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Summer has ended for me and I am returning to work. The thought makes me cringe. I do not want to go. Do not want to face this new chapter in my life.
I switched schools. I hate teaching middle school, hate my new classroom, have already taken a dislike to the people I’ve met. So rare for me when I always liked everyone, loved teaching, could make any room my own. But now I resent all of it. It is an intrusion on my grief. I want to be home with my grief.
I dread meeting these new people. They will ask me how long I have taught, am I married, do I have kids. I don’t know what to say. What to do. How to feel. I worry about hiding my contempt and disdain for people I have not met yet, people who still have normal lives, people who haven’t the first clue how lucky they are.
I’m told it will be alright. I’m told I will adjust. I’m told I will adapt. I’m told I will know what to do when the time comes. But what if I don’t? What if my feelings are too strong to overcome?
I hate this. I want to be left alone. I want to be alone with my son and my memories. I want to shut out the world and all it’s normalcy. I know longer wish to do any of this. I don’t know how to overcome. One day at a time is what I will be told. But I don’t want one day at a time. I want to reverse time. I want my life back, my son back.
I want to live without sorrow. I want to live without this deep sadness which permeates my soul, my entire being. I want to share my life, my love, my dreams with my son. I want only the impossible.
I am one complete failure. When I reflect I see only my mistakes. I no longer remember my accomplishments. I continue to isolate myself. What a dismal creature I have become.
I’m going back to work. I can’t think of anything I wish to do less.
Last night in group, I laughed. I mean really laughed. Neither a smile nor a giggle. But true, heartfelt, from the gut bursts of laughter. Laughter that makes you cough and sneeze. Laughter which makes your eyes water. Laughter that immediately explodes again after you thought you had regained control and decorum.
It felt good, really good to simply laugh. I’m not sure when the laughter went away, or even how. But I knew it was gone because I was keenly aware of the void in my world. There is so much darkness with death. The sadness captures you soul, your spirit and wraps it so tight that drawing breath becomes a consuming exercise. Laughter is the tool needed, the inner strength which helps to break the grip of sadness and allows one to move forward in the healing process.
Then why do we feel so guilty when we laugh? We really shouldn’t because laughter lifts the heart and feeds the conscious. Laughter brings light into the emotional darkness. Laughter repairs, replaces and heals the heavy heart.
Within the grieving process, it is important to discover laughter and then allow it back into your emotional world. Understanding that laughter is an old and welcome friend is important. Without laughter, the healing process stalls.
There is no disrespect when laughing. It is not irreverent. It is not taboo. It does not suggest a lack of love or respect for the departed. Rather, it demonstrates a conscious move into controlling the grieving process. It is a good, it is acceptable, and it is healthy.
Friends would become the most amazing part of this entire experience. Death destroys friendships. I learned that. People do not know how to handle death. They say the most outrageous things to you; things that are so amazingly ridiculous and cruel that you find yourself staring at them in sheer wonderment and amazement. The funny thing is, they believe they are saying and doing all the right things; that they are providing you immense support. These individuals don’t have the first clue that all you want is for them to leave, to get away from you, as far away as humanly possible.
In the beginning my friends were amazing. They flocked to my side, some travelled great distances. They were staunch in their support, firm in their resolve and they guarded me fiercely. They made sure that I was surrounded with love, protected and nurtured. They had been my friends when I was pregnant with Mathew, had watched me raise him, knew the kind of mother I was, understood my complete devastation. But they didn’t last. As quickly as they arrived; they departed. They returned to their lives, their families, and their normalcy. Calls went unreturned, texts were ignored. They became unavailable. I was now officially part of the out crowd. I’m not sure when it happened or even how, but it happened. My normal friends no longer had room in their lives for abnormal me. I don’t believe it was a conscious decision on their part; as a matter of fact, I’m sure of it. If confronted, they would deny it vehemently and truly believe this to not be the case. However, over time and very gradually, it simply happened. Just as minutes turn to hours and hours to days, I turned into a memory someone occasionally thought of and just as quickly dismissed.
Excerpt from Suicide, Adjectives and the Rubber Ball
Recently I went to a restaurant to grab a bite to eat. At the table next to me was a family of four. A mom, a dad, a son, and a daughter. Nice looking family. What was even better was they were out, together, and ready to enjoy a family dinner.
Except they all had an electronic device. The father was conversing rather loudly on his phone, the mom appeared to be scrolling through and reading something, perhaps emails? The daughter was texting and the son was playing a game. Four people, four electronic devices, one table, no conversation.
I guess we could say that they were all doing what gave them pleasure and they were happy doing it together. I guess we could say that perhaps, just sitting in close proximity to each other was enough for them. Maybe they only spoke to each other at home. I suppose they could have had a very animated discussion in the car on the way to the restaurant and were all talked out. Who knows about the lives of others?
What I do know is we used to go to dinner. My husband, my sons and I. We would sit down and the electric phones would come out. The difference though was I always fussed. “Put those away!” I hated, yes, passionate word, “hated” when those phones came out and fingers began flying across keyboards or scrolling through information. I didn’t like the television on during family meals and I didn’t like the phones.
I always insisted they be put away and we engage in dialogue. Sometimes the discussion centered on my “unrealistic” dislike for phones at the table. That was okay with me. At least we were all talking, discussing, and comparing thoughts and ideas.
I don’t think we can salvage the ties which bind us through a text message. I want to believe that this is a good thing, phones, emails, instant texts. But not in place of quality time together. We cannot maintain healthy relationships through tiny electronic devices. The human spirit was not meant to.
Relationships take time. Relationships take work. Relationships take face to face discussion. It causes me physical pain when I see a family sitting together on their phones instead of conversing. I reflect upon how lucky they are to still have each other. I’m saddened they do not realize this.
…for I would give anything to share a meal with my son, just one more time.
Today I watched the sunrise and marveled over the colors, the clouds, the overall beauty of it all. But then my mind shifted, as it always does, inevitably does, to Mathew. The usual litany of questions raced through, the regulars, the same old tired queries with the same old tired response. “Where are you Mathew? How could you do this? Is any part of you still with me?” The sad response of “I don’t know.”
Then for the umpteenth time I ask myself if this is my life. If this is all it will ever be? A series of unanswered questions and thoughts. Can I not move away from this place? Can I not learn how to begin the day without a question? Without every thought turned inward to Mathew? How can I possibly exist another twenty, thirty or more years like this? In this place?
What did I do to end up here, with these thoughts, in this situation. Will I ever gaze upon the sun again without wondering, always wondering.
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Additional information can be located at:
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
NIH aims to enhance health and lengthen life, and to reduce the burdens of illness and disability, through knowledge and research. Their web site offers grant and funding opportunities as well as information on a wide array of health topics. The homepage provides access to all 28 institutes of health, including the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and National Institute of Drug Abuse.
The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on completed suicides and self-inflicted injuries come from their Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). WISQARS is an interactive, online database that provides statistics related to fatal and nonfatal injury, and is the most authoritative source of suicide-related data. Because it takes time to collect and ensure the accuracy of the data, the data found there may be from two to three years earlier.
The following peer-reviewed journals focus on suicide research. For additional journals and articles sharing information on suicide research, visit PubMed.
Archives of Suicide Research is the official journal of the International Academy of Suicide Research (IASR). Articles represent the breadth of suicide work in the scientific community, with original research from diverse disciplines including biology, psychiatry, psychology, and sociology.
Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior has been published by the American Association of Suicidology for almost four decades. This journal keeps professionals informed about the latest research and approaches to life-threatening behaviors. The journal employs biological, statistical, psychological, and sociological approaches to explore a range of issues related to suicide including survivor research.
Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention publishes important articles on suicide and crisis intervention from around the world. Also included in the journal is potentially life-saving information for those involved in crisis intervention and suicide prevention, making it useful reading for clinicians, counselors, hotline workers, and crisis intervention centers (“American foundation for,” 2013).