. I just wasn’t prepared for it. I don’t think you really can because “Hope” is such a strong emotion and we cling to it in times such as this. It’s far too painful to go down that ‘what if…’ road when you’re fighting to keep someone you cherish, alive.

Now that I’ve been blessed to have a man come into my life who seems to be on the same page as myself, is drama-free and wants to be with me as much as I want to be with him…I’m reminded that life is short so I should appreciate him every day; every moment in time.

Where we’ll end up, is anyone’s guess, but it’s proceeding along nicely . There is love. There is gratefulness and there is passion and compassion. As we walk along this journey, together, I can’t help but think of all the wonderful things I used to look forward to when I was with Brian, all of the dreams that will never be realized in this life.

So…

I’m going to be in the moment with this man like it is the last moment I might share with him. Life is such a precious thing that we take for granted. We never stop to think about how we’d feel if we lost those that we love and hold dear, until it’s staring us in the eyes.

Remember to hold your loved ones close. Make sure they know they’re special in your life and that you will never forget that.

Love them like you’re going to lose them. Then you’ll never have regrets.

An Unconventional Birthday Wish


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…

Those moments we almost dreamed

thoughts of better times

between a star and magic

I know you

By ghost or Angel

my love and friend

I lived sacred poetry in you

Coping, Christmas and Time


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.

It’s just easier coping, together.

XO to all of you…

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Standing Still


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.

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Anew


It’s been six months. Six months since that terrible thing happened but I’m more hopeful than ever. Although I struggle, daily, to comprehend, grieve and simply deal with it – I now realize it’s just a new part of my life that I have to incorporate.

It’s an experience that I’m beginning to learn from. And, after all, that’s why we are here – to experience and learn. At some point, I’d like to teach – teach others about how suicide grief survivors handle life, going forward. Because we’re now different. We now see things differently and we can either dwell in the negative aspect of what happened…or we can find the rainbow after the storm.

I’d also like to teach others that suicide awareness shouldn’t be taboo and kept in the dark. It shouldn’t be spoken about in hushed whispers with shades of embarrassment and overtones of anger towards that person who took their life.

There is so much we don’t understand and so many lack compassion for those whose lives have been turned upside down and ripped open.

Recently, I met someone. He’s incredibly sweet and kind. I have no idea where this will go but it seems to be heading into an actual relationship. We’re on the road, now we just have to agree to walk forward, together.

I told him about Brian because I felt he should know. Certain things trigger my fragile emotions and there are songs that come on the radio which will cause me to burst into tears. I think it’s only fair that someone who is spending time with me be aware of what the heck is going on in my head.

So I fessed up. I figured one of two things would happen a) he’d run away screaming or b) he’d be empathetic and wish to understand.

He chose b).

He was honest…telling me that he truly didn’t know what to say and was afraid he’d say something stupid that would upset me so he told me he felt it best if he simply offered to “listen”.

This is what true friends do. They listen. I’ve known this fellow for about a week and already he’s earned my respect and gratitude.

Because…really, that is all we ever need, sometimes: someone to simply listen to us.

Thank you, Universe, for bringing this man into my life. Even if romance doesn’t evolve, friendship certainly has. And friendship is the best foundation for any relationship.

Let’s begin anew. Let’s live in the moment and appreciate what is in front of us and look forward to the future with an open heart.

Let’s dream a little…

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Things People Want You to Know About Suicide Grief


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. 

“This kind of grief takes sooo much energy…..”

Wise Words


When Brian first took his life, I joined an online site to share in my grief, with others. At that time, I really didn’t know ‘what’ to do…

Occasionally, I get emails from them with updates. This was posted by someone named, Sharon, on this site.

I re-post her words because I completely relate to them:

“Here are some of the things I’ve learned”

I’ve learned that some people will never, ever ‘get it.’

I’ve learned that learning to forgive takes a lot of practice. I’ve learned that some sorrow is so deep that it has no words.

I’ve learned that the community of sorrow is the strongest of all.

I’ve learned that your life can be changed in a matter of minutes. I’ve learned that you can keep going long after you think you can’t.

I’ve learned that ignorance isn’t an excuse for the lack of compassion.

I’ve learned that friends can become strangers, and strangers can become friends.

I’ve learned that love isn’t measured by the amount of time you have with someone.

I’ve learned that the people you care most about in life are sometimes taken from you too soon.

I’ve learned that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief.

I’ve learned that you should always leave loved ones with loving words, It may be the last time you see them.

–Originally posted on the Alliance of Hope Forum by Sharon”

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Running Before The Wind


Amongst other things, this is a sailing term. Many years ago, my now ex-husband co-owned a sailboat. And thus I was privy to learning how to sail.

Running, in sailing terms, is heading downwind with as much canvas as you can muster. This is what a spinnaker is used for. If you’ve never seen a spinnaker in full bloom on a windy day out in the bay…I highly recommend it. You’re missing out.

It’s truly an amazing and beautiful thing to see a sleek vessel completely under wind power, gliding across the sea with a massive kaleidoscope of coloured cloth, leading the way. It’s a high-speed, whimsical ride with whitecaps crashing on your bow and deep waters, rushing by.

It’s somewhat short lived, but it’s part of every journey and after we furl the majestic spinnaker to replace it with easier to maneuver sails like a jib or genoa, we can carry on our journey in the direction we wish to. We can tack or jibe with relative ease and not worry about the direction of our wind because we are in control, now.

The wind is our power source and we are the manipulator, the conductor of it.

However, there is something about having the wind at your back and not being in complete control that is exciting. There is a danger to jibing (you don’t want to do that when you’re doing this) and you have less steering ability; your boat is less stable. A sailboat that seemed under control can instantly become over-canvassed and in danger of a sudden broach.

The past three months, actually even before that, have been the most challenging, the most groundbreaking and life changing months of my life.

I think I’ve tackled my grief head-on and walked, consciously and directly into the centre of the fire. It burned like hell. But to dance around the outskirts, yelling that it’s going to hurt, is fruitless. This is how I live my life; I deal with the shit without hesitation because I’m only prolonging the inevitable if I don’t. I read that many people who go through suicide grief become numb. I was never numb. I didn’t shove the pain aside and busy myself with life. I’m incapable of doing that.

Bring on the fire, let me experience the pain and the burn. Let me live in the intensity so that I understand and truly appreciate the love I felt before and after it.

At times the sorrow has been unbearable and I’ve questioned my very existence. In fact, I’ve questioned every aspect of my life, many, many times.

I have no answers, only more questions but I’m stepping outside of that fire and pain. At least, for a little while… I may return. I may waltz right back in there so that I never ever forget just what I lost. I don’t want to forget. I want to remember everything in minute detail. This is how I learn.

But now, I’m on my boat, with the wind at my backside and it’s a fine wind, I feel the power racing me forwards into full on sunlight. I hear the roar of the sea, smell the air and taste the salt on my lips.

It’s time to start healing, time to carry forward in every moment, relish every breath, drink in the day and fly into the night.

It’s time to love life, again.

I’m running before…and with, the wind.

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Tomorrow Is


Another day to remember him; an opportunity to meet more souls that loved him.

Grief

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.

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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.

All I Wanted

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.

That.

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.